Thursday, March 16, 2017

TRUMP: BUGGER THE PEOPLE, ISRAEL APARTHEID


THE ABSURD TIMES



It seems the religions get along together as long as the people can use their minds.  At the bottom or end of this is a report on Zionism in action.  The photo comes from people working together here to pick up after hate crimes. The article is a UN thing on Apartheid in Israel.  [There is no need to point out, except for the sake of mockery, that Israel thinks it is a lie.] 





Trump: Bugger the People



This may not be apparent to most U.S. Citizens, but the idiocy and inanity of the Trump administration is quite a relief to parts of the international community.  While all the superficial funny stuff is going on, and our media is gobbling it up, other countries are happy to see it flailing away and looking like a clown with two left feet.  So, let's look at the more amusing things first and then what Trump really means for the rest of the world.



Of course, hate crimes here have risen dramatically as Trump in office makes many think that such is fine these days.  The morons who commit them, however, are not very well educated or knowledgeable, of course, as they voted for the clown.  For example, we have several examples of Indian people (from India), Sikh sect being shot at and told to go back home to Iran.  India and Iran are two different countries, naturally, but they have no idea of that.  Mention Ghandi to them and they would look at you strangely.  Mention a travel ban against Moslems, and they will still applaud, despite further rulings that they violate the first amendment (remember that?)  In case you missed it, we deid publish the entire Constitution just recently.  We may open things up for comment on the blog for awhile to see how things go.



Facebook, it seems, has yielded to Zionist pressure and banned most BDS conversations, but nude and objectified Marine women were to be found there until recently.  The photos have now reappeared several places, but we have not looked for them.



Trump tends to TWC (Tweet While Constipated) often when publicity is a problem and manages to change the conversation.  The latest spate was over Obama "tapping his phones" before the election.  Soon afterwards, after a list of praise for Wikileaks  ("I love Wikileaks'), a list of covert spying methods was released.  "Weeping Angel" was my favorite, but they were many others, including something about a kangaroo.  Lots of fun there.  People pretended to be shocked and offended, but hasn't it been common knowledge that EVERYTHING is digitized, compressed, and stored somewhere by the NSA? 



At any rate, these revelations were enough for his helpers to defend Trump.  Kelley Anne Conway would say things like "they turn your microwave into a camera."  Later, someone said that it was "said in jest," but we can tell when someone is jesting.  Why we can even tell when Steven Wright was jesting.  Conway simply cannot jest.  She can use the term "alternative facts" completely seriously without any idea of how strange it sounds.  Sean Spicer handled the nonsense a bit more safely, saying that "The tweets speak for themselves," and then ducking away from the cameras, surely a statement worthy of the Trump Administration.  In case you wonder, all those tweets will become national property and placed eventually in the Trump Library one day.



Perhaps this belongs with the hate crimes, but what the hell – it all fits together anyway.  Representative King (R – IA) stated that we can't have a civilization with other peoples babies.  Confused?  Well, you can't play tennis with them either.  What's the point, moron?  I keep reminding myself that he is a Republican and that explains most things.



Still, even Republicans are running away from the TWC, but many support their version of "healthcare".  1) Don't buy an Iphone, and 2) if you are 64 and make 34K/year, half goes for health insurance.  Obama is increasingly being called the ACA which was its original name but called Obamacare by Republicans because, you know, black healthcare and all.  Gotta keep our civilization with out babies.



Before we blame everything on the Republicans, consider how the Democrats kept Sanders from the nomination and remember he could have defeated both Trump and help other Dems take seats in Congress.  However, he thought Medicare for all was the solution, and many voters agreed.  That would put insurance companies out of profits and bring health care cost to what they are in other industrial nations (about half of what they are here).  These companies donate hugely to campaigns.



And finally, Wikileaks never told us anything we didn't already know – it just provided documentation.  It was popular here during Bush's war on Iraq; they same people are now attacking it as an instrument of Russia. 



This is getting too crazy, so let's see how this affects the world.  Since the military budget is being raised beyond what the military even wants, and already is larger than the next 8 countries' combined, we gotta cut other stuff, like the UN, EPA, and all that tree-hugging stuff.  Perhaps those who voted for Trump will notice what he actually does to them. 



