The Only Palestinian Woman in Israel’s Parliament

NAZARETH — When Israel’s 18th parliament opened today, there was only one Arab woman among its intake of legislators.

Haneen Zoubi has made history: although she is not the first Arab woman to enter the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, she is the first to be elected for an Arab party.

Sitting in her home in Nazareth, the effective capital of Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens, she is dismissive of her predecessors, two women elected on behalf of Zionist parties. “They were worse than decorations,” she said. “Decorations don’t do any harm, but these women damaged our society. They were no role models at all.”

Ms. Zoubi, 39, a representative of the Tajamu Party, known for its Palestinian nationalist platform, has already shown she will not be following in their path. On a recent induction day for Knesset members, she made headlines locally when she pointed out to an official who repeatedly referred to “the territories” that he meant “the occupied Palestinian territories”.

Her election is not Ms Zoubi’s only pioneering moment. She was the first Palestinian citizen to graduate from a media studies course in Israel, at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and she established the first media classes in Arab schools. For the past six years she has headed an organization exposing Israeli media bias.

Her priority now, she said, is to advance both the cause of the fifth of the country’s population who are Palestinians, commonly referred to as “Israeli Arabs,” and the cause of Palestinian women in Israel.

“I don’t want to become the Knesset address for Arab women’s issues. I need to raise the interest of the men in my party on women’s issues, not allow their interest to wane because they can dump the issue on me.”

But she said she does represent a demand among the minority’s women for change and political involvement. “Women congratulate me in the street. Even women I know who are usually supporters of the Islamic movement or who were planning to boycott the election because of [Israel’s recent attack on] Gaza came and told me they voted for me.”

Alongside her will be nine male Arab party legislators: two from Tajamu, four from an Islamic party and three from the Communist party. A remaining one is Jewish.

They will be facing the most hostile Knesset in history. Of the parliament’s 120 members, at least 65 are classified as belonging to the right and far-right and may yet form a governing coalition.

Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu, which threatens to strip Israel’s Palestinians of citizenship unless they pledge loyalty to a Jewish state, has 15 seats. One of the National Union’s four legislators, Michael Ben-Ari, a former member of an outlawed anti-Arab terrorist group, is appointing two extremist settlers from Hebron as parliamentary aides.

“In a proper state, Lieberman’s program would be declared illegal. But the real concern is not his platform but that it has been legitimized by the main Zionist parties,” including Kadima, whose leader is Tzipi Livni, and the Likud Party of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is attempting to cobble together a ruling coalition.

Tajamu is almost universally despised by Jewish legislators. Its founder, Azmi Bishara, is living in exile after he was accused of treason over the 2006 Lebanon war; its officials are hounded by the secret police, the Shin Bet; and, as in other recent elections, Zionist parties attempted to bar Tajamu from running. The courts overruled the move.

Ms. Zoubi said she will not be fazed. “The Knesset is always hostile to Arab Knesset members and we are well used to their racist language. Even the building shows us we are not welcome. Everywhere there are Jewish symbols — from the Star of David on the flag to the menorahs — that we as Palestinians cannot identify with.”

Like other Palestinian citizens, she has watched the TV news bulletins showing Jewish legislators, even cabinet ministers, shouting down Arab legislators in the Knesset chamber and having them ejected.

The racist discourse that lies behind Knesset debates is a concern, she said. “It is frustrating and exhausting having always to be on the defensive about why I identify as a Palestinian, why I am not a Zionist, why the Jewish state is not democratic and cannot represent me, why I am entitled to citizenship. It is a Sisyphean labour.”

She admits to boycotting the first Knesset election after she turned 18.

“There is a significant group in our society that calls for a boycott, saying we will always be excluded from the political system here. But we need a Palestinian voice in the Knesset. I and the other Palestinian MKs are an obstacle to the Zionist parties’ success in trying to control our society’s consciousness.”

The party’s platform — developed by Mr Bishara — is to reform Israel from a Jewish state into a “state of all its citizens”, a program now advocated by all the Arab parties.

“The Jewish public don’t like self-confident, unapologetic Arabs, which is why Azmi was always feared. But actually I think there is a base of support even among Jews for reforming Israel into a proper democracy, maybe as much as 30 per cent.”

She hopes that her election — by breaking one of Jewish society’s stereotypes about the Palestinian public –– may start to win over more Israeli Jews to the party’s program.

In the meantime, she said, Tajamu will work to oppose confiscation of Arab land and house demolitions, and demand proper infrastructure in the minority’s communities, as well as have their educational and economic rights recognized.

But she is critical of the Palestinian minority’s dominant political demand for many decades: equality. “The struggle solely for equality treats me as a number, it reduces me to part of a mathematical formula. It ignores my history, identity and narrative as a Palestinian. I want to be a full Israeli citizen, but it must not come at the expense of my people’s collective rights to an identity and a past.”

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

54 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Jacob said on February 24th, 2009 at 11:53am #

    A woman, Arab minority gets elected in a democratic fashion, in a nation that gives her rights as a woman, and as minority to have such political freedom; stands up and denounces that very system?

    Sounds self-contradictory.

  2. Barry said on February 24th, 2009 at 3:15pm #

    Jacob – It is not contradictory. Palestinian-Israelis are 20 percent of the population. They should be approximately 20% of Knesset members. Their membership is woefully short. In fact, only one Arab has even been appointed to a cabinet position in Israel’s 62 years – and that was ministry of Arab sports or some such thing. Budgets for Arab towns, schools, health and medicine are short-shrifted so that more money flows to Jews. There are dozens of laws that favor Jews over Arabs. That’s the tip of the iceberg – and Haneen Zoubi knows it.

  3. duaner said on February 24th, 2009 at 3:31pm #

    One of the more laudable reasons for entering politics is to improve the society of which you are a member. The very fact that you think there is room for improvement implies criticism – or denunciation, if you prefer. Do you not agree, Jacob, that there is room for improvement in Israel’s dealings with its Arabic citizens?

  4. Gideon said on February 24th, 2009 at 5:42pm #

    Huge: Arab Israeli Woman elected on Arab party ticket! Old news: Arab Women were Parliamentarians in Zionist parties.

