Feb 19, 2009

Support the student occupations against the illegal occupation in Palestine!

The Israeli government has named the UK as the anti-Zionist capital of Europe. They are right! Zionism is really not in favour around here, after years of evidence and proof of what it really is about… At the moment, more than 30 UK universities are under occupation by their students, who are protesting about the Gaza carnage, and are making a range of demands on their Vice Chancellors – Bursaries for Palestinian students, statements in support of Gaza, twinning arrangements, boycott of Israeli links, Divestment where appropriate – the number of universities is growing daily, and they are now coordinating and orchestrating events across the sector, assisting each other, collecting vast sums for Gaza assistance, and raising the level of political awareness in the Higher Education institutions across Britain.

Yesterday, after a large meeting at which Lindey German (Stop the War Coalition) and myself were speaking, the students in my own university, the University of East London, have at last joined the fray and became the 30th to occupy. Since then, three other s have joined. Across this growing group, one gets the clear impression that Gaza and its terrible plight has become the new Vietnam – an iconic case of First World countries – Israel, USA and the EU – subjugating and oppressing  a Third World country under aggressive colonisation. Through the action against the continued Israeli crimes of occupation and aggression, students are learning about non-violent direct action, about civic society, about human rights and the ability to make yourself heard, and for one’s voice to make a difference. This is an exciting development for what some have termediPod generation – supposedly made of of young upwardly-mobile Tory voters, without political interests or social commitments. They were wrong, and this generation of students with their just anger about the Gaza carnage and Israel’s illegal occupation seem to just get stronger and clearer as time goes on.

UEL Students occupy university in support of Palestine/Gaza!

Our Demands
To the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of East London and any others it may concern
We the student occupation for Palestine demand that the University of East London:

1. Issues a clear statement condemning Israel’s blockade of Gaza and the recent atrocities committed against the civilians of Gaza.
2. Immediately divests itself of any and all interests and investments in companies directly or indirectly linked with arms sales to Israel and to make publicly available all UEL current and future investments.
3. Grants five Palestinian students every year full scholarships funded by UEL (similar to the Commonwealth scholarships)
4. Twins itself with the Islamic University of Gaza and provides support for the rebuilding effort following the recent destruction.
5. Provides any surplus equipment to Universities in Gaza i.e. books, computers etc.
6. Authorises, facilitates and promotes an official DEC collection day around campus.
7. Grants free access at all times to all participants in the occupation and takes no reprisals against any participants in the occupation for their actions. We will continue to occupy WB.G.02 until all of our demands are met.

NYU IS OCCUPIED!!!

NYU students and other city students in solidarity have taken NYU!

NYU BUILDING TAKEOVER!!!
At approximately 10pm tonight (Feb. 18), students of Take Back NYU! took over the Kimmel Marketplace. They have blockaded the doors and declared an occupation! They presented their demands to the NYU administration. They read as follows:
DEMANDS
We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.
In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:
1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.
2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.
3. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.
4. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.
5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publically affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publically affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.
6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.
7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.
8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.
9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.
10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.
11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.
12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.
13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.
Along with this, students have issued a
SOLIDARITY STATEMENT
We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student [sleepovers] in Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future [sleepovers] to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of Palestine.

Students in Jayyous write to Students abroad

Dear friends and colleagues,

The efforts and initiatives that you have undertaken on campuses across the UK and all over the world are greatly appreciated by all the Palestinian people, and your voices are truly able to make a difference.  We, the students of Jayyous now appeal to you to struggle with us against
occupation and oppression.
In the latest and most serious incursion in recent years in our village, Occupation forces rampaged through the West Bank village of Jayyous in the early hours of the morning on February 18th, conducting violent house-to-house raids and carrying out mass arrests.  In total, over 75
people were arrested over the course of the day, with the vast majority of them being university students.
The Occupation forces converted a village school into a makeshift interrogation centre, as some of the youth were held there for as long as
15 hours.  Many were forcibly masked during the interrogations, and at least 7 of them were transferred from the village to a military camp at
Huwwara, where they are being detained indefinitely.
Almost the entire youth committee of the Stop the Wall Campaign, which does much of the mobilizing for Jayyous’ weekly demonstrations, was arrested. The fact that students and youth were the primary target of the mass arrests is a clear indication that the soldiers wanted to remove the most active and capable segment of the population from the village.
For several months now, Jayyous has been one of the most active villages in the West Bank in undertaking sustained resistance efforts against the
occupation.  Weekly demonstrations against the Wall, led by students and youth, have taken place, and have managed to mobilize not only the village of Jayyous, but also the people from surrounding areas.  In recent weeks, the Occupation has been increasingly repressive in its efforts to put down the mobilization, culminating in this latest rampage.
The Wall in Jayyous will completely isolate and or destroy 5,585 dunums of village land.  It will isolate four artesian wells upon which the village
depends for water, and will destroy hundreds of olive trees, which are a vital source of income for the villagers. This is yet another reason to call for the academic boycott of Israel.  The students of Jayyous are being denied their right to education, and are having their basic freedoms stolen from them.  They are being arrested and abused for no other reason than they are actively resisting the brutal occupation in their village.
In light of these events, we call upon you, the student populations who have been so supportive in standing with the Palestinian people, to stand
up in solidarity with the students and youth of Jayyous in your actions on campus NOW. Use your awareness-raising activities to spread the word about the situation in Jayyous, and demand that the rights of Palestinian students be upheld.

