April 2012

April 24, 2012

EDITOR: French Jews are up to date with current developments…

It is good to read below that some French Jews have found it not only possible, but also necessary to support the Front National of Marine Le Pen. Well, they say, if she is against the Muslims, then it is good for the Jews! Perfect logic, isn’t it? What is even more impressive, are the hints that the CRIF is also supportive of their actions. This fits well with the many reports of the support of Euro fascism given to the Zionist state of Israel, as part of their crusade against Islam and Muslims in Europe. It is also good to know that in this round of the modern crusades, the Jews, at least in France and Israel, seem to be with the crusaders… There is no low which the deep hatred of Arabs and Muslims so carefully developed by Zionism, may not sink to. Soon the sons and daughters of Jewish refugees from Algeria and Morocco, where they never suffered what Jews in Europe suffered, are now preparing to fight against the human rights of their former co-citizens of the Maghreb! What could be more logical?… Trust Zionism to turn every misfortune into a catastrophe.

Amid elections, France’s Jews debate support of rightist Le Pen: Haaretz

On supporter says told by right-wing leader that it’s important that Jews participate in the National Front; Jewish journalist: Few Jews will vote for Le Pen.
By Shirli Sitbon
A few years ago, policeman Michel Thooris worked for the Jewish Crif, the umbrella organization for France’s Jewish groups, helping it fight anti-Semitism in the vigilance bureau. Now, he’s running for parliament for the National Front, yet he says there’s no contradiction between the two.

“I’m not going to share with you what Crif officials told me. But my belief is that it’s natural to turn to [Marine] Le Pen when you’re Jewish. She fights crime and Islamism and that means she defends Jews,” Thooris told Haaretz.

French far right party Front National (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen as leaving a rally on the evening of the first round of the 2012 French Presidential election on April 22, 2012. Photo by: AFP

Not so long ago, the whole Jewish community condemned Le Pen supporters, such as Richard Sulzer who has long worked for the Le Pens. “He was a respected professor, but when he chose Le Pen, his wife left him,” said one Jewish community leader. Yet, Le Pen’s new supporters say their own situation isn’t as tough.

“People’s attitudes have changed because the National Front has changed,” said Thooris. “Marine Le Pen expressed her horror at the holocaust. Jews know that.”

Another Le Pen supporter Michel Ciardi, who created an association supporting Le Pen, said his family wasn’t as supportive.

“My children told me they don’t share my views, but I don’t share theirs either,” said Ciardi. He called his associations the French Jews Union, putting the word French first, unlike most Jewish groups.

“I created the association 6 months ago when I met with Le Pen,” Ciardi said. “I was invited to dine with her at a Jewish friend’s house and I was thrilled. She has so much ambition for our country. She told me that it’s important that we, Jews participate in the National Front.”

“We Jewish Le Pen supporters show the racist anti-Semitic National Front supporters that we belong in the party too. They must accept it,” he added.

Ciardi says his association, supported by another pro-Le Pen group Riposte Laique, has 150 members, but Jewish journalist Michel Zerbib who looked into the group says the group is an empty shell.

“I looked for people, but couldn’t find any. I think it’s an isolated initiative,” Said Zerbib, adding that he believed few Jews voted for Le Pen.

“It was absolutely no surprise that Le Pen got such a good score, but what did surprise me was that 7 or 8 percent of the Jews voted for her. It’s still a lot – but much less than the rest of the population – about a third.”

French poll institutes are not allowed to survey by communities. They can’t tell how many Jews, Muslims, Christians or foreigners voted for Le Pen, yet Jewish organisations came up with their own methods to tell what Jews vote.

“We take results in areas where there’s a big Jewish community, and analyse the figures. It’s not scientific but we realised that in Jewish neighbourhoods people voted much less for Le Pen,” said Zerbib, who has always refused to invite Le Pen to his station. “It may seem strange as journalists, but we also have a responsibility.”

The exact figures are difficult to know, but Michel Thooris himself admitted some people are still repelled by the extremist party.

“We run for Le Pen not for the National Front. It’s a way to catch some votes wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.” Like many Le Pen supporters, Thooris says he’s not certain to vote for Sarkozy in the runoff and hopes Sarkozy’s party would collapse after the election. “Hollande and Sarkozy are the same. They’re for Catherin Ashton’s Europe,” he added.

EDITOR: The right entrance to the Israeli Air force base

Blow you can read about a creative use of history – making the famous Arbeit Macht Frei wrought iron iconic gateway in Auschwitz, into the entry gate into an IAF base! Well, I say, why not? Now that Jews are so liberated, that they can stand in Parliamentary elections on the Nazi side against the Muslims of Europe (and elsewhere…) why not start using Nazi insignia? The next one to adopt, I think, Is Blut und Boden, and maybe also Lebensraum – all good healthy concepts which Zionism has been using in their Hebrew transliterations for some years. There may be some money owed to the Nazis on copyright, huh?

IDF soldiers erect replica of infamous Auschwitz sign for Holocaust Day: Haaretz

Israel Air Force base near Mitzpe Ramon reconstructs ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign as part of the base’s Holocaust Remembrance Day events.
By Ofer Aderet

IAF soldier standing next to a replica of the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign.

Soldiers serving on an Israel Air Force base in southern Israel found an unusual and controversial way to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, erecting a replica of the infamous Auschwitz “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign.

Alongside the replica, the soldiers at the IAF base near Mitzpe Ramon placed lines of barbed wire, mimicking the death camp’s fence. As part of the Holocaust Remembrance Day activities, the base was also visited by a Holocaust survivor who shared his story with the troops.

In a photo circulating among Facebook users, and which can be seen here, a soldier wearing an IAF uniform is seen standing next to the replica.

Testimonies of other IDF soldiers, which were passed on to Haaretz, indicate that this was not the first time in which educational officers, especially in the IAF, arranged Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies with the aid of unusual accessories.

In the past, one testimony claimed, one of the bases brought in an empty train car, meant to represent the trains which led the Jews to the death camps during the Holocaust.

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said in response, “The sign was set up for a Holocaust Day ceremony on the base, and essentially served as the entrance to the base. The picture shows part of the ceremony’s set for Holocaust Remembrance Day, in the framework of educational activity to mark the day.”

“The set was taken down following the ceremony. Any attempt to take a certain part of the set and distort its meaning is baseless. Moreover, there was no intention at all to hurt the feelings of any of the participants in the ceremony.”

EDITOR: The Architects of Oslo notice that the building is somewhat faulty…

Good timing. It only took this couple 20 years to notice what the rest of us have understood in the 1990s. Of course, being responsible for this debacle, they took longer to notice…

Look beyond the Oslo accords, say architects of Middle East peace plan: Guardian

Former Israeli minister Yossi Beilin and ex-Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei question usefulness of two-state plan they drew up
Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

Yossi Beilin, former Israeli justice minister, and Ahmed Qurei, former Palestinian prime minister, now reflect a view that the window of opportunity to create a Palestinian state has closed. Photograph: Henrik Montgomery/AP and Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Two of the architects of the Oslo accords, which were intended as the basis of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict almost 20 years ago, have radically changed their position following the long-term impasse between the two sides.

Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli minister who worked in secret on the accords before the historic signing ceremony at the White House in September 1993, has called on the Palestinians to dismantle their governing body, which was set up under Oslo, saying it had become a fig leaf and a farce.

Ahmed Qurei, the former Palestinian prime minister who was one of the key negotiators in the Oslo process, said the two-state solution was defunct, and the option of one single democratic state for both Israelis and Palestinians must now be considered.

Both men reflect a view held by many observers of the stalled peace process, that the window of opportunity to create a Palestinian state has closed or is about to close. The alternatives to two states, they say, are a continuation and entrenchment of the status quo, or one state which denies equality to a large and rapidly growing minority, or one binational state of equals which would no longer be Jewish in character.

Beilin, who served in the Israeli parliament for both Labour and the leftwing Meretz parties, wrote an open letter to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, this month urging him to dissolve the Palestinian Authority. The Oslo accords, he said, had become “a device that has allowed the parties to block a two-state solution”.

The agreement, which had been “a tremendous victory for the peace camps on both sides”, had been thwarted by its adversaries who did not want to advance two states for two peoples.

“I feel a responsibility,” he said. “I pushed for something in 1992.” But Oslo was intended to be an interim process, a “corridor” to a permanent agreement. “The extremists on both sides were very much against it until they learned that this idea might not be a corridor but a living room – and the most convenient living room in the world – to continue the settlements or not to divide the land. I feel the responsibility for the perpetuation of my corridor.

“No one thought the PA would be there for 20 years. It should have ended. So I find myself in a bizarre situation in which I am actually asking to put an end to it. But the bottom line is that, paradoxically, all those who cursed Oslo are now cherishing it.”

Despite pressure from Barack Obama, Abbas included a veiled threat to dissolve the PA in the final version of a letter delivered last week to the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. If there was no breakthrough in peace talks, the letter said, the Palestinians would “seek the full and complete implementation of international law as it pertains to the powers and responsibilities of Israel as the occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory”.

In other words, according to Beilin, they would “end the farce” and deny Netanyahu a “fig leaf” for the occupation. “It is implicit, but it is very clear,” he said.

Despite Beilin’s dismay at the long-term outcome of Oslo, he insisted the two-state solution was “in trouble but not dead”. A one-state outcome “is not an option because it means a Jewish minority dominating a Palestinian majority in a few years from now, and this is something that neither Israelis and for sure not the world will accept”. He added: “Or is it possible to have one state in which a Palestinian will be the prime minister or president? No, Israelis will not accept that.”

In contrast, Qurei said a two-state solution had been killed by Israel’s policy of settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and that a “one-state solution, despite the endless problems it embraces, is one of the solutions that we should be contemplating”.

In an article published in the Palestinian media, he wrote: “We must seriously think about closing [the book on] the two-state solution and turning over a new leaf.” A one-state solution would allow Palestinians “to expand our manoeuvring room and to continue [our] comprehensive diplomatic campaign to take [back] the basic rights of freedom, independence and human honour that we have been denied”.

Other prominent Palestinians have also recently espoused the idea of a one-state solution. Sari Nusseibeh, president of al-Quds University in Jerusalem and former advocate for a two-state solution, now argues for a Palestinian-Israeli federation between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, rather than separation.

There is support – albeit limited – for the one-state idea among both Palestinians and Israelis, and from the right and left. Some rightwing pro-settler Israelis are in favour of annexing the West Bank and forcing Palestinians who stay to live under Israeli rule. Some on the left see a state in which an eventual majority of Palestinians have equal rights as their only chance for self-determination, even if it is at the expense of a Jewish homeland.

According to Beilin, there is another possible scenario, in which a rightwing Israeli government unilaterally withdraws from the West Bank to the separation barrier in a move comparable to the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. “It’s not totally unrealistic, but it will not happen tomorrow. The Palestinians would not accept it as a peace plan, but they will take whatever is given. If Israel says it is yours, what will they say?”

A trigger for this could be the point when the Palestinian population in Israel and the Palestinian territories outstrips the Jewish population. “Then the whole world will say now there is a minority of Jews dominating a majority of Palestinians, and the South African example will be raised again. Under such international pressure, someone like Netanyahu might take this decision. Like [Israel’s withdrawal from] Gaza, the world will not love it but they will say it is better than the previous situation. And this would also be the reaction of somebody like myself. I will not love it but I will say at least Israel got out of 92% of the West Bank.”

