June 2009

June 30, 2009

I was unable to keep the blogrunning over the last ten days, for which apologies. I will fill the gap as time goes on. Today there aresome incredibly important items!

Pirates of the Mediterranean: Israel attacks and ransacks the FreeGaza Boat!

The Free Gaza Movement will again challenge Israel’s illegal closure of the Gaza Strip and collective punishment of its civilian population by sailing the HOPE FLEET, a flotilla of passenger and cargo ships, to Gaza at the end of June 2009 – to be followed by freedom riders this summer. We are turning to you, our friends & supporters, to help make Hope come alive.

Our small yet committed group has already made five successful voyages to Gaza, delivering needed human rights workers & humanitarian supplies, and helping to lessen Gaza’s terrible isolation from the world. We are confident that with the universal outrage over Israel’s massacres in Gaza, we will be able to send a flotilla of ships to shatter the siege and deliver a message of international hope and solidarity to the people of Palestine.
Israeli policies of racism, ethnic cleansing and the brutal military occupation of Palestine demand determined & direct action to overcome them. When our governments fail to act, we – the citizens of the world – must stand up and make our voices heard. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants all people the right to leave and return to their own country – a right that Israel summarily denies Palestinians.
We are looking for ships wishing to join the Hope Fleet and sail to Gaza in late June, and we are looking for high-profile people, including parliamentarians and celebrities, who want to join us and demand that a besieged Gaza cannot forever remain an open-air prison with no access to the world. The Free Gaza Movement will continue to challenge Israel’s brutal policies. We will go to Gaza again, and again, and again, until the Israeli siege is broken and the people of Gaza have access to the rest of the world.
If you are interested in joining or supporting this action, please email Iristulip [at] gmail.com. We will begin collecting names and information as we ready for this historic voyage. With your help, we will make the HOPE FLEET a reality!

The whole world seems to care about the pirates of the Horn of Africa, so what about the Pirates of Mediterranean? 26 miles from the shore, in international water, Israel commits crimes with impunity. Did Obabma read the papers today? Does he care? Is he there?

Attack on Spirit of Humanity: Pursuing Justice

Breaking News:

While in international waters, the Israeli Navy warships surrounded the SPIRIT of HUMANITY. The captain of the boat is reporting that the Israelis are threatening them, telling them to turn back or they will fire on them. The Israeli Navy are jamming all the navigation systems of the boat.

The Pirates of the Mediterranean are once again on the attack. Israel apparently wants to show the whole world that it is a country with absolutely no moral boundaries. A country that without flinching will use its naval forces and mighty firepower to attack a tiny boat of unarmed civilians sailing in international waters and bringing medical supplies the children’s toys to Gaza. If this is not state terrorism and piracy on the high seas, I don’t know what is.

Free Gaza Movement Update at 21:30 EST:

We just spoke again with our people aboard the Spirit of Humanity. The Israeli Navy is continuing to try and intimidate the ship, and is actively jamming its radar, GPS, and navigation systems in direct violation of international maritime law. This jamming is extremely dangerous and directly threatens the welfare and safety of everyone aboard our civilian ship. Because their instrumentation is being jammed, they are using compass & paper to attempt to navigate. They are in international waters & they believe their location is approximately 110km off of the town of Hadera. Everyone is tired but determined. They are not being deterred by the Israeli aggression & are continuing toward Gaza. Please help them.
Earlier, at 20:14 EST, the Free Gaza Movement released the following report:

We just spoke to the passengers. Everyone is OK, but the situation is still very tense. They continue to be surrounded by Israeli warships which are threatening to open fire. The Israeli Navy is actively jamming all navigation systems in violation of international maritime law, endangering the people on board.

Former U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, speaking from on board the SPIRIT, stated, “I am extremely angry. We demand that the Israeli government call off their attack dogs. We are unarmed civilians aboard an unarmed boat delivering medical and reconstruction aid to other human beings in Gaza. Why in God’s name would Israel want to attack us and threaten our safety and welfare. I call on President Obama and the international community to intervene now to prevent this situation from escalating with potentially drastic results to the civilians on board.”