Meanwhile, everyone seems to have forgotten Israel amidst all this nonsense and perhaps that is the reason.  Here is an interview on Apartheid in Israel:

For the first time, a United Nations agency has directly accused Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" on the Palestinian people. The report also urges governments to "support boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives." The findings come in a new report published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which is comprised of 18 Arab states. For more, we speak with the co-author of the report, Richard Falk. He's professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and previously served as the U.N. special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: For the first time, a United Nations agency has directly accused Israel of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people. The report also urges governments to, quote, "support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives." The findings come in a new report published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which is comprised of 18 Arab states. This is the head of the U.N. agency, Rima Khalaf.
RIMA KHALAF: [translated] The importance of this report is not only because it is the first of its kind, one that is published by one of the United Nations' bodies that clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people, but also it sheds light on the essence of the Palestinian cause and the conditions needed for accomplishing peace.
AMY GOODMAN: The report met with immediate condemnation from Israel and the United States. U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York the report was published without any prior consultation with the U.N. Secretariat.
STÉPHANE DUJARRIC: If we just saw the report today, which, as you say, was published by ESCWA, it was done so without any prior consultations with the Secretariat. And the report, as it stands, does not reflect the views of the secretary-general.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the report, we go, not to The Hague, but to Edinburgh, Scotland, to talk to Richard Falk, co-author of the report that's titled "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid." He has written a number of books, including Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He previously served as the U.N. special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.
Professor Falk, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the main findings of your report and how unusual this report is within the United Nations?
RICHARD FALK: Yes. As the head of the commission indicated, this is the first time that a comprehensive and systematic inquiry has been carried out into the allegation that Israel is responsible for maintaining an apartheid regime in relation to the Palestinian people. One of the distinctive features of the report is to treat the Palestinians as a whole, and that's quite innovative as far as the discussions of the applicability of apartheid to the Palestinian circumstances is concerned. And that means distinguishing between Palestinians that live under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza or as permanent residents in Jerusalem or as a Palestinian minority in the state of Israel, and, finally, as refugees or involuntary exiles.
What the report argues is that Israel has pursued a policy of fragmenting the Palestinian people in order to maintain the domination of a Jewish state over these different categories of Palestinians, and has done so in a way that is systematically discriminatory and is responsible for deep suffering over a very long period of time, with no end in sight. Unlike other forms of international criminality, this is an ongoing crime, according to the analysis in the report, and there is no end in sight, nor no political process that can adequately challenge this set of policies and structures that have been applied to the Palestinian people.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Professor Falk, I'd like you to say something about the agency that commissioned and published the report, the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The membership of this agency, there are 18 Arab members, a number of whom don't recognize Israel. So, do you think that that might raise questions about the legitimacy of the report?
RICHARD FALK: Well, all the—these Arab members of ESCWA did was to ask that such a report be prepared. And Virginia Tilley, professor at the University of Southern Illinois, and myself were asked to prepare this report on a contract basis. It doesn't represent a U.N. finding as such. It is a report commissioned by the U.N. that has been received, with approval, but there's been no formal endorsement of it. It's possible that it will be endorsed, or efforts will be made to obtain an endorsement at the General Assembly or in other parts of the U.N. system. But as of now, it's a scholarly report undertaken by independent scholars. And there is a kind of disclaimer that the U.N.—this U.N. commission made, that the report doesn't necessarily represent even ESCWA's views. It is the views of the two of us who prepared the report.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon issued a statement saying, quote, "The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie." The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, said the U.S. is "outraged by the report." In a written statement, she said, quote, "That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising. That it was drafted by Richard Falk, a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories, including about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is equally unsurprising." Can you respond to this? She said that the U.N. should withdraw the report altogether.
RICHARD FALK: Well, this is, of course, nothing new in terms of the way in which Israel and the United States respond to any kind of criticism, no matter how well grounded in fact and careful, reasoned analysis. I would ask that people look at the report, look at the evidence, and then come to a conclusion. Whatever else it is, it isn't an effort to smear Israel or to in any way give aid and comfort to anti-Semitism. In fact, the report makes a clear statement that it—that the authors are unconditionally opposed to anti-Semitism as a form of racism. And it tries to draw a distinction between criticizing Israel as a state, or Zionism as a movement, from any kind of hostility to the Jewish people. But, unfortunately, American diplomacy, including under the Obama—during the Obama period of leadership, and Israel don't want to deal with the substantive issues that are raised.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about those substantive issues that you raised in this report, Professor Falk.
RICHARD FALK: Well, the essence of the substantive issues are policies and practices that impose a discriminatory—a discriminatory pattern of behavior that has greatly—greatly contributed to Palestinians suffering over the years on a daily basis. It is a situation that appalls most of the governments in the world, and is not something that is in any way dealt with in this report in an emotional way. It looks at the policies and practices. It looks at the structures by which Israel has justified the way in which it addresses the Palestinian presence in these four domains, and generally tries to make an objective appraisal of how these policies and practices stand up against the international definition of apartheid that is in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and—
AMY GOODMAN: And what did you conclude?
RICHARD FALK: We concluded that there is a integrated regime of apartheid that is victimizing the Palestinian people in a collective manner, and that it should be acted upon by the United Nations and by other institutional mechanisms to bring this crime to an end. That's the essential—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Professor Falk, very quickly, before we conclude, can you say, what do you expect to happen? What's the effect of this report, given that the U.N. has already distanced itself from it?
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
RICHARD FALK: Well, the Secretariat has distanced itself. Other organs of the U.N. haven't responded so far as I know. Our hope is that this report will lead to a careful inquiry by appropriate organs of the U.N., and that if our analysis is persuasive, that it will have some political consequences.
AMY GOODMAN: Richard Falk, we want to thank you for being with us, joining us from Edinburgh, Scotland, co-author of the report, "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid." Thanks for joining us.
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.


