Feb 14, 2009


A new Jewish state: Ha’aretz

Since the exit poll results were published at 10 P.M. on Tuesday, I have heard more than one liberal-minded Israeli frantically trying to find a silver lining to the storm cloud that is the elevation of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman to the nation’s kingmaker. Their source of optimism? The party’s policies on state and religion. Yisrael Beiteinu may want to disenfranchise 20 percent of Israel’s citizens, they say, but is also the leading proponent of new legislation to allow a form of civil marriage in Israel, ending the scandalous situation whereby only Orthodox rabbis and or recognized clergymen of other religions are allowed to perform weddings, and hundreds of thousands of mixed couples or those whose religious status is unclear are incapable of getting married in Israel. The party has also been vigorously pushing for a major reform in giyur (conversion) procedures that will take the keys to the gateway to the Jewish people away from the special rabbinical courts – controlled today by the ultra-conservative, ultra-Orthodox “Lithuanian” rabbinical establishment – and make it much easier for the 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union not officially recognized as Jews to formally join the tribe. Some even find a spark of light in Lieberman’s demand that all citizens be made to pledge allegiance to Israel. It might seem like a racist idea targeting Israeli Arabs, but it also puts pressure on the Haredim since the pledge includes a commitment to serving in the IDF or an equivalent civilian national service, anathema to the ultra-Orthodox community.

Yeah. Sounds like the Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) people will come to love Lieberman after all… is their endless ability to cheat themselves not entrancing?


WATCH: Israeli TV show depicts Lieberman as Darth Vader-esque dictator – unfortunately only in Hebrew…

Anticipating a massive surge for far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu, Israel’s popular satire TV show Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Country) took aim at party leader Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday night. Aired before the results were announced, the show depicts Lieberman as a dictatorial-style leader, whose entrance is accompanied by heavyset bodyguards and fierce looking dogs, and the Darth Vader music theme from the Star Wars movies.

Following translation of the clip is courtesy of blogger and journalist Lisa Goldman:
The clip starts with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima chair Tzipi Livni claiming that each won the election. In identical speeches delivered simultaneously, both urge President Shimon Peres to give him/her the first crack at forming a government. Then Lieberman walks in, so they switch to ingratiating themselves to him.
Netanyahu tells Lieberman that he’s a “lean, mean sex machine” and Livni tells him he looks fantastic. “Have they told you you’re a handsome man?” she asks. They both clamor to negotiate with him so that he’ll join their government.
In response Lieberman has his goons move them aside by force. When Netanyahu objects, Lieberman shoots a bullet at his foot. “Walla, he’s serious!” says Netanyahu, as the black-clad goons hustle him and Livni into a cell.
The lights dim, the Yisrael Beiteinu banner is unrolled, and Lieberman addresses the nation:
“Good Morning, Israel,” he begins. “Citizens, Class B Citizens, Class C Citizens – and Arabs. I declare the founding of a Jewish state called Yisrael Beiteinu. Applause.” (The audience obediently applauds, then stops as soon as Lieberman raises his right hand)
“The elections were a marvelous experience and they were also a final experience. There will be no more elections. Mina [a famous pollster], your next poll will be called, ‘What do you think of the leader?’ And the answers will be: (a) He is excellent; (b) He is great; (c) He’s totally hot, I’d leave him nothing but his socks and do him right here and now; (d) All answers are correct with the addition of coconut oil. Applause plus whistles.” (The audience obediently applauds and whistles, then stops on command)
“Regarding the rest of the choices, I decide as follows. On planes, regarding chicken or beef – beef. For weddings, garden or indoor event – indoor event. On Galgalatz (Army Radio), Madonna or Shakira – Madonna. Regarding leftists: If you voted Hadash, you will receive a new (hadash) passport (the leftwing party’s name is an acronym of Democratic Party for Peace and Equality, but also means “new”).
“Applause. Now lower the volume of the applause. Raise it again. Now applaud to a jazz rhythm.”
Eyal Kitzis, the host of the show, interrupts and asks, “Mr. Lieberman, would you allow me to ask you a question from the studio?”
Lieberman: “No, I won’t.” (laughter). “Which reminds me, regarding television (he picks up a remote control bearing the Yisrael Beiteinu logo): This is your new remote control. There is one button, and a variety of one channel. You can watch Lieberman TV. The other channels have moved to the History Channel. Regarding Internet – there’s no need. From now on, there’s Yvet Net (Yvet is Lieberman’s nickname). You can send us your questions by email, and one of our representatives will contact you with a notice of indictment. Good morning, Israel.”
Kitzis interrupts again: “Mr. Lieberman, with all due respect, there’s no guarantee that you will even be a senior minister in the coming government – let alone prime minister. And there’s also the matter of the police investigations [into your affairs].”
Lieberman: “Don’t worry, I will investigate the police fairly and firmly (echoing the slogan used by the army to describe the means used to evacuate settlers from Gush Katif in 2005).”
Lieberman calls one of the muzzled German shepherds and hands him a police cap to sniff. “Snoopy, find the chief of police! Catch him! Eat him! Go!”
Kitzis: “Ooookay, with that I must return the broadcast to Yonit Levy (the Channel 2 news anchor).”
Lieberman holds up his hand and says, “Leave Yonit to me!” He brandishes a taxi light (a reference to the fact that Levy’s boyfriend hosts a game show called “Money Cab”) and calls to another muzzled German shepherd, “Roxy! Smell this! Go! Eat Yonit! Go!”