CALL or FAX Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy at:
Tel + 972 5 781 86248 or +972 3737 7777 or +972 3737 6242
Fax +972 3737 6123 or +972 3737 7175

CALL Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office at:
Tel +972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264 mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

CALL Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence at:
Tel +972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148

Israelis intercept Gaza aid ship: BBC

Israeli forces have boarded a ship trying to carry aid and pro-Palestinian activists to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israel’s blockade of the territory.
The 20 passengers include former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire.
The activists also include some Britons, campaigners said.
Ms McKinney described it as “an outrageous violation of international law”, as the boat was on a humanitarian mission and was not in Israeli waters.
The Israeli military said the boat was trying to enter Gaza illegally.
The US-based Free Gaza Movement has breached the blockade five times since August 2008.
Two other attempts by the activist group were stopped by Israeli warships during Israel’s three-week military offensive in Gaza in December and January.
Israel keeps a tight hold on Gaza, which is ruled by the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
The Israeli military said the passengers and crew of the Greek-registered ship Arion would be handed over to immigration authorities in Ashdod, and its humanitarian aid cargo would be taken to Gaza by road after a security check.
“An Israeli navy force intercepted, boarded and took control of the cargo boat Arion… as it was illegally attempting to enter the Gaza Strip,” a military spokesman said.
The British Foreign Office said on Tuesday it was aware of the situation and was trying to clarify the facts.
“We would be concerned if the stories of the Israeli Navy boarding the boat in international waters were true,” a spokesman said.
“We have made it clear to Israel that we are very concerned for the safety of British nationals.”
The mission is the latest by the Free Gaza Movement, which has renamed the ferry Spirit of Humanity.
“This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip,” said Ms McKinney in a statement.
“President [Barack] Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. We’re asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey.”
On Monday, a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross described the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza as people “trapped in despair”, unable to rebuild their lives after Israel’s offensive.
Donors have pledged $4.5 billion for reconstruction and rehabilitation in Gaza following the 22-day offensive which left more than 50,000 homes, 800 industrial properties and 200 schools damaged or destroyed, as well as 39 mosques and two churches.

Activist on boat seized by IDF laments world apathy to Gaza: Ha’aretz

One of the international activists who sought to sail to Gaza on Tuesday lamented the world’s “apathy” to the plight of the Hamas-ruled territory shortly before the Israel Navy seized control of the vessel.
“We didn’t come with guns and weapons, but with just humanitarian aid, in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza and to tell the apathetic world about what is happening in the Strip, especially after the last war,” said Huwaida Araf in an interview with the Nazareth-based radio station Al-Shams.
She added: “I was born in the United States to a family of immigrants from the [Arab Israeli] village of Ma’ilia, and still have relatives in Israel, and I’m sure that everyone supports my step.” The voyage’s organizers, the Free Gaza Movement, said the vessel, renamed the Spirit of Humanity, left the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Monday bound for Gaza with three tons of medical supplies.
The activists were attempting to break a blockade of Gaza, imposed by Israel after the Islamic group Hamas took over the territory in a bloody 2007 coup. Early Tuesday, the navy surrounded the vessel, which was also carrying humanitarian aid, and told the activists to turn back because of security risks in the area and the blockade, according to the IDF. But the boat later entered Gaza’s coastal waters, the IDF Spokespersons’ Office said in a statement, after which a naval force boarded it.
No shots were fired during the boarding of the boat, and the crew was to be handed over to the appropriate authorities, the IDF said.
In the statement, the IDF Spokespersons’ Unit added that it “would like to emphasize that any organization or country that wishes to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, can legally do so via the established crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip with prior coordination.” The army said humanitarian goods found on board the boat would be transferred to the Gaza Strip, subject to authorization. The 20 passengers include former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and other activists from Britain, Ireland, Bahrain and Jamaica. The ship was flying a Greek flag, but no Greek citizens were aboard. The Greek government issued a statement saying it sent a message to Israel demanding that it release the ship, crew and passengers. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel was planning to
free the crew and passengers. ”
Nobody wants to keep them here,” he said. “They will be released as soon as they are checked.” The Free Gaza Movement has organized five boat trips to Gaza since August 2008, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when the militant group Hamas
seized control of the territory from its Palestinian rivals in June 2007.
Two other attempts were stopped by Israeli warships during Israel’s three-week offensive against Hamas in the territory in December and January. Nobody on board was harmed. Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized control of the territory, home to some 1.5 million people.