    Women are more than 50% in the population of Israeli Arab citizens.
    One woman was finally elected after 60 years of Arab parties representation in Parliament.
    This is HUGE! A good start.
    Keep on the progress!

  5. Gideon said on February 24th, 2009 at 6:03pm #

    50% of Israeli Arab Citizens vote for Zionist parties!
    Who are the 1.2 million Israeli’s identifying as a “Palestinian citizens”? Who is a “Palestinian citizen”?

    Break down please?
    When was the survey taken and who performed it?

    1.2 million of Israeli Arab Citizens enjoy everything Israeli democracy has to offer and YES 50% fo them vote to ZIONIST parties!

    Responsibilities or Duties of citizenship
    The legally enforceable duties of citizenship

    * paying taxes
    * serving on a jury
    * Voting
    * serving in the country’s armed forces when called upon
    * obeying the criminal laws enacted by one’s government

  6. Barry said on February 24th, 2009 at 6:12pm #

    Gideon – I see only one Palestinian woman Knesset member – and she’s on an Arab list, not a Zionist list. And as long as you are talking about women being 50% of the population, it would seem that women make up but 17% of the Knesset. Good start!

    And like I said – no cabinet ministers, no coalitions with Arabs, no nothing but Jim Crow laws. Do you need these laws outlined for you?

    By the way, I noticed you have not had a conversation with Menashe yet. Fingers go weak at the thought, eh?

  7. Gideon said on February 24th, 2009 at 6:59pm #

    Women in Lebanon can’t pass Citizenship to their children . Israel: inspiration to Arab Women around the world.

    A rule that exists in most of the Arab world, changed only recently in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.

    Arab women should look for their inspiration in Israel.

    In many parts of the Arab world, a woman’s testimony is not accepted in court and a woman can’t travel abroad without the permission of her father, her brother or her husband.

    Arab TV channels are often filled with images of violence directed at women.

    Israel: Woman is the Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court and approximately half of the current Israeli Supreme Court is made up of Women Justices.

  8. Brian Koontz said on February 24th, 2009 at 7:43pm #

    “A woman, Arab minority gets elected in a democratic fashion, in a nation that gives her rights as a woman, and as minority to have such political freedom; stands up and denounces that very system?

    Sounds self-contradictory.”

    No – it’s a democratic facade. The same thing happens in the United States – one name for it here is the “token black guy”.

    Here’s the general rule which always operates in faux democratic states – be only as democratic as necessary to maintain the facade and never threaten elite rule. The facade is always sacrificed before the elite rule is, which is what happens during martial law.

  9. Gideon said on February 24th, 2009 at 7:48pm #

    BridgesTV based on total lie? “Honor Killing” even in US? Israel: inspiration to Arab women

  10. Brian Koontz said on February 24th, 2009 at 7:49pm #

    People wonder why the American state allows Noam Chomsky to operate.

    Using the rule, the only conclusion is that the elite believes that Chomsky doesn’t threaten the facade.

    Hence the propaganda follows that Chomsky’s “freedom” proves that America is a democracy. Of course it proves nothing of the kind.

    Another way to say this – the American state loves freedom of speech because it provides the facade of democracy – but when that freedom of speech threatens either the facade or elite rule that “unalienable right” is eliminated, by threat or by force.

    This is what it means to live in a slave society such as the United States.

  11. Max Shields said on February 24th, 2009 at 7:54pm #

    Brian K. yes, the US “democracy” is a tactic to provide un-democracy.

    Look, even in the old Empire England, the Prime Minister has to go face to face, same level, against his/her opposition. Here, we perch the POTUS on a pedestal, looking down talking AT the crowd who routinely applauds every inane thing he says. NO disagreement from the mob.

    We call that the “democratic process”.

  12. Brian Koontz said on February 24th, 2009 at 10:23pm #

    “Brian K. yes, the US “democracy” is a tactic to provide un-democracy.

    Look, even in the old Empire England, the Prime Minister has to go face to face, same level, against his/her opposition. Here, we perch the POTUS on a pedestal, looking down talking AT the crowd who routinely applauds every inane thing he says. NO disagreement from the mob.

    We call that the “democratic process”.”

    It’s a whole lot worse than that, to extend this psychological and sociological situation.

    Most regular Americans believe that the elite are better than they are. Better in one or more ways – either smarter, wiser, more capable, stronger, sexier, or some other trait they deem positive. So in addition to an enslavement caused by a continued desire for imperial benefits, it’s also caused by a belief in inferiority.

    Once inferiority is ingrained, and it is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, truth *becomes* what the elite say it is, in the same sense that a God-fearing Christian’s truth is what God says it is, or what God’s supposed representative (such as the Pope) says it is.

    I’ve been examining regular Americans closely for the past year, after spending a few years examining the American elite (with a particular focus on the Neocons). Americans are deeply propagandized – they are beholden to television and movies to a degree which even the left underestimates. One reason they are propagandized is not the high quality of the propaganda – for the most part it’s mediocre. They are propagandized because they are desperate and in despair, and believe themselves to have little capability to improve their lives. So they turn to corporate media, even while knowing it’s *intended* to harm them, because, like God, there is a HOPE that their corporate masters will save them. It is precisely the decline in religion that allowed the modern propaganda state to gain power, not the quality of it’s propaganda. God has been splintered and replaced by various demi-gods – one is Bill O’Reilly. Another Rush Limbaugh. Another Jon Stewart.

    The movie “They Live!” makes one terrible mistake. It assumes that after the aliens are revealed the humans will rebel. In the real world the humans already know about the elite. They already know the television is intended to harm them. They already know the elite lie or make up the truth or tell the truth depending on what serves their purpose.

    The people go on supporting these harmful institutions for the same reason every slave sincerely smiles at his master – he hopes to placate him. He hopes to *change* him. He hopes to receive a pat on the head instead of the end of a whip.

    American culture is about obedience, and in tough times instead of rebelling American culture is about more *determined* obedience.

    Americans have seen the alien, and embraced it. That was John Carpenter’s mistake.