Friday, March 10, 2017

TRUMP V. BIBI -- A BETTER, BIGGER BAN?


THE ABSURD TIMES




From Latuff on Mondoweiss







TRUMP V. BIBI

BY

#BDS



Now, isn't Trump's travel ban rather stupid?  Yes, of course, but it really takes our minds off serious issues.  This ban will be thrown out of court eventually.  Perhaps it will wind up in front of our ridiculous Supreme Court one day, but that will take awhile.



However, the anti-BDS forces are at work with a passion.  Cuomo (I don't care how he spells it, really) of New York has already made it illegal to get any state funds for anyone who supports BDS.  We do have a First Amendment (we published it here earlier as we knew it was needed) that says we can speak.  Really, that is a right we have.  Well, of course, they want to tinker with it, but it is still there.  In fact, this court actually voted to give corporations the same legal status as people under the constitution, even though the articles of incorporation always make profit for the shareholders the ultimate motive and thus they are legally obligated to be sociopaths.  [We could go on about this as it is a fascination topic, but we'll stay with BDS for now.]



Israel, however, has no such thing.  In fact, if you say something they don't like, they will lock you up, shoot you, and/or torture you, whatever.  "Speech Scmeech" seems to be the official position over there.



Obama, who had treated Israel so generously, was constantly attacked, especially after Hillary left.  Kerry, after all, had actually had experience with different cultures.  That is frowned upon in our politics.



Now things are worse: much worse under Trump (what a morbid image).  His practice of TWC (Tweeting while constipated) manages to keep the media's focus off of what is really going on.  Israel has made its own travel ban against anyone who seems to be in favor of BDS and outlawed the Moslem Call to Prayer. 



In the following interview or transcript, we hear from some people who can discuss this and what it is like living there.  One was making a movie about what it looks and sound like when a Palestinian's home is wrecked and smashed by the Israelis.  They wanted it to look realistic, so they included real furniture.   It seems they were trying to contract with someone to wreck on so they could film it when I Israeli Government sent a wrecking crew there and did it for them.  Free of charge.  What could be more ludicrous?



Here is the interview:


 While President Trump has made international headlines for his attempt to temporarily ban refugees and residents of some Muslim-majority nations, one of Washington's closest allies has instituted a travel ban of its own. Earlier this week, Israeli lawmakers approved a law barring supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, from entering Israel. The BDS movement is an international campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. The Israeli parliament voted to ban non-Israelis from entering the country if they, or any organizations they are a part of, support the boycott. After the law was passed, the Israeli parliament posted a message on its site reading, "In recent years calls to boycott Israel have been growing. It seems this is a new front in the war against Israel, which until now the country had not prepared for properly." We are joined by three guests. Rebecca Vilkomerson is executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. Also with us are two guests connected to the new film "Junction 48." Israeli-American filmmaker Udi Aloni directed the film, and the Palestinian actor Tamer Nafar is the film's star.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: That's the theme song from the new film Junction 48, performed by Tamer Nafar and Samar Qupty. We'll be joined by Tamer in just a minute. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: While President Trump has made international headlines for his attempt to temporarily ban refugees and residents of some Muslim-majority nations, one of Washington's closest allies has instituted a travel ban of its own. Earlier this week, Israeli lawmakers approved a law barring supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, from entering Israel. The BDS movement is an international campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. The Israeli parliament voted to ban non-Israelis from entering the country if they, or any organizations they are part of, support the boycott. After the law was passed, the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, posted a message on its site reading, quote, "In recent years calls to boycott Israel have been growing. It seems this is a new front in the war against Israel, which until now the country had not prepared for properly."
AMY GOODMAN: The ban has been widely criticized even by critics of BDS. The American Jewish Committee, which opposes the boycott movement, said the law will not defeat BDS, nor—quote, "nor will it help Israel's image as the beacon of democracy in the Middle East it is," unquote. The publication Inside Higher Public Ed [Inside Higher Ed] reports a group of Jewish studies scholars are preparing to release an open letter opposing the law, describing it as a, quote, "further blow to the democratic foundations of Israel," unquote. Professor Mara Benjamin of St. Olaf College, who opposes BDS, said the ban, quote, "will have a chilling effect on scholarship (as well as on all people who care about having a healthy democracy in the state of Israel)" unquote.
Well, today we begin our discussion with three guests. Rebecca Vilkomerson is executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace here in New York. Also with us are two guests who are involved with a new film that's just premiered in New York. It's called Junction 48. The Israeli filmmaker Udi Aloni is with us. He directed the film. And the Palestinian actor Tamer Nafar is the film's star and musical director.
We welcome you all to Democracy Now! At first we were just going to be talking about the film. But given the fact that while Tamer and Udi came to the United States this ban was passed, we thought we'd start by asking you: What is your response? Udi, you're an Israeli American. Your mother, very famous first lady of human rights, Shulamit Aloni, was a longtime member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. Your thoughts on this ban?
UDI ALONI: First, the ban is much worse than even you described it, because it's a ban even if somebody boycott only the settlement. So, if somebody here in America is against war crime and against stealing lands from Palestinians by Jews, he's already not allowed into America [sic]. So, people who support it, for me, they really just—
AMY GOODMAN: Into America, or Israel?
UDI ALONI: Into Israel, sorry. And it's very important to mention it, because already you hear Governor Cuomo is helping those antidemocratic thing, because he passed a bill here that people who support the BDS are not allowed to receive money from the state of New York. So, really, when Cuomo look in the mirror, he should see Trump, because I feel that people who doesn't get us to live in democracy, they are the true anti-Semitic, because they believe that we, Israeli Jews, don't have the right to change our system. And this is horrific.
In the one hand, in a way, I'm happy that now we reveal something about the true Israel, because, you know, now it's Purim, when all the Jews putting mask. And once, we used to have a liberal mask. The most famous mask now in Israel is the mask of a soldier who murdered in cold blood a wounded prisoner of war. Those are the mask that most of the Israeli kids now are using. So, now, when the mask and the true is the same, maybe it's time for Democrats here to stop supporting Israel, if they care about Jews.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Rebecca, can you talk about what the impact of this ban is likely to be on some in the American Jewish community who are also opposed—support BDS and are opposed to settlements?
