January 4, 2011

EDITOR: The Lie Machine is as true as it ever was

Not three days after they killed a woman protester, the IDF has already found the ‘truth’, as we knew it would. Apparently, gas had nothing to do with the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah. Well, they certainly did not persuade even the editors of Haaretz, as you can see from their editorial, below. When you have been lying for decades, how can you tell the truth?

IDF: No proof Palestinian woman died from tear gas at protest: Haaretz

Defense sources find inconsistencies in medical report over the death of Jawaher Abu Ramah, who reportedly died after inhaling tear gas at demonstration against West Bank fence.

The Israel Defense Forces said on Monday that the medical report on the death of a Palestinian woman said to have been killed at a West Bank protest contains significant inconsistencies regarding the circumstances of her death.

Bil’in residents claim that Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36 died after inhaling tear gas fired by IDF soldiers during a protest against the West Bank security barrier on Friday.

Military sources said, however, that there was no evidence that Abu Rahmah even participated in Friday’s demonstration against the security barrier in Bil’in – nor that she died from inhaling tear gas.

Following repeated requests from Israel’s defense establishment, the Palestinian Authority on Monday turned over the medical report on Abu Rahma’s death. IDF officials say the medical report contradicts the family’s version of events.

According to information obtained by Haaretz from Palestinian medical sources, in the weeks before Abu Rahmah’s death she was taking drugs prescribed for a medical condition. It is not known whether these drugs, combined with the tear gas and the “skunk bombs” used by the soldiers, could have caused her death.

Her family says Abu Rahmah’s death was caused by the Israel Defense Forces’ use of a particularly lethal type of tear gas, but they cannot explain why other demonstrators affected by the tear gas did not need medical care.

Eyewitnesses told Haaretz that the tear gas had an immediate and dramatic effect on Abu Rahmah, who within a few minutes after exposure went into convulsions, began foaming at the mouth and lost consciousness.

Abu Rahmah’s brother Samir said that for several weeks his sister had complained of bad headaches, mainly near one ear. He said she also had dizzy spells and problems keeping her balance and had unusual marks on her skin.

On December 21, Abu Rahmah saw Dr. Khaled Badwan, head of the ear, nose and throat department of Jerusalem’s Augusta Victoria Hospital. He refused to be interviewed for this report.

According to a document obtained by Haaretz, Badwan prescribed a common remedy for dizziness and instructed her to bathe her ear in hot water. Samir said Badwan thought the problem was caused by water trapped in the middle ear, but nevertheless ordered a CT brain scan.

Physicians consulted for this article said Badwan probably suspected another condition.

After receiving normal results from the December 27 brain scan, Abu Rahmah saw Dr. Nasser al-Mualem at the Ramallah hospital, who according to Samir said her problem was common and told her to return in one month.

The medical documents seem to support Samir’s claim that with the exception of the headaches and dizziness, his sister was in generally good health. None of the doctors consulted for this article could think of a condition or symptoms that could be fatal in the presence of tear gas.

The lawyer representing the Abu Rahmah family completely denied the IDF’s claims. Lawyer Michael Sfrad said that Abu Rahma went in for testing a week ago for a routine winter illness.

“According to people I spoke with, [Abu Rahmah] was at the demonstration on Friday but not at the forefront of the protesters,” he said. “After she was injured by the tear gas, she was taken to the village and then transferred to an ambulance. An operational investigation cannot produce reliable findings; therefore we demand a criminal investigation by the military police.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Abu Rahmah’s death calling it a “new Israeli crime carried out by the occupation army against our helpless nation.”

Israel must allow Palestinians to protest in peace: Haaretz Editorial

The IDF should allow the demonstrations at Bil’in to take place. It should act only when there is danger to life and property.
Jawaher Abu Rahmah, a 36-year-old kindergarten teacher, was killed over the weekend after she choked on tear gas while watching the weekly demonstration at her village. Residents and human rights activists from at home and abroad demonstrate against the separation fence that was built on village land. Abu Rahmah died less than two years after her brother Bassem was killed by a tear-gas canister fired directly at his chest at a similar protest. A third brother, Ashraf, was caught on camera as he was shot by Israeli soldiers while he was handcuffed.

The demonstrations at Bil’in, which have been going on since work to build the fence on village land began in February 2005, are entirely legitimate. The residents have the right to protest the theft of their land for the giant settlements set up around their village. More than three years ago, following such demonstrations, the Supreme Court ordered that the fence’s route be moved to give the village back some of its land – about 700 dunams. The defense establishment has yet to carry out this ruling.

Since the demonstrations against the fence began in the West Bank, 21 protesters have been killed, according to Palestinian sources. This is a chilling statistic that should greatly trouble every Israeli. So should the death of Abu Rahmah. According to the demonstrators, the Israel Defense Forces used particularly large quantities of gas on Friday. An Israeli doctor who takes part in the protests, Daniel Argo, told Haaretz that some tear gas is less dangerous than the kind used by the IDF. So it’s not clear why the army chooses to use the more dangerous type.

The IDF should allow the demonstrations at Bil’in to take place. It should act only when there is danger to life and property. And even then it should act as security forces do in democratic countries when there are demonstrations. Just as the settlers’ protests against the Gaza disengagement passed without deaths, so should the Palestinian protests against the fence pass. There are enough ways to break up demonstrations, if this is at all necessary, without risking the lives of the participants.

Abu Rahmah died in vain. She didn’t endanger anyone. There’s no need to mention the countries where the regimes kill people who demonstrate against them. Israel must not become one of them.

We’re not looking for revenge, says family of Palestinian protester who died after rally: Haaretz

36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah died Saturday, a day after inhaling tear gas fired by the IDF at a protest in the West Bank village of Bil’in.

The family isn’t seeking revenge, says a relative of 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who died Saturday after she inhaled tear gas at a protest in the West Bank village of Bil’in. What they want is an end to the occupation and their land back.

Palestinian, Israeli and foreign activists run away from tear gas in the West Bank village of Bil'in, December 31, 2010. Photo by: Reuters

“For me, as relative, her death – a martyred death – at the hands of the Israeli occupation, is an honor for me,” says Abu Nidar Abu Rahmah, Jawaher’s uncle. Her brother, Bassem, was killed in April 2009 by a tear gas canister fired during a demonstration in the same village.

“No one from the army has called us to apologize,” he says. “There is no communication between us and the army. Even when Bassem was hit, we spoke to the army and asked them to send help, and they never did.”

Jawaher had been working in recent years with her younger brother and sister as tailors in Ramallah, says Mohammed Al Khatib, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the village. After Bassem was killed, most of the responsibility for bringing in an income fell on her shoulders.

The father of the family, who had been employed in construction in Israel until diabetes prevented him from working, died six years ago after battling cancer. The family’s impoverished state meant that seven children – five boys and two girls – cut short their high school education and went out to work. The two youngest sons studied at a boarding school in Bethlehem.

Now family matriarch Subhiyeh has four sons and one daughter left. One of her sons, Ashraf, was shot in the leg at close range by an Israel Defense Forces soldier in 2008, after he was arrested and tied, handcuffed and blindfolded, to an IDF jeep. The soldier  who shot him maintained that he was acting on the orders of his commander, Omri Burberg.

Part of the land owned by the family is now used for homes from the settlement of Modi’in Illit. Another part is behind the West Bank separation fence, they expect to get a few dunam back when Israel changes the route of the fence in accordance with a High Court order.

The whole family currently lives in a three-room house. At the time of his death, Bassem had just laid the foundations for a house he intended to build for the entire family. Khatib says that the last thing the women in the village heard Jawaher say was how much she was looking forward to moving into their new home.

“Our family believes in Allah,” says Abu Nidar, “they know and I know that the occupation army has made us all into targets. We are not surprised by anything that happens. Now the family is not seeking vengeance, we just hope that our girl will go to heaven. Jawaher’s mother said she doesn’t want revenge. Allah will avenge us.”

“We have no problem will the people of Israel. We have a problem with the army and the occupation,” he says. “We know that our land will be returned to us even if someone is killed every day. We say this to [Benjamin] Netanyahu: The demonstrations here will not end until we get our land back. We believe in a popular struggle, a non-violent struggle. We don’t want a violent struggle.”

EDITOR: Chomsky gets it wrong again…

In this otherwise interesting article, Chomsky again makes an argument for the Two-State solution, rubishing the One_State solution by defining it thus;

“Therefore those concerned with Palestinian rights should call for Israeli takeover of the entire West Bank, followed by an anti-apartheid struggle of the South African variety that would lead to full citizenship for the Arab population there.”

This is totally nonsensical. No one in Palestine, or no one progressive elsewhere, is considering or proposing this anathema. Chomsky is setting up a straw-man, so he can knock it down. The one-state idea is not based on the racist, ultra-nationalist state of Israel as it now is, but on a future secular, democratic state of ALL ITS CITIZENS. This state cannot, by definition, be Jewish, Muslim or Christian, and will not be Zionist. Hence, Chomsky’s argument against secularism and democracy in Palestine is false, and also anti-democratic. For a thinker of his standing to resort to such low tactics is sad, and proves that for all his critique of Israeli brutalities, he is wedded firmly to the Zionist tennets of a Jewish State.

Breaking the Israel-Palestine Deadlock: truth-out

Monday 03 January 2011
by: Noam Chomsky
Palestinian Abu Ayaesh picks his grape harvest downhill from the homes of the Karmi Zur settlement. (Photo: michaelramallah)
While intensively engaged in illegal settlement expansion, the government of Israel is also seeking to deal with two problems: a global campaign of what it perceives as “delegitimation” – that is, objections to its crimes and withdrawal of participation in them – and a parallel campaign of legitimation of Palestine.