    At work I often turn the television off. I hate that poison and want to spare myself and others from it. It’s turned back on within a few minutes, never with an angry look but often with a sad one.

    The people know it’s poison. But they also know that only their corporate masters can save them. They know very well that I can’t do a damn thing other than turn the TV off.

    Examine the culture of addiction and you find something which causes both pleasure (brief and fleeting) and pain (lasting). Then examine the elite’s effect on the people, with their “hits” of distraction followed by the lasting pain of slavery.

    The American people are addicted to the elite. According to them, the elite are their only hope.

  13. Brian Koontz said on February 24th, 2009 at 10:37pm #

    The same relationship is found in abusive marriages. The woman hates the abuse, but can’t leave the abuser due to insecurity and fear of being alone. So the woman hopes that things will get better, and placates and “makes her husband happy” whenever she can.

    And so the American people hope that Barack Obama will save them.

    This is the reality in modern America we need to deal with.

  14. Gideon said on February 24th, 2009 at 10:53pm #

    Palestinian woman took oath of allegiance to Israel a Jewish state with ” Jewish symbols everywhere ” .

    “Everywhere there are Jewish symbols — from the Star of David on the flag to the menorahs — that we as Palestinians cannot identify with.”
    Well, Arabic is one of the two Israel national languages.

    So how can someone be a citizen, or even more a member of the Israeli (Kneset) legislative branch if she/he would not swear oath of allegiance?

    But Haneen Zoubi DID! She DID swear oath of allegiance to Israel – a Jewish state with Jewish Symbols that she lives in as a member of Arab minority.

    Here how it sounds:
    ‘I promise to pledge allegiance to the state of Israel and to faithfully fulfill my mission in Parliament, …..”

  15. Ramsefall said on February 25th, 2009 at 5:48am #

    Brian K,

    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment and response to Max.

    The all important fear factor…keep the population in a state of fear and they’ll continue to look outside of themselves for salvation, even if it goes against the grain of rationality. That seems to be what fear produces as a natural by-product, irrationality — the inability to logically search for tangible solutions that empower the self.

    TV is social poison, period. For decades it has functioned as an ideal tool to reach the public and sway their perception, to keep them in line, to create dependency and provoke irrational behavior. From overlooking the importance of human relationships, to propelling the imperial, elite agenda, the little black box in the corner has been the Establishment’s messenger for mass-scale hypnosis.

    Like a drug addict who knows that each fix brings him/her further from reality and closer to death, most TV junkies are incapable of controlling their addiction. When I tell people that for the past decade I’ve been boycotting TV, I get the strangest looks as if I’m an alien or something unidentifiable, most people just can’t rationally wrap their logic around that concept. I suppose they enjoy playing the role of mindless sheep.

    Best to you.

  16. Tree said on February 25th, 2009 at 6:58am #

    “TV is social poison, period. For decades it has functioned as an ideal tool to reach the public and sway their perception, to keep them in line, to create dependency and provoke irrational behavior.”
    I thought that is the role of religion.
    Ramsefall (I got it right this time), I think the bottom line is that it’s not television or religion or political leaders but human nature which when unbalanced and unhealthy seeks out anything to divert itself from its own perceived fears and failings. People tend to be in a constant state of fear anyway because they fear their own immortality.

    Also, the only reason television would work in the capacity you outlined above is if people let it.
    I’m not a fan of most of what’s on TV either but I don’t see it as the main problem. If anything, it’s a choice.

  17. Ramsefall said on February 25th, 2009 at 8:25am #

    Tree,

    I appreciate your view, and agree that it comes down to choice. However, while religion has contribute deeply to creating that sense of fear regarding immortality, TV has been a powerful influence to keep people afraid of the world around them. I think that people typically allow television to work in this capacity because critical thinking processes are interrupted via the signal and the hypnotic nature of this device.

    Religion, TV, political systems, etc which has propelled humanity toward an unhealthy and imbalanced existence. That’s just my opinion, I may be incorrect in that assessment. Religion and politics are not the elixir that people ingest daily, TV on the other hand, works its magic for hours a day.

    Thanks for your input.

    Best to you.

  18. bozh said on February 25th, 2009 at 8:47am #

    brian, yes,
    i’d just add that there are [were] three kinds of propaganda systems:

    nazi, demanding absolute and voiced approval; dissent not tolerated.

    communist, also demanding absolute or strong voiced support; silence counted as approval; dissent not tolerated altho differently from nazi model.

    US, not absolute or even strong verbal support needed; dissent allowed.
    while silence was taken as a + also.
    of the three systems of governance/education[dis]information, US was to date by far more successful. thnx

  19. Zheehod said on February 25th, 2009 at 9:20am #

    Gideon – If you are a woman traveling on a bus through the Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem – Mea Shearim, for example – you ride at the back of the bus – like blacks in the Jim Crow South. That’s because those who truly follow the tenets of Judaism find women a bit tainted. These men would not shake Livni’s hand nor that of the Supreme C0urt Justice.

    Haneen Zoubi pledged allegiance to the Jewish state (not the state of its citizens but the ‘Jewish state’) because that is within the limits of the shit she must eat to gain some semblance of political power. She had to eat that shit despite the fact the Moldavian Jew Avigdor Lieberman would have her removed from the country – a country her ancestors have been in since the Neolithic, when Lieberman’s ancestors were eating borscht.

  20. Gideon said on February 25th, 2009 at 1:00pm #

    Stoning and Public Hanging of Women in Muslim countries – None is Meah Shearim!

    Women rights in Muslim/Arab world vs Jewish Haredi Orthodox communities: Meah Shearim ?

    Is this how we should frame the question?

    Zheehod
    Do you suggest we should compare the practices of the whole Muslim / Arab world to the practices of Meah Shearim?

    Haneen Zoubi was elected to the Israeli Parliament, not the neighborhood council of Meah Shaarim.

    8% of Israel population is considered Orthodox, that’s about 400,000 people out of 5 million Jewish populaiton in Israel.

    Arab world population about 400 MILLION, Muslim world population 1.5 BILLION.