Please note that the piracy act itself did not merita headline in this ‘liberal’ paper. If there ever was an example for Agamben’s concept of the ‘state of exception’, israeli behavioursupplies it daily.

Jews Confront Zionism: Monthly Review

Daniel Lange/Levitsky
Daniel Lang/Levitsky is a theatre worker and organizer based in New York City, and a co-founder of Jews Against the Occupation/NYC. Current projects include Palestine solidarity work with Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East; supporting the Right to the City Alliance with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra (NYC’s radical brass band) and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice; and staging a new queer & gendertreyf production, “Who Loved You Before You Were Mine,” with Killer Sideburns Nepon.
One of the main accomplishments of the Israeli government’s bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip last winter was to inspire new vitality within leftist and peace groups in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation. This wave of activity has continued after the supposed ceasefire, with demonstrations and direct actions from New York to Los Angeles, Paris, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv. Most noteworthy has been a coming out of sorts of an increasingly large and vocal segment of the Jewish world that is not only opposed to the Israeli government’s wars and military occupations, but critical of Zionism itself.
Blockades of the Israeli consulates in Los Angeles and San Francisco were undertaken in part by members of the recently launched International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. The occupation of the Toronto consulate was carried out by Jewish Women for Gaza, including members of the Canadian anti-Zionist Not In Our Name network. A seven-hundred-person demonstration in New York City was organized by Jews Say No, an ad hoc group of Jewish activists, many of them longstanding critics of Zionism. The London diasporist group Jewdas used a hoax e-mail to cancel a pro-war rally called by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and received a flood of support. And the Israeli antinationalist direct action group, Anarchists Against the Wall, blockaded an Israeli Air Force base in Tel Aviv. Almost all of the most visible public events showing Jewish opposition to the latest escalation in the war on Gaza were organized and carried out largely by non- and anti-Zionist Jews (as well as those who oppose Zionism but prefer not to define their politics in relation to it).

A notefrom PACBI: OmarBatghouti writes about a further defeat for Zionist propoganda in Canada:

Another major BDS achievement in the Canadian trade union domain …

The Centrale des Syndicats du Quebec (CSQ), the third largest labor federation in Quebec, Canada, passed a decisive BDS resolution today.
CSQ represents over 180,000 workers.
Letters of support can be sent to:

Rejean Parent , president of the CSQ  parent.rejean@csq.qc.net
Monique Pauzé  President of Champlain Teachers Union mpauze@synd-champlain.qc.ca

The motion is below in French. A rough google translation follows.



Il est résolu que :

* La CSQ réponde favorablement à la demande de 172 organisations
palestiniennes qui  appellent au boycott d’Israël, au retrait des
investissements dans ce pays et à l’imposition de sanctions contre l’état
* La CSQ se joigne à la campagne internationale appelant au boycott
d’Israël, au retrait des investissements dans ce pays et à l’imposition de
sanctions contre l’état israélien.
* La CSQ s’engage aussi à faire la promotion de cette campagne de
boycott et à inciter ses membres à soutenir le peuple palestinien dans sa
résistance au quotidien pour mettre fin à l’occupation israélienne.
* L’appui de la CSQ au  boycott, désinvestissement et sanctions contre
Israël demeure jusqu’à ce que Israël se conforme au droit
international et aux principes universels des droits humains.