The “delegitimation,” which is progressing rapidly, was carried forward in December by a Human Rights Watch call on the U.S. “to suspend financing to Israel in an amount equivalent to the costs of Israel’s spending in support of settlements,” and to monitor contributions to Israel from tax-exempt U.S. organizations that violate international law, “including prohibitions against discrimination” – which would cast a wide net. Amnesty International had already called for an arms embargo on Israel. The legitimation process also took a long step forward in December, when Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil recognized the State of Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank), bringing the number of supporting nations to more than 100.

International lawyer John Whitbeck estimates that 80-90 percent of the world’s population live in states that recognize Palestine, while 10-20 percent recognize the Republic of Kosovo. The U.S. recognizes Kosovo but not Palestine. Accordingly, as Whitbeck writes in Counterpunch, media “act as though Kosovo’s independence were an accomplished fact while Palestine’s independence is only an aspiration which can never be realized without Israeli-American consent,” reflecting the normal workings of power in the international arena.

Given the scale of Israeli settlement of the West Bank, it has been argued for more a decade that the international consensus on a two-state settlement is dead, or mistaken (though evidently most of the world does not agree). Therefore those concerned with Palestinian rights should call for Israeli takeover of the entire West Bank, followed by an anti-apartheid struggle of the South African variety that would lead to full citizenship for the Arab population there.

The argument assumes that Israel would agree to the takeover. It is far more likely that Israel will instead continue the programs leading to annexation of the parts of the West Bank that it is developing, roughly half the area, and take no responsibility for the rest, thus defending itself from the “demographic problem” – too many non-Jews in a Jewish state – and meanwhile severing besieged Gaza from the rest of Palestine.

One analogy between Israel and South Africa merits attention. Once apartheid was implemented, South African nationalists recognized they were becoming international pariahs because of it. In 1958, however, the foreign minister informed the U.S. ambassador that U.N. condemnations and other protests were of little concern as long as South Africa was supported by the global hegemon – the United States. By the 1970s, the U.N. declared an arms embargo, soon followed by boycott campaigns and divestment. South Africa reacted in ways calculated to enrage international opinion. In a gesture of contempt for the U.N. and President Jimmy Carter – who failed to react so as not to disrupt worthless negotiations – South Africa launched a murderous raid on the Cassinga refugee camp in Angola just as the Carter-led “contact group” was to present a settlement for Namibia. The similarity to Israel’s behavior today is striking – for example, the attack on Gaza in January 2009 and on the Gaza freedom flotilla in May 2010.

Noam Chomsky says, “Truthout is performing an invaluable service, for those who hope to understand the world, and to go on to change it.” Do you agree? Support our work by clicking here.

When President Reagan took office in 1981, he lent full support to South Africa’s domestic crimes and its murderous depredations in neighboring countries. The policies were justified in the framework of the war on terror that Reagan had declared on coming into office. In 1988, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was designated one of the world’s “more notorious terrorist groups” (Mandela himself was only removed from Washington’s “terrorist list” in 2008). South Africa was defiant, and even triumphant, with its internal enemies crushed, and enjoying solid support from the one state that mattered in the global system.

Shortly after, U.S. policy shifted. U.S. and South African business interests very likely realized they would be better off by ending the apartheid burden. And apartheid soon collapsed. South Africa is not the only recent case where ending U.S. support for crimes has led to significant progress. Can such a transformative shift happen in Israel’s case, clearing the way to a diplomatic settlement? Among the barriers firmly in place are the very close military and intelligence ties between the U.S. and Israel.

The most outspoken support for Israeli crimes comes from the business world. U.S. high-tech industry is closely integrated with its Israeli counterpart. To cite just one example, the world’s largest chip manufacturer, Intel, is establishing its most advanced production unit in Israel.

A U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that Rafael military industries in Haifa is one of the sites considered vital to U.S. interests due to its production of cluster bombs; Rafael had already moved some operations to the U.S. to gain better access to U.S. aid and markets. There is also a powerful Israel lobby, though of course dwarfed by the business and military lobbies.

Critical cultural facts apply, too. Christian Zionism long precedes Jewish Zionism, and is not restricted to the one-third of the U.S. population that believes in the literal truth of the Bible. When British Gen. Edmund Allenby conquered Jerusalem in 1917, the national press declared him to be Richard the Lionhearted, finally rescuing the Holy Land from the infidels.

Next, Jews must return to the homeland promised to them by the Lord. Articulating a common elite view, Harold Ickes, Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior, described Jewish colonization of Palestine as an achievement “without comparison in the history of the human race.”

There is also an instinctive sympathy for a settler-colonial society that is seen to be retracing the history of the U.S. itself, bringing civilization to the lands that the undeserving natives had misused – doctrines deeply rooted in centuries of imperialism.

To break the logjam it will be necessary to dismantle the reigning illusion that the U.S. is an “honest broker” desperately seeking to reconcile recalcitrant adversaries, and to recognize that serious negotiations would be between the U^.S.-Israel and the rest of the world.

If U.S. power centers can be compelled by popular opinion to abandon decades-old rejectionism, many prospects that seem remote might become suddenly possible.

(Noam Chomsky’s most recent book, with co-author Ilan Pappe, is “Gaza in Crisis.” Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.)

© 2011 Noam Chomsky

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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January 2, 2011

Cut ties with Israel NOW! by Carlos Latuff

The year of truth: Haaretz

At midnight, when the French champagne is flowing like water, perhaps we will understand that next year will be the last year we can still save something, and be grateful the truth came out.

By Gideon Levy

This was (also ) a good year – the year of truth. The year that concludes tonight with a kiss was the year the Israeli masquerade party ended, the year the costumes were torn off and the truth came out. The true face was revealed. This was the year we finally came out of the closet – no more saccharine phrases and hollow talk about justice and equality, no more flowery and superficial words about peace and two states. This year the truth was heard in public, echoing loud and clear from one end of the country to the other, worrisome and depressing.

No one is talking anymore about peace; we even put the “peace process” in quotes this year, to make fun of it, as it deserves. All that’s left of peace this year is U.S. special envoy George Mitchell. And nothing remains of the prime minister’s two-state vision or the majority in the surveys: This year the Israeli government said no, even to a temporary freeze on settlement construction, and the Israelis said nothing.

After this year of truth, no one will be able to claim seriously that Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians, or with the Syrians, who spoke peace but were left unanswered. All the excuses have lost their value – Palestinian terror has halted and there is at least half a partner who is more moderate than any other. Still, we’re sticking to our positions. The truth shouts out: The Israelis don’t really want peace, they prefer real estate.

The inner workings of Israeli society have also been unmasked. The appearance of a tolerant, democratic and egalitarian society has been suddenly replaced by an authentic portrait, one that is terrifyingly nationalist and racist. Rabbis and their wives, mayors and parliamentarians all sang together in a discordant choir: no to Arabs and no to foreigners. In the years preceding this year of truth, racists still used to be excommunicated.

In this year of truth we said unabashedly that Meir Kahane was right. Almost half of Israelis oppose renting apartments to Arabs; more than half favor an oath of allegiance to the state; rabbis’ wives join their husbands in calling on the modest daughters of Israel not to go out with Arabs; a Knesset member says that those who smuggle in “infiltrators,” as migrant workers and war refugees were termed this year, should be shot in the head; and one of his colleagues blames the Russians for Israelis’ drinking habits.

Meanwhile, we proposed a law calling for foreigners who criticize Israel to be expelled if they visit here, a Jaffa school principal does not allow his students to speak Arabic, an activist against the occupation was jailed for taking part in a cycling protest, and a Bedouin-rights activist was jailed for an even longer period for the offense of having an illegal garage.

This is the plethora of reports about a day in the life of the country in the latter part of this cursed year. Such reports were thrown in our faces almost daily. The foreigner is spreading diseases and crime, and the Arab student wants to disinherit us with the price of a two-room rented apartment. We also held campaigns of intimidation and sowing fear of the different and the other that would not have shamed the most dubious regimes of the past. We had disgraceful demonstrations against refugees and Arabs, with the encouragement of part of the establishment and silence from the others, out of which one tune can be heard – a tune of arrogance and nationalism.

This was also the year of Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman, no longer a wolf in sheep’s clothing but a neighborhood bully who doesn’t care about the consequences. An attempt to defuse the crisis with Turkey and then, boom! – a blow to the head. Instead of the never-ending peace speeches by President Shimon Peres, this year the foreign minister repeatedly slapped the entire world in the face for us. Not only Kahane was right; Lieberman was too. He speaks the truth, the truth of Israel.

There is nothing like sunshine for disinfecting, so this was a relatively good year. Perhaps precisely this flood of dubious nationalist feelings from the depths of the soul, which had been latent for years, will at long last stir this slumbering nation to action. Perhaps after this year, the minority that thinks differently will finally open its eyes. Maybe when the flames are closing in around us all, we will understand that this is not the society we want to live in. And maybe the world will understand who is involved.

Tonight at midnight, when the French champagne is flowing like water and the French kisses are bestowed on the mouths of our beloveds, perhaps we will begin to understand that next year will be fateful. It will be the last year we can still save something. If a miracle occurs and this does indeed happen, we will be grateful for the year that has passed, the year of truth for Israel.

Israeli forces kill female protester in Bil’in: IOA

1 JANUARY 2011
YouTube – 1 Jan 2010

Over a thousand protesters responded to the Bil’in Popular Committee’s call to march on the Wall in the village today, in what they announced to be “the last day of the Wall”. Two protesters were hospitalized for their injuries.