    Stoning and Public Hanging of Women in Muslim countries – that does not happen in Meah Shearim!

    Most Arab / Muslim women would “kill” to have the freedom and rights of Haneen Zoubi, a woman, a citizen, a Parliament member now representing a constituency which is a minority in Israel, the only Democracy in the Middle East.

    Where are all the fighters for WOMEN rights and Humanitarian violations? Where are the “Parsley ladies”?

    Israel – inspiration to Arab women.
    Israel is the place for Arab and Muslim women emancipation!

  21. Barry said on February 25th, 2009 at 3:07pm #

    Gideon – No, that’s not how we should frame the question. The only real questions are: when will Israel entirely vacate the only illegally occupied land in the world: Palestine; and when will Israel commit to the legally ascribed task of repatriating and compensating the refugees it evicted. Those are the only questions that should be framed here. All the rest is fluff. After all, if Israel is the place, as you say, for Arab and Muslim women’s emancipation, the sooner Israel commits to the inevitable, the better for all of us.

  22. Shabnam said on February 25th, 2009 at 3:15pm #

    The Zionists are so desperate about their crimes against humanity that use propaganda to hide their true faces. The Zionists who launched a war against people of Iraq based on lies using their lobby in the US who are called 5th column by Gore Vidal, in order to change the map of the Middle East according to “the strategy of Israel in the 1980s’ written by Oded Yinon to benefit Israel. One of the plans was to divide Iraq to create Kurdistan as a non-Arab ally to help the Zionist geopolitical position in the region. The Kurdistan regional government (KRG) is a zionist puppet and a non-democratic entity where honor killing and stoning under the colonization of Kurdistan by Israelis continues yet the zionists, such as Thomas Friedman using NYT, a propaganda tool, or Charlie Rose program spreading lies such as ‘Kurdistan has become a democratic place since Iraq invasion’ discarding massacre of 1.4 million Iraqis by axis of evil – US – Israel – Britain, and 5 million displaced Iraqis, according to Yinon instructions to increase Israel chance of survival in the stolen land of Palestinian ignoring Kurds’ tribal practices of honor killing punished by stoning and go after Muslim/Arab countries where few stoning for the past 60 years, since the Nakba has been taken place. Instead, we are witness to massacre of toddlers, children, and women in large numbers who were either burned into ashes or cut in pieces by cruise missiles, phosphorus shell, depleted Uranium and other WMD in one month during Gaza Holocaust, highly savage never seen before in the history of mankind.
    http://www.inminds.co.uk/article.php?id=10214

    Please take your time to see how the Zionist liars fabricate stoning in order to fool ignorant people. In October 2007, two campaigns against Muslims used fake photos in their posters to demonize Muslims.The ‘Islamo-Fasism Awareness week” poster claimed to show a stoning of a woman in Iran. In reality the photos were fake; they were taken from stills of a Dutch fictional movie (De Steen (1994), Director: Mahnaz Tamizi). The ‘Oppose the government of Iran’ poster using the same fake photo was designed to be used at a counter-demo against the annual Al-Quds Day march in London held in support of Palestinian rights.
    No one should trust these liars.

  23. Shabnam said on February 25th, 2009 at 3:29pm #

    {Where are all the fighters for WOMEN rights and Humanitarian violations? }

    They were busy collecting the remains of their loved one who were either burnt to death or were cut into pieces by Israelis’ WMD with the support of 95% of Jewish population who have illegaly occupied their land. The humanity has been stoned to death by the zionists.

    http://zamaaneh.com/photography/2008/12/post_802.html

  24. bozh said on February 25th, 2009 at 3:42pm #

    but torah also commands hebrews to slay all disbelievers as well as stoning of people for some sins and fornication..

    the reason that euro-khazarians with the judaic cult have not, as far as i know, stoned to death anyone, is because euro lands wld not permit that.

    euros, descendants of darkies, may have stoned people long time ago but it seems not any lngr after 4Kbc.

    in any case, the people of judaic cult, seeing how wrong torah had been, began to write new ‘holy’ books like the talmud and mishna.

    i haven’t read these new books nor heard much about new ‘jewish’ ‘truths’.
    but a hard long look at what these people have done over a century suffices to evaluate the new books as wrong or cultish. thnx

  25. mary said on February 25th, 2009 at 3:43pm #

    The Parsley ladies whom Gideon derides are now assisting the farmers to gather their crop of peas. They are still being used as target practice by the Zionist israelis. So cruel and cold-blooded.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Gaza 25th February 2009

    Palestinian farmers, accompanied by international Human Rights Workers (HRWs), were fired upon by Israeli forces in the village of Khoza’a, near Khan Younis, this morning. The farmers and HRWs were attempting to work on land around 300m from the ‘Green Line’.

    “We were accompanying farmers to gather peas from their lands. The farmers, for the most part, were elderly men and women with their sons. There were many farmers spread out over a large area. We were only in the fields for about five minutes before the Israeli forces began firing. I believe the firing was coming from four army jeeps and a hummer. The shots were coming very close, and were sniper-type of shots.

    One old woman was so paralyzed by fear that she couldn’t move off of the ground before we were finally able to accompany her out of the fields. While the majority of the farmers left the area, some say they must return to work the land later on in the day. There is great concern that the Israeli army will continue their targeting of these farmers.” – Eva Bartlett (Canada) – International Solidarity Movement

    “I have two children. I must go back to my fields to work there today. This is our life, what can we do?” – Mohammad Abu Jela, Farmer from Khoza’a.

    Four Palestinian farmers have been shot by Israeli forces while working within 700m of the ‘Green Line’ since the 27th January 2009. On the 18th February, farm worker Mohammad Il Ibrahim, 20, was shot in the right leg as farmers, together with the international Human Rights Workers, attempted to leave the area having worked on their land for 2 hours in full view of the Israeli forces.