 

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April 23, 2012

EDITOR: Israel loses gas supply from Egypt!

Israeli pundits already called the Egyptian decision ‘financial suicide’, as if Israel is the only client for Egyptian gas, and the bizarre agreement, supplying Israel with gas at a loss to Egypt was a financial miracle…

This is the first substantial result of the Egyptian revolution of last year, and may point the way not just for Egyptian politicians, but also those of other Arab countries. Israel may never enjoy the centre stage again in the Arab world, and the days it could rely on the Arab autocracies may be over. This must have long term effect on the chances of the Palestinian struggle.

In an excellent piece by Akiva Eldar, he calls on Abbas to go for a popular uprising against Israeli occupation. This call is likely to go unheeded – Abbas is an apparachik of the Israeli-American partnership, and will never do what Palestine needs.

Egypt cancels natural gas deal with Israel: Haaretz

One of the Egypt pipeline blasts.  Photo by: AP

One of the Egypt pipeline blasts. Photo by: AP

Egypt’s national gas company notifies EMG about cancelation; Israeli, Egyptian officials say move is due to business dispute and has nothing to do with Egypt-Israel diplomatic ties.
By Avi Bar-Eli     and Reuters
Egypt’s national gas company EGAS announced Sunday that it will be cancelling its natural gas supply deal with Israel.

Ampal-American Israel Corporation, a partner in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), which operates the pipeline, said the Egyptian companies involved had notified EMG they were “terminating the gas and purchase agreement.”

The company said in a statement that the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company had notified them of the decision, adding that “EMG considers the termination attempt unlawful and in bad faith, and consequently demanded its withdrawal.”

It said EMG, Ampal, and EMG’s other international shareholders were “considering their options and legal remedies as well as approaching the various governments.”

Sources close to EMG said in response, “Egypt does not understand what it is doing. This move will bring back the country – politically and economically – by 30 years. This is a breach of the peace agreement with Israel.”

Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem, however, said that the cancellation was done as a result of a business dispute.

“In talks between Israeli and Egyptian diplomatic officials, it was made clear that the cancellation of the deal was part of a business dispute between a private company and Egyptian government companies – a dispute that is currently found in legal proceedings abroad,” a diplomatic source said. “This has nothing to do with the diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt.”

Moreover, Mohamed Shoeb, the head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, said the decision to cancel the deal was not political.

“This has nothing to do with anything outside of the commercial relations,” Shoeb told The Associated Press.

He said Israel has not paid for its gas in four months. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denied that.

Shoeb told Egyptian TV that the decision to cancel the contract was made Thursday because “each side has rights and we are representing our rights.”

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz’s office responded to the news on Sunday, saying that, the finance minister was “very worried” about the cancellation of the gas deal with Israel, “both in political and in economic terms,” and describing the cancellation as “a dangerous precedent” that threatens ties between Egypt and Israel.

Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz said also responded on Sunday that the cancellation was an unprecedented low point in relations between Egypt and Israel. “This is a blatant violation of the peace treaty,” he said. “This unilateral step requires an immediate American response,” as the U.S. was present at the signing of the Camp David Accords.

A deal was reached in 2005 between the Israeli and Egyptian governments as part of a political agreement according to which Cairo undertook to allocate 7 billion cubic meters (BCM) of Egyptian gas to the Israeli market for 20 years, with an option to double the supply.

Ampal, Israeli businessman Yossi Maimon’s company, controls 12.5% of EMG, which sells Egyptian gas to customers in Israel, primarily the Israel Electric Corporation. It exports the gas by means of a pipeline that runs through Sinai. That pipeline has been attacked more than 14 times since the popular uprising that ousted longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Before the sabotage, Egypt supplied about 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas, which is the country’s main energy source.

Israeli officials have said the country was at risk of facing summer power outages due to energy shortages.

Companies invested in the Israeli-Egyptian venture have taken a hit from numerous explosions of the cross-border pipeline and are seeking compensation from the Egyptian government of billions of dollars.

Ampal and two other companies have sought $8 billion in damages from Egypt for not safeguarding their investment.

Robert Fisk: Counter-revolution – the next deadly chapter: Independent

ROBERT FISK    SATURDAY 21 APRIL 2012

It was my old Jordanian-Palestinian chum Rami Khouri who first spotted what is going on in the Middle East right now: it’s the counter-revolution. Bahrain is crushing dissent. Syria is crushing dissent. Mubarak’s former head of intelligence, the sinister Omar Suleiman, is standing for president in Egypt – the cancellation of his candidacy last week by a dodgy “electoral committee” may well be overturned. Libya is at war with itself. Yemen has got its former dictator’s sidekick back. Sixty-one dead in a battle between soldiers and al-Qa’ida last week – in a single day. All in all, a pretty mess.

But let me quote Khouri. “In Washington-speak, a ‘crisis’ is like love: you can define it any way you want, but you know when it happens to you. So a popular revolt in Bahrain for full civil rights is a crisis that must be crushed by force. But a revolt in Syria is a blessed event that deserves support. Similarly, this peculiar mindset warns against Iranian support to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, while accepting as perfectly logical and legitimate for the US and its allies to send arms and money to their favourite rebel groups around the region – not to mention attacking entire countries…”

And there you have it. As Khouri notes, there’s now a new group called the “Security Cooperation Forum” linking the US with the Gulf Cooperation Council. La Clinton turned up to assure the oil states of Washington’s “rock solid and unwavering commitment” to the GCC. Now where have we heard that before? Why, isn’t that what Obama is always saying to the Israelis? And weren’t Bibi Netanyahu of Israel and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia the two guys who called Obama to ask him to save Mubarak?

And in Syria – where the Qataris and the Saudis are all too keen to send weapons for the rebels – things are not going very well for the revolution. After claiming for weeks a year ago that “armed bands” were attacking government forces, the bands now exist and are well and truly attacking Assad’s legions. For many tens of thousands who were prepared to demonstrate peacefully – albeit at the cost of their lives – this has become a disaster. Syrian friends of mine call it a “tragedy”. They blame the Gulf states for encouraging the armed uprising. “Our revolution was pure and clean and now it’s a war,” one of them said to me last week. I believe them.

And the violence is creeping ever closer to Lebanon. Last week’s killing of TV cameraman Ali Shabaan has shocked the normally unflappable Lebanese, with even the pro-Syrian Hezbollah condemning his death – like the Hezbollah, of course, Shabaan was a Shia – and citizens of Lebanon have noted that while Syrian troops were on their border, Lebanese troops, at the time of the shooting, were nowhere to be seen. Pro-Syrian MPs in the Lebanese parliament have even blamed their own security authorities for Shabaan’s death.

I suppose it’s a rueful observation to make, but some of the early revolutions in the Arab world did not exactly go according to plan. A few days ago, the Algerians celebrated the 50th anniversary of their victory over the French. French television showed major documentaries on the fearful struggle which cost the lives of at least half a million people, films which could be seen in Algeria. But what have the Arabs got for their titanic battles? A pseudo-dictator and a corrupt elite, a shameful unemployment figure and enough oil to make Algeria rival Saudi Arabia – if the revolution had worked, that is.

Nasser’s revolution wasn’t exactly a roaring success – maybe Nasser was in personal terms, but he and his successors were awful, running Egypt as if it was their personal property, taking Egypt into two bloody wars against Israel. Now there are signs that Iraq may be helping Syrian rebels – just as it did under Saddam’s rule, when he and President Bashar al-Assad’s father Hafez loathed each other. And now Sunni militants inside Iraq have declared war on Iran – now that there are no more Americans to attack.

If this seems a pessimistic horizon, then so be it. I suspect that the Arab Awakening will still be going on after we’ve all died of old age. But eventually, I think, there will be real freedoms in the Middle East, yes, and dignity for all its peoples, and an astonishment among the next generation that their fathers and grandfathers tolerated dictators for so long. And they will ask what happened to missing fathers and grandfathers.

I say this because a brave group of women gather every day in Beirut to remember their loved ones – all men, Lebanese and Palestinian – who were taken from their homes or from the street during the long years of Syrian rule in Lebanon. Many who made the dismal journey to Damascus were offered false hope by middlemen wanting bribes but have kept their faith intact. The Lebanese daily L’Orient-Le Jour carries a weekly column on each missing man.

Samia Abdullah is waiting for her brother Imad, a 20-year-old Fatah fighter who disappeared in 1984. Fatme Zayat wants her sons back; they have been missing for 27 years. Afife Abdullah is looking for seven members of her family. Adele Said el-Hajj waits for her son, Ali, who was arrested by the Syrians in 1989. That’s 23 years. The Lebanese civil war ended in 1990. Thousands are still missing. Last month marked the 37th anniversary of its beginning. Some Lebanese at the time even claimed it was a revolution.

The Israeli government’s badge of shame: Haaretz Editorial

If Netanyahu feels he lacks the political power to obey the High Court’s directives he must dissolve the government and demand an electoral mandate for its peace and settlement policies.

The behavior of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and most of his ministers with regard to Beit El’s Givat Ha’ulpana neighborhood recalls that of a career criminal who is undaunted by condemnation or punishment.

The Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El. Photo by: Emil Salman

Despite the harsh response from the High Court of Justice, led by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, to the government’s request to postpone yet again the evacuation of the Migron outpost, Netanyahu has told Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to “find a solution” that would allow the state to violate its promise to the court to demolish Givat Ha’ulpana’s buildings by the end of the month.

As with the recent case of the so-called Machpelah House in Hebron, which settlers moved into without the necessary permits, our elected officials are competing with each other in attacking Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who dares to try to meet the state’s commitment to the nation’s highest court.

A year ago Netanyahu himself signed off on the state’s promise to evacuate the dozens of families living in Givat Ha’ulpana and demolish their homes. He now says the court order is “a decree the public cannot tolerate.” The prime minister should now explain to the Palestinian public how it is supposed to tolerate the theft of its land and to the Israeli public how it is supposed to tolerate the repeated lawbreaking in the territories for as long as it serves the interests of the settlers.

The size of Givat Ha’ulpana and the duration of its residents’ use of the private Palestinian land on which it was built, with state support, are not mitigating circumstances but rather a badge of shame for the rule of law. The government’s repeated postponements of its legal, moral and international obligations to evacuate the illegal outposts – particularly those built on privately owned Palestinian land – is no substitute for good policy.

If Netanyahu feels he lacks the political power to obey the High Court’s directives he must dissolve the government and demand an electoral mandate for its peace and settlement policies. One can only hope that the public will shake off its apathy and cry out against stealing land from the helpless, breaking the law and spitting in the face of the justice system.

Time for Abbas to take to the streets: Haaretz

If our founding generation had waited in the offices of the ‘Israeli Authority’ until the British would graciously agree to leave, we would not be celebrating 64 years of independence.
By Akiva Eldar
The crisis over Beit El’s Ulpana Hill neighborhood and Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner’s attack on a Danish protester have something in common. Both controversies reveal the Israeli government’s weak spot. Both demonstrate that the Jewish mind has not succeeded in inventing a magic glue that can fuse occupation and settlements to human rights and democracy.