Jayyous Students

EREad below a report on Jayyous:

Occupation forces rampage through Jayyous, arrest over 50 people: Stopthewall

In the latest and most serious incursion to date, Occupation forces rampaged through the village of Jayyous in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday. At least 50 youth have been arrested so far, and the village has been placed under an indefinite curfew, with residents being prevented from leaving their homes for any reason. The raid began just after midnight, when 25 jeeps and 75 soldiers on foot entered the village and began breaking into houses near the south gate. Three youth were arrested from the homes in this part of the village, which is the focal point of Jayyous’ weekly demonstrations against the Wall.

After going through the homes near the south gate, Occupation forces then moved to break into the house belonging to the mayor of Jayyous. They took a mug shot of the mayor, and then proceeded to arrest his son. The soldiers then started ransacking homes throughout the village, shooting sound bombs at the houses before forcing their way in at gunpoint and terrorizing families. As of this morning, over 50 people have been arrested, including the youth committee of the Stop the Wall Campaign, which does much of the mobilizing work for the weekly demonstrations. The arrested youth have been rounded up and put in one of the schools in Jayyous, and have been detained there for hours.

St Andrews Uni Occupation: Occupation in solidarity with the people of Gaza

We, the concerned students and academics of the University of St. Andrews, demand that the university condemns the illegal bombing and land invasion of Gaza and Israel’s indiscriminate targeting of civilians. In particular, as an educational establishment we urge that it shows practical solidarity with the Islamic University of Gaza and other schools and colleges damaged during the bombing.
We believe that now is the time for the university to firmly and unilaterally cut all financial and commercial ties with any companies that in any way supports the apartheid state of Israel. The university has led the way in adopting a policy of ethical investment. Now is the time for students, staff and management to show that we do not lack the courage to condemn crimes against humanity, nor the generosity to help those who are in such desperate need. Specifically we demand that the university:
1) Immediately suspends and pledges not to renew its contract with Eden Springs, the Israeli water company which illegally steals water from the Golan Heights. It is not enough that this contract run out this year, it must be cancelled now.
2) Puts in place a review process with the aim of suspending all ties to organisations that are publicly known to supply the Israeli military. This would specifically include:
a) Cutting all ties to BAE Systems, which provides sub-systems/components for Israeli F-16 fighter aircraft. These ties would include BAE funding of research projects at St Andrews University, industrial placements at BAE Systems as part of degrees at the University, and the hosting of any representatives of BAE Systems as part of events at the University;
b) Cutting the University’s ties with the Systems Engineering for Autonomous Systems Defence Technology Centre (SEAS-DTC), a Ministry of Defence-funded organisation designed to foster collaboration between military industry and academia. Both BAE Systems and Smiths Group are members of this organisation; in addition to BAE’s links with Israel, Smiths Group also provides Israel’s military with F-16 components;
c) Cutting all ties to the British Government’s military apparatus. Britain has consistently provided Israel with arms and military equipment, and Israeli military officials have attested to the importance of the essential items provided by Britain. The University’s ties include military research projects conducted at St Andrews and funded by, among others, the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory;
d) Establishing an ethics committee with the responsibility of ensuring that the University of St Andrews does not accept any income in the future from organisations linked to the Israeli military.
3) Sets up a scholarship program for Palestinian Students and commits to a minimum of 10 scholarships. This would send out an important symbolic message that we will not turn a blind eye to the Palestinian students who are unable to study because of the attacks on educational infrastructure and constant state of terror which prevents students from attending university.
4) Organizes a collection on campus, including a broadcasting of the DEC appeal, for aid for Gaza, makes available non-monetary aid such as course books, desks etc. and also establishes links with the Islamic University of Gaza in order to find out how it might aid with reconstruction.
5) Following the letter signed by fifty medical students, that Bute Medical School provides medical aid for Palestine in the form of medical equipment and drugs and through supporting organizations such as medical aid for Palestine (supported by Medsin).
In all of these measures the university might link up with other Scottish and English Universities who are also adopting similar policies in order to develop a common, humanitarian and equitable approach to Israeli companies and those linked to its war machine, as well as to the Palestinian people and its ravaged educational infrastructure.