And with that, Kitzis hands the show over to Levy.

As my father used to say – it sounds better in Yiddish… this specific Israeli fascist sounds better in Hebrew!

Palestine Aid Volunteers Arrested for “Terrorism” and Ambulance Confiscated: Socialist Unity

nine members of the viva palestina convoy – delivering humanitarian aid to gaza – were arrested last night under “anti-terrorist” legislation. six have now been released but without passports. three from burnley are still held; plus the ambulance they were driving. The BBC are scanadlously uncritically reporting the arrests as “terrorists”.
so its ok as far as the BBC are concerned to report Israel’s onslaught on the palestinians as a legitimate conflict – and its ok for the UK to supply arms to Israel and gunboats to maintain the siege of gaza – but if humanitarian aid is on its way to help the people who have lost families, homes, schools, hospitals and livelihoods, then its “terrorism”. * urgent assistance needed with breaching the BBC (continued) blockade of the truth.
* urgent assistance needed with breaching the anti-terrorism laws in order to free the drivers and vehicles still held.
* and urgent assistance needed to breach the siege of gaza and to assist the convoy getting through.

please pass this on please contact press and BBC and MPs and complain loudly

How do People Keep Going? Kathy Kelly on ZNet

People have asked me, since I returned from Gaza, how people manage? How do they keep going after being traumatized by bombing and punished by a comprehensive state of siege? I wonder myself. I know that whether the loss of life is on the Gazan or the Israeli side of the border, bereaved survivors feel the same pain and misery. On both sides of the border, I think children pull people through horrendous and horrifying nightmares. Adults squelch their panic, cry in private, and strive to regain semblances of normal life, wanting to carry their children through a precarious ordeal.  And the children want to help their parents. In Rafah, the morning of January 18th, when it appeared there would be at least a lull in the bombing, I watched children heap pieces of wood on plastic tarps and then haul their piles toward their homes. The little ones seemed proud to be helping their parents recover from the bombing. I’d seen just this happy resilience among Iraqi children, after the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing, as they found bricks for their parents to use for a makeshift shelter in a bombed military base.  Children who survive bombing are eager to rebuild. They don’t know how jeopardized their lives are, how ready adults are to bomb them again.  In Rafah, that morning, an older man stood next to me, watching the children at work. “You see,” he said, looking upward as an Israeli military surveillance drone flew past, “if I pick up a piece of wood, if they see me carrying just a piece of wood, they might mistake it for a weapon, and I will be a target. So these children collect the wood.”