The settlers know how to steal the lands of Palestinian farmers. But the mighty who lord it over the weak are helpless against “settlement detectives” like Dror Etkes (formerly of Peace Now ) and Hagit Ofran (currently of Peace Now ), who reveal the crimes of the settlers, their military partners and their political admirers. A state whose legal system would validate the wrongdoing at Beit El and aid in purifying Migron cannot call itself a democratic, law-abiding country.

They say the Israel Air Force can carry out a pinpoint strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, yet the Israel Defense Forces loses its cool when confronted by a small group of bicyclists armed solely with cameras. The Shin Bet security service knows how to locate terrorists and assassinate them, but has no clue how to cope with nonviolent civil disobedience.

During the first intifada, one man who preached nonviolent resistance to the occupation drove the Israeli government crazy. That man, Dr. Mubarak Awad, condemned violence and organized tax strikes, demonstrations and tree-plantings on land the settlers had stolen from Palestinians. Then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres decided to deport Awad on grounds that he was a provocateur. The Awad case reached the White House and put the occupation in the headlines worldwide.

At the height of the Arab Spring, Awad spoke to me by phone from his office at American University in Washington, where he gives workshops on nonviolence. He said the right way to end the occupation would be a nonviolent civil revolt by the Palestinians that would make Israelis’ lives so difficult that they would demand their government reach a peace settlement. “The key to change is in the hands of the oppressed, not in the hands of the oppressor,” said the exiled psychologist.

The Israeli government has so far been lucky that the government of the oppressed in Ramallah, rather than press for change, has preferred to maintain grand homes, new cars and positions that help their family businesses.

The chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who calls himself “president,” runs hither and yon in his suit and tie, expecting the world to do his dirty work for him. He comes home with a sackful of promises, and perhaps some donations (on a good day ), until the next takeoff, or the next whiny interview with a local newspaper.

In September he’ll go back to the United Nations. Oh, sorry, I meant December. U.S. President Barack Obama swore to him that if he would agree to postpone his request to the United Nations to recognize Palestine until after the American elections, during his next term in the White House everything would be different.

Meanwhile, Abbas flies to Cairo to advance the reconciliation with Hamas and set up a unity government – if not today, then for sure tomorrow. He also sent Saeb Erekat to Jerusalem with a belligerent letter for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the picture distributed by the Government Press Office, we could see exactly how distressed Netanyahu was by the Palestinian threat to return to the United Nations. Another letter like that and Meretz will surely take over the government.

Eisner was removed from his post because there was no choice, and Ulpana Hill may yet be vacated, but Palestinian laborers will continue to ask the Civil Administration for permits to build the settlements. The Israelis say to themselves, perhaps justifiably, that if the Palestinians had it so bad they would turn Manara Square in Ramallah into Tahrir Square. We’ve seen that Arabs know how to fight for their rights. If Abbas was really so fed up he would replace his tie with a kaffiyeh and lead the masses in a protest march.

The Oslo Accords have turned the Palestine Liberation Organization into the mechanism for maintaining the Israeli occupation. It’s about time the Oslo generation of Palestinians admits the failure of the diplomatic option, hangs up its suits, weans itself from the pathetic honor it has accorded itself, and takes to the streets.

If our founding generation had waited in the offices of the “Israeli Authority” until the British would graciously agree to leave, we would not be celebrating 64 years of independence.

 

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April 22, 2012

EDITOR: The brute is much more brutal than we knew

If you thought the brutal treatment of the Danish protester by the crazed Lt Colonel Eisner, which came out a week ago, was bad enough, think again. A video clip showing the same maniac beating up FIVE different people was just published…

Every time one thinks that we have seen the depth Israel has sunk to, they manage to prove us wrong.

WATCH: New video shows shamed IDF officer struck several left-wing activists: Haaretz

In clip taken by Palestinian TV, and released by left-wing NGO B’Tselem, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner seen beating protesters without clear provocation.

By Gili Cohen

Days after Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz opted to dismiss Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner for striking a foreign left-wing protester, new video evidence released by an Israeli NGO pertains to prove the Israeli officer employed brute force unprovoked.

Israeli army Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner hits an unidentified activist with an M-16 rifle, April 14, 2012. Photo by: AP / ISM

According to a statement, which was attached to the Palestinian television clip, by B’Tselem, Eisner is seen striking five different pro-Palestinian protesters in last Saturday’s incident.

In addition, and in an apparent contrast to Eisner’s own contention, there seem to be no signs of violence from the protesters toward IDF troops in general, or Eisner in particular.

On Wednesday, Gantz chose to dismiss Eisner, who was filmed over the weekend hitting a Danish protester with his rifle butt in the Jordan Valley after the recommendations of GOC Central Command Nitzan Alon and Sami Turgeman, commander of the IDF’s ground forces, on the grounds that the attack was a “moral failure.”

Gantz said that an investigation into the incident revealed operational failures in the preparation of IDF soldiers for the protest bike ride in which the activist took part as well as in the soldiers’ handling of the confrontation that erupted.

Eisner, who was due to receive the rank of colonel, will be transferred to a senior staff position and will be barred from carrying out any command position in the IDF in the next two years. As of 2014, Eisner will be able to return to a command position, should he fulfill the necessary requirements.

Violent IDF officer provides snapshot of Israeli society: Haaretz

Following the disturbances on the soccer pitch, the league championship action was canceled this weekend. Eisner’s violence will stop nothing, except for slightly sidetracking his career.
By Gideon Levy
Once in a while, the Israeli occupation provides some instances of comic relief to break the monotony of desperation. Funny to the point of tears is the roundish and unkempt figure of Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, limping on his way for “medical treatment,” complaining of pains, showing the cameras his bandaged pinky and his arm hanging from a brace as if it were some serious orthopedic injury. No less amusing is the claim that demonstrators broke the deputy brigade commander’s pinky. It’s also amusing to hear one of the settler leaders say the demonstrators blocked off traffic on the “Dan-Eilat highway.”

It’s funny to hear Eisner admit that it’s possible he “committed a professional error in judgment, using my weapon in front of the cameras,” and that his actions were “in order to carry out my duty and to protect my soldiers.” It’s also funny to hear the director of the IDF’s public relations branch, Roni Daniel, warn that following this incident, “People will not want to become officers in the IDF” (as if it wouldn’t have been better if people like Eisner weren’t officers in the IDF ). And it’s no less ridiculous to hear the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, say Eisner’s actions “run contrary to IDF values” – as if IDF officers and soldiers don’t behave in exactly the same way every day in the territories, just not usually on camera.

Indeed, even the excessive storm that the blow with the rifle butt gave rise to is funny. After all, what happened? There were cameras.

A blow with the butt of a rifle? Late last week, B’Tselem published another video clip captured by Palestinian TV near the bicycle protest: Eisner is seen walking and striking nearly everything that moves with his weapon, as if he was some nightclub bouncer. Five demonstrators tasted the butt of his weapon, from the front and the back. The video also exposes the “violence” of the demonstrators and their “threat” to the soldiers: one of them began pedaling on his bike.

This section of the video was broadcast Friday night in symbolic proximity to a report on violent incidents in soccer stadiums. The behavior of the hooligans and players in the stadiums was not much different to that of Eisner. Between the IDF on the one hand, and Bnei Lod and Hapoel Ramat Gan on the other, you will find few differences. Following the disturbances on the soccer pitch, the league championship action was canceled this weekend. Eisner’s violence will stop nothing, except for slightly sidetracking his career.

But once the brief comic relief is over, the depressing reality returns and strikes you full in the face. It’s now clear that Eisner’s action was not a momentary outburst. The thought that an officer like Eisner was to preside as deputy commander of the Officers’ Training school (had it not been for the accident with the cameras ) should be a cause for concern – first and foremost to the IDF itself.

Above all, the Eisner case provides a telling snapshot of Israeli society. Immediately following the release of the video, it reacted in line with its typical parameters: the right instantly crowned Eisner a national hero; the remainder of the left expressed shock; and the vast majority of the public, presumably, thought Eisner was wronged. It is hard to imagine why.

The basic human instinct of any person, on the right or the left, should have led him to respond in shock at seeing the scenes of an officer brutally striking a demonstrator armed with only a bicycle. The basic instinct of someone who supports democracy should also be the same. What is right or left in this case? Why is the right not shocked by the behavior of a thug? Why has Eisner become its hero? If blows against Arabs mean nothing because they are not perceived as human, and striking a blow to the face of a fair-haired young Dane stirs none of the required human response, then something very sick is going on.

True, the political brainwashing machine has imposed on us in recent years (also through the media ) the assumption that a peace activist is a terrorist, that every volunteer in the territories is an anarchist, and that everyone who is critical is anti-Semitic. Nonetheless, I suspect that the people want violence – and the more the better against everyone who does not fall into line.

The end of this affair is clear and depressing: Col. Eisner will be compensated for the “wrong” he has suffered, either in the IDF or elsewhere; the hostility (and violence ) of officers and soldiers in the IDF – which is directed against demonstrators and, especially, cameramen – will be increased even more; and the public will stick to its belief that the IDF is the most ethical army in the world.

Israel, Iran, nuclear weapons and a Shakespearean invitation: Guardian letters

Friday 20 April 2012 20.59 BST

Amid all the talk of Iran is aiming to equip itself with nuclear weapons (Report, 14 April), it seems too often ignored that the one Middle East country that indisputably has nuclear weapons is Israel. The person who, in 1986, produced the conclusive evidence for Israel having these weapons was Mordechai Vanunu. For this “crime” he has suffered 26 years loss of freedom: 18 years in prison – 12 of these in solitary confinement – followed by eight years of being forced to live in Israel against his wishes, under stringent limitations on his freedom of movement, speech and association. If an Iranian scientist came forward with firm evidence that Iran was secretly equipping itself with nuclear weapons this would be regarded as a brave act worthy of praise not punishment; surely Mordechai’s identical action in relation to Israel’s nuclear weapons should be regarded in a similar light? Today, 21 April, is the eighth anniversary of Mordechai’s release from prison, when the annual restrictions on his freedom come up for renewal. We call for these restrictions to be lifted and for him to be allowed to leave Israel. We also call for negotiations to be initiated towards achieving a nuclear free Middle East, negotiations which must include Israel’s nuclear weapons.

Ben Birnberg, Julie Christie, Bruce Kent
Campaign for a Nuclear Free Middle East
Lord Eric Avebury
Steve Bell
Jim Boumelha President, International Federation of Journalists
Victoria Brittain
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Maggie Hambling
Mike Hancock MP
Jeremy Hardy
Roger Lloyd-Pack
Caroline Lucas MP
Michael Mansfield
Miriam Margolyes
Kika Markham
Michael Randle
Venessa Redgrave
Michael Rosen
Michelle Stanistreet General secretary, NUJ
Alexie Sayle
Mark Swerotka General secretary, PCS union
Benjamin Zephaniah

• We notice with dismay that dozens of prominent members of the UK theatre and film industry are calling for a boycott of Israel’s national theatre, Habima, in London’s Globe to Globe festival, on the grounds that Habima have performed in established cultural halls in two large Israeli settlements (Letters, 30 March). It is widely accepted that any peace accord is likely to result in the larger settlement blocs, on land close to the 1967 line, becoming part of Israel, through a process of land swaps; a concept that has already been endorsed and reiterated by international leaders.