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Yeah, I mean, I can start with how it's going to affect me personally. I'm a proud supporter of the BDS movement. My organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, supports BDS. I also happen to have really strong ties to Israel. My grandparents are buried there. My aunt, my uncle, my cousins live there. I'm married to an Israeli. My kids are Israeli. I've lived myself three years in Israel. I have a lot of friends and family, you know, Jews, Palestinians, on both sides of the Green Line. And it seems like, you know, this bill is basically saying that I'm not welcome to come back. And so, for myself personally, it's a really sad moment.
I do want to emphasize that the real impact of the bill is going to be on Palestinians. So, of course, Palestinians in the diaspora who are willing to speak up for their rights, they're not going to be able to come in, and also Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and even East Jerusalem. So, in terms of if they're married to Palestinians inside of Israel but don't have permanent residency, they may not be able to reunite with their families, or if they leave the country, they may not be able to come back. If they want to get medical care inside of Israel, they may not be able to enter, just because they're speaking up for their rights.
So, like Udi was saying, I think this is a real shift. It makes overt a policy that was already, to a certain extent, in place, but a little bit underwater, because what happened was, people would try to come into Israel, and, based on racial profiling, people would be rejected at the border, usually Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, people who looked Muslim even, other people of color. So they'd be taken aside and often deported. But now it's this categorical ban, that's very overt. And like Udi said, it takes the mask off and shows how antidemocratic Israel is becoming.
AMY GOODMAN: Is it the first time Jews will not be able to—some will be stopped from going to Israel? Palestinians know well—
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —not having the right of return.
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: But for Jews, this will be—is this a first?
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Yes. I mean, there's been one or two instances. There was a famous—
UDI ALONI: Noam Chomsky.
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Yeah, exactly, Noam Chomsky was the first and famous incident, where he was rejected at the border. But in terms of saying like Jews who have certain political—who have certain political standards, you're not welcome here, this is absolutely a first.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Tamer Nafar, who is joining us. He was just in New York for the premiere of Junction 48. He's the musical director and the star of the film, hip-hop artist, well known for his group, the hip-hop group DAM. Now, you, Tamer, are Palestinian, but you are also an Israeli citizen. You live in, well, the city that is featured in Junction 48, Lyd, which is right near Tel Aviv airport. How will this affect you? I think we have a very long delay in linking up with him in Champaign-Urbana, in Illinois.
TAMER NAFAR: This ban thing—I think that, you know, Palestinians have been banned since forever. And nobody—and it's an unhuman act, and it's a—for me, it's a crime issue. So, nobody has punished Israel ever since they were banning Palestinians. And so, Israel right now feels the power that they can just move on with it, and now they are trying to ban other people that are not Palestinians. And I think if it's not being—if we still don't put Israel to its—to that spot and put it on their place, then it's going to get bigger and bigger, because that's the whole thing with Israel. When they do things and nobody is punishing them, not even criticizing them, then that will get them drunk of power to continue on growing up and doing whatever they do.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Udi, could you comment on the fact that many have drawn comparisons between Trump's most recent—and although it's the second version of it—executive order, which bans refugees and Muslims and people from six Muslim-majority countries from coming into the U.S.—the comparison between that ban and what Israel has just instituted?
UDI ALONI: I want to say it's maybe worse, because the real law that Israel passed just a few weeks ago said that, legally, Jews allow to steal lands from Palestinians, only because they are Jews, and those are Palestinian. I want to repeat it, because people here in America don't believe it. We have a new law that settlers allowed to steal private lands of Arabs and take it to Jews. This is an official law. And now they're going to ban everyone who criticize a pure apartheid law. So, in a way, it's horrific. It's only everyone who stand for civil right in the minimum level—liberals, not radical—is not allowed to Israel. I think that Trump and Bibi are in competition: Who is getting worse or who is getting more weird about antidemocratic laws? And they are very similar, and they enjoy each other too much.
AMY GOODMAN: Rebecca?
REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Yeah, I mean, I would completely agree that, you know, both bans are completely xenophobic, however they define the other. They're based on the sort of security culture, the sense of fear, and really cruel, cruel laws that are, you know, excluding refugees, including people who have rights to enter these lands. And so, I think that this mirroring is really problematic. And I think—but the thing that I also want to come back to is that it is a sign, I think, that we're winning globally. And the fear that Israel has of BDS and the fact that they felt the need to legislate against this law, it's not going to work. People are not going to stay silent about this just because Israel is trying to make this ban. It seems like it's part of the natural evolution of a struggle like this, that as the movement grows, they're going to try to shut it down. And this is the next step.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask Tamer Nafar about Israel just introducing another bill—this was on Wednesday—to limit Muslim calls to prayer. The bill has won preliminary approval, though critics have denounced the measure as racist. Supporters of the bill say it's aimed at improving the quality of life of people living near mosques, who have been losing sleep. Opponents say the legislation, which was sponsored by right-wing parties, impinges on the religious freedom of Israel's Muslim minority. This is Israeli-Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi.
AHMAD TIBI: [translated] This law is racist. This is its fate, to be torn apart. Islam and the call to prayer are stronger than all of you.
AMY GOODMAN: The proponents of the bill call the Muslim call to prayer noise pollution. Tamer Nafar, your response?
TAMER NAFAR: As I said, this is the—this is things that this place is heading to. So, I wouldn't be—I wouldn't be surprised or shocked if, 10 years from now or 20 years from now, Muslims or Christians or non-Jews will be scared to reveal their religion, and they will be walking without—just, you know, hiding their religion. And that's where the place is heading to. But again, these things are being revealed now. But I've heard—but I live in a place where, before that, you have mass demolitions. You have Islamic places where they're being demolished. So it's always happening. This time, it's happening louder. The volume is up, and the cameras are on. But it's always happening. And I think that now, with the Trump area—with the Trump era, I think it's easy. It's like a stage. It's easier for them to do it. Like it's legit now. But these things have been happening since forever.
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.
We continue our conversation about Israel by looking at a film that's just been released titled "Junction 48." The film centers on Kareem, an aspiring Palestinian rap artist who lives in an impoverished, mixed Palestinian-Jewish city near Tel Aviv. "Junction 48" shows how Kareem, his Palestinian girlfriend Manar and their friends use hip-hop to fight back against Israel's policies. The role of Kareem is played by Tamer Nafar, a rap artist with the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM. To talk more about the film, we're joined by the film's director Udi Aloni and the lead actor, Tamer Nafar.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, we continue our conversation about Israel by looking at the film that's just been released, titled Junction 48. The film centers on Kareem, an aspiring Palestinian rap artist who lives in an impoverished, mixed Palestinian-Jewish city near Tel Aviv called Lyd. Junction 48 shows how Kareem and his Palestinian girlfriend Manar and their friends use hip-hop to fight back against Israel's policies. The role of Kareem is played by Tamer Nafar, a rap artist with the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM. This is the film's trailer.
KAREEM: [played by Tamer Nafar] [translated] I understand that the fridge was new. That's why it was repossessed.
[rapping] Hear the sirens! Burn it, George! See the sirens! Burn it, George! What did we do? Burn it, George! Better do your homework before they get you!
MANAR: [played by Samar Qupty] [translated] Wow! That's really cool!
KAREEM: [translated] Honest?
MANAR: [translated] Incredible!
AMIR: [played by Sameh Zakout] Kareem!
UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] So you're an Arabic-Israeli rapper?
KAREEM: [translated] I'd say so.
RPG: [played by Michael Moshonov] Welcome to the Middle East.
TV HOST: [translated] We welcome Kareem Awad.
MANAR: [translated] Shut up! He's a real star!
KAREEM: [translated] My songs are not political. I just describe the place I live.
HUSSAM: [played by Ayed Fadel] [translated] They're tearing down Talal's house!
UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] We have the right to demonstrate!
MANAR: [translated] Let's make music.
ABU ABDALLAH: [played by Tarik Copti] [translated] We are a traditional family. Manar's performance will bring us shame. And if that happens, we'll be forced to use other means with her.
HUSSAM: [translated] We have half a million downloads and haven't even started! Can you imagine how this might end?
KAREEM: [translated] Israelis, cousins, families—enemies everywhere.
MANAR: [translated] That's not funny.
UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] Shut up!
ABU ABDALLAH: [translated] Don't make us angry.
MANAR: [translated] We have to stick together.
KAREEM: [translated] There is always this thing pulling me down.
AMY GOODMAN: That's the trailer for Junction 48. To talk more about the film, we are joined by the film's director, Udi Aloni, Israeli-American film director, and the lead actor and musical director, Tamer Nafar. Udi is an award-winning filmmaker, the director of producer of Junction 48. His previous films include Local Angel, Forgiveness and Art/Violence, the author of What Does a Jew Want?: On Binationalism and Other Specters. Tamer Nafar is the lead actor in Junction 48, the music director of the film, also co-authored the screenplay. He is a rap artist with the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM. Tamer is a Palestinian citizen of Israel who lives in Lyd, as Israelis call it, Lod, this community that the film is based in, just near Tel Aviv airport.
