Back in November, the Anchorage Bartlett Democratic Club featured David Gottstein, chairman of the Alaska branch of the America Israel Political Action Committee, as their guest speaker. He had asked for the time so that he could respond to an earlier Bartlett Club speaker, Oregon-based anti-Zionist activist and polemicist, Alison Weir.
In October, Weir had addressed the Bartlett Club, the Alaska World Affairs Council and was also given an opportunity to speak at the Loussac Library. Gottstein had attempted to have all of Weir's appearances cancelled and helped promote canards about Weir, chiefly the totally false charge that Weir is a "Holocaust denier." Gottstein also sought to have Weir's appearances in Homer, Juneau and Fairbanks cancelled.
2009, a year that began with the brutal Israeli invasion of the huge prison camp known as The Gaza Strip," has been a turning point in how many Americans perceive the Israel-Palestine question. Gottstein might have achieved his goal of muzzling Weir in 2005, but he failed totally in 2009.
Nobody attempted to keep David Gottstein from giving his rebuttal to Weir, though. More than half of the audience listening to his thorough presentation were not attending as advocates of continuing Israeli expansion in the West Bank, or of Israel's huge influence on important American government policy decisions. They courteously listened to Gottstein's talk.
Most of the questions directed to David were courteously presented too. However, they sought answers posed in his presentation which the questioners themselves wondered about.
I'm not going to go through the questions and Gottstein's answers. I asked him, though, about the case of the USS Liberty. His response, that the Israeli attack on the American surveillance ship that was cruising in international waters on June 8th 1967, during the Six-Day War, was an unfortunate mistake, was predictable. I then asked him how he would characterize the living survivors of this attack, that lasted longer than the World War II naval battles of Savo Island, Tassafaronga and Cape Esperance combined, in view of the the fact that 100% of those American heroes emphatically believe the Israeli attack was intentional.
David Gottstein answered that, like many "friendly fire" incidents, the survivors were obviously "deluded," and were projecting.
It wasn't so much the word "deluded" as it was the extremely dismissive tone David used saying it - his tone drew gasps from people around me. He was almost hissing at our dead young men and their living defenders.
I lost it, picked up my coat and iPhone, mumbling "Shame!" as I headed toward the door.
I later apologized to the club for so rudely and abruptly leaving.
I've been waiting these two months to see if anyone else would write about that Bartlett Club luncheon. I'm not surprised that nobody has.
Another of Gottstein's ideas he expounded was the dual set that many Zionists throw out there in discussions like this - that the Palestinians "never fail to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," and that if the Palestinians were "truly peaceful," a "Palestinian Gandhi" might have emerged.
My view is that several Palestinian Gandhis have emerged. Many have been murdered by the Israelis, some by the Palestinians themselves. Several Palestinian Gandhis are languishing in Israeli prisons, many of them uncharged with any crime.
The most recent Palestinian Gandhi is Abdallah Abu Rahmah. He's a school teacher in Bil'in, a city listed for extinction by the nearby and rapidly expanding ultra-Orthadox illegal Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit. Modi'in Illit is being bankrolled by American real estate developers and by Angola diamond merchant Lev Leviev, whose contract employees have been accused "of participating in practices of 'humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.'"
So that the diamond merchant's and the NYC real estate developers' expansion plans can be fulfilled, peaceful resistance to that expansion has been criminalized by the Israeli occupation authorities. It is a long-standing practice.
The American pro-Zionist real estate developers behind the expansion of Modi'in Illit get a tax break from our IRS for what they do there at Bil'in's expense.
But here's a kicker: Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the Palestinian school teacher and emerging Gandhi, is being indicted for possession of arms.
The arms the Israelis are going to try him for possessing are spent tear gas canisters the Israelis have been shooting at Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters to the expansion of these Israeli settlements.
Your tax dollars bought those tear gas canisters.
In Abu Rahmah's proceedings, he will not be allowed an attorney. He is being held in conditions that might make Guantanamo seem mild.
Here's a picture of the Palestinian Gandhi (at far right) David Gottstein said doesn't exist, with President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Demond Tutu, Palestinians and Israelis, at the grave of a protester to the expansion, for which American investors get tax write-offs, who was killed by the IDF:
top image - some of the spent Israeli gas canisters seized as evidence in Abu Rahmah's indictment