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Bil’in Breaks the Chains (Digest)

1. Bil’in Breaks the Chains
2. Two Bil’in Teens Arrested During Night
3. Bil’in Children Arrested
4. Protest at Beit Sira
5. Jane’s Journal: Inside a Balata Invasion
6. Justice for journalists
7. Sir Gerald Kaufman MP: Israel “would be a rogue government” if Refuses to Prosecute Killer Soldiers
8. The Lobby and the Bulldozer: Mearsheimer, Walt and Corrie

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1. Bil’in Breaks the Chains
April 15th, 2006

On Friday the 14th of April, the villagers of Bil’in held their weekly demonstration against the apartheid wall that is de-facto annexing over half of their land to Israel. That land the government of Israel is using to build illegal Israeli settlements on.

The Popular Committee in the village organises different creative themes that illustrate the plight of the village and the Palestinians in general. This week, they wanted to draw attention to the economic strangulation of the Palestinians by the international community after the recent Palestinian elections. Palestinians, Israelis and international demonstrators bound themselves together with iron rings, and were led along by other demonstrators bearing US, EU and UN flag symbolising the control and oppression of the Palestinians people by the international community.

When we got to the gate in the fence, the way was barred by two jeeps on the opposite side. When we approached, singing and chanting, several soldiers with clubs and riot shields emerged and stood on the jeeps threatening to beat the demonstrators over the razor wire. Several of the demonstrators soon opened the gate and started trying to move the razor wire out of the way. Soldiers swung their clubs at the demonstrators, though they were usually too far away to make contact because of the wire.

After about half an hour standing-off in this way, we started to demonstrate around the perimeter of the fence. At several points along the way, demonstrators tried to crawl through gaps in the razor wire to reach the patrol road fence and access the annexed village land. The first attempt was thwarted by a wall of soldiers, but at two other points demonstrators managed to get through before the soldiers could take action and we held sit down demonstrations on the patrol road.

The soldiers tried unsuccessfully to drive us away with beatings, but since we were already on the road, there was little they could do. They hit one Palestinian, giving him a bloody nose. After about 20 minutes, we decided to end the sit down protests and retreat back to the village side of the razor wire, one by one in a calm fashion (Palestinians leaving first to avoid arrests). Four Israelis and a Jewish American student were detained for an hour and released without charges when the demonstration had finished.
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2. Two Bil’in Teens Arrested During Night
April 14th, 2006
By Jane

Just when I thought I was in for a quiet night, saying good bye to the resisters in Bil’in, the Israeli army came into the village and arrested 2 young men, Yassar aged 16 and Tariq aged 19.
It was a beautiful warm night at the outpost. R and I arrived just after dark. We tried to collect some wood and we built one of the smallest fires the outpost has witnessed. As we finished our supper of aubergine dip, yoghurt and bread the shebab begun to to come out of the night in two’s and threes. Ali arrived in his truck bringing his young son. They got the fire going and the kettle on. A typical outpost night of being taught arabic words, sweet tea, rich coffee, cigarettes, sunflower seeds and loud stories of which I could only understand the final burst of laughter. The full moon shone and we came out from under the shelter to bathe in it’s light.

At midnight I pulled myself into the cab of Ali’s truck. Shebab climbed into the back and we left R and 2 young men from the village behind. We took the slow, bumpy ride back to the village. Through land belonging to Ali’s family, now piled with stones and rubble, 300 year old olive trees uprooted and gone. Onto the security road by the fence, up the hill, round the fence and down to the gate and the site of the Friday demonstrations. Along the old tarmac road, unmaintained, pot holed, passing fields then houses. They dropped me outside the ISM apartment. We called goodbye, they told me to bring all my family to visit Bil’in.

I read till late and finally turned out the light at about 1.30am. No sooner had I closed my eyes than Abdullah was banging on the door. Soldiers are outside. I grabed my camera, bag with notebook, pen and cigs, stuck my feet in my trainers, pulled on another top and I was out of the house. Abdullah was standing in his red pyjamas, two armed soldiers next to him. He was demanding they leave the village. There were 3 or 4 military vehicals in the street. It was hard to see behind the glare of their headlights. Soldiers with nightsights and guns pointing at roofs, round walls, at trees and shrubs. Abdullah went up on his roof, “Get off the roof” yelled two soldiers, “No I won’t, this is my house, what are you doing here, we don’t want you here , go away”. I’m walking up and down the street, between soldiers. Soldiers emerge from a building, they all climb into vehicals and drive past the mosque and up the hill. It’s only now that I can see a group of shebab and a camera man by the mosque. ” Hello Jane”, I recognise a few of them. “Did they take anyone” they ask me. “No I didn’t see anyone with them”. We start to follow the military vehicals up the hill.