    On the 18th January, Maher Abu-Rajileh (24) from Khoza’a village, was killed by Israeli soldiers while working on his land 400m from the Green Line. On the 20th January, Israeli soldiers shot Waleed al-Astal (42) of Al Qarara (near Khan Younis) in his right foot, while on the 27th January, Anwar al-Buraim was shot in the neck and killed”

  26. Ron Horn said on February 25th, 2009 at 4:12pm #

    Brian K: Thank you for your insights. I have been thinking about my fellow Americans in a sort of parallel track. In the US, capitalism is the real religion, and its leaders, the business and political elites, are its high priests. Actually the highest priests function mostly out of sight—it is their lower priests who are visible and the ones that lead the flock via the media, with TV the most powerful. Religion has always functioned to support and legitimatize rule by the elites. But nowadays the formal religions in the US have little influence except for the evangelical churches whose priests have been indoctrinated in pure capitalist doctrine.

    The formal religions have always had the effect of keeping people in a state of permanent childhood, always disposed to obey those in authority. This was especially necessary under earlier capitalism because many working people were independent farmers or small businessmen. Economic independence tends to foster real individuals. Those days are gone. Nowadays when the child grows out of adolescence into an economically independent state, he/she merely transfers their obedience and unquestioning faith from their parents to the capitalist appointed authority figures which range from their immediate bosses to the higher priests of capitalism. The fact that our economy is so constituted in hierarchically managed, privately owned enterprises ranging from local small businesses to giant mega-corporations means that most people never experience any real independence to foster adult-like critical thinking. They, as members of the majority working class, are never able to participate in any meaningful decision making over their economic lives. Throughout their lives they go from subservience to one authority figure to another, ad infinitum. The highly concentrated ownership of media by the capitalist class thoroughly reinforces notions of elite superiority and obedience to authority figures.

    As an independent thinker and socialist I often marvel at this phenomenon, and wonder what it will take to shake people out of their childish faith in their cherished authority figures and begin to take charge of their lives in cooperation with their fellow workers. Perhaps another Great Depression?

  27. Gideon said on February 25th, 2009 at 4:30pm #

    Hamas women bill of rights: Parliamentarian – NO, Suicide bomber – YES.
    How many women represent Hamas in Palestinian Legislative Council?

    Arab States: the lowest Women Parliament membership average 9.6%.

    Among all regions of the globe, the Arab States region registers the lowest figure as women account only 9.6% of the membership.

    The existing legal and institutional frameworks are not supportive of women’s representation and participation, and in some Arab countries, women are still denied the right to vote and stand for election.

    In Haneen Zoubi words “They … worse than decorations”
    Especially in leading “democratic” Arab states …

    Syria 12.4%
    Libya 7.7%
    Jordan 6.4%
    Lebanon 4.7%
    Egypt 2%

    Now Palestinians are ahead of any Arab state in the region and closer to Israel and the rest of the Western world averaging 20% women.
    It does look like Palestinians are taking the lead of Democratic Israel, rather than following their Arab brothers. All this under 40 years of occupation! That’s quite an achievement!

    Palestinian Legislative Council 12.9% (new quota)
    Israel (Zionist parties) 18%

    Israel – inspiration to Arab women.

  28. Ron Horn said on February 25th, 2009 at 5:00pm #

    Gideon: I wonder how many Palestinian women would agree with you. I also wonder why you compare Israel’s female representation with Arab states. Wasn’t the Israeli nation that occupies stolen Palestinian land not created by mostly European Jewry? On the other hand, I think it very appropriate to compare Israel’s apartheid with South Africa’s recent system.

  29. Gideon said on February 25th, 2009 at 5:07pm #

    The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! – Muslim world challenge.

    by Women Living Under Muslim Laws ( WLUML )

    Are “Parley Ladies” up to the challenge?

    Stoning to death has been introduced as a legal form of punishment for the ‘adultery of married persons’ (zina al-Mohsena) in Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates.
    Incidents of stoning are being carried out by communities, seemingly encouraged by the existence of the punishment in law.

    An “honour killing” is a murder committed against a woman for actual or perceived “immoral” behaviour that is deemed to have breached the ‘honour code’ of a household or community.

    Is predominantly prevalent in Muslim countries, documented cases from around the world testify to thousands of women being murdered every year in the name of ‘family honour’.

    Some cases:
    Unnamed Girl Palestine “honour” killing Jan 2009
    Unnamed Girl Jordan “honour” killing Feb 2009
    Unnamed Girl Palestine “honour” killing Feb 2009
    Two teenagers Jordan “honour” killing Jan 2009
    20 y woman Palestine “honour” killing Jan 2009

    and the list goes on and on and on …..

  30. Shabnam said on February 25th, 2009 at 10:42pm #

    Zionist’s propaganda tool spread many lies to cover their own crimes and to help their colony escape criticism for their tribal practices, like the Kurds who have become zionist’s tool in the region.

    Israel has a plan to relocate thousands of Jews from Israel to Iraqi cities of Mosul and Nineveh under the guise of religious pilgrimages to “ancient Jewish religious shrines.” They are secretly working with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to carry out the integration of Kurdish and other Jews into areas of Iraq under control of the KRG. They are trying to expand from the stolen Palestine to North of Iraq to have control over the oil well of north of Iraq to become energy independent. Thus, they present Kurdistan as bastion of ‘democracy’ by their 5th columnists and demonize their enemy through campaign of lies and deception. Therefore, Zionists have been silent on stoning of women in Kurdistan to present a reason for their Crimes against humanity to American people since they facilitate the invasion of Iraq through their Lobby according to Oded Yinon’s instruction for survival based on disintegration of the Middle East states to create non-Arab entities as puppets, example is KRG. There are handreds of Mossad agents in Iraq giving military training to Kurds to send them into neighboring countries for terrorist activities. Seymour Hersh exposed the secret relationship between Israel and Kurds and their terrorist activities in the region.

