Ameer Makhoul

January 23, 2011

EDITOR: Two years to the end of the Gaza Carnage

Two years ago, Israel has retreated from Gaza after the Cast Lead operation has brought about the murder of 1430 Palestinians, and the destruction of the civic infrastructure serving almost two million people. I the past two years we have witnessed the ineptness of the UN and the international community in the face of continued brutalities by Israel: the blockade continues unabated, the daily murders go on, and the Gaza citizens are not allowed to leave to other countries, and neither are others allowed to enter. Israel has taken a leaf out of the Nazi book – they have created the largest ever Ghetto in the world, and are applying similar tactics to its population. This will not be forgotten or forgiven – despite the inaction of the governments of the west, as well as the corrupt Arab regimes, millions across the globe are now active on this issue – boycotts are called every day in many countries, the trade boycott is harming Israeli economy, and Israel’s standing internationally has never been lower.

Solidarity with Palestine has never been more urgent. And to those who join the Palestinians in their struggle, solidarity is also offered in Palestine; below you can watch a video clip of two days ago in Bilin, where the demonstrators call for the release of the activist Yonathan Polack, arrested few weeks ago.

Bil’in 21.1.2011- Free Jonathan Pollak

Israelis target Macy Gray with racist diatribes AFTER she agrees to play Tel Aviv (and who are the “assholes?”): Max Blumenthal

It wasn't enough for Macy Gray to agree to perform in Israel. She has to take a virtual loyalty oath, too.

The Israeli media is filled with reports about Macy Gray confirming her plans to perform in Tel Aviv in March. This should have been an occasion for Israelis to celebrate their continuing ability to behave as a normal society despite occupying millions of people, holding Gaza under siege, maintaining an apparatus of racism against its non-Jewish citizens. But in a poorly calculated stunt designed to wash her hands of human rights concerns, Gray had first asked her “fans” if she should perform despite what she called Israel’s “disgusting” treatment of the Palestinians. Within hours, thousands of people who had no prior interest in Gray or her music flocked to her Facebook page (they only had to “like” her page in order to post) to register their opinions. Gray, who appeared to have every intention of performing anyway, remarked after announcing her plan to go to Tel Aviv, that some of those urging her to boycott were “assholes.”

Under normal circumstances, Gray’s roundhouse attack on some supporters of BDS and her subsequent pledge to perform in Tel Aviv should have pleased nationalistic Israelis. However, her initial criticism of Israel’s occupation has invited a firestorm of racist, sexist and generally hateful diatribes from Israelis. Indeed, many Israelis are more furious with Gray for performing inside their country than for refusing to come. Several internet forums, including one called “Don’t Betray,” have sprouted up to incite public anger at artists such as Gray who have criticized Israel — even if they agree to perform in the country. Meanwhile, the talkback sections of articles in the Hebrew media about Gray’s Tel Aviv shows have provided a forum for the most extreme screeds about the singer.

I have collected and translated a sampling of talkbacks from an article in the Hebrew edition of Ynet, the online version of the Israeli paper Yedioth Aharonoth, which highlight the attitude of some Israelis towards Gray. The talkbacks are almost entirely negative towards Gray, with many urging her to cancel her show for daring to criticize Israel, while others call her a “nigger” and denigrate black music as “contaminated.” Gray might be vaguely aware of Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinians, but is she aware of the racism towards black Africans inside Israel, including Ethiopian Jews? Has she considered how she might be treated if she were living in Israel? And who are the “assholes” anyway?

Some of 500+ comments from the talkback section to the Hebrew Ynet article provocatively entitled “Gray is against Israel but not canceling:”

THe ugly niggers are joining the Darfurians entering here. All of you go away. wedontwantyou

Go find whoever is going to shag you you fucking whore. Every piece of garbage opens their cunt on us. muslimit

David from Safed: She should take all her brothers the Sudanese and Eritreans and fuck off here.

Another “afro american.” Nice name that the niggers made for themselves. Max

Black music is inferior music that fits you. No name [Another commenter calls him a racist.] “No name” replies: What is racist about that? To say “black” is racist?

Who wants you? You look like a monkey. Mikhal

It’s really disgusting that Israel is going to see black!!! music. Disgusting. Contaminates your soul. Ayela

Don’t come we don’t need your ugly fat ass here. Dude

Blacks and Muslims always go together. Brainless fraternity of people. Shai

[Responding to other commenters denying that any occupation exists]: Right, what chutzpah of us to survive in the jungle around us, as if she can’t understand the jungle. M

They [Americans] killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq but they come to complain here. mosheWhat Israeli fans does she have here? Leftist garbage maniacs [bastards] need to be killed whoever comes to her show. victorbruriera hess: What Palestinian people? What peaceful people? Maybe terrorism? Maybe right of return on your expense?Don’t give us favors. IF she’s contemplating coming Israel should cancel the show. DontgiveusfavorsAnee: I returned the ticket. And you?Maybe they will let her perform in Gaza. Raymondpessey: Go to Gaza, perform and fuck for the Hamas. May your name be cursed.Go find whoever is going to shag you you fucking whore. Every piece of garbage open their cunt on us. muslimit[Responding to other commenters denying that any occupation exists]. Right, what chutzpah of us to survive in the jungle around us, as if she can’t understand the jungle. MMany say cancel, cancel, we don’t want you here.When you’re being spit at at least you have to get a kleenex to clean it up. hamitnasehRonen: thank you new israel fund you did your job wellFuck you who wants you here anyway? SharonQuote by Ben Gurion. “It doesn’t matter what the goyim will say it matters what the Jews will do.” LTAnother “afro american.” Nice name that the niggers made for themselves. MaxTHe ugly niggers are joining the Darfurians entering here. All of you go away. wedontwantyouShe is boycotting only Israel because she’s anti-Semitic. Gives long list of countries including the US and UK she should boycott.Many say Lieberman should cancel the concert.Many say yalla, yalla, go look for someone to fuck youMany say she should perform in GazaDavid from Safed: She should take all her brothers the Sudanese and Eritreans and fuck off here.Many suggestions to take her to the Holocaust Museum.Who wants you? You look like a monkey. MikhalIt’s really disgusting that Israel is going to see black!!! music. Disgusting. Contaminates your soul. AyelaBlack music is inferior music that fits you. No name Someone calls him a racist. No name replies: What is racist about that? To say “black” is racist?Don’t come we don’t need your ugly fat ass here. DudeBlacks and Muslims always go together. Brainless fraternity of people. ShaiIsraeliJewishFighter: Sweetheart, don’t come here. We don’t want you. Who do you think you are talking about us?Hineh: Those who are “disgusting” towards the Balestinians [mocking the Arabic pronounciation of Palestinian] are the Balestinians themselves.Many are angry with Ynet for posting on this and allowing talkbacks. NA: The problem with the Jews and that we’re stupid, sensitive and attendant to what every idiot around the world is saying. Why is it so important for Ynet to report on this? So a few miserable goyim are not coming. Oy yoy yoy! What are we going to do?Please don’t cancel. What are we going to do without your show? My Asshole
They [Americans] killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq but they come to complain here. moshe

What Israeli fans does she have here? Leftist garbage maniacs [bastards] need to be killed whoever comes to her show. victor

What Palestinian people? What peaceful people? Maybe terrorism? Maybe right of return on your expense? Bruriera Hess

Don’t give us favors. IF she’s contemplating coming Israel should cancel the show. Dontgiveusfavors

I returned the ticket. And you? Anee

Maybe they will let her perform in Gaza. Raymond

Go to Gaza, perform and fuck for the Hamas. May your name be cursed. pessey

When you’re being spit at at least you have to get a kleenex to clean it up. hamitnaseh

Fuck you who wants you here anyway? Sharon

[Quote by David Ben Gurion]: “It doesn’t matter what the goyim will say it matters what the Jews will do.” LT

Sweetheart, don’t come here. We don’t want you. Who do you think you are talking about us? IsraeliJewishFighter

Those who are “disgusting” towards the Balestinians [mocking the Arabic pronounciation of Palestinian] are the Balestinians themselves. Hineh

Please don’t cancel. What are we going to do without your show? My Asshole

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January 21, 2011

EDITOR: The western hypocrisy

The whole world seems to know and care about ONE Israeli soldier caught by Hamas in Gaza few years ago. None of those humanists actually knows or cares at all about the many Palestinian political prisoners – more than 10,000 of them – who are languishing in Israeli jails for many years. One Israeli Jew is obviously more important than ten thousand Palestinians.

Palestinian protesters block France FM from entering Gaza: Haaretz

Demonstrators say infuriated over comments by Michele Alliot-Marie in support of Gilad Shalit; member of Alliot-Marie’s entourage hit in the head.

Hamas security officer trying to clear the way for French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie's convoy to enter the Gaza Strip, January 21, 2011. Photo by: Reuters

A crowd of furious Palestinian protesters have tried to block the French foreign minister on her way into the Gaza Strip, jumping on her vehicle and lying on the road.

Dozens of protesters surrounded Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie’s convoy and tried to block her passage through the Erez Crossing from Israel on Friday. The protesters were relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

They were angry about comments made by Alliot-Marie on Thursday in support of Gilad Shalit, an the Israel Defense Forces soldier held by Hamas militants in Gaza since 2006.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said her comments reflected a total bias toward Israel.

Hamas police eventually dispersed the protesters and allowed her through.

A member of Alliot-Marie’s entourage was hit in the head and later examined at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

On Friday afternoon, Alliot-Marie visited the southern town of Sderot.

On Thursday, Alliot-Marie met Aviva and Noam Shalit, Gilad Shalit’s parents, in Jerusalem, where she said that Shalit had “been held hostage for over four years. His complete isolation and preventing any sign of life from him is completely inhumane. We demand his immediate release.”

Shalit is a French citizen, and France “is using all its ties in the region to advance his release,” she said.

France’s role in freeing Shalit is secondary because Israel and Hamas chose the German mediator to negotiate the soldier’s release following to his success in dealing with Hezbollah, she said.

Due to the issue’s sensitivity, Alliot-Marie chose not to comment on the talks and the reports about a new deal being negotiated.

Angry protests greet French foreign minister in Gaza: The Guardian

Palestinians pelt Michèle Alliot-Marie’s car with eggs and shoes after she meets family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit

Protesters attempt to stop the French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie’s car as she arrives in Gaza. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features
Palestinian protesters mobbed the car of the French foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, as she arrived in Gaza today.

Dozens of people attempted to block Alliot-Marie’s convoy and hurled eggs and shoes at her jeep. The protesters banged on the vehicle and yelled at the minister to leave Gaza, Reuters reported.

The protesters, relatives of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, were furious over comments attributed to the minister a day earlier when she met the parents of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier being held captive by the Islamist group Hamas.

After the meeting Israeli radio quoted Alliot-Marie as saying the continued detention of Gilad Shalit, seized by Palestinian fighters in 2006, was a “war crime”.