In any case, Habima’s cultural contribution to the festival ought to be celebrated and enjoyed away from the politics of the region. We commend the Globe’s management for honouring the invitation to Habima. They rightly state that “Habima are the most well-known and respected Hebrew-language theatre company in the world, and are a natural choice to any programmer wishing to host a dramatic production in Hebrew.”

We oppose any boycott of Israel. This sort of activity gives a green light to those who wish to promote the delegitimisation of Israel. It does nothing to help the Middle East peace process which will be solved when leaders on both sides can reach agreement on a two-state solution. It is unfortunate, due to the seriousness of the accusations levied against this non-government affiliated theatre group, that crucial facts have been overlooked. We call on the signatories of the letter to withdraw their remarks and become part of a more constructive debate on the future of the peace process.
John Whittingdale MP Chairman, Commons culture, media and sport select committee, Louise Mensch MP, Philip Davies MP, Damian Collins MP Members, CMS committee

EU condemns eviction of Arab family from East Jerusalem home: Haaretz

An East Jerusalem Palestinian family was evicted from its home in Beit Hanina , which a court ruled had been purchased by Jews in the 1970s.
By Nir Hasson
The European Union has condemned an Israeli eviction of an Arab family in east Jerusalem.

Members of the Natsheh family after Wednesday’s eviction from their home in Beit Hanina. Photo by: Michal Fattal

On Wednesday, an East Jerusalem Palestinian family was evicted from its home that a court ruled had been purchased by Jews in the 1970s. The eviction, carried out by the Bailiff’s Office with police back-up, gave Jewish residents complete control of three homes in the Beit Hanina neighborhood, paving the way for the first Jewish residential presence in the area. Israeli police evicted a family from a home in the Palestinian neighborhood of

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the property belonged to Jewish owners.

The European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a joint statement Saturday announcing they “are deeply concerned by the plans to build a new settlement in the midst of this traditional Palestinian neighborhood.”

Arieh King, who directs an organization that buys land for Jews in east Jerusalem, said Wednesday that about ten Israelis moved into the home. He has announced plans to take possession of other sites in Beit Hanina and the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which would mean further evictions of Palestinians.

 

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April 17, 2012

EDITOR: Israel proves its brutality, again

The 15th of April was an international action day on Palestine. Thousands of activists were planning to fly in for peaceful protest; Israel has acted illegally to deny them entry, cnacelling their flights on many airlones, whether it had information about them and their intention or not. In most cases, it had no such information, and many of those denied flights were not even activists, includinga French diplomat with his wife whose flkight was also cancelled…

In the Jordan valley, a mad, wild officer, Shaul Eisner, ended up attackinga a group of cyclists ona peaceful protest ride, brutally assaulting a young Danish protester without any provocation, as can easily be seen from the YouTube video. For those who were still entertainig any doubts about Israeli methods, some viewing is hardly reccommended… In hindsight, this war criminal regrets doing it when cameras were present.

While they can attack protesters and stop them entering Israel, they cannot stop the protest with their brutal methods. This event has just added to the numbers of those opposed to Israeli britalities against Palestinians and all others who support their rights. Only those without an argument are using ruthless attacks against civilians, as Israel has done now for many decades. They are losing the public arena with these methods of suppression and denial.

IDF officer says regrets beating activist ‘in front of cameras’: Haaretz

Image grab of a YouTube video posted by the International Solidarity Movement showing an IDF soldier striking a leftist activist in the face with an M-16 rifle.

IDF Lt. Col. Shaul Eisner, who was filmed over the weekend hitting a Danish protester with his rifle butt in the Jordan Valley, personally responded to allegations against him on Tuesday.

Eisner, who was suspended from duties following the incident, said that “it could have been a professional mistake to use a weapon in front of the cameras,” he told Channel 10. The televised report also showed a document indicating he had broken his finger.

Video footage posted on YouTube showed Eisner, deputy commander of the IDF’s Jordan Valley brigade, striking Danish activist Andreas Ias in the face with an M-16 rifle during a cycle rally near Jericho in the West Bank.

“It was a two minute confrontation,” he said,” so yes, it’s true that some pictures look bad, but I used a weapon… in a cold manner, as a stick. I didn’t kill anyone and I did not put anyone’s life in danger.” He added that he believes that thanks to his actions the protesters called off the demonstration.

Ias, the Danish activist that was hit in the face, said on Monday that the officer’s claim that the activists were violent is a fabrication. Also on Monday, the Danish ambassador asked Israel to explain the officer’s assault on Ias.

“These stories do not interest the Chief of Staff or my Front Commander,” Eisner added on Tuesday. He admitted there are “a few questions,” yet maintained that he “does not accept this as a moral failure in any way.” “We know the history of these anarchists,” he said, “they came with sticks and broke my hand – but no one will tell or film that.”

“There is a question here of what is more important – to carry out the mission or to look good (in pictures). I claim the mission is important enough,” Eisner said. He added: “What if they would film IDF soldiers backing down from an angry crowd? That sounds good? What, I’d let them block roads? I’d let them endanger lives?”

President Shimon Peres on Monday said he was “shocked” by the incident, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday condemned the incident, which was seen in a film posted on YouTube earlier Sunday.

“Such behavior does not characterize IDF soldiers and officers and has no place in the Israel Defense Forces and in the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

On Tuesday, a few dozen demonstrators headed by National Union MK Michael Ben Ari gathered in front of the Kirya Defense Ministry complex to show support for Eisner. They called on the IDF to award him a medal for his conduct.

Israel blocks entry to first pro-Palestinian ‘fly-in’ activists; hundreds more expected: Haaretz

650 policemen stationed at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv in anticipation of hundreds of activists due to arrive as part of ‘Welcome to Palestine’ event.

A would-be passenger posing with his passport and a letter denying him access to Israel as around 100 pro-Palestinian activists stage a protest at Brussels national airport April 15, 2012. Photo by: Reuters

About 30 pro-Palestinian activists were held by security forces at Ben-Gurion Airport after arriving on a flight from Paris on Sunday, ahead of what Israel Police estimates will be hundreds of activists and protesters due to arrive as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” fly-in protest.

All in all, 30 activists were detained by security forces at Ben-Gurion Airport, with 27 still in questioning, after three were allowed entry into Israel.

Three of those detained were subsequently released and allowed entry into the country, while the fourth remained in questioning.

Speaking to reporters, the commander of the forces deployed at the airport Bentzi Sau said that, “as of right now, most of the activists were kept in their home countries, according to the airlines’ decision.”

“In the last hour we detected about 20 activists who have been barred entry and are in questioning. At first, we estimated that about 1,200 activists will arrive, but that number has been reduced significantly as a result of several actions,” Sau added.

Activists holding placards reading 'Geneva, new Israeli airport. Palestine will live" (L) and "freedom of circulation in Palestine' at Geneva airport, April 15, 2012. Photo by: AFP

The top Israel Police officer said that those who do not accept the Interior Ministry’s offer to return to their country of origin will be transferred to the Israel Prison Services for processing,” adding that “most of the flights suspected of carrying activists are due to land between 2 and 5 P.M.”

650 policemen were stationed at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv ahead in preparation for the mass event.

The activists were planning to arrive in Israel to participate in a protest against West Bank settlement construction that was scheduled to take place on Sunday. Last July, a similar “fly-in” took place, with more than 300 international activists arriving in Israel. Of those activists, 120 were detained.

On Saturday, the spokesman for the “Welcome to Palestine” protest told Haaretz that more than 60 percent of the 1,500 pro-Palestinian activists due to arrive in Israel on Sunday have received notifications from airlines that their flights were canceled.

Among the airlines that notified the activists of flight cancelations were Lufthansa, Air France and Easyjet, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem-based spokesman for the protest said, adding that the activists are threatening to take legal action against the airlines.

Israeli border policemen standing guard at Ben Gurion air port near Tel Aviv on April 15, 2012. Photo by: AFP

“Israel passed lists of hundreds of activists to companies, along with a letter in which it claimed that they were coming to carry out a provocation and disturb the peace, and this is just not true. It is very unfortunate that these companies bowed to Israeli pressure,” said Qumsiyeh, who added that he has no doubt that some of the activists and Palestinian organizations – including his own – will pursue legal action against the companies.

According to the spokesman, hundreds of activists will manage to board flights to Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport, and declare their intention to travel on to the West Bank upon their arrival.

Dozens of Israeli activisits are due to await the arrival of the fly-in protesters at the airport. In a notice published on Saturday, Israeli activists said they will await for the fly-in protesters with “welcome signs” and “open arms.”

Dozens of pro-Palestinian activists were prevented from boarding Israel-bound flights on Friday, due to the fact that their names appeared on the blacklist distributed by the Israeli government to a number of European airlines.

Police are planning to intercept participants in the “Welcome to Palestine” actions at the airport and prevent their entry into the country. Hundreds of police officers are expected to be stationed at the airport ahead of their arrival, most of them unarmed and clothed in civilian dress.

Israel’s leaders incite the public against peace activists: Haaretz Editorial

Use of violence against peace activists is not an image problem that can be swept aside with a suspension and denunciation.

From time to time the news media or human rights groups film an Israeli in uniform using excessive force against human rights or peace activists protesting the wrongs of the occupation.

This week it was the turn of IDF Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, to be caught by the camera, in this case striking a helpless Danish national in the face with an M-16 rifle. Following the event’s widespread coverage, the officer was widely criticized by the public – not for using excessive force, but for granting human rights groups a photo op serving their interests. He also ruined the celebrations over the successful operation that prevented human rights activists from entering Israel and the territories via Ben Gurion International Airport (and grounded several people who had nothing to do with the fly-in ).

In an effort to minimize the damage to Israel’s image, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz swiftly suspended Eisner while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hastened to denounce the offending officer’s misdeed.

Such reactions are necessary, but certainly not sufficient. Use of violence against peace activists is not an image problem that can be swept aside with a suspension and denunciation. A political and military leadership that incites the public against peace and human rights activists bears responsibility for the conduct of hot-tempered officers like Eisner.

When the prime minister and foreign minister label left-wingers “anarchists,” “provocateurs” and even “terror supporters,” they are sanctioning attacks on civilians implementing the right to protest.

Instead of using, even by implication, the Damascus regime’s conduct toward its opposition as a yardstick for the expected behavior of the Israel Defense Forces, the prime minister should memorize the verdict Jerusalem Magistrate Judge Haim Li-Ran handed down in a recent hearing over the request to arrest Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity activists in Jerusalem.

“The right to demonstrate or express an opinion is deeply rooted in the foundations of democratic government. … Thousands of human beings have paid and are paying with their lives on its altar,” the judge said.

His words are doubly true when it comes to the right to demonstrate against the wrongs of occupation and to get home in one piece.

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April 9, 2012

EDITOR: The poem which has done its job…

Now, more thana week after Grass first published his poem, the issue still rocks Germany, and Israeli politicians and their media sidekicks are all aflame. What can they do to Grass? He is 80, and had all the fame he could want, so now he can afford to be disliked by Israel and the German yeah-sayers of Philo-Zionism. That he has only said what everyone knows fora long time, does not make it any better for him. The truth cannot be told.

Guenter Grass’s Israel poem stirs German debate: BBC

By Stephen Evans
BBC News, Berlin

To people outside Germany, a furore about a mere poem might be hard to understand.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17657993

In Britain or the United States, poets opine and some of the people may listen – and then usually they move on.