Udi, talk about this film. You haven't gotten enormously positive reviews from The New York Times in the past. They've now written five pieces since this won, what, the Audience Award here at Tribeca Film Festival.
UDI ALONI: The first award.
AMY GOODMAN: The first award.
UDI ALONI: The Audience Award was in Berlin.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, the Audience Award.
UDI ALONI: We're doing well.
AMY GOODMAN: And you just got—The New York Times did it as a critic's pick. But this is a fascinating film, that also, I think, for the first time in a feature film, includes a housing demolition.
UDI ALONI: Yeah, we were very—Tamer and me are very close friends for 15 years. We are doing a lot of stuff together. And I think, really, we're following Edward Said's call to create a binational language. And not only we create art together, we're standing on many house demolition against the bulldozers together. And we all the time try to work between art, theory and action. We're always with our body in the place.
But the movie really has to be that. For me, when I think about house demolition, the quality has to be perfect, because we not only demolish house of Palestinian, it's a culture demolition. Israel puts so much energy to destroy the Palestinian as a culture, that the minute Tamer referred to himself as Palestinian, not as an Israeli Arab, the minister of culture tried to destroy every show of Tamer around the country. And she stepped out when he performed in our Oscar winning.
The house demolition, for us, has to be also the relation of—from '48, it's an ongoing demolition. It's an ongoing Nakba. It's an ongoing disaster from the Palestinians. And the shooting it was, for me, very important the details, the details the way I experience it. And Tamer and me work really—like even the way the people speak, the way they react, the way that, the day after, they can go all on the demolition and do a song, a protest song. People here in America don't understand how they can sing after their house was demolished, how they can smile. But it's an ongoing fight. You cannot like let the Israelis destroy your spirit. So, the house demolition, it's also the performance after of Tamer on it, in front of audience, said, "We will rebuild this house again." In the Negev, there is a village that the Bedouin Palestinians built already, I think, 70 times, again and again, after Israel demolished their house. Just for you to know, in Israel, they demolished a Bedouin village now, Umm al Hiran, just in order to bring Jewish village on it, not for any other reason. They really replace Jews with the Arabs on a place that Arabs lived for 50 years already. So—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let's go to a clip from the film Junction 48. In this scene, Kareem is being interviewed on an Israeli news program.
TV HOST: [translated] And now we have Kareem Avid.
KAREEM: [played by Tamer Nafar] Awad. Awad.
TV HOST: [translated] Sorry, it's Awad. The first Israeli-Arab rapper.
MANAR: [played by Samar Qupty] [translated] What a celebrity!
KAREEM: [translated] My songs are not political. They just describe the place I come from.
AMIR: [played by Sameh Zakout] [translated] Looks like he's been doing this all his life.
TV HOST: [translated] You come from Lod, which, ironically, is a city most Israelis don't know. Why do you think that is?
KAREEM: [translated] Lyd is a tough place, especially on our side. I'm talking about poverty, neglected schools. I'm talking about settlers, police brutality toward us, police corruption. We live 15 kilometers from [bleep]. Sorry, I can say "[bleep]," right?
TV HOST: [translated] Funny guy.
KAREEM: [translated] I'm not trying to be funny. I'm trying to explain that you can't know we exist.
TV HOST: [translated] You said you're not political.
KAREEM: [translated] I'm not political. But does it make sense to you that to build a Museum of Coexistence they have to demolish my friend's home?
TALAL: [played by Saeed Dassuki] [translated] I swear he's the man!
KAREEM'S MOTHER: [played by Salwa Nakkara] [translated] He shouldn't have mentioned the house. It will open the door for evil.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let's go to another clip from the film Junction 48.
MANAR: [played by Samar Qupty] [translated] And they want me to get married. That way, I'll be someone else's responsibility, not theirs. What do you think?
KAREEM: [played by Tamer Nafar] [translated] Honestly? I'm glad I don't have a sister.
MANAR: [translated] I'm being serious now. You don't want a problem like me?
KAREEM: [translated] Manar, we talked about this. I have no income, no job, nothing. If I make it big, we can live off the music. OK? Do you want to come and sing with us tonight at the Marley?
MANAR: [translated] In Hebrew?
KAREEM: [translated] In Hebrew, yes.
MANAR: [translated] Go perform for the Jews by yourself.
KAREEM: [translated] My love, I didn't mean it. I was kidding. Come back.
MANAR: [translated] Kareem, my cousins are here.
KAREEM: [translated] What are you talking about? So, Jews, cousins, family—same, huh?
MANAR: [translated] Not funny! Now, for real, Kareem. I can't have my cousins following me around.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So those are clips from the film Junction 48. So, Udi Aloni, you directed this film. Can you talk about what the character Kareem says in the first clip about his songs, responding to a question about whether his work is political? And then, this last scene between Kareem and his girlfriend Nafar [sic]?