A spokeswoman in her entourage told Reuters: “The minister was misquoted by Israeli media over Shalit’s issue.” French reporters travelling with Alliot-Marie said the term “war crime” was actually used by Noam Shalit – Gilad Shalit’s father – and not by the minister.

In her first visit to the region since being appointed foreign minister last year, Alliot-Marie was greeted with hostility by the dozens of demonstrators brandishing photographs of their imprisoned sons and husbands.

Gazans said they were angry that Alliot-Marie had made no mention of the several thousand Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. “Get out of Gaza!” read one banner. “There is one Gilad Shalit but also 7,000 Palestinian prisoners,” said another.

Germany has tried for months to broker a deal to secure Shalit’s release in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners but the sides are deadlocked over several high-profile inmates.

It has been a torrid week for Alliot-Marie. On Monday the Guardian reported that she had outraged liberals and human rights activists by proposing last week to send French security forces to Tunis to shore up the unpopular regime. Three days later the Tunisian dictator fled to Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday she was summoned to explain her remarks to the foreign affairs commission of the national assembly, the lower house of parliament, where she said her offer had been “misrepresented” and had been aimed at helping the Tunisian people, not propping up repression. She was “scandalised” that her comments had been distorted.

Alliot-Marie made a short speech to reporters on Friday saying France remained committed to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “France cares for Gaza. France will not abandon Gaza,” she told Reuters. “I stress to you France’s determination to achieve a dual goal: establishing a Palestinian state and guaranteeing the security of Israel.”

EDITOR: Ban Ki-moon discovers the settlements

As one of Israel’s strongest backers, it is interesting that Ban Ki-moon has just now discovered that settlements are illegal... he used all his powers for years to shield Israel from the implications of its many illegal acts.

UN chief: Settlements are illegal, hamper peace efforts: Haaretz

Palestinians have right to an independent state, Israel has right to live in peace within secure borders, and way must be found for Jerusalem to be capital of two states, Ban Ki-moon tells UN committee.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon slammed Israel’s refusal to halt West Bank settlement building, saying that this refusal seriously hampered peace talks with the Palestinians, AFP reported on Friday.

“Settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law, contravene the Road Map obligations of Israel, undermine confidence, prejudge the outcome of the permanent status negotiations and hamper efforts at bringing the parties back to the negotiating table,” he told a UN committee dealing with Palestinian issues on Friday.

Earlier in the week, Arab nations submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but a vote on it is not expected any time soon because of a likely U.S. veto.

The secretary-general also called for a halt to “irresponsible rhetoric” that questions a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution and incites hatred and violence.

Palestinians have the right to an independent state, Israel has a right to live in peace within secure borders, and a way must be found for Jerusalem to emerge as the capital of the two states, Ban said.

Diplomats say that the point of the draft resolution condemning settlement building is to highlight Washington’s isolated position on the Security Council, show the Palestinian population that the Palestinian Authority is taking action, and to pressure Israel and the United States on the settlement issue.

Council diplomats said privately that the 15-nation panel was unlikely to take any action on the draft resolution in the near future – if at all – because of the likely veto.

It has nearly 120 co-sponsors, exclusively Arab and other non-aligned nations. UN diplomats said that the draft would probably receive 14 votes in favor and the one veto if put to an immediate vote.

The draft says that “Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Intensive U.S. diplomatic efforts to revive direct peace talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed last year after Israel failed to extend a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

Israel has repeatedly called for a resumption of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table until Israel first agrees to halt settlement work.

Obama must call Israeli settlements illegal: The Guardian

US support for a UN resolution on the settlements would remind Netanyahu that there are consequences for breaking the law

“To veto or not to veto?” That is the agonising question that has President Barack Obama pacing the battlements of the White House waiting to dodge the slings and arrows of outraged Aipac. Provoked by the latest demolition in East Jerusalem, no fewer than 120 countries have sponsored a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity. Hillary Clinton has also condemned it as “illegitimate”, but the resolution introduces precision by terming the settlements as “illegal”.

In a country where “all politics is local”, and in the face of the economic crisis, Obama could almost be forgiven for dropping the ball in the Middle East game. But his response to the current resolution could well determine whether there is any wind left in the sails of the peace flotilla he launched with his speeches in Egypt and Turkey directed at the Muslim world.

Every other member of the UN security council agrees that settlements are illegal, including Britain and France. The international court of justice has affirmed their illegality. The US once called them illegal, then termed them unhelpful, and currently regards them as “unhelpful” and “illegitimate”. Under the road map of 2003, Israel agreed to stop them, but it has ignored the rest of the world and its best friend, the US, and continued to build. Even President Bill Clinton officially reduced the amount of US loan guarantees by the sum spent on settlements.

In the face of Binyamin Netanyahu’s defiance, so far the US response, engineered by Dennis Ross – who seems to have frozen out the official peace negotiator, George Mitchell – has been to attempt to bribe Israel with billions of dollars, free jet fighters and a free “get out of the security council” card in the form of a veto. The handsome offer was for a temporary moratorium.

Washington’s line is to ignore UN decisions and international law and say that it is up to the parties to negotiate such “permanent-status issues”. The state department itself is clearer on the issues. After years of congressional votes, it still balks at moving the US embassy to Jerusalem (which hosts not a single foreign embassy) because, regardless of eventual negotiations, Israel does not have internationally recognised title to the city.

It is as if you have caught someone stealing your car and the police decide to overlook technical issues like the law and ownership and instead tell you to negotiate with the thief to get occasional access to the back seat.

In this week’s security council debate on the resolution, deputy US ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo used theological nicety to explain Washington’s difficulty in supporting a resolution that, on the face of it, reflects US official policy. “We believe that continued settlement expansion is corrosive – not only to peace efforts and the two-state solution – but to Israel’s future itself. The fate of existing settlements is an issue that must be dealt with by the parties, along with the other permanent-status issues – but, like every US administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”

However, she added: “Permanent-status issues can be resolved only through negotiations between the parties – and not by recourse to the security council. We therefore consistently oppose attempts to take these issues to this council and will continue to do so.”

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, is usually tactfully absent during such debates, keeping her credibility by allowing deputies to intone the weaselly formulas that disguise the stark truth. Annexation and settlement building are illegal.

Of course, Obama has other problems, such as the economy and healthcare, and on the Middle East must face not only a rabidly pro-Israeli Republican party but also a majority of his own party that would sign up to a resolution declaring the moon to be made of blue cheese if the Israeli lobby demanded it.

Nonetheless, his credibility as president is at stake here. The Republicans do control the House of Representatives, and indeed the chair of the foreign affairs committee is now Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who outflanks the Israeli government on the right. (She has been trying to de-fund UNRWA, the UN’s agency that provides basic services in the occupied territories, even though the Israeli government, which would have to pay if the UN didn’t, opposes her.) But Congress cannot control the US delegation to the UN.

It is surely time for Obama “to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them”. This week, a letter landed on the White House doormat from a phalanx of foreign policy and government professionals urging him to support the resolution. He should take their advice.

The public exasperation implied by support for the security council resolution sends a signal to Netanyahu that there are indeed consequences for ignoring the advice of your best friend, let alone breaking the law. It might make the Israeli prime minister more amenable, and it would certainly send a signal to the Israeli electorate that Netanyahu had terminally alienated the White House.

It would not alienate the American electorate, not even American Jews. Those who support Netanyahu tend to be those who think the president is a foreign-born crypto-Muslim anyway. It would bring cheer to the J-Street movement, whose peacenik views more closely reflect those of most American Jews than Likud does.

And it would do more than any other single act to demonstrate respect for international law and restore the credibility of American diplomacy.

Indeed, Obama could follow up and demand the IRS check on the tax deductibility of American “charities” and foundations that bankroll settlement building, including Irving Moskowitz, who recycles the proceeds of inner-city gambling in the US to buy and demolish property in East Jerusalem, such as the Shepherd Hotel, with the conscious aim of frustrating the declared policy of every US government since 1967. Some of the money, however, he sends as donations to politicians like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

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January 12, 2011

EDITOR: Russel Tribunal on Palestine report is out

This important international report is now out, after the lengthy procedure which has been used to collect, corroborate and edit it. As the report itself is exceedingly long, I have only provided here the bottom line conclusions. I strongly suggest reading this report if you wish to come into contact with the frightening and grim realities of the Israeli occupation and its iniquities, as put by the most authoritative international body to date.

To read the report and its three Annexes, use the link below:

Russell Tribunal on Palestine: 2010 Report

VII.    TRIBUNAL CONCLUSIONS
7.1    The Tribunal heard compelling evidence of corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international law, relating to: the supply of arms; the construction and maintenance of the illegal separation Wall; and in establishing, maintaining and providing services, especially financial, to illegal settlements, all of which have occurred in the context of an illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. On the basis of this evidence, the Tribunal draws the following conclusions.
7.2    The RToP reiterates that Israel committed serious breaches of IHL during the Gaza incursion (December 2008-January 2009), especially by launching attacks that, in terms of the damage inflicted on the civilian population, are sufficient in themselves to demonstrate their indiscriminate and disproportionate nature. These breaches constitute war crimes entailing the criminal responsibility of their perpetrators. Corporations provided Israel with weapons and military equipment that assisted it in committing these crimes. The supply of such equipment involves acts of assistance that constitute complicity in Israel‟s violation of international law.
7.3    The RToP reiterates that the establishment and maintenance of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are violations of international humanitarian law and regulatory entail the commission of war crimes by Israel. Corporations assist in the establishment of such settlements by supplying equipment that can be used to demolish dwellings, to destroy Palestinian land and to build property. They also contribute to the maintenance of the settlements through the economic relations that they forge with the settlements; for example, by financing the construction of property, by investing in business firms established in the settlements, by importing goods produced by the settlements and by providing them with commercial services. These corporations are complicit in Israel‟s violations of international law, including war crimes.
7.4    The RToP reiterates that the construction by Israel, inside the occupied territories, of a separation Wall between Israel and the rest of the territories violates a number of international legal rules by seriously restricting, without legal justification, the exercise of certain civil, economic, social and cultural rights by the affected Palestinian population. Corporations assist Israel in its violations of international law
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by providing Israel with cement, equipment and vehicles that are used in the construction and maintenance of the Wall.
7.5    With regards to the legal liability of corporations assisting Israel in the violation of international law, the Tribunal concludes as follows.
7.6    By assisting Israel, corporations have infringed the rights recognized by state obligations. Corporations may be liable under civil or criminal law (for example, money laundering and/or handling or receiving stolen goods) for infringing these rights in domestic law courts (many countries domestic law incorporates international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law). For example:
(a)    A claim for damages against a corporation that provided goods and services that they knew (or should have known) would be used in a manner that would cause the claimant (or a class to which the claimant belonged) damage/loss, particularly personal injury, may succeed under domestic tort law (e.g. in England and Wales or the United States) where it can be shown that damage was caused. The fact that the acts were those of the defendant‟s subsidiary need not be a bar to recovery.
(b)    Palestinians may bring a suit under the ATCA for aiding and abetting war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.
(c)    A prosecution may be brought against a corporation in the French, English or American jurisdictions, although the prosecution is likely to be for a crime within each jurisdiction rather than simply for „violations of international law‟.
(d)    The Special Representative‟s Guidelines, the Global Compact, the Norms and the OECD Guidelines all specify that corporations should refrain from violating and should actively promote human rights norms and principles.
(e)    Pursuant to Article 121-7 of the French Criminal Code, it may be possible to bring a claim against corporations operating on French territory that provide material support to the construction of the Wall.
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(f)    Because war crimes are criminal offences under US domestic law and aiding and abetting is criminalised under US law, a corporation could be prosecuted in the US for aiding and abetting war crimes committed overseas. U.S. war crimes statutes approve the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction to prosecute grave breaches of international criminal law by and against U.S. nationals.
7.7    The Tribunal concludes that corporate actors may be liable under international criminal law and/or under domestic criminal law if they have taken decisions as a result of which corporations have become involved in assisting Israel‟s violations of international law.    They may also be liable under civil law, in particular, under the Alien Tort Statute in the United States, which provides a tort remedy for serious violations of international law.
7.8    With regards to the non-legal liability of corporations, the Tribunal concludes that claims may be submitted to OECD National Contact Points for mediation and/or investigation and a final statement. The Tribunal recommends that a claim be brought before a domestic NCP where one is available for the state in which the corporation is domiciled. If no such NCP exists, corporations should be brought before an NCP in other states in which they have a permanent presence.
7.9    Representations to public bodies should make it clear that continued economic relations with these corporations would be contrary to their voluntary codes of conduct/guidance and to their government‟s obligations to promote and protect human rights. Continued economic relations may give rise to state responsibility.
7.10    States are advised to follow the example set by the Dutch public bodies that have investigated a Dutch corporation alleged to be complicit in in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law by supplying materials to Israel for the construction and maintenance of the illegal Wall.
7.11    The Tribunal concludes that states have an obligation to enforce existing law against corporations where they are acting in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law standards.
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7.12    States should ensure that there are sufficient remedies available, and that these remedies are accessible to victims of corporate violations of international and domestic law.
7.13    Finally, the Tribunal calls upon individuals, groups and organizations to take all necessary measures to secure compliance of corporations with international human rights and humanitarian law standards, in particular: boycotting corporations that assist in violations of international law, shareholders holding corporations to account, divestments by pension funds of investments tainted by illegality, and actions that continue to put corporations in the spotlight with the purpose of bringing about change in corporate culture. The Tribunal finds legal support for these initiatives in the Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Wall, in which the Court stated that there exists an erga omnes obligation to refrain from recognizing or in any way supporting the illegality that arises from the conduct of Israel by building the Wall and violating international humanitarian law.

EDITOR: Beware of Israeli deception!

In its growing concern about the effects of BDS, Israel has now resorted to plain deception. The package below is advertising an oxymoron: Palestinian product sold by Israel’s offcial exporter, Agrexco. Beware and warn others of this new con! Nowhere on this package is the word Israel mentioned!

EU LAYS BASIS FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL: TikunOlam

In late Apartheid-era South Africa, the momentum among the international community shifted inexorably toward toppling the discriminatory system.  Crippling sanctions took their toll on the country’s economy and psyche.  While the white regime clung desperately to power, finally a spark of realism emerged within the ruling party which allowed the rise of a leader like F.W. de Klerk, who negotiated a peaceful transition to democracy and majority rule.
In the past few months, a similar process has emerged outside Israel with multiple Latin American nations (the latest being Chile) recognizing a Palestinian state within 1967 borders. Now, Haaretz reports on a sensitive new EU report drafted by consuls general in Jerusalem and Ramallah which would lay the groundwork for a possible EU sanctions regime against Israel as long as it continues the Occupation and rejects a Palestinian state.
Among the recommendations:
1. a boycott of all Israeli products, services and businesses operating outside the Green Line including East Jerusalem
2. refusal to attend meetings with Israeli officials outside the Green Line (including East Jerusalem)
3. creating a settler black list forbidding entry to EU countries of those suspected of committing violent acts against Palestinians
4. discouraging citizens of EU countries (most likely directed at European Jews) from purchasing property in East Jerusalem
Returning to the South African analogy, the chief difference is that there seems to be no realism whatsoever within the Israeli political system nor any moderate or pragmatic leader capable of being the Israeli de Klerk.  In that event, it seems that Israel’s future is deeply clouded.  Without political leadership, and with the gathering storm of opprobrium against the Occupation and denial of Palestinian national rights, it seems something has to give.  It could be an international diktat jointly negotiated by the U.S., EU, and Quartet compelling Israel to yield.  Or it could take some other form.  But it appears more and more likely that Israel simply cannot come to terms with what it must do and that the rest of the world must help or even force Israel to get where it needs to be so that both that country and the rest of the region can find stability and peace.

The nation is behind you, Galant: Haaretz

The synergy between settlers and soldiers derives from the intimate relationship between defender and defended, and from the basic fact that the IDF is a people’s army.
By Amira Hass

The seizure of public land, unauthorized road paving, misleading testimony, double standards in land allocation – all under the cover of an army uniform. Is this a precis of the history of Israeli colonialism? Not at all. These claims are the basis of the High Court of Justice petition by the Green Movement political party against Yoav Galant’s appointment as the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, accusations that Maariv journalist Kalman Liebeskind has made repeatedly in investigative reports over the past two years.

In the meantime, the High Court has asked the attorney general on Monday to explain how complaints lodged against Galant have been handled. Here is an explanation that has already been written, but in invisible ink:

The IDF, the greenhouse that has nurtured Galant, is the major land broker in Palestinian areas that were occupied in 1967. All the land that private speculators have managed to purchase by cunning and stealth does not come close to the vast territory stolen on military orders signed by our finest commanders. The army’s seizure of land “for military and security purposes” quickly turned into large-scale appropriation for the exclusive benefit of Israel’s super-citizens, at the expense of the subpar species.

The IDF is simultaneously the representative and the defender of a campaign to peddle the Bible as a real estate deed. Public land, private land, rocky ground, springs, unregistered land, irrigated land, unirrigated land, built-up land, precious artifacts of agricultural and architectural traditions – it’s all the same. Military and civilian jurists alike, ensconced in the robes of knowledge and boasting degrees conferred by the finest universities, have concocted infinite stratagems and machinations to plunder all types of land.

The jurists and the military commanders, like the soldiers who tack land seizure orders or demolition orders on olive trees, are the representatives, the emissaries, of the campaign. But in a state in which military service constitutes an admissions test for a successful political career, any lines that distinguish between those who devise policy and those who implement it become blurred.

Lest there be a misunderstanding, let me state that the settlers also play the role of emissary. Even when the puppet rises against its maker and protector, it is still an instrument, and it is implementing the consistent policy of undermining the prospect of a viable Palestinian state (as compared to a state of Bantustans, of the sort that Kadima and Labor are advocating.

Generations of soldiers and commanding officers owe to the settlement enterprise their social capital – their prestige – and their livelihood in the army, politics or business. As the settlement enterprise grows, so does the number of Israeli Jews who profit from it, whether directly or indirectly. And as that dual expansion takes place, the dispossession of those who aren’t Israeli Jews also increases, as does the need for more security techniques. Israelis serving in the army – whether recent recruits, career soldiers or reservists – are depicted as altruistic, as having no agenda of their own, as the prime human material behind these security techniques.

The synergy between settlers and soldiers derives from the intimate relationship between defender and defended, and from the basic fact that this is a people’s army. In a state in which the social welfare component has long since become watered down, it is the settlements that have become the best prospect for a socioeconomic upgrade for Israeli Jews.

For Galant, the synergy appears to have gone awry; according to the complaints, his actions were a scaled-down version of what his employer, the IDF, has been doing on a macro level.

If he lived in the West Bank settlement of Ofra and he took over land in the neighboring villages of Silwad and Ein Yabrud – just as he is accused of doing to his Jewish neighbors in Moshav Amikam – those who compile a report or file a complaint about it might be subject to a parliamentary investigation.

It would be pointless to file an altogether different kind of petition: one that protests Galant’s appointment as chief of staff not because of his private actions but because of the direct responsibility that he, as GOC Southern Command, bears for the killing of hundreds of civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, in non-combat circumstances.

The nation is behind you, Galant.

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November 1, 2010

EDITOR: Peace talks? What Peace talks?

Readers of international media may be forgiven for thinking that Israel and the conflict dropped off the map. From ‘intensive’ peace talk- about-talks, we have moved to total silence, and the great ship launched by President Obama, that nice man with really slick phrases, seem to have drowned without trace. Of course, this was always the most likely outcome, as this website has told you at the time, but the collaboration of international media with sinking the ship and keeping quiet about it is, to say the least, embarassing.

So it is interesting that it is the Labour Party in Israel that has noticed that the Good Ship Peace Talks is no longer sailing, and they seem quite unconfused about the reasons for it sinking…

Israel’s coalition government threatened by walk out: The Guardian

Labour party will walk out of Israel’s coalition government unless negotiations with the Palestinians get under way
Israel’s Labour party will walk out of the rightwing-dominated coalition government unless serious negotiations with the Palestinians get under way in the coming weeks, according to cabinet minister Avishay Braverman, an expected challenger to Ehud Barak for his party’s leadership.

“We need to move as soon as possible. The only way to guarantee the state of the Jewish people is to move boldly after the US election,” Braverman, the minister for minorities, said in an interview.

If Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu missed the opportunity, “Labor will not be in the coalition government. If there are the beginnings of serious negotiations, Labor stays; if not, Labor leaves.”

He also urged Barack Obama to apply himself to the issue of a Middle East peace settlement with renewed determination after Tuesday’smidterm elections. “The world needs a strong president of the US,” he said.

Labor’s departure from Netanyahu’s government could trigger its collapse unless the centre-right Kadima party could be persuaded to join. But Kadima has said it would not enter a coalition which included the rightwing Yisrael Beiteinu party led by foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

“Netanyahu has to make a very tough choice, but leadership is about tough choices, making tough decisions,” said Braverman. “For Netanyahu the game is now. He has to choose between sustaining political equilibrium to survive, or changing it to make history … It’s an act of bravery.”

Braverman said he had proposed, to both Netanyahu and Barak, an extension to the freeze on settlement construction for a further four to five months to give time for negotiations. The basis of talks should be the 2002 Arab peace initiative, he said – principally:

• Accepting the 1967 borders with land swaps to compensate for Israel retaining the major settlement blocs in the West Bank. Residents of settlements that would become part of Palestine would get full compensation to relocate, and “for a few thousand zealots, we’d have to apply the law”.

• Agreement on Palestinian refugees with the “total consent” of Israel and Palestine. “There would be some union of families but it won’t alter the equilibrium.”

• Jerusalem: “it can be solved”, he said without offering details.