    Amnesty International appalled by stoning to death of Yezidi girl and subsequent killings in Kurdistan. Amnesty International is appalled by the killing of Du’a Khalil Aswad, aged about 17, who was stoned to death on or around 7 April 2007 for a so-called honour crime. A member of Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority from the village of Bahzan in northern Iraq, she was killed by a group of eight or nine men and in the presence of a large crowd in the town of Bashika, near the city of Mosul. Some of her relatives are said to have participated in the killing.

    http://www.petitiononline.com/kurdish/petition.html

    On the other hand, Zionists are killing women and children and everything is moving by hundred in occupied Palestine to steal the rest of the land to establish ‘the greater Israel’ in a region where all states including Greece and Turkey have voted against partition of Palestine in 1947 at the UN. Therefore, Zionists feel they have to KILL to survive as Erdughan, the Prime Minister of Turkey told Shimon Peres “When it comes to killing, you know well how to KILL”

    Palestinian deaths in Gaza Holocaust due to zionist WMD in less than 3 weeks in a war waged based on lies similar to Iraq war by the Zionists, worse than fascists, to kill women and children and expand their territory and build more settlements on Palestinian death bodies.

    •More than 1,334 killed, one-third of them children (more children than ‘militants’ were killed)
    •5,450 injured, one-third of them children
    •100,000 displaced, 50,000 made homeless
    •4,100 residential homes and buildings destroyed, 17,000 damaged (together accounting for 14 percent of all buildings in Gaza)
    •29 destroyed educational institutions, including the American International School
    •92 destroyed or damaged mosques
    •1,500 destroyed shops, factories and other commercial facilities
    •20 destroyed ambulances
    •35-60% of agricultural land ruined

  31. Jacob said on February 26th, 2009 at 12:34am #

    Out of curiousity, because I genuinely don’t know: how many schools and hospitals did

    * “Palestinians” build between 1948-1967
    * Israel build between 1967-1997
    * Palestinians build between 1997-today
    * UNRWA build between 1948-today

    in the disputed territories?

  32. Gideon said on February 26th, 2009 at 12:48am #

    Haneen Zoubi: “I want to be a full Israeli citizen”! Bridge building between Israel and Palestinian states.

    Arab Israeli community may serve as an important bridge between Israel and future Palestinian states.

    Israeli public will learn to appreciate this community potential contribution to the peaceful coexistence and cooperation between Israel and future Palestinian state.

    Advances in Arab Israeli community will continue to set benchmarks for Palestinians that should allow them to lead the Arab world in every metric that matters to the people.

  33. mary said on February 26th, 2009 at 6:22am #

    Further to yesterday’s post @3.43pm this is a video of the Israeli IOF shooting at farmers and helpers near Khan Younis in Gaza. You can only watch it and feel dull anger at the barbarity and illegality. Is there any other ‘democracy’ that condones such acts?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDD8ANFgwtA

  34. Ray Bright said on June 22nd, 2009 at 9:54am #

    There is some confusion here:
    There is actually nothing wrong with racism. It is natural human reaction of cultural and ethnic self-preservation.
    Small groups need racism to protect themselves from annihilation. For example in Hawaii, there are areas where white people are not allowed to settle. There are areas which are designated specially and exclusively for Native Hawaiians ONLY. There even is a whole island (small one), where only native Hawaiians are allowed. This is indeed racism, but it is a positive racism because it is the way to preserve the Hawaiian nation, culture and language.
    Likewise Jews, should be allowed to have their own little state of Israel. Arabs already have a **H** U** G** E** empire. Almost twice the size of the United States. There is plenty of space where Arabs can live among their own people, practice their religion, cherish their culture and traditions and speak their language.
    It is tragic that so many well-meaning people have got sucked into this anti-Israeli propaganda, which is really antisemitic. Palestinians are victims of Arab rejectionism of Israel. They should be welcomed by their Arab brothers, but no Arab country welcomes them.
    The Palestinian Arabs are not different from most Syrians, or Jordanians and not more different from Egyptians than New Yorkers are from Texans.
    Think about this, before you jump on the anti-Israeli antisemitic bandwagon.
    A world without Israel, would be a much poorer world indeed.

  35. joed said on June 22nd, 2009 at 1:32pm #

    ray bright where did you gst such sick twisted ideas about humanity.
    there are no subspecies of humans. there are no differences worth mentioning except in the imagination or racists.
    and nobody has the right to hurt other people.
    a world without zionists would be a better world indeed. and israel is full of zionists. jews and muslum arabs and xtians arabs get along just fine as long as the isreali or amerikan govt aren’t creating division and greif etc among the people. no ray bright, israeli zionists are murderous hate-filled thugs and should be treated as such.
    also, the hawaiian islands were stolen by amerika from hawaiians and many hawaiians want their islands back. hawaiians deserve to have their islands back. this is not new to hawaii. its the same for palestine too. the israelis are stealing the land and killing the people. there is no moral justifacation for this. what justifies these terrorists actions by amerika and israel is force. amerika and israel can murder all the people they want and no one will stop them today. this mr. ray is racism at its best.

  36. lichen said on June 22nd, 2009 at 2:09pm #

    Yes, there is something wrong with racism; it is never right to generalize and lump groups of people together as falsely carrying certain traits due to the color of their skin, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or otherwise.

    Palestineans are not “arabs,” they are the people of Palestine, who have always lived their and have a deep connection to the specific land of Palestine, to their homes and olive/fig/almond trees that were stolen from them; to the hills, valleys and plains that were stolen by a bunch of stupid white Europeans. They have no place in a mythical “arab empire.” It is not racist to have certain areas for native Hawaiian’s, and that analogy has nothing to do with the Israeli/Palestinean situation.

  37. bozh said on June 22nd, 2009 at 2:51pm #

    ray bright,
    yes, ‘jews, shld have a state for ‘jews’ only; however, it is christo-judaists [who have no connection to the shemites or land of palestine] who do not want to give ‘jews’ a ‘jewish’ state on their soil.

    and neither does any region, land, or empire want a ‘jewish’ state on its land.
    n.america is larger than all shemitic lands and much, much richer than all the shemitic peoples; thus, it cld easily house 5mn ‘jews’ and i hope your home twn becomes their capital.
    in addition, much of shemitic lands are composed of deserts.
    shemites speak a shemitic language; UK, auatralia, canada, US, new zealand speak english; thus, new zealanders cld easiliy leave NZ for ‘jews’ to settle in. They cld move to canada or US.
    or why not put all english speakers to one region so that they cld be together?
    and we cld ship all ‘jews’ to new zealand and leave them be?
    but we all know or shld know that christo-judaic alliance want a win-lose result in excanaan.
    and, yet, by necessary [apodictic] truth, there is a win-win result obtainable in excanaan.
    and one day a result is coming; only it may be a lose-lose result or lose-win. tnx bozhidar balkas vancouver

  38. Danny Ray said on June 22nd, 2009 at 3:29pm #

    Lichen
    “It is not racist to have certain areas for native Hawaiian’s, ” So you are saying that it is ok to have a area set aside for white people from Texas?