War of Words on Investments in Israel: Inside Higher Ed

A pro-Palestinian student group and Hampshire College disagreed Thursday as to whether the Massachusetts institution’s withdrawal of investments from an index fund represented a rebuke of Israel, and a major first for the divestment movement. Any hope that this might stay a quiet campus disagreement — probably a slim hope given the topics involved — has evaporated with dueling press releases, media coverage from the Middle East and the entry of Alan M. Dershowitz into the dispute.

Dershowitz, a Harvard University law professor and well known supporter of Israel, threatened to unleash a campaign against the college, and issue a call for donors to withhold contributions, unless Hampshire resolves any ambiguities and clearly states that it rejects student efforts to divest from the Jewish state. “What they have to do is make it impossible for the students to plausibly be able to declare victory,” said Dershowitz, whose son went to Hampshire. “They want me on their side, they want the anti-Israel students on their side, they want everybody on their side. But unfortunately the divestment campaign is a zero-sum game. Both sides can’t win, and Hampshire let the anti-Israel students win and they will pay a heavy price for that. Unless they withdraw it, they withdraw it and they make it clear they have rejected these efforts to divest from Israel.”
The students dominated the headlines on Thursday when, in a press release, the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter hailed Hampshire as “the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” The student group celebrated having successfully pressured the college to divest from six companies with connections to Israel’s military operations in the West Bank and Gaza. Hampshire officials acknowledge they initiated a review of the specific State Street fund in question in response to a petition from Students for Justice in Palestine. However, Hampshire maintains that it transferred assets to another fund after finding much broader violations of its policy on socially responsible investing, including unfair labor policies, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing and unsafe workplace settings. In all, Hampshire says it found more than 200 companies in the fund that fell short of its standards. “[T]he decision expressly did not pertain to a political movement or single out businesses active in a specific region or country,” the college’s statement says.

The famous bully, Alan Dershowitz, is fuming at the mouth again. Again, he breaks all the china and offers even more aggression in the future. He always does, but nothing comes of it. Mr. Dershowitz is incapable of accepting the deep change in Jewish and non-Jewish public opinion in the USA, after Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. BDS is catching on, at last! Beware of the legal Dog!

Israel Lurches Into Fascism: ICH

By Ali Abunimah
February 13, 2009 “The Electronic Intifada” — Whenever Israel has an election, pundits begin the usual refrain that hopes for peace depend on the “peace camp” — formerly represented by the Labor party, but now by Tzipi Livni’s Kadima — prevailing over the anti-peace right, led by the Likud. This has never been true, and makes even less sense as Israeli parties begin coalition talks after Tuesday’s election. Yes, the “peace camp” helped launch the “peace process,” but it did much more to undermine the chances for a just settlement.
In 1993, Labor prime minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo accords. Ambiguities in the agreement — which included no mention of “self-determination” or “independence” for Palestinians, or even “occupation” — made it easier to clinch a short-term deal. But confrontation over irreconcilable expectations was inevitable. While Palestinians hoped the Palestinian Authority, created by the accord, would be the nucleus of an independent state, Israel viewed it as little more than a native police force to suppress resistance to continued occupation and colonial settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Collaboration with Israel has always been the measure by which any Palestinian leader is judged to be a “peace partner.” Rabin, according to Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister, “never thought this [Oslo] will end in a full-fledged Palestinian state.” He was right.
Throughout the “peace process,” Israeli governments, regardless of who led them, expanded Jewish-only settlements in the heart of the West Bank, the territory supposed to form the bulk of the Palestinian state. In the 1990s, Ehud Barak’s Labor-led government actually approved more settlement expansion than the Likud-led government that preceded it headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Barak, once considered “dovish,” promoted a bloodthirsty image in the campaign, bolstered by the massacres of Gaza civilians he directed as defense minister. “Who has he ever shot?” Barak quipped derisively about Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the proto-fascist Yisrael Beitenu party, in an attempt to paint the latter as a lightweight.
Today, Lieberman’s party, which beat Labor into third place, will play a decisive role in a government. An immigrant who came to Israel from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, Lieberman was once a member of the outlawed racist party Kach that calls for expelling all Palestinians.

