Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When Montgomery comes to Nabi Saleh

By Mark Perry

On March 24, the Israeli government arrested Bassem Tamimi, a 44-year-old resident of the small Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, which is just west of Ramallah. Tamimi was arrested for leading a group of his neighbors in protest marches on a settlement that had "expropriated" the village's spring -- the symbolic center of Nabi Saleh's life. 
Tamimi was brought before the Ofer military court and charged with "incitement, organizing unpermitted marches, disobeying the duty to report to questioning" and "obstruction of justice" -- for giving young Palestinians advice on how to act under Israeli police interrogation. He was remanded to an Israeli military prison to await a hearing and a trial. The detention of Tamimi is not a formality: under Israeli military decree 101 he is being charged with attempting "verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order." As in Syria, this is an "emergency decree" disguised as protecting public security. It carries a sentence of 10 years.

The arrest of Tamimi marked only the most recent escalation in Israel's campaign to suffocate the Nabi Saleh movemen: in the two months prior to his arrest, Israeli officials detained more than 18 Nabi Saleh youths; over the last two years, nearly 15 percent of Nabi Saleh's population has spent time in Israeli jails; half of those arrested have been under the age of 18 and the youngest of them was 11. But what is extraordinary about the Nabi Saleh campaign is its effectiveness. The protestors are trained in non-violent tactics. "Our strategic choice of a popular struggle -- as a means to fight the occupation taking over our lands, lives, and future -- is a declaration that we do not harm human lives," Tamimi has said. "The very essence of our activity opposes killing."  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Where were the calls for a no-fly zone when Israel attacked Gaza, asks George Galloway

When Will the Arab Awakening Wake Up Washington?

By: Scott MacLeod 

 Three months after the January 25 Revolution in Egypt, President Obama's approach to the Middle East is hopelessly adrift. He is hesitant to truly embrace the Arab freedom movements, failing to lead Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and lacking effective diplomacy to counter Iran's nuclear ambitions. Two years after his ballyhooed Cairo University reach-out to the Arab and Muslim worlds, it's clear now that he actually doesn't get it.
We're told that Obama intends to speak again very soon about his Middle East policies. What is needed is something that he is unlikely to deliver, especially as a politician already launching his campaign for re-election in 2012: a long-overdue revolution in America's Middle East policies, a fitting and needed response to the revolutionary change sweeping the region.
At the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Washington this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a glimpse into the administration's mindset. Her talk was reactive, uninspired. It largely consisted of warnings and worries: Can Arabs achieve political and social change? Can they reform economies that are dependent on oil and stunted by corruption? Will they respect women and minorities? Will the vacuum be filled by extremists? Essentially she was asking: Are Arabs ready for democracy?
That is the type of tired American thinking that enabled successive U.S. administrations to support Arab dictators and disregard the hopes and aspirations of the Arab people. And conspicuously absent from Clinton's speech were any of the hard questions that the Obama administration should be asking itself: Why have America's policies failed so miserably, and for so long, in the Middle East? Why do nine out of 10 Egyptians disapprove of Obama's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, a bellwether of Muslim attitudes toward the U.S.? What innovations in Middle East policies should be considered now, in light of the new realities?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

US weapons to Israel are disincentives to peace

Against the background of Israel’s contempt for international law and violations of Palestinian human rights, and as Washington now considers raising the debt ceiling and making even more substantial cuts to the 2012 budget, Josh Ruebner argues that “the moral, financial and political costs of arming Israel can no longer be ignored”.


By Josh Ruebner

Israel may be forgiven for failing to realize the current fiscal woes of the United States. After all, US military aid to Israel not only sailed unscathed through last week’s passage of the 2011 budget, but reached the record level of 3 billion dollars.

The United States additionally provided Israel 415 million dollars for procurement, research and development of joint US-Israeli missile defence projects, including 205 million dollars to fund Israel’s newly-deployed Iron Dome system.

This anti-missile battery already has altered significantly the strategic balance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when Israel successfully shot down incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip earlier this month. With the assured diplomatic backing of the United States to prevent Israel from being held accountable by the international community for its illegal blockade, Iron Dome will embolden Israel to tighten its siege and escalate its attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip by providing its citizens with additional protection against retaliatory fire.

US funding of Iron Dome is but one example of many of how US weapons transfers to Israel enhance Israeli military dominance over Palestinian freedom and create perverse economic disincentives for Israel to defy US policy goals, such as halting Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land, ending its collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and negotiating in good faith a lasting peace agreement.
As long as US weapons continue to flow, Israel will feel free to disregard the Obama administration’s mild blandishments and half-hearted attempts to bring Israel to the negotiating table. Unfortunately this disincentive structure is set to be reinforced over the coming years.

Under a Bush-era agreement, US weapons transfers to Israel are scheduled to total 30 billion dollars during 2009-18, an annual average increase of 25 per cent above previous levels. With this 2007 Memorandum of Understanding, the United States solidified Israel’s position as the largest recipient of US military aid this decade. In line with increases proposed under this arrangement, President Obama asked for a record-breaking 3.075 billion dollars of weapons for Israel in his 2012 budget request.

A new online database – How Many Weapons to Israel? – casts doubt on whether the United States can afford, either morally, financially or politically, to continue transferring weapons to Israel at taxpayer expense without examining the ramifications of this policy.

During 2000-09, the United States licensed, paid for, and delivered to Israel more than 670 million weapons and related equipment, valued at nearly 19 billion dollars, through three main weapons transfer programmes (Foreign Military Sales, Direct Commercial Sales and Excess Defence Articles). These weapons transfer programmes accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the more than 24 billion dollars in military aid appropriated to Israel during these years. The bulk of the remaining money was spent by Israel on its own domestic arms industry, a unique exemption written into law for Israel. All other countries receiving US military aid are required to spend the whole sum within the United States.

Friday, April 22, 2011


In the past five years, the BDS movement has witnessed a spectacular and robust rate of growth in international civil society and among people of conscience around the world.

Omar Barghouti

Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz’s ill-informed and manifestly misleading attack on the Palestinian-led, global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel contained several misrepresentations and some outright fabrications. The historical account given by Meyerowitz-Katz is not only skewed; it is a typical attempt to obscure or omit altogether the basic facts about BDS.
An overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society issued the BDS Call on July 9, 2005 as an effective, non-violent strategy to end Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights. This civil, peaceful and inclusive struggle, largely inspired by the successful South African anti-apartheid movement, is based on international law and universal principles of human rights.