Be it resolved that:
* CSQ responds favorably to the request by172 Palestinian organizations
that call for boycott of Israel, the withdrawal of investments from that country and the imposition of sanctions against the state of Israel.
* CSQ is joining the international campaign calling for a boycott of Israel, the withdrawal of investments from this country and the imposition of sanctions against the Israeli state.
* CSQ is also committed to promote this campaign of boycott and encourage its members to support the Palestinian people in their everyday resistance to end the Israeli occupation.
* The support of the CSQ for a boycott, divestment and sanctions against
Israel remains until Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.

activist Ezra Nawi faces the court and needs solidarity!: Kibush Magazine

Tomorrow, July 1, Ezra will be sentenced according to his conviction
of assaulting a police officer and participating in a riot. The
sentencing will take place at 15.00 at the Peace Court (Magistrate`s Court) of Jerusalem *Russian Compound) by judge Eilata Ziskind. Those who wish to show their support are very welcome.
Ezra has written a letter that was placed on The Nation yesterday:
As mentioned in his letter, the international pressure did not fall on
deaf ears, as the Israeli Ministry of Justice and other governmental
bodies have responded to our letters with confused and irrelevant
statements such as `Mr. Nawi provokes the local residents. [ie. Jewish
Settlers]` or `…Mr. Nawi who has often uses insults…`; the
official response can be found here:
see recent reports on the case in:
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/world/middleeast/28westbank.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
YNET http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3738813,00.html

We still demand the complete exculpation of Ezra, and the
investigation of his continual harassment by the Israeli police,
Israeli army and the civil administration.
Please post and forward his letter to your friends; as Ezra says `What
strengthens me and gives me energy is the widespread and constant
support I have always received.`

Thank you,
The Committee Supporting Ezra Nawi

PSC Education Conference in Birmingham: PSC

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

PSC National Education Conference

Justice for the Palestinians – the Moral Issue of our Time

Birmingham 11 July 2009

10.30 – 4.00

Carrs Lane Church Centre, Birmingham B4 7SX

Book your tickets online here: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/store/index2.asp?origin=UK&m_id=1&l1_id=22&l2_id=49

·        1948 and after – ethnic cleansing and the refugee question

Prof Ilan Pappe and Karma Nabulsi

·        The Reality of Occupation:

–     Politics – Prof. Manuel Hassassian

–         Economy – Samia Botmeh

–         Health – Dr. Rita Giacaman

·        Lessons from the Anti Apartheid Movement: Victoria Brittain

–         War crimes – Daniel Machover

–         Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – Betty Hunter, Hugh Lanning, Salma Yaqoob

–           After Gaza – getting active on campus – student activist networking session

Cost:  £10 (£7 concessions) – includes lunch

Venue details: http://www.carrslane.co.uk/travel

This conference is an opportunity following the attacks on Gaza for members and supporters to discuss the current situation in Palestine in its historical context and to address issues of solidarity work.

Please book your place with the PSC office or online:


Tel: 02077006192

Email: psc.admin@palestinecampaign.org


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June 17, 2009

Palestinians ‘treated like animals’: Agence France-Presse

From correspondents in Gaza City

Courier Mail   June 17, 2009

FORMER US president Jimmy Carter today met Hamas leader Ismail Haniya in the Gaza Strip, where he called for a lifting of Israel’s blockade, saying Palestinians are being treated “like animals”.
Following the talks, Mr Carter called for an end of “all violence” against both Israelis and Palestinians.
“This is holy land for us all and my hope is that we can have peace… all of us are children of Abraham,” he said at [a meeting] with Mr Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas government in the Palestinian enclave.
Mr Haniya in turn said Hamas supported the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day war.
While Hamas has made similar statements in the past, it has more often insisted that the future state should encompass not only the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also all of Israel.
“If there is a real plan to resolve the Palestinian question on the basis of the creation of a Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967 and with full sovereignty, we are in favour of it,” Mr Haniya said.
He also praised US President Barack Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo to the Muslim world.
“We saw a new tone, a new language and a new spirit in the official US rhetoric,” he said. Such praise is rare coming from Hamas, a group pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state and which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and the European Union.
The Islamist movement violently seized power in Gaza two years ago, ousting forces loyal to the secular and Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr Carter also passed to Hamas a letter from the parents of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier seized by Gaza militants including Hamas in a cross-border raid almost three years ago, and who remains in captivity.
“I met earlier with Noam Shalit. He asked me to ask them (Hamas) to accept a letter from him to his son. They accepted the letter,” Mr Carter said in Tel Aviv. “My conviction at this moment is that he is alive and well,” Mr Carter said of the soldier whose father he met in Jerusalem on Friday.
Earlier Mr Carter denounced the Israeli blockade and the destruction wrought by its 22-day military offensive against Gaza in December and January. “My primary feeling today is one of grief and despair and an element of anger when I see the destruction perpetrated against innocent people,” Mr Carter said as he toured the impoverished territory.
“Tragically, the international community too often ignores the cries for help and the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings,” he said.
“The starving of 1.5 million human beings of the necessities of life – never before in history has a large community like this been savaged by bombs and missiles and then denied the means to repair itself,” Mr Carter said at a UN school graduation ceremony in Gaza City. The United States and Europe “must try to do all that is necessary to convince Israel and Egypt to allow basic goods into Gaza”, he said. “At same time, there must be no more rockets” from Gaza into Israel, said Mr Carter, who brokered the historic 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. “I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been wracked against your people,” he said at a destroyed American school, saying it was “deliberately destroyed by bombs from F16s made in my country”.
Israel’s offensive killed more than 1400 Palestinians and left large swathes of the coastal strip sandwiched between Israel and Egypt in ruins. Thirteen Israelis also died in the conflict. “I feel partially responsible for this as must all Americans and Israelis,” Mr Carter said.

Criticising Israel? Is he antisemitic? Maybe he is just human.

Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) Joins Campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel

Ottawa – Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) voted to join the growing international campaign in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, at its first Annual General Meeting this past weekend. This decision makes IJV the first national Jewish organization in the world to do so. The adopted resolution states that IJV will “Support the Palestinian call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and complies with the precepts of international law, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
“Independent Jewish Voices has voted to join the international boycott campaign because we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and support their right to self-determination,” says Diana Ralph, Co-Chair of IJV. “We are calling on the Canadian government and all Members of Parliament to push for immediate sanctions on Israel.”
“The time has come for people around the world to rise to the challenge in Israel/Palestine, as we did for South Africa,” says Fabienne Presentey, Steering Committee member of IJV. “All voices that can be raised against this injustice must be.”
The resolution, which passed with the support of 95% of voting delegates, also calls on the Canadian government to “1) cease its one-sided and uncritical support for Israel and 2) insist that Israel abide by international law”.
The international call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions originated from 170 Palestinian civil society organizations and has sparked a growing global movement, modeled on the international campaign that successfully ended South African Apartheid. Many prominent organizations around the world have joined the BDS campaign, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), UNISON (UK), Transport and General Workers’ Union (UK), Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario, six Norwegian trade unions, Irish Congress of Trad Unions, Scottish Trades Union Congress, and Intersindical Alternativa de Catallunya.
Independent Jewish Voices is a member-led organization, with chapters in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax.

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June 15, 2009

Some new and some older video clips, all well worth sending to your list!

Alexei Sayle Tells Leonard Cohen: Do NOT Play in Tel Aviv

Israeli Barrier: Security or Apartheid? – Jeff Halper

Israeli Jewish man says Zionism is the cause of the problems

Orthodox Jews condemning atrocities in Gaza and opposing AIPAC

Zionist Thugs Beating Up Jewish Rabbis

Lessons from Iraq’s nuclear quest

A must-watch film clip on the Iraq war!