Why Support the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel?: MR Zine

by Adrienne Rich
Last week, with initial hesitation but finally strong conviction, I endorsed the Call for a U.S. Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel.   I’d like to offer my reasons to friends, family and comrades.  I have tried in fullest conscience to think this through.
My hesitation: I profoundly believe in the visible/invisible liberatory social power of creative and intellectual boundary-crossings.  I’ve been educated by these all my life, and by centuries-long cross-conversations about human freedom, justice and power — also, the forces that try to silence them.
As an American Jew, over almost 30 years, I’ve joined with other concerned Jews in various kinds of coalition-building and anti-Occupation work.  I’ve seen the kinds of organized efforts to stifle — in the US and elsewhere — critiques of Israel’s policies — the Occupation’s denial of Palestinian humanity, destruction of Palestinian lives and livelihoods, the “settlements,” the state’s physical and psychological walls against dialogue — and the efforts to condemn any critiques as anti-Semitism.  Along with other activists and writers I’ve been named on right-wing “shit-lists” as “Israel-hating” or “Jew-hating.”  I have also seen attacks within American academia and media on Arab American, Muslim, Jewish scholars and teachers whose work critically explores the foundations and practices of Israeli state and society.

Adrienne Rich’s conversion letter from last week is now on the web.

Global BDS Movement: Endorse the call for Boycott, Divestements and Sanctions of Israel!

One year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel’s Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal; Israel continues its construction of the colonial Wall with total disregard to the Court’s decision. Thirty eight years into Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel continues to expand Jewish colonies. It has unilaterally annexed occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and is now de facto annexing large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall. Israel is also preparing – in the shadow of its lanned redeployment from the Gaza Strip – to build and expand colonies in the West Bank. Fifty seven years fter the state of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners, a majority of Palestinians are refugees, most of whom are stateless. Moreover, Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens remains intact.
In light of Israel’s persistent violations of international law; and

Given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal and called for immediate, adequate and effective remedies; and
Given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine; and
In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions; and
Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression;
We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.
These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Sign on the link above!

Cooking the truth on Ha’aretz article in the English version! Not for the first time, either…

After a few times that I noticed significant differences in Haaretz in English vs the Hebrew edition, I started checking on them. In the article from today there is a telling example of how they modify their message.
See the article in English here:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1063766.html

vs the Hebrew version here:

http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1063724.html

They completely omitted a paragraph in the Hebrew version that ends with the following statement: [here roughly translated by me into English -MM] “The officers feel a national, military and personal resentment. One small step, into [the Gaza-Strip town of] Jabalya, may be the start of a
thousand-mile march into a British or Spanish prison cell.”

It has no trace in the English version. Simply removed… Unfortunately, to fully appreciate this you must read Hebrew…

Rabbi Aviner: Halacha bans Arabs from Knesset: YNet

Prominent Zionist rabbi says Jewish state should be led by Jews, but claims that since Arabs lack any real influence on Israeli reality, ‘things are not so bad’A prominent Zionist rabbi ruled this week that according to the Halacha, a non-Jew cannot serve as a Knesset member in the State of Israel, even if the public agrees to it. “This is irrelevant,” said Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, “This is a Jewish state and Jews are the ones leading the Jewish state.”Aviner was asked on his weblog whether the election of non-Jews to parliament does not undermine the government’s authority, and “is it even allowed for non-Jews to be part of the Jewish state’s leadership?”  The rabbi replied that this was indeed against a halachic ruling issued by Maimonides, and that although later there were those who sought to allow it “if the nation agrees to it,” Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook ruled this out as an “irrelevant” consideration.According to Aviner, the present situation in Israel was undesirable, but added that since the Arab minority had no real influence on Israel’s affairs, things were not so bad. However, “If they become the deciding factor and create the majority – this is blasphemy.”  The rabbi concluded: “Still, we are very happy to have our own state, even if some of the Knesset members are not Jewish. This is a million times better than being ruled by the Brits or the Turks.”