The chattering class might chatter a little louder, but the great sweep of politics is rarely changed.

But in Germany, artists are taken very seriously and few more than Guenter Grass.

It is not just his Nobel Prize, but the way his novels reflected Germany’s Nazi past with brutal clarity. They were like mirrors that revealed the true face to those brave enough to look at themselves.

That’s why the Swedish Academy gave him the Nobel Prize, citing his courage in “recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget because they had once believed in them”.

Searing honesty
In the years after the war, Guenter Grass’s writing gave him a status of Conscience of the Nation, and in a nation which takes its soul-searching very seriously indeed, particularly because the Holocaust and the other crimes of the Nazis provided so much material through which to search.

For more than 60 years after the war, he showed a zeal and what seemed like a searing honesty in the way he berated those who refused to admit their own dark pasts.

But this reputation was dented when it emerged in 2006 that he had kept quiet about his own past as a member of the Waffen-SS (a branch of the military under the direct control of the Nazi party).

Even then, he was not universally discredited. Some took this as evidence of the complexity of the psyche of the man (and by implication of the nation).

With this background, the poem “What Must be Said” was never going to be a passing work of whimsy, filling space on the arts pages but not troubling the rest of the newspaper.

It is a poem which concentrates on Israeli nuclear weapons as the prime danger in the Middle East.

Iran is mentioned (“subjugated by a loud-mouth”, as the poem says). But it is Israel which is the focus (“It is the alleged right to the first strike that could annihilate the Iranian people”).

And he criticises Germany for selling submarines to Israel which could be used in this “first strike”.

It is this one-sided concentration which has brought the fiercest criticism within Germany.

The chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Ruprecht Polenz, said that Grass “has difficulties whenever he comments on politics and is often wrong”.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: “Putting Israel and Iran on the same moral level is not ingenious but absurd”.

The truly biting criticism is that Guenter Grass is displaying a sophisticated anti-Semitism.

‘One-sidedness’
On this argument, his fault is not that he criticises Israeli government policy but that he criticises it especially hard without doing the same to others (like Iran).

This alleged one-sidedness amounts, according to Henryk Broder of Die Welt, to “educated anti-Semitism”.

The literary critic, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, who survived the Holocaust, called the poem “disgusting”, adding, “Iran wants to wipe out Israel, and Guenter Grass is versifying the opposite”.

After the poem’s publication, Guenter Grass went on television and defended himself.

“I expected dissent,” he said “particularly because the fact that Israel is a nuclear power is still treated as a taboo”.

But: “I didn’t expect the reactions to be directed at my person rather than my arguments, and I didn’t expect them to be so insulting and venomous, culminating in the accusation of anti-Semitism. Such a massive condemnation, to be pilloried in such a way – that is something I have never experienced before”.

One of the accusations against the writer is that he cites Israel as the likely first striker in a nuclear conflict.

He replied to this: “Excuse me, if you attack a nuclear plant with conventional missiles you run the risk of a nuclear catastrophe”.

All this matters very much in Germany as it wrestles with its own past – and so it matters in the rest of the world too, because Germany is an economic giant which is finding its feet.

In 2008, Chancellor Merkel addressed the Israeli parliament and declared that the security of Israel was central to German foreign policy.

It has been a given in Germany that it would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel.

What Guenter Grass has done is to open up debate on that relationship.

Poems do matter, particularly this one, in Germany and in Israel.

Hilary Clinton's Moral Grounds, by Carlos Latuff

Germany official: Israel’s reaction to Grass’ criticism ‘exaggerated’: Haaretz

German Health Minister criticizes Nobel laureate for his controversial poem, saying it was sad to see that someone experienced post-war Germany ‘remains marked by so much prejudice and stubbornness.’

Gunter Grass, Photo bt AP

A minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s German government has described as “exaggerated” an Israeli visa ban on Nobel Literature laureate Gunter Grass, a report said Monday.

“I cannot imagine that Mr. Grass has any interest in showing up in Israel after the explicit criticism he has faced in Germany,” said Daniel Bahr, the health minister, in an interview to appear Tuesday in the daily Die Welt.

The minister, who also criticized Grass, was apparently not speaking for the government. He is a senior member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a junior partner in Merkel’s cabinet. Die Welt issued a summary to other media in advance of publication.

Grass is persona non grata in Israel, Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced Sunday after Grass criticized the country in a poem.

Attacking Grass, Bahr said it was “sad to see that someone who has experienced all the controversies of post-war Germany remains marked by so much prejudice and stubbornness.” But he called the visa ban an “utterly exaggerated” response, Die Welt said.

Grass’ poem, “What must be said,” claimed Israel was preparing a first strike to “wipe out the Iranian people” as it attempts to derail Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The novelist, 84, is widely regarded as Germany’s greatest living writer.

Renate Kunast, co-leader of the opposition Green Party in parliament, criticized Grass for his refusal to recognize that Israel was threatened by Iran, but she also deplored Yishai’s move.

“It means everyone will end up discussing the ban instead of Grass’s views,” she told DPA.

Israel is deeply concerned about Tehran’s nuclear program, coupled with repeated vows by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders to wipe the Jewish state off the map.

Speculation has been growing in recent months that Israel intends to launch a military strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities, to end, or at least retard significantly, Iran’s drive toward atomic weapons.

Grass has been furiously attacked in Germany over the poem. Early Saturday, someone daubed graffiti on a sculpture in the city of Gottingen commemorating free speech which Grass commissioned and donated. The red paint called on him to “shut your mouth.”

Interior Minister declares Gunter Grass persona non grata in Israel: Haaretz

Yishai condemns the German Nobel laureate for his controversial poem, published last week; Lieberman warns against how ‘small seeds of anti-Semitic hate can turn into a large fire that harms all of humanity.’

By Ophir Bar-Zohar     and Barak Ravid

Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Sunday that German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass is a persona non grata in Israel, after Grass published a poem last week which was highly critical of Israel and its policies.

Yishai harshly condemned Grass’ poem, and said that he is declared a persona non grata in Israel for wearing SS uniform in the past.

“Grass’ poems are an attempt to guide the fire of hate toward the State of Israel and the Israeli people, and to advance the ideas of which he was a public partner in the past, when he wore the uniform of the SS,” Yishai said. “If Gunter wants to continue publicizing his distorted and false works, I suggest he do it in Iran, where he will find a supportive audience.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also issued a harsh condemnation of Grass’ poem on Sunday, during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Lieberman said that Grass’ poem is the expression of “egoism of so-called Western intellectuals, who are willing to sacrifice the Jewish people on the altar of crazy anti-Semites for a second time, just to sell a few more books or gain recognition.”

Lieberman called on European leaders to condemn statements that could possibly influence public opinion toward anti-Semitism. “We have witnessed in the past how small seeds of anti-Semitic hate can turn into a large fire that harms all of humanity,” said Lieberman.

In his poem, which was published in several European newspapers last week, the 85-year-old author claims that Israel’s nuclear reactor – and not Iran’s – presents a threat to world peace. Grass’ poem calls for Germany to cease supplying Israel with submarines, and warns against an Israeli strike on Iran.

Grass’ poem entitled “What must be said” drew strong criticism from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well. “His declarations are ignorant and shameful and every honest person in this world must condemn them,” Netanyahu said.

In an interview published in Germany on Saturday, Grass claimed that his poem was meant to target the current Israeli government, not the country as a whole. “It’s that which I criticize, a policy that keeps building settlements despite a UN resolution,” said Grass.

 Israel has reacted with hysteria over Gunter Grass: Haaretz Editorial

German author Gunter Grass, a Nobel laureate for literature, did no more than write a poem. The State of Israel, through its interior minister, reacted with hysteria.

Author Gunter Grass sees the State of Israel as a threat to world peace. He believes Israel is armed with nuclear weapons, and is threatening Iran as the Islamic Republic looks to obtain a nuclear arsenal.

After the poem he published to this effect in the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung last week drew extensive criticism, he asked to distinguish between the state and its government. It’s not Israel that worries him, he said, but the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The reactions to Grass’ claims focused on the man, not on his positions. Naysayers recalled his past as a soldier for the Third Reich – a past he concealed until late in life. Interior Minister Eli Yishai hurried to declare Grass persona non grata. Should he land at Ben-Gurion International Airport and hand his passport to the immigration control officers, he will be hurriedly escorted by burly policemen to the first Lufthansa flight back to Frankfurt – or, even better, to Munich, as befits someone who once followed der Fuhrer’s orders.

The emotions can be understood, but it’s hard to accept the overreaction. When the interior minister says, “If Gunter Grass wants to continue to distribute his false and distorted works, I suggest he do so from Iran, where he’ll find an appreciative audience,” he doesn’t even detect the irony in his words. Because it’s precisely his decision not to let Grass enter Israel because of a poem he wrote that is characteristic of dark regimes like those in Iran or North Korea.

The combination of declarations against Israel and a past as a Nazi soldier is an explosive combination that invites sharp reactions. But while Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark describing Grass’ work as “ignorant and shameful declarations that any fair person in the world must condemn” can be accepted as part of the public debate, Yishai’s use of his governmental authority is not legitimate. Any protest should be expressed within the democratic-liberal framework, which allows every person to express his views – provocative though they may be.

Grass, a Nobel laureate for literature, did no more than write a poem. The State of Israel, through its interior minister, reacted with hysteria. It seems that at issue is less an undesirable person than an undesirable policy.

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April 6, 2012

EDITOR: The dispossession continues apace

While the mad group of people who populate this outpost is not itself important, the principle they represent is iconic and symbolic of the whole colonial project of Zionism, and the fact that it will never stop until it ‘liberates’ every square inch of Palestine, and rids the country of its inhabitants. There is no post-Zionism, just a continuation and furthering of the Nakba.

English billionaire linked to Israeli settlers’ attempts to prove ownership over Migron outpost: Haaretz

Foreign residents are forbidden from buying lands in the West Bank, though English billionaire Cyril Stein has been linked to land purchases in Migron.
By Chaim Levinson
In response to a 2006 Peace Now petition to evacuate the Migron outpost in the West Bank, the High Court of Justice ruled in 2007 that the land on which the Migron people were living was privately owned by Palestinians and the outpost had to be evacuated within a few months. It can be exclusively revealed here that the Migron settlers consequently organized a deal to buy land there with the help of English billionaire Cyril Stein.

The Migron outpost in September, 2011. Photo by: AP

Stein, who died in February 2011, was a North London Jew who made his fortune from gambling (turning Ladbrokes into a multibillion business ). He funded the $100 million Mamilla complex in Jerusalem, and donated a lot of money to settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In 2007, a Palestinian intermediary offered a deal to the Migron settlers: they could buy 25 dunams of land at the site for $75,000. The documents show the sides met in September 2007 at Stein’s apartment in Mamilla. Stein signed a contract with the fixer and immediately transferred the land to the Migron cooperative organization.

Foreign residents are forbidden from buying lands in the West Bank, and the Migron settlers say they bought it. Of course, they have been claiming throughout that there are no Palestinian owners of the land. Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein also discussed Migron this week: “There are no owners here,” he said. “Okay, if some poor fellow with a family, children and grandchildren had come along and said I have nothing to eat, help me, but here there are no owners. There is a provocation here by some anti-Zionist organizations. I would be glad to acknowledge the owners if they existed.”