Five hundred yards and the soldiers have stopped again. I look at the cameraman and we go forward. Again I’m walking in among the soldiers asking what are they doing, why are they here. It’s the middle of the night, the occupying military force is armed and on the streets of a small West Bank village and I’m walking around in the middle of it all. It’s very strange. Then from a track soldiers are bringing a young boy, Yassar, he is frightened, he’s a child. On his face are the tracks of a few tears. His eyes, like headlights, beam out fear. “What are you doing with that child, let him go, let him go, he’s a child, why have you got a child, let him go”. They try and put him in the back of a vehical. There’s me shouting and getting in the way and a whole lot of big soldiers but my white skin, my english voice means they hesitate. At one point I managed to get my arm round they boy and we begin to walk away. For a split second I think they will let us go. Hands get hold of us, they start to pull us apart, we are holding onto each others arms and hands, the distance between us gets bigger and bigger till we can’t hold onto eachother any more. A soldier twists my arm behind my back. “You are interfering with our operation, go away”. “Yes I am interfering with you trying to take away a child”. A woman in a nightgown appears, she is pleading with the soldiers. A man in his night time clothes approaches. We are in a chaotic bundle around the child.

So many soldiers. Were there 16, 18, 20. I don’t know. They took the child. Later I found out he was 16 years old. In the night, surrounded by soldiers he looked about 13.
As the door of the vehical closed on the boy the stones started flying. Soldiers fire teargas at the shebab. Stones seem to be coming from all directions. I find myself crouched behind a wall with a soldier. The vehicals start turning, the soldiers run to them and off they go, stones bouncing of the metal and scattering across the road.

The shebab congregate back at the mosque. Abdullah appears in his pyjamas. News comes that Tariq, 19 years old, has also been taken. The soldiers drive through a couple more times and are met by stones raining down from behind every wall and gate. The stones of the shebab are shouting “get out of our village, get out of our village.”

Bil’in has been targetted by the Israeli military because of it’s continuous non violent resistence to the annexation fence/apathied wall. This week, in addittion to Yassar and Tariq, 2 children were arrested whilst tending their goats. ISM supports Bil’in’s ongoing struggle by standing side by side with the villagers, trying to prevent arrests, witnessing, media work and legal support. This legal support is expensive as it costs 1000’s of sheckles to get villagers released from Israeli detention.

The ISM urges all its supporters to continue raising money for the legal fund, so that we can continue to support non-violent protest against illegal occupation and theft of Palestinian land, and continue to free jailed children.

To donate see the PayPal link at palsolidarity.org
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3. Bil’in Children Arrested
April 12th, 2006

Two Palestinian children from the village of Bil’in were arrested mid morning on Tuesday April 12th.

Mohammad Abd Al Fattah Burnatt, aged 17, and Mohammad Ahmad Hamad aged 13 were tending a herd of goats close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Modi’in Elite. The settlement is built on land that has belonged to the village for generations.

According to Hamad’s father, the boys picked up one of the pieces of scrap metal that litter the fields next to the construction site. One of the settlers noticed and called the police accusing them of theft. The police arrested the pair and later made additional charges of entering Israel illegally, and of throwing stones at a recent demonstration in Bil’in against the apartheid wall.
In an ironic protest against Israeli settler tactics, the village has established it’s own settlement outpost on land stolen for settlement construction. Villagers and a peace activist from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were at the outpost, and ran across in time to witness the arrest. Afterwards, they shepherded the goats to a safe enclosure.

The ISM secured the release on bail of Mohammad Ahmad Hamad (13) for a cash payment of 5,000 NIS early this afternoon. It is not known when the boys’ trial will take place. The ISM has been active in supporting the village of Bil’in’s non violent protests and legal action against the building of the settlements on village land, and the construction of the apartheid wall. If Israel completes the wall and the settlements, about half of the village’s pasture and olive groves, including a holy site, will be stolen.

The ISM urges all its supporters to continue raising money for the legal fund, so that we can continue to support non-violent protest against illegal occupation and theft of Palestinian land, and continue to free jailed children.