A deal on this basis would result in “normalisation with the Arab countries and an end to the conflict”. The aim was a state of the Jewish people, with equality for all its people, and ensuring a Jewish majority for “hundreds of years”.

Netanyahu, he said, “intellectually understands everything” but must stop appeasing Lieberman, who was harming Israel’s reputation in the world and damaging the state. “I don’t know a country in the world where the foreign minister speaks against [government policy]. He should not be in the government.”

Braverman declined to confirm that he would challenge Barak for the leadership of the Labor party next year, although his name has been widely touted. But he criticised his party, which has haemorrhaged support in recent years, saying it was in the “worst position ever” and needed strong leadership and fundamental change.

“My belief is that the Labor party should not any more be the party of marginal changes … I believe in creating a party of major changes or it will become irrelevant. It can be transformed.” It must be a party of the centre, he said.

Fellow minister Isaac Herzog has already declared he intends to challenge Barak for the Labour leadership, and there are likely to be other candidates. Braverman reiterated his opposition to Netanyahu’s proposal that new citizens of Israel should swear a “loyalty oath” to Israel as a Jewish state, describing it as “stupid suggestion.” It was meaningless, he said. “Why raise this issue? To antagonise Arabs, to appease Lieberman.”

Netanyahu has yet to prove his commitment to peace: Haaretz Editorial

Two months after Washington, the PM is still using excuses to justify political inactivity, all the while playing the blame game with the Palestinians.
Today marks two months since the Washington Summit, during which the resumption of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was announced. Expectations for the success of the process were low, but the pathetic result has surprised even the pessimists. The refusal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the settlement freeze has led the Palestinians to manifest their threat to pull out of the talks. Netanyahu also rejected the U.S. president’s proposal to extend the freeze for an additional 60 days in return for American security and diplomatic guarantees to Israel.

Netanyahu has reverted to the well-known behavior of using excuses to justify political inactivity, all the while playing the blame game with the Palestinians. His refusal to extend the freeze he justified as “preserving his credibility” and blamed it on coalition pressures. He claimed that “building in Judea and Samaria will not affect the peace map,” as if the settlements were not meant to establish facts which will foil the division of the land. His public proposal of a temporary freeze in exchange for a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State appears to be a populist maneuver, and as expected, was rejected.

Netanyahu is in no rush. He is waiting for the mid-term elections in the United States tomorrow, and then to the passing of the budget in Israel. Meanwhile, he will continue wasting time with empty calls to the Palestinians to return to the negotiations, without putting forth any political initiative or showing willingness for compromise, while continuing construction beyond the Green Line. His decision to reject Barack Obama’s proposal suggests that he is preparing for a confrontation with the U.S. administration in which he will try to rally to his side the President’s rivals in Congress. His stance has already led to significant disagreement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is among the most important supporters of Israel in the international community.

At the Washington Summit, Netanyahu declared that he came to make peace and not to quarrel, because “in the blame game you win but you also lose”. He is now obliged to prove himself. Instead of looking for successful excuses Netanyahu needs to freeze settlement construction and enter serious discussions on the core issues, with the borders topping the list, in an effort to reach a settlement. Otherwise, even if he wins the blame game, Israel will be the one who will lose.

Change of course: The Guardian, Letters

Friday 29 October 2010

Jonathan Freedland (Comment, 27 October) is a good man fallen among Zionists. He believes in a Jewish state. He also believes in a Palestinian state. The two beliefs are irreconcilable. His perspective on the conflict is 20 years out of date. Israel now stretches from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. In one area of that state, the Palestinians, the indigenous people, are treated as unwelcome immigrants and a demographic threat, and hedged in by discriminatory practices; in the other, they are locked into ghettos by walls, checkpoints, settlements and roads they are barred from using. In that context, the so-called peace process is nothing but a cover for entrenching the status quo. In any case, the mandate – and the credibility – of President Abbas ran out long ago. Freedland’s tangled arguments show only that, when it comes to resolving the conflict, Zionist thinking has nothing to contribute. Obama is not the only one who needs “to change course”.

Leon Rosselson

Wembley, Middlesex

EDITOR: Even better reason to boycott Israeli academia…

Those academics collaborating with Israel by going there to give presentations and deliver papers, are risking more than just their human-rights reputation, it seems…

American professor invited to Israel ‘humiliated’ by El Al security personnel: Haaretz

Heather Bradshaw, a neuroscience professor invited to a conference at Hebrew University, says she was asked to remove clothing, board the aircraft with no luggage.

An American professor who was invited to a conference in Israel claims she was humiliated by Israeli security personnel at London’s Luton airport on Thursday.

Professor Heather Bradshaw, who researches neuroscience at Indiana University, was at Cambridge University when she was invited to Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a conference.

“Our guest arrived at Luton airport on Thursday in order to fly to Israel using [Israeli airline] El Al, and she was shocked to discover that straight away, the security personnel treated her as a terror suspect,” said Haifa University professor Arik Rimmerman who submitted a complaint to El Al in her name.

“She presented numerous documents indicating the purpose of her visit and her passport – which shows she has already been to Israel several times,” said Rimmerman. “The security personnel treated her and the documents she presented with utter disrespect.”

Bradshaw told Haaretz that no one told her what she was suspected of and she wasn’t explained anything. She said that security took her to a separate room and confiscated all of her belongings. She told Haaretz that she sat and waited as every few minutes a different security official came in to question her about the items in her suitcase – which were mostly books.

After the questioning, she underwent a physical examination in which she was asked to remove her bra. The exam lasted nearly an hour, and at the end of it, she was reprimanded for holding up the flight.

Bradshaw was not allowed to bring any carry-on luggage on to the flight and was only permitted her passport and three credit cards.

When she arrived in Israel, she expected someone from the airline to wait for her and update her regarding her luggage and belongings that were left behind, but no one knew anything, Bradshaw told Haaretz. She said she felt helpless and was holding back tears.

Moreover, Bradshaw’s Israeli colleagues said that the flight attendant that was tending to her reproached her for coming to Israel without anything and without the proper permit for her luggage.

Bradshaw said it was the fourth time she had traveled to Israel and that this was the first time she was treated this way by security personnel. She told Haaretz that she had no idea why they decided to treat her differently this time.

El Al airline responded to the case by saying that “the airline acts according to the instructions of the defense authorities.”

Israel bans Palestinian PM from East Jerusalem event: Haaretz

Public Security Minister Aharonovitch issues warrant forbidding the participation of Palestinian PM Fayyad in ceremony marking PA-sponsored school renovations.
Israel is banning Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad from attending a Palestinian Authority-sponsored event in East Jerusalem, Haaretz learned on Monday.
Last week, Haaretz reported that the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asked Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to prevent the planned visit with the organization’s website saying it was “committed to protecting human rights in Israel, ensuring sound government, and preserving the national integrity of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Fayyad was scheduled to make an appearance on Tuesday at two East Jerusalem schools to mark the PA-sponsored renovation of 15 educational institutions in the city. The reception and ceremony was to take place in the Dahyat al-Salam neighborhood.

On Monday, however, Jerusalem policemen arrived at the Dahyat al-Salam reception hall, handing over a warrant signed by Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, according to which PA-sponsored events were forbidden on Israeli soil.

In the warrant, the Yisrael Beiteinu minister stated that “under the powers vested in me by section 3 of the law, I order the prevention of such an event from taking place in Jerusalem, or anywhere in Israel…as well as order anyone related to the event to prevent it from taking place.”

Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that the Jerusalem policemen told the owner of the Dahyat al-Salam hall that his place of business would be closed for a year if he went ahead with the event.

In response to Aharonovitch’s warrant, Fayyad’s office assured the event would indeed take place, only outside of the said Dahyat al-Salam hall.

According to the published schedule, the Palestinian PM is to arrive at Dahyat al-Salam at 10:00 A.M, later continuing to a another school at the Dahyat al-Barid neighborhood, situated just north of Neve Yaakov.

While both schools are located north of the West Bank separation fence, on he “Palestinian side,” they are considered part of the Jerusalem municipality, with the PA-sponsored renovations being the second such effort in recent weeks.

Recently, the PA had also sponsored the renovation of East Jerusalem roads after residents claimed repeated appeals to the Jerusalem municipality were left unanswered.

The left-leaning NGO Ir Amim said in response to the warrant that “the Palestinain Authority would not have invested in the renovation of schools and roads if it wasn’t for the neglect by the State of Israel.”

“It is regrettable that the Israeli government insists to continue its hostile attitude toward the Palestinian Authority, even at the price of collapsing East Jerusalem into poverty and neglect,” Ir Amim said.

“No chance for two states”: Interview with Knesset member Haneen Zoabi: The Electronic Intifada

Ali Abunimah,  31 October 2010

There is now “no chance” for a two-state solution in Palestine. So said Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in an interview with The Electronic Intifada (EI) on 29 October in Chicago (video).

“The reality goes more toward the one state solution,” Zoabi said, “whether a democratic one-state solution, or a binational one-state solution.”

Elected in 2009, Zoabi represents the National Democratic Alliance, and is the first woman to be elected on the list of an Arab party in Israel.

“We are struggling for a normal state,” Zoabi explained, “which is a state for all of its citizens, [in] which the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews can have full equality. I recognize religious, cultural and national group rights for the Israelis, but inside a democratic and neutral state.”

Zoabi spoke to EI just before she addressed 120 students, faculty and community members in an event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago. During her lecture, and in the interview with EI, Zoabi described the systematic legal, social and cultural discrimination Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens face. Zoabi said she strongly opposes Israel’s demand to be recognized as a “Jewish state” as this would legitimize and deepen these forms of discrimination.

Zoabi was among dozens of Palestinian citizens injured by Israeli police just two days before her interview with EI. On 27 October, Israeli extremists affiliated with the outlawed Kach movement, founded by the late Meir Kahane, marched through Umm al-Fahm, a Palestinian city within Israel. Kahane believed that all Palestinians should be expelled from Israel and the occupied territories. Zoabi described how police attacked Palestinian demonstrators and protected the Israeli extremists.

She arrived in Chicago on Thursday evening, 28 October, directly from Israel with bandages on the back of her neck and lower back, where she had been struck by projectiles fired at close range. She said Israeli police used a kind of weapon which she had not seen before, which caused an intense burning sensation, and showed EI the welts beneath the bandage on her neck.

In May, Zoabi participated in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and was aboard the Mavi Marmara when the ship was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters. Nine activists were killed and dozens injured in the Israeli attack.

Zoabi strongly criticized Israel’s official inquiry into the incident. Although a member of Israel’s parliament and an eyewitness, Zoabi has not been asked to testify before the inquiry — called the Turkel Committee — but has attended its sessions with other witnesses. She told EI of the open bias and political statements of the committee members, stating “They do not look for the facts. They are just looking for a way to justify the Israeli attack.”

Asked about the prospects for the current US-brokered “peace process,” Zoabi said Israeli society and parliament “doesn’t feel the need for peace. They don’t perceive occupation as a problem. They don’t perceive the siege as a problem. They don’t perceive oppressing the Palestinians as a problem, and they don’t pay the price of occupation or the price of [the] siege [of Gaza].”

