Saturday, October 31, 2009
The bill, possibly written by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has 114 co-sponsors.
The vote is expected to take place on Tuesday.
The author of the report, Richard Goldstone, has submitted a letter on this legislation pointing out serious factual errors in its assertions.
Voters are being urged to contact their representatives to oppose H.Res.867. (U.S. House of Representatives 202.225.3121 or www.house.gov; U.S. Senate 202.224.3121 or www.senate.gov the Congressional switchboard) .
Goldstone sends letter to Berman, Ros-Lehtinen correcting factual errors in HR 867, which opposes UN Fact Finding Report on Gaza
Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
October 29, 2009
Dear Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen,
It has come to my attention that a resolution has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives regarding the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which I led earlier this year.
I fully respect the right of the US Congress to examine and judge my mission and the resulting report, as well as to make its recommendations to the US Executive branch of government. However, I have strong reservations about the text of the resolution in question – text that includes serious factual inaccuracies and instances where information and statements are taken grossly out of context.
I undertook this fact-finding mission in good faith, just as I undertook my responsibilities vis à vis the South African Standing Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, the International War Crimes Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina, the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, and the Volker Committee investigation into the UN’s Iraq oil-for-food program in 2004/5.
I hope that you, in similar good faith, will take the time to consider my comments about the resolution and, as a result of that consideration, make the necessary corrections.
Whereas clause #1: “Whereas, on January 12, 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution A/HRC/S-9/L.1, which authorized a `fact-finding mission’ regarding Israel’s conduct of Operation Cast Lead against violent militants in the Gaza Strip between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009;”
This whereas clause ignores the fact that I and others refused this original mandate, precisely
because it only called for an investigation into violations committed by Israel. The mandate given to and accepted by me and under which we worked and reported reads as follows:
“. . .to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after”.
Whereas clause #2: “Whereas the resolution pre-judged the outcome of its investigation, by one-sidedly mandating the `fact-finding mission’ to `investigate all violations of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law by . . . Israel, against the Palestinian people . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression’”
This whereas clause ignores the fact that the expanded mandate that I demanded and received clearly included rocket and mortar attacks on Israel and as the report makes clear was so interpreted and implemented. It was the report carried out under this broadened mandate – not the original, rejected mandate – that was adopted by the Human Rights Council and that included the serious findings made against Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups.
Whereas clause #3: “Whereas the mandate of the `fact-finding mission’ makes no mention of the relentless rocket and mortar attacks, which numbered in the thousands and spanned a period of eight years, by Hamas and other violent militant groups in Gaza against civilian targets in Israel, that necessitated Israel’s defensive measures;”
This whereas clause is factually incorrect. As noted above, the expanded mandate clearly included the rocket and mortar attacks. Moreover, Chapter XXIV of the Report considers in detail the relentless rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and the terror they caused to the people living within their range. The resulting finding made in the report is that these attacks constituted serious war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
Whereas clause #4: “Whereas the `fact-finding mission’ included a member who, before joining the mission, had already declared Israel guilty of committing atrocities in Operation Cast Lead by signing a public letter on January 11, 2009, published in the Sunday Times, that called Israel’s actions `war crimes’;”
This whereas clause is misleading. It overlooks, or neglects to mention, that the member concerned, Professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, in the same letter, together with other leading international lawyers, also condemned as war crimes the Hamas rockets fired into Israel.
Whereas clause #5: “Whereas the mission’s flawed and biased mandate gave serious concern to many United Nations Human Rights Council Member States which refused to support it, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland;”
This whereas clause is factually incorrect. The mandate that was given to the Mission was certainly not opposed by all or even a majority of the States to which reference is made. I am happy to provide further details if necessary.
Whereas clause #6: “Whereas the mission’s flawed and biased mandate troubled many distinguished individuals who refused invitations to head the mission;”
This whereas clause is factually incorrect. The initial mandate that was rejected by others who were invited to head the mission was the same one that I rejected. The mandate I accepted was expanded by the President of the Human Rights Council as a result of conditions I made.
Whereas clause #8: “Whereas the report repeatedly made sweeping and unsubstantiated determinations that the Israeli military had deliberately attacked civilians during Operation Cast Lead;”
This whereas clause is factually incorrect. The findings included in the report are neither “sweeping” nor “unsubstantiated” and in effect reflect 188 individual interviews, review of more than 300 reports, 30 videos and 1200 photographs. Additionally, the body of the report contains a plethora of references to the information upon which the Commission relied for our findings.
Whereas clause #9: “Whereas the authors of the report, in the body of the report itself, admit that `we did not deal with the issues . . . regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers `in the fog of war.’;”
This whereas clause is misleading. The words quoted relate to the decision we made that it would have been unfair to investigate and make finding on situations where decisions had been made by Israeli soldiers “in the fog of battle”. This was a decision made in favor of, and not against, the interests of Israel.
Whereas clause #10: “Whereas in the October 16th edition of the Jewish Daily Forward, Richard Goldstone, the head of the `United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’, is quoted as saying, with respect to the mission’s evidence-collection methods, `If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.’”
The remark as quoted is both inaccurate and taken completely out of context. What I had explained to The Forward was that the Report itself would not constitute evidence admissible in court of law. It is my view, as jurist, that investigators would have to investigate which allegations they considered relevant. That, too, was why we recommended domestic investigations into the allegations.
Whereas clause #11: “Whereas the report, in effect, denied the State of Israel the right to self- defense, and never noted the fact that Israel had the right to defend its citizens from the repeated violent attacks committed against civilian targets in southern Israel by Hamas and other Foreign Terrorist Organizations operating from Gaza;”
It is factually incorrect to state that the Report denied Israel the right of self-defense. The report examined how that right was implemented by the standards of international law. What is commonly called ius ad bellum, the right to use military force was not considered to fall within our mandate. Israel’s right to use military force was not questioned.
Whereas clause #12: “Whereas the report largely ignored the culpability of the Government of Iran and the Government of Syria, both of whom sponsor Hamas and other Foreign Terrorist Organizations;”
This whereas clause is misleading. Nowhere that I know of has it ever been suggested that the Mission should have investigated the provenance of the rockets. Such an investigation was never on the agenda, and in any event, we would not have had the facilities or capability of investigating these allegations. If the Government of Israel has requested us to investigate that issue I have no doubt that we have done our best to do so.