Nevertheless, the Migron settlers did take a number of other measures to purchase the land, the deal in which Stein was involved not being the only one. Recently, they filed a request at the Jerusalem District Court to register extensive areas of the outpost in their name, providing the court with a great many documents from 2003.

The issue of land deals in the West Bank is a knotty one. The root of the problem lies with the real danger to the life of anyone who tries to sell land to Jews. This began as a practice in the 1970s, and was anchored in law upon the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. A death sentence, which has yet to be carried out, was passed most recently in 2009, on a Palestinian from Hebron who sold lands.

In order to circumvent this problem, front men are used. These buy the land from its owners, then immediately transfer it to settlers and disappear from view. In many deals it has emerged that the front man cheated the landowners, or the land purchasers, and absconded with the money.

A problem that has arisen in recent years is the deaths of owners of lands that – in some areas – had been registered in the Jordanian land registry before the 1967 war. When a landowner dies, each of his heirs must obtain probate certification from the Sharia court in Ramallah, a process that has led to many attempts at falsification. Every land deal in the West Bank requires authorization in advance from the Civil Administration, but no one enforces this law in practice.

A brief history
The Migron settlers moved onto the hilltop land overlooking Highway 60 in 2001. In 2003, the state tried to stop the establishment of the outpost. Leaks from the Civil Administration informed the settlers of the legal opinions circulating within the administration, to the effect that Migron must be demolished because of its construction on private land. To preempt this, in May 2003 “purchase documents” for some of the land were submitted to the Civil Administration, which refused the registration request because of problems with the documents that aroused suspicion.

The police interrogated leading figures from the settlements under caution, but the investigation was closed two years ago because it was not possible to prove that the users of the documents had known they were forgeries. According to information from the investigation that has come into the possession of Haaretz, the Identification and Forensic Science police division found that the intermediary had forged some of the documents.

One of the owners of the land, who purportedly sold the lands by means of a notary in California, had died in 1961. The settlers claimed in response that a person with the identical name had died in 1961 and their seller was alive and existed, but that the notarized document had been forged. The national fraud squad conducted a judicial inquiry in California. The notary who purportedly had carried out the sale denied it and said his signature on the document was forged. Even though it was determined that the documents were forgeries, the inhabitants of Migron submitted them to the court last November, with the request to register the lands in their name.

One can learn something about the complex issue of West Bank lands from another prominent case now pending at the Jerusalem District Court: the matter of the “Brown House” – also known as Peace House or “Beit Hameriva” (“The House of Contention” ) – in Hebron. In 2007, settlers entered the large building, near the road leading from Kiryat Arba to the Cave of the Patriarchs, claiming they had bought it. However, the owner of the land claimed that had never happened. Then Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the evacuation of the building by force. The settlers submitted a request to the court in Jerusalem to have the land registered in their name.

Assaf Nehmad, who defined himself as someone active in “land acquisitions” for 17 years (and is also involved in the current case concerning ownership of another Hebron residence, Machpela House ), testified to the court in Jerusalem: “Three or four months before March 2004, I was contacted by a person who was a former resident of Hebron and now lives in Jerusalem. This is a person who locates real estate assets. He contacted me and said it was about a property I might be interested in, saying, ‘The owners are looking to sell, but they have a condition, that there be no connection to Jews.’ I asked him where the property was. He told me it was in the area the army calls ‘the Zion axis’ [the main road in the part of Hebron under Israeli control]. The moment we realized this was the place, it was clear that it was a property they had been trying to sell for a long time and had not been sold to an Arab. That person connected me with some people I know. In the nature of things, we looked for the right person to turn to in a way that they’d understand they wouldn’t be exposed. The person who had contacted me could not be a go-between. That person’s role was to identify and sell a deal, like a broker. Here, because of their requirement, there had to be an Arab person who buys it so they could meet among themselves with an Arab person.

“To our delight, he had a previous connection with a person named Ayoub Jabbar. The story fit like a glove. I asked him if he were interested in being a part. He made contact with them and understood from them what the conditions were. We paid something like 2 to 2.5 times more than the real price, but it was clear they were looking for a high price. The whole world knows he talks to the Jews. They wanted to sell it to Jews because we pay a lot more. The property had been abandoned for eight years; there had been an attempt to rent it that didn’t work out. We were the best offer.

“I know all this information from that same person and also from my familiarity with the territory. I was not in contact with the owner. This was an acquisition procedure that is contradictory and alien both to the cultural practices in Hebron and to the procedure dictated to them by the Palestinian Authority. Because they very much wanted to sell they accepted all the conditions … I did not meet the owners. The only one who met them was Ayoub. This is a practice of acquisitions. It is important to stress that this is very different from the way acquisitions are done among Arabs. Even significantly.”

Nehmad acknowledged that the Civil Administration had refused their request to receive a permit for the deal. The decision on this case is slated to be handed down this year. Settlers in Migron refused to respond to this story.

Rashid Khalidi: David Ben-Gurion and Israel’s Expulsion of the Palestinians: IOA

5 APRIL 2012
The Journal of Palestine Studies / Palestine Studies TV

Ben-Gurion and the Transfer of Arabs

On 3 November 2011, the self-appointed media watchdog CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) informed the Journal of Palestine Studies of an incorrect citation in an article by Ilan Pappé (“The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”) published in its autumn 2006 issue. The incorrect citation referred to a quotation by Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion supporting the expulsion (“transfer”) of Arabs from Palestine.

CAMERA asked JPS to “issue a correction stating that the quote attributed to Ben-Gurion does not appear in the references cited” in JPS and its website “to prevent further erroneous uses of this quote.”

Ilan Pappé

CAMERA’s accusations (e.g., 3 February 2012) that Pappé “invented” or “fabricated” the quotation, suggesting that the Zionist leader had never supported transfer, led JPS to have the original source — Ben-Gurion’s 5 October 1937 letter to his son — translated into English. The letter vindicates Pappé’s reading of Ben-Gurion’s position on transfer and the essential accuracy of his article. While JPS regrets the lapses of citation, the 2006 article, fully consonant with the historical record, remains in our view an excellent summation of Zionist planning behind the Palestinian expulsions of 1948.

In the links below, readers will find JPS’s official response to CAMERA (published in the winter 2012 issue), the full English translation of Ben-Gurion’s letter (to our knowledge never published before), the original Hebrew (from the Ben-Gurion Archives), and a link to Pappé’s article. Because CAMERA has cited Benny Morris in support of its position (also in an article by a CAMERA official 12 November 2011), we are posting a long 2004 interview with Morris which unequivocally elaborates on Ben-Gurion’s “transferist” aims. Be sure to check back, as we will be publishing other materials related to the controversy in the coming weeks.

RELATED

JPS Response to CAMERA, Winter 2012
Ilan Pappé’s 2006 article in JPS
English translation of the David Ben Gurion 1937 letter
Original David Ben Gurion letter (Hebrew)
Benny Morris 2004 interview on the 1948 expulsion

 

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April 5, 2012

EDITOR: The right to criticise Israel

Günter Grass, who has first concealed the fact that he fought in the Waffen SS during WWII, then reveled it in his autobiography, is obviously in an especially exposed position, though why this past forever marks him is also a interesting issue, when war criminals are running the world today with total immunity. However, this is not just an issue concerning him or his right to criticise Israel – basically, no one has the right to criticise Israel, the exceptional state, in a permanent Agambean state of exception, not subject to normal rules and legislation, and above and beyond all scruples and human judgement. This incredible immunity for all Israel crimes is indeed a subject not fully discussed or understood, as well as the complex machinery of propaganda and persuasion which makes it so. If Grass poem is about What Must Be Said, Israel’s machinery manages to make sure that It Cannot Be Said!

Günter Grass launches poetry attack on Israel: Guardian

German Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass says Israel is a threat to world peace in his poem What Must Be Said

Günter Grass: poem criticises Israel's 'claim to the right of first strike' against Iran. Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

German Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass labelled Israel a threat to “already fragile world peace” in a poem published on Wednesday that drew sharp rebukes at home and from Israel.

In the poem, titled What Must be Said, published in German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Italy’s La Repubblica among others, Grass criticises what he describes as western hypocrisy over Israel’s own suspected nuclear programme amid speculation it might engage in military action against Iran to stop it building an atomic bomb.

The 84-year-old Grass said he had been prompted to put pen to paper by Berlin’s recent decision to sell Israel a submarine able to “send all-destroying warheads where the existence of a single nuclear bomb is unproven”.

“The nuclear power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace,” he wrote. His poem specifically criticises Israel’s “claim to the right of a first strike” against Iran.

Grass also called for “unhindered and permanent control of Israel’s nuclear capability and Iran’s atomic facilities through an international body”.

Grass did not mention calls for the destruction of Israel that have been made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but obliquely referred to the Iranian people being “subjugated by a loudmouth”.

Israel is widely believed to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons but has never admitted it, pursuing instead an official policy of “ambiguity” to deter potential attackers.

Israel has three Dolphin submarines from Germany – one half-funded and two entirely funded by Berlin – two more are under construction, and the contract for a sixth submarine was signed last month.

Dolphin-class submarines can carry nuclear-tipped missiles, but there is no evidence Israel has armed them with such weapons.

Iran insists it only seeks nuclear power for energy and medical research.

Grass said he long kept silent on Israel’s own nuclear programme because his country committed “crimes that are without comparison”, but he has come to see that silence as a “burdensome lie and a coercion” whose disregard carries a punishment – “the verdict ‘antisemitism’ is commonly used”.

The left-leaning Grass established himself as a leading literary figure with The Tin Drum, published in 1959, and won the Nobel Prize in 1999. He urged fellow Germans to confront their painful Nazi history in the decades after the second world war.

However, his image suffered when he admitted in his 2006 autobiography that he was drafted into the Waffen-SS, the combat arm of the Nazis’ paramilitary organisation, in the final months of the war.

Grass’s comments swiftly drew sharp criticism on Wednesday.

“What must also be said is that Israel is the world’s only nation whose right to exist is publicly questioned,” the Israeli embassy in Germany said in a statement. “We want to live in peace with our neighbours in the region.”

“Günter Grass is turning the situation upside-down by defending a brutal regime that not only disregards but openly violates international agreements for many years,” said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee in Berlin.

“Iran is the threat for world peace – and Israel the only democracy in the entire region, and at the same time the world’s only whose right to exist is openly questioned,” said Charlotte Knobloch, a former leader of Germany’s Jewish community.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is a staunch ally of Israel, and her spokesman reacted coolly to Grass’s remarks.

“There is artistic freedom in Germany, and there thankfully also is the freedom of the government not to have to comment on every artistic production,” Steffen Seibert said.

The head of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee – lawmaker Ruprecht Polenz, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats – told the daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that Grass was a great author “but he always has difficulties when he speak about politics and mostly gets it wrong”.

“The country that worries us is Iran,” he was quoted as saying, adding that “his poem distracts attention from that”.

Günter Grass: ‘What Must Be Said’: Guardian

Poem published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, has created a heated debate in both Germany and Israel

What must be said

Why have I kept silent, held back so long,

on something openly practiced in

war games, at the end of which those of us

who survive will at best be footnotes?

