April 5, 2009

Noam Chomsky on US Expansion of Afghan Occupation, the Uses of NATO, and What Obama Should Do in Israel-Palestine: Democracy Now

We speak to Noam Chomsky, prolific author and Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As NATO leaders gather for a sixtieth anniversary summit in France, Chomsky says, “The obvious question is, why bother celebrating NATO at all? In fact, why does it exist?” Chomsky also analyzes the Obama administration’s escalation of the Afghanistan occupation and reacts to the new Netanyahu government in Israel.

Israeli exports hit by European boycotts after attacks on Gaza: The Guardian

A fifth of Israeli exporters report drop in demand as footage of Gaza attacks changes behaviour of consumers and investors
Israeli companies are feeling the impact of boycott moves in Europe, according to surveys, amid growing concern within the Israeli business sector over organised campaigns following the recent attack on Gaza. Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.
“There is no doubt that a red light has been switched on,” Dan Katrivas, head of the foreign trade department at the Israel Manufacturers Association, told Maariv newspaper this week. “We are closely following what’s happening with exporters who are running into problems with boycotts.” He added that in Britain there exists “a special problem regarding the export of agricultural produce from Israel”.
The problem, said Katrivas, is in part the discussion in the UK over how to label goods that come from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Last week British government officials met with food industry representatives to discuss the issue.

Seymour Hersh on “Syria Calling: The Obama Administration’s Chance to Engage in a Middle East Peace”: Democracy Now

In the latest issue of The New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh looks at Syria’s emerging role in the politics of Middle East peace. He also reveals new details on the behind-the-scenes dealings of the Bush administration and the then-incoming Obama camp during the Israeli attack on Gaza. The article is called “Syria Calling: The Obama Administration’s Chance to Engage in a Middle East Peace.”

SEYMOUR HERSH: What I wrote about, in doing my reporting, I did discover that Cheney, of course, to no one’s surprise, if you certainly read what I wrote about Cheney and the White House’s involvement in the Israeli attack on Lebanon three years ago—Cheney was deeply involved with the Israelis in the planning for Gaza, resupplying them with weapons and also providing intelligence through our—the offices we have in Egypt, our intelligence offices there. So we were deeply involved in helping the Israelis do the attack on Gaza, with intelligence, etc., and weaponry.
And he was, not surprisingly, very hostile to the election of Obama. And he called him a lot of pejorative names, but one of them that we published that dealt with—I think he said, “He will never make it in the major leagues,” and that kind of language.
And more specifically, what I wrote about that actually is, I think, far more interesting is that Obama—and when he was in transition, his transition team let the Israelis know that—if you remember, the bombing of Gaza began in late December of ’08 and ended around the 18th of January, 18th. That wasn’t an accident. Obama told the Israelis, “I do not want bombing in Gaza or Israeli troops in Gaza at the time of my inauguration.” And that was—it’s not clear whether the Israelis were going to stay there. But the hunch is, they planned to go another week. They stopped short.
And as I write, they complained bitterly to Cheney, who communicated that distress to General Jones, who is the new head of the National Security—former Marine General Jim Jones, who’s head of now the National—as I said, national security adviser. And Jones was the national security adviser in waiting, and he worked out a deal, which was that the Israelis would stop short, as Obama wanted; in return, the Obama administration, once in office, would not interfere with a prearranged flow of arms that was going to Israel. In other words, we were going to keep the supply of smart bombs and other weaponry going past the inauguration. And so, the message to Israel, perhaps, was, “Well, we’re still your friends, but not a blank check.” And so, that was a very interesting—it’s just a couple of graphs in my piece, but a very interesting couple of graphs.  [ . . . ]

Israel on Trial: NY Tomes

George Bisharat

CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:
• Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.
• Imposing collective punishment in the form of a blockade, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In June 2007, after Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed suffocating restrictions on trade and movement. The blockade — an act of war in customary international law — has helped plunge families into poverty, children into malnutrition, and patients denied access to medical treatment into their graves. People in Gaza thus faced Israel’s winter onslaught in particularly weakened conditions.