Whereas clause #14: “Whereas, notwithstanding a great body of evidence that Hamas and other violent Islamist groups committed war crimes by using civilians and civilian institutions, such as mosques, schools, and hospitals, as shields, the report repeatedly downplayed or cast doubt upon that claim;”
This is a sweeping and unfair characterization of the Report. I hope that the Report will be read by those tasked with considering the resolution. I note that the House resolution fails to mention that notwithstanding my repeated personal pleas to the Government of Israel, Israel refused all cooperation with the Mission. Among other things, I requested the views of Israel with regard to the implementation of the mandate and details of any issues that the Government of Israel might wish us to investigate.
This refusal meant that Israel did not offer any information or evidence it may have collected regarding actions by Hamas or other Palestinian groups in Gaza. Any omission of such information and evidence in the report is regrettable, but is the result of Israel’s decision not to cooperate with the Fact-Finding mission, not a decision by the mission to downplay or cast doubt on such information and evidence.
Whereas clause #15: “Whereas in one notable instance, the report stated that it did not consider the admission of a Hamas official that Hamas often `created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen, against [the Israeli military]’ specifically to `constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack.’;”
This whereas clause is misleading, since the quotation is taken out of context. The quotation is part of a section of the report dealing with the very narrow allegation that Hamas compelled civilians, against their will, to act as human shields. The statement by the Hamas official is repugnant and demonstrates an apparent disregard for the safety of civilians, but it is not evidence that Hamas forced civilians to remain in their homes in order to act as human shields. Indeed, while the Government of Israel has alleged publicly that Hamas used Palestinian civilians as human shields, it has not identified any cases where it claims that civilians were doing so under threat of force by Hamas or any other party.
Whereas clause #16: “Whereas Hamas was able to significantly shape the findings of the investigation mission’s report by selecting and prescreening some of the witnesses and intimidating others, as the report acknowledges when it notes that `those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups . . . from a fear of reprisals’;”
The allegation that Hamas was able to shape the findings of my report or that it pre-screened the witnesses is devoid of truth. I challenge anyone to produce evidence in support of it.
Justice Richard J. Goldstone
Aletho News - Phoebe Greenwood
A major new road joining Jerusalem to Israeli settlements in Hebron bisects land owned by the Jaber family.
They have farmed these fields for 300 years. They once owned 60 dunums (60,000 square metres) but now have four (4,000 square metres) - the rest has been confiscated by Israeli settlers. The Jabers fight to farm on the land they have left.
As his family clashes with workers from Israel's water authority, employed to rip up the irrigation systems for their tomato plants, and the Israeli soldiers protecting them, Yosri Jaber, a school teacher, explains: "These clashes with the Israeli authorities are a regular thing; they happen every two to three months or so."The Israelis don't allow us to water our plants." Full story
Israeli forces shot and detained a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
...Saturday's incident was the third in recent weeks.
A young boy, Ashraf Abu Suleiman, was shot in the spine by Israeli forces on his family's farm near the Israeli border in northern Gaza earlier this month. He was similarly detained and interrogated following the shooting, which Israeli forces said came as he approached the border wall in a suspicious manner...
Although an Israeli military spokeswoman at the time described Abu Suleiman's wounds as light, he remained paralyzed from the waist down at Gaza City's Al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital a month later.
In September, soldiers shot Maysara Al-Kafarneh, 23, in the town of Beit Hanoun under the same pretext that he had approached the wall and acted suspiciously. Full story
Mohammad (14 years old at the time) was playing with friends on a hill near his village (Biddu, near Ramallah) on 4 February 2008 when he was suddenly apprehended by four men dressed in civilian clothes. The men grabbed Mohammad knocking him to the ground; they struck him several times on the head with a gun whilst his face was sprayed with tear gas. The men then blindfolded him and tied his hands and feet with plastic cuffs before throwing him into the back of a vehicle. Mohammad was interrogated in the absence of a lawyer, deceived into signing a confession... Full story
...the PA has lost much of its legal and political legitimacy as questions abound regarding the legality of Abbas staying in office past 24 January 2009. Palestinian basic law is quite specific about the duration of the presidential term. A president is allowed a term of four years renewable once. This is why many believe that the Palestinian presidency is now legally vacant. Full story
Without an ID card Palestinians in Gaza cannot apply to Israel for a permit to leave for medical treatment in Israel or the West Bank, they cannot apply for permits to visit jailed relatives in Israeli prisons, or permission to leave the Gaza Strip though Rafah. For those with family in the West Bank, no ID card means no travel permit, so families remain fragmented with no possibility of visits.
Israel caps the number of ID cards the Palestinian Authority can issue. The cards are effectively residency permits for Palestinians and give them rights for government services including welfare or social support. Palestinian refugees who wish to return to live in the West Bank or Gaza must obtain a permit. Full story
Amnesty International's report to the water situation in Palestine proves that "the Israeli occupation is stealing our resources," de facto Minister of Agriculture Mohammad Ramadan Al-Agha said Saturday.
...“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s researcher on Israel and the Palestinian territories in a statement. Full story
Dozens suffered effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday, by the Israeli military fire at the weekly protest against the wall in the central West Bank village of Nil'in.
Since May, 2008, five of Ni’lin’s residents were killed and one American solidarity activist was critically injured from Israeli fire during grassroots demonstrations in Ni’lin.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Bil'in Demonstrates in solidarity with jailed activist Adeeb Abu Rahmah who was arrested on 10 July this year, and is still held in custody for taking part in organizing the village's demonstrations. Demonstrators wore masks of his face and called for his release.
Two injured and several demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation from canisters thrown at them by the Israeli occupation soldiers in their attempt to suppress the weekly protest of Bil’in citizens and solidarity groups. The demonstration was called by the Popular Committee Against the Wall and started directly after the Friday prayers. Bil’in citizens were joined by a group of international and Israeli peace activists... Full story
We sat in the small and well-kept backyard at the home of Israel’s ambassador in London, Ron Prosor.
...we need to sue them. Every journalist who refers to us as “war criminals” or “child killers” needs to know that the next day his newspaper will be slapped with a million pound lawsuit on behalf of the State of Israel.
Newspapers don’t like lawsuits... It takes time, it costs money, the paper’s insurance company raises their premium, stockholders are wondering why they got into this mess to begin with, and the editor in chief is infuriated after he discovers that he needs to waste two days on testifying in respect to an article that he didn’t even read.