While Palestinians suffer intensely, Israel, Zoabi said, viewed its relationship with the Palestinians primarily as a “security problem,” which it has largely resolved through the siege of Gaza, the separation wall in the West Bank, and by “security coordination” with the Palestinian Authority.

Zoabi spoke about the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation and other human rights abuses against Palestinians, and to respect international law.

While she said the effect of BDS within Israel was still marginal, “this kind of campaign has the power raise the debate inside the Israeli society and inside the Knesset.” Israel, she said, “is so sensitive to international criticism and a situation of isolation.”

Even if BDS did not yet have much impact on Israel’s economy, it “can send a political message to the Israelis that we cannot just continue with the occupation, and continue with the siege and with oppressing the Palestinian people without the Israeli society paying a price.”

During her visit to the United States, Zoabi addressed the US Palestinian Community Network’s second Popular Conference for Arabs and Palestinians in the US and is scheduled to speak in the San Francisco Bay Area before returning home.

The head of the Forum for the Land of Israel, Noci Eyal, applauded the move to block Fayyad’s participation, saying the organization was happy “that our appeal regarding this issue was accepted by the minister.”

“Now it must be checked how the PA was allowed to renovate schools in the capital, and whether it is taking other illegal steps,” Eyal said, adding that the PA “mustn’t be allowed to intervene in the renovation of roads and public structures – it is against the law and an injury to Israel’s sovereignty.”

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October 31, 2010

‘Surfing rabbi’ wheeled out: cpgb

The October 24 English Defence League march to the Israeli embassy “in solidarity with Israel” was virtually ignored by Unite Against Fascism. Maciej Zurowski reports

“Palestinians stink,” I heard a female voice shout, as I made my way from the October 23 anti-cuts march in central London to Covent Garden, the day before the English Defence League’s pro-Israel demonstration. Why, it was Roberta Moore, the lovely lady of the EDL’s ‘Jewish Division’, who had decided to brighten up our Saturday afternoon with a bit of racism.

Roberta is a person of many interests: the Brazilian born, ex-Israeli businesswoman counts the Zionist Federation as well as the British National Party among her ‘likes’ on Facebook.[1] The target of her hatred? A small group of Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists handing out leaflets in Monmouth Street about the machinations of Ahava, an Israeli beauty product company with a factory in the Palestinian West Bank and a local outlet.[2] As Roberta stood there grinning vacuously like the reactionary in Ugg boots that she is, the EDL’s entire Jewish Division stood firmly behind her – ie, the other two members.[3]

One of them, a middle-aged woman wrapped in an Israeli flag, interfered whenever pro-Palestine protesters engaged in conversation with passers-by. She was routinely told to get lost. The EDL Jewish Division was completed by a third woman, who periodically shouted, “You’re all Hamas” with a voice so gravelly it would make Lemmy of Motorhead blush.

Also present: a hapless bearded man who waved the LGBT movement’s rainbow flag, while repeatedly shouting, “Hamas kills homos”; and a completely fanaticised silver-haired Zionist who kept exclaiming, “Buy Israeli products here”.[4] With a forceful gesture that verged on assault, he passed me a leaflet appealing to the public to “help the shops in Monmouth Street survive” despite the “disruptive protests”, while casually remarking that “the protesters claim that Israel oppresses the Palestinians – a lie”. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Britain’s new far right. A real motley crew, not like the jack-booted stormtrooper battalions we read about in Socialist Worker at all – and only inadequately preparing us for what we would encounter the following day.

“If those barriers break one day and our lads get through they will murder them all,” said a senior EDL activist in Matthew Taylor’s undercover documentary.[5] On Sunday around 2pm, I suddenly remembered this sentence very vividly, as we faced a 200-strong mob of angry hooligans, with only seven or eight metres and a line of nervous bobbies separating us from them. The stewards had trouble keeping “their lads” from breaking through the shaky fence that delineated the EDL mosh pit. Kensington High Street reverberated with chants of “Scum! Scum! Scum!”, as high-on-hate thugs waved placards such as “UAF = united anarchist fools” at a crowd of no more than 30 counter-protesters.

Given that the SWP had virtually conjured up a Nazi apocalypse in Bolton not too long ago, bussing in hundreds of protesters from all across the UK, Sunday’s ridiculously low anti-fascist turnout did not seem to make any sense. Why was this EDL rally less important than those in Bolton and Dudley? The bulk of counter-protesters was made up of Palestinian youths, who were joined by a small handful of Socialist Workers Party, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Revolutionary Communist Group comrades, as well as a couple of orthodox Jews from the Rabbis for Palestinian Justice campaign. Anarchists, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and other ‘militant’ big mouths were all absent. There was a sense that the left had abandoned the Muslims, and EDL members were not slow to post on its discussion forum that “this proves UAF is finished”.[6]

“It’s hard for us to get a good turnout even if we mobilise,” explained a disappointed UAF activist to us. Had the ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect we had predicted already set in?  (see ‘Leftist dogma and exaggerated threats’ (Weekly Worker August 26) More likely, the SWP was too busy with its Right to Work front in response to Osborne’s spending review to really give a hoot about the EDL this time. On October 19, the SWP’s Martin Smith posted an article criticising Searchlight’s “non-confrontational” bourgeois anti-fascism on the Socialist Worker website,[7] while not saying a word about the upcoming EDL event in central London. Instead, UAF banged the drums for the ‘national demonstration against racism, fascism and Islamophobia’ on Saturday November 6, expressing its “deep concern” about the EDL. This event – obviously not “non-confrontational at all – is backed by the TUC and the rightwing Muslim Council of Britain.

The EDL, meanwhile, was alive and well outside the Israeli embassy. Kevin Caroll, a prominent organiser whose active support for BNP candidates was revealed earlier this year,[8] gave the opening speech, a tedious pot pourri of ‘common sense’ nationalism and Islamophobic clichés. The Muslims want to force-feed us halal meat, he claimed. “Boo,” bleated the crowd, as if prompted by an X Factor studio assistant. Caroll read out violent bits from the Qur’an with a gravitas that suggested he had made some ground-breaking discovery, but it only earned him the same duteous response. The assembled patriots’ attention span was limited when it came to speeches. Again and again, they ran off to push to the front line and confront counter-protesters – that is when their hatred seemed real and uncontrollable.

“We pay your benefits,” they chanted at the anti-fascists. To be honest, it is more likely that the opposite was true. Despite the presence of some petty bourgeois elements in the EDL ranks, here was a dead-end mob largely recruited from the poorest and least employed elements of British society. This did not keep them from mentally inhabiting a parallel universe: in their minds, radical Muslims and politically correct Marxists were about to take over Britain. Meanwhile, back in the real world, a fundamentalist rightwing government is about to undercut the very means that keep these people alive – unchallenged.

Our good friend Roberta Moore made an appearance and gave a fairly toned-down speech. She lectured some Muslims watching from a safe distance that they could “stay here”, but “You will assimilate, and you will follow British law.” The star of the day, though, was no doubt Nachum Shifren, also known as the ‘surfing rabbi’, whom Roberta had especially flown in from the US at EDL expense. A far-right Republican, frequent agitator at Tea Party rallies and candidate for the California state legislature, Shifren is your man if you consider governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be too much of a bleeding heart liberal.

The rabbi, who is considered an embarrassment by more moderate Zionists, assured the EDL mob that “you won’t understand my words, but you will feel my meaning” before shouting slogans in Hebrew at the Israeli embassy. The crowd reacted with bewilderment and some laughter until the Rabbi started to speak the language they truly understood, agitating against “liberals who preach multiculturalism” and especially the “damn communists” behind the police line. The mob cheered violently, and we felt a little less safe for a minute or two.

Later, the police escorted the EDL to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, where the surfing rabbi spewed more venom, while EDL casuals destroyed an Islamic info stall, throwing the Muslims’ table across a fence. “When we get control of this country, I’ll make sure your ass is out of here,” shouted the rabbi. Scuffles erupted and if you were a Muslim you certainly would not want to run into these lads on their way home.

But make no mistake, comrades: the left is now officially established as the EDL’s other main target – a development the organisation’s leaders counted on from day one. “Persecuted for being English by the UAF”, goes the official EDL anthem,[9] and in a sense we are all UAF now, whether we like it or not. More random attacks against leftists have been reported, the most recent incident taking place in front of the University of London Union, where an EDL casual beat up a member of the Stalinist CPGB-ML – though not without receiving a few good punches himself. The EDL has also been preparing files on journalists and photographers who report their activities, while issuing death threats to others.[10]

While the bulk of the left stylised the EDL into the BNP’s own SA, our own ‘let’s wait and see what happens’ attitude may have been a little too laid back at times. True, we analysed the EDL carefully, without hysterical exaggeration, and without the SWP’s desire to paint it as the coming of the Fourth Reich at all costs. We were correctly agitating for the only long-term solution, a Communist Party, instead of alliances with the liberal bourgeoisie. We also looked to the 1920s German KPD and its tactically flexible approach to countering fascism. But despite its flexibility – which included Querfront cooperation with the far right through national Bolshevik, anti-Semitic and “After Hitler, us” slogans in the Rote Fahne paper[11] – the KPD tactics ultimately proved disastrous. Obediently, the rank and file waited forever for the leadership to declare it was the “right time” to strike.

As the pro-imperialist EDL is forging links with the reactionary American Tea Party movement, which in all likelihood will increase its financial and organisational resources, we must continue to observe and analyse this very organically British, embryonic fascist movement arising before our eyes. But cool-headed analysis and a correct long-term strategy does not mean inactivity, lack of solidarity, the absence of short-term self-defence tactics and avoiding confrontation at all costs.

Notes

1. Israel’s liberal daily, Ha’aretz, suggests that Roberta is a follower of the late Rabbi Kahane, founder of far-right American terrorist group, the Jewish Defence League, and Israel’s neo-fascist Kach party: www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/what-are-israeli-flags-and-jewish-activists-doing-at-demonstrations-sponsored-by-the-english-defence-league-1.307803 . The Jewish Socialist Group’s Charlie Pottins thinks so too: randompottins.blogspot.com/2010/08/snap-what-united-david-and-roberta.html
2. For more information on the Free Palestine fortnightly demo go to freepalestinefortnightlydemo.wordpress.com
3. A Ha’aretz reader comments that the EDL Jewish Division consists of Roberta Moore (aka Morrigan Elemeth), Shoshanna/Cassandra Victoria and Stella Solomons (EDL forum user name ‘getonwithit’), who is apparently “also a BNP activist”: www.haaretz.com/misc/comment-page/roberta-moore-19.1198229 . According to her Facebook profile, Solomons holds a media studies degree from Birkbeck University – see what identity politics can do for you!
4. I believe it was Jonathan Hoffman, vice chair of the Zionist Federation, who frequently appears alongside the EDL Jewish Division’s trio infernal.
5. Watch the documentary at www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/28/english-defence-league-guardian-investigation
6. This did not stop the Iranian-owned Press TV channel from fantasising about “hundreds of protesters”: www.presstv.ir/detail/148122.html
7. ‘Anti-fascism – do we confront or comply’? at socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=22786
8. See www.bristolred.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/young-british-and-confused
9. The song is played by a band called Arthur and the Bandits and sounds like a cross between bad Oasis and Skrewdriver without a guitar tuner. It can be found on Youtube.
10. See www.zimbio.com/Orly+Taitz/articles/_q9Hi7GBIQ9/EDL+prepare+files+journalists+photographers
11. For more on the Querfront, read the paragraph on ‘National Bolshevism’ at www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Newint/Kessler.html

South Africa is already here: Haaretz

The government is trying to build a protected autonomy for the Jewish majority and a stunted autonomy for the Arab minority.
By Zvi Bar’el

How could the Israeli public allow a few dozen racists go down into the lion’s den of Umm al-Fahm on their own? Do Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir represent only themselves or just the fringes of the extreme right? After all, thousands of Israeli citizens agreed when they heard the thugs’ explanations of the reasons for their march.