• Deliberately attacking civilian targets. The laws of war permit attacking a civilian object only when it is making an effective contribution to military action and a definite military advantage is gained by its destruction. Yet an Israeli general, Dan Harel, said, “We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings.” An Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, avowed that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”
Israeli fire destroyed or damaged mosques, hospitals, factories, schools, a key sewage plant, institutions like the parliament, the main ministries, the central prison and police stations, and thousands of houses.
• Willfully killing civilians without military justification. When civilian institutions are struck, civilians — persons who are not members of the armed forces of a warring party, and are not taking direct part in hostilities — are killed.

International law authorizes killings of civilians if the objective of the attack is military, and the means are proportional to the advantage gained. Yet proportionality is irrelevant if the targets of attack were not military to begin with. Gaza government employees — traffic policemen, court clerks, secretaries and others — are not combatants merely because Israel considers Hamas, the governing party, a terrorist organization. Many countries do not regard violence against foreign military occupation as terrorism.

Barbaric Israel: ICH

A nation that has violated “every norm of civilized behavior and international law” since its founding in 1948 is held virtually blameless by the U.S. corporate media – Israel sycophants of the lowest order. “Now members of the Israeli Defense Force themselves are coming forward to admit that they committed war crimes” – but the U.S. press is censoring their confessions! Even when Israeli soldiers openly testify to committing “murder” in Gaza, as reported by the Israeli press, the U.S. corporate media “keeps the people of this country ignorant” of the crimes against humanity bankrolled by American taxpayers.

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberle

“Every norm of civilized behavior and international law was violated.”

April 04, 2009 “BAR” — Despite the best efforts of the American corporate media, the Israeli lobby, and compromised politicians, the true nature of Israel’s barbarity towards the Palestinian people is not easily hidden. The massacres of Gaza’s civilian population that were recently carried out by the Israeli Defense Force created a turning point in worldwide public opinion. Only the Israeli and American governments try to deny that war crimes were committed.

The IDF barred the world’s media from witnessing the killings of more than 1,400 people. Every norm of civilized behavior and international law was violated, including the Geneva Conventions prohibition of acts of revenge against civilian populations. Israel kept the borders of Gaza sealed, and would not even allow the population to flee and save their lives. The IDF takes the term “shooting fish in a barrel” very seriously.

Now members of the IDF themselves are coming forward to admit that they committed war crimes. Soldiers have told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that they were ordered to murder civilians without provocation.  Haaretz has also revealed that the IDF prepares soldiers to kill civilians by openly condoning the killing of pregnant women and little children. “1 Shot, 2 Kills” reads one t-shirt routinely worn by IDF soldiers. It depicts a pregnant woman covered by a bulls-eye. Another t-shirt for infantry snipers depicts “the inscription ‘Better use Durex,’ next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him.” Soldiers wear these shirts only with the approval of their platoon commanders. “The IDF prepares soldiers to kill civilians by openly condoning the killing of pregnant women and little children.”
The shirts are bilingual, written in Hebrew and in English too. It makes sense that the inscriptions are also in English, because were it not for American financial support, the IDF would not exist or be able to bomb Syria or the Sudan or invade Lebanon or carry out massacres in Gaza.

The United States is the Israeli government’s only friend in the world. While boycotts and protests against Israel are carried out all over the globe, concerned Americans are silenced because the corporate media and the political system have turned their country into Israel’s colony. The Los Angeles Times carried the story of IDF war crimes revelations, but only after censoring the words of the soldiers themselves.

