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A. LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

Californian Jews on speaking out and saying what they want on PalestinePosted: 29 Apr 2010 06:59 AM PDT

Let’s celebrate the fact that growing numbers of Jews in the US are not staying silent anymore:

An ad hoc group of prominent San Francisco Bay Area Jews is publishing an “Open Letter to All Jewish Communities” in the national Jewish newspaper, The Forward, warning of an upsurge in efforts to silence debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict inside the American Jewish community.

The Open Letter advocates instead for “unfettered freedom of speech, open-minded public education, respectful discussion, and willingness to engage in that time-honored Jewish tradition of fruitful debate and meaningful dialogue.”

The Open Letter warns that new San Francisco Jewish Community Federation Guidelines “on potentially controversial Israel-related programming” will affect “the range of American Jewish voices on issues concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

According to the Open Letter, the Guidelines “limit debate, threaten dissent, and establish, for the first time, a litmus test for loyalty to Israel as a condition of funding.”

Forward Ad: Prominent Bay Area Jews Warn About SF Jewish Federation Guidelines 4/10

Abu Ghraib was only the beginningPosted: 29 Apr 2010 06:51 AM PDT

This is what the Western allies have given the Iraqi people; a land destroyed by war that still tortures citizens on a daily basis.

NPR reports on a Human Rights Watch investigation that details shocking tales of abuse at a secret Iraqi prison:

We at the Israel lobby are here to help 24/7Posted: 29 Apr 2010 06:46 AM PDT

Two revealing examples of the Zionist lobby at work, obscuring, ignoring and denying reality.

Here’s Al-Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros:

I recently jumped at the chance to take an all expenses paid helicopter ride over Israel and part of the West Bank.

The trip was courtesy of The Israel Project (TIP) which describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan group working to impact world opinion for the sake of Israel’s security.

The helicopter ride is meant as an “educational tour” for journalists and was inspired by George Bush, the former US president, who took a similar ride and reportedly said it opened his eyes to just how vulnerable Israel is.

The tour operates twice a month and has taken up over 1,400 journalists.

We (AJE cameraman Brad McLennan and I) met our guide and fellow journalists early in the morning, were bussed to an airport near Tel Aviv, treated to breakfast, and (after a security check that happened only to involve Brad and I and not the other two Israeli journalists) were taken up on a civilian helicopter for 45 minutes.

In mid air, an information pack was given to each of us - a neat little 80-page handbook explaining why we were really here.

To boil it down – Israel, the argument goes, is small and under threat from every side so the borders they have imposed are out of necessity not choice.

Hence the name of the tour nicely laminated on the front of the pack – “Defencible Borders: Strategic Options for Israel’s Security”.

Don’t look down

Throughout the flight, our tour guide used a variety of maps, statistics, pie charts, drawings and graphs to explain the reason for the separation wall (deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice).

We have all heard the reasoning that it prevents terrorist attacks but what our guide was trying to explain was that it has swallowed up Palestinian land only in areas which would have exposed Israel and posed a security threat.

The wall has in fact taken 12 per cent of Palestinian land and drastically changed the landscape of Jerusalem creating a de facto border where Israel would like to see one and not where international law deems one should be.

If we were looking down we would have witnessed this reality, but instead most in the helicopter were busy looking at the diagrams.

What is amazing is that in our 45-minute ride we managed to avoid flying over any of the 120 illegal Jewish settlements that have been built on Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Not a word was said by our guide about these settlements – neither does it get a mention in our info pack.

Below is a taster of what we did see – the town of Modi’in which sits next to the settlement of Modi’in Illit (which I couldn’t film because of the route we took).

The other argument made by our guide was that the separation wall (which he points out will be six per cent concrete and 94 per cent electronic wire fence when finished) was not a permanent international border but rather a defensive one.

Plans, he said, are being made for electronic key cards so that Palestinian farmers left outside the wall can access their lands  now on the “Israeli” side.

When I asked our guide why Israel is making long-term plans for a border he just finished telling us was only temporary, he answered “because one day it will be permanent”.

It’s a simple strategy and one Israel uses unapologetically – creating facts on the ground they call temporary (because in theory they are still negotiating over these facts) while carrying out actions that would make a final settlement based on anything other than what they have already created almost impossible.