Hundreds of thousands in Israel are pleased with the Citizenship Law, glad that the bill will, when it passes – and it will pass – allow discrimination against Arabs who will want to buy a home in a Jewish community, and the majority of the public considers MK Hanin Zuabi a traitor.

Where were all these people while the fascists marched through Umm al-Fahm? Suddenly they are not comfortable being seen with those who reflect precisely the zeitgeist?

Participating in this march should have been Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, MKs Anastassia Michaeli and David Rotem, the settler leadership, the followers of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the heads and residents of Jewish communities in the Galilee, as well as the owners of homes in Tel Aviv and Ra’anana who refuse to rent apartments to Arabs. This march should have carried the banner “[National] Pride Parade.” Alas, only 1,300 participants showed up, along with the police force that protected them.

But they are certainly not alone. They simply do not need yet another demonstration. Israel’s apartheid movement is coming out of the woodwork and is taking on a formal, legal shape. It is moving from voluntary apartheid, which hides its ugliness through justifications of “cultural differences” and “historic neglect” which only requires a little funding and a couple of more sewage pipes to make everything right – to a purposeful, open, obligatory apartheid, which no longer requires any justification.

In South Africa of the 1950s, the whites were afraid even of the white immigrants, lest they bring with them liberal ideas that would affect the local volk.

But mostly they feared the blacks. In a short period of time the insular white community adopted a series of laws that were meant to preserve their purity. In 1949, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was passed; in 1950 and 1957 the Immorality Act and amendment made interracial sexual relations a criminal offense carrying a seven year prison sentence. In 1950, in the Population Registration Act, each citizen was categorized racially. In 1953 the Bantu Education Act was passed which established that the blacks will receive a different and lesser education than the whites, and in 1950 the Group Areas Act was passed which determined “group regions,” establishing where each racial group could live and which led to the expulsion of 3.5 million blacks from their homes.

This listing is presented here as a service to the racists in the Knesset, in case they did not know what kind of legislation to propose in order to complete their plan. This is also a public service for those who did not participate in the Umm al-Fahm march, so that they will know what they should require of their representatives.

With considerable delay, the South African Group Areas Act is now being copied into Israel’s book of laws. An individual can no longer purchase land, build a home or even rent an apartment in small communities in which the absorption committee opposes their presence. According to Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the law will “protect” 68.3 percent of all communities in Israel from being “stained.”

The remainder of communities, and especially the large cities, will have to continue, for the mean time, to make do with voluntary apartheid. But the days will also come, as they did in South Africa, when an appropriate solution was found for its cities. It will be possible, for example, to grant homeowners committees the authority to determine who can buy or rent an apartment in a building. After all, what is good about a small community should also be good in an even smaller building. And of course a law which encourages snitching will also be passed.

So, while the government of Israel is trying to gain Palestinian recognition for its Jewish identity, it is building within it the double identity of the state. A protected autonomy for the Jewish majority and a stunted autonomy for the Arab minority.

Israel is quickly defining the borders of the Arab autonomy and through apartheid legislation it is granting the Arab minority a legal standing of enclaves with lesser rights; of a cultural-ethnic region which, because it is being expelled from the broader who, can also demand international recognition for its unique standing.

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October 5, 2010

EDITOR: BDS has been joined by governments!

Now it is not just the people in supermarkets, members of unions, and activists. Governmental and other organisations are now joining the boycott!

Tourism Minister: U.K., Spain to boycott OECD tourism conference because it’s in Jerusalem: Haaretz

Palestinians pressure Europe to shun October conference on sustainable tourism, which normally takes place in Paris.

Britain and Spain will not send delegates to the OECD’s biannual tourism conference on October 20-22, because it will be held in Jerusalem, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu ) said yesterday.

The Dome of the Rock is seen on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, and to Jews as Temple Mount, in
This is only the second time in its history that the conference, which this year will deal with sustainable tourism, is being held outside Paris.

“OECD officials demanded that we not bring the delegates to East Jerusalem, or that we move the conference to Tel Aviv,” Misezhnikov said. “If we agreed to that, they promised to send many delegates. We held a meeting with the Foreign Ministry and decided to reject” the Tel Aviv idea.

But even after Israel agreed not to take the delegates to East Jerusalem – and even to eschew any mention of East Jerusalem during the conference – the Palestinians urged OECD members to stay away from it, Misezhnikov charged.

“The Palestinians, who insist they are a reliable negotiating partner, are continuing to cause us damage,” he said. “We exerted intensive pressure via the ambassadors and decided to hold the conference despite certain countries’ decision not to send delegates, including England and Spain.”

“I strongly denounce the states that surrendered to threats,” he added. “But the conference – with the participation of 21 ministers, deputy ministers and organization heads – will take place as planned in Jerusalem. This will be a declaration of intent and a seal of approval on the fact that we have a state whose recognized capital is Jerusalem.”

Delegates from Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, South Africa, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia and Turkey, among others, are expected to take part in the conference.

The British Embassy said in response:

“The U.K. won’t be attending this conference, but it is entirely false to suggest that this is due to a boycott of for political reasons. The U.K.’s opposition to boycotts against Israel is well known. The UK will actually be chairing a session at the OECD’s international data protection and privacy commission later this month in Jerusalem. The only reason there’s no U.K. representation at the tourism seminar is because that right delegates simply weren’t available.

Israel expels Nobel peace laureate over Gaza protest: The Guardian

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who tried to break Gaza blockade, loses appeal against deportation

Israel today expelled an Irish Nobel peace laureate and pro-Palestinian activist who was barred from the country for trying to break the naval blockade of Gaza.

The Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire at the Israeli supreme court yesterday. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

Máiread Corrigan Maguire was placed on an early morning flight to Britain, the interior ministry said.

Corrigan Maguire had been banned from Israel for 10 years after trying to sail to Gaza in June, but landed in Tel Aviv last week as part of a delegation meeting Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

She was immediately held at an airport detention facility. She appealed but the supreme court upheld her deportation order yesterday.Adalah, an Arab Israeli advocacy group representing Corrigan Maguire, said she planned to give a news conference in Ireland today

Corrigan Maguire, 66, won the 1976 Nobel peace prize for her work in Northern Ireland. In recent years she has emerged as an outspoken critic of Israel. At yesterday’s court hearing, she called Israel an “apartheid” state, and, in comments to reporters, accused it of committing “ethnic cleansing”.

A supreme court justice told her the courtroom was “no place for propaganda” and cut her off.

Jody Williams, a Nobel laureate and part of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which sponsored the delegation that included Corrigan Maguire, said she was unaware of the travel ban against the activist. However, Israel’s foreign ministry wrote earlier this year to the group refusing an appeal to let Corrigan Maguire join the delegation.

Corrigan Maguire has also voiced support for the Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who is seen by many in Israel as a traitor. Before her ban, she attended anti-Israel demonstrations in the West Bank and compared the Jewish state’s nuclear arsenal to Hitler’s gas chambers. In 2007, police shot her in the leg with a rubber bullet at a demonstration against Israel’s West Bank security barrier.

By expelling her, Israel risked doing further damage to an image already tarnished by a perceived lack of tolerance of criticism.

Israel has banned other pro-Palestinian activists from entering the country, including, in May, the 81-year-old Jewish-American linguist Noam Chomsky. The government later said that that was a mistake.

Corrigan Maguire’s attempt to reach Gaza came a week after Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turkish activists on 31 May this year aboard a flotilla that tried to breach the blockade. Hundreds more activists were detained and expelled from the country. An Israeli commission investigating the raid on the flotilla, which included the Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara, said today it had summoned an Israeli official to testify on how international activists were treated in detention.

A report by the UN human rights council released last week accused Israel of using “extreme and unprovoked violence” against the detainees at a time when they posed no threat.

Israel refused to co-operate with that investigation, saying the council had a long record of bias. Israel is co-operating with a separate UN investigation commissioned by the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

The interior ministry official Yossi Edelstein, who was in charge of the detainees’ conditions, will testify to the Israeli commission next week. It will be the first Israeli account of what happened to the activists. “We need to check how the government acted. He was in charge,” said the commission spokesman Ofer Lefler.

It was not clear whether Edelstein was summoned in response to the UN report, or whether the testimony was scheduled in advance.

YouTube clip shows IDF soldier belly-dancing beside bound Palestinian woman: Haaretz

IDF orders immediate probe after Channel 10 airs clip on national TV.

A video uploaded to YouTube shows an Israel Defense Forces soldier wriggling in a belly dance beside a bound and handcuffed Palestinian woman, to the cheers of his comrades who were documenting the incident.

The IDF’s internal investigation department ordered an immediate probe into the matter after the Ch. 10 television program Tzinor Laila caught wind of the clip on the internet. The full clip and the details behind the incident will be broadcast on the show just before midnight on Monday.

A number of IDF soldiers have over the last year faced investigation and penalty for documenting themselves performing questionable acts in front of Palestinian prisoners or while on patrol.

In August, former soldier Eden Abergil raised controversy by posting pictures of herself beside a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner on her Facebook page.

Days later, three IDF soldiers were arrested taking photographs of themselves alongside cuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees using their cellphones.

Photographs uploaded by Abergil and labeled “IDF – the best time of my life,” depicted her smiling next to Palestinian prisoners with their hands bound and their eyes covered.
A comment attached to one of the photos of the soldier smiling in front of two blindfold men and posted by one of Abergil’s friends read “That looks really sexy for you,” with Abergil’s response reading: “I wonder if he is on Facebook too – I’ll have to tag him in the photo.”

A comment allegedly added by Abergil to her Facebook page later that wee said that she would “gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them.”

Screen grab from a video clip uploaded to YouTube of an IDF soldier belly-dancing beside bound Palestinian woman.

“In war there are no rules,” Abergil allegedly wrote on the wall of her profile page.