Universal jurisdiction once again under threat: The Electronic Intifada, 10 June 2009

Sharon Weill and Valentina Azarov

Currently, the fate of one of the only remaining venues that offers a redress mechanism for Palestinians is at stake. It is one that can bring accountability of Israeli officials and decision-makers who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The amendment of universal jurisdiction laws, often incommensurably restricting access to these mechanisms, is at variance with the effect of certain crimes on humanity as a whole, on which the notion of universal jurisdiction is premised. The pressure exerted on the Spanish government to amend its law is an example of the regrettable phenomenon of the weakening of international law at the price of the individual.
On 22 July 2002, around midnight, an Israeli Air Force plane dropped a one-ton bomb on Gaza City’s al-Daraj neighborhood, one of the most densely-populated residential areas in the world. The military objective of this operation was to target and kill Hamas’ former military leader in the Gaza Strip, Salah Shehadeh, who at that time was in his house with his family. As a result of the operation, Shehadeh and 14 civilians were killed, most of them children and infants, and 150 persons were injured, about half of them severely. Houses in the vicinity were either destroyed or damaged. Seven members of the Matar family, whose neighboring house was totally destroyed, were among the casualties.
More than six years later, in Madrid, just a few days after Israel’s most recent invasion of Gaza ended, Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles decided to open a criminal investigation on the basis of universal jurisdiction against seven Israeli political and military officials who were alleged to have committed a war crime — and possibly a crime against humanity — in the course of that operation. The officials included Dan Halutz, then Commander of the Israeli Air Forces; Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, then Israeli Defense Minister; Moshe Yaalon, then Israeli army Chief of Staff; Doron Almog, then Southern Commander of the Israeli army; Giora Eiland, then Head of the Israeli National Security Council; Michael Herzog, then Military Secretary to the Israeli Defense Ministry; and Abraham Dichter, then Director of the General Security Services.
Although the allegations in the action referred only to war crimes, the court stated that the facts could amount to more serious crimes than what was initially claimed — namely, crimes against humanity. This preliminary legal assessment motivated the legal team to work toward basing a new charge. The lawyers announced that they would redouble their efforts to demonstrate that the al-Daraj bombing was part of a policy of “widespread and systematic” attacks directed against a civilian population, fitting the definition of a crime against humanity.
As the request for Israel to provide information on the existence of any judicial proceedings concerning the military operation was not answered and the state expressed its unwillingness to cooperate with the legal team, the Spanish court thereby ruled that the investigation be conducted by the Spanish jurisdiction. On the same day the decision concerning the commencement of the investigation was rendered, Israeli officials sent a 400-page document to the Spanish legal team, stating that the facts of the complaint regarding the operation were subject to proceedings in Israel, and therefore the Spanish court should have declined to exercise jurisdiction.

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June 9, 2009

New Gaza Video – a must watch

The note below is by Omar Barghouti, from PACBI in Palestine:
Despite the article author’s desperate attempts to dismiss this rabbi’s Nazi-like comments as rare or unusual, Lubavitch rabbis have a long record of statements supporting genocide against Palestinians. Also, this is no marginal rabbi in the Chabad movement, as the published details reveal.
In 1996, for instance, the same year the first Qana massacre was committed, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, a leader of the powerful Lubavitch Hassidic sect, rhetorically asked, “If a Jew needs a liver, can he take the liver of an innocent non-Jew to save [the Jew]?,” answering, “The Torah would probably permit that. Jewish life has an infinite value. There is something more holy and unique about Jewish life than about non-Jewish life.”[8] Moreover, Ginsburgh coauthored a book defending the 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers in Al-Ibrahimi mosque (Patriarchs’ Cave) in Hebron, in which he argued that when a Jew kills a non-Jew the act does not constitute murder according to the Halakhah, adding that the killing of innocent Palestinians as an act of revenge is a Jewish virtue.
[Israel Shahak. Jewish History, Jewish Religion – The Weight of Three Thousand Years. Pluto Press. London, 2002. P. 43.]

During the latest Israeli massacre in Gaza, it was revealed that fascist-leaning rabbis were instrumental in agitating, inciting and psychologically “preparing” the troops before operations in occupied Gaza to commit massacres in order to save their own lives. Fanatic Jewish fundamentalist leaders have been steadily moving from the fringes of Israeli society to its very core. Expression of such fanatic racist statements by leading US rabbis seems to be in harmony with this alarming trend.