Over a thousand people heeded to the call issued by the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements today, and joined the weekly demonstration. Despite the siege laid on the village by the Israeli army, activists – Palestinians, Israelis and internationals – swarmed the hills and valleys surrounding Bil’in by the hundreds and managed to join those already in the village.

Among those giving speeches before the demonstration were local leaders, as well as Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, who voiced his support for Bil’in and the popular struggle. The march then proceeded towards the Wall, where it was barraged with tear-gas on sight.

Small organized groups of protesters then spread across the Wall to try and implement the popular committee’s announcement that he last day of the decade will indeed also be the last day of the Wall on Bil’in’s land. An overwhelming number of Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers spread along the path of the Wall, but were not able to stop demonstrators equipped with bolt-cutters from breaching through the Wall in three places.

In one place, the protesters actually managed to carry a rather significant chunk of the Wall back to the village.

One protester was hit in the face with a tear-gas projectile shot directly at him, and required hospitalization. Another female protester suffered such degree of asphyxiation from the tear-gas that she had to be evacuated to the Ramallah ICU, where she is still under observation.

The Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements announced:

Press Release
January 1, 2011

Israeli Forces Kill Female Protester in Bil’in

Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital yesterday after inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas during the weekly protest in Bil’in, and died of poisoning this morning. Abu Rahmah was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah who was also killed during a peaceful protest in Bil’in on April 17th, 2010.

Doctors at the Ramallah hospital fought for Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s life all night at the Ramallah Hospital, but were unable to save her life. Abu Rahmah suffered from severe asphyxiation caused by tear-gas inhalation yesterday in Bil’in, and was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital unconscious. She was diagnosed as suffering from poisoning caused by the active ingredient in the tear-gas, and did not respond to treatment.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah was the sister of Bil’in activist, Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was shot dead with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during a demonstration in the village on April 17th, 2009.

Israel investigates tear gas death of Palestinian protester
Jawaher Abu Rahmeh inhaled tear gas fired by soldiers at weekly protest in Bilin against Israel’s West Bank barrier


Associated Press,     Sunday 2 January 2011 12.04 GMT
Article history

Mourners carry the body of Jawaher Abu Rahmeh in a funeral procession in Bilin. Photograph: Majdi Mohammed/AP
The Israeli military has launched an investigation into the death of a Palestinian woman who was overcome by tear gas fired by soldiers at a West Bank protest.

In an unrelated incident today, a Palestinian man was killed in the West Bank after trying to attack Israeli troops at a checkpoint, Palestinian and Israeli security officials said.

Contradictory accounts were given of the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death. Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, 36, inhaled the gas at the weekly demonstration in Bilin against Israel’s West Bank separation barrier.

Tear gas is meant to be a non-lethal crowd control method and is used routinely by Israeli troops at protests. Doctors say the gas can kill on rare occasions if a victim has a pre-existing condition.

Mohammed Abu Rahmeh, a relative of the woman, said she had suffered from asthma since she was a child. Rateb Abu Rahmeh, a doctor and a spokesman for the Bilin protesters, said she had a “weak immune system”. However, her parents said she was healthy and did not have asthma.

Dr Mohammed Eideh, who treated Abu Rahmeh in Ramallah, said she died of “respiratory failure and then cardiac arrest” caused by inhalation of tear gas. He said he did not know whether she had a pre-existing condition.

Another doctor said she was initially released from hospital, later collapsed, was readmitted and then died. Eideh said she had not been released.

Michael Sfard, the Israeli lawyer representing the woman’s family, said troops used “incredible quantities of gas” at the protest, a weekly event that often deteriorates into violent clashes between protesters and soldiers.

Abu Rahmeh’s brother, Bassem Abu Rahmeh, was killed at a similar demonstration in 2009 after being hit by an Israeli tear gas canister, becoming the 17th Palestinian to die at barrier protests since 2004.

The military described Friday’s protest as a “violent and illegal riot” and released photographs it identified as being from the demonstration showing Palestinian youths using slingshots and a firebomb against troops. The military said it was investigating Abu Rahmeh’s death but had not been allowed to see the Palestinian medical reports.

Several hundred Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest over the woman’s death, Haaretz reported.

In the incident at the West Bank checkpoint today, a Palestinian worker in his 20s attacked soldiers with a glass bottle after he was denied permission to cross, Palestinian security officials said. The Israeli military said the man approached troops with a broken bottle and ignored calls to stop before he was shot.

EDITOR: New tear gas used is lethal

Yet another Israeli ‘investigation’ which will find no one has done anything wrong… in the meantime, they use this lethal gas on peaceful protests with impunity.

Israel investigates tear gas death of Palestinian protester: The Guardian

Jawaher Abu Rahmeh inhaled tear gas fired by soldiers at weekly protest in Bilin against Israel’s West Bank barrier

Mourners carry the body of Jawaher Abu Rahmeh in a funeral procession in Bilin. Photograph: Majdi Mohammed/AP
The Israeli military has launched an investigation into the death of a Palestinian woman who was overcome by tear gas fired by soldiers at a West Bank protest.

In an unrelated incident today, a Palestinian man was killed in the West Bank after trying to attack Israeli troops at a checkpoint, Palestinian and Israeli security officials said.

Contradictory accounts were given of the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death. Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, 36, inhaled the gas at the weekly demonstration in Bilin against Israel’s West Bank separation barrier.

Tear gas is meant to be a non-lethal crowd control method and is used routinely by Israeli troops at protests. Doctors say the gas can kill on rare occasions if a victim has a pre-existing condition.

Mohammed Abu Rahmeh, a relative of the woman, said she had suffered from asthma since she was a child. Rateb Abu Rahmeh, a doctor and a spokesman for the Bilin protesters, said she had a “weak immune system”. However, her parents said she was healthy and did not have asthma.

Dr Mohammed Eideh, who treated Abu Rahmeh in Ramallah, said she died of “respiratory failure and then cardiac arrest” caused by inhalation of tear gas. He said he did not know whether she had a pre-existing condition.

Another doctor said she was initially released from hospital, later collapsed, was readmitted and then died. Eideh said she had not been released.

Michael Sfard, the Israeli lawyer representing the woman’s family, said troops used “incredible quantities of gas” at the protest, a weekly event that often deteriorates into violent clashes between protesters and soldiers.

Abu Rahmeh’s brother, Bassem Abu Rahmeh, was killed at a similar demonstration in 2009 after being hit by an Israeli tear gas canister, becoming the 17th Palestinian to die at barrier protests since 2004.

The military described Friday’s protest as a “violent and illegal riot” and released photographs it identified as being from the demonstration showing Palestinian youths using slingshots and a firebomb against troops. The military said it was investigating Abu Rahmeh’s death but had not been allowed to see the Palestinian medical reports.

Several hundred Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest over the woman’s death, Haaretz reported.

In the incident at the West Bank checkpoint today, a Palestinian worker in his 20s attacked soldiers with a glass bottle after he was denied permission to cross, Palestinian security officials said. The Israeli military said the man approached troops with a broken bottle and ignored calls to stop before he was shot.

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December 27, 2010

EDITOR: Two Year after the carnage

Two years after this cataclysmic event, it may seem to many of us that not much has changed, and a now chastened west being more interested in its self-inflicted financial crisis, than in the crisis they have inflicted on Palestine via Israel. This is both true and understandable, and we should work together to change it, but it also hides the reality of change across the world, caused by the extreme brutality of the Gaza carnage. Everywhere around the globe, people were shocked into action – demonstrating, writing for press, media and web, organising a variety of cultural and trade boycott, setting up solidarity groups everywhere against Israeli occupation, barbarity and Apartheid. The movement against Israeli atrocities has at last come of age, has established itself as a moral force and a political reality in most countries; it may well be a young shoot, but it is a strong and growing one, contributing to the isolation of the murderous pariah racist state which Israel has become.

This international movement can only grow, and is the main vehicle for long-term political action against the Israeli regime; the lessons of the Anti-Apartheid movement have been learnt, and a similar global movement is now being built and strengthened – be sure to support it yourself in any way you can!

An Open Letter from Gaza: Two Years after the Massacre, a Demand for Justice: PACBI

We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, two years on from Israel’s genocidal attack on our families, our houses, our roads, our factories and our schools,  are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the time is now to hold Israel to account for its ongoing crimes against us. On the 27th of December 2008, Israel began an indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The assault lasted 22 days, killing 1,417 Palestinians, 352 of them children, according to main-stream Human Rights Organizations.  For a staggering 528 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces let loose their US-supplied F15s, F16s, Merkava Tanks, internationally prohibited White Phosphorous, and bombed and invaded the small Palestinian coastal enclave that is home to 1.5 million, of whom 800,000 are children and over 80 percent UN registered refugees. Around 5,300 remain permanently wounded.

This devastation exceeded in savagery all previous massacres suffered in Gaza, such as the 21children killed in Jabalia in March 2008 or the 19 civilians killed sheltering in their house in the Beit Hanoun Massacre of 2006. The carnage even exceeded the attacks in November 1956 in which Israeli troops indiscriminately rounded up and killed 275 Palestinians in the Southern town of Khan Younis and 111 more in Rafah.

Since the Gaza massacre of 2009, world citizens have undertaken the responsibility to pressure Israel to comply with international law, through a proven strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions. As in the global BDS movement that was so effective in ending the apartheid South African regime, we urge people of conscience to join the BDS call made by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005. As in South Africa the imbalance of power and representation in this struggle can be counterbalanced by a powerful international solidarity movement with BDS at the forefront, holding Israeli policy makers to account, something the international governing community has repeatedly failed to do. Similarly, creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison.