Other soldiers faced disciplinary action over the last year for uploading video of themselves stopping a patrol in the West Bank to dance to American electro-pop singer Kesha’s hit Tick Tock.

The video “Batallion 50 Rock the Hebron Casbah” shows six dancing Nahal Brigade soldiers, armed and wearing bulletproof vests, patrolling as a Muslim call to prayer is heard. Then the music changes and they break into a Macarena-like dance.

The video was uploaded over the weekend, and quickly spread across Facebook pages and blogs before it was removed by those who uploaded it.

EDITOR: Burning books?…

Now there you have something for Jews to be proud of – burning books and mosques… and we are criticised for comparing Zionism to other political movements, which have greatly developed the burning of books as political discourse… Fascism, Nazism and racism have no boundaries.

Ehud Barak says arsonists who attacked West Bank mosque are terrorists: The Guardian

Israeli settlers widely blamed and accused of campaign of revenge attacks on Palestinians

A Palestinian with a burnt copy of the Qur’an after the arson attack on a mosque in the West Bank village of Beit Fajar, south of Bethlehem. Photograph: Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA
The perpetrators of an arson attack on a West Bank mosque in which copies of the Qur’an and prayer mats were burned were tonight described as terrorists by Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak.

Settlers were widely blamed for torching the mosque in the early hours of this morning as part of a “price tag” campaign of revenge attacks on Palestinians to mark their opposition to Israeli government policy on West Bank settlement expansion. Graffiti sprayed on the mosque in the village of Beit Fajar, between Bethlehem and Hebron, included the words “price tag” and “mosques we burn” as well as a Star of David, according to witnesses. It is the fourth attack on a West Bank mosque since December.

Ali Sawabta, the head of the village committee, said six settlers arrived in the village at 2.40am. “Fifteen Qur’an books have been burnt and the building is drenched in smoke,” he told the Ynet website. “It is effectively out of commission.” Villagers, who claimed the attackers came from the nearby settlement of Gush Etzion, rushed to defend the mosque and scuffles broke out which were broken up by Israeli soldiers.

The attack came amid US efforts to persuade the Israeli government to prolong the freeze on settlement construction, which expired just over a week ago, to keep alive talks on a deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian leadership has said it will walk out of negotiations without an extension.

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has so far refused US inducements. His rightwing coalition government has a powerful pro-settler element that opposes any extension of the freeze.

Barak, who has been heavily involved in negotiations with the US, was swift to condemn the mosque attack. “Whoever did this is a terrorist in every sense of the word, and intended to hurt the chances for peace and dialogue with the Palestinians,” he said. “This was a shameful act that besmirched the state of Israel and its values.” He ordered the security forces to find and arrest the perpetrators. Army spokeswoman Lt-Col Avital Liebowitz said the attack was “a very serious incident which we view with the utmost gravity”.

The Israeli military has been accused in the past of not pursuing settler attacks on Palestinians with sufficient rigour. “The settlers’ message is: terrorise the Palestinian people,” Mohammad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who inspected the damage at the mosque, told Reuters. “Such attacks will only embolden the Palestinian people and increase our determination to achieve all of our rights.”

The Palestinian cabinet today warned of an increase in settler attacks, in particular during the olive harvest which has just begun.

Almost 500,000 Jews live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law. Four settlers were killed last month in a drive-by shooting near Hebron on the eve of direct peace talks. Hamas said its militants carried out that attack. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar today told a meeting in Gaza City the negotiations were leading nowhere. “We believe in resistance by all means to reach our goal,” he said.

Shaul Goldstein, leader of the Gush Etzion settlers, condemned the attack but added: “Experience has taught us that it is not always Jews who have committed such crimes”.

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September 20, 2010

EDITOR: A Climate of fear

There is nothing better for the Israeli leadership than a juicy enemy. They have refused for over 4 decades to negotiate with Syria over the return of the Golan Heights, occupied by force in 1967. Now, they panic over the new arms deal, or at least, they wish the poor citizens to live in panic… Israel, armed to the teeth, and periodically destroying other countries’ and killing their citizens, is now crying wolf…

PM ‘troubled’ by missiles sold to Syria: YNet

Netanyahu addresses Russian-Syrian arms deal, says Israel must ‘prepare for new rocket threat.’ We are working to provide a technological response, he tells Likud ministers. Earlier, Israeli official threatens to sell arms to Moscow’s enemies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the sale of Russian cruise missiles to Damascus was “a problematic and troubling matter” and that Israel “must prepare for a new rocket and missile threat.”

Speaking at a Likud ministers meeting, Netanyahu said, “The matter is being discussed by us. Unfortunately, the deal is progressing in stages. It’s a problematic and troubling matter.
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reports Syrian officials commend US move towards peace with Israel, but warn that total withdrawal from territory captured in 1967 is precondition. ‘Peace is strategic choice, but necessitates partner,’ they say
Full story
“We must prepare for a new threat of rockets and missiles and we are working to provide a technological response to this issue through new military supplies,” the prime minister told his party members.

Earlier Sunday, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported that Israeli officials were threatening to sell weapons to “areas of strategic importance” to Russia after Moscow announced over the weekend that it would go through with the sale of P-800 missiles to Damascus.

Russia’s announcement came after both Israel and the US implored that it abandon the sale. The cruise missiles discussed, dubbed Yakhont, have a range of 300 km, which puts Israeli ships off of Lebanon’s coast at risk of being hit by missiles fired from Syria’s southern port.

The original deal was signed between Russia and Syria in 2007, but last month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin and requested that he call it off, for fear the missiles will be handed to Hezbollah.

More recently, Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Moscow on a similar mission. Barak spoke with both Putin and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. During the visit, the statesmen signed agreements of confidentiality aimed at paving the way for the sale of Israeli drones to Russia.

Despite the extensive efforts, the deal was announced Friday to be proceeding as planned. “They’ve gone one step too far,” one Jerusalem official said. “This is not in keeping with our cooperation with them.”

The official said Israel had so far refrained from selling “strategic, tie-breaking weapons” to third-world countries, and that it expected Russia to do the same.

“The supply of advanced weapons to Syria, one of Hezbollah’s two main supporters, especially on the eve of the fateful peace talks with the Palestinians, is not a move encouraging the moderate forces of the Middle East – but rather a prize for extremist states,” the source said.

Netherlands cancels tour by Israeli mayors over settlers’ presence: Haaretz

Dutch Foreign Ministry cancels tour because participant list includes settlement representatives.

The Netherlands on Sunday cancelled a tour of the country by a forum of Israeli mayors because their group included representatives of West Bank settlements.

The professional delegation, funded by the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish-American charity, was supposed to fly to the Netherlands next month to study public policy and local governance.

But when the Dutch Foreign Ministry found out that regional council heads from the Judea and Samaria regions – including from the West bank settlements Efrat and Kiryat Arba – were due to participate, they decided to cancel the tour.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded in a statement: “This is undoubtedly useless and harmless politics, and we hope that this is not the final word on the topic.”

Aryeh Eldad, a Knesset member from the hard-right National Union party, condemned the decision, saying:

“The Dutch surrender to the Arabs reflects their surrender to the Muslim minority that is growing steadily in Holland, which in itself is an echo to Netanyahu’s surrender to Obama regarding the building freeze.”

Eldad added: “If Netanyahu has in effect defined the borders of the state and placed a extended chokehold on hundreds of thousands of Jews – no one can come to the Netherlands with complaints over its surrender to its large minority – as long as Israel continues to surrender and act as if it is still in the Diaspora.”

Local Council Chairman Shlomo Buchbut spoke with the Dutch ambassador and wrote to the Dutch foreign minister, saying that he regarded the decision “with great severity”.

“The Local Councils are led by mayors from all over the political spectrum for Israel’s citizens. These kinds of actions only hurt the cause of advancing peace. We need to support Israel’s citizens just as they are, and not to ignite political debates,” Buchbut said.

“In the past, we have conducted similar trips to Denmark, France and China. We cooperate with the European Union, Arabs, Jews and Europeans to talk about common professional interests and we advance local councils in general,” Buchbut added.

He concluded: “The decision by the Netherlands puts the [Israeli-Arab] conflict before anything else. I hope that the Dutch will change their minds.”

EDITOR: Antisemites for Zionism…

The most extreme of the evangelicals in the USA, a threat to us all, are also vehemently Zionist… they obviously think this is alsoa way of ridding the US of its Jews.

Israel’s best foreign ambassadors: YNet

Some 600 million evangelical Christians help Jews make aliyah, defend Israel’s reputation in the world and set up monuments for Jews. Recent tour of Jewish state helps them campaign for Israel in their own countries
Akiva Novick
They’re Israel’s best unofficial spokespeople around the world, creating monuments for Jews, aiding in bringing Jews to Israel and campaigning to defend Israel’s international reputation after such events as the deadly raid on Gaza-bound flotilla. They are some 600 million evangelical Christians who believe salvation will come only after the Jewish people return to their homeland – Greater Israel.

Recently, some 1,500 tourists visited Israel as part of an annual seminar organized by the Word of Life protestant organization. At first glance their schedule resembles any other tourist timetable: A tour of Jerusalem, a dip in the Sea of Galilee, Shabbat at the Western Wall.

Knesset lobby recruits Christian ‘ambassadors’ to counter pro-Palestinian campaigns against Israel on overseas campuses. ‘When you send a Jewish student, they immediately say he’s not objective,’ explains MK Yoel Hasson
Full story
But the visit is in fact a week-long seminar training the group’s members towards their PR task that awaits them in their 35 countries of origin.

We meet the group at the lobby of a hotel in Jerusalem. “Since its establishment in 1987 the organization’s aim has been to stand by Israel’s side,” Dr. Ulf Ekman, a Swedish Protestant pastor who heads Word of Life says.

“As a Christian, identifying with Israel is a basic tenet. It is part of our culture and commitment. When one reads the Bible it’s simply impossible to be against the Jews. All these reasons make me a Zionist,” he proclaims.

Ekman established the organization after a visit to Israel. It now consists of thousands of members, 12,000 of whom are active in the PR front.

“They come to see the places they defend with their own eyes,” Roar Sörensen, who organized the tour, says in fluent Hebrew. “They study the Bible, hear lectures about the political situation and Israel’s interior affairs. They also do Kabalat Shabbat in the Kotel,” he adds.

The future ambassadors also visit the Dead Sea, Masada and Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

Sörensen says that he’s addicted to Israeli media and shows us an iPhone application which allows him to tune into Israeli radio stations anywhere in the world. He has also recently completed an official Israeli PR course given by the Foreign Ministry.

“We encourage our members to go out there, send letters to newspapers and generally engage in a Zionist discourse,” Dr. Ekman says.

Encouraging aliyah
The group also helps Jews make aliyah. Since 1992, some 18,000 Jews immigrated to Israel with the help of Word of Life, which for a number of years also operated a ship transporting thousands of Jews and their possessions to Israel.