Changing The Rules Of War: ICH

By George Bisharat
April 04, 2009 “Information Clearing House” — The extent of Israel’s brutality against Palestinian civilians in its 22-day pounding of the Gaza Strip is gradually surfacing. Israeli soldiers are testifying to lax rules of engagement tantamount to a license to kill. One soldier commented: “That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him.”
What is less appreciated is how Israel is also brutalizing international law, in ways that may long outlast the demolition of Gaza.
Since 2001, Israeli military lawyers have pushed to re-classify military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from the law enforcement model mandated by the law of occupation to one of armed conflict. Under the former, soldiers of an occupying army must arrest, rather than kill, opponents, and generally must use the minimum force necessary to quell disturbances.
While in armed conflict, a military is still constrained by the laws of war – including the duty to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and the duty to avoid attacks causing disproportionate harm to civilian persons or objects – the standard permits far greater uses of force.
Israel pressed the shift to justify its assassinations of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, which clearly violated settled international law. Israel had practiced “targeted killings” since the 1970s – always denying that it did so – but had recently stepped up their frequency, by spectacular means (such as air strikes) that rendered denial futile.
President Bill Clinton charged the 2001 Mitchell Committee with investigating the causes of the second Palestinian uprising and recommending how to restore calm in the region. Israeli lawyers pleaded their case to the committee for armed conflict. The committee responded by criticizing the blanket application of the model to the uprising, but did not repudiate it altogether.
Today, most observers – including Amnesty International – tacitly accept Israel’s framing of the conflict in Gaza as an armed conflict, as their criticism of Israel’s actions in terms of the duties of distinction and the principle of proportionality betrays. This shift, if accepted, would encourage occupiers to follow Israel’s lead, externalizing military control while shedding all responsibilities to occupied populations.
Israel’s campaign to rewrite international law to its advantage is deliberate and knowing. As the former head of Israel’s 20-lawyer International Law Division in the Military Advocate General’s office, Daniel Reisner, recently stated: “If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries … International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later, it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”
In the Gaza fighting, Israel has again tried to transform international law through violations. For example, its military lawyers authorized the bombing of a police cadet graduation ceremony, killing at least 63 young Palestinian men. Under international law, such deliberate killings of civilian police are war crimes. Yet Israel treats all employees of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as terrorists, and thus combatants. Secretaries, court clerks, housing officials, judges – all were, in Israeli eyes, legitimate targets for liquidation.

When evil is a question of bias: The Guardian

Peter Wilby
Last Tuesday, the Guardian led its front page with the results of “a month-long investigation” into “alleged war crimes committed by Israel” during the recent Gaza offensive. Israeli forces, the paper reported, used Palestinian children as human shields, targeted medics and hospitals and launched unmanned aircraft (drones) that killed 48 civilians. Evidence was laid out in an inside-page spread and three videos posted on the Guardian website.
No prizes for guessing that the evidence failed to impress the Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips. In her Spectator blog, she wrote that “the allegations are made by people with a proven track record of … fabrication of stories and images … controlled and schooled by Hamas to tell lies under pain of torture or death”. Moreover, the Guardian hadn’t mentioned that a 100kg bomb planted in Haifa the previous Saturday failed to go off. “Truly,” she concluded, “the Guardian is an evil newspaper.”
I will not go into the rights and wrongs of this latest argument. In the Middle East, no evidence of any sort will satisfy both sides. Even a bare recitation of facts won’t please because Middle Eastern history goes back several thousand years and, for the partisans, there will always be crucial events omitted. Language itself is contested. Why are Israeli soldiers always “kidnapped” by Hamas or Hizbullah while Palestinians are “arrested” by Israel? An editor once tried to unpick this one on the BBC website and got nothing but abuse.
All long-running conflicts lead to such polarisation: think of arguments about whether it should be Londonderry or Derry. What makes the Middle East specially problematic is the reluctance of either side to accept that some attempts at “even-handed” reporting are in good faith. This point was brought home to me earlier this month when I joined a panel for a meeting in Hampstead Town Hall, attended by about 100 people.