Two years have now passed since Israel’s gravest of genocidal acts that should have left people in no doubt of the brutal extent of Israel’s plans for the Palestinians. The murderous navy assault on international activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea magnified to the world the cheapness Israel has assigned to Palestinian llife for so long. The world knows now, yet two years on nothing has changed for Palestinians.

The Goldstone Report came and went: despite its listing count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” the European Union, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and all major Human Rights Organizations have called for an end to the illegal, medieval siege, it carries on unabated. On 11th November 2010 UNRWA head John Ging said, “There’s been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”

On the 2nd of December, 22 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Only a week ago Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report “Separate and Unequal” that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.

We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely.  We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare.  We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege.  We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression.

We ask: when will the world’s countries act according to the basic premise that people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or colour – is it so far-fetched that a Palestinian child deserves the same human rights as any other human being? Will you be able to look back and say you stood on the right side of history or will you have sided with the oppressor?

We, therefore, call on the international community to take up its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s heinous aggression, immediately ending the siege with full compensation for the destruction of life and infrastructure visited upon us by this explicit policy of collective punishment. Nothing whatsoever justifies the intentional policies of savagery, including the severing of access to the water and electricity supply to 1.5 million people. The international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against the more than 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.

We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:

– An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of their exercise of democratic choice.
– The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention.
– The immediate release of all political prisoners.

– That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be immediately provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing
– An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.
– Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.

Boycott Divest and Sanction, join the many International Trade Unions, Universities, Supermarkets and artists and writers who refuse to entertain Apartheid Israel. Speak out for Palestine, for Gaza, and crucially ACT. The time is now.

Besieged Gaza, Palestine

List of signatories – on the link above

EDITOR: Voices of reason in the Israeli racist wilderness

As opposed the the normative repulsive racism which now heads every Israeli media outlet, the articles below are rare examples of the voice of reason, all coming from Palestinians and Israeli Jews on the left of the spectrum, and may well be some of the last such voices to be published by a fast-moving fascistation of the Israeli public sphere; I have included many recent pieces from Haaretz – the other vehicles of the press in Israel are much too right-wing to allow this type of opinion on their pages – as evidence of the delayed shock and realisation of the Israeli liberal elite, who find themselves ina xenophobic, fascist country, and start to realise its frightening features. They should have spoken much earlier, alas; No amount of liberal pressure can or will change this sick body – it has to be changed radically by outside pressure, like Aparheid South Africa was changed. Most of the writers do not yet realise this simple and depressing truth – they have lived under Apatheid all their lives, and yet, like white South Africans, failed to identify its features and dangers;Every Palestinian could have told them about those from personal daily experience!

The Israelis are now looking in the mirror at a face that some of them, on the liberal left, are finding justifiably terrifying, repulsive and unacceptable. They are starting to see themselves as the rest of us see them – as a terrorising, xenophobic, militaristic settler-state, sowing death and destruction all around it, projecting hatred and racism. It is good that at least some Israelis are noticing this, while the great majority of Israel’s Jews are wallowing in this hatred like pigs in ripe excrement. It all gives the lie to the preposterous oxymoron of “Jewish Democracy”…

Jews and Arabs must fight Israel’s racism together: Haaretz

MK Ahmed Tibi

Trends of alienation and despair are evident in Israel’s Arab population, and in this reality it is easy to foster separatism and segregation.
By Ahmed Tibi
Something evil is occurring in Israeli society. Racism and xenophobia are consuming its enlightenment and tolerance, and democracy is becoming more and more endangered. Phenomena that had been on the sidelines are now moving to the forefront. Blatant racism against Israel’s Arab citizens, and hostility to foreigners in general, phenomena that are usually deeply repressed in the collective soul of people and which enlightened governments are careful to lock in a psychological basement are now being released in a murky thrust. Hatred and fear are being reinforced. This is a frightened and insecure society.

Between the rabbis’ letter, the growing public standing of Avigdor Lieberman, loyalty oaths, incitement against Arab officials and the flood of racist laws, the 18th Knesset is the most racist of all time. To the current parliament’s credit, it’s likely that the next one will be worse.

All of this is not happening in a vacuum. The public space and the social atmosphere have been ripening for this dark attack. The Democracy Index – the flagship project of the Israel Democracy Institute – shows that a majority of the Jewish public supports the stifling of minority voices.

Moshe Arens blamed the collapse of Israeli democracy on Arab Knesset members (Israeli Arab MKs don’t always represent Israeli Arabs, Haaretz, Dec. 14). Thus even a “liberal rightist” like Arens, when he came to analyze the society of which he was a leader for many years and investigate the sources of racism bubbling up in that society, ignored the truly damaging elements and preferred to revert to cheap attacks and incitement against elected representatives of the Arab public.

The prolonged occupation, the bloody struggle, the oppression and the contemptuous treatment of Arabs and their rights did not exist in Arens’ analysis. Nor did the continuing exclusion of Israel’s Arab citizens or the lack of Israeli Arab representation in the civil service (just 6.7 percent). Arens did not touch on the inherent discrimination or lack of planning for Arab towns nor the general distance of Arabs from benefits that only the majority enjoys. Arens takes none of these into account. He only repeats the mantras spoken by vegetable sellers in the market.

I am not a spokesman for all Arab lawmakers and I refuse to see us as one entity. There are 14 Arab Knesset members and each has his or her own color, character, style, agenda and emphases. There are some who have made achievements and some who have not; there are those who have earned the public trust and those who have yet to accomplish this. It is only the public that will judge us at the end of the day. But we are all elected public representatives who are no less legitimate than any Jewish MK.
Arens’ sweeping generalization was shameful and not befitting to his style.

I’m not saying that we’re completely perfect, but one must remember that political discourse is dynamic and symbiotic. Therefore a comment, even when it is harsh or in bad taste, is just a comment. We must not forget that we sit in the Knesset as a right not a privilege. Time and time again we’ve been elected by a general public Arens said we don’t represent. A contradiction, it seems to me, and not appropriate for an empirical rationalist like Arens. Some of us are very popular in our public.

Trends of alienation and despair are evident in Israel’s Arab population, and in this reality it is easy to foster separatism and segregation. Many of my colleagues and I try to be a responsible national leadership that grits its teeth and looks to both the near and far future. We cling to the word “democratic” of the phrase “Jewish and democratic”, even when from day to day it seems we have less to hold on to.

Israel’s government ministers are more dangerous, in my view, than the rabbis who cling to the idea of “Jewish”; and from that idea of “Jewish” allow the same dark halakhic ruling to rear its head.

The struggle against racism must be a joint Jewish-Arab effort, just as it was when thousands demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Human Rights Day. As Martin Luther King said, there is no path to peace and equality; peace and equality are the path.

Ahmed Tibi is the deputy speaker of the Knesset, and a member of the Ta’al party.

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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.


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: . The Jewish Socialist Group’s Charlie Pottins thinks so too:
2. For more information on the Free Palestine fortnightly demo go to
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”: . 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
6. This did not stop the Iranian-owned Press TV channel from fantasising about “hundreds of protesters”:
7. ‘Anti-fascism – do we confront or comply’? at
8. See
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
11. For more on the Querfront, read the paragraph on ‘National Bolshevism’ at

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 26, 2010

Israeli ties: a chance to do the right thing: The Times

Sep 26, 2010

By Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The University of Johannesburg’s Senate will next week meet to decide whether to end its relationship with an Israeli institution, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, on the grounds of that university’s active support for and involvement in the Israeli military. Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports the move. He explains why

‘The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own.

We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face. Yet we would be less than human if we did so. It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.” – Nelson Mandela, December 4 1997

Struggles for freedom and justices are fraught with huge moral dilemmas. How can we commit ourselves to virtue – before its political triumph – when such commitment may lead to ostracism from our political allies and even our closest partners and friends? Are we willing to speak out for justice when the moral choice that we make for an oppressed community may invite phone calls from the powerful or when possible research funding will be withdrawn from us? When we say “Never again!” do we mean “Never again!”, or do we mean “Never again to us!”?

Our responses to these questions are an indication of whether we are really interested in human rights and justice or whether our commitment is simply to secure a few deals for ourselves, our communities and our institutions – but in the process walking over our ideals even while we claim we are on our way to achieving them?

The issue of a principled commitment to justice lies at the heart of responses to the suffering of the Palestinian people and it is the absence of such a commitment that enables many to turn a blind eye to it.

Consider for a moment the numerous honorary doctorates that Nelson Mandela and I have received from universities across the globe. During the years of apartheid many of these same universities denied tenure to faculty who were “too political” because of their commitment to the struggle against apartheid. They refused to divest from South Africa because “it will hurt the blacks” (investing in apartheid South Africa was not seen as a political act; divesting was).

Let this inconsistency please not be the case with support for the Palestinians in their struggle against occupation.

I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, “Why are our memories so short?” Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their own previous humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?

Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about all the downtrodden?

Together with the peace-loving peoples of this Earth, I condemn any form of violence – but surely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh? Surely resistance also makes us human? Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

South African universities with their own long and complex histories of both support for apartheid and resistance to it should know something about the value of this nonviolent option.

The University of Johannesburg has a chance to do the right thing, at a time when it is unsexy. I have time and time again said that we do not want to hurt the Jewish people gratuitously and, despite our deep responsibility to honour the memory of the Holocaust and to ensure it never happens again (to anyone), this must not allow us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians today.

I support the petition by some of the most prominent South African academics who call on the University of Johannesburg to terminate its agreement with Ben-Gurion University in Israel (BGU). These petitioners note that: “All scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.” It can never be business as usual.