“In the recent war in Georgia there were 30 Jews who got stranded in the war-torn district of Abkhazia,” Ekman relates. “They contacted us and begged us to help them. We held negotiations with both the Russian and Georgian governments until the Russians yielded and gave us six hours to evacuate them.”

According to the evangelical denomination, Jesus will be revealed to his followers and carry them to heaven after the biblical war of Gog and Magog. Jews, however are not part of the plan. Apart from a small group which will recognize Jesus’ divinity, all humans will be annihilated. The vision can only occur after Jews return to Greater Israel, which explains why they’re so set on helping us.

“Granted, we are mostly evangelicals, but we don’t deal with what the future will bring but with how to help Israel now,” Dr. Ekman explains.

“What I know now is that every Jew has the right to be here and no one has the right to tell you ‘you don’t belong here.’ All Christians are indebted and grateful to Israel in their hearts. Bible-loving Christians are your best friends in the world,” he proclaims.

Lieberman: Peace talks must reassess Israeli-Arabs’ right to citizenship: Haaretz

With the Palestinians refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, negotiations must tackle issue of Israeli-Arab ‘loyalty’, foreign minister says – prompting accusations of ‘apartheid and ethnic cleansing’ from Arab MK.
Israeli Arab politicians responded furiously Sunday to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s suggestion suggesting that “disloyal” members of that sector should take Palestinian citizenship.

The question of Israel’s citizens needs to be one of the central issues on the negotiating table, in light of the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Lieberman said ahead of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Recognizing Israel as uniquely Jewish is one of the key demands by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the latest peace talks with the Palestinians, which began earlier this month.

“We can’t continue to ignore issues like that of Hanin Zuabi, who identifies completely with the other side,” Lieberman said, , referring to an Israeli Arab member of Knesset was stripped of her parliamentary privileges after sailing aboard a pro-Palestinian aid convoy attacked by Israel en route to the Gaza Strip.

“It’s as if someone sells you a flat and then demands that his mother-in-law continues living there,” he said. “Any Israeli you takes pride in his citizenship should be able to serve in any post, but people like Hanin Zuabi should in my opinion be Palestinian citizens elected under Hamas in Gaza.”

In response to Lieberman’s remarks, Zuabi declared: “We [Israeli Arabs] represent the only possible democratic option, while Lieberman represents apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

“Lieberman bases his claims on a doctrine of racism, while I base mine on the principle of full equality among citizens – but both of us agree that there needs to be a discussion on the question of Palestinians in Israel and how to classify the state in any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” she added.

MK Ahmed Tibi pointedly referred to Lieberman’s status as an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, saying: “We aren’t calling for the expulsion of citizens from within the State of Israel, but if we were, then whoever got here in the last century should leave first.”

“It is very serious that the deputy prime minister is a settler who is constantly concerned with programs pertaining to the expulsion of citizens or the collective expropriation of citizenship,” he said.

“We were here before the fascist immigrant Lieberman and we will stay here even after him,” Tibi declared.

Israeli Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh said his sector just wanted to “live with hםnor and in equality in our own homes.”

Lieberman, whose ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party campaigned under the slogan “no loyalty, no citizenship”, has made national allegiance a central component of his political agenda, demanding all Israelis, swear an oath of loyalty to the state.

The foreign minister’s remarks came just days after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak dismissed as “unnecessary” Israel’s demand to be recognized by the Palestinians as a Jewish.

“I say to Israeli citizens, including Jews, Muslims and others, that there is no such thing as a state in which all the citizens are Jews,” Mubarak said. “In Egypt, we have Muslims, Christians and Jews and there is no problem. When they wanted to establish a Muslim state in Kosovo, the world came out against it because it did not want a Muslim state in central Europe.”

Israeli Arabs make up around a fifth of the country’s population.

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September 6, 2010

EDITOR: BDS is spreading like bush fire!

Even though the boycott suggested here is limited, this is still another nail in the coffin of the occupation and Israeli Apartheid.Despite all this change, we should not forget one simple fact: None of this would ever have happened, if the world did not listen to the Palestinian call for BDS, and numerous boycotts implemented, by the international community and by the Palestinians.

On their own, Israeli intellectuals are quite content with the occupation. For over four decades, we have not had the flurry of activity we are now seeing, in direct reaction to the BDS movement actions. There is no clearer evidence that the action are successful, and should be contiued and strengthened.

Making history: support for Israeli artists who say NO to normalizing settlements: Jewish Voice for Peace

When some 60 leading Israeli actors and playwrights signed a letter stating they would refuse to play in the new theatre in Ariel, one of Israel’s largest settlements, the attacks from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport and many others were swift and intense. Over 150 leading Israeli academics and writers-including Amos Oz and David Grossman- came to their defense. It was the first time such mainstream figures had drawn a line around normalizing settlements which are illegal according to international law, and which constitute one of the main impediments to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Inspired by their courage, and responding to a call for international support, Jewish Voice for Peace has developed a statement that has been signed by over 150 theater and film professionals representing some of the most respected and renowned artists in theater, film and television – including Four Pulitzer Prize winners, several recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Medal of Honor,and scores of recipients of the highest U.S. acting honors, including Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Obie Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and the Oscar.

Rebecca Vilkomerson (rebecca@jvp.org), Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace: “The response of American and UK artists to the courageous actions of their Israeli counterparts is just phenomenal. It is especially notable that so many of the signatories are Jewish with long-standing connections to Israel. We hope that the strong show of solidarity by Americans and UK actors in response to these brave Israelis will help spark a new conversation in both countries, one that acknowledges that the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are illegal by every measure of international law, contribute to the daily violation of human rights of Palestinians, and are a major obstacle to a just peace in the region.”

News Links:

NEWS LINKS:

Ynet: Artists to refuse to perform in Ariel culture hall

New York Times: Boycott of Theater in Israeli Settlement Grows

UK Guardian: Actors boycott West Bank Theater

Text of the statement:

On August 27th, dozens of Israeli actors, directors, and playwrights made the brave decision not to perform in Ariel, one of the largest of the West Bank settlements, which by all standards of international law are clearly illegal.  As American actors, directors, critics and playwrights, we salute our Israeli counterparts for their courageous decision.

Most of us are involved in daily compromises with wrongful acts. When a group of people suddenly have the clarity of mind to see that the next compromise looming up before them is an unbearable one  — and when they somehow find the strength to refuse to cross that line  —  we can’t help but be overjoyed and inspired and grateful.

It’s thrilling to think that these Israeli theatre artists have refused to allow their work to be used to normalize a cruel occupation which they know to be wrong, which violates international law and which is impeding the hope for a just and lasting peace for Israelis an Palestinians alike.  They’ve made a wonderful decision, and they deserve the respect of people everywhere who dream of justice. We stand with them.

*Statement organizers and signatories represent a wide range of political opinions and perspectives, but have come together for the sole purpose of making a joint statement on this one critical issue.
**All identifications and affiliations are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsements by any institutions

To read the full list of signatories, use the link above

Artists to refuse to perform in Ariel culture hall: YNet

Prominent actors, directors, playwrights send letter to boards of Israeli theaters in protest of plans to put on shows in news culture auditorium beyond Green Line. Yesha Council vows harsh response to ‘vile, anti-Zionist’ letter

A long line of actors and artists from all fields of the theater industry sent a letter to the boards of Israel’s repertory theaters announcing they will refuse to perform in the new culture auditorium in Ariel, which is located outside the Green Line. It should be noted that tickets have already been sold to productions that include all of Israel’s theaters.

The letter, addressed to the boards of the Cameri, Habima, Beit Lessin, Khan and the Haifa and Beersheba theatres, read: “We wish to express our disgust with the theater’s board’s plans to perform in the new auditorium in Ariel. The actors among us hereby declare that we will refuse to perform in Ariel, as well as in any other settlement. We urge the boards to hold their activity within the sovereign borders of the State of Israel within the Green Line.”

On Wednesday, the Ometz Lesarev (courage to refuse) organization sent a letter to the theaters’ boards and actors requesting they refrain from performing in Ariel. In response, the city’s mayor, Ron Nachman said, “Culture has nothing to do with politics. If the actors and artists want to deal with politics, let them go to the Knesset. The vileness, baseness and hypocrisy of those who work in culture and call on a boycott of us, is intolerable.”

But it seems many in the industry gave in to the organization’s calls, and Friday’s letter included the signatures of dozens of prominent people in the theater business.

Dramaturgist Vardit Shalfi, one of the letter’s initiators, told Ynet on Friday, “Ariel is not a legitimate community, and as such, is against international law and international treaties that the State of Israel has signed. This means anyone performing there would be considered a criminal according to international law. The theater’s boards should inform their actors that there are apartheid roads for Jews only that lead into the settlement of Ariel. The moment we perform there, we are giving legitimization to this settlement’s existence.”

The long list of signatories includes many prominent actors, which could make it difficult for the theaters to decide which shows to put on in Ariel without having to make serious changes to the cast.

The list includes Israel Prize laureate Renee Yerushalmi, actors Yossi Pollack and Itay Tiran, director Ofira Henig, playwrights Joshua Sobol and Savyon Liebrecht and many more.

Yesha Council vows ‘harsh response’
Liebrecht said in response: “I object to the settlement enterprise and obviously, when it comes to theater, it is my duty not to be silent. Until there is a signed peace agreement, Ariel is not a legitimate community. I haven’t crossed the Green Line in years, and as far as I’m concerned, anyone who has decided to live there and wants to enjoy Israeli culture can come to Kfar Saba or any other Israeli city. I believe that if enough actors and people in the theater business sign the letter, the shows won’t go up there.”

Israel Prize laureate Renee Yerushalmi said, “I am not against, but for the future of the State of Israel. These days talks are being head about the Israeli-Palestinian future, and we must allow them to take place to see if there is hope for future existence here. Ariel today is beyond the Green Line and therefore we must not cross it. This applies to theater productions as well.”

Yesha Council said in response: “Our response to the letter signed by a bunch of anti-Zionist leftists and refusniks will be very harsh. This vile letter, which speaks out against the best of the State’s sons who defend them while they are acting on stage, requires a direct, poignant and clear response from the theaters’ boards, and this is what we expect. We will announce our future steps in the coming days.”

The Habima national theater said in response on Friday: “This is the first time the matter of putting on theater shows beyond the Green Line is raised in Israeli discourse. As a national theater, Habima believes discussing the matter is of the utmost importance, but it also calls for an in-depth examination of all the issues it includes… We are looking into the matter.”

Dror Gerber, of the Haifa Theater said, “If the actors are expressing ethical and moral claims in their letter, I consider this problematic. The way to express protest and objection to the occupation is not via boycotting the residents of Ariel. The Haifa Theater was founded in order to bring the art of theater to all the citizens of the State of Israel.”

Tzipi Pines of Beit Lessin said, “I personally object to the occupation and support peace, but there are people living in Ariel who I respect, and I respect their desire to consume culture.”

The Cameri said in response: “We are against boycotts and will perform anywhere where there are people who desire culture and wish to see Israeli theater.”

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