Trust them to find a rabbi to justify any crime against the Palestinians with some loopy (or Kooky…) interpretation of some religious text… Isn’t religion just great?

Gaza-bound aid convoy leaving UK: BBC

A convoy of 110 vehicles is leaving London for Gaza to deliver £1m of humanitarian aid. Hundreds of volunteers will act as drivers during the mission, which is organised by umbrella body Viva Palestina and backed by Muslim groups. Police confirmed that vehicles stopped on the M65 as part of an anti-terror operation were part of the convoy. Its 5,000-mile route will pass through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Lancashire Constabulary said several vehicles stopped near Preston were part of the mission. Three men are currently being held and are being questioned in connection with alleged terrorism offences overseas.

Gaza to export Valentine’s blooms: BBC

Israel has granted permission for 25,000 flowers from the Gaza Strip to be sent to Europe for Valentine’s Day. The flowers will be Gaza’s first exports for a year, as Israel has intensified its blockade of the strip since Hamas took control in June 2007. The blockade allows in aid but exports are banned with few exceptions. The move was made after a request by the Dutch government and Gaza farmers. Israel says this does not mean any overall change of policy. Israeli military spokesman Maj Peter Lerner said the flowers would leave Gaza through an Israeli cargo crossing and were due to reach the European market by Valentine’s Day on Saturday.

UN to resume aid supplies to Gaza: BBC

The UN has said it will resume aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip after Hamas returned confiscated food aid. The UN’s Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) halted aid on Thursday, saying Hamas had taken hundreds of tonnes of aid from shipments of flour and rice. An Unrwa spokesman said deliveries were not expected to resume until after Tuesday’s Israeli elections. The Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian crisis following Israel’s recent three-week offensive. About half of Gaza’s population is dependent on UN food aid. Israel intensified a blockade on the Gaza Strip 19 months ago when Hamas took over the territory. The lifting of the blockade is among Hamas’ demands for agreeing a long-term truce with Israel.
Though Unrwa said it could resume aid deliveries, it said its efforts to give aid to 900,000 Gaza residents continued to be hampered by Israel’s refusal to let in supplies used for making the plastic bags in which aid is packaged.

Israel puts terms on Gaza truce: BBC

Israel will not agree to a truce in Gaza unless an Israeli soldier held by Palestinian militants is freed, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said.
Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants in 2006. There have been reports that Egypt was close to brokering a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel. A punishing three-week Israeli assault on Gaza aimed at stopping militant rocket fire on Israel ended with separate ceasefires in January. The uneasy calm has been punctuated by exchanges of fire between the two sides. “The position of the prime minister is that Israel won’t reach any arrangement on a truce before the release of Gilad Shalit,” Mr Olmert’s office said in a statement.

Cyprus unloads ‘Gaza arms’ ship: BBC

Cyprus has begun to unload a detained ship allegedly carrying weapons-related material, which the government says was in “clear” breach of UN sanctions. The government said the unidentified cargo would be stored on the island. The containers were being transported to a naval base along the coast under heavy police guard, state radio said. Israel says the ship, the Monchegorsk, was carrying Iranian arms destined for the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, in Gaza. Iran denies the accusation. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghasghavi stated on Wednesday: “The ship was not taking arms and weapons [to Gaza].” Cypriot authorities had inquired about the ship’s cargo and “if it was carrying weapons things would have been clear”, he added.