...And who will represent us? Asked someone else.
Him, I gestured at the lawyer sitting with us, and a hundred others like him. If the Jewish people has one reservoir that will never run out, it’s lawyers. Every Western capital boasts at least five successful Jewish law firms, and most of them will be glad to represent the State of Israel against the new anti-Semitism.
The lawyer in the group suddenly looked up. It will work, he said. I’m willing to take London upon myself. Full story
... orthodox Israeli settlers attacked a the Salah family on their way to Friday prayers in a bid to take over their home in the East Jerusalem community of Beit Safafa.
The settlers, twelve according to Palestinian sources and six according to Israeli media, and three according to the Jerusalem police chief, pulled up in a car with an eviction order for Ali Ibrahim Salah and his children Ismail, Mohammad, Mahmoud, Ahmad, for their family home which shelters 55 residents, 30 of which are under 12 years old. Full story
At a Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing Congressman Ron Paul opposes H.R. 2194: Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009. Sanctions are an act of war.
Disinformation about the Iranian "Threat" - Stephen Sniegoski
...Was the attack on the Liberty, as Israel has claimed, a "tragic" case of mistaken identity? The answer, flatly, is no. We have the records of Israeli pilots telling their base in some anguish that the target was a United States ship and being ordered to take it out. Full story
Berlanty Azzam, 21, was arrested yesterday while crossing from one part of the West Bank to another – just because her address in the Israeli-controlled Population Registry is registered in the Gaza Strip. The Military Legal Adviser's Office promised not to remove her to Gaza pending a court petition this morning by Gisha challenging the removal.
Despite the promise, Berlanty was blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to Gaza by force late last night.
..."Since 2005, I refrained from visiting my family in Gaza for fear that I would not be permitted to return to my studies in the West Bank", says Berlanty Azzam. "Now, just two months before graduation, I was arrested and taken to Gaza in the middle of the night, with no way to finish my degree." Full story
Thousands of Palestinians marched on Thursday commemorating the 53rd anniversary of the Kafr Qasem Massacre...
On October 29, 1956, The Israeli Armed Forces, known as MAGAV, rounded up 49 Arab workers who were on their way to their town, and shot them dead under the claim that they broke the curfew.
Israeli sources reported Thursday that the attack was part of a plan targeting several Palestinian and Arab towns and villages in an attempt to forcibly evacuate the Arabs from the area. Full story
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may face war crimes charges if he enters the United Kingdom.
...After the release of a scathing United Nations Report on human rights abuses committed during Israel’s invasion of Gaza this year, legal work has intensified for the “universal jurisdiction” law in Britain. Full story
According to the Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, produced by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 22 - 28 Oct. 2009, 41 civilians, including 5 journalists, 8 women, and one child, sustained injuries and bruises when Israeli forces used force against peaceful demonstrations in the West Bank. Full story
First hour: We spoke with Alison Weir, founder of http://www.ifamericansknew.org, on the recent executive order signed by Obama relieving Israel of a tariff on Israeli butter imports to this country -in a time where the American dairy industry is in a severe crisis. From economic policy an aid to Israel, we moved on the discussing the Goldstone Report, and what it said about the Israeli invasion and assault on Gaza last December. Interview
Karen U. Kwiatkowski is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel whose assignments included duties as a Pentagon desk officer and a variety of roles for the National Security Agency. Since retiring, she has become a noted critic of the U.S. government's involvement in Iraq. Lt. Col. Kwiatkowski has an MA in Government from Harvard University and an MS in Science Management from the University of Alaska. She has a PhD in World Politics from The Catholic University of America. She has also published two books about U.S. policy towards Africa.
Her essays have appeared in Huffingtonpost.com, Liberty and Power, MilitaryWeek.com and Lew Rockwell.
The American Media's Role in the Middle East - Jeffrey Blankfort
Host Alison Weir and longtime Middle East analyst Jeffrey Blankfort discuss the media's role in the Middle East. The two deliberate on American media propaganda, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, and the power structure of the Israeli Lobby. Radio program
By year end 1,000 Palestinians will find themselves homeless. The Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights released information detailing the demolition orders of 150 homes in 12 Jerusalem neighborhoods. This number excludes 125 apartments previously slated for demolition. Full story
Jon Stewart's comedy news show The Daily Show is reportedly under fire from pro-Israeli groups for giving airtime to two pro-Palestinian figures on Wednesday night.
Stewart hosted Palestinian democracy activist Mustafa Barghouti and human rights activist Anna Baltzer, author of A Witness in Palestine, who explained the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of the Palestinian side.
According to a letter reportedly written by Baltzer and circulated by blogger Eric Johnson, the show "was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel." Full story
...the donor conferences encourage Israel, the Occupying Power of the Palestinian Territory, to slake off its obligations under international law and use the occupation as an income generating project, allowing Europe and North America to pay for all the services it is obligated to provide.
So as Israeli forces continue killing innocent people, demolishing houses, building colonial walls, confiscating land and water resources or caging people in jails, donors pave roads, build court houses and take on the responsibility of occupation.
So the question remains: will aid accelerate the founding of an independent Palestinian state, or is it prolonging the life of the Israeli occupation?
...aid given to the Palestinians does not cover even 5% of Palestinian needs. [Donor institutions] know that by such aid interventions they encourage the Israeli Occupying Power to confiscate more land, to demolish more houses and to kill more people. They do know very well that they deal with the results of the problem, but not with the problem itself. Full story
The British humanitarian aid group Oxfam International is investigating reports that Israeli forces in Hebron may have intentionally destroyed an EU-funded water reservoir built by the charity.
"We understand that beneficiaries have been attacked, as well as the water system, and that networks were destroyed," Oxfam spokesman Michael Bailey told Ma'an on Thursday. "We are very concerned for the farmers, who have lost every important source of income."
...ten Palestinians, including a 70-year-old woman, seven women and two journalists, were attacked by Israeli forces south of Hebron during the course of the demolition. Full story
Palestinian children desperate for water after the Israeli army intentionally smashed water tanks and supplies in their neighborhood, collect water from a broken pipe in the Palestinian village of Dhahreiah, near Hebron, April 14, 2002. Because of the Israeli siege and blockade, many Palestinian children had been forced to drink sewage water Full story
...hospital in the northern West Bank is operating at only 80% capacity after floods knocked out access to several areas of the building, General Director of hospitals in the Palestinian ministry of health Na’im Sabra Friday.