Occupations at UK universities: Central information website

To date there have been 25 UK university occupations. The universities occupied have been SOAS, LSE, Essex, King’s College, Birmingham, Sussex, Warwick, Manchester Met, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge, Sheffield Hallam, Bradford, Nottingham, Queen Mary’s, Manchester, Strathclyde, Glasgow, Goldsmiths, Edinburgh and UEA. There have been 2 occupations of BBC buildings- one in Glasgow and one in London.
There has also been two university occupation abroad that we know of at the University of Rochester in the USA and NYU – making a total of 27 university occupations. In total there have been 29 occupations this year – most of them have been related to the situation in Gaza.

Who can probe Gaza war crimes claims?: BBC

There have been numerous calls for investigations into whether war crimes were committed during the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza.
The Geneva Conventions and additional protocols prohibit the destruction of property, “except when rendered absolutely necessary by military operations” and “indiscriminate attacks” affecting civilians. Concerns about the number of civilian casualties and damage to buildings in Gaza have been raised – among others – by the United Nations, by the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League and by human rights groups. But it is not clear whether the alleged violations count as war crimes or how people responsible might be held accountable.
‘Appalling acts’

During the three-week conflict, the United Nations says more than 40 people were killed when Israeli shells landed near a UN school and that warehouses at its main compound in Gaza City were hit by Israeli white phosphorus shells. The UN says many people were sheltering in the school and the compound at the time of the attacks. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attacks, although he did not use the term “war crimes”. He has demanded “a thorough investigation into these incidents and the punishment of those who are responsible for these appalling acts.” Mr Ban has also announced a UN inquiry into the “casualties and damage” at United Nations property during the conflict. Human rights groups, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, say this is not enough. They want a comprehensive international investigation into all the alleged violations of international law during the conflict – by Israel, by Hamas and by other Palestinian armed groups.

Hamas ‘sends Barack Obama letter’: BBC

The Palestinian group Hamas has sent a letter addressed to the US president via a US politician visiting Gaza, a senior UN official has said.
UN relief agency chief Karen Abu Zayd told the BBC the letter had been received by the UN and passed on. She did not say if Senator John Kerry had accepted it, and there were no details about the letter’s contents. The US views Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, as a terrorist organisation and will not deal with it. A former presidential candidate, Mr Kerry was visiting Gaza with US congressmen Brian Baird and Keith Ellison in the first such visit to the Hamas-run Strip since 2007. The men are not likely to meet Hamas.

BBC Trust backs Thompson on Gaza: BBC

The BBC’s director general made “a reasonable decision” in choosing not to show a Gaza fundraising appeal, its governing body has ruled.
Mark Thompson’s decision not to air the TV appeal for aid money after Israel’s assault prompted angry protests and 40,000 complaints to the BBC. But the BBC Trust said it would not overturn his decision and that he had “acted correctly throughout”.
He had said the appeal might compromise confidence in its impartiality.

Gaza: Humanitarian situation: BBC

 

Agencies say current aid supplies are far from sufficient

Agencies say current aid supplies are far from sufficient

Aid agencies are battling to meet the urgent needs of tens and thousands of displaced, homeless and injured people in Gaza, as well as to get damaged water, power and sewage infrastructure back even to their ailing pre-war levels. The UN has appealed for $613m for the initial recovery phase, but has estimated that long term reconstruction will run into the billions. Two separate Palestinian surveys have put the cost of the damage just under $2bn.
One said it would take three to five years to rebuild even under normal conditions – never mind with the continued Israeli blockade which stops all but humanitarian basics entering the strip. As well as killing more than 1,300, and leaving 5,300 injured, according to Palestinian figures, the UN says that the Israeli operation left two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5m residents without power, a third without running water and medical facilities overwhelmed and lacking basic supplies. Even before the fighting, most Gazans lived a precarious existence, with half the population dependent on UN food aid and the economy at a virtual standstill. Israeli and international human rights groups also accuse Israel of using closures in the month before the assault to further drain supplies of food and fuel in Gaza.