Israeli Universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception. By maintaining links to both the Israeli defence forces and the arms industry, BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation. For example, BGU offers a fast-tracked programme of training to Israeli Air Force pilots.

In the past few years, we have been watching with delight UJ’s transformation from the Rand Afrikaans University, with all its scientific achievements but also ugly ideological commitments. We look forward to an ongoing principled transformation. We don’t want UJ to wait until others’ victories have been achieved before offering honorary doctorates to the Palestinian Mandelas or Tutus in 20 years’ time.

pro-palestine protest at BT-sponsored olympic ball: Indymedia

Published: Saturday 25 September 2010

last night, a star-studded BT-sponsored ‘british olympic ball” was targeted for protest by pro-palestinian activists to highlight BT’s partnership with israeli telecommunications firm “bezeq international” who provide military telecommunication infrastructure throughout the occupied west bank and golan heights. here there is a report , some pics and a very short film of the night.

Israel must show that it truly wants peace: Observer Editorial

Israel can continue down the path of insular militarism or it can start repairing its credentials as a liberal democracy

Abba Eban, the veteran Israeli diplomat, observed of negotiations with neighbouring states in the1970s that: “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Today, the jibe is better suited to Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, whose resistance to serious engagement with the Palestinians has been practised over two decades. His reluctance to extend a freeze on expanding Jewish settlements on the West Bank is only the latest example. The moratorium expires today. If it is not renewed, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, could walk away from direct talks sponsored by the US.

The generous view of Mr Netanyahu’s stance is that his ruling coalition, which relies on the support of far-right MPs, might collapse if he ordered a halt to settlement building. His hands are tied by domestic politics. But pursuing that logic is a recipe for perpetual deadlock. Israel is negotiating from a position of total military superiority. Successive prime ministers have pursued a strategy of dismissing the credentials of Palestinians as “not partners for peace” and using overwhelming force to keep Israel secure. That approach has been accompanied by a rise in xenophobic and religious nationalism, with any discussion of Palestinians’ civil rights confined to a dissident margin. The political mainstream has come to accept high levels of civilian casualties as the necessary cost of antiterror operations. These trends are subverting the character of Israeli democracy, once its greatest claim to moral authority in a region characterised by authoritarian regimes.

Israel stands at a crossroads. It can continue down the path of insular militarism and religious separatism to the point that it becomes an international pariah. Or it can set about repairing its credentials as a liberal democracy sincerely committed to peace. Ultimately, that would require stopping the settlement and withdrawing from land occupied since the war of 1967.

That, say Israeli politicians, is asking too much. The Arab world must first guarantee that Israelis will no longer be targeted by terror. But that argument is wearing thin. The Palestinian Authority has all but exhausted its political capital by clamping down on Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah militants in the West Bank. That no progress is visible towards statehood in return only boosts the standing of fanatics among ordinary Palestinians.

If Israel wants to reduce the influence of the extremists, it needs to reward the efforts of the moderates. If Israeli politicians really want peace, they must start selling compromise to their own electorate instead of using public fear of terrorism as a reason not to make concessions.

Successful negotiations require movement on all sides, but since Israel has the most power on the ground, it also has the greater capacity to move the peace process forwards.

When Mr Netanyahu calls for peace, he means an end to armed attacks on Israel’s borders. That is a legitimate demand to make. But the programme of absorbing occupied territory into the rest of Israel with Jewish settlements amounts to a demographic war being waged against the very idea of a Palestinian state. Only by reversing that policy can Israel get back its moral authority to speak about “partnership for peace”.

Jerusalem or Gaza – where is it worse to be Palestinian?: Haaretz

Is it the isolation and insulation that Israel has imposed on Gaza, or the cynicism with which the decision makers continue to turn the population of East Jerusalem into welfare clients and slum dwellers, and then pride themselves of the national insurance payments they grant them?

By Amira Hass

Graduates of the Shin Bet security service pride themselves on being able to recite Arabic proverbs, claiming this is the way to win over an Arab interlocutor. If it sounds to you as if I’m a bit envious of the linguistic training they receive, you are not mistaken; in my sort of school – the field – I have been able to memorize only a few Arabic adages.

One I learned from one of the many villagers who was handed an expropriation order for his land. Sitting at the entrance to his home, he looked like he was attending a funeral. “To whom can a grain of wheat complain when the cock is the judge?” he said, in response to my dumb question about what he planned to do.

This saying is useful in situations when all other words fail. For example, in a military tribunal that convicts and detains demonstrators protesting the robbery of their land, like Adib and Abdullah Abu Rahma.

Another adage often quoted goes something like this: “He who lives with a tribe for 40 days will begin to behave like it.” Not exactly, but like the Palestinians, who hold some strange competitions, I have found myself wondering which Palestinians have it the worst under the Israeli rule.

For many years, I thought there was nothing worse than life in Gaza. I even argued my point with a friend, who claimed the absolute worst is to be a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship because “we live in the midst of the Nakba [1948 catastrophe] sites and experience the daily racism masquerading as democracy.”

But for more than a year now, I have been vacillating between Gaza and Jerusalem. That is to say, I have been trying to decide which is worse – the isolation and insulation that Israel has imposed on Gaza (which includes being cut off from water sources and from the cultural, social and family ties those residents have with their People ); or the cynicism with which the decision makers continue to turn the population of East Jerusalem into welfare clients and slum dwellers, and then pride themselves of the national insurance payments they grant them.

A visit to the neighborhood of Isawiyah decided the issue. Heaps of concrete, uncollected garbage, roads that are becoming narrower due to pirate additions to buildings – forced on residents thanks to construction prohibitions and the expropriation of vacant lots – all lies in sight of the Hebrew University campus and the city’s French Hill, which are so green, spacious and civilized.

‘Unsafe space’

And now a report from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has confirmed my determination. The report, titled “Unsafe space: The Israeli authorities’ failure to protect human rights amid settlements in East Jerusalem,” is based on testimonies, media reports and official documents. It highlights the loss of personal and collective security in Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods, in the heart of which hostile bodies have settled over the past 30 years – settlers supported by millionaires and religious and archeological associations.

Some 2,000 such people live in fortified, well-guarded complexes in Palestinian neighborhoods like Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City – and there are more to come. Life in Palestinian Jerusalem is shaped by these Israeli statics: 65.1 percent of the city’s Palestinian residents live below the poverty line, as compared with 30.8 percent of the city’s Jewish population; and 74.4 percent of the Palestinian children in Jerusalem live below the poverty line, as compared to 45.1 percent of the city’s Jewish children.

The city’s Palestinian neighborhoods have a dearth of 1,000 classrooms; 50 percent of the school children drop out; and 24,500 dunams of private land – more than one third of the area annexed to Jerusalem – have been appropriated from the Arab owners, while more than 50,000 housing units have been built on this land for Jews alone.

The authorities who prevent Palestinians from building and developing their lands allocate vacant plots to the Jews, not only outside of the populated areas but also in their very heart. These spaces are allocated for parking or entertainment, archeological digs or construction.

As these neighbors are the authorities’ darlings, confrontations are unavoidable, so the Housing and Construction Ministry provides hundreds of armed guards for the Jews at the public’s expense (some NIS 54 million in 2010 ). When Palestinians complain to police about harassment, they find themselves treated like suspects. When they call the police, they feel like the officers are in no hurry to get there. And when police investigate cases in which Jews are suspected of causing bodily harm, these cases are closed swiftly. In this way, the Palestinians are left at the mercy of the aggressive, belligerent and officially sanctioned invaders.

The guards, who are employed by a private company, think their position permits them to hit people, to act abusively and even to shoot. The people in whose midst these fortified complexes are sprawling are afraid to get in and out; relatives and friends think twice before coming to visit them. These complexes are also characterized by a great deal of noise – digging at archeological sites that goes on until night, and dancing and religious celebrations accompanied by anti-Arab songs.

The ACRI report was presented to the police and the Housing and Construction Ministry for perusal. The legal adviser to the police, Roni Leibowitz, asked the organization to delay publication of the report so he could examine the specific charges, saying seven days was not enough time to conduct a serious investigation.

Nevertheless, his first impression was that the ACRI report “describes the reality in a partial and sometimes tendentious manner… It relates in a forgiving light to serious violent events that took place in the village of Silwan, that by some miracle did not end in death – such as firing from live weapons by a terrorist cell, mass riots, and the throwing of Molotov cocktails, stones, iron bars and other harmful objects at security forces…”

In addition, Leibowitz says the claims of deficient treatment on the part of the police are based solely on “the testimonies of those who were interrogated as suspects in these events, which obviously can lead to an erroneous portrayal of the way the situation developed.”

Ariel Rosenberg, the ministry’s spokesman, firmly denies any claims that guards harass Palestinians and praises their professionalism and the instructions they receive to show restraint and forbearance.

“In the past year,” he writes, “the situation in the area under discussion has significantly worsened and the guards are witness to extremely hostile activity.”

‘We were looking for a nice, peaceful place near Jerusalem’: The Guardian

If the construction of settlements in the West Bank is meant to be on hold, why are Israeli buyers being offered new properties on Palestinian land at knock-down prices?

New housing under construction in Almon: 'Residents do not fit the headline-grabbing stereotypes of fanatical settlers. There is a marked paucity of Israeli flags.' Photograph: Warrick Page

The housing project currently under construction in Almon offers enticingly priced, spacious family homes with a garden and a view. The surrounding neighbourhood, also known as Anatot, sits on a ridge overlooking the Judean hills, near Jerusalem, a blaze of cultivated greenery in the parched landscape. Residents have a relaxed air, and newcomers who have recently relocated from Jerusalem wish they’d made the move years ago. If I were a prospective house-buyer, I’d be charmed. But I would not be looking here – because Almon is in the occupied West Bank.