...Israel's separation wall caused additional problems Friday, as the heavy rains rolled down Tulkarem-area hills and stopped short at the base of the eight-meter concrete wall that surrounds the municipality on three sides. The first year the wall was constructed fall rains pooled so substantially around the wall that entire homes were engulfed in floodwaters and crops were destroyed.
Though small drainage areas were later added to the wall, the structure continues to disrupt natural drainage patterns. Full story
Israeli crossings authorities refused for the fourth time, to allow the transport of equipments and medical supplies to Hospitals in the Gaza Strip, asource at the World Health Organization announced on Friday morning. Full story
...Tens of thousands of laborers are employed in construction of the wall, settlements and the industries around them. Their co-operation does not go unpunished. Despite a 2007 Israeli High Court ruling that gave the same rights to Palestinians working in settlements as Israelis, the reality is still low wages, hazardous conditions and no job security.
The Barkan industrial area is the hub of discontent. It stands not a stone’s throw from Ariel, the largest settlement in the West Bank and home to 30,000. Over 100 companies from around the world are based in Barkan, employing over 6,000 people, more than half of whom are Palestinian. The 2007 ruling had the effect of upping wages to an average of 10 shekels (2.67 US dollars) an hour, but employers have found creative methods of swindling their workforce.
...Accidents are frequent in such dangerous industries as steelwork and construction, with few precautions to prevent them. Sulwa is very familiar with the problem. “Injuries are very common and the victims never receive compensation. We send inquiries to the National Institute of Israel but receive no reply. No one is ever questioned and there is never compensation provided.
... In many cases workers are fired if they are too badly injured to work for a long time.
...A Palestinian woman who has worked for several years in a Barkan textile factory explained why she is there; ““Our village is blocked by Israeli checkpoints making it almost impossible to sell or manufacture anything by ourselves. My husband doesn’t get a working permit to enter Israel. Our farmland where we had our income has been taken by the Israelis. So what choice do we have? My family needs to eat.”
Israel acknowledges that a large part of the industrial zone is built on private Palestinian land, around 14% by PeaceNow statistics.
...Who Profits, an offshoot of the coalition of Women For Peace detail companies from Sweden, the Netherlands, Great Britain and, predictably, the USA, who have a presence in Barkan. Pressure from human rights groups has succeeded in embarrassing the foreign investors exploiting the conditions. Full story
...Israel's ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem "is a war crime and a deliberate affront to international resolutions and humanitarian law."
In a statement, the PLO's international relations department slammed what it termed Israel's "policy of expulsion and ethnic cleansing."
On Tuesday, Israeli forces and a demolition crew entered the East Jerusalem village of Sur Bahir, south of the Old City, and destroyed the two-story home of Nimir Ali Nimir. The 300 square-meter house was home to 11 people.
... that home was the eighth in recent weeks, the PLO noted, adding that "the policy of home demolition, especially in occupied Jerusalem, has been ongoing since 1967 - carried out and deliberately approved by the [Israeli] political leadership."
"They have officially legitimized the expulsion of Palestinians from the holy city, placing them with settlers and changing realities on the ground," the statement added.
Since 1967, the department said, Israeli authorities have demolished more than 23,000 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. "Around 11,000 more are at risk, as Israel is carrying out this policy in an escalating manner." Full story
There is nothing wrong with talking to the United States, de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told American delegates on a medical mission in Gaza on Wednesday.
Hamas welcomes the new language of US President Barack Obama, Haniyeh added, but noted the administration must implement its plans so the Palestinian people can establish their state with Jerusalem as its capital.
"I am convinced of the fairness of the rules of democracy, pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power in Palestine," he told the delegation, but noted the punishment the Palestinian people received when they fairly elected Hamas in 2006.
The United States has the ability to bring peace to the region, Haniyeh added, and we have no issues with the Americans, but asked them to back up their pledges. Full story
...All this (much of it backfiring) is reminiscent of what happened to South Africa in the 10 years preceding the end of apartheid.
Thus, we are optimistic that we are in the final stage. The boycotts, divestments, and sanctions movement is mushrooming. More Israelis are joining the human wave demanding justice and equality and the Zionist movement has become more desperate in its fraudulent use of "anti-Semitism" and "self hating Jews" to silence the critics.
Increasingly paranoid and shrieking delusions, even some life-long Zionists have started to question the direction of the movement and its increasingly ghettoized mentality.
...the PA has already outlived its usefulness (it was supposed to be interim for five years anyway and now it is 16 years). The only elections we should be talking about are elections to the Palestinian National Council and rebuilding the PLO. Full story
A leading US space scientist credited with helping discover water on the moon pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to sell US defense secrets to Israel for two million dollars.
Judge Deborah Robinson rejected a bail request from Stewart David Nozette, who was arrested October 19 in an FBI sting operation, saying he was considered a flight risk and should remain in jail pending trial.
Nozette, 52, is charged with two counts of attempted espionage for allegedly trying to sell secrets to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer ...
"The weight of evidence against the defendant is substantial," federal prosecutor Heather Schmidt told the court.
Court documents from the prosecution accused Nozette, who for years had a high-level US government security clearance, of seeking "roughly two million dollars as compensation for his espionage."
He "delivered and communicated this classified information to an individual he believed was an Israeli intelligence officer in exchange for an alias, a foreign passport, and cash payments," they said.
The government provided the court with recorded excerpts of a conversation with the FBI agent from October 19 in which a laughing Nozette mulled various plans to flee the United States should he be suspected of spying for Israel. Full story
Oct. 26 address by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president, Union for Reform Judaism, to the J Street conference.
...Pro-Israel organizations know that the creation and support of a Jewish and democratic state is the central value of Zionism-indeed, it is the very reason that Zionism came into being. And absent a two-state solution, there will be no such state...
...pro-Israel groups are those that stand in abiding solidarity with the State of Israel. To me this means seeing Israel as a cause for thanksgiving and rejoicing. It means feeling blessed to live at this moment when Israel has returned to history and the Jewish people have achieved real power and mastered the gun. It means recognizing that Jewish life cannot be sustained without Israel at its core.
...I supported Israel’s military action in Gaza then, and looking back, I reaffirm that support now.