It’s a Lieberman Government: ICH

By Uri Avnery – Israel
April 04, 2009 “Information Clearing House” — -On the first day of the new Israeli government, the fog cleared: it’s a Lieberman government.
The day started with a celebration at the President’s office. All the members of this bloated government – 30 ministers and 8 deputy ministers – were dressed up in their best finery and posed for a group photo. Binyamin Netanyahu read an uninspired speech, which included the worn-out clichés that are necessary to set the world at ease: the government is committed to peace, it will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, bla-bla-bla.
Avigdor Lieberman hurried from there to the foreign Office, for the ceremonial change of ministers. He, too, made a speech – but it was not a routine speech at all.
“Si vis pacem, para bellum – if you want peace, prepare for war,” declared the new Foreign Minister. When a diplomat quotes this ancient Roman saying, the world pays no attention to the first part, but only to the second. Coming from the mouth of the already infamous Lieberman, it was a clear threat: the new government is entering upon a path of war, not of peace.
With this sentence, Lieberman negated Netanyahu’s speech and made headlines around the world. He confirmed the worst apprehensions connected with the creation of this government.
Not content with quoting the Romans, he explained specifically why he used this motto. Concessions, he said, do not bring peace, but quite the reverse. The world respected and admired Israel when it won the Six-day war.
Two fallacies in one sentence. Returning occupied territory is not a “concession”. When a thief is compelled to return stolen property, or when a squatter vacates an apartment that does not belong to him, that is not a “concession”. And the admiration for Israel in 1967 came from a world that saw us as a little, valiant country that had stood up to mighty armies out to destroy us. But today’s Israel looks like a brutal Goliath, while the occupied Palestinians are now viewed as a David with his slingshot, fighting for his life.
With this speech, Lieberman succeeded in stirring the world, but even more in humiliating Netanyahu. He exposed the peace declarations of the new Prime Minister as nothing but soap bubbles.
However, the world (as I wrote last week) wants to be deceived. A White House spokesman announced that as far as the American administration is concerned, it is Netanyahu’s bla-bla-bla that counts, not Lieberman’s straight talking. And Hillary Clinton was not ashamed to call Lieberman and congratulate him on assuming office.
That was the first test of strength inside the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak triangle. Lieberman has demonstrated his contempt for both Netanyahu and Barak.

His political base is secure, because he is the only person who can topple the government at any moment. After the Knesset debate on the new government, only 69 members voted for it. If one adds the five Labor members who “were present but did not participate in the vote” (a voting device that is less negative than abstaining), the government has 74 votes. Meaning: without Lieberman’s 15 members, the government does not command a majority.

Israel rushes to India’s defense: Asia Times

By Siddharth Srivastava
NEW DELHI – Israel emerged as India’s number one defense partner last week when it was revealed that New Delhi had signed a US$1.4 billion deal with the country to purchase a 70 kilometer shore-based and sea borne anti-missile air defense system.
This is among the bigger defense deals between the two countries and the biggest military joint venture by India with a foreign country, overtaking the India-Russia BrahMos cruise missile project.
A senior defense official said the total value of the deal was over $2 billion, with one portion valued at $600 million being hived off to the state-controlled Defense Research and Development Organization.
This makes Israel India’s biggest defense supplier, clocking over a billion dollars in new contracts in 2007 and 2008 to overtake Russia.
Russia has been supplying India with $875 million in defense equipment every year. Other main Indian defense partners are Sweden, Britain and France, with the United States an emerging competitor.
“We have a very special defense relationship with India,” Israeli Major General Udi Shani, director of the Defense Ministry’s Sibat export agency, was quoted as saying recently.
Last August, New Delhi inked a $2.5 billion deal with Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd (IAI) and Rafael to jointly develop a new and advanced version of the Spyder surface-to-air missile system.
In May this year, India should receive the first of three new Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) developed for the Indian Air Force by IAI. The three “eyes in the sky” Phalcons priced at $1.1 billion will be mounted on Russian-delivered Ilyushin-76 aircraft. The deal was inked in March 2004 and has been delayed due to problems in technical integration.
Talks are underway for the purchase of another three AWACS.