It is a Jewish settlement with a population of around 1,000, established in the early 80s. Like all Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, Almon is illegal according to international law. But its residents do not fit the headline-grabbing stereotypes of fanatical settlers, motivated by a national-religious drive to claim land. There is a marked paucity of Israeli flags and no settler-slogan banners bedeck the streets. If the West Bank became part of an autonomous Palestinian state, residents of Almon would be unlikely to put up a fight, as the ideological settler movement has sworn to do. Instead, they would pack up and move back to Israel.

The settlement movement began almost immediately after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, seized as the spoils of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Settlers were initially ideological but, by the 80s, the rightwing government that came to power realised that greater numbers of, perhaps less politically-motivated, Israelis would have to be enticed on to Palestinian land. Israel has always argued that settlements are a strategic and military asset. Former prime minister Ariel Sharon – one of the settler movement’s biggest supporters – summed up Israel’s approach in 1998 when he said of the occupied territories: “Everyone there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand more territory. Everything that’s grabbed will be in our hands. Everything we don’t grab will be in their hands.”

Yet in 2007, when the Israeli organisation Peace Now polled settlers about their motivations for living where they do, 77% cited “quality of life”, suggesting that economic factors and proximity to Israeli cities were primary considerations. That percentage can be split into two camps: there is the rapidly expanding, low-income, ultra-Orthodox community, which, priced out of Jerusalem, has migrated to nearby settlements such as Modin Illit and Beitar Illit; then there are secular or mixed community settlements, such as Almon. These are often located close to the Green Line, the internationally recognised border between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. And they exist primarily because the state wants them to.

In Jerusalem – just as in the rest of Israel – decades of state planning has priced people out of the city and into settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Meanwhile, ideologically-motivated budgeting has resulted in enticements and benefits for Israelis who live on occupied Palestinian land.

Settlements, and the resources, infrastructure and military might required to keep them going, are a major impediment to negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under international pressure, for the past 10 months, Israel has operated a partial freeze on settlement construction. However, the incentives still offered to Israelis to live on Palestinian land are so considerable that, leaving politics aside, it would be silly not to take advantage of them.

To find out how easy it would be to buy a settlement home on Palestinian land in the midst of this supposed freeze, I pose as an Israeli buyer, looking for a reasonably priced property for myself, my fictitious husband and the family we’re planning. Walking into a Jerusalem estate agency with an imaginary spend of £200,000, a realistic sum for an average Jerusalem couple, it comes as no surprise when the agent says, “With that sort of budget, you need to get beyond the city.”

I’ve already checked the housing market online and seen that the price for a home in West Jerusalem – four bedrooms across around 100 square metres – can start at around £400,000. Jerusalem’s housing problem is blamed variously on its lack of high-rise housing (in part because many observant Jews do not use lifts on Saturdays); on environmentalists, who have prevented the city’s expansion to the west (the only direction within Israel’s borders); and on the “ghost town” effect in well-heeled parts of the city, where foreign Jewish buyers have snapped up second homes, pushing up the prices. The housing market is under such stress that, last year, Jerusalem’s mayor wrote to absentee home-owners, asking them to rent out or sell up.

The agent suggests Pisgat Ze’ev or Neve Yaakov, both in East Jerusalem. Though these areas are defined as settlements by the international community, Israel views them as neighbourhoods of Jerusalem and has prioritised rapid Jewish development here, at the expense of affordable housing in West Jerusalem. However, at £250,000 for around 120 square metres, these houses might still be too pricey.

I certainly can’t afford a decent-sized property in the plusher Ramot or Gilo – also settlements, or “neighbourhoods”, within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. So the estate agent suggests Givat Ze’ev, a secular settlement a 10-minute drive north-east of Jerusalem. The agent doesn’t currently have homes to view there, but properties in this settlement – and many others – are advertised online under the category “Jerusalem and surrounding area”. A quick call to each settlement’s secretariat would provide me with agents’ phone numbers, and sometimes the numbers of private sellers, too.

Givat Ze’ev is a pretty settlement of 10,000 residents living in semi-detached homes on leafy, winding streets. It is spacious and organised, with shops, schools and health services. Everything about its planning is designed to make you feel as though you’re in a satellite of Jerusalem – there are no demarcation lines, no checkpoints back into the city, and the Palestinian villages, if visible, are behind a wall. Like so many settlements that hug the Green Line, Givat Ze’ev is on the Israeli side of the separation barrier that cuts into the West Bank for around 80% of its path. The barrier route runs, in some places, up to 12 miles deep into the West Bank, but settlements on the Israeli side of it are, broadly speaking, “consensus settlements” – ones that Israelis assume will be conceded to the Jewish state in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

At Givat Ze’ev there are plenty of large, affordable houses for sale, but the only new properties are on a recently-finished ultra-Orthodox project. I ask residents about new secular housing, but their response is, “Don’t you read the news?” They’re referring to the current 10-month freeze, but in August, Peace Now found that building on at least 600 settlement housing units had begun during that period, in more than 60 different settlements. Of those, it says, at least 492 were in direct violation of the freeze.

My search for affordable, secular housing leads me, eventually, to Almon. It’s a short drive east of Jerusalem, and I’ve had to cross an Israeli checkpoint, but it’s specifically for settler use – a nod, the “right” appearance and Israeli number plates get me waved through. Outside, a billboard advertises the number of the contractor, who confirms that 70 units are under construction at the site. The four-bedroom houses vary in size from 130 to 140 square metres, with gardens of up to 70 square metres, and they are shifting fast. The settlement is not officially exempt from the construction freeze, but Palestinian constructors are currently working on the site and homes could be ready within a year. The starting price is £175,150.

It is staggeringly cheaper than an equivalent property on the Israeli side of the Green Line, because it is on Palestinian land, confiscated by Israel. There are no market forces to dictate land value here, as there would be in Tel Aviv or West Jerusalem. Instead, the Israeli housing ministry regulates prices, keeping them low to attract settlement. Campaigners say the contractor will also have received considerable state subsidies for connecting new settlement buildings to water and electricity mains – another saving that’s passed on to me, the buyer.

Calculating my hypothetical mortgage allowance gives me yet more incentive to live across the Green Line. All Israelis qualify for a state allowance, an add-on to the mortgage lent by the bank, but with more favourable repayment terms. Points are added to your basic state allowance if you have children, have served in the army, or if you are a new Jewish migrant. Then there is a top-up if you live in areas defined as “national priority zones”, which include some under-populated parts of Israel and all settlements.

For a new property in Almon, I’d get almost £11,600 as a special allowance. But the allowances rise sharply for Israeli couples who pick homes in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Betar Illit, near Jerusalem, or in Ariel, around 25km east of the Green Line, or in Kiryat Arba, a hardline settlement near Hebron. For each of those, I’d get a total allowance of around £40,200. When I ask, the housing ministry says that state subsidies vary according to the “security threat assessments” pertinent to each area, adding that properties on the Israeli border with Lebanon qualify for similar amounts.

Israeli settlements expert Dror Etkes describes how, at times, mortgages given in the West Bank have “included loans which, after a period of time, turned into grants”. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports that, between 1997 and 2002, the state put 419m shekels (around £72m) into state-subsidised “association mortgages” for 1,800 apartments, most of them in the West Bank. The state comptroller, investigating these payments, found they were not included in the housing ministry’s budget. Responding to queries over this funding, the ministry said it was not intended for “the entire public” and that announcing it would have caused “unnecessary confusion”.

The veteran Israeli journalist and author Danny Rubinstein remembers a time in the late 80s when contractors offered free cars to those who bought settlement homes. Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem council member for the leftwing Meretz party, claims that at around the same time, Israelis invested in settlement property, left uninhabited, in the knowledge that at some point the state would offer compensation to evacuate it. He says the practice was “an open secret among settlers”.

Today, on top of my mortgage incentive, I’d get free nursery care for my children from the age of three, instead of five, as I would in Israel. Settlement schools are better funded, health services are allocated more state funds. I’d no longer get a 7% discount on income tax – that incentive was scrapped in 2003; I’d pay lower local taxes, but my local council would be twice as flush as those inside Israel, because of a central government funding bias. In 2006, the Adva Centre, an Israeli policy analysis organisation, found settlers pay 60% of the national average in local tax.

There are currently more than 200 settlements, including West Bank outposts and neighbourhoods in annexed East Jerusalem, and half a million Israelis live on the Palestinian side of the Green Line. B’Tselem says it is impossible to calculate the total state spend in settlement benefits, because “government ministries obscure documentation of the moneys in their budgets that are directed to the settlements”. But Peace Now estimates that settlements cost Israel $556m (around £355m) a year – and it is clear that this cost is keenly felt by those living within Israel, since the state seems to prioritise settlements at their expense.

Responding to international pressure, in 2008 the Israeli government debated a plan to offer settlers cash to leave the West Bank, a move designed to target economic settlers rather than ideological ones. The proposal – backed by then prime minister Ehud Olmert – couldn’t get through government. Yet there are currently thought to be lists of settlers who have expressed interest in leaving the West Bank, if compensated.

For as long as Israel has occupied Palestinian lands, there has been a dominant force within government that has kept the settlements project going. Driven by a mix of national-religious conviction, expansionist politics and military tactics, the settlements project has wholly controlled state agenda. B’Tselem describes the project as one of Israel’s main national enterprises. State efforts to pull Israelis over the Green Line have been so forceful that, as Rubinstein puts it, “You could say it was a bribe on a national scale.”