...for those who say that the “one-state solution” is a scare tactic and an exaggeration, I say: wake up. Look around. It is already happening, right now. And not only among certain Palestinian factions, but on our own campuses here in America. Full story
A group linked to Al-Qaeda claims it fired the Katyusha rocket attack from Lebanon that hit northern Israel earlier this week, a US-based group that monitors jihadist websites said on Thursday.
The Brigades of Abdullah Azzam, Battalions of Ziad Jarrah, said it was responsible for Tuesday's attack, according to a statement released on Thursday by the Al-Fajr Media Centre, SITE Intelligence Group said. Full story
Lebanon's president accused Israel of setting up a Katyusha attack on southern Israel to keep tensions high in the region.
Michel Suleiman on Thursday told Lebanese media that an Israeli agent may have fired the rocket. He said the fact that Israel has said it will continue to collect intelligence from southern Lebanon lends credibility to his claim. Full story
Lebanon's ambassador to the United Nations has warned that Israel is exhibiting signs of an imminent attack on his country, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Hayyat reported on Friday.
Ambassador Noaf Salaam sent missives to the United Nations secretary general and to the Security Council condemning Israel's recent artillery fire on the village of Houla, the site where a Katyusha rocket was fired at the Upper Galilee last week.
Salaam called the artillery fire a clear violation of Lebanon's sovereignty as well as of UN Resolution 1701, which saw a truce between Israel and Lebanon following the 2006 war.
...Salaam also said that the Israeli decision to bomb Lebanese territory following every Katyusha attack delayed and prevented Lebanese forces from investigating the rocket attacks. Full story
Thursday, October 29, 2009
A prominent national Muslimcivil rights and advocacy organization today called on HBO to apologize for an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" in which the main character splattered urine on a painting of Jesus.
In a letter to HBO Chairman and CEO Bill Nelson, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote:
"It is beyond tasteless to insult the religious sensibilities of billions of people in America and around the world with such a cheap and vulgar publicity stunt. Jesus, peace be upon him, is loved and revered by both Christians and Muslims. Muslims view him as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind.
"The Quran, Islam's revealed text, states: 'Behold! The angels said: "O Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.'' (The Holy Quran, 3:45)
..."We understand the drive for ratings, but no one benefits from such a crude attempt to boost the network's bottom line by manufacturing a religious controversy. HBO should apologize."
Awad added that American Muslim television viewers contacted CAIR to express their concerns about the HBO episode. Full story
Israeli settlers residing in illegal outposts in the heart of Hebron obstructed the work of Palestinian fire fighters on Wednesday night, as crews attempted to access a burning building owned by a Palestinian family. Full story
"Ma'aleh Adumim is a shining pearl in the State of Israel," declares its mayor, Benny Kashriel, on the municipality's Web site. ... [Ma'aleh Adumim is built on confiscated Palestinian land and is Israel's largest settlement bloc. It is illegal under international law.]
Eighty Palestinian employees, members of the Jahleen Bedouin tribe living on the city's edge in the West Bank, have served the citizens of Ma'aleh Adumim for decades, mostly in gardening and sanitation jobs. The workers must be doing a good job because Ma'aleh Adumim is considered one of Israel's cleanest and best-maintained cities.
The municipality is proud that every year it scores the highest marks according to the organization Israel is Beautiful. But the gaps between the municipality's Israeli and Palestinian employees are great and stem from Jordanian labor law, which was applied in the territories in 1965. Even amendments over the past 45 years that have made Jordanian legislation more progressive in terms of labor rights are not applied in the case of Palestinians employed by the municipality.
The differences are vast. Under the original Jordanian law the employees had two basic rights - very limited severance pay and holiday pay. All other social benefits that are part of Israeli labor law such as rehabilitation pay, pensions, travel expenses and education funding do not exist in the Jordanian law.
..."Ma'aleh Adumim was built on lands of the Jahleen; these people were pushed to the edges of the community," Lecker said. "This is not a hostile population and the city should be interested in ensuring that this community is not hungry." Full story
...It's a new Israeli approach which borrows from the very worst of our aging instincts. It says: We're moral, our enemies are out to exterminate us along with our state, that's all you need to know. No modifications necessary. Stay the course. Concede nothing. Ease no siege. Give no ground. Ever.
It is a radical redefinition of Postmodern Zionism, this time from the right.
...Now it's about to be tried on North American Jewry, some 6 million strong, a community at a critical crossroads, one that will have lasting and - if mishandled - dangerous consequences for Israel.
The opening shot was fired this month by the former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress, Isi Liebler, who declared it "our obligation to confront the enemy within - renegade Jews - including Israelis who stand at the vanguard of global efforts to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state."
"Such odious Jews can be traced back to apostates during the Middle Ages who fabricated blood libels and vile distortions of Jewish religious practice for Christian anti-Semites to incite hatred which culminated in massacres," Liebler wrote in the Jerusalem Post. "It was in response to these renegades that the herem [excommunication] was introduced." Full story
U.S. President Barack Obama has videotaped a message to be shown Saturday night at the annual memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. The message will relate to the murdered prime minister's legacy and the need to advance the peace process.
...This is another step in Obama's attempt to speak directly to the Israeli public in light of the very low level of support he has among the Israeli public.
...Obama's advisers are worried about his lack of popularity and the expressed feeling that he is hostile to Israel. They believe this seriously harms his ability to advance the peace process with the Palestinians.
...the U.S. administration has started to increase the number of messages it is sending to the Israeli public on the peace process. For example, Obama published a New Year's greeting to the Jewish people for Rosh Hashanah, in which he spoke at length about his aspirations to advance the peace process. In addition, he sent a video recording to the President's Conference in Jerusalem, reiterating his commitment to Israel's security. Obama also released a special announcement a few days ago honoring the 15th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty. Full story
Israeli legal authorities plan to treat Elior Chen, the spiritual leader of an ultra-Orthodox sect in Jerusalem alleged to have carried out severe child abuse, as a suspect in attempted murder.
...Chen arrived in Israel on Wednesday after being extradited from Brazil. He and several of his followers allegedly used knives, hammers and other instruments to abuse children as young as 3 and 4 years old in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit in February and March 2008.
...Chen, who is suspected of being the key figure behind one of the worst child-abuse cases to ever occur in Israel, was arrested by Brazilian police in Sao Paulo in June 2008 after a 45-day manhunt.
... allegedly subjecting eight children to intense physical and mental abuse. He is said to have done so after asserting that the children were possessed by the devil. Full story
...to commemorate 14 years since the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with an official state memorial service on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl.
