EDITOR: Israel is working hard to silence filmmakers!
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi are to face legal action and serious harassment after the international success of their documentary 5 Broken Cameras. The intention is not only to break the filmmakers and punish them, but also to frighten others. The excellent Guy Davidi speaks about this to Huffpost, on video. The fascist Israeli state will stop at nothing. These filmmakers will need our support!
If you have not seen the film, rush to where it is showing, or get it on Amazon or netfix!
EDITOR: lone voices in the wilderness
The pogrom continues, as Israeli society keeps quiet about the lynch attempts, and the political leaders could not care less. As cases multiply, the claim that these are the isolated actions of disturbed individuals seem bizarre. Those are the actions of a society which is deeply disturbed, well beyond that which was already quite disturbing in recent Israel with its racist tradition. Uri Misgav and Ilene Prusher are the few who expose this national scandal of silent accommodation of pogroms.
No one has stood up. Neither the president of Israel nor the prime minister. Neither the minister of education nor the minister of justice. Neither chairmen of political parties nor mayors.
A young man from Tel Aviv who was injured in a road accident last week wrote on Facebook: “In the emergency room at Ichilov, on the bed next to mine, lay the waiter who was beaten by a mob because he is an Arab. He didn’t stop crying, and I wanted them to run me over again.”
The waiter had fallen victim to an attack by a gang of revelers at a beach restaurant. His sin was that he cleared the mayonnaise from their table before they had finished eating. This happened just a few days after an Israeli Arab, this time a cleaning worker, suffered very serious head injuries in a nighttime lynch attempt. Here too the attackers were Jewish partiers, here too it happened on the shores of the first Hebrew city. In that same week a Palestinian woman from East Jerusalem was attacked by a gang of male and female Jews. The windows of a car driven by a Jewish teacher who was taking an Arab friend with her to offer condolences to a colleague were shattered by stones hurled by yeshiva students.
The public figures who arose to condemn the series of attacks – Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino – represent the operational side of things. They deserve to be saluted. Their policemen were sent to bring the guilty parties to justice and in some of the cases they have already completed their work. This is the minimum expected of a state of law, but in Israel of 2013 it turns out it is also the maximum. And this is already a horrifying phenomenon, even more so than the attacks themselves. History has proven that the mob has no depth. It functions as a channel or as a tool. The mob is not the real story. The important questions are what atmosphere prepares the ground for its actions and how they are received.
It is not complicated to understand why Arabs are attacked in Israel. The young man in a daze at Ichilov Medical Center belongs to a minority. Most of the public sees Arabs as second-class citizens, if as citizens at all, potential traitors who don’t rise for the singing of “Hatikva.” (“Without loyalty there is no citizenship,” said Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman). They don’t serve in the army (“equal sharing of the burden,” as the slogan goes) and therefore a wide variety of employment opportunities are closed to them, as is the right to live among Jews who seek a better standard of living (“acceptance committees” in rural communities). Their representatives are traditionally banned from being part of the government coalition (“Jewish majority”) and recently also from a bloc in parliament (“the Zouabis,” in the words of Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid, with whom he would never team up.)
This perception of superiority, this shameless racism, is increasing among parts of the religious and ultra-Orthodox public, where it is additionally validated by rabbinical rulings. Over the years this outlook has received legal encouragement from the state in the form of lenient treatment of Jews who harm Arabs. A case in point: the indictment for mere incitement which was filed against some of the participants in the lynch mob last year in Zion Square in Jerusalem. And beneath it all bubbles a national blood feud and the Israel Defense Forces’ melting pot, which trains Israelis to see Arabs through the sights of a gun, and which beyond the Green Line – Israel’s pre-1967 borders – initiates daily damage to the rights and dignity of Palestinians.
These basic givens could at least have been moderated a bit by means of displays of public leadership. Not clickings of the tongue, but rather, by means of simple a human action: visits to the people who were attacked. To ask how they are, to express regret and to send a sharp, clear message to the cameras and the microphones. But no one has stood up. Neither the president of Israel nor the prime minister. Neither the minister of education nor the minister of justice. Neither chairmen of political parties nor mayors.