The BDS movement’s objectives are justice, freedom and full equality for all, irrespective of identity attributes. The aim of the BDS campaign, specifically, is to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law, namely by: withdrawing from all Arab lands it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; implementing full equal rights for the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respecting the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
Mischaracterising the internationally mandated return of indigenous Palestinian refugees uprooted and dispossessed by Israel during the Nakba, the 1948 campaign of ethnic cleansing, as “a sudden influx of millions of immigrants” is unarguably false and deceitful.
The reality is Israel is a state that, according to several annual US Department of State human rights reports, maintains a system of “institutional, legal, and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens. This system of legalised and institutionalised racial discrimination fits the international definition of apartheid in the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crimes of Apartheid and the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
According to Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, there are at least 20 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. These encompass the vital domains of land ownership, state education, and infamously, the “Law of Return” – which excludes anyone who is not Jewish. And all this is not even to mention Israel’s military occupation and colonisation of the West Bank or its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, which has recently been called a “prison camp” by British prime minister David Cameron. BDS is a movement based on universal human rights and as such rejects all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.

Second Thoughts

How much does Richard Goldstone's Gaza retraction matter? 

Richard Goldstone has changed his mind about the Gaza war. Should we? Goldstone is the South African judge who served as head of a panel appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council to look into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Israel's 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza. The report reached the damning conclusion that "disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians were part of a deliberate policy" on Israel's part. On this score, Goldstone has recanted. Writing in the Washington Post on April 1, he now says that Israel's own investigations "indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy."
Human rights groups and others who embraced the Goldstone report were unfazed. Writing in the Huffington Post, Media Matters' M. J. Rosenberg dismissed the change of heart as an "edit." In the Guardian, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, argued that his organization had never accepted the claim of intentional targeting, and pointed out -- as others have -- that Goldstone did not retract many serious allegations against Israel, including "the indiscriminate use of heavy artillery and white phosphorous in densely populated areas."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When in Doubt, Give a Middle East Speech

In the cruel world of Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. politics, talk is cheap. 



The looming U.S.-Israeli tensions over who says what first about Israeli-Palestinian peace obscures the broader question on which any successful American initiative depends: Are Israelis and Palestinians ready for a conflict-ending agreement? And if not, is there anything Washington can do about it?
The wise former secretary of state, George Shultz, used to say that when you don't have a policy, the pressure builds to give a speech. These days, that appears to be the focal point of the current efforts on all three sides. In short, if you can't or won't do, then at least talk. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to pre-empt the United States with his own plan; President Barack Obama is considering pre-empting the prime minister with his own; and the Palestinians, well, they're planning to counter with their own U.N. gambit on statehood.

The problem with all these initiatives is that none have a strategy to move from words to deeds. The Palestinians actually come closest with their U.N. initiative, but this is, under the best of circumstances, a dangerous leap in the dark unlikely to produce real statehood -- and more likely to generate trouble. All these budding initiatives have the feel of a game of "gotcha" or musical chairs designed to deflect or pre-empt pressure and put it on someone else -- to see, in effect, who's the odd man out when the music stops.
Negotiations remain the only realistic path forward, but the gaps on the core issues are too large to bridge at present. Or to put it more explicitly, Israeli and Palestinian leaders are too constrained to bridge them; the Arab world is too distracted to bring much focus to the problem; and the United States is too unsure about how or what to do about any of the above. As Shultz noted, it's the perfect time to give a speech.
That the Obama administration is thinking about laying out its own views on borders, Jerusalem, security, and refugees when there's no chance of actual negotiations tells you how virtual the peace process has become. The sad reality is that right now the default position is the declaratory one. Unless Netanyahu comes up with something really credible on borders upon which Obama can build, like a chain of falling dominoes we will be drawn inexorably toward more (and unhelpful) Palestinian declarations in New York, and likely more unilateralism and violence.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gaza family grieves following Israeli raid


“Hell is where many false commitments must be unlearned.”

(Ricardo J. Quinones, Dante Alighieri)

Prof. William A. Cook

Richard Goldstone’s journey from Justice to Sinner represents the spiritual act of dying in the Zionist world. By recanting his own report he has attempted to break the bonds that cast him into the sufferings in Caina, Antenora, and Judecca where, in Dante’s Inferno, those treacherous to their own, are removed from the light and warmth of their kin, their country, and their masters and suffer eternal damnation in the remorseless dead center of the ice in the most bottomless circle of Hell. Fortunately, Goldstone like Dante can learn that he has, in his journey, aligned himself with many false gods and many false attachments ignoring on the way the elementary truths that bind humankind ineluctably in one race in a bond of human grace.
The Zionist world needs no Hell since it heeds no conscience. It exists on one foundation, a solid block of ice that freezes the soul of all who bear allegiance to its creed of absolute obedience, an ancient form of tribal slavery bound by fear that shackles the soul, by isolation that instills despair, by humiliation that corrodes self, and by victimhood that bonds the tribe in self-perpetuating agony. It is in this sense Medieval, a remnant of the inquisitorial mind that harbored no dissent, gave no credence to personal freedom, and obligated all to one monolithic understanding of commitment to the powers that control.
Goldstone, nearing the end of his life’s journey, vested in the mantle of Jewishness with all the warmth of family and community, surrounded by companions from adolescence to manhood, imbued with curiosity and fervor for the history of his people, and sustained over the years by his commitment to justice for his people found himself confronted by a state that would not cooperate in the pursuit of that justice when he and his commission found it to be wanting.
Thus did the Goldstone Report, executed on behalf of all nations united in pursuit of truth, become the lodestone that attracted the attention of the world and brought condemnation to the state of Israel. In retaliation for such an act, he suffered the consequences of those who act treacherously to their masters, the Zionist powers that used time-tested punishments of those who find fault with the tribe: damnation, isolation, coercion, rejection, humiliation, and expulsion from his own. Thus did the false gods expose themselves, forcing Richard Goldstone to retract his own words in a blind attempt to seek solace in the tribe that condemned him. But these false gods are “dead people” in Dante’s Inferno, they have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites for land and power through the use of violence, perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chief Rabbi calls on Obama to free Pollard if he wants to be re-elected

Chief Rabbi calls on Obama to free Pollard if he wants to be re-electedOn Sunday, Israeli public radio said that the chief Rabbi, Yona Metzger, had urged US president, Barak Obama, to pardon the Jewish American spy, Jonathan Pollard, in order to win re-election to the White House for a second term in office.

The radio station quoted Rabbi Metzger's Friday address at the Yosharon Synagogue in which he said that "Obama needs to prove his friendship to Israel and to immediately release Jonathan Pollard before pressing for diplomatic initiatives toward settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict." He also said that Pollard's pardon would go a long way in helping Obama to secure a new term in the White House adding that, "I do not mean to speculate, but I am expressing the feelings of many American Jews who voted for Obama and feel disappointed by his procrastination despite the numerous appeals on Pollard's behalf."