The middle of the tour involved landing in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Here the guide explained how it was in fact Hamas that has imposed the siege in Gaza, a point I challenged him on …

The Israel Project do not hide their aim – shaping media coverage of the conflict.  This is after all is a battle for land where the court of public opinion matters.

To preserve Israel’s interests (to secure a Jewish state with borders of its choosing) an effort must be made to explain and justify to the world the process by which that state is being created.

But the changes happening come at the expense of Palestinian statehood, and that is clear to see for all those who choose to look down.

And two neo-conservatives prove that some Jews want to be only known as bombing advocates:

A former Bush administration official said he hopes the United States will address the Iranian president’s threat to “wipe Israel off the map.”

“Israelis are living under the threat of annihilation every day,” Elliot Abrams, the Bush administration’s National Security Council senior director for Near East and North African Affairs, said April 25 at the Baltimore Zionist District’s “U.S.-Israel Relations In A New Era” symposium, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported. “If the world does not act, I believe Israel will act, and I hope the U.S. will.”

“We keep saying it’s unacceptable for Iran to have a bomb, but we don’t mean it. We mean it’s terrible, we don’t want it. But when Israel says it’s unacceptable, they mean it.”

Steve Rosen, director of the Middle East Forum’s Washington Project and a former top staffer at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, agreed with Abrams’ assessment

“The majority of Americans support force on Iran, yet there’s a taboo against saying we must force them now,” Rosen said at the seminar. “The U.S. would be more efficient than Israel at suppressing Iran. We have to have the ability to stare directly into the light bulb.”

Gil Scott-Heron will no longer be visiting Tel AvivPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:57 AM PDT

A cultural icon takes a stand for Palestine and refuses to normalise relations with the Jewish state:

The May 25 Tel Aviv performance of American political soul/jazz pioneer Gil Scott-Heron is in doubt, only days after it was announced. Appearing in London this week at the Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron said from the stage that he wouldn’t be going to Israel because “we don’t like wars,” the Guardian reported on Wednesday. According to reports, his concert had been repeatedly disrupted by hecklers calling on him to cancel the Israel show.

Scott-Heron, best-known for the composition “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” was a leading voice in calling for the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, joining United Artist Against Apartheid in the 1980s. Pro-Palestinian groups had appealed to the singer to cancel his show at the Barby club because it would be seen as giving legitimacy to Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. A Facebook page urging the performer to cancel the Tel Aviv show was started and had gathered over 1,000 members.

No official announcement has been made.

Helping asylum seekers may soon be completely illlegal down underPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:51 AM PDT

Once again, like in decades past, Australia is becoming a country many of us simply don’t want to recognise:

A modern-day Oskar Schindler would be jailed for up 10 years under the Rudd government’s proposed crackdown on people smuggling, lawyers say.

In largely unscrutinised changes, backed by the opposition, the government is introducing new criminal charges for supporting people smugglers, even unwittingly.

”It’s mind-blowing legislation. I’ve never seen anything like it,” the University of Sydney professor of public law, Mary Crock, said.

”These laws capture innocent people who may be operating under perfectly good humanitarian reasons.”

Currently, the law defines people smugglers as those who are acting for profit when bringing five or more people to Australia. Proposed laws make criminals of anyone sending money to asylum seekers overseas, who later use it to pay a people smuggler.

They also capture Australians who organise for asylum seekers to escape danger for no financial gain, jeopardising some of the work of charitable organisations.

The president of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Ben Saul, said the changes had evaded the attention of refugee communities they would affect. ”Unfortunately, most of the focus was on recent changes to asylum policy,” he said. ”This one’s snuck under the radar.”

Non-government organisations have increased criticism the government’s freeze on processing asylum claims from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and the reopening of Curtin detention centre.

The anti-people smuggling and other measures bill also criminalises ship captains who rescue people on the high seas and bring them to Australia and pilots who unknowingly fly foreigners into Australia on false documents.

The Tampa captain, Arne Rinnan, who rescued more than 400 asylum seekers from a sinking boat, would have been jailed if the laws had existed in 2001, Professor Saul said.

”You could capture anyone, from a mariner at sea who saves people whose lives are at risk on the high seas – like captain Arne Rinnan who was the captain of the Tampa – through to people who saved Jews from extermination in the Second World War, like Oskar Schindler who didn’t do it for a profit,” he said.

The changes planned for Australia go beyond comparable laws in the US, Canada, Britain and New Zealand, he said.