Captive deal ‘key to Gaza truce’: BBC

Israel’s security cabinet has decided there will be no truce in Gaza until an Israeli soldier captured in 2006 is freed, Israel’s interior minister says. Meir Sheetrit told reporters that the cabinet had backed demands to link Cpl Gilad Shalit’s release to the lifting of Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Israel has closed Gaza’s borders, allowing only essential supplies in. Leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas have said the border crossing and prisoner issues cannot be linked. After the security cabinet meeting, Mr Sheetrit told journalists: “The security cabinet unanimously decided that the release of the soldier Shalit is a condition to any agreement with Hamas.”

Did Egypt sabotage deal over Gaza, Shalit?: Amal Ghazal, The Electronic Intifada

One of the major achievements of the Israeli revisionist historians has been to break down Israeli myths surrounding the establishment of the State of Israel. A key myth has been the claim that Israel is surrounded by hostile Arab regimes. While this claim has been debunked, even mocked, by many Arabs who accuse their regimes of not only collaboration with Israel but also complicity in the continuing suppression of Palestinian resistance movements, that collaboration has now been documented and exposed with the unearthing of official records. This history came alive during the recent war on Gaza and the Egyptian government’s (and other Arab governments’) complicity in this war provided a clear idea of the organic relationship between Israel and some of those regimes which do not refrain from or hesitate to sacrifice the Palestinian question for their own political ends. The complicity of the Egyptian regime extends to the negotiations mediated by Cairo. In fact, that regime is not a mediator between two sides or an honest deal maker; its interests meet those of Israel to the extent that it is functioning as a broker on behalf of Israel. The war on Gaza left us with one eye set on the scenes of carnage in Gaza itself and another on Cairo, where the Egyptian negotiating team was trying to pressure the Palestinians (through Hamas) into surrender, something that Israel was not able to achieve by sheer military force. The international outcry, Hamas’ ability to absorb the Israeli attacks and the resolve of Palestinians in Gaza provided the Hamas delegation in Cairo with a political leverage that allowed it to resist Egyptian pressure and intimidation. And as has been revealed through some recent leaks to the press, the Egyptians have utilized various intimidating techniques in order to force Hamas into accepting the terms proposed by Israel. It may be a matter of time before we know those details which will reinforce the idea that the Egyptian negotiating team wanted to impose the Israeli terms rather than negotiate a fair agreement. An indication of Egypt’s readiness to push Hamas into surrender was the original Egyptian proposal to discuss a 10- to 15-year ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Hamas’ refusal to negotiate such a long-term agreement finally led to a negotiation of an 18-month agreement. As revealed by confidential sources, below is what the Egyptians have been proposing in terms of a two-phase agreement, followed by a Hamas counter-proposal.

Chasing mirages in the Middle East: Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada

I remember learning at school about the mirage effect. It never struck me as real or possible, but only theory. Later as a young diplomat I drove repeatedly from Amman to Kuwait, via Baghdad. In the endless flat desert, I saw large areas covered with what appeared to be blue, gently moving water. I could never reach the water, but it never disappeared. Thanks to those early physics lessons, I remembered enough to know it was indeed a mirage. So there was fascination without any deception. The peace mirage, however, is all deception with no fascination. The so-called “peace process” and the resulting negotiations long ago became ends in themselves: profitable or self-serving for the participants and failure-disguising for all concerned. For Israel, it is ideal to give the impression that it is engaged in peace talks while it continues to occupy and colonize Palestinians and deny their rights, as if the situation on the ground would have no effect on any negotiations. And for the Palestinian Authority which failed completely (due to its own corruption as well as Israeli occupation) to establish any real gains for the Palestinian people, the continued negotiations became the sole reason for its existence and the only way for those who control it to earn a living. When the peace process relaunched at Annapolis in 2007 hit the wall, those who rallied massive international support behind it, claiming it was the last best chance to realize the Bush vision of a two-state solution, had nothing to show for all their promises. So they made vague claims that it had laid the foundation for the envisioned peace, which could yet be built upon. Former United States President George W. Bush’s promise to establish a Palestinian state before he left office morphed into a promise merely to “define” such a state. Yet even that vague and insignificant goal could not be achieved.