In a speech to the Knesset on the 4th of January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced that he had sent a letter to Obama officially requesting amnesty for Jonathan Pollard. The White House later confirmed receipt of the letter and that the request would be 'looked into'.

'US led major efforts to help Israel at UN after Cast Lead'

US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice spearheaded major efforts to thwart an independent UN investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas in Operation Cast Lead, according to a Foreign Policy report published on Monday.

WikiLeaks cables quoted by the report state that Rice used the prospect of such an investigation as a means of pressuring Israel to participate in a US-supported peace process.

The release of the WikiLeaks cables follows the publication of Richard Goldstone's op-ed in The Washington Post saying that his report had unfairly accused Israel for intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead.

The release of the WikiLeaks cables follows the publication of South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s op-ed in The Washington Post saying that the factfinding mission he led, whose findings are known as the Goldstone Report, had unfairly accused Israel of intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead.

The new cables are surprising, according to the Foreign Policy report, because they reveal in depth “how America wields its power behind closed doors at the United Nations.”

They also show how the US and Israel were given special access to “highly sensitive” UN deliberations on an “independent” UNinquiry panel into the Gaza operation. This, according to Foreign Policy, raises questions over the independence of the process.

The report cites one WikiLeaks cable in which Rice spoke with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon several times about blocking recommendations of the board of inquiry to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes by IDF soldiers and Palestinian terrorists.

“Ambassador Rice urged the secretary-general to make clear in his cover letter when he transmits the summary to the Security Council that those recommendations exceeded the scope of the terms of reference and no further action is needed,” Rice is quoted as saying in the May 2009 cable.
This is really hard to watch: A search in prisoners cells and tents in Ktziot, a huge prison for Palestinians near the Egyptian border, ended up with the guards shooting prisoners in their quarters, killing one and injuring others.
The whole operation was unnecessary, intended to promote self-confidence and to “boost morale” among the guards. As can be see near the end of the video, some guards are clearly enjoying themselves (not everyone – others are trying to prevent the situation from getting out of hands).
(For English subtitles, press arrow, then “CC” on the lower-right corner of the player)

Channel 2 aired this story on “Uvda”, a “60 minutes”-style program which was under fire recently for being “too lefty”. Recently, Uvda was forced to compensate an IDF officer for airing a story describing how he and his soldiers shot and killed a 13 years old Palestinian girl near Gaza in 2004.

Goldstone Recants, Gaza Dies

Israel has been increasing the pressure on Gaza over the past month and many believe that the reprieve provided by Goldstone will give the green light to another major incursion.

By Philip Giraldi

The United States has long been on the receiving end of Israeli misbehavior.  Israel invades Lebanon or Gaza, the US vetoes UN Security Council resolutions condemning civilian deaths and destruction of infrastructure, and Washington winds up taking the blame for condoning Tel Aviv’s recklessness.  Repeat that twenty times and it is no surprise that most of the world regards the United States as the enabler of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.  Osama bin Laden has repeatedly cited American support of Israeli repression as one of his reasons for attacking the United States.  Opinion polls taken in Muslim countries, where footage of Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians is nightly fare on television, demonstrate sharp declines in the numbers of those who regard the US favorably.  And the repeated application of the get out of jail free card to Israel has produced an insufferable arrogance in Israeli leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu, confident that the American dog will let itself be wagged by the Israeli tail whenever necessary. It invites more of the same, whether it is building more settlements, killing civilians in Gaza, or intercepting humanitarian missions on the high seas.
Not being held accountable ever has led to recklessness on the part of the Israelis and has further diminished America’s international reputation as it is increasingly seen as complicit in various outrages and even war crimes.  In the Cast Lead invasion of Gaza in December 2008 Israel was able to unleash an enormous and sophisticated US-provided military arsenal against a largely helpless civilian population within which a small number of genuine Hamas militants concealed themselves.  It was probably Israel’s most audacious defiance of international norms of behavior and the fact that it has escaped consequence-free suggests that history will soon repeat itself in the form of another assault on Hamas which will undoubtedly bring in its wake a large number of civilian casualties and further destruction of schools, hospitals, homes, and businesses.
This time Judge Richard Goldstone, who was commissioned by the United Nations to head a group of four jurists asked to write a report on Cast Lead, has to be seen as an enabler of any possible future conflict.  Let us assume for a moment that Goldstone, who was under tremendous pressure from international Jewry, was actually sincere in his recent recantation regarding Israeli war crimes in Gaza.  His first report for the United Nations asserted that Israel and Hamas had both been guilty of war crimes, but that the devastation produced by Israel far exceeded anything accomplished by Hamas.  Israeli crimes included destroying clearly identified schools, hospitals, and United Nations food warehouses.  White phosphorous artillery shells were used against civilian targets, generally regarded as completely unacceptable by most of the world’s militaries.  It was collective punishment time with Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister declaring “The Palestinians are going to bring upon themselves a Holocaust.”

The Israeli Lobby's Poisonous Influence on US Policy

By Stephen Lendman

The Israeli Lobby's Poisonous Influence on US Policy - by Stephen Lendman
In his powerful 2006 book titled, "The Power of Israel in the United States," James Petras explained the enormous Jewish Lobby influence on US Middle East policies. Often harming American interests, they're pursued anyway because of its grassroots and high-level control over government, business leaders, academia, the clergy and mass media since at least the 1960s.
As a result, anyone challenging Israeli policy risks being intimidated, blackmailed, smeared, pressured, removed from positions of authority, or called a national security or terrorist threat, leaving them vulnerable to unprincipled ostracization, persecution or worse.
Among America's 52 Conference of Major American Jewish Organization(s) (CPMAJO), the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest, founded in 1897.
Established by B'nai Brith in 1913, perhaps the Anti-Definition League is best known.
However, in terms of its influence over US Middle East policies, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) stands out. Calling itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," it's represented Israeli interests since founded in 1953, then incorporated in 1963 as a division of the American Zionist Council (AZC), its precursor.

Israel under pressure to offer peace plan

If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't act soon, the Mideast 'quartet' may try to jump-start the process by endorsing a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem its capital.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Settlers’ murder investigation turns into collective punishment

The army has taken control over the village of Awarta, which lies near the settlement of Itamar, where 5 members of the Fogel family were murdered. According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested, some beaten; all young men were forced to give DNA samples; settlers have built an outpost on the village’s land, which is now guarded by the Israeli army

Army roadblock inside Awarta
Ever since the terrible murder of five members of the Fogel family in the settlement of Itamar, the nearby village of Awarta is going through what is officially a murder investigation, but looks more like a form of collective punishment—some would say organized revenge — led by the IDF and Israel’s Internal Security Service (Shin Beit).
The events have been going on since March 12, when thousands of soldiers entered the village and began house-to-house searches, accompanied by dogs and Shin Bet interrogators.
Hundreds of Awarta’s 6,000 residents were arrested and questioned. According to locals, the soldiers have taken over four houses in the village and turned them into an improvised interrogation facility. Several of the Palestinians said they were beaten by the soldiers and by their interrogators.
According to reports, all the village’s men between the ages of 15 and 40 were forced to give fingerprints and DNA samples.