The ceremonies was carried out as planned, even as right-wing activists were urging students in Jerusalem to boycott this year's memorials.
...right-wing activists said they intend to descend upon Jerusalem schools on Thursday morning with fliers urging students to boycott memorial ceremonies commemorating Rabin's assassination. Full story
A recent Israeli report based on a study conducted by the Macro Center for Political Economy in Israel states that the aim of Israel in East Jerusalem is to guarantee a Jewish majority by all means in order to prevent any future partition of the city. The report ‘warns’ that in twenty years, and in spite of land annexation and home demolitions, there will be a Palestinian majority in Jerusalem.
It adds that the Israeli policies in Jerusalem aim at maintaining Jewish majority by all means.
The report was distributed to Israeli members of Knesset in recent days. It says that in spite of the Israeli activities and policies that aim at preventing the Palestinians from becoming a majority in the city, their natural growth continue to ‘pose a threat to the Jewish majority, and if nothing is done about it, Jerusalem would become a bi-national city”.
“Regardless of land grab policies and annexation of Arab land since 1967, the Arab population continues to grow”, the report adds, “Arabs could become a majority within twenty years”.
... since capturing East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli authorities annexed more than 24000 Dunams (nearly 6000 Acres, 35% of the total size of Jerusalem).
“Most of the lands, annexed from the Palestinians, were used to construct homes for the Jewish residents”, the report stated, “yet, more is needed in order to prevent the city from becoming bi-national”. Full story
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered the army and the Ministry of Internal Security to prepare a plan to install a fence or a wall in southern Israel to prevent infiltration through Egyptian borders. Full story
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip said that general and presidential elections, sanctioned by President Mahmoud Abbas, will not be held in the Gaza.
Hamas said that Abbas’ term in office had expired; therefore he cannot call for elections.
It added that elections should not be held before reaching a unity deal and before ending the ongoing divisions. Full story
On 4 October, Ashraf Abu Suleiman, a 16-year-old from Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, went to the northwest coast town of Sudaniya to visit an ill school friend. The teen then went to the sea, where he rolled up the legs of his pants, waded into the water and enjoyed the late summer morning. He took some photos of the sea and of the area around him, intending to play with the photos later on Photoshop, a hobby he and his father share.
Minutes later, Ashraf was running in blind terror as Israeli soldiers in a gunboat off the coast began shooting at Palestinian fishermen. He was hit by an Israeli soldier's bullet which bore through his neck and grazed his vertebrae, fracturing C-4 and C-5, leaving him bleeding on the ground and unable to stand up.
...He estimates he ran for a few minutes, soon approaching the northern border before an Israeli soldier's voice shouted over a megaphone for him to stop. Seeing an Israeli military vehicle in the distance ahead, Ashraf was afraid that the soldiers north of him would start shooting. He kept running, hoping to take cover behind a low hill nearby.
Then he was grounded, one of the bullets hitting him in the neck.
...At least eight Palestinians have been killed and at least 33 injured in the Israeli-imposed "buffer zone" along Gaza's border since the 18 January ceasefire. Three of the killed and 12 of the injured were minors, including many children.
...Three Israeli soldiers approached him on foot, Ashraf explained. "An Israeli soldier kicked me in the mouth and told me to stand up. I couldn't, my legs wouldn't move."
..."There were maybe 30 Israeli soldiers around us. The ambulance driver kept saying, 'he's critical, very critical, take him to Israel,' but the soldiers just pointed their guns at him and did nothing," Ashraf explained.
...At the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing, Ghrenam passed Ashraf to a waiting Red Crescent ambulance which immediately transferred the youth to Gaza's al-Shifa hospital. He is now in the al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, and doctors and Ashraf's parents wait to see whether his fractured vertebrae will heal well enough so he can walk again.
Ashraf's father is not optimistic. "Every day we wait I feel like his life is withering. I'm worried about his future." Full story
- conducted 17 raids into Palestinian territory
- detained/kidnapped 25 people, including a number of children
- Severely beat 5 civilians
- demolished 3 houses
- closed off towns, villages and roads
- conducted 6 attacks on Palestinians, including burning olive trees and injuring civilians, including 2 women
- held a demonstration Full report
The United Nations General Assembly will debate next week a report that accuses Israel and Palestinian fighters of committing war crimes during Israel’s offensive against Gaza last winter.
...will take place during a plenary meeting on 4 November.
...Ban also urged Israel to reopen the Gaza Strip’s borders to allow UN-backed reconstruction efforts to proceed. Ban noted that 10 months after the end of the war there has been no progress on rebuilding homes, buildings and infrastructure, even though an international donors’ conference in Egypt raised 4.5 billion US dollars for reconstruction.
“Little if any of that money has been delivered,” he said, according to the UN news service. “Families have not been able to rebuild their homes. Clinics and schools are still in ruins. I urge Israel to accept the UN reconstruction proposals as set forth, recognizing that the only true guarantee of peace is people’s well-being and security.”
Israel bans the entry of all construction materials to Gaza as a part of a blockade it has imposed since June 2007. Full story
Israeli forces forcibly deported Gazan student of Bethlehem University Berlanty Azzam to Gaza overnight, after detining her at the Container checkpoint north of Bethlehem on Wednesday.
The fourth-year Business Administration student had three credits left before finishing her degree.
"The Israeli Military authorities are holding this 4th year Christian student in the Sharon Detention Center near Netanya in Israel and are threatening to 'deport her’ to Gaza 'for trying to complete her studies at Bethlehem University,'" an appeal for help from Bethlehem University said. Full story
US General Keith Dayton is involved in “training and only training,” and does not interfere in the security mission of the Palestinian Security Services, Prime Minister of the caretaker government Salam Fayyad commented.
...“Violence is no longer part of the Palestinian resistance,” Fayyad announced while addressing questions around the role of Dayton. After the Oslo Accords, he explained, the track of violent resistance came to an end, and now negotiations must be used as an alternative. “There is an occupation,” he said, but “arms and chaos are not the solution.”
Instead, Fayyad promoted his two-year plan, released in August, which sets out a plan for state and institution building “despite the existence of the occupation,” and with an eye to totally overthrowing it when two years comes to an end.