To donate see the PayPal link at palsolidarity.org
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4. Protest at Beit Sira
By Jodi
April 15th, 2006

For photos see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/04/15/protest-at-beit-sira-2/
On 14th April, my second day in Palestine, I visited the small village of Beit Sira, near Ramallah.
In many other countries the inhabitants of such a village would spend today tending their farms, being with their families and friends, or popping down to the local shop. But Beit Sira has lost 70% of its land since 1948.

The nearby Kibbutz is built entirely on former village land, and more recently the settlement of Makkabim has been built on yet more village land. Now another swathe of land has been stolen to build the grotesque apartheid wall.

A well, that was crucial to the water supply of the village, is on the far side of the wall. Israel pumps the water from the well and sells it back to the Palestinian Authority. So the people of Beit Sira now have to pay 4 shekels/cubic meter for their water, whilst people in the illegal Israeli settlement of Makkabim pay just 1 1/2 shekels/cubic meter for water stolen from Beit Sira.

The village now holds a weekly demonstration to protest against the building of the wall, and I was with a group of internationals and Israelis who had come to support them. As we walked down from the village we could see the massive coils of razor wire, a wide gravel track (soon to become a ‘security road’) the other side of the wire, and beyond that the illegal Makkabim settlement.

Bizarrely the Israelis have uprooted hundreds of olive trees to build the wall, and then dug up part of the village’s existing road to replant the trees. The scheme hasn’t worked; the replanted trees are all dead.

As about 50 of us walked down the road with nothing but our cameras and water bottles we faced a line of armed police bearing riot shields and behind them some soldiers and jeeps – completely incongruous on a country lane surrounded by fields of crops and olive and almond trees.

Since the villagers started their demonstrations several weeks ago they have been threatened by the Army, to the extent that they could not even open the Community Centre for us to congregate in. The Army is clearly aiming to quash any resistance to the building of the wall and theft of the land. The villagers have already taken their case to court requesting that the wall be rerouted, but the court rejected their application.

When we reached the line of riot police we all sat down peacefully in the road in contrast to the violent intents of the armed police who faced us.

It was clear that we would not be able to go any further down the road, and after a short while the villagers declared the demonstration over and we returned to the village.
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5. Jane’s Journal: Inside a Balata Invasion
April 12th, 2006

I was awoken at 3.15am by the sound of gunfire in the streets nearby and then two explosions, one that made our apartment vibrate. I and three other activists lay in the darkness of the ISM apartment in Balata refugee camp listening intently. We are not from communities under constant military attack. We were not bought up in Balata where lives are lived to the sound track of live gun fire, rubber bullets, explosions, sound bombs, jeeps and armoured vehicles. I couldn’t tell what was happening. Was it a clash between fighters and Israeli soldiers? Were they on the street outside the apartment? What was that explosion? It sounded so loud. If we opened a window to look out would we be able to see anything? Would a sniper fire at us? What vehicle’s engine was running in the street below?

Then bang, bang, bang, thumping on metal. Israeli soldiers voices shouting. Were they at the metal door at the bottom of the steps to our building? The metal door crashed open. Was this a military invasion that would last for days or just a night operation? Were the soldiers going from house to house? Heavy footsteps up the stairs and then across the roof. They must be using the roof of our apartment building as a vantage point for snipers. The building was silent except for the voices of soldiers and the sound of their movements.

How does it feel to lie in the dark, uncertain of what is happening? Feeling surrounded
by the power of a military force. Not knowing if the door will crash open and soldiers pile in. What if one of our neighbours shouts or cries out in distress? Will we act, shout in English, say we are opening the door and are coming outside? We waited, concentrating on the sounds. We knew we had the protection of our international status. How much harder it is to imagine waiting in your own home, not knowing if the soldiers will explode your front door or a wall into your front room. Then what will happen? Do they want your son, your brother, your Dad? Will they abuse you and beat you and your family?

Again the silence of the families in the building. Coughing, a few short crying sounds from a baby. Was a helicopter circling the camp or was it just the fridge humming? Occasional bursts of gunfire.

After 40 minutes we heard the footsteps back across the roof, some clanking and steps down the stairs, their voices, the vehicles slowly leaving. Had all the soldiers gone? Would there be more explosions? Was that it for tonight?