Arab schools forced to follow Israeli curriculum

Israeli curriculum to be imposed on all Arab schools in Occupied East Jerusalem 

By Nasouh Nazzal

Arab schools of Occupied East Jerusalem will be forced from the next academic year to follow a new Israeli curriculum that is similar to the one followed in Arab schools in the 1948 areas, after Israeli authorities passed a decision to this effect.
An Israeli special committee has come up with the new curriculum to be followed in all Arab schools of Occupied East Jerusalem, even though these schools should ideally be united with other Palestinian schools in the syllabi that they follow.
Palestinians, both individuals and institutions, have condemned the decision as yet another example of Israel's attempt to obliterate the Palestinian identity and right to statehood.
The decision drew a warning from the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights on Monday that Arab residents of Occupied East Jerusalem would confront the Israeli authorities should an Israeli curriculum be imposed on Arab residents in the next academic year.
Zeyad Al Hamouri, who heads the centre, predicted a serious confrontation between the Israeli authorities and the Arab residents of Occupied East Jerusalem, similar to the 1967 confrontation when Israel annexed East Jerusalem and tried to force an Israeli curriculum on the Arab residents.
The strong Palestinian resistance to the proposal had forced the Israelis to retreat and the Jordanian curriculum had been adopted for all Arab schools of the holy city.
Al Hamouri called for a Palestinian national educational strategy to support the educational sector in Occupied East Jerusalem, where 10,000 Palestinian students remain without a specific educational framework. He said immediate plans should be drawn up to face the threat of Isreal's Judaising of the educational sector in Occupied East Jerusalem.

EU turns blind eye to Palestinian citizens in Israel

Answering questions from YouTube viewers over the past few weeks, Benjamin Netanyahu depicted Israel as an oasis of interracial harmony in a region of strife. "There's only one country in the heart of the Middle East that has no tremors, no protests," the Israeli prime minister said. "That's Israel. Because we're the only one where we respect human rights. The only one that respects the rights of Arab citizens. Twenty percent of our population are Arabs. And they enjoy full civil rights in Israel. It's the only place in this entire vast expanse where Arabs and Muslims enjoy complete freedom and complete equality before the law."

It was a statement of characteristic chutzpah. Despite his claim that Israel "respects the rights of Arab citizens," its national parliament -- the Knesset -- had just approved two pieces of legislation that discriminate against the country's 1.4 million Palestinian citizens.

First, on 22 March, a bill was passed to withdraw state funding from any institution that commemorates the Nakba, the forced displacement of Palestinians in 1948 that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel. Then, six days later, the Knesset approved a new law, which allows for Israeli citizenship to be removed when someone is convicted of terrorism or treason. Opponents of the law noted that it was directed at Palestinians and that it was virtually unthinkable that Jewish Israelis would have their citizenship revoked as a result.

Netanyahu's comments were made ahead of a short European tour, confined to Germany and the Czech Republic. Predictably, they did not elicit any protest from the political leaders he met in Berlin and Prague. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, went out of her way to exude warmth towards her guest. Insisting she is "never irritated" by Netanyahu (notwithstanding reports they had exchanged cross words in February over the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem), Merkel described her contacts with him as "fun."

US blocks European Mideast peace bid

UNITED NATIONS — The United States blocked a European bid to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process at an international meeting this week, diplomats said Tuesday.
Washington would not agree to the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East holding a meeting in Berlin on Friday, diplomats said. Top officials from the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations had already had one meeting in March pushed back.
Britain, France and Germany had wanted to use the Quartet meeting to propose the outline of a final settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
They have been pressing for a Quartet statement, setting out the framework for a deal such as borders and a land swap, which they hoped would revive direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Highlighting the trio's disappointment, a European diplomat said: "We think it would have been high time for the Quartet to have a strong political message out there, so we regret this meeting will not take place."
"There is increasing frustration on the Palestinian side," said a diplomat from another European Union nation. Both diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told AFP the three European nations "have been working at the highest level for the acceptance of these parameters to pave the way for the resumption of direct talks. It appears that Washington is not yet ready to accept this outline."
"It is very unfortunate," he added.
"We all know that if one wants to advance peace in the Middle East you don't put the Palestinian question on the backburner, you put it on the front burner. There has to be a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians."

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Goldstone Affair — The Loyal Zionist Judge Who Came In From the Cold

The mea culpa, with clarifications that are skimpy in the extreme, brought public humiliation to Goldstone. It also warns any Zionist loyalist who enters enemy territory that there are consequences for disloyalty.

By: James M Wall

I have been studying an excellent documentary, Occupation 101, an examination of the root causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The case of Judge Richard Goldstone broke too late to make it into the film, but I have a suggestion for the film makers: Start work on a sequel. Call it The Goldstone Affair: The Loyal Zionist Judge Who Came in From the Cold.
On April 1, 2011, Goldstone wrote an op ed column for the Washington Post in which he offered a light clarification of the negative report of Israel’s 17-day 2008-09 military assault in the Gaza Strip.
Goldstone’s Post mea culpa gave Israel’s current tribal leaders the opening they demanded, an opening which they are now exploiting to rewrite the script of what actually happened in the Gaza assault.
The mea culpa, with clarifications that are skimpy in the extreme, brought public humiliation to Goldstone. It also warns any Zionist loyalist who enters enemy territory that there are consequences for disloyalty.
The hasbara (public information/propaganda) specialists in the current Israeli government found a few morsels in Goldstone’s 500-word newspaper column to feed to the media and to appease American PEPs (progressive except for Palestine) who had been reeling for months over the detailed 552-page (including annexes) Goldstone Report.
Those hasbara specialists, or someone, may even have suggested the column’s most effective line to Goldstone. It sounds more like a spin-doctor’s phrase than something that would have come from the computer of a conservative South African Jewish judge.
The line the media seized upon is the one in which Goldstone, or whoever shaped the final version (a Post copy editor, perhaps?) was this: “If I had known then what I know now”.
Exactly what would have changed in the report, if he had “known then what I know now?”
Roger Cohen has some suggestions. He calls the column a “bizarre affair”:
[Goldstone] says his report would have been different “if I had known then what I know now.” The core difference the judge identifies is that he’s now convinced Gaza “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

His shift is attributed to the findings of a follow-up report by a UN committee of independent experts chaired by Mary McGowan Davis, a former New York judge, and what is “recognized” therein about Israeli military investigations. Well, Goldstone and I have not been reading the same report.