Israel braces for wave of lawsuits: Mel Frykberg, The Electronic Intifada

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) – Israel is bracing for a wave of lawsuits accusing the state of substantial human rights violations during its 22-day military assault on Gaza which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and nearly 5,000 wounded, more than half of them civilian. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have confirmed that phosphorous bombs were used over Gaza. It is against international law to use phosphorous in densely crowded civilian areas. According to AI, Israel tanks also fired flechettes, 4cm long metal darts in civilian neighborhoods. Shells containing 5,000 to 8,000 flechettes explode in the air and scatter in a conical pattern over an area about 300m wide and 100m long. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) also hit out at Israel. The rights organizations had a group of monitors in the Palestinian territories for a number of days during Israel’s military operation codenamed Operation Cast Lead. “We are appalled at the horror of the war launched in the Gaza Strip, the major loss of civilian lives and the wide-scale destruction of civilian property and infrastructure in the context of the operation,” they said in a joint statement.

New United States envoy to the United Nations Security Council Susan Rice has called on Israel to carry out an investigation into possible human rights abuses. “We expect Israel will meet its international obligations to investigate, and we also call upon all members of the international community to refrain from politicizing these important issues,” said Rice in her debut speech to the UN Council. Meanwhile Israel launched an appeal several weeks ago against a decision by Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu to investigate a bombing in 2002 which killed a Hamas leader in a densely populated residential suburb of Gaza city.

Gaza’s forgotten elderly: Report, PCHR

At the nursing home of al-Wafaa Hospital in the northeastern Gaza Strip, frail women lie curled in their beds, most of them bedridden. In Gaza’s close-knit society, nursing homes are not very common, as most people prefer to care for their elderly family members at home. However, the patients at al-Wafaa have nowhere else to go. While many reports have been released on the effect of the conflict on children, other vulnerable groups such as the elderly and disabled are often disregarded. Seventy-five-year-old Rahma Mourad is one of the hospital’s permanent residents. Her face lights up as she remembers her early years in Damascus, where she came from a privileged background and her first language was French. Now, with her children in Syria and no family nearby to visit her, all she has are her memories. “I used to be so beautiful,” she says. “I came from a life of culture. Now look at me, I don’t even have teeth.” Over 4,300 people were physically injured during Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, many of whom sustained horrific injuries. But the wounds of psychological trauma, caused by shelling and bombardment, will also take time to heal.

Laughing at Gaza’s Destruction! An Open Letter to Comedienne Anne Roumanof

February 19, 2009 Ramallah, Occupied Palestine, February 19, 2009 We know that your stand-up comedy brings laughter and joy to many French- speaking people around the world. As such we are shocked and disappointed to learn that you are going to perform in support of handicapped Israeli veterans and victims of terrorist attacks in Geneva on March 2nd, 2009. Your performance in this show would constitute an act of support and solidarity with the Israeli army, which is Israel’s main instrument for the systematic oppression and brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people. It would contribute towards ‘polishing’ the international image of an aggressive military force that has a long history of involvement in massacres and the documented ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land. We hope you agree that this is the opposite of everything that comedy should represent. There is nothing funny about the Israeli army’s human rights record. There should be no place for comedy or comedians working to support its image abroad while Palestinians still suffer from Israel’s vicious military aggression. As we write, Israel continues to build settlements and an apartheid infrastructure of roads, blockades and the Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. Israel denies millions of Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their lands; it is destroying Palestinian homes; killing Palestinian children with impunity; and uprooting hundreds of thousands of Palestinian trees. Moreover, Israel maintains a system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens reminiscent of South African apartheid. Your performance in support of the Israeli army will be telling the Palestinians that their suffering – the product of colonialism and racism – doesn’t matter. You will be giving a slap in the face to Palestinian comedians, musicians, artists, filmmakers, writers and poets, who keep hope alive in circumstances meant to suffocate and crush them.