How wonderful daylight is. Fear retreats to the dusty corners. Bright sunshine and the sound of our neighbour’s voices banishes anxiety.

Mohammed, our ISM Co-ordinator arrives. He tells us four young men, under 18, were arrested in Balata during the night. Two young men are now wanted. To be wanted means to be even more caged in. These two young men will not be able to pass through any checkpoints. They will live daily with the knowledge that they could be arrested at any time. Perhaps the soldiers will return in the night. To be arrested… to be beaten… to be tortured… to be imprisoned for months, years.

Soldiers also raided the neighbours of Ahmed, an ISM volunteer. He told me quietly that he had got dressed, got his ID and waited. He wasn’t able to sleep till the light came.

Jane
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6. Justice for journalists
But Israel must also be held to account for the deaths of innocent Palestinians.
By Ewa Jasiewicz
April 13, 2006

From The Guardian (http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ewa_jasiewicz/2006/04/the_palestinian_hurndalls_and.html)

The verdicts of intentional killing and murder over the deaths of journalists Tom Hurndall and James Miller are small victories; but what about the unaddressed and unresolved killings of hundreds of Palestinian civilians?

Activists within the International Solidarity Movement have in the past relied upon the racism of the Israeli state to keep themselves untargeted. White faces were waved through checkpoints and white western activists were able to halt tanks temporarily, monitor house searches and arrests, and check on prisoners during refugee camp round-ups, visit families who had had their homes turned into military bases, and accompany and facilitate the movement of Palestinian ambulances. We could move amidst stone- and Molotov-throwing youths, as observers and hopefully as deterrents to the by turns indiscriminate and targeted shooting by Israeli soldiers.

Uncomfortable and possibly selfperpetuating as it was, white supremacy was our weapon, shielded with the myth of Israeli democracy on the one hand, and the professionalism and humanitarianism of the Israeli Defence Forces on the other. They wouldn’t kill a westerner, not a peace activist, not a journalist; the bad PR would be devastating.

Enter the Iraq war. With global media attention fixated on the heavily propagandised but never materialised shock and awe attack on Iraq and the unfolding nightmare of America’s first direct occupation of a Muslim country, Israel was once again pushing the limits of international law on two fronts. The first was the construction of the Separation Barrier, AKA the Apartheid Wall, accompanied by hundreds of home demolitions, land confiscations and the ghettoisation of entire villages; and the second was the alleged targeting of western activists, long regarded as an increasingly emboldened interference in the military operations of the Israeli army.

Within six weeks, three International Solidarity Movement activists were attacked. The death of Rachel Corrie, who was wearing a fluorescent orange jacket when she was bulldozed to death, was followed by the shooting in the head of Tom Hurndall, also easily identifiable in fluorescent orange.

And then there was Brian Avery, 24, who narrowly escaped death when Israeli soldiers fired a 50 calibre bullet into his face. He too was wearing a high-visibility vest, and was standing in the middle of a crossroads in Jenin town centre along with four other Western activists with their hands raised in the air. I was one of them, and I witnessed the armoured personnel carrier stop before us, slow down, undoubtedly see us, and open fire.

So far Brian’s case has not been granted a criminal investigation despite a Supreme Court challenge to the initial military investigation last February. So far he has had no compensation for his injuries.

Another case left in legal limbo is that of 13-year-old Baha al Bahesh, gunned down by an Israeli soldier in the West Bank city of Nablus in September 2002. If western citizenship can afford the victim media attention, then a white witness, or three in the case of Baha, can carry the same weight.

I was one of those witnesses. I wrote about it, and spoke about it on Israeli television, independent radio, BBC radio and to the international press; but his killer has yet to be brought to justice. There has been no public inquiry, no trial and no independent investigation.

The IDF military investigation found, six months after Baha’s death and burial, that the boy was in fact still alive. Why? Because allegedly no death certificate had been presented to the IDF. This was the final insult to a family devastated by their son’s death.

The judicial process afforded Tom Hurndall and James Miller’s families needs to be applied to the thousands of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces. The fact that the rule of international law does not appear to cover Palestinian lives means the Israeli army can act with impunity and unaccountability.

Racism has long been a driving force within the conflict in historical Palestine, both in terms of creating the conditions for the Nakba in the first place; to underpinning the way human lives are valued, represented, remembered and lost.