Chabad rabbi: Jews should kill Arab men, women and children: Ha’aretz

By Nathaniel Popper: June 9th, 2009

Like the best Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis, Manis Friedman has won the hearts of many unaffiliated Jews with his charismatic talks about love and God; it was Friedman who helped lead Bob Dylan into a relationship with Chabad.
But Friedman, who today travels the country as a Chabad speaker, showed a less warm and cuddly side when he was asked how he thinks Jews should treat their Arab neighbors.
“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle),” Friedman wrote in response to the question posed by Moment Magazine for its “Ask the Rabbis” feature.
Friedman argued that if Israel followed this wisdom, there would be “no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.”
“I don’t believe in Western morality,” he wrote. “Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.”
Friedman’s use of phrasing that might seem more familiar coming from an Islamic extremist has generated a swift backlash. The editor of Moment, Nadine Epstein, said that since the piece was printed in the current issue they “have received many letters and e-mails in response to Rabbi Friedman?s comments – and almost none of them have been positive.”
Friedman quickly went into damage control. He released a statement to the Forward, through a Chabad spokesman, saying that his answer in Moment was “misleading” and that he does believe that “any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion.”
But Friedman’s words have generated a debate about whether there is a darker side to the cheery face that the Chabad-Lubavitch movement shows to the world in its friendly outreach to unaffiliated Jews. Mordecai Specktor, editor of the Jewish community newspaper in Friedman’s hometown, St. Paul. Minnesota, said: “The public face of Lubavitch is educational programs and promoting Yiddishkeit. But I do often hear this hard line that Friedman expresses here.”
“He sets things out in pretty stark terms, but I think this is what Lubavitchers believe, more or less,” said Specktor, who is also the publisher of the American Jewish World.
“They are not about loving the Arabs or a two-state solution or any of that stuff. They are fundamentalists. They are our fundamentalists.”
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a regular critic of Arab extremists, said that in the Jewish community, “We are not immune to having these views. There are people in our community who have these bigoted, racist views.”
But, Foxman warned, Friedman’s views are not reflective of the Chabad rabbis he knows. “I am not shocked that there would be a rabbi who would have these views,” Foxman said, ?but I am shocked that Moment would give up all editorial discretion and good sense to publish this as representative of Chabad.”
A few days after anger about the comment surfaced, Chabad headquarters released a statement saying that, “we vehemently disagree with any sentiment suggesting that Judaism allows for the wanton destruction of civilian life, even when at war.”
The statement added: “In keeping with Jewish law, it is the unequivocal position of Chabad-Lubavitch that all human life is G-d given, precious, and must be treated with respect, dignity and compassion.”
In Moment, Friedman’s comment is listed as the Chabad response to the question “How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?” after a number of answers from rabbis representing other Jewish streams, most of which state a conciliatory attitude toward Arabs.
Epstein said that Friedman was “brave” for stating his views so clearly.
“The American Jewish community doesn’t have the chance to hear opinions like this,” Epstein said, ?not because they are rare, but because we don’t often ask Chabad and other similar groups what they think.”
The Chabad movement is generally known for its hawkish policies toward the Palestinians; the Chabad Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, rejected peace accords with the Palestinians. Rabbi Moshe Feller, the top Chabad rabbi in Minnesota, said that the rebbe taught that it is not a mitzvah to kill, but that Jews do have an obligation to act in self-defense.
“Jews as a whole, they try to save the lives of others,” Feller told the Forward, “but if it’s to save our lives, then we have to do what we have to do. It’s a last resort.”
Friedman is not a fringe rabbi within the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He was the English translator for the Chabad Rebbe, and at the rebbe’s urging, he founded Beis Chana, a network of camps and schools for Jewish women. Friedman is also a popular speaker and writer on issues of love and relationships. His first book, “Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore?” was promoted with a quote from Bob Dylan, who Friedman brought to meet the rebbe.
On his blog and Facebook page, Friedman’s emphasis is on his sympathetic, caring side. It was this reputation that made the comment in Moment so surprising to Steve Hunegs, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council: Minnesota and the Dakotas.
“Rabbi Friedman is a best-selling author who addresses some of the most sensitive issues of the time,” Hunegs said. “I intend to call him and talk to him about this.”
But Shmarya Rosenberg, a blogger and critic of Chabad who lives a few blocks from Friedman in Minnesota, says that the comment in Moment is not an aberration from his experiences with Friedman and many other Chabad rabbis.
“What he’s saying is the standard normal view of a Chabadnik,” Rosenberg said. “They just don’t say it in public.”
For his part, Friedman was quick to modify the statement that he wrote in Moment. He told the Forward that the line about killing women and children should have been in quotes; he said it is a line from the Torah, though he declined to specify from which part. Friedman also said that he was not advocating for Israel to actually kill women and children. Instead, he said, he believed that Israel should publicly say that it is willing to do these things in order to scare Palestinians and prevent war.
“If we took this policy, no one would be killed – because there would be no war,” Friedman said. “The same is true of the United States.”
Friedman did acknowledge, however, that in self-defense, the behavior he talked about would be permissible.
“If your children are threatened, you do whatever it takes – and you don’t have to apologize,” he said.
Friedman argued that he is different from Arab terrorists who have used similar language about killing Jewish civilians.
“When they say it, it’s genocide, not self-defense,” Friedman said. “With them, it’s a religious belief – they need to rid the area of us. We?re not saying that.”
Feller, the Chabad leader in Minnesota, said that the way Friedman had chosen to express himself was “radical.”
“I love him,” Feller said. “I brought him out here – he’s magnificent. He’s brought thousands back to Torah mitzvah. But he shoots from the hip sometimes.”