Israel has always played up the pain of dismantling the settlements. Yet as Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar writes in Lords Of The Land: The War For Israel’s Settlements In The Occupied Territories, the “elixir of life” for these settlements is their infrastructure: the electricity, water pipes and military forces that guard them. Remove these, “and this project collapses like a house of cards”. Today, Eldar describes Israel’s purported inability to do so as “a myth perpetrated by the government to make us believe that it is impossible”.

How hard would it really be to divert funds from the occupied West Bank back into Israel, thus encouraging settlers to move back – especially from somewhere like Almon, where residents have already said they will relocate if political realities dictate that they should?

One man who has lived there for 20 years says of the settlement, “It is not fanatic in a religious sense and not fanatic politically, either.” Other residents agree. “We came here because we were looking for a nice, peaceful place near Jerusalem,” says one woman, who still votes for the Israeli Labour party. “We didn’t want to annoy anyone, and we are not ideological… The settler movement does not represent us.”

The problem, as Rubinstein points out, is that what starts off as economics can eventually become ideological. “When you move [to the settlements],” he says, “you can’t say, ‘Well, I went there because I’m greedy.’ You change your political opinion.”

Jewish Boat to Gaza sets sail from Cyprus: Haaretz

Jewish boart for Gaza Press Release – 26 Sept 2010

Jewish Boat to Gaza - Irene

At crisis point in peace talks, Jews, Israelis call to lift the siege on Gaza, end the occupation.

A boat carrying aid for Gaza’s population and organized by Jewish groups worldwide has set sail from Cyprus today at 13:32 local time

The boat, Irene, is sailing under a British flag and is carrying ten passengers and crew, including Jews from the US, the UK, Germany and Israel as well as an Israeli journalist.

Passengers on the Jewish Boat to Gaza gather for a group photograph before their departure. (Photo: Vish Vishvanath/Metro)

The boat’s cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children’s toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza’s fishing communities and prosthetic limbs for orthopaedic medical care in Gaza’s hospitals.

The receiving organization in Gaza is The Palestinian International Campaign to end the siege on Gaza, directed by  Dr. Eyad Sarraj and Amjad Shawa, Director of PNGO

The boat will attempt to reach the coast of Gaza and unload its aid cargo in a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest – and call for the siege to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip.

The boat will fly multicolored peace flags carrying the names of dozens of Jews who have expressed their support for this action, as a symbol of the widespread support for the boat by Jews worldwide.

Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said today that the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza, and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.

‘Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,’ said Kuper. ‘We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.’

Regarding the threat of interception by the Israeli navy, Kuper said ‘This is a nonviolent action. We aim to reach Gaza, but our activists will not engage in any physical confrontation and will therefore not present the Israelis with any reason or excuse to use physical force or assault them.’

Passenger Reuven Moskovitz, 82, said that his life’s mission has been to turn foes into friends. “We are two peoples, but we have one future”, he said.

Passengers aboard the boat

Reuven Moskovitz, from Israel, is a founding member of the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) and a holocaust survivor. Speaks German, Hebrew and English.

Rami Elhanan, from Israel, lost his daughter Smadar to a suicide bombing in 1997 and is a founding member of the Bereaved Families Circle of Israelis and Palestinians who lost their loved ones to the conflict. Speaks Hebrew and English.

Lilian Rosengarten, from the US, is a peace activist and psychotherapist. She was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Speaks English and German.

Yonatan Shapira, from Israel, is an ex-IDF pilot and now an activist for Combatants for Peace. Speaks Hebrew and English.

Carole Angier, from the UK, is the biographer of the renowned author, Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. Speaks English, French, Italian and German.

Glyn Secker, from the UK, is the boat’s captain and a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Speaks English.

Dr. Edith Lutz, from Germany, is a peace activist and a nurse. She was on the first boat to Gaza in 2008. Speaks German and English.

Alison Prager, from the UK, is a teacher and peace activist. She is media coordinator for the boat. Speaks English.

Itamar Shapira, from Israel, is Yonatan’s brother, and a member of the boat’s crew. Speaks Hebrew, Spanish and English.

Eli Osherov,  Israeli reporter from Israel Channel 10 News.

Supporters: Jewish organizations and individuals from UK, Holland, Germany, US, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, Austria, Australia and Israel.

Organizers and sponsors: European Jews for a Just Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (UK), Juedische Stimme fuer einen gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Germany), American Jews for a Just Peace (USA), Jewish Voice for Peace (USA), Jews Against the Occupation Sydney.

UN panel accuses Israel of war crimes for ‘unlawful’ assault on Gaza flotilla: The Guardian

Israel dismisses report of ‘unnecessary and incredibly violent’ attack as ‘politicised and extremist’

A United Nations panel of human rights experts has accused Israel of war crimes through willful killing, unnecessary brutality and torture in its “clearly unlawful” assault on a ship attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in May in which nine Turkish activists died.

Hands of a detained activist from the Gaza-bound flotilla. Photograph: Alberto Denkberg/AP

The report by three experts appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) described the seizure of MV Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel, by Israeli commandos as illegal under international law.

It condemned the treatment of the passengers and crew as brutal and disproportionate. It also said that the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian enclave is illegal because of the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the fourth Geneva convention: wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” the report said.

“A series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation.”

Israel swiftly dismissed the accusations as “politicised and extremist”. But the report is likely to be welcomed by Turkey which has dramatically cooled once-close relations with the Jewish state since the attack on the ship.

The 56-page report – compiled by a former UN war crimes prosecutor, Desmond de Silva, a judge from Trinidad, Karl Hudson-Phillips, and a Malaysian women’s rights advocate, Mary Shanthi Dairiam – accuses Israeli forces of various crimes including violating the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression, and of failing to treat the captured crew and passengers with humanity.

“The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality,” the report said.

The UN security council is expected to debate the findings on Monday.

The report does not have any legal force and the UN human rights council, which has been accused of a disproportionate focus on Israel, is viewed with scepticism by many western countries because it is dominated by the developing world.

But the report will be a further severe embarrassment to Israel after the assault on the ships brought widespread international condemnation even by generally sympathetic countries and breached relations with Turkey.

Israel, which refused to co-operate with the inquiry, said the report is biased.

“The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and it is no surprise that they condemn after,” said Andy David, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry.

Israel has claimed that its troops only resorted to force and opened fire after coming under attack by activists with metal bars, axes and wooden clubs. The pro-Palestinian activists said they were defending the ship from what amounted to a pirate attack on a vessel in international waters.

The raid prompted an international outcry and focused attention on the blockade of Gaza. Israel has since lifted most of the restrictions on the flow of medicines, food and many goods into the territory but still maintains a ban on some items, such as building materials, on the grounds they can be used to manufacture weapons.

Israel is working with another UN inquiry under the former leaders of New Zealand and Colombia, Geoffrey Palmer and Alvaro Uribe, that is still in progress.

The Jewish state is also carrying out its own inquiry into the attack on Mavi Mamara.

Last month, Israel’s military commander, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, defended his forces’ use of live ammunition during the assault on the ship, saying that commandos had not expected to meet such violence from the activists and were forced to defend themselves when they came under attack.

“Israel is a democratic and law-abiding country that carefully observes international law and, when need be, knows how to investigate itself,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “That is how Israel has always acted, and that is the way in which investigations were conducted following Operation Cast Lead, launched to protect the inhabitants of southern Israel from rockets and terror attacks carried out by Hamas from Gaza.”

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, said that the report is further evidence that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories violates human rights “not only against Palestinian people but against innocent people who came to show their sympathy”.

He said the report should be used as the basis for international prosecutions of Israeli commanders responsible for the attack.

Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and ‘god-given land’ claims – 20: Said on YouTube

Edward Said, acclaimed for his literary and cultural criticism, is a sought-after commentator on Middle Eastern politics and America’s foremost spokesman for the Palestinian cause. His influential book, “Orientalism,” (1978), is an examination of Western perceptions of the Islamic world. His criticism extends to the United States, which he calls a dishonest broker in the peace process due to its long-standing support for Israel. – ResearchChannel is a nonprofit media and technology organization that connects a global audience with the research and academic institutions whose developments, insights and discoveries affect our lives and futures.

Watch the full one hour and 39 minute lecture HERE

Israel jails Arab activists for vague ‘contact with a foreign agent’: Jonathan Cook

‘Vague’ law used to lock up activists

A vague security offence of “contact with a foreign agent” is being used by Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, to lock up Arab political activists in Israel without evidence that a crime has been committed, human rights lawyers alleged this week.

The lawyers said the Shin Bet was exploiting the law to characterise innocent or accidental meetings between members of Israel’s large Arab minority and Arab foreign nationals as criminal activity.

The chances of such contacts have increased rapidly with advances in new technology and opportunities for Israel’s Arab citizens to travel to the wider Arab world, said Hussein Abu Hussein, a lawyer who represents security detainees.

The lawyers’ criticisms come at a particularly sensitive moment, as Israel has been widely accused of hounding two prominent political activists. Both were arrested on the grounds that they spied for the Lebanese militant group Hizbollah.

One, Omar Said, was released last week after a plea bargain in which the Shin Bet reduced a serious security charge of “aggravated espionage” to “contact with a foreign agent”.

The evidence it revealed suggested that Said had attended the meeting in Egypt unaware that his contact was a possible Hizbollah agent and that he had turned down an alleged offer to spy for the organisation.

Amnesty International has termed the continuing prosecution of the other defendant, Ameer Makhoul, as “pure harassment”.

As he was freed, Said, from Kfar Kana, near Nazareth, accused Israel of persecuting activists whose politics it does not like.