The house-arrest for an indefinite period of time of Jaffa-based theater artist Samieh Jabbarin signals a sharp escalation in the cynical, premeditated harassment of citizens engaged democratically and legally in expressing their political views. The case of Samieh Jabbarin exposes ominously tight cooperation between the Israeli Security Services, police and the courts of justice.  A transparent, crass attempt is being made to incriminate a peace-seeking social activist, by fabricating charges of violence.  Unfortunately, the State Attorney General’s office and the courts of justice have not yet put a halt to this mode of action.
The facts:
Samieh Jabbarin, 41-years old, a citizen of Israel native of Um al Fahm, is a theater and film director.  He was professionally and academically
trained in Germany and is currently completing his Masters degree at the Theater Arts Department of Tel Aviv University.  Upon his return to his
native country, he settled in Jaffa and engaged, among other things, in the struggle against the dispossession and eviction of this city’s weakened
residents by the ‘gentrification’ enterprises now in full swing.  Samieh is also active in the Abna al Balad movement and was among the organizers of last year’s Haifa conference on the Right of Return and a secular democratic state.  At the onset of Israel’s offensive in Gaza last December, he used his theater skills to organize public lament rallies and non-violent protest of the massacre of civilians by the Israeli army.
Throughout January 2009, Samieh was warned by the Security Services that a way will be found to punish him for this civil activity.  The opportunity presented itself on February 10th, general election day in Israel.  A group of extreme rightist fanatics announced their intention to be involved in the voting process in Um al Fahm, second largest Arab city in Israel.
Samieh, a native of this town, joined residents in a protest demonstration. He was arrested along with a fellow-resident minutes after the event began. On the very next day – in a procedure extraordinarily swift in the Israeli court system – a detailed indictment was presented at the Khadera court for supposedly assaulting the Chief of Police of the entire region, ***.
All attempts to disprove and deny such outright deception have been in vain.  The open ‘secret’ is that Israeli police video-document any
demonstration and arrest.  In this case, however, no evidence was produced beyond the police officer’s own statement.  One look at the large,
able-bodied police chief and the rather fragile-looking Samieh casts a heavy shadow over the officer’s testimony, contradicting any findings and
testimonies from the ground, as reflected in the statement by Samieh’s defense, attorneys ***
Samieh was held prisoner in Kishon Detention Center under harsh conditions for over three weeks, and following a legal struggle, was “released” to strict house-arrest at his parents’ home in Um al Fahm.  Officially, this ruling is in force until the legal procedures are terminated.  However, all
attempts on the part of Samieh’s attornies to obtain a trial date have failed.  In total contrast to the speed of his indictment, the system is in
no hurry to expose the prosecution’s evidence at an open trial.  Thus, Samieh Jabbarin is prevented all access to his creative work, his studies,
and his normal living environment.  His fate also serves as a blatant warning, to intimidate other social and political activists. We appeal to all who are personally committed to fundamental democratic values to raise their voice and demand an immediate end to this deplorable affair.  We must expose the questionable method of false accusations and frame-ups in attempting silence brave voices of political resisters.  This appeal is directed at
o Stage, television and film artists both in Israel and abroad;
o The media community, journalists of the printed and electronic press
o Persons visibly active in education and culture
o Social and human-rights activists everywhere
o Citizens who still care about democracy – wherever they are –
we are all called upon to act for the freedom of speech, the freedom of congregation and the freedom of non-violent political activity of Samieh
Jabbarin as well as all other citizens of Israel – Jews and Arabs alike.


A group of 16 of the world’s leading war crimes investigators and judges – backed by Amnesty International – has urged the United Nations to launch a full inquiry into alleged gross violations of the laws of war committed by both sides during the recent conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.
An open letter – entitled ‘Find the truth about Gaza war’ – was sent to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday. The letter’s signatories include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and judge Richard Goldstone, formerly Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
A UN inquiry is currently investigating attacks which were carried out against UN facilities and personnel in Gaza during the three-week conflict.
“The UN investigation is not sufficient as a response to the grave violations that were committed during the conflict. Hundreds of civilians were killed or injured, and it is vital that the circumstances in which they were attacked are fully investigated,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“Those responsible for war crimes or other serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses must be held to account.”

30 March ’09: Calls for independent investigation into military’s conduct during “Operation Cast Lead”: B’Tselem

Israeli human rights organizations say, in response to the Israeli military’s speedy closing of internal investigation files of war crimes in “Operation Cast Lead”:  The speedy closing of the investigation raises suspicions that sole purpose in opening it was to clear the military of any blame for illegal activity during the operation.
The internal investigation ignored a significant amount of material that was collected and that coincides with soldiers’ testimonies recently publicized in Israeli media. In addition, the Military Advocate General disregarded allegations that several of the commands given during the military operations were illegal. It is clear that in this case, the Military Police Criminal Investigations Department (MPCID) has decided to focus on the individual soldier, a measure which is neither effective nor reliable.
“The closing of the military’s own investigation only strengthens the need for the Attorney General to allow for an independent non-partisan investigative body to be established in order to look into all Israeli military activity during ‘Operation Cast Lead’,” say the organizations.