UDI ALONI: Yeah, I really want to tell you—it's good that you put—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sorry, Manar. Manar is the name of his girlfriend.
UDI ALONI: Manar, yeah. It's very important the film is fun. We want to be all to create high art. And this is—when Tamer said, "I'm not political," it's kind of the wish of the oppressed to be nonpolitical. But really, the only person who can be nonpolitical is only the privileged. Only the privileged can say, "I'm doing pure art." So, when Tamer said, "I'm not political"—and we have a great song, "Ana Mish Politi"—that it really means, "Even if I come with a bag on a bus, I become a political entity because everyone looks at me." And—
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask Tamer to also respond to this. Tamer Nafar, who is with us—Tamer Nafar, who is with us, from afar, who is with us, it seems, much further than he is, because of this long delay when we ask him a question, but he's in the studios in of WILL in Champaign-Urbana. When that question was put to you—you're playing Kareem, but it is semi-autobiographical, you co-wrote the screenplay—and you said, "My songs are not political, they just describe the place I come from," can you talk about what that means to you, Tamer?
TAMER NAFAR: First off, the screenplay was from—it was a cooperation with me and Oren Moverman, the amazing Oren Moverman. And this specific interview in the movie, when he says, "I'm not political," it becomes a song, like Udi said, "Ana Mish Politi," which you can get it now from iTunes from the soundtrack of Junction 48. The whole music was by me and by Itamar Ziegler.
And when he says, "I'm not political," he really—I think he really means it, that he's not political. They are demolishing his friend's house, and he's going to stand up for his friend. For him, it's not political. But the reasons for demolishing the house are political. But for him, it's not political. Or maybe that's the turning point, where he needs to understand—where he starts to understand that he has some responsibility, because the place he's living in. And you cannot not be political, because it's not a privileged thing, like Udi said. So, being a Palestinian living inside of Israel, I cannot see you not being political. To tell somebody not to be political, that's like tell women not to be feminists after the awful quotations that Trump has said. So, everything is political where I come from.
AMY GOODMAN: I also wanted to ask you—I wanted to ask you, Tamer, about the house that you all built for the film, that you would then demolish, and the coincidence of, once you built it, you got a message from Tel Aviv, from the Israeli government, that this house would have to be demolished? Is that right? And what was that like in your community of Lyd, what it meant to demolish this house?
TAMER NAFAR: Yes. Udi decided to build the whole house with the furniture in it, just so you can feel its—just so you can feel the cinema of it, just so you can even feel the dust in your eyes when you—when the house is demolished, just so you can feel what these people—what we go through.
I mean, I live in Lyd. Lyd is an "Israeli" city, according to the officiality of the city itself. And it's—and it has more than—around 30,000 Palestinians, Palestinians, Arab, who pay taxes, who vote, like this whole democracy thing. And we still get our house demolished. And we are talking about more than 300 houses being demolished. And while we talk now, we have almost 5,000, 6,000 houses with warrants demolitions, that can happen in every minute, when the Israeli government decides.
So, for my people in Lyd to watch this house demolition, that was very tearful, and that was very hard to see it coming, to see it finally getting document, because normally in Israeli movies about Palestinians, they don't show you the physical occupation. They don't show you the house demolition. You normally, if you want to see something bad, it's always the Arabic who's bad, who's extremely explosion, who's extreme. You can show the physical of it. But if they want to be like liberal, they will talk about the occupation, but they will not show how ugly it is. And I'm very proud that we did that. I'm very proud that Udi directed it in this way, and actually you can see. And I remember, that was one of the hardest scenes for us on the set. Even the Jews on the set, who are not politically 100 percent with me or Udi, it was hard for them to see that. And it was good for me, satisfying for me, to look and to show them this is what is happening every day. So, that's one of the most scenes that really influences me in the movie.
AMY GOODMAN: We just have 30 seconds, Udi, but this film is not only opening in New York. I mean, you're going to be flying to join Tamer in Chicago tonight. It's opening on the West Coast, as well.
UDI ALONI: And there is a way that—called Tugg. People can really order screening all over the country. If you go to Junction48.film, you can see the whole system, how it works. I just want to say, on the second part, this film really fights for women's rights very strong inside the community. And that's why it was so beautiful to hear Linda Sarsour saying, "Feminism who doesn't accept me with the hijab is not feminism," because the fight of Tamer and me, except of do great art, is to understand that fighting for women's rights and fighting against Israeli oppression is the same fight.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for being with us, Udi Aloni, Israeli-American director of Junction 48; Tamer Nafar, the film's lead actor and musical director, rap artist with the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM.
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