The rule of international law will be rendered meaningless if it is not applied equally. We should never lose sight of the fact that it is not just internationals who get killed in this ongoing, tragic struggle.
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7. Sir Gerald Kaufman MP: Israel “would be a rogue government” if Refuses to Prosecute Killer Soldiers
April 13th, 2006

We Cannot Allow These Murders to Go Unpunished
We can demand these homicidal Israeli soldiers be prosecuted for war crimes
by Sir Gerald Kaufman MP

www.commondreams.org/views06/0412-26.htm

In a marvellous book of essays, “The Slopes of Lebanon,” the great Israeli novelist Amos Oz advanced an audacious thesis. He contended that the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis in the Holocaust – they included many members of my own family – must not be used as justification for the oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis.

Recent Israeli governments, led first by Ariel Sharon and now by Ehud Olmert, have launched a new twist on the argument refuted by Oz. They operate actively on the policy that the murder of 1,000 Israeli Jews by Palestinian terrorists allows the Israeli forces to do anything they think fit in what their government claims is national self-defense. Over the past few days they have killed 13 Palestinians, including a five-year-old girl.

Those of us who believe in a two-state solution, a secure Israel alongside a free and internationally recognised Palestine, are denounced as sympathisers with terrorism – or, in cases such as mine, self-hating Jews – if we attack the appalling suppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis.

We point out that the evacuation of the Gaza Strip by Israeli troops last summer was not a move towards a two-state solution but simply self-defensive action. We point out that Olmert’s plans to base Israel’s permanent border by the year 2010 on the illegal Israeli wall is not a peace formula but an imposed settlement that the Palestinians will never accept. We point out that every withdrawal of funding from the Palestinians by the European Union and the US increases support for Hamas among the Palestinians. We point out that the road map for peace in the Middle East, of which our own government is a key initiator, is moribund. We are all but ignored.

But, when it comes to the murder of Britons by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers, the self-serving apologia of Israeli atrocities by right-wing Israelis and their sympathisers loses all credibility.

New territory is opened by the verdict of the inquests in Britain that the British peace activist Tom Hurndall and the British film-maker James Miller were murdered by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. As Britons we have the right to require action by our own government when our own nationals are stated by legal authorities in our own country to be the victims of homicide by a foreign power. If the Speaker allows me when the Commons reconvenes next Tuesday after the Easter recess, I shall be asking my friend and colleague Jack Straw what action he proposes to take about the murder of Hurndall and Miller.

It seems to me that we have three choices. We can ask for these killers to be extradited for prosecution under war crimes legislation in this country. After all, even Colonel Gaddafi agreed eventually to the Libyan Lockerbie killers being put on trial. Alternatively, we can demand that these homicidal Israeli soldiers be prosecuted for war crimes before an international court, as Slobodan Milosevic was. If the Israelis cooperate in neither of these courses, then we should impose sanctions on what would be a rogue government.

Those of us who have visited the Palestinian territories in recent months know that there is an element in the Israeli armed forces which is trigger-happy and well nigh out of control. Last November I led the first ever British Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation to the Palestinian National Authority. Twice, during our period there, our group of three members of the Commons and two members of the Lords was held at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers, even when we had explained our mission.

I pointed out to my Parliamentary colleagues that we were being subjected to only transitory harassment, that we were going home on Friday, while for the Palestinians this was their life, much worse, and permanently. And of course brief annoyance for a British team of parliamentarians is less than a minute fraction of what happened to Hurndall and Miller. But it is a meaningful symptom.

Apologists for the Israeli government say that that country is a democracy. So what? The United States is a democracy, yet it almost routinely tortures prisoners held in violation of international law at Guantanamo Bay. A democratically-elected French Government suppressed the Algerians for years.

This current Israeli government, posing as moderate when it is extremist, is, like President Bush’s administration in Guantanamo, also in violation of international law. I look to my own British government to take action on behalf of its own murdered nationals and their families. They must ensure that the Israeli government is made to abide by international law and international decency.

Sir Gerald Kaufmanis Labour MP for Manchester, Gorton, and former Shadow Foreign Secretary, 1987-92.
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8. The Lobby and the Bulldozer: Mearsheimer, Walt and Corrie
April 14th, 2006
Published on Thursday, April 13, 2006 by Common Dreams
(http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0413-20.htm)
by Norman Solomon

Weeks after a British magazine published a long article by two American professors titled “The Israel Lobby,” the outrage continued to howl through mainstream U.S. media.