Turkey PM: Israel election results paint ‘very dark picture’: Ha’aretz

Turkey’s fierce censure of Israel’s offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip will not end its role as a peace mediator in the Middle East, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Friday. Israel’s military campaign, which ended in a Jan. 18 truce, triggered protests from its ally Turkey that culminated in shouting match between Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Report: Nine arrested in England by terror police en route to Gaza: Ha’aretz

Police in a counterterrorist operation arrested three men and seized three vehicles that tried to join a convoy organized by a British charity to carry aid to the Gaza Strip, authorities said Saturday. Lancashire Constabulary said the men were arrested Friday evening while traveling on a major highway near Preston, 220 miles (360 kms) northwest of London. The vehicles were seized in the same area, but police declined to say if the three men were traveling in them. Police also declined to say what the men – aged 26, 29, and 36 – were suspected of doing.

Students angered by Gaza revive sit-ins: The Guardian

A new wave of student activism sparked by events in Gaza has seen dozens of university buildings occupied in Britain, with some of the UK’s top educational establishments agreeing to set up scholarships for Palestinians or disinvest in arms companies linked to Israel. Though the assault on the territory ended three weeks ago, lingering anger over the attack has prompted students to stage sit-ins at 21 universities, many organised via blogs, Facebook and text messages. Students at Glasgow and Manchester are refusing to leave the buildings until their demands are met, after similar occupations at other universities provided tangible results in what is being seen as a new era of highly organised student activism. Katan Alder, 22, one of 50 Manchester University protesters who have occupied a university building for nine days, said students were abandoning diplomatic tactics in favour of direct action. “There is a new level of anger among students that we haven’t seen before,” he said. “There is definitely a new confidence among students who are beginning to realise that if they want to achieve anything simple negotiation won’t work, our actions have to escalate.”
Students at Goldsmiths, University of London, ended their occupation yesterday after their demand – two scholarships for students from Palestine’s al-Quds university – was met. The students campaigned for a year without success, but their demands were met within 24 hours after they occupied Deptford town hall, which houses the university management offices, said James Heywood, 21. “We were getting ignored and patronised, so when we saw what was happening at other universities we took direct action,” he said. Technology has played an integral part in the protests. Within minutes of starting the occupation students at Goldsmiths were blogging, and a recent protest that gathered 2,000 students was organised almost entirely by viral text messaging, said Heywood.

This continues despite VCs avoiding taking a moral decision. It is a unique developemnt after years of political apathy by many students, and the control of NUS by the Zionists. Support your local Occupied Territory!

A life in writing: Amos Oz”: The Guardian

Amos Oz works in a study that has the subterranean feel of the basement flat in which he grew up in 1940s Jerusalem – except that up the stairs and outside there are no narrow streets full of refugees fleeing the pogroms of eastern Europe, but blue sky and rocky ochre desert and the clearest air, through which the sound of fighter jets resonates for miles. He was a bookish child, wanted to grow up to be a book; here in Arad, where the Judaean desert meets the Negev and drops towards the Dead Sea, he has created a burrow lined with books, most in Hebrew, a good number by him. Oz has often protested that his novels – experiments in verse, in epistolary narrative; meditations on family, on, in the case of his novel Rhyming Love and Death, published this week in the UK, how the creative imagination works, the devious way it feeds on reality – are not crude allegory: or, as he has rather impatiently said, a father is not necessarily the government, the mother not necessarily the old values, the daughter not necessarily a symbol of the shattered economy. But when we meet, the Gaza offensive is only just over, Israeli elections are two weeks away (Oz is campaigning for Meretz, a Zionist-left, social democratic party), and it isn’t long before politics obtrudes. “I am outraged with both Hamas and the Israelis in this war,” he says. “I feel an anger I find difficult to express because it’s an anger in both directions.”
‘If every last Palestinian refugee was settled in the West Bank and Gaza, it would still be less crowded than Belgium’.

It seems Amos Oz has watched some television recently, as he managed to say the following:

He is appalled by the numbers – “300 dead children. Hundreds of innocent civilians. Thousands of homes demolished” – and while he would like to think that bombing UN structures was accidental, he is also appalled by reports that white phosphorus may have been used, and Dime bombs: “There is no justification. No way this could be justified. If this is true, it’s a war crime and it should be treated as a war crime.”