  39. lichen said on June 22nd, 2009 at 6:42pm #

    I’m sure you don’t see a distinction between continuous indigenous minorities such as Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, or Native Palestinians from the overcrowding descendants of white European colonists, but there is a big one, fool, and I posses neither time nor interest in explaining such basics to the likes of you. Some rich country club right wing assholes in Texas are not trying to preserve a language, a culture, a way of society that was corrupted by US imperial invasion.

  40. Danny Ray said on June 22nd, 2009 at 7:16pm #

    Yep, your regular bullshit, we are all equals, we are all the same, but
    (and here it comes) some are more equal than others. You cannot say that some groups have a right to be together and others do not. If your precious fucking minorities had a language, a culture, or a way of society that was worth a gods damn they would still be around and we Europeans would be on a reservation in the backside of nowhere. The strong survive and the weak can best serve humanity by fucking going away.

    And if Some rich country club right wing ( by the way you forgot to insert “white” but I will do that for you, never fear) assholes in Texas are trying to preserve a language, a culture, a way of society and wish to protect it from others why can’t they? Who the hell says that a fuckin bunch of grass skirt wearing mud worshipping dumbasses are superior to the Texas 500. Hell those bush babies don’t even have cotillion ( Ask your mom what that is). And I know for a fact that Luanda Angola don’t even have a Edwin Watts Golf Shop plus they don’t know how to take care of their greens worth a damn.

  41. joed said on June 22nd, 2009 at 8:00pm #

    gosh danny ray, easy to tell you are a tough guy and yet care about some people. what a marvelous puzzle you seem to be. but don’t let them darkies get you down. and you might want to not talk your trash around hawaiians, samoans or other dark skinned yet honorable island sorts. but then it is easy to tell that you already know this. thats what makes the anonymity of this FREE SPEACH ZONE soooo very special, isn’t it. you’re being able to spew your venomous jack all over the world–how strong you must feel–how right you must feel, and how very wrong and frightened you seem.

  42. Danny Ray said on June 22nd, 2009 at 8:11pm #

    Nah, I’m ok, Thanks for worring about metho, But I happen to know that God is always on the side with the newest and most guns.

  43. joed said on June 22nd, 2009 at 8:17pm #

    hi danny ray, sure seems that way don’t it!
    but, don’t tell me you are a last word freak.
    and i sure aint worried about you–easy to see you can talk your way out of about any mess. just dont talk your trash to them islanders and you … well you know.

  44. mary said on June 22nd, 2009 at 8:39pm #

    There is a pattern emerging. Why did ‘Ray Bright’ (any connection to Danny Ray? and on second thoughts probably not, as there is no use of four letter words) suddenly put a provocative post on this thread four months after the last one? Is this a Hasbara tactic? It has happened on this site before.

  45. Hue Longer said on June 23rd, 2009 at 5:04am #

    God damn, Danny!

    I defended you before several times but this latest spends any credit you had with me as a fellow walker figuring the mess out. WTF? The stupid easy racism aside, your thoughts have gone beyond an understandable reaction to ivory tower hypocrites. Please tell me you were drunk and in a weak moment of regression!

    It’s never too late for anyone, but you sure are looking like you don’t agree with that

  46. bozh said on June 23rd, 2009 at 6:23am #

    danny ray is speaking for world plutos. But not for pay! tnx

  47. Melissa said on June 23rd, 2009 at 12:33pm #

    Wow. Oh my garsh, wow. -and ow!

    question: My friend runs a dance production company and she only allows female artists of color in her productions, which are staged in countries all over the world as well as USA. The productions are always social/political commentaries dealing with how people of color across the world are/have been exploited in many ways (related to the resources their lands have). So, does anyone here scream racism? -or is it obvious enough that anglo types might not carry a convincing message, or even that they really don’t even have a story of their own on those issues? Empathy, disgust, many other things, but an authentic story of their own of exploitation?

    Interestingly, Russel Means (of 1970′s AIM) has done the opposite with the Republic of Lakotah. He sees everyone as a victim of the fruits of colonialism and imperialism, and he invites anyone to join him on the Lakotah lands who would like to give the finger to what the white, propertied men set into motion. He thinks people all over the world, regardless of skin, suffer from the melange of terrorism in which the USA indulges. He says: We’re all indians on the reservation now.” I would have to agree.

    What do you think? -And please, be inclined to real communication, not flaming insults and provocation.

    -Melissa-

  48. Hue Longer said on June 23rd, 2009 at 2:02pm #

    sure, Melissa!

    The difference being that all the white Indians can cut their hair when the shit hits the fan

  49. Melissa said on June 23rd, 2009 at 3:56pm #

    Sorry, I don’t get what you mean . . .

    Can you elaborate? White Indians? Hair? You suspect there will be negative consequences for the Lakotah Republic?