This is the spirit of the times. It is manifested clearly in the words of the head of the Har Adar local council, Col. (res.) Aviram Cohen, who in reply to questions from Haaretz about a prohibition on movement by Palestinian workers in the community where they are building the houses, replied: “I don’t want there to be friction with Palestinians who are moving around freely. Incidentally, I also have a problem with feral dogs and I am also dealing with them. Not that I am comparing, heaven forefend.”
When an Arab attacks a Jew, he’s a terrorist, he’s been taught to hate. When a Jew attacks an Arab, he’s just a loner, an oddball, a bad egg. But we’ve seen so many bad eggs at this point that something here has begun to stink.
A schoolteacher was attacked on a Jerusalem street last week for no other reason than that she was wearing the headscarf of a religious Muslim woman. The pack of religious teenagers who accosted Wahad Abu-Zamira and her colleague Revital Valkov called the latter “a Jewish bitch who has Arab friends.”
A week earlier, a different Arab woman was attacked while she was waiting at a station of the Jerusalem light rail – the same rapid transit line which,when it opened not a year and-a-half ago, was touted as a peace train that would encourage coexistence between East and West Jerusalem. Teenage girls punched the woman – an ugly image caught on camera and transmitted across the world – but insist the veiled woman pushed them first.
Lest we pretend this is solely a Jerusalem problem, there was a similar racist incident in Upper Nazareth on Saturday night. But let’s also stop pretending that this is an aberration: just a few bad eggs, the riff-raff, a mean little cell of soccer fans that calls itself La Familia, that gang of fanswho want Beitar Jerusalem’s two recently acquired players, Chechan Muslims, off the team.
Let’s face it: Israel has a racism problem. Not just in the middle of a war or intifada, when expressions of hatred can be explained away against the backdrop of terrorism and rocket attacks, but also during times of “quiet,” as Israelis like to call it – because no one dares call it peace.
A woman being attacked while wearing a hijab in Jerusalem should disturb us as much as a Jew getting beat up for wearing a kippa in Paris. But acts of racism and hate crimes are becoming such a regular feature in the news lately that they almost seem like background noise, the price of life in a country with a perpetually unsolved conflict.
The Ministry of Education issued a statement after the latest attack, condemning the behavior towards Abu-Zamira, who is after all its employee – she and Valkov teach at a Ramat Hasharon junior high school and had come to Jerusalem to pay a condolence call at the home of the school’s principal. Haaretz reported the ministry’s statement in a story late last week:
“Because a number of violent and racist incidents have occurred recently, Education Ministry director-general Dalit Stauber has instructed that this coming Sunday, March 10, an hour of class time be devoted to a discussion on how to prevent such phenomena and their destructive ramifications for society,” theministry said in a statement, adding that relevant materials would be posted on the ministry website.
I decided to follow up on this directive to spend an hour of class time discussing the problem. I posted the question on two Facebook groups of parents who live in Israel – which together make up a total of about 1,450 members. Many people responded to say that they’d spoken about it with their teenagers, and not one found that the issue had actually been addressed as promised.
When I posed this to the Education Ministry and asked for a response to the apparent non-compliance of many schools, spokesman Shaul Pe’er sent me a one-line email in response: “All schools in Israel dealt with the matter!”
Phew. So glad that’s been dealt with.
I asked my friend Debora Siegel, a veteran teacher of English at Jerusalem’s prestigious Leyada, the popular name for the Hebrew University High School. She hadn’t received any particular instruction to address the issue for an hour on Sunday, and she would know: She’s also a mehanechet, the Israeli equivalent of a homeroom teacher. But it happens she brought it up in class, which she’s been doing more often, because the incidents seem to be growing in number.
“It feels like it’s getting worse and worse, though the kids tell me it’s always going on and it’s not new, that it’s just in the news more,” says Siegel, who immigrated to Israel from the U.S. and brings in texts from American writers such as Maya Angelou and Flannery O’Connor, along with readings on the civil rights movement. “I feel that the racism is more rampant, and that it’s happening all over the country. I notice it more from the kids’ mouths and in the newspapers. It’s not just about Arabs, it’s against foreign workers, it’s against Haredim.”