Abir Baker, a lawyer with the Adalah legal centre, said cases such as Said’s were intended to have a “chilling effect” on Israel’s Arab community, which comprises one-fifth of the population.

She said his arrest should be seen in the context of efforts by Israel to limit the right of Arab citizens to strengthen cultural and political ties to the rest of the Arab world.

Several of Israel’s Arab political parties, including the one Said belongs to, have been trying to inform the Arab world about the minority’s campaign for democratic reforms to end Israel’s status as a Jewish state.

A 2008 law removed the diplomatic immunity from Arab members of the Israeli parliament to visit Arab countries defined as enemy states.

One MP, Said Nafaa, who is to be tried over a visit to Syria with a party of Druze clerics in 2007, faces charges of contact with a foreign agent for meetings he held with Syrian politicians.

“There are laws to stop us from visiting countries classified as enemy states such as Syria and Lebanon, but Israel uses this particular offence to make us afraid to talk to any Arab national, whether at international conferences or online,” said Baker. “Israel wants to make us invisible.”

Khaled Ghanayim, a law professor at Haifa University, said misuse of the offence of contact with a foreign agent had grown with the right wing’s ascendance in Israel.

“Paradoxically, the Soviet Union advanced a similar policy for decades to prevent Jews in the Eastern bloc from meeting Israeli Jews. Israel and the West denounced that policy as a violation of their human rights, but today Israel is doing the same to its Arab citizens.”

Abu Hussein said the offence was particularly hard to challenge because, uniquely in Israeli criminal law, the onus to prove that the meeting did not harm state security rested with the defendant, not the prosecution.

The Shin Bet was unavailable for comment. But the agency is believed to be concerned that Hizbollah, which fired thousands of rockets into Israel during a month of hostilities in 2006, is trying to recruit spies among Israel’s Arab community.

According to the Shin Bet’s website, Hizbollah is particularly keen to identify the sites of Israeli security facilities in the north that might be targeted in a future confrontation and gauge the Jewish public’s mood.

Gideon Ezra, a former deputy head of the Shin Bet and now a member of parliament, said: “The state of Israel does not seek to put people in jail, but to carry out proper investigations. There is always a gap between what is known at first and the final outcome.”

Baker, who is studying the use of the “contact” offence, said there was a clear pattern in which the Shin Bet started its investigation with a serious security violation, such as transferring information to the enemy, which carries a life sentence, in addition to the allegation of contact.

“That way an impression is created with the public and the media that the suspect was harming state security.”

As the investigation proceeded, she said, the Shin Bet typically dropped the serious charge and sought a plea bargain on contact with a foreign agent. The charge carries a sentence of up to seven years in jail.

Defendants, faced with secret evidence and limited rights as security prisoners, were under pressure to agree, Abu Hussein said.

Baker said it was difficult to be sure exactly how often the law was being used but pointed to several notable recent cases.

In 2005, Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the main wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and Suleiman Aghbaria, mayor of the city of Umm al Fahm, served jail terms of 30 months and 46 months, respectively, after agreeing a plea bargain.

The Shin Bet’s case that the pair belonged to a terrorist organisation, Hamas, and supplied it with weapons, collapsed during the trial.

In the most recent case, both Said and Makhoul claimed they were tortured while they were held without access to a lawyer.

Ghanayim said it was notable that both men were publicly involved in activities to challenge Israeli policies. Makhoul is known to have angered the Shin Bet by leading demonstrations against Israel’s attack on Gaza in winter 2008 and by heading calls for a boycott of Israel.

In the past the Shin Bet has warned that it would use all the powers at its disposal to “thwart” political activities it regarded as a threat to the state’s legitimacy.

Baker said use of the law against contact with a foreign agent had begun shortly after the start of the second intifada in 2000 to prevent Arab citizens meeting Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Last year, in a case that attracted wide attention in Israel, Rawi Sultani, a 24-year-old activist from Tira in central Israel, was sentenced to five and a half years after attending an international Arab summer camp in Morocco at which he was approached by a Hizbollah agent.

Mr Sultani was originally accused of conspiring to assassinate Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s chief of staff. The charge was dropped but he was convicted of giving information to the enemy by revealing that he had visited a gym used by Ashkenazi.

Frank Gehry, Daniel Barenboim join Ariel boycott campaign: Haaretz

21 Sept 2010

World-renowned architect Frank Gehry and the legendary pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim joined Tuesday the international campaign in support of the Israeli actors’ refusal to perform in the new cultural center of Ariel, according to the website of Jewish Voices for Peace.

The boycott statement has been signed by over 200 artists, including Jennifer Tilly, James Schamus, Tony Kushner, Harold Prince and others.

Gehry, the architect of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, recently pulled out of desiging the Museum of Tolerance planned to be built in Jerusalem on the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery.

Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace Deputy Director, commended Gehry for his support.

“It is particularly critical for architects to speak out against the ongoing construction of Jewish-only communities on Palestinian land,” she said, adding that “architects and planners are the key implementers of the Israeli policy of taking and brutally occupying Palestinian land in violation of international law. For Mr. Gehry to take such a moral stand once and for all ends the mythical firewall between architecture, policy, and human rights.”

“We hope Israeli architects will be inspired to launch their own campaign to refuse to work in the settlements,” Surasky added.

The Jewish Voice for Peace website published a statement saying that “as American actors, directors, critics and playwrights, we salute our Israeli counterparts for their courageous decision.”

“They’ve made a wonderful decision,” the statement added, “and they deserve the respect of people everywhere who dream of justice. We stand with them”.

The “artists’ boycott” stirred growing controversy in Israel, with calls to stop the funding to the artists who refuse to perform in Ariel – a city of slightly above 18,000 people, most of whom are not religious.

Why Does Israel Still Occupy the Palestinians?Newleftproject

24 September, 2010

by Shir Hever

Shir Hever is an economist at the Alternative Information Center and author of The Political Economy of Israel’s Occupation. In this essay he examines the political, economic and strategic forces driving the continuation of Israel’s occupation.

1. The Cost of the Occupation to Israeli Society

The majority of Israel’s anti-occupation movement, unfortunately, does not focus on the rights of Palestinians to live free, but on the damage that the occupation causes to Israeli society (Sternhell, 2009).

The arguments that the occupation is a major investment of resources that could be useful in alleviating Israel’s many social problems, and that the settlements, or colonies, enjoy exorbitant government subsidies (Swirski, 2008) are well known in Israeli society, and seldom challenged on a factual basis.

Within Israel, the arguments used to support the occupation on the basis of its purported economic benefits to Israel have gone silent. Even Marxist economists who effectively demonstrated the profits derived by Israel from the occupation in its first two decades largely abandoned the notion that Israel occupies the Palestinian territories for economic profit after the First Intifada of 1987, since when Palestinian resistance to the occupation has exacted a heavy economic toll on Israel – although clearly Palestinians paid a much heavier price for daring to challenge Israel’s occupation (Swirski, 2005).

The costs of the occupation to Israeli society can be divided into three. First, the massive subsidies to the illegal colonists in the West Bank are estimated at about US$ 3 billion annually, and growing by 5%-8% annually. Second, the cost of security for the colonies, and the military expenditure to keep the Palestinians under control (both in the West Bank and Gaza) is about double that – at US$ 6 billion annually, and growing at about the same rate as the civilian costs (Hever, 2005). Third, the social costs of the occupation are too numerous and complex to list here, including the collapse of public services, social solidarity and democratic institutions within Israel, and the widening of social gaps to monstrous levels.

Ever since the Israeli economy began to absorb cheap Palestinian labour in 1967, more and more companies adopted a business model dependent upon cheap labour, and so worker’s rights have been eroding, contributing to a spike in inequality (Swirski, 2005). Meanwhile, the dual legal system for Israeli citizens and for Palestinians has strained Israel’s democratic institutions beyond what they could bear (Kretzmer, 2002).

It would therefore seem that the rational course of action for the Israeli government would be to end the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Read the rest of this important article on the link above.

Gaza flotilla attack: UN report condemns Israeli ‘brutality': The Guardian

UN Human Rights Council accuses Israel of a ‘disproportionate’ response to Gaza blockade-breakers, nine of whom died

A UN-appointed panel said today that Israeli forces violated international law, “including international humanitarian and human rights law”, during and after their lethal attack on a flotilla of ships attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in May.

The UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission judged Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian territory to be “unlawful” because there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza at the time.

The panel’s report, published today, described Israel’s military response to the flotilla as “disproportionate” and said it “betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality”.

Eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American were killed in the raid, which prompted international criticism of both the attack and Israel’s policy of blockading the Gaza Strip. Israel has since eased its embargo, although still refuses to allow full imports and exports and the free movement of people.

Israel says the soldiers acted in self-defence. But the mission criticised the Israeli government for failing to co-operate with its inquiry. “Regrettably to date, no information has been given to the mission by or on behalf of the government of Israel,” it said.

The panel was led by Karl Hudson-Phillips, a retired judge of the international criminal court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago.

The report said: “The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

The panel concluded that there was “clear evidence” of wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment and wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health – all crimes under the Geneva Convention.

The panel expressed the hope that there would be “swift action” by the Israeli government to help victims achieve effective remedies. “The mission sincerely hopes that no impediment will be put in the way of those who suffered loss as a result of the unlawful actions of the Israeli military to be compensated adequately and promptly,” it said. It described the blockade of Gaza as “totally intolerable and unacceptable in the 21st century”.

The Israeli government has fiercely resisted demands for an independent international inquiry into the flotilla attacks, establishing three internal investigations to avert pressure from the UN, Europe and Turkey.

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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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