    Melissa

  50. Hue Longer said on June 24th, 2009 at 3:25am #

    meaning everyone is down with it until the cops show…that’s when the Native Americans can’t do anything to jump sides and wear a tie or a gun. The idea of some white folks believing everyone is an “Indian” in struggle to the point where they believe they actually share the same suffering is racist too…no matter how many dream catchers you hang from your rear view mirror

  51. bozh said on June 24th, 2009 at 7:09am #

    the crowd that shouts USA USA USA says lakota’s lands belong to US.
    deeds are not needed to [dis] prove lakota’s lands are in US.
    USA possesses wmd, tanks, warships, strong army one doesnt need also deeds; sayso, suffices.

    and the crowd which says eretz yisrael is our land, doesn’t need the deed to the land nor reason or rhyme to possess it; once, again wmd and other weaponry more than suffice.
    and folks, that’s been the way of doing things for a long time. Causative factors for more frenetic land grabs, now going on, are shrinking planetary wealth, rising pop, and warming.

    as all three aspects of reality worsen, expect use of n-bombs. And especially if -as it seems- US cannot in decades or centuries ‘pacify’ or puppetize, syria, iran, iraq, afpak, palestina, et al.

    folks, all of these peoples are now redmen. tnx bozhidar balkas vancouver

  52. Melissa said on June 24th, 2009 at 8:39am #

    I think what Means is demonstrating is a willingness and the wisdom to realize true solidarity of humans in practice, not just talk. He hopes to build the numbers necessary to implement positive development on their land, to build an economy based upon sustainable use of land and labor.

    I disagree that it is racist to consider solidarity with our neighbors. To conflate their long history of suffering as ours is quite silly and erroneous, but not racist. I encourage you to consider how finely tuned the practice of genocide has become at the hands of USA, it started with the Natives, and has become the policy of choice wherever the US sees something it wants on other peoples’ lands. It’s also a practice that has been exported to Israel/Pal/Gaza and others. The generated financial collapse is an aspect of the same practice, and the same principle. They put a gun to our heads and slipped economic chains around our necks, and around subsequent generations’ necks.

    The shit is gonna hit the fan everywhere. Why would it be different to endure it in solidarity with people who are willing to stand up and say, “I won’t cooperate with your system any longer.” ? The fact that US manifest destiny types use force to assert possession of tribal lands and more is a statement of the obvious.

    Hue: I don’t own a single dream catcher. The idea isn’t to pretend something, but to transcend an artificial division that does disservice to human dignity and progress. How simple to think partnership is insulting and that solidarity is as superficial as creating “white Indians”!! I am running out of chuckles for people who love negativity and labels. Means is building something here, rather than wallowing and complaining and screaming racism at every turn. I’m interested in his plan to PRODUCE rather than bellyache and point fingers.

    I wrongly thought the crowd here might be interested in others’ progress as well. It seems negativity and sustaining the divisions that allow our failures to continue reign strong. That is a dark place within to choose to nurture. Good luck.

    Melissa

  53. Max Shields said on June 24th, 2009 at 11:36am #

    Melissa,

    As one who thinks we need to think beyond the negative, I’m with ya.

    As best we can tell there is an elitist regime that has held hostage the rest on the planet – and not just other humans, but life itself.

    I’m not familiar enough with Means to say one way or the other. I don’t believe in revolt it begets its kind in spades. You are right the USA has refined genocide to the point that it commits without so much as a squeak. All are marginalized. Solidarity is critical; but I don’t buy the idea of going up against power directly. Undoing it is the key. How, that’s the question which we must congregate around.

    Where can we institute real change, to open access to more and more of the commons, and by doing so reduce poverty and inequality?

    Therein likes the beginning of the answer.

  54. Melissa said on June 24th, 2009 at 1:07pm #

    Max,

    Agreed, and thank you for the balance. I don’t subscribe to revolt in the sense of stirring confrontation, but in stepping out of so much participation that is voluntary. I indulge in paying for access to internet, that participation is a complicity I desperately defend in order to hear what people have to say, as well as communicate. So, I need you to hear me say I am wrapped in as well . . . but I do opt out of most other not necessary offerings of the handlers.

    The solutions, in my view, lie in assuming personal responsibility instead of asking/begging/expecting the existing structure to provide. For where is the consistency in decrying it and demanding from same? IF one is the position where they are not already a ward of the state through circumstances beyond reasonable control. Anyway, here are examples of how this personal responsibility (which is an INDIVIDUAL’S initiative) looks in practice in my community:

    -Where I live, people aren’t making ends meet, though they are working people, even some two (pitiful) income families. They cannot pay for daycares for their kids. I take their kids into my home, for free. When they can, they offer a gallon of milk, a bag of fruit, or they barter some other service (haircut, watch my kids, drive my kid to party across town).

    -I secured an abandoned (one of the many foreclosed homes that was then looted, then arsoned to ground) lot in my neighborhood, got the city agreed to water tap ($80), and we now are providing produce for ourselves and distributing around the neighborhood.

    -I pulled my kids out of “they” schools. Lots of reasons, but just look at the population they “educated”

    -We live a very frugal life, but pay through the nose for food grown with a conscience, as local as possible. The dollar is the most important vote, and personal boycotts are NOT a waste of time. Helps to sleep with a clear conscience.

    -Make people uncomfortable and aware of facts, their feelings are theirs to deal with and process. No excuses like, they just don’t know any better.

    -Don’t call the cops. Deal with your neighbors as much as possible without a 3rd party. If you live in a neighborhood like mine, and they like to arbitrarily do unwarranted traffic stops, illegal searches and general intimidation, let them know you’re watching. I have found a video camera to be quite a great neighborhood defense . . . amazing how many ridiculous and nonviolent cases can get dismissed when the cop is on MY camera.

    -Own the Constitution and Bill of Rights in its entirety. Don’t treat it like a buffet, taking what you want and rejecting the rest. I know it’s in need of editing and revision. But, it’s all we’ve legitimately got. Stand up in those Commons and use the space called Freedom of Speech. There is a reason it’s the first on the list. The right to defend oneself is the second. There is a reason. Own it. Use it. Flaunt it. Name it. But please, don’t get rid of it in this atmosphere, this police state.

    Where did we learn to hate our own individuality, as if we could have anything to offer anyone else when we decide we are nothing? Individuals come together voluntarily in successful communities. Those who don’t know who they are or what they want end up in herds -not functional communities.

    Just some things EASY to do. No excuses. There many more. (Like not buying taxed items like alcohol, tobacco etc.) Choosing health without insurance, doctors, pharmeceuticals, fake psychology . . .) Maybe we need a place to go that is solutions oriented. Not just visionary, though that’s good too, but real actions that don’t rely upon system. Create our own.

    More ideas?

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,
    Melissa