He still maanges to blame Hamas for it all, to justify the war which he supported throughout, and to even justify the Aparheid Wall. A real Tzadik for out time, a prophet for the IOF and its crimes.

Israel allows Valentine carnations out of Gaza: The Independent

Israel has made a pre-Valentine’s Day gesture by allowing 25,000 carnations to cross the border in the first exports permitted from blockaded Gaza in a year. But the shipment through the Kerem Shalom crossing was condemned as a “propaganda” move by Gaza growers used to exporting 37 to 40 million carnations a year and are unlikely to reach Europe in time to be sold in shops tomorrow. Major Peter Lerner, of the military’s civil co-ordination office, said Israel had agreed to relax the blockade for the carnations at the request of the Dutch government, which has long promoted production of carnations grown in the southern Gaza Strip. But Abdul Karim Ashour of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees in Gaza said that about 70 per cent of Gaza’s carnation crop had already been lost because of the inability to export and because the blockade had prevented growers from importing seeds and pesticides early enough. Growers had also been badly hampered by not being able to tend their crops during Israel’s 22-day military offensive last month, he added. “What happened today is only propaganda. The season has finished. It is very sad.” The blockade had not been lifted for vegetables nor Gaza’s traditionally high-quality strawberries. The Dutch pressure for the blockade to be lifted is understood to have been to remind buyers of Gaza’s carnations so they would not be lost to future markets if and when the blockade is lifted. Ishai Sharon, of the Israeli farm products exporters Agrexco in Aalsmeer, Holland, said he expected the consignment to arrive by air tomorrow and most of it would probably be sold to eastern Europe where flowers are given for International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Canada becomes Israel: Yves Engler, The Electronic Intifada

Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper’s government publicly supported Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza and voted alone at the UN Human Rights Committee in defense of Israel’s actions three weeks ago. Now Canada has taken over Israeli diplomacy. Literally. In solidarity with Gaza, Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador at the start of the bombardment and then broke off all diplomatic relations two weeks later. Israel need not worry since Ottawa plans to help out. On 29 January, The Jerusalem Post reported that “Israel’s interests in Caracas will now be represented by the Canadian Embassy.” This means Canada is officially Israel, at least in Venezuela. Prior to the recent bombing in Gaza, the Harper government made it abundantly clear that it would support Israel no matter what that country did. It publicly endorsed Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon, voted against a host of UN resolutions supporting Palestinian rights and in January 2008 refused to criticize illegal Israeli settlement construction at Har Homa near Jerusalem (even Washington publicly criticized these settlements). Canada was also the first country (after Israel) to cut off financial aid to the elected Hamas government and Ottawa has provided millions of dollars as well as personnel to create a US-trained Palestinian police force to act as a counterweight to the Hamas government and to oversee Israel’s occupation. Harper’s support for Israel is extreme, but despite what many well-meaning commentators claim, it is not a break from Canada’s role as an “honest broker” in the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is a long history of Canadian support for Zionism, a European settler ideology that has violently dispossessed Palestinians for more than six decades. The idea for a Middle Eastern Jewish homeland to serve Western imperial interests has a long history in Canada. Since at least the 1870s Christian Zionists called for their biblical prophesies to be fulfilled under British auspices. By November 1915, Solicitor General (and then Prime Minister) Arthur Meighen publicly proclaimed, “I think I can speak for those of the Christian faith when I express the wish that God speed the day when the land of your [Jewish] forefathers shall be yours again. This task I hope will be performed by that champion of liberty the world over — the British Empire.” Two decades later Prime Minister RB Bennett began a national radio broadcast of the United Palestine Appeal with a speech about how the Balfour declaration and British control over Palestine was a step towards Biblical prophecies. “Scriptural prophecy is being fulfilled,” he noted. “The restoration of Zion has begun.”