The school has been working on its own initiative, for example, to build bridges with schools in East Jerusalem. On Tuesday a group of students from Beit Hanina will be visiting Leyada and talking about their views on nonviolent protest, and how their lives are affected by living near a checkpoint.
Gilead Amir, the school’s principal, also doesn’t recall being informed of any specific directive from the Education Ministry to deal with the issue on March 10, though perhaps he missed it, he says.
“The idea to respond is good, and asking to us address the issue is something I support,” he says. “But it’s only meaningful when it comes as an enhancement to something that schools are dealing with as a part of their regular educational program. The point is not to stop and discuss the issue for an hour. What’s important is that it’s on the school’s agenda on a regular basis.” Leyada – a magnet school for bright kids – clearly thinks it’s a priority. It’s doubtful that the schools that need it most agree.
But the issue is so much larger than what the Ministry of Education says schools should do, and ultimately don’t do. Some of the most powerful messages are sent out by the police, when they release teenagers who are suspected of being responsible for the incident almost as soon as they’re arrested – as was the case in the attack on Abu-Samira.
Or when they accidentally lose hours of crucial taped testimony in the case of the “lynch” in Zion Square last summer, when an anti-Arab crowd of teenagers beat East Jerusalemite Jamal Julani within an inch of his life, leaving him unconscious and with no memory of the incident. (Two of the eight suspects will be convicted merely of “incitement to violence” in a plea bargain, the others’ cases are pending.) Or when no one is brought to justice in case of the Molotov cocktail attack on a Palestinian taxi during the same awful week last August; The attack horrifically burned seven members of the same family. (No arrests have been made in the attack on the Jayada family from Nahalin, other than the questioning of a few Bat Ayin youths who were released days later.)
A group called Tag Meir – or Light Tag, a pun on the growth of the “price tag” attacks perpetrated by extreme right-wingers – called for demonstration against the violence Sunday night. The turnout was small – no more than 200 people – “especially compared to last year’s rallies for economic reform held at the same spot,” noted journalist Lauren Gelfond Feldinger in her Facebook status. No major politicians – including the prime minister, in front of whose house the protest was held – bothered to show up.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the double-standards. When an Arab attacks a Jew, he’s a terrorist, he’s with the movement, he’s been taught to hate. When a Jew attacks an Arab, he’s just a loner, an oddball, a bad egg. But we’ve seen so many bad eggs at this point that something here has begun to stink – and can no longer be explained away as a phenomenon on the fringes.
EDITOR: Nothing to add to the report below. It unfortunately speaks too loudly for itself. Only a very sick society could come up with this.
Israeli security forces spray raw sewage at Palestinian homes: middleeastmonitor.com
Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with raw sewage as a punishment for organising weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied West Bank land. Human rights watchdog B’Tselem published a video showing Israel’s armoured tanker trucks fitted with “water cannons” which spray the foul fluid at Palestinian protesters.B’Tselem said in a statement that the Israeli forces also targeted all the houses of the village with the sewage. The powerful jet broke windows and caused a great deal of damage in the houses, said the Israeli organisation. “It also causes environmental damage,” it pointed out. The non-lethal weapon has been added to the Israelis’ armoury for crowd control, said B’Tselem, even though the video shows clearly that it is also used against Palestinian-owned property.
The Israeli military has been looking for an alternative to tear gas canisters for crowd control, claiming that the Palestinians now know how to cope with the gas and its effects.
EDITOR: And they tell us boycott does not work…
Defense Ministry surprised at decision; company vows to appeal.
By Ora Coren | Mar.07, 2012
India has barred Israel Military Industries, as well as five other foreign defense contractors, from bidding for defense contracts in the country for 10 years. IMI was notified yesterday of Monday’s decision by the Indian Ministry of Defense and says it will appeal.
The ban followed an investigation by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation. The agency, which completed its probe in 2009, concluded that there was sufficient evidence to implicate the blacklisted firms in bribing Sudipta Ghosh, the former director of Ordnance Factories, and other officers to win six contracts.
The companies were given hearings but the ministry found their explanations lacking.