It’s the alleged right to a first strike

that could destroy an Iranian people

subjugated by a loudmouth

and gathered in organized rallies,

because an atom bomb may be being

developed within his arc of power.

Yet why do I hesitate to name

that other land in which

for years—although kept secret—

a growing nuclear power has existed

beyond supervision or verification,

subject to no inspection of any kind?

This general silence on the facts,

before which my own silence has bowed,

seems to me a troubling lie, and compels

me toward a likely punishment

the moment it’s flouted:

the verdict “Anti-semitism” falls easily.

But now that my own country,

brought in time after time

for questioning about its own crimes,

profound and beyond compare,

is said to be the departure point,

(on what is merely business,

though easily declared an act of reparation)

for yet another submarine equipped

to transport nuclear warheads

to Israel, where not a single atom bomb

has yet been proved to exist, with fear alone

the only evidence, I’ll say what must be said.

But why have I kept silent till now?

Because I thought my own origins,

Tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,

meant I could not expect Israel, a land

to which I am, and always will be, attached,

to accept this open declaration of the truth.

Why only now, grown old,

and with what ink remains, do I say:

Israel’s atomic power endangers

an already fragile world peace?

Because what must be said

may be too late tomorrow;

and because—burdend enough as Germans—

we may be providing material for a crime

that is foreseeable, so that our complicity

wil not be expunged by any

of the usual excuses.

And granted: I’ve broken my silence

because I’m sick of the West’s hypocrisy;

and I hope too that many may be freed

from their silence, may demand

that those responsible for the open danger

we face renounce the use of force,

may insist that the governments of

both Iran and Israel allow an international authority

free and open inspection of

the nuclear potential and capability of both.

No other course offers help

to Israelis and Palestinians alike,

to all those living side by side in emnity

in this region occupied by illusions,

and ultimately, to all of us.

–Günter Grass

Translated by Breon Mitchell

EDITOR: The Land of Lawlessness and Racist Violence

In the centre of Hebron, Israel again proves its system of legal and military control of its occupation is not just arbitrary and unjust, but a system set up for one aim only – to support and further the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and from their country. The details are of course superfluous and typical – what is more enduring are the principles – a Kafkaesque system of oppression set up on racist grounds to separate Palestinians from their land by whatever means, and to settle Jews on it. The rest is detail.

Israeli PM halts eviction of hardline Jewish settlers in Hebron: Gaurdian

Binyamin Netanyahu overrules defence minister who said settlers lacked purchase permit for three-storey property

Israeli policemen guard the Palestinian house in Hebron, West Bank, that was taken over by scores of Jewish settlers last week. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli prime minister has intervened to prevent the eviction of hardline Jewish settlers from a house in the tense West Bank city of Hebron, despite a Palestinian family’s insistence that they are the legal owners of the property.

Binyamin Netanyahu overruled his defence minister Ehud Barak, who had ordered the eviction of scores of settlers from the property on the grounds that they had not secured a permit for purchase from the Israeli authorities in the West Bank.

In a boost to the settlers, Netanyahu demanded the eviction be delayed to allow an investigation, for which no timeframe was given. A deadline of 3pm on Tuesday for the settlers to leave voluntarily passed without action being taken.

David Wilder, a spokesman for the 500 settlers in Hebron, said: “This is not the end of the story, it’s the beginning. After this, there will be more.” Asked if settlers were seeking to acquire more Palestinian houses in the heart of the city, he declined to comment.

A large group of settlers moved into the house, close to the religious site known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs to Jews and the Ibrahim Mosque to Muslims, in the early hours of last Thursday under police and army protection. The settlers said the property, which they renamed Beit Hamachpela (House of the Patriarchs), had been legitimately purchased.

According to Hazem Abu Rajab, 25, a member of the extended Palestinian family living in the large three-storey property, the occupants were woken at around 1am by Israeli soldiers, armed and wearing black, who broke down three doors to the house. “Within five minutes, 100-150 settlers were inside,” he said.

The family insisted it had the deeds and other documentation, and pointed out that anyone legitimately purchasing a property would use keys rather than break down doors. “There was a lot of tension and confrontation,” said Abu Rajab.

The house had had multiple owners as it had been successively inherited by the original owner’s sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, he said. “If the settlers did buy, it was from one owner out of many. This house belongs to the whole family.” Fifteen members of the family were still in possession of a small section of the property on Tuesday.

The settlers say they submitted documentation to the Israeli authorities showing they had bought the house from a Palestinian man who in turn bought it from a member or members of the family. The man is reported to have been detained by the Palestinian security services and his role in the sale is being investigated.

The Civil Administration, the Israeli governing body in the West Bank, said the settlers had failed to obtain the required permit to purchase property in the occupied territory, and were therefore ordered to evacuate the house.

The Israeli authorities were also believed to be concerned about the provocative potential of the takeover in the most febrile area of the West Bank.

Around 500 hardline settlers live in a closed military zone in the heart of Hebron protected by a large military presence. The city is home to 180,000 Palestinians.

Khaled Osaily, mayor of Hebron, said the sale of the house was fraudulent. “Everything is forged [and] it is not for the first time,” he told Israel Army Radio. “The person who sold to them is not the owner of the house. There was a forgery and I am certain about what I am saying.”

According to Wilder, the Israeli authorities had confirmed that the settlers’ documentation was “100% in order”, but the demand to evacuate the house stemmed from “political reasons”. He denied the settlers’ takeover was provocative, saying: “Any normal community wants to be able to grow, live normally, buy houses.”

Several Israeli cabinet ministers have publicly backed the settlers. “As soon as it is clear the purchase is legitimate and that there were no rights violations committed, the Israeli government should support the settlers,” said transport minister Yisrael Katz, who visited the house on Tuesday.

 

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April 1, 2012


boycott-israel-anim2

47 years to the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights!

1872 Days to the Israeli Blockade of Gaza:

End Israeli Apartheid Now!

Support Palestinian universities – it is what people under the Israeli jackboot ask you to do

Any army fighting against children, has already lost the war!

Israeli War Criminals and Pirates – to the International Criminal Court, NOW!

Make Zionism History!

Demand the destruction of Israeli WMDs NOW!

 

3 YEARS TO THE MURDEROUS INVASION OF GAZA!

WE SHALL NOT FORGET!

EDITOR: The One-State solution becomes a discussion point on Haaretz

Despite the marked lurch to the right in Israel, more and more people, Israelis and Palestinians, are now coming to the understanding that the only solution to the colonial conflict in Palestine is a state of all its citizens, a secular democratic republic. The article below presents this in language which is too patriarchal for my taste, showing that the first worry of the future republic, is the struggle against sexism and patriarchy, at which both communities excel. While Basharat talks mainly of Israel, it does not take a lot of imagination to extend it over the whole country, which I am sure is what he means.

It’s time for Israel to embrace all citizens, Arabs too: Haaretz

Where is Mandela when we need him? This is the time to leave the ghetto on the one hand, and the alienation on the other, and move toward a state that will embrace all of its sons.
By Oudeh Basharat
When Justice Salim Joubran raised a storm by refraining to sing the national anthem during the inauguration ceremony of Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discreetly informed him that he did not expect him to have to sing it. And thus, through the whispered message from Netanyahu, 20 percent of the population were doomed to live without a national anthem. This is a scandal!

How is it possible to leave more than one million citizens without a national anthem? If not for the anthem, what was standing erect created for? Let’s just hope that Netanyahu will leave the Arabs with the flag, which, despite all the dizziness, has managed to remain with its head in the skies.

In my Oriental imagination, I could see Netanyahu explaining to his associates what his revolutionary whisper was about. “Gentlemen, I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s impossible to write a joint national anthem for the two peoples, so there is no choice but to excuse the Arabs from this anthem. Let them write an anthem of their own.”

In my imagination, Netanyahu continued explaining his theory: “Zionism, to my great regret, has failed to share with the others universal goals that go beyond religious and national relevance.” And to this he added: “What can one do? It’s impossible to wipe out the long years of the Diaspora so offhandedly. True, we are out of the ghetto, but the ghetto has left a permanent mark inside us.”

The source of the dilemma that was half-solved by Netanyahu lies deep in history. In 1948, it was not the State of Israel that was established but the “state of the Yishuv” [the Jewish settlement in Palestine]. The state symbols were in effect the symbols of the Jewish Yishuv, and these took over the place of the state – the anthem of the Yishuv, the flag of the Yishuv and bravery of the Palmach [prestate underground Jewish militia] of the Yishuv. And the Arabs who were located outside the Yishuv were counted as subjects.

The state that was established did not have the slightest scent of statesmanship or of normalcy. (What then followed, which was completely abnormal, was that for more than two-thirds of its existence, this state has played the role of one of the last occupying powers in history. ) It is possible to say that the Arab citizens recognized the state, but that the state did not recognize them. This is also true with regard to the state’s symbols. Both the anthem and the flag ignored the Arabs’ existence. And so it is that even in the symbolic spheres, the Arabs are present but absent.

The universal principles in the Declaration of Independence are the reflections of the principles of the new world that emerged from the ruins of a terrifying past. When the new world gave its seal of approval to the state of Israel, it demanded that it behave in accordance with those principles. But the reality was just the opposite, and when the [Balad] slogan “A country of all its citizens” was coined – an axiomatic slogan that is totally saturated, even dripping, with Israeliness – this was seen by the Jews as a threat to their very existence, of course.

If Netanyahu’s whisper is not followed by another step, this will leave him serving as the prime minister of an ethnic majority. And with that whisper, he had praised the reaction of the judge of the ethnic minority who showed respect for the singing of the anthem of the ethnic majority.

My feverish imagination did not cease working, and this is how I imagined a statement in the form of an address to the nation by Netanyahu: “Dear citizens, the present national anthem does not give expression to Israeli society with all its different components. Therefore, let’s have the courage to make a thorough change. Let’s break through the circles within which we have delineated ourselves. Let’s look for what is common to all of us – and we have a great deal in common. Let’s write a national anthem that all the citizens can identify with.”

At that point I stopped. I was afraid that my imagination, with too much excitement, would start turning Netanyahu into Nelson Mandela. Where is Mandela when we need him? This is the time to leave the ghetto on the one hand, and the alienation on the other, and move toward a state that will embrace all of its sons.

IDF: Attacks against soldiers on rise since latest round of Gaza violence: Haaretz

IDF has reportedly registered an increase in the number of incidents involving soldiers stationed near the Gaza border in the last three weeks.
By Gili Cohen
Planned attacks against Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border are on the rise since the latest round of violence three weeks ago, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

An IDF tank in Kerem Shalom region near the Gaza border, Oct. 4, 2011. Photo by: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The IDF has reportedly registered an increase in the number of incidents involving patrols stationed near the Gaza border in the last three weeks. Troops in the Gaza Division located several improvised explosive devises last week along the route running parallel to the fence along the southern Gaza border. Officers say 50 kilograms of explosives were aimed at one of the patrols.

“For us this is what we mean when we refer to escalation in recent weeks,” said Lt. Col. Yariv Ben-Ezra, commander of Battalion 50 of the Nahal. “A week ago we found a 12-kilogram IED, and during the past week there were others, which means that their target was much more substantive.”