The government proposed the changes in February.

Taking our moral lead from Palestinian BDS backersPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:19 AM PDT

Anybody who says the vast bulk of Palestinian civil society don’t back boycotts are being deliberately dishonest. It’s a visible, legitimate and non-violent way to resist Israeli occupation:

In anticipation of Nakba commemoration day next month, Palestinian student and youth groups across the West Bank and Gaza signed a memorandum enacting a massive boycott of Israeli products and programs.

The document calls for a halt to any activities that could normalize relations between Palestine and Israel.

“Economic, political, cultural and institutional normalization legitimize Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people by giving the appearance of normalcy to the relationship between oppressor and oppressed. This relationship is hardly one between equals as Israel continues to violate our inalienable rights, steal our land, and prevent refugees from our right of return in contravention of international law and numerous UN resolutions,” a statement from the student groups said.

The memorandum went on to describe a series of measures the students intended to apply on or before 15 May, when Palestinians commemorate the 1948 expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes that lead to the declaration of an Israeli state.

More than list the elements of the boycott, the students asserted “our right to resist Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people through all forms of resistance and in accordance to international law, including forms of civil resistance such as demonstrations, sits-ins and, boycotts of Israel.”

The students declared adherence to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BDS) and said they would reject “any Israeli-Palestinian meetings that do not recognize our inalienable rights, and explicitly aim to resist Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid.”

The student statement said the participating groups would “refuse to take part in whitewashing Israel’s public image,” and that “meetings that are not committed to such principles give a false picture of equality between the two parties by ignoring and legitimizing Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The petition was endorsed by the following university councils:

Birzeit University’s student council
An-Najah University’s student council and the majority of student blocks on campus
Hebron University’s student council
Bethlehem University’s student council
Arab American University in Jenin’ student council
Al-Quds University’s student council
Palestine Technical College’s student council -Aroub
Al-Quds Open University’s student council-Tulkarem
Al-Quds Open University’s student council-Qalqiliya
Palestine Technical College’s student council – Khadouri
The Palestinian Student Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Progressive Student Union Bloc-Gaza
Fateh Youth Organization- Gaza
Progressive Student Labor Front-Gaza
Islamic Bloc-Gaza
Islamic League of Palestinian Student s- Gaza
Student Unity Bloc-Gaza
Union of Youth Activity Centers in Palestinian Refugee Camps
Palestinian Youth Network-all branches
General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) -Chile
General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) -Colombia
General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) -France
General Union for Palestinian Youth
Palestinian Federation -Chile
Palestinian Federation- Argentine
US Palestinian Communities Network (USPCN)
Palestinian Community of Catalonia

And the following youth groups:

Center for Argentinean – Palestinian Friendship- Rosario/Argentina
Arab Youth for Palestine Valdivia/ Chile
Arab Youth for Valparaiso – Via Del Mar/Chile
Arab Youth of Concepcion – Concepcion /Chile
The youth group of the Evan Lutheran Church – Beit Sahour
Sheppard’s Scouts Troup – Beit Sahour
The Papal Scout Troop – Beit Jala
Student Council of the Evangelical Lutheran School – Beit Sahour
Student Council of the Evangelical Lutheran School – Ramallah
Student Council of the Friends Boys School – Ramallah
Student Council of the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School – Ramallah
Student Council of St. Joseph’s School – Ramallah
Jafra Palestinian Youth Center-Al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp
Joint Advocacy Initiative – The East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine

Why can’t students in the West Bank visit Gaza?Posted: 29 Apr 2010 01:14 AM PDT

Not all of the Israeli Left is dead and buried. Now and then they breath a little:

Ten Israel Prize laureates and more than 50 academics and intellectuals wrote to the Israeli Defense Minister today asking him to cancel the sweeping ban Israel has imposed, since 2000, on Palestinian students from Gaza studying in the West Bank.

Among the signatories are 2010 Israel Prize winners Prof. Avishai Margalit and Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny, past winners David Tartakover and Yehuda Jad Ne’eman, and intellectuals Joshua Sobol and Nir Baram.

 
“A sweeping ban on the passage of any resident of Gaza wishing to study in the West Bank is a disproportional ban that must be canceled,” they write. “Instead of the ban, we ask that the young people be allowed to attend their places of study subject to individual security checks of their applications.
 