A Los Angeles Times op-ed article by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Max Boot helped to set a common tone. He condemned a working paper by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that was excerpted last month in the London Review of Books.

The working paper, Boot proclaimed, is “nutty.” And he strongly implied that the two professors — Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago and Walt at Harvard — are anti-Semitic.

Many who went on the media attack did more than imply. On April 3, for instance, the same day that the Philadelphia Inquirer reprinted Boot’s piece from the L.A. Times, a notably similar op-ed appeared in the Boston Herald under the headline “Anti-Semitic Paranoia at Harvard.”

And so it goes in the national media echo chamber. When a Johns Hopkins University professor weighed in last week on the op-ed page of the Washington Post, the headline was blunt: “Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic.” The piece flatly called the Mearsheimer-Walt essay “kooky academic work” — and “anti-Semitic.”

But nothing in the essay is anti-Semitic.

Some of the analysis from Mearsheimer and Walt is arguable. A number of major factors affect Uncle Sam’s Middle East policies in addition to pro-Israel pressures. But no one can credibly deny that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, where politicians know that they can criticize Israel only at their political peril.

Overall, the Mearsheimer-Walt essay makes many solid points about destructive aspects of U.S. support for the Israeli government. Their assessments deserve serious consideration.
For several decades, to the present moment, Israel’s treatment of Palestinian people has amounted to methodical and despicable violations of human rights. Yet criticism of those policies from anyone (including American Jews such as myself) routinely results in accusations of anti-Jewish bigotry.

The U.S. media reaction to the essay by professors Mearsheimer and Walt provides just another bit of evidence that they were absolutely correct when they wrote: “Anyone who criticizes Israel’s actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over U.S. Middle Eastern policy — an influence AIPAC celebrates — stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israel Lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism, even though the Israeli media refer to America’s ‘Jewish Lobby.’ In other words, the Lobby first boasts of its influence and then attacks anyone who calls attention to it. It’s a very effective tactic: anti-Semitism is something no one wants to be accused of.”

Sadly, few media outlets in the United States are willing to confront this “very effective tactic.” Yet it must be challenged. As the London-based Financial Times editorialized on the first day of this month: “Moral blackmail — the fear that any criticism of Israeli policy and U.S. support for it will lead to charges of anti-Semitism — is a powerful disincentive to publish dissenting views. It is also leading to the silencing of policy debate on American university campuses, partly as the result of targeted campaigns against the dissenters.”

The Financial Times editorial noted: “Reflexes that ordinarily spring automatically to the defense of open debate and free enquiry shut down — at least among much of America’s political elite — once the subject turns to Israel, and above all the pro-Israel lobby’s role in shaping U.S. foreign policy.”

The U.S. government’s policies toward Israel should be considered on their merits. As it happens, that’s one of the many valid points made by Mearsheimer and Walt in their much-vilified essay: “Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for one-sided U.S. support and could move the U.S. to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel’s long-term interests as well.”

But without open debate, no significant change in those policies can happen. That inertia — stultifying the blood of the body politic by constricting the flow of information and ideas — is antithetical to the kind of democratic discourse that we deserve.

Few other American academics have been willing to expose themselves to the kind of professional risks that John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt took by releasing their provocative paper. And few other American activists have been willing to expose themselves to the kind of risks that Rachel Corrie took when she sat between a Palestinian home and a Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza three years ago.

The bulldozer, driven by an Israeli army soldier on assignment to demolish the home, rolled over Corrie, who was 23 years old. She had taken a nonviolent position for human rights; she lost her life as a result. But she was rarely praised in the same U.S. media outlets that had gone into raptures over the image of a solitary unarmed man standing in front of Chinese tanks at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

In sharp contrast to the high-tech killers who run the Israeli military apparatus and the low-tech killers who engage in suicide bombings, Rachel Corrie put her beliefs into practice with militant nonviolence instead of carnage. She exemplified the best of the human spirit in action; she was killed with an American-brand bulldozer in the service of a U.S.-backed government.

As her parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, said in a statement on her birthday a few weeks after she died: “Rachel wanted to bring attention to the plight of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories, a people she felt were largely invisible to most Americans.”

In the United States, the nonstop pro-Israel media siege aims to keep them scarcely visible.

Norman Solomon’s latest book is “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” For information, go to: www.WarMadeEasy.com