April 2009

April 28, 2009

Jerusalem settlement ‘extended’: BBC

Construction has begun on approximately 60 new homes in a Jewish settlement in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli campaign group Peace Now says. The work, in East Talpiot settlement, is aimed at creating a belt around East Jerusalem that would sever it from the rest of the West Bank, the group says. Settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law. Israel disputes this and also argues that East Jerusalem is not subject to its pledge to freeze settlement work. Israel’s claim is based on its annexation of East Jerusalem, unrecognised by the international community, which it captured along with the West Bank and other Arab territory in the 1967 war. Israelis view settlements such as East Talpiot as neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Such areas tend to be well integrated into the city’s infrastructure.

‘Not one centimetre’

Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran said the work in East Talpiot in south-east Jerusalem aims to build “housing units for Orthodox religious Jewish families right next to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Arab al-Sawahra”. The housing complex is made up of three blocks of flats containing about 60 homes, Peace Now says. “We are against this project, which is harming the hopes for peace,” Ms Ofran said in remarks to AFP news agency. Jerusalem municipal officials declined to comment about the building work, which Peace Now said began two months ago. Click here to continue reading “April 28, 2009″ »

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April 27, 2009

AN OPEN LETTER TO LEONARD COHEN: from Israeli citizens

We are Jews, Palestinians, Israeli citizens, who hold your poetry and music in high esteem, and it is because of this respect for your artistic contributions and your moral Buddhist commitment to “save all beings” that we hope that our appeal to you to cancel your planned performance in Israel will not fall on deaf ears.
Israel is facing one of its most immoral historical moments. Its ruthless, criminal bashing of the Palestinians has met with little international criticism or curbing. The silence of most of the world’s governments continues to embolden successive Israeli governments to commit more violent acts. Israel has violated numerous international laws, but so far for Israeli Jews life in Israel goes on as if nothing happened. Indeed, your people, Cohen, have built “a new Dachau, And call it love, Security, Jewish culture”, as you have so perceptively put it yourself in ‘Questions for Shomrim’,  but only a few voices have been raised against these injustices.
It is left for us, citizens of the world, to condemn Israeli atrocities and crimes against humanity. Dissociating ourselves from Israel’s brutal policies is the only non-violent way now to avoid becoming complicit in the killing, the wounding and the maiming, and the robbing of Palestinians. Faced with all this and more, Palestinians are calling on all people to support their struggle for their basic rights. Unfortunately, recognizing Palestinian rights will require a fundamental shift in Israeli society. We suspect that this change will be achieved only via external pressure. The least that one can do in such a situation is not act as if it is business as usual.  We see our society becoming more and more calloused and racist and given your longstanding, vocal commitment to justice, we cannot envision you cooperating with continued Israeli defiance of justice and morality; we cannot envision you playing a part in the Israeli charade of self-righteousness. We appeal to you to add your voice to those brave people the world over who boycott Israel. We urge you to cancel your planned performance in Israel.

To see list of signatories to date, use link above

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April 25, 2009

Czech PM: We’ll fight EU calls to freeze Israel ties: Ha’aretz

Czech Prime Minister Mirel Topolanek told President Shimon Peres on Friday that his country, which holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, would fight against calls within Europe to suspend the upgrade of relations with Israel. The visiting Czech premier’s remark came one day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him that Israel’s relationship with the European Union should not be linked to its relationship with the Palestinians. “Don’t set conditions for us,” Netanyahu told Topolanek during their meeting on Thursday. “Peace is in Israel’s interest no less than it is in Europe’s interest, and there’s no need to make the upgrade in relations with Israel conditional on progress on the peace process.” Topolanek is the first foreign government leader to visit Israel since the Netanyahu cabinet was sworn in three weeks ago. The talks between the two were reportedly conducted in a relaxed atmosphere. But Topolanek brought up the issue of construction in West Bank settlements and European concerns that this could prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. “If Israelis can’t build homes in the West Bank then Palestinians shouldn’t be allowed to either,” Netanyahu said in response. He told the Czech leader he has no intention of halting the expansion of existing settlements. “I have no plans to build new settlements, but if someone wants to build a new home [in an existing one], I don’t think there’s a problem.” He characterized the West Bank as “disputed territory” over which negotiations must be held.