At the very least, we ask the Defense Minister to establish a mechanism for individual evaluations in cases which could result in positive human consequences.”

The academics and intellectuals who signed the letter added that “academic and professional training is critical to the well-being and growth of Palestinian society and the individual development of each one of its young men and women who wishes to better himself or herself,” and that “Israel has a clear interest in allowing our Palestinian neighbors to build a prosperous and peaceful civil society.”

Since 2000 Israel has imposed a sweeping ban on Palestinians from the Gaza Strip wishing to attend Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Despite an Israeli High Court ruling in 2007 that determined that students from Gaza wishing to study in the West Bank should be allowed to do so “in cases that would have positive human consequences,” to the best of Gisha’s knowledge, Israel has not let a single student from Gaza pass through Israel in order to reach his or her studies in the West Bank since the ruling.
 
In the late 1990s, about 1,000 students from Gaza studied in the West Bank, many in critical disciplines that are not available in the Gaza Strip, such as occupational therapy, dentistry, physical therapy and others.

Gisha has recently appealed again to the Israeli authorities on behalf of three students from Gaza accepted for studies at Bethlehem University in the West Bank. The three, Jawdat Michael, Dana Al Tarazi and Owda Aljelda were supposed to start school in the summer of 2009, but despite requests by Gisha and Bethlehem University, Israel refused to let them leave Gaza. They are now seeking to attend the 2010 summer session at the university.

The sweeping ban on the passage of students from Gaza to the West Bank is only one part of an overall Israeli policy whose purpose is to separate the two parts of Palestinian territory. A new order recently went into effect, which threatens every Palestinian in the West Bank, whose registered address is in Gaza, with removal to the Strip, even if they have lived in the West Bank for years or even all their lives.
 
For many years, and even prior to the issuing of the order, Israel has been implementing this removal policy. For example, in October 2009, Berlanty Azzam, a 22-year-old student who had been in the West Bank since 2005 and was only two months away from completing her BA in Business Administration from Bethlehem University was removed to Gaza. Meanwhile, since 2000, Israel, which controls the Palestinian population registry, has refused to allow changes of address from Gaza to the West Bank.

The best way to treat Goldman is not politelyPosted: 29 Apr 2010 01:05 AM PDT

Because Goldman Sachs needs more than a good tongue lashing:

Because refugees have no voice we must speak up for themPosted: 29 Apr 2010 12:58 AM PDT

Examples of American Jewry loathing all ArabsPosted: 28 Apr 2010 08:19 PM PDT

A constant theme of this website is the shocking effect of Zionism on so many Diaspora Jews; the hatred towards Arabs and the racism against Palestinians. Max Blumenthal captures just the latest example:

On April 25, over 1000 New York-area Jewish extremists gathered in midtown Manhattan to rally against the Barack Obama administration’s call for a freeze on construction in occupied East Jerusalem and to demand unlimited rights to colonize the West Bank.

With Obama and top White House officials engaged in a charm offensive to repair their relationship with mainstream American Jewish organizations, speakers at the rally lashed out at the Jewish groups and Democratic politicians, warning that cozying up to Obama would endanger Israel and imperil their cherished settlement enterprise.

Charles Schumer and another major New York-area Jewish Democrat, Rep. Anthony Weiner, have scrambled to appease the extreme pro-settler elements railing against Obama. On the radio show of Nachum Segal, a right-wing Orthodox Jew popular among the demonstrators, Schumer called Obama’s demands to stop the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem “counter-productive” and boasted about warning White House aides that he would “publicly blast” them if the President did not relent.

But Schumer’s pandering appeared to be futile. At the rally, demonstrators waved placards reading, “Where’s Schumer?” and complained to me that the senator’s criticism of Obama was too little, too late.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Jewish Week, Weiner had begged organizers for a chance to speak at the rally but was rebuffed out of fear that he might put “some sort of Democratic ’spin’ on the president’s policies.” Beth Galinsky, a rally organizer, claimed Weiner was waiting in a nearby car during the rally, hoping that his desperate pleas would provide him an opportunity to address the crowd.

While the Democratic congressman was shut out, the Republican Jewish Coalition was afforded a prominent role at the demonstration beside far-right groups like the Zionist Organization of America, Z Street, Americans for a Safe Israel, Christians United for Israel, and Manhigut Yehudit, an anti-democratic group