24 March ’09: Since Operation “Cast Lead”: Sharp rise in reports of military and police violence towards Palestinians: B’Tselem

Since the beginning of Operation “Cast Lead” at the end of 2008, there has been a sharp rise in reports of violence perpetrated by security forces against Palestinians in the West Bank. During this nearly three-month period, B’Tselem documented 24 cases in which police officers and soldiers beat Palestinians, using rifle butts, clubs and other means of injury. 16 of the cases were especially serious and their victims suffered heavier injuries. As it is impossible for B’Tselem to document each and every case of violence by security forces in the West Bank, the above figures necessarily reflect only a portion of the violent incidents that actually occurred, and it is likely that other attacks went unreported.
The documented cases took place throughout the West Bank – some at checkpoints, others in Palestinian homes, and some on roadways. In one case, testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that soldiers stopped Na’im ‘Awad at the Huwara checkpoint and beat him. His brother, Muhammad, arrived at the checkpoint by chance and asked the soldiers why they were beating his brother. An argument ensued between him and one of the soldiers, who then slammed him hard in the head with his rifle butt, causing him irreparable speech damage and weakness on the right side of his body.
In another case, soldiers encountered a Palestinian by the side of the road next to Tuqu’ and beat him for several minutes. The victim, Majed Hajahjeh, related in his testimony:
They beat me all over my body, especially my head. I covered my head with my hands to protect myself. My hands were bloody from the blood from my head. I went down onto my knees and cried out in pain. The soldiers continued to beat me with clubs and to kick me in the neck, back, and hands. My right hand hurt in particular. It hurt so much, I thought I was going to die.
Later in his testimony, Hajahjeh stated that the soldiers had left him lying by the road, bleeding, his arm broken.
B’Tselem referred all the documented cases to the law-enforcement authorities – the Judge Advocate General’s Office and the Department for the Investigation of Police, in the Ministry of Justice. Although some of the cases occurred more than two months ago, the authorities have yet to complete the investigation in even one case.

Defense co Aeronautics buys Motorola fuses unit: Globes online

Government Electronics Department makes electronic fuses for IMI and others.
Sources inform ”Globes” that Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. has acquired Motorola Israel Ltd. unit Government Electronics Department (GED) for $20 million. The deal is expected to be signed today.
Tel Aviv-based GED developments and manufacturers electronic fuses for the defense industry. The acquisition will enable Aeronautics to provide more comprehensive solutions to its customers.

Aeronautics is estimated to have had $150 million revenue in 2008. The Yavne-based company is owned by Avi and Aharon Shaked, Moshe Caspi, and CEO Avi Leumi. It develops and manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), mini-UAVs, Aerial intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance systems (observation balloons), and command and control systems for the IDF and other armies.
Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) abandoned the electronic fuses business a long time ago, and only Motorola Israel still kept the business, whose primary customer is Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI).
Aeronautics declined to comment. Motorola Israel said, “No comment.”

On Anti-Semitism, Boycotts, and the Case of Hermann Dierkes:

An Open Letter from Jewish Peace Activists: ZSpace

We are peace activists of Jewish background. Some of us typically identify in this way; others of us do not. But we all object to those who claim to speak for all Jews or who use charges of anti-Semitism to attempt to squelch legitimate dissent.
We have learned with dismay the allegations regarding Hermann Dierkes, a trade unionist and leader of the Left Party (DIE LINKE) in the German city of Duisburg. Dierkes, in response to the recent Israeli assault on Gaza expressed the view that one way people could help Palestinians obtain justice would be to support the call of the World Social Forum to boycott Israeli goods, so as to put pressure on the Israeli government.
Dierkes has been subjected to widespread and vitriolic denunciations for anti-Semitism, and accused of calling for a repeat of the Nazi policy of the 1930s of boycotting Jewish products. Dierkes responded that “The demands of the World Social Forum have nothing in common with Nazi-type racist campaigns against Jews, but aim at changing the Israeli government’s policy of oppression of the Palestinians.”
No one has made any claims of anti-Semitism against Dierkes for anything other than his support of the boycott. Yet he has been accused of “pure anti-Semitism” (Dieter Graumann the Vice-President of the Central Jewish Council), of uttering words comparable to “a mass execution at the edge of a Ukrainian forest” (Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung editorialist Achim Beer), and of expressing “Nazi propaganda” (Hendrik Wuest, General Secretary of the Christian Democratic Party).
We signatories have differing views on the wisdom and efficacy of calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. Some of us believe that such a boycott is an essential component of a  campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions that can end the four-decade-long Israeli occupation; others think the better way to pressure the Israeli government is with a more selective boycott focused on institutions and corporations supporting the occupation. But all of us agree that it is essential to apply pressure against the Israeli government if peace and justice are to prevail in the Middle East and all of us agree that a call for a boycott of Israel has nothing in common with the Nazi policy of “Don’t buy from Jews.” It is no more anti-Semitic to boycott Israel to end the occupation than it was anti-white to boycott South Africa to end apartheid. Social justice movements have often called for boycotts or divestment, whether against the military regime in Burma or the government of Sudan. Wise or not, such calls are in no way discriminatory.

UN appoints Gaza war-crimes team: BBC

Mr Goldstone headed the UN tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
The UN has appointed South African judge and former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone to lead a fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip.
Mr Goldstone will investigate alleged violations of international law during the recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.
Martin Uhomoibhi, president of the UN Human Rights Council, said the mission would be independent and impartial.
Israel calls the council biased and has previously refused to co-operate.
Mr Goldstone will lead a four-member team, which also includes experts from Pakistan, Britain, and Ireland, in investigating “all violations of international humanitarian law” before, during and after the Israeli campaign in Gaza that ended on 18 January.
“It’s in the interest of the victims. It brings acknowledgment of what happened to them. It can assist the healing process,” Mr Goldstone said.
“I would hope it’s in the interests of all the political actors, too.”
The fact-finding mission, which will aim to provide clarity on the legality of the deaths and destruction, is due to start work in the region within weeks, the UN said.

Orchestra shut over holocaust row: BBC

Local residents have closed down a West Bank children’s orchestra after it performed a concert for Holocaust survivors in Israel.
Adnan Hindi, a social leader in the Jenin refugee camp, accused the group’s director of “exploiting” the children for political reasons.
Thirteen children travelled to Israel last week to play for an audience which included holocaust survivors . It was part of the Good Deeds Day event set up by an Israeli billionaire. Mr Hindi, the head of an organisational committee in the refugee camp, said the concert had overstepped the purely “recreational” remit of the Strings of Freedom orchestra.
The room in the house of the orchestra’s director, Wafa Younis, where the teenagers practiced, has been locked and boarded up, local residents say. Parents are also said to have stopped their children from participating in the group, saying they were not informed of the nature of the trip to Israel.

‘No halt’ to Gaza arms smuggling: BBC

The flow of explosives and weapons smuggled into Gaza has continued since Israel’s military operation, a senior Israeli intelligence official has said.
Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin said 22 tonnes of explosives, dozens of rockets and hundreds of mortar rounds had entered Gaza.
But he said rockets attacks were reduced and Egyptian attempts to combat the smuggling had improved.
Israel said the offensive aimed to cut down Palestinian rocket attacks.
In his briefing to the cabinet on Sunday, Mr Diskin also noted a drop in the number of rockets fired into Israel in recent weeks.
He said Hamas, which controls Gaza, was carrying out arrests of members of smaller militant factions to stop attacks, and had signed an agreement with the Islamic Jihad group to end attacks.
Among the items smuggled through tunnels under the border with Egypt in recent weeks, were also 45 tonnes of raw materials for the production of weapons, hundreds of mortar shells and dozens of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, he said.

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