Egypt recalls commerce delegation to Israel: Ha’aretz

Egypt suspended commercial cooperation talks with Israel on Thursday in what was thought to be protest over Israel’s cabinet decision on Wednesday not to open its border crossings with the Gaza Strip until Hamas agrees to release abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

Egypt has been mediating efforts to strike a cease fire agreement between Israel and Hamas since Israel’s three week military offensive in the Gaza Strip ended on January 18. Hamas, who have held Shalit since he was abducted by Gaza militants in 2006, said that by linking Shalit’s release to a Gaza cease-fire agreement, Israel essentially stabbed Egypt in the back. The Egyptian commerce delegation was called to return to Cairo urgently. Delegation members, Egyptian foreign ministry officials involved in cultivating commercial cooperation between Egypt and Israel, arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday for talks with Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.  However, Egypt’s ambassador to Israel called the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem Thursday evening and said that the delegation suspended the talks due to technical reasons and was called back to Egypt for professional consultations. He stressed that the move was not politically motivated and that the delegation will return to Jerusalem to resume the talks as early as next week.

U.S. Senator John Kerry makes rare visit to Hamas-ruled Gaza: Ha’aretz

United States Senator John Kerry visited the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday as part of a rare trip by American politicians to the area.

The former Democratic presidential nominee said he was in Gaza to see the aftermath of Israel’s military offensive there last month. He did not meet with anyone from Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group. Kerry said his visit did not signal any change in American Mideast policy. He told residents that Hamas must take moves toward peace and halt its rocket attacks on southern Israel. Kerry was joined by an armed United Nations convoy. He inspected the ruins of a school destroyed in the Israel Defense Forces offensive and toured a neighborhood in northern Gaza that was heavily damaged in the fighting. Earlier Thursday, two Democratic congressmen traveled separately to Gaza, the first congressional delegation to enter the area since Hamas took power nearly two years ago.

Netanyahu, put your money where your mouth is: Ha’aretz

Why isn’t Benjamin Netanyahu setting up a right-wing government? Why isn’t he carrying out the voters’ will to position the right wing in power? Why isn’t he taking the opportunity that fell into his hands to form a government in tune with his doctrine? Why is he talking about a broad coalition, knowing it would force him to compromise his principles? Because he is afraid. Now, at the moment of truth, when he has the ability to implement his ideology, he has gotten cold feet and wants to dilute his government with components that are alien to his doctrine.  Together with Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Habayit Hayehudi and National Union – a majority of 65 Knesset members who are all distinctly far right – Netanyahu could carry out his political ideas. After all, the right wing always has answers for everything, a solution to every problem. So go for it, Netanyahu, go for it. First, go for the economic peace. Let’s see you obtain funding – from the Arab world and perhaps from Israel, too, especially in these economic times – to carry out the projects you promised. Persuade the Palestinians and Americans that this is enough. Let’s see what happens after the first suicide attack in the industrial zone built on the outskirts of Nablus or behind Hebron. Been there, done that. We’ve had industrial zones – so-called “peace parks” – in Erez, Tul Karm and Atarot. They stand abandoned, in ruins.

The president’s day

By Ari Shavit

Tags: Israel Elections: Ha’aretz

By the summer of 2010, Israel will be forced to choose between the following options: Coming to terms with a nuclear Iran, bombing Iran, or convincing the international community to impose a siege on Iran. All of the options are near impossibilities. In order to put Iran under siege, Israel needs diplomatic dexterity. Bombing Iran carries the risk of isolation, conflagration and an all-out religious war. As for coming to terms with a nuclear Iran, that means taking the risk that Israel will fade out under the constant threat of nuclear attack.
Since its establishment, Israel has never faced such a difficult choice. The only decision that was somewhat similar was the one regarding Dimona. David Ben-Gurion made the Dimona decision during the 1950s, with Shimon Peres by his side. The decision of who will decide on Iran will be made by Peres himself. Without Ben-Gurion by his side, President Peres will decide who will be the prime minister responsible for an existential decision within a year.
First and foremost, the president must be loyal to democracy. Democracy says that more than 40 MKs support a Benjamin Netanyahu government, while less than 30 MKs support a Tzipi Livni government. Democracy says that during the 2009 elections, the majority voted right. Any attempt to strip the right from its rightful place would be an underhanded trick. This would undermine democracy, harm the president’s prestige and lead to a dubious government designed to defraud voters.

The writer, Ari Shavit, considers himself to be on the left. He is typical of the new ‘left’ in Israel – aggressive, supports military adventures of extreme illegality and violence, and isa racist who is calling for the destruction of Iran and its military capability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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