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April 24, 2009

Another muted scream: The Electronic Intifada

Sayed Mohamed Dhansay

Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme in a Ramallah hospital after he was killed on 17 April 2009. (activestills.org)

Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme in a Ramallah hospital after he was killed on 17 April 2009. (activestills.org)

He stands on a small sandy hilltop wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, cigarette in hand. He is calling out to the soldiers on the other side of the fence “Do not shoot, do not shoot. There are children and internationals here, do not shoot.” Thin white wisps of tear gas linger in the gentle breeze, a moment of calm in the confrontation. Suddenly a tear gas canister whizzes past the camera making an audible “clunk” as it hits something to the right. He tries to let out a scream, but all he manages is a stifled yelp. One can almost hear his breath being cut short as the projectile punctures his chest. Another muted scream of pain. He falls to the ground then jumps up quickly, running a few steps before collapsing again. His body rolls a few times as he hits the ground, his limbs flapping loosely underneath him. Two fellow demonstrators run to him, looking almost surprised and unsure of what has just happened. They turn him over, lifting his shirt and calling his name. But he is unresponsive. His eyes are open but his body lies motionless. His bright yellow shirt now quickly growing a wet red stain over his heart. And so the occupied people of Palestine sacrifice yet another one of their young men. Another one. Again. Just like that. In an instant. Caught live on camera for the world to see. Twenty-nine-year-old Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahme was later pronounced dead at Ramallah hospital on Friday 17 April 2009 after being shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas canister by an Israeli soldier. A faceless, nameless soldier who will likely never have to explain or account for taking the life of another human being. Basem posed no threat to the security of Israel as he stood atop that hill. He was not armed, nor was he throwing stones. Ironically, he was calling out to the Israeli forces to hold their fire because children and internationals were present, when he was shot. He was involved in a nonviolent demonstration when his own life was so violently taken. Basem is the 18th Palestinian to be killed in nonviolent anti-wall protests in the West Bank since 2004.

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April 23, 2009

Yad Vashem removes ‘rogue guide’: BBC

Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem has fired one of its guides for making political statements about the plight of the Palestinians during his tours. Visitors complained when Itamar Shapira likened the trauma of European Jews to the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) when Israel was founded in 1948. Israeli media said it was the first such sacking at Yad Vashem. Itamar Shapira accused the museum of having a “flawed approach” that ignored certain historical facts. Yad Vashem’s Estee Yaari told the BBC that Mr Shapira had violated clear prohibitions on employees pushing their own political viewpoints. “Yad Vashem is an apolitical organisation and as such is careful to ensure that the professional work of Holocaust remembrance and commemoration will be separated from any political agenda,” she told the BBC. She said Itamar Shapira had been employed as a freelance guide by Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies for about two years. “Recently, a complaint was lodged noting a number of problems with his guiding,” she said. “After a discussion with school staff, he refused to change his guiding method and was let go.”

Clinton: Israel risks losing support on Iran: Ha’artez

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned Israel’s right-wing government on Thursday that it risked losing Arab support for fighting any threats from Iran if it shuns Palestinian peace talks. Signaling U.S. impatience with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reticence over peace talks, Clinton said Arab nations had made clear to her that Israel must be committed to the Palestinian peace process if it wants help countering Iran. “For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand,” she told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Israel sees a nuclear-armed threat as a mortal threat. “They [Arab countries] believe that Israel’s willingness to re-enter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran,” she added. Since coming into power last month, Netanyahu and his right-leaning coalition have avoided recognizing the Palestinians’ right to an independent state as his predecessor Ehud Olmert did. The United States is committed to pushing for a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side, and would like to revive stalled talks.

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April 21, 2009

New Holocaust Museum opens in Palestine: Report in Hebrew: YNet ( no English translation exists yet)

ביישוב הערבי נחנך מוזיאון לזכר השואה. ראש העיר יוביל תהלוכה כדי להזכיר את פשעי הנאצים – וגם למחות על הגדר. “אם ילכו נגד מדיניות היטלר, נחיה בשלום”, אמרו המארגנים
בימים בהם חלקים מהעולם המוסלמי משמיצים מעל במה בינלאומית את העם היהודי ומעוררים זכרונות מחרידים – בקרב ערביי הארץ יש מי שפועל להציג את זוועות השואה גם לבני עמו, ולהראות את מחירה הנורא של השנאה. בכפר הפלסטיני נעלין שליד רמאללה – שהפך לאחר מסמלי המאבק נגד הקמת גדר ההפרדה – נחנך היום (ג’) רשמית מוזיאון לזכר השואה, שנפתח לפני כמה חודשים כתערוכה. בצהריים צפויים תושבים, ובראשם ראש העיר, איימן נאפע, לקיים מה שהם מגדירים “מצעד חיים” משלהם.