The CBI recommended that action be taken against the companies. The decision is expected to affect not only IMI’s activities in India but also those of other Israeli defense firms.
Although the outcome of the investigation had long been known, the Israeli defense establishment greeted the decision with surprise. Defense officials said they thought the hearing process for IMI was still continuing. Earlier yesterday IMI said it hadn’t received official notice of the blacklist decision; the notice did however arrive later in the day.
“The Defense Ministry was surprised to hear of the decision by the Indian Ministry of Defense, because the hearing process for IMI against the intent of imposing sanctions on it had not been completed, and especially since IMI had very good claims against the move,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement yesterday, adding that it will consult with IMI on a response.
IMI said in a statement that it did and does obey the law and will continue to work with the Indian authorities to resolve the issue. In any case, it said, it plans to appeal on the grounds that the conclusion is based on “erroneous facts” and ignores information submitted by the company.
It is thought that IMI had only begun developing its operations in the Indian market and had signed an agreement to build a factory – the agreement that triggered the investigation. Since the probe began IMI has all but frozen its activities in India; no other deals have been reported.
India is considered a key export market for Israeli defense companies. All the players, including Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Elbit Systems, bid for Indian tenders. Some Israeli defense manufacturers are building factories in India, mainly to meet the requirements of reciprocal procurement agreements.
Industry sources outside IMI have expressed concern that IMI’s presence on the blacklist could affect other Israeli firms, though there have been no signs of any recoil yet.
They also suggested that the Indian decision could hamstring Israeli government efforts to privatize IMI. Since India had been considered one of its biggest customers, the loss could diminish IMI’s value.
The other companies placed on the blacklist were Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Rheinmetall Air Defence Zurich, Corporation Defence Russia, T.S. Kisan & Co. and R.K. Machine Tools. The last two are Indian companies.
Bribery allegations abound
In the past, Israel Aerospace Industries had been accused of landing jobs by bribing Indian officials. The company denied the allegations and was not part of the Central Bureau of Investigation’s probe.
Nor has there been any mention of adding IAI to the blacklist. After publication of the suspicions, IAI won billions of dollars worth of deals in India.
Earlier this week it turned out that Soltam, a member of the Elbit Systems group of companies, had been blacklisted by the Philippines back in July 2011, for one year.
Soltam is well known in Israeli households for its stainless steel cookware, but in military circles it’s better known for making advanced artillery systems, mortars, ammunition and auxiliary equipment. Elbit Systems bought the controlling interest in Soltam in 2010, after Soltam was accused of bribing officials in Kazakhstan. The company denied the allegations.
Soltam’s client in the Philippines was the army. The allegation against it isn’t corruption, it’s failing to deliver two orders before an October 2010 deadline. Elbit Systems did not comment on the move by Manila.
EDITOR: Is there something that Israel’s apologists cannot justify? Apparently not.
One of the UK’s leading academics says supporters of Israel need to accept historical facts that Israel committed “ethnic cleansing” in 1948 — and be clear that there is no contradiction between this and their support of Israel.
Oxford’s first professor of Israel studies, Derek Penslar, made the comments to the JC following a well-attended lecture at Manchester University’s Centre for Jewish Studies. The chair was made possible in 2011 through a £3 million endowment from the Stanley and Zea Lewis Foundation.
Professor Penslar said pro-Israelis needed to catch up with the past 30 years of academic scholarship that has accepted the “vast bulk of findings” by Zionist revisionist historians such as Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe about Israel’s actions in 1948.
He said: “What happened to the Palestinians, the Naqba, was not a genocide. It was horrible, but it was not a genocide. Genocide means that you wipe out a people. It wasn’t a genocide. It was ethnic cleansing.”
In his lecture, Professor Penslar made clear that there was no evidence to accept the conclusions of some who claimed that early Zionist leaders had a policy or programme of forced expulsions of Palestinians.
But, the professor said afterwards, people like him “could not lie about ethnic cleansing because of some concern that some extremist is going to try to use my words, to back up a point of view that he or she holds anyway.
“So people are refusing to believe [what happened], not because it’s not true, but even if it is true they do not want to distribute it. What I’m saying is that scholars have an obligation to tell the truth”.