The Nahal Brigade has been deployed on the southern front for six months, with Ben-Ezra and his officers stationed in the Kisufim area. Ben-Ezra says that the nature of operations in the area has changed since the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in October.

“The area changed completely and there are many more tactical incidents, starting with anti-tank fire to mortars fired at us sporadically,” said Ben-Ezra.

Recently, more than 50 mortar shells have been fired near where his soldiers operate, as well as inside the outposts, he said.

“The area is much more active, and there is a lot of activity mostly by small organizations,” said Ben-Ezra. “The other side is frustrated that their escalation of rocket fire into the south has had no impact, and it is clear to us that if there had been mistakes, if we were exposed and became an easy target, then they would hit us.”

The threat of anti-tank missiles has significantly altered the way operations are carried out on the Gaza front. According to Division orders, activity near the fence is prohibited during the middle of the day, due to concern that soldiers could be targeted with anti-tank missiles. The very day that the recent escalation began – even before the killing of a senior figure in the Popular Resistance Committees – an anti-tank missile was fired at troops on patrol, said Ben-Ezra. “It slipped from the headlines but a 170-millimeter rocket was fired at us and this is something that occurs once a week,” he said.

In response to the anti-tank missile threats, Brig. Gen. Yossi Bachar, commander of the Gaza Division, has requested tanks equipped with Windbreaker, a system that protects armor against incoming missiles.

Meanwhile, the main threats for troops are enemy observers. They approach the fence armed with a camera and a notebook, posing as innocent civilians such as goat herders, or traveling with a donkey and cart. Unlike the situation in the West Bank, the “red line” is clear to troops stationed near Gaza: If someone comes within 300 meters of the fence, the troops may ask for permission to open fire with a heavy machine gun in order to drive the person away.

A visit to the area suggests that the situation is calm, and intelligence assessments indicate that Hamas intends to keep it that way. On Friday, Hamas militants were seen dispersing a mass demonstration in front of the Erez crossing in northern Gaza and in Khan Younis in the south.

But for Ben-Ezra and other commanders, it appears just a matter of time before they are forced to undertake a more aggressive mission in the Gaza Strip. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has already given orders to start training for operations in Gaza, and the infantry brigades are scheduled to complete their preparations for these drills shortly. “This pressure cooker will explode some time,” said Ben-Ezra.

 Israeli theater must be removed from London festival, top U.K. cultural figures say: Haaretz

In open letter published in the Guardian, leading directors cite what they say is Habima’s ‘shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements.’
By Ido Balas
In an open letter published over the weekend, dozens of prominent members of the U.K.’s theater and film industries protested the inclusion of Israel’s national theater, Habima, in an upcoming Shakespeare festival, over what the signatories say was the theater’s “shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements.”

The letter, which was published late last week in the British newspaper the Guardian, was signed by such leading cultural figures as film director Mike Leigh, actress Emma Thompson and actor-director Richard Wilson.

In it, the signatories write of their “dismay and regret” over Habima’s planned run of The Merchant of Venice at the Globe to Globe festival, due to take place this May, citing the national theater’s willingness to play at settlement cultural halls despite a boycott by several Israeli actors and playwrites.

“Last year, two large Israeli settlements established ‘halls of culture’ and asked Israeli theatre groups to perform there. A number of Israeli theatre professionals – actors, stage directors, playwrights – declared they would not take part,” the letter said, adding: “Habima, however, accepted the invitation with alacrity, and promised the Israeli minister of culture that it would ‘deal with any problems hindering such performances.'”

Marwan Barghouti calls for Palestinian unity in a third intifada: Gush Shalom/jfjfp
The New Mandela

Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom
MARWAN BARGHOUTI has spoken up. After a long silence, he has sent a message from prison.

In Israeli ears, this message does not sound pleasant. But for Palestinians, and for Arabs in general, it makes sense.
His message may well become the new program of the Palestinian liberation movement.

I FIRST met Marwan in the heyday of post-Oslo optimism. He was emerging as a leader of the new Palestinian generation, the home-grown young activists, men and women, who had matured in the first Intifada.

He is a man of small physical stature and large personality. When I met him, he was already the leader of Tanzim (“organization”), the youth group of the Fatah movement.

The topic of our conversations then was the organization of demonstrations and other non-violent actions, based on close cooperation between the Palestinians and Israeli peace groups. The aim was peace between Israel and a new State of Palestine.

When the Oslo process died with the assassinations of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Marwan and his organization became targets. Successive Israeli leaders – Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon – decided to put an end to the two-state agenda. In the brutal “Defensive Shield” operation (launched by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, the new leader of the Kadima Party) the Palestinian Authority was attacked, its services destroyed and many of its activists arrested.

Marwan Barghouti was put on trial. It was alleged that, as the leader of Tanzim, he was responsible for several “terrorist” attacks in Israel. His trial was a mockery, resembling a Roman gladiatorial arena more than a judicial process. The hall was packed with howling rightists, presenting themselves as “victims of terrorism”. Members of Gush Shalom protested against the trial inside the court building but we were not allowed anywhere near the accused.

Marwan was sentenced to five life sentences. The picture of him raising his shackled hands above his head has become a Palestinian national icon. When I visited his family in Ramallah, it was hanging in the living room.

IN PRISON, Marwan Barghouti was immediately recognized as the leader of all Fatah prisoners. He is respected by Hamas activists as well. Together, the imprisoned leaders of Fatah and Hamas published several statements calling for Palestinian unity and reconciliation. These were widely distributed outside and received with admiration and respect.

(Members of the extended Barghouti family, by the way, play a major role in Palestinian affairs across the entire spectrum from moderate to extremist. One of them is Mustapha Barghouti, a doctor who heads a moderate Palestinian party with many connections abroad, whom I regularly meet at demonstrations in Bilin and elsewhere. I once joked that we always cry when we see each other – from tear gas. The family has its roots in a group of villages north of Jerusalem.)

NOWADAYS, MARWAN Barghouti is considered the outstanding candidate for leader of Fatah and president of the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas. He is one of the very few personalities around whom all Palestinians, Fatah as well as Hamas, can unite.

After the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, when the prisoner exchange was discussed, Hamas put Marwan Barghouti on top of the list of Palestinian prisoners whose release it demanded. This was a very unusual gesture, since Marwan belonged to the rival – and reviled – faction.

The Israeli government struck Marwan from the list right away, and remained adamant. When Shalit was finally released, Marwan stayed in prison. Obviously he was considered more dangerous than hundreds of Hamas “terrorists” with “blood on their hands”.

Why?

Cynics would say: because he wants peace. Because he sticks to the two-state solution. Because he can unify the Palestinian people for that purpose. All good reasons for a Netanyahu to keep him behind bars.

SO WHAT did Marwan tell his people this week?

Clearly, his attitude has hardened. So, one must assume, has the attitude of the Palestinian people at large.

He calls for a Third Intifada, a non-violent mass uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring.

His manifesto is a clear rejection of the policy of Mahmoud Abbas, who maintains limited but all-important cooperation with the Israeli occupation authorities. Marwan calls for a total rupture of all forms of cooperation, whether economic, military or other.

A focal point of this cooperation is the day-to-day collaboration of the American-trained Palestinian security services with the Israeli occupation forces. This arrangement has effectively stopped violent Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories and in Israel proper. It guarantees, In practice, the security of the growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Marwan also calls for a total boycott of Israel, Israeli institutions and products in the Palestinian territories and throughout the world. Israeli products should disappear from West Bank shops, Palestinian products should be promoted.

At the same time, Marwan advocates an official end to the charade called “peace negotiations”. This term, by the way, is never heard anymore in Israel. First it was replaced with “peace process”, then “political process”, and lately “the political matter”. The simple word “peace” has become taboo among rightists and most “leftists” alike. It’s political poison.

Marwan proposes to make the absence of peace negotiations official. No more international talk about “reviving the peace process”, no more rushing around of ridiculous people like Tony Blair, no more hollow announcements by Hillary Clinton and Catherine Ashton, no more empty declarations of the “Quartet”. Since the Israeli government clearly has abandoned the two-state solution – which it never really accepted in the first place – keeping up the pretense just harms the Palestinian struggle.

Instead of this hypocrisy, Marwan proposes to renew the battle in the UN. First, apply again to the Security Council for the acceptance of Palestine as a member state, challenging the US to use its solitary veto openly against practically the whole world. After the expected rejection of the Palestinian request by the Council as a result of the veto, request a decision by the General Assembly, where the vast majority would vote in favor. Though this would not be binding, it would demonstrate that the freedom of Palestine enjoys the overwhelming support of the family of nations, and isolate Israel (and the US) even more.

Parallel to this course of action, Marwan insists on Palestinian unity, using his considerable moral force to put pressure on both Fatah and Hamas.

TO SUMMARIZE, Marwan Barghouti has given up all hope of achieving Palestinian freedom through cooperation with Israel, or even Israeli opposition forces. The Israeli peace movement is not mentioned anymore. “Normalization” has become a dirty word.

These ideas are not new, but coming from the No. 1 Palestinian prisoner, the foremost candidate for the succession of Mahmoud Abbas, the hero of the Palestinian masses, it means a turn to a more militant course, both in substance and in tone.

Marwan remains peace oriented – as he made clear when, in a rare recent appearance in court, he called out to the Israeli journalists that he continues to support the two-state solution. He also remains committed to non-violent action, having come to the conclusion that the violent attacks of yesteryear harmed the Palestinian cause instead of furthering it.

He wants to call a halt to the gradual and unwilling slide of the Palestinian Authority into a Vichy-like collaboration, while the expansion of the Israeli “settlement enterprise” goes on undisturbed.

NOT BY accident did Marwan publish his manifesto on the eve of “Land Day”, the world-wide day of protest against the occupation.

“Land Day” is the anniversary of an event that took place in 1976 to protest against the decision of the Israeli government to expropriate huge tracts of Arab-owned land in Galilee and other parts of Israel. The Israeli army and police fired on the protesters, killing six of them. (The day after, two of my friends and I laid wreaths on the graves of the victims, an act that earned me an outbreak of hatred and vilification I have seldom experienced.)

Land day was a turning point for Israel’s Arab citizens, and later became a symbol for Arabs everywhere. This year, the Netanyahu government threatened to shoot anybody who even approaches our borders. It may well be a harbinger for the Third Intifada heralded by Marwan.

For some time now, the world has lost much of its interest in Palestine. Everything looks quiet. Netanyahu has succeeded in deflecting world attention from Palestine to Iran. But in this country, nothing is ever static. While it seems that nothing is happening, settlements are growing incessantly, and so is the deep resentment of the Palestinians who see this happening before their eyes.

Marwan Barghouti’s manifesto expresses the near-unanimous feelings of the Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere. Like Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa, the man in prison may well be more important than the leaders outside.By inviting Habima, the letter added, “Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law.”

The letter added that it supported the festival’s wish to include Hebrew-language plays in the upcoming event, adding, however, that “by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practiced by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company.”

“We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonization of occupied land,” it added.

In response to the missive, Habima’s artistic director Ilan Ronen said, “The attempt to portray Habima as a mouthpiece of this or that policy wrongs the creators, the actors, and anyone who is a part of our endeavor.”

“Performing in all of Israel is not the initiative of Habima, as the letter presents, by is a result of state law, to which all public cultural institutes are subject.”

 

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