McGowan Davis is in fact deeply critical of those Israeli investigations — their tardiness, leniency, lack of transparency and flawed structure. Her report — stymied by lack of access to Israel, Gaza or the West Bank — contains no new information I can see that might buttress a change of heart.

On the core issue of intentionality, it declares: “There is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

Awarta residents report daily IDF raids

Israel wants to destroy village, expand nearby settlements, says mayor of Awarta, near Itamar

Palestinians from Awarta are reporting that IDF soldiers have been raiding their village every day recently, humiliating residents and damaging property while maintaining road blocks at the entrance. 

Awarta lies in close proximity to Itamar, in which five family members were stabbed to death a month ago.
Mayor Qais Awwad told Ynet Monday that Israel has also taken over land belonging to the West Bank village in order to expand nearby settlements.
Aftermath of raid in Awarta (Photo: Rabbis for Human Rights)

 Yaakov Manor, a left-wing activist who visited the village on Sunday, recounted one such raid in a Palestinian home.
"The soldiers entered rooms and broke furniture, broke a washing machine belonging to the family and a refrigerator as well. The soldiers tipped over oil containers and broke closets," he said.

Fight to rescind the Goldstone report reaches the U.S. Congress New legislation initiated in Congress would 'make it U.S. policy to demand the UN General Assembly revoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report and any UN resolutions stemming from the report.

New legislation initiated in Congress would 'make it U.S. policy to demand the UN General Assembly revoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report and any UN resolutions stemming from the report.

By Natasha Mozgovaya


The controversy over Richard Goldstone's Washington Post opinion piece has reached the floor of the United States Congress, with new legislation calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza war.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen authored an initiative called the "United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act." 

According to Ros-Lehtinen, the initiative will "make it U.S. policy to demand that the UN General Assembly revoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report and any UN resolutions stemming from the report, and will refund to U.S. taxpayers their share of the costs for the report and its follow-on measures."
Goldstone's report on Israel's 2009 war with Gaza angered many with its accusation that Israel had committed war crimes and intentionally targeted civilians. In a recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post, the judge wrote that Israel had investigated many of the allegations brought forth by the report, while Hamas had not done the same.
"If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document," Goldstone wrote.
As part of the Congressional initiative, Ros-Lehtinen wrote that the legislation will "also condition funding to the UN on a number of other reforms that are vital to make the UN more transparent, accountable, effective, and objective."
“Given the mission’s biased origin and mandate, Israel was clearly justified in not wishing to legitimize those who would inevitably seek to falsely condemn her," Ros-Lehtinen wrote in a letter to colleagues in Congress, urging them to support her initiative. "Further, Israel made extensive evidence about Operation Cast Lead publicly available—Mr. Goldstone could have easily made use of it properly, but he and his mission did not."

US to help pay for Iron Dome

Democrats, republicans slated to approve 2011 budget this week enabling Obama to increase security aid to Israel, transfer $205 million for development of anti-missile system

WASHINGTON – The United States is slated to provide Israel with $430 million worth of security aid in the near future which will include $205 million allocated for the development of Iron Dome batteries.

Democrats and republicans are slated to finalize the 2011 budget in the coming days. 

The delay in the approval of the funds was caused by foot-dragging in passing the budget in Congress.
The budget was meant to pass five months ago but partisan conflicts delayed its approval.
According to an agreement between the US and Israel for the next 10 years, 2011 aid was slated to grow to $3 billion (from $2.77 billion) in addition to an extra $205 million for the development of the Iron Dome system.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

'Boycott Israel' campaign challenges apartheid

A woman sits outside her home after Israel's bombing. 
Gaza Strip, February 2009.

While Palestinian, Israeli and international non-violent protesters who march against Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories are literally showered in sewage, beaten, arbitrarily arrested and sometimes killed by Israeli forces, the battle against non-violent resistance has taken its own ugly form in Australia.
Supporters of the non-violent global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement — especially members of the Greens — have been subjected to abuse in a deliberate national campaign of misinformation and slurs orchestrated against them. It has questioned their values and integrity and falsely accused them of anti-Semitism.
The war on BDS is part of a concerted effort to sabotage Palestinian and Israeli non-violent resistance against Israel’s 43-year-old illegal occupation and its 63 years of discrimination against non-Jewish Israeli citizens.
Our political elites here in Australia who profess their love for Israel and who have come out strongly against BDS have yet to offer Palestinians and Israelis any real alternative to alter Israel’s behaviour and to force it to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and the Universal Declarations of Human Rights.
Instead they stoop to play the old and abused anti-Semitism card to manipulate the discourse and to silence debate.
Recently, Federal MP Andrew Robb on ABC radio attacked the Greens accusing them of being anti-Semitic. Does Robb believe that all Jews are Israelis?
Does he believe that Israel represents all Jews? Does he hold all Jews world wide collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel?
Is he telling us that Jews have a political monolithic view and follow one agenda? The idea of lumping all Jews in the world into one category is inherently a racist idea that must be seen for what it is.
The BDS campaign rejects all forms of stereotypes, all forms of discrimination and all forms of racism including the kind Robb has indulged himself with on air.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

War on Palestinian Memory: Israel Resolves Its Democracy Dilemma

by Ramzy Baroud

Palestinian citizens of Israel must have been proud of the fact that their collective tenacity always proved stronger than any Israeli attempt at dislocating them from their rightful historical narrative. Now, they are being told to cease and desist from commemorating al-Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948, which saw the brutal seizure and depopulation of most of Palestine in order to construct the Israeli ‘miracle’.

Currently estimated at a fifth of the population of today’s Israel , Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have endured appalling treatment for decades. As Muslims and Christians, they have been regarded as an anomaly in what was meant to be a perfect Jewish utopia governed by the laws of democracy. This is the quandary that Israel has never mastered, as the non-Jewish citizens of Israel have represented a major obstacle to that vision.

The question of what to do with Palestinian citizens of Israel has long haunted Israeli politicians. Discriminatory laws, unlawful seizure of land and even violence have all failed to deter Palestinians from demanding equality and exposing the moral inconsistency of Israel ’s selective democracy and dubious history. More, all attempts at fragmenting Palestinian national identity – through different sets of laws for Palestinians in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and millions in Diaspora – were hardly enough to disfigure the innate sense of solidarity and belonging that Palestinian communities felt towards one another. When Palestinian activists gather in Jerusalem , Algiers or London , one fails to trace borderlines, the details of identity cards, or any other desperate forms of classification used by Israel . When Palestinians meet, Israel ’s divisive laws prove frivolous. 

Israeli politicians have “lost sight of a basic concept in democracy,” claimed the Association for Civil Rights in Israel ( ACRI ) in a recent statement, as cited by the BBC . The statement was a response to the Israeli parliament’s approval of a bill that “allows courts to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted of spying, treason or aiding its enemies.” Like scores of other bills introduced to the Knesset, many of which have been approved, the most recent amendment of the Citizenship Law of 1952 targets the Palestinian population of Israel .

The bill, passed on March 28, was sponsored by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, the proud sponsor of nearly two dozen other discriminatory bills. Liberman’s 2009 campaign was largely based on the slogan: “no loyalty, no citizenship.” The latest bill is another manifestation of this idea.

But it was hardly the only bill targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel . Another had been passed only a few days earlier. The “Nakba Bill” passed its final reading on March 22 and was sponsored by Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu). This bill can be understood as a war on the collective memory of Palestinians, as it targets those who mark and commemorate the Catastrophe of 1948.

“We are ready to go to jail,” was the response of MK Jamal Zahalka, of Balad party, who warned of “civil rebellion” against recent bills. “Nakba law won’t stop Arabs – we’ll just increase our protests.”

Czech Government: Please Don’t Support Apartheid, Racism and Occupation

We are a group of Israeli citizens who are deeply concerned about our government's policies of racism, apartheid and occupation, and the European Union's complicity in these policies. It has been brought to our attention that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit your country this month
in order to "deepen crucial strategic cooperation",as reported by your local media. Cooperation of this type means increased complicity of the Czech Republic in Israeli crimes. We are therefore writing to you to ask that you resume your responsibility to uphold basic principles of international law and human rights in Israel/Palestine.

Israel's violations of human rights, in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as inside Israel, include violations of: the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1976); The Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) Art 49 regarding transfer of an occupying powers’ civilian population into the territory it occupies; The Right to Life, article 6 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966; Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), Art 33, Prohibiting collective punishment of a civilian population; and Articles 53 and 147 on deliberate and wanton destruction of personal and state property not justified by military necessity.

Fundamental principles of international law, as well as numerous European Union laws, have been violated by Israel’s policy of founding illegal colonies on Palestinian territories as well as imposing blockade on Gaza, not to mention Israel’s numerous military operations which have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure and property, Israel’s policy of extra-judicial execution and Israel’s continued building of the illegal separation barrier (wall) inside occupied Palestinian territory.

In view of the aforementioned violations of international law and human rights, we expect the Czech Republic, as a prominent member of the EU, to:

Defending the indefensible

Dr. Daud Abdullah

Following Richard Goldstone's rather odd op-ed piece in the Washington Post, there is now a frantic campaign to overturn the UN's "Goldstone Report" into Israel's 2008/9 war against the people of Gaza. Leading the charge is a legion of columnists, public relations handlers, apologists and spin doctors intent on proving Israeli innocence of all charges contained in the report. Despite his established record for balanced analyses, the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland surprisingly made an uncharacteristic threadbare contribution headed, "Where's the Goldstone report into Sri Lanka, Congo, Darfur – Britain?"

The article attempts to make three points: that Israel did not "intentionally target" civilians during the conflict but Hamas did; that war crimes are committed elsewhere so why single out Israel; and negate the centrality of Palestine in the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.
The insinuation that there has been no international action to prosecute persons suspected for war crimes in the three trouble spots Freedland names is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. In November 2010, Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse was forced, like several Israeli war crime suspects before him, to cancel a visit to Britain amid fears that he might be arrested for war crimes under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

In the cases of the Congo and Sudan, it is well known that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for the arrests of Bosco Ntaganda, the former alleged Deputy Chief of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), and Sudan's President Omar Bashir.

In an interesting apparently unrelated development, a lawsuit will begin this week in a British court with five elderly Kenyans taking on the UK government over torture allegations during the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule between 1952 and 1960. Will such a case ever take place in Israel? How many Palestinians have been able to launch such legal action in Israel? Every attempt to take Israel to task in a European court has been met with protection and subterfuge from Israel's friends, Britain included.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time is not Israel's partner in crime

AIPAC's initiative to undermine Palestinian unity efforts may backfire after losing key regional allies, analyst says. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about AIPAC's newly devised strategy for the next 12 months and beyond.
The strategy is to again assert that Israel has no acceptable negotiating partner, a throwback to its modus operandi during the Arafat era.
The "no partner" mantra is designed to prevent President Barack Obama from renewing his push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is determined to avoid.
Negotiations would require the Israeli government to cease the expansion of settlements, which Netanyahu and his rightist coalition refuse to do. Negotiations could also lead to Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, which is the worst case scenario from Netanyahu's perspective.
AIPAC, true to the new strategy, has already begun a lobbying campaign stressing the "no partner" line. In recent weeks, its legion of lobbyists has fanned out all over Capitol Hill to convince the US congress that there simply are no Palestinians fit to negotiate with Israel.
Logically, this is a tough case to make. After all, for the last several years Netanyahu himself has admitted that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is an acceptable partner.
In fact, Israel has bragged about its excellent relations with Abbas and about how together Israel and the PA had pretty much licked West Bank terrorism. AIPAC, naturally, parroted the same line.
On top of that, in January, Al Jazeera published the "Palestine Papers", which demonstrated the embarrassing lengths that Abbas was willing to go to achieve a peace agreement with Israel.
At that point, Netanyahu suddenly began to fear being backed into a corner. Unless he could demonstrate that his "partner" Abbas was no partner at all, he might find himself coming under White House pressure to freeze settlements and begin negotiations. It was time to preempt Obama.
AIPAC quickly dispatched its lobbyists with new talking points purporting to demonstrate that Abbas has no interest in peace and never did. AIPAC's argument: if Abbas wanted peace, he would drop his silly refusal to negotiate with Netanyahu while Israel is expanding settlements.
"What does one thing have to do with the other?" AIPAC asks. Abbas can have peace; he just can not expect Israel to stop building on his land.
But that is a hard sell, even for the ever-credulous US congress.
So Netanyahu came up with another rationale for doing nothing and AIPAC is already running with it. He says that Israel will not negotiate with the Palestinian Authority if the PA continues its efforts to end the split between the two rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas.

Fooling Abbas?
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu told Abbas, "You can not have peace with both Israel and Hamas. Choose peace with Israel".
This is typical Netanyahu, falling into the category of "too clever by half".
Netanyahu understands, of course, that Abbas cannot make peace with Israel except as a representative of both the people of the West Bank and of Gaza. If he tried, Hamas would subvert it (no doubt through violence).
Additionally, a West Bank state would not be viable (Gaza and the West Bank together constitute 22 per cent of historic Palestine; abandoning Gaza to permanent Israeli domination would reduce that percentage by half).

Goldstone’s shameful U-turn

by Ilan Pappe / Voltairenet.org

A self-confessed Zionist, Judge Richard Goldstone’s disgraceful retraction of his own report was not unexpected.  Subject to enormous pressure since it’s release, Goldstone caved in and returned to the Zionist fold.  But pressure isn’t the only explanation.  According to dissident Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappe, being a Zionist is a frame of mind that cannot accept the 2009 Goldstone Report.  It’s either/or; “if you do both, you will crack sooner rather than later.” 

If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone report would have been a different document.”  Thus opens Judge Richard Goldstone’s much-discussed op-ed in The Washington Post.  I have a strong feeling that the editor might have tampered with the text and that the original sentence ought to have read something like: “If I had known then that the report would turn me into a self-hating Jew in the eyes of my beloved Israel and my own Jewish community in South Africa, the Goldstone report would never have been written at all.” And if that wasn’t the original sentence, it is certainly the subtext of Goldstone’s article.
This shameful U-turn did not happen this week.  It comes after more than a year and a half of a sustained campaign of intimidation and character assassination against the judge, a campaign whose like in the past destroyed mighty people such as US Senator William Fulbright who was shot down politically for his brave attempt to disclose AIPAC’s illegal dealings with the State of Israel.
Already In October 2009, Goldstone told CNN, “I’ve got a great love for Israel” and “I’ve worked for many Israeli causes and continue to do so” (Video: “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” 4 October 2009).
Given the fact that at the time he made this declaration of love he did not have any new evidence, as he claims now, one may wonder how could this love not have been at least weakened by what he discovered when writing, along with other members of the UN commission, his original report.
But worse was to come and exactly a year ago, in April 2010, the campaign against him reached new heights, or rather, lows.  It was led by the chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, Avrom Krengel, who tried to prevent Goldstone from participating in his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg since “Goldstone caused irreparable damage to the Jewish people as a whole.”
The South African Zionist Federation threatened to picket outside the synagogue during the ceremony.  Worse was the interference of South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, who chastised Goldstone for “doing greater damage to the State of Israel.” Last February, Goldstone said that “Hamas perpetrated war crimes, but Israel did not,” in an interview that was not broadcast, according to a 3 April report on Israel’s Channel 2 website.  It was not enough: the Israelis demanded much more.
Readers might ask “so what?” and “why could Goldstone not withstand the heat?”  Good questions, but alas the Zionization of Jewish communities and the false identification of Jewishness with Zionism is still a powerful disincentive that prevents liberal Jews from boldly facing Israel and its crimes.

The United States Middle East Foreign Policy Cul-de-sac

By Rizwan A. Rahmani

When the UN resolution against Israeli settlements—which was co-sponsored by 130 countries—came up for a vote and all fourteen members of the Security Council voted for the resolution except for the United States: it vetoed the resolution with a statement that was peculiarly full of absurd logic, contradictions, and balderdash which bordered on inane. And it was not the first time the U.S. found itself alone on a limb on this issue. So why the U.S. is being made to walk this razor sharp knife edge of a Middle East policy, shoeless and bloodied in the process? Moreover, it stuck to its counter intuitive policy at a time when any gesture towards Middle East peace may actually win goodwill for the United States, now that the Middle East is making overtures to democracy all over the region—and the rather incongruous paradox to all the newly kindled democratic fervor is that United States didn’t have to fire a single shot to realize these changes (I realized I spoke too soon after hearing the news of the air attack on Libya).
Current events in the Middle East fly straight in the face of the Bush administration’s sophist political rhetoric and cowboy doctrine which tried to forcibly shove democracy down Iraq’s throat, and his ‘axis of evil’ cover story for a war that was already scripted. With this policy, he decimated a country and its populous and went through over seven hundred billion dollars of our money (and counting) to go after a lone dictator with negligible influence (out of many worldwide with equal or worse human rights records). As the macabre saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat—of course, cogitating other alternatives would have been asking too much from a person who once self professed, “I don’t do details”.
The Bush administration with its myopic view of the world effectively outsourced its Middle East foreign policy to the American Enterprise Institute’s Likudnik Neocons. Whether it was Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perl, Bill Kristol, Norman Podhoretz , Douglas Feith, John Bolton, or Frank Gaffney of Center for Security Policy (to name a few) , they all seem to have the solutions for the Middle East problem, and quite a few of them had key positions in the Bush administration to promulgate their agenda with carte blanche access. Wolfowitz had ingeniously paid for the war in his lofty oil revenue estimates before the real war even began, and had the Iraqis welcoming them as liberators. Richard Perl had the Iraqi people naming grand squares after Bush, and Rumsfeld thought that war was going to be a walk in the park and fired people who raised concerns!

Alan Dershowitz- You're Not Welcome Here

By: Gilad Atzmon
In a recent article, notorious Zionist Alan Dershowitz reveals the scale of rejection he faced on his recent visit to Norway:

Ahead of his visit to the country, Dershowitz’ lectures were offered (without any charge) at the three leading Norwegian universities.  These universities, who on earlier occasions had been happy to host Harvard Scholar Stephen Walt and Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, clearly said ‘no’ to Dershowitz.
The Dean of the Law Faculty at Bergen University told Dershowitz that he would be honoured to have him present a lecture on the O.J. Simpson case -- as long as he was willing to promise not to mention Israel.
I guess that the message was clear -- while the Dean of the Law Faculty thought that his students may benefit from learning about the legal advocacy of a ‘single murder suspect’ -- he probably could not see any academic justification in educating them about the possible defense of a ‘murderous collective’ i.e. the Jewish State.

Goldstone report: the unanswered questions

It is difficult, in this digital world of instant claim and rebuttal, to say that you were wrong. But Richard Goldstone's retraction of one of the claims of the report that he chaired – that Israel targeted civilians in the war on Gaza as a matter of policy – is one such instance. Mr Goldstone deserves credit for honesty. It is another matter altogether to decide whether all the other claims of a 575-page report are now invalidated. The Goldstone report was a fact-finding mission, not a judicial inquiry. It was not a document of verdict, but put forward evidence for further investigation. So which facts caused Mr Goldstone to retract? Three, principally: that the shelling of a home in which 22 members of one family died was the consequence of an Israeli commander's erroneous interpretation of a drone image; that the officer was still under investigation; and that Israel has since investigated over 400 allegations of operational misconduct. Had he known then what he knows now, he concludes, the report would have been very different.
Two of the three other members of the mission disagree with their former chairman's change of heart. Hina Jilani, who served on a similar fact-finding mission on Darfur, said that nothing changed the substance of the original report, and Desmond Travers, an expert on international criminal investigations, still feels the tenor of the report stands "in its entirety". Mr Goldstone has parted company with the other members of his mission. It is therefore worth returning to the original report. The retracted allegation refers to the attack which killed 22 members of the Samouni family, who, following instructions from Israeli soldiers, were sheltering in a house in Zeitoun. But there are 35 other incidents that Goldstone's team investigated. It found seven cases where civilians were shot leaving their homes waving white flags; a direct and intentional attack on a hospital which may amount to a war crime; numerous incidents where ambulances were prevented from attending to the severely injured; nine attacks on civilian infrastructure with no military significance, such as flour mills, chickens farms, sewage works and water wells – all part of a campaign to deprive civilians of basic necessities. The key paragraph of the report states: "The Mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility." On the Samouni killings it states that even if it amounted to an operational error and the mission concludes that a mistake was made, "state responsibility of Israel for an internationally wrongful act" would remain. All of this still stands, as does the charge that Hamas's rockets deliberately targeted Israeli civilians.
Clear to one side the superheated flak of the debate today. It arises from Israel's current international isolation, of which the Gaza operation formed only a part. It is now said that the Goldstone report became the cornerstone of a campaign to delegitimise Israel. None of this is relevant to what happened in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, events which led to the deaths of 1,396 Palestinians, 763 of whom, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, were not taking part in hostilities when they

Netanyahu to travel to Berlin, lobby for a third off price of Israel's fourth Dolphin, official says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who travels to Germany on Wednesday, will lobby Berlin to sell Israel a sixth naval submarine at deep discount, an official said.
Talks on the Dolphin submarine deal stalled last year after the Germans declined to underwrite it, as they had done with Israel's previous purchases. Israel sought up to a third off the $500 million to $700 million price for the new Dolphin.
"We're still hoping for a discount, and the prime minister will raise this matter" in a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel scheduled for Thursday, the Israeli official said without elaborating.
Political turbulence in the Middle East has led Israel to float higher defence spending, which may allow it to absorb more of the cost of a new Dolphin. The diesel-powered submarines are widely regarded as an Israeli vanguard against foes like Iran.
Israel has three Dolphins in service, and two on order from Germany with delivery expected in the next two years.
Germany is dedicated to the security of the Jewish state, founded in the wake of the Holocaust. Merkel has championed an international campaign to rein in Iran's contentious nuclear program, which Israelis consider a potentially mortal threat.
But Berlin has budgetary constraints and in the past heard misgivings from German opposition parties about exporting weapons to crisis areas.
Netanyahu's agenda in Germany will also include trying to curb Palestinian efforts to garner European support for a unilateral declaration of statehood.
Merkel lambasted Netanyahu earlier this year when he phoned to complain that Germany had backed a UN
Security Council vote criticising the settlements. 
She was reported as saying she was very disappointed that Netanyahu had not done more to promote peace initiatives.
After his brief visit to Germany, Netanyahu will travel for talks to the Czech Republic, which is seen as one of Israel's closest European allies.

Source: ynetnews

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Challenging the evangelical bias against Palestinians

By Aziz Abu Sarah
Last week Ynetnews.com published an article by Johnnie Moore, a Christian evangelical pastor and vice president of Liberty University (the largest evangelical university in the world, founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell). Moore was visiting Israel with a group of students on a trip that ended 24 hours before the bombing in Jerusalem. A Christian tourist was killed in the bombing, and Pastor Moore was moved to write about the terror attack and his views on Israel and the Palestinians. The article, entitled “No Excuse for Brutality,” was one-sided and inflammatory, asserting that Palestinians are entirely to blame for the conflict.
Normally, as a Palestinian I would brush off such an article as an example of the natural, emotional responses that arise from tragedies and traumas like last month’s bombing. However, Moore’s article is more than a reactionary piece; his comments also reflect the views of many Christian evangelicals in the United States. As a result, I feel it is important to respond to some of the points Moore raised.
Moore opened his article by claiming that the media is biased against Israel, and has justified the terror attack. The effort of some media outlets of putting the attack in context is not to be interpreted as a bias. The political stalemate, the continuation of the occupation, the confiscation of land and demolishing of Palestinian homes, and the “price tag” attacks by settlers executed all over the West Bank explains the rise of violent tendencies. These things should not be used as a justification but rather provide contextual analysis for the cycle of violence endemic to the conflict.
Moore writes that the Jerusalem bombing “should be an embarrassment to every supporter of the Palestinian cause. Instead… this act of war will be met with cheers in Hamas’ training camps even as Palestinian leaders give lip service to the international community and condemn the attacks in English, while praising them privately in Arabic.” This is problematic, first because many supporters of the Palestinian cause did view the bombing as shameful, and second because Moore assumes that the Palestinians are praising the attack in Arabic. As a writer for Al-Quds I can testify that Arab leaders condemned the attack in Arabic just as they did in English, and many Palestinians were outraged by the bombing.

Charges against Gazan engineer show Israel still controls strip

Dirar Abu Sisi was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Ukraine. He is charged with developing rockets, missiles and mortar shells for Hamas

Israel has kidnapped, apparently with the Ukrainian authorities turning a blind eye, a Gazan engineer named Dirar Abu Sisi. He was detained for several weeks under the usual schtick of a double gag order: one gag order preventing making public the fact that he is held, another denying the public the right to know there is a gag order. This buys the GSS (Internal Security Service) precious torture time, and allows him to present the prisoner to the press after he has confessed, which is as it likes it. Yesterday, the veil of secrecy was lifted as Abu Sisi was indicted, confessions and all. His lawyers say they have been tortured out of him, which is a reasonable claim.
The GSS claims Abu Sisi provided Hamas with weapons technology and developed rockets, missiles and mortar shells for it. Which is where it all turns to farce. Abu Sisi, who is not an Israeli citizen, is charged with violations of Israeli law, which has no standing either in the Gaza Strip or in Ukraine, where he was kidnapped. Specifically (Hebrew), the charges are: Membership in a terror organization (residing outside the borders of Israel), contact with a foreign agent (again, this law is invalid in Gaza), conspiracy to commit crimes (likewise), an attempted murder (likewise), and manufacturing of arms.
The last charge is particularly twisted. As far as the Israeli authorities are concerned, the manufacture of any weapon – including the anti-tank rockets Abu Sisi allegedly developed – is a felony. In the hugely asymmetrical armed struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a Palestinian who produces weapons is ipso facto a criminal.