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April 16, 2009

latuff-plasterBy Latuff

Robert Fisk: How can you trust the cowardly BBC?: The Independent

The BBC Trust is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which abused Bowen
The BBC Trust’s report on Jeremy Bowen’s dispatches from the Middle East is pusillanimous, cowardly, outrageous, factually wrong and ethically dishonest.
But I am mincing my words.
The trust – how I love that word which so dishonours everything about the BBC – has collapsed, in the most shameful way, against the usual Israeli lobbyists who have claimed – against all the facts – that Bowen was wrong to tell the truth.
Let’s go step by step through this pitiful business. Zionism does indeed instinctively “push out” the frontier. The new Israeli wall – longer and taller than the Berlin Wall although the BBC management cowards still insist its reporters call it a “security barrier” (the translation of the East German phrase for the Berlin Wall) – has gobbled up another 10 per cent of the 22 per cent of “Palestine” that Arafat/Mahmoud Abbas were supposed to negotiate. Bowen’s own brilliant book on the 1967 war, Six Days, makes this land-grab perfectly clear.
Anyone who has read the history of Zionism will be aware that its aim was to dispossess the Arabs and take over Palestine. Why else are Zionists continuing to steal Arab land for Jews, and Jews only, against all international law? Who for a moment can contradict that this defies everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own? Even when the International Court in The Hague stated that the Israeli wall was illegal – the BBC, at this point, was calling it a “fence”! – Israel simply claimed that the court was wrong.
UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 called upon Israel to withdraw its forces from territories that it occupied in the 1967 war – and it refused to do so. The Americans stated for more than 30 years that Israel’s actions were illegal – until the gutless George Bush accepted Israel had the right to keep these illegally held territories. Thus the BBC Trust – how cruel that word “trust” now becomes – has gone along with the Bush definition of Israel’s new boundaries (inside Arab land, of course).
The BBC’s preposterous committee claims that Bowen’s article “breached the rules [sic] on impartiality” because “readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war”.
Well, yes of course. Because I suppose the BBC believes that Israel’s claim to own land which in fact belongs to other people is another “sensible” view of the war. The BBC Trust – and I now find this word nauseous each time I tap it on my laptop – says that Bowen didn’t give evidence to prove the Jewish settlement at Har Homa was illegal. But the US authorities said so, right from the start. Our own late foreign secretary, Robin Cook – under screamed abuse from Zionists when he visited the settlement– said the same thing. The fact that the BBC Trust uses the Hebrew name for Har Homa – not the original Arab name, Jebel Abu Ghoneim – shows just how far it is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which so diligently abused Bowen.

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April 13, 2009

Make Zionism History!

Aida refugee camp (photo by Musa Al Shaer

Aida refugee camp (photo by Musa Al Shaer)

Empire and agency: “A World of Trouble: America in the Middle East”: The Electronic Intifada

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

United States Middle East policy has been defined since World War II by the tension between two competing concerns: the strategic interests which require good relations with Arab-Muslim states, and domestic political imperatives which demand unquestioning allegiance to Israel. That the US interest in the region’s energy resources has remained consistent, as well as its support for Israel, leads some to conclude that somehow the two are complementary. They aren’t. US President Harry S. Truman recognized the state of Israel the day of its founding over the strenuous objections of his State Department in order to court the Jewish vote and, more significantly, Jewish money for his re-election campaign. Every president since — with the exception of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush, who saw no cause to feign balance — has sought to address this tension with attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. All these efforts have so far failed. A study of US policy in the region over the decades, then, is inevitably a study of the causes of these failures. While nowhere in his invaluable diplomatic history of eight presidencies, A World of Trouble: America in the Middle East, does Patrick E. Tyler use the phrase “the Israel lobby,” it nevertheless looms largest among the reasons why all these efforts have foundered. With the US Congress long since claimed by the lobby, the executive branch is where most of these battles have played out.
The coherence and continuity imputed to US policy in the region by analysts owes more to broad-brush theorizing than to a careful appraisal of the contingent realities that have shaped it. The structural determinism of these accounts overlooks the ad hoc nature of the policies and brushes over the discernible personal stamps of key individuals. Tyler’s indispensable corrective begins with Dwight D. Eisenhower, among whose priorities the Middle East never ranked high until the Suez crisis in 1956. Like Truman he resented Zionist influence on the US government, but whereas the former had opted for a politically expedient accommodation, Eisenhower refused to compromise. Both Eisenhower and his CIA Director Allan Dulles liked Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who they saw as an anti-communist modernizer. They aided his consolidation of power. The Israeli government resented this and even resorted to terrorism at one point to wean away the US.

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