US lawyers report on Israeli crimes in Gaza: Report, National Lawyers Guild, Electronic Intifada

Children from the Samouni family lie in the morgue in the al-Zeitoun area of Gaza City. (Mohamed Al-Zanon/MaanImages)

Children from the Samouni family lie in the morgue in the al-Zeitoun area of Gaza City. (Mohamed Al-Zanon/MaanImages)

We are a delegation of eight American lawyers, members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in the United States, who have come here to the Gaza Strip to assess the effects of the recent attacks on the people, and to determine what, if any, violations of international law occurred and whether United States domestic law has been violated as a consequence. We spent five days interviewing communities particularly impacted by the recent Israeli offensive, including medical personnel, humanitarian aid workers and United Nations representatives. In particular, the delegation examined three issues: 1) targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure; 2) illegal use of weapons and 3) blocking of medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians.
Targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure
Much of the debate surrounding Israel’s aerial and ground offensive against Gaza has centered on whether or not Israel observed principles of proportionality and distinction. The debate suggests that Israel targeted Hamas, i.e., its military installations, its leaders and its militants, and in the process of its discrete military exercise it inadvertently killed Palestinian civilians. While we have found evidence that Palestinian civilians were victims of excessive force and collateral damage, we have also found troubling instances of Palestinian civilians being targets themselves.

Read the whole report on the link above!

Israeli “investigation” whitewashes West Bank execution: Electronic Intifada

On 2 February 2009, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the findings of an “investigation” into an incident in which, that morning, “a Palestinian gunman opened fire at an [Israeli army] Patrol Force near the Community Yatir [sic], south of Hebron.” As a result of the investigation, the Israeli military Central Command “assumes” that the “terrorist,” who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers, “was intending to execute a terror attack against Israeli civilians.”
After a full field investigation, Al-Haq has determined serious factual inaccuracies and false assumptions in the Israeli authorities’ version of events, and reports the following findings:
On the morning of Monday, 2 February 2009, an infantry unit of the Israeli occupying forces was deployed to Janba, southeast of Yatta in the Hebron district of the southern West Bank. Between 7:30 and 8:00am, the Israeli soldiers stopped a total of three vehicles on a dirt road in the Marah al-Tabaka area of Janba. This road is close to the West Bank’s southern border with Israel, and is used by Palestinian merchants who travel to Israel to sell their goods. Two of the three vehicles were returning from Israel, while the other was traveling towards Israel from Yatta. The Israeli soldiers had not set up a visible “flying” checkpoint on the road, but rather each time a vehicle arrived, the soldiers jumped out from positions of hiding off to the side of the road, ordered the drivers to turn off their engines, took the IDs of those in the vehicles, and forced them to wait at the side of the road. By the time the three vehicles had been stopped, a total of 11 Palestinians were being kept by the Israeli soldiers at the side of the road.

In Gaza, Palestinians react to Israeli elections: Electronic Intifada

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine

As Israelis voted on Tuesday for a new government, Palestinian residents in the Gaza Strip continue to rebuild from the three-week long attack on their territory which killed at least 1,350 people, including more than 400 children, and injured more than 5,500. While many commentators say that the results of the Israeli elections matter to the prospects for peace, Palestinians voiced less optimistic views in bomb-ravaged Gaza. In the relatively calm streets of Gaza City, Nabil Hejazi, 42, hoped the election might make a positive difference, yet he seemed pessimistic toward any improvement of life conditions across Gaza. “I pray to God that these elections turn out to be good, but the Israeli actions and policies toward us are the same, whichever party wins. They only plan for the sake of their own interests”. The war on Gaza was initiated by three key Israeli leaders; the outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert; foreign minister Tzipi Livni who took over the leadership of Kadima; and defense minister and Labor party leader Ehud Barak. Benjamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister, and leader of the main opposition Likud party is now competing with Livni to become the next prime minister as coalition talks begin. Kadima took 28 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, with Likud in second place at 27. Each is now racing to find enough support among minor parties to form a government with a 61 seat majority.


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