Good stuff… in Hebrew you acn read and hear such views every day. It is less usual to see it in English.

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June 3, 2009

We’re launching a campaign against anti-Semitic Obama’: Ha’aretz

A collage portraying U.S. President Obama wearing a kaffiyeh which is set to be posted across Israel by rightist group Hazit. (Hazit)

A collage portraying U.S. President Obama wearing a kaffiyeh which is set to be posted across Israel by rightist group Hazit. (Hazit)

Some 130 protesters gathered in front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon to rally against U.S. President Barack Obama, who had just launched his Middle East tour, during which he is expected to reach out in friendship to the Muslim world.  As more than a dozen local and international journalists looked on, the protesters chanted “No, You Can’t” and waved posters saying “20 new ‘settlements’ by 2010 – Yes We Can!” Far right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, who attended the protest, told Channel 10 that “it appears that we’ve arrived at a red line, which has already been crossed by the most anti-Semitic American president.”

“We are launching a campaign against Barack Hussein Obama. He is bad for the people of Israel and for the state of Israel and his policies could bring about disaster. We expect our prime minister to say ‘no’ to anyone who tries to harm us,” Ben-Gvir added. National Union MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari addressed the crowd, largely made up of native-English speaking Israelis. “I’m here to tell Obama that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people,” said Scottish-born Edith Ognall, who drove to the capital from her hometown of Netanya to attend the event. “What right does anybody have to tell us to stop building in the land that was given to us by God? I’m not going to stand by and let Obama, or anybody else, tell me where I can live and where I can’t live.” Nadia Matar, the Belgian-born co-chair of Women in Green, which organized the event, made a point of repeatedly mentioning Obama’ middle name, Hussein, because “we have to remind ourselves that he received an Islamic education in Indonesia.”

“We are connected to our land like a mother is connected to her children,” the well-known activist told reporters. “And I want to warn you: Don’t mess with a Jewish mother who feels her children or her homeland are in danger. Every part and parcel and hilltop and stone in the Land of Israel is like one of our children. And we’e going to protect it like lionesses.”

I hope Obama can see this!

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