The magazine staff pressed Fayyad on the issue of a Palestinian state, and asked whether the 1988 declaration of independence, unheeded by the international community, or the Oslo Accords in 1993 form the basis of a Palestinian state. Full story
EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana issued a public statement Wednesday condemning the demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces in Jerusalem the preceding day. Full story
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, wanted for war crimes in Europe, declared in the Israeli press Wednesday that he is "willing to forgo visits to European capitals and to allow the Israel Defense Forces the freedom to act."
Ya'alon, the former Israeli chief of staff for the army, is wanted on charges of war crimes for the assassination of Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh, who was killed alongside 14 civilians in July 2002. He is one of several Israeli officials and former officials with warrants outstanding in various world capitals. Full story
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urges you to contact your Representatives and encourage them not to support H.RES 867 which was introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). [co-sponsored by Berman, Burton, Ackerman]
H. RES. 867 calls on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
...The Report is the conclusion of a three-month investigation ... undertaken by the UN Fact Finding Mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Full story
Israeli officials are right to worry. Gazans too. Yet Americans should worry even more.Israel’s “legitimacy” will not last.
Of course, that assumes its legitimacy was deserved. That issue also is now called into question in light of the consistency of Israeli behavior over the past six decades. The emerging issues are these: When and how will the recognition of Israel’s nation-state status be withdrawn? How will Tel Aviv behave in the interim?
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman may have tipped his Masada hand when he reportedly told Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that Israel may use nuclear weapons against Gaza. The threat to Israel is not the 1.5 million Gazans who reside in the world’s largest open-air prison. The threat is the fast-growing global outrage at the abuse inflicted on Palestinians, commencing with the ethnic cleansing of 400-plus villages six decades ago.
...The merciless global agenda pursued by Colonial Zionists is the single greatest threat to world peace, as confirmed yet again by Lieberman’s warning. As the primary remaining ally of these Jewish nationalists, the risks to the U.S. increase with each passing day as Tel Aviv works behind the scenes to catalyze yet another conflict. This entangled alliance was destined to provoke resentments that would eventually endanger their super power ally and foremost arms provider.
...Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the mass murder of 9-11, conceded that the motivation for that attack was to focus “the American people…on the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel against the Palestinian people and America’s self-serving foreign policy that corrupts Arab governments and leads to further exploitation of the Arab Muslim people.
”The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Truman 61 years ago that this militant enclave meant to establish Jewish military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East. Familiar with the duplicity for which Israel has since become infamous, the Pentagon chiefs warned:
“All stages of this program are equally sacred to the fanatical concepts of the Jewish leaders.”
With each passing year, Tel Aviv adds a new chapter to the agent provocateur handbook on How To Succeed as a Victim. Israel’s strategic success traces directly to its capacity to radicalize and enrage—as those residing in the Occupied Territories endure a third generation of deprivation, degradation and periodic starvation.
Thus the in-depth planning that preceded Israel’s brutal “defensive” assault on Gaza between Christmas 2008 and the inauguration of Barack Obama—who said nothing about the attack throughout its 28-day duration...
In the lead-up to the report’s release, a U.S. president gave Tel Aviv a rhetorical gift when, in a U.N. speech, the nation’s first Black president used the code phrase “Jewish state” as an implied endorsement of the apartheid policies of this racist enclave.
Even Truman did not go that far. But then his administration was not as thoroughly staffed with Zionists and pro-Israelis...
The facts in the Goldstone Report were further confirmed by “Breaking the Silence”—the personal testimony by thirty members of the Israel Defense Forces who described a murderous policy meant to teach the people of Gaza a lesson for their support of Hamas—which came to power in 2006 elections that were universally appraised as free and fair.
As Israel’s protector and apologist, the U.S. bears the brunt of the anger as Israeli extremism continues to enrage Muslims and radicalize the Islamic body politic.... Meanwhile, the steady expansion of Israeli settlements made a Palestinian state impossible—unless indigenous Arabs are happy to reside in an archipelago of isolated ghettos ringed by Israeli checkpoints. To suggest that the U.S. is culpable only states the obvious.
Yet Israeli extremism continues unabated even as Tel Aviv insists that its neighbors accept it as a “Jewish state” even before its borders are fixed and resolution of the occupied territories is known. After six decades of nonstop deceit, Arab states are understandably reluctant to further appease this “state.”
For Americans endangered by the behavior of Jewish fanatics, the lesson is uncomfortable but inescapable: we enabled this. By our continued appeasement, Barack Obama is inviting another violent reaction to Israel’s serial provocations. By failing to endorse the Goldstone Report, our commander-in-chief is putting U.S. forces at risk.
By implying that Israel is above the law, he only emboldens Tel Aviv. By suggesting that Israeli conduct is consistent with the values of a “Jewish state,” he endangers the broader Jewish community...
Small in numbers but large in ambition, this extremist enclave had no choice but to wage war by way of deception. The most insidious deceit was targeted, from within, at its purported ally to induce the U.S. military to lead an invasion of Iraq for its Greater Israel strategy.
Absent an Israeli strategy able to sustain serial crises, a long-deceived public will awaken to the common source of the fixed intelligence that led us into the last war—and now seeks to induce the next. As Americans awaken to how this duplicity proceeds in plain sight, they will see for themselves who and why.That knowledge is the threat that Tel Aviv most fears. As the facts become known, Israeli legitimacy will no longer be an issue. The only issue will be how best to dis-arm these extremists and how to hold accountable those lawmakers who enable this ongoing treason.
Jeff Gates is a Vietnam veteran, author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide; an adviser to policy-makers worldwide; former counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
According to the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) website, “U.S. dairy producers have been facing unprecedented losses over the past year due to low milk prices and high input costs… dire economic straits have forced many farmers to exit the industry, oftentimes having to sell their herds or farms.”
...Jake and Lori Slegers...last summer sent their 1500-plus head of cattle to be turned into hamburger.
“He [Jake] said it was the hardest thing he ever had to do,” Lori Slegers told the AP.
...The Slegers estimate they’ve gone through more than a million dollars in savings to keep the farm afloat, and predicted more staggering financial loss was on the way.
...The AP reports individual farmers are sending cows to slaughter at a rate of 55,000 per week, leading a professor at the University of Wisconsin to estimate more than 3 million cows will be killed in a year – all in hopes of raising the prices paid to farmers by milk producers.
But while American dairy farmers face the prospect of culling the herd or losing their farms (and in many cases they go hand-in-hand), the Obama administration has removed the import surcharge on dairy products from Israel.
In a story covered by the Israeli news service, Ynet, President Obama signed last week a presidential memo that eliminated the tariffs on exports of dairy products from Israel to the U.S.
In simple terms, the President of the United States just eliminated another wall of protection for American dairy farmers and stopped the flow of much needed levy cash into our faltering economy.
Slightly more disturbing was the response Pacific Free Press contributor (and executive director of If Americans Knew), Alison Weir, received when she contacted the US Department of Agriculture, where no one she spoke with was aware this policy change had been implemented. Full story
Listen to Cron's comments here
Advancing Israel-Palestinian peace is the "epicenter" of U.S. foreign policy, the White House national security adviser said.
"If there was one problem I could recommend to the president if he could solve one problem, this would be it," James Jones said Tuesday ... Bringing about an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would create "ripples" around the world, Jones said. Full story
...there appeared to be broad consenus, like the belief that the Palestinians deserve national rights or the United States needs to do more to push the Israelis and Palestinians toward negotiations.
On other issues, however, a stark generation gap was apparent.
Older conference goers appeared to be virtually unanimous in expressing support for a two-state solution, calling themselves Zionists and saying that while they back more U.S. pressure on the parties, they reject cutting aid to Israel if it does not accede to U.S. demands.
But a number of delegates under 40, especially college students and recent graduates, appeared to be much more equivocal on the idea of two states for two peoples. Some were hesitant about identifying as Zionists, and some were open to the idea of making U.S. aid to Israel conditional on progress in the peace process. Full story
About 1,500 notices of future civil lawsuits against the Israel Defense Forces over damages caused during the Gaza war have been filed in Israel.
The claims by Palestinians in Gaza come to tens of millions of dollars and deal with property damage, physical damage and loss of earning capacity, Ynet reported Wednesday. Full story
Israel is risking another confrontation with the US by demolishing a record number of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem.
The move comes just days before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives here.
Jerusalem city authorities demolished five houses in Arab neighbourhoods on Tuesday, an unprecedented number on one day.
...The move has been condemned by Ir Amim - an organisation promoting coexistence in Jerusalem... "The extreme behaviour of the municipality is an irresponsible step that could escalate the situation in the city and bring it to a new boiling point."..."It is clear that not only is the Jerusalem municipality not keeping its word but it is pursuing the most extreme policy in this area that the city has seen for years." Full story
Love Is Not Blindness
Opinion - Jay Michaelson
Since the publication of “How I’m Losing My Love for Israel,” a personal essay describing my fatigue as a liberal Zionist, the most disturbing responses have not been the vitriolic e-mails or online comments, nor the thoughtful and well-reasoned replies ... Rather, I have been most troubled by the statements of many Jewish professionals — rabbis, federation leaders, nonprofit directors — who have told me, “Thank you for saying what I cannot.”
Why is it that they cannot say what I said? Because they fear for their jobs, or fear their organizations would be harmed if they expressed their opinion? And what opinion is that, which they and I share? Is it hatred of Israel? Support for the terrorists of Hamas? No. It is *ambivalence.
Remarkably, and disturbingly, this American Jewish McCarthyism has reached such a paranoid pitch that my colleagues in the Jewish world fear even to express ambivalence, uncertainty or reservation regarding the State of Israel. We fear that we might endanger relationships with members, donors, supporters and friends for expressing uncertainty. This is outrageous, and it has shocked me in the weeks since the column was published.
...Fortunately, I think the American Jewish community is at a tipping point on these issues... there’s an understanding that the tide has begun to turn.
...Fewer and fewer people — especially American Jews under 40 — feel the reflexive, unquestioning loyalty that an older generation did. If their only choices were blind acceptance or outright opposition, they might just walk away. J Street and organizations like it represent a third way — and that is a very good thing for Israel. Full story
Israel has thrived during the global collapse—thanks to an entrepreneurial culture built on compulsory military service.
...the real turbocharger has been its universal military training and national service program.
...While students in other countries are preoccupied with deciding which college to attend, Israelis are weighing the merits of different military units. And just as students elsewhere are thinking about what they need to do to get into the best schools, many Israelis are positioning themselves to be recruited by the elite units of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces).
One IDF Army officer with whom we spoke knew when he was just twelve years old that he wanted to learn Arabic, partly because he realized even then that it might help him get accepted into the best intelligence units.
One year before reaching draft age, all seventeen-year-old males and females are called to report to IDF recruiting centers for an initial one-day screening that includes aptitude and psychological exams, interviews, and a medical evaluation.
...They remain in the reserves until they are in their mid-forties.
While it’s difficult to get into the top Israeli universities, the nation’s equivalent of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are the IDF’s elite units.
...“In Israel, one’s academic past is somehow less important than the military past. One of the questions asked in every job interview is, Where did you serve in the army?” Full story
...The Obama administration seemed to have a different message for the group: We have your back.
Debating pro-Israel money
It’s not every day that two Jewish congressmen politely debate whether Jewish political contributions control U.S. policy in the Middle East.... Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) told the story of voting against a 1994 resolution condemning the hateful and anti-Semitic speech of Khalid Abdul Muhammad, at the time a top lieutenant of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Filner said he couldn’t condemn the speech because of the First Amendment—“How can Jews survive without the First Amendment?” he asked—and was the only Jewish member of Congress to vote against it.
Filner said the vote hurt him among Jewish supporters, costing him $250,000 in contributions per election cycle.
“That kind of money is an intimidating factor. I raised a lot less money in succeeding years, but my conscience was cleared,” he said to huge applause.
As the discussion among Filner and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Charles Boustany (R-La.) continued, Polis cautioned that “we need to be careful to not give cover” to those “who think there is a Jewish conspiracy” to control U.S. foreign policy. Filner retorted by citing two members of the Congressional Black Caucus—Earl Hilliard of Alabama and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia—who were defeated with the help of pro-Israel donors.
“That intimidates people,” Filner said.
Polis responded by saying that the pro-Israel lobby is no different than any other single-issue interest group in American politics, from labor unions to low-tax proponents like the Club for Growth to supporters of gun rights.
“This is not unique to American politics,” Polis said about the pro-Israel lobby. “Nor is this even one of the most influential groups in either of the parties.”
But Filner persisted, arguing as an example that labor unions were at least providing health benefits for the members—but on Israel, members of Congress “are taking positions that can lead to war” based only on how it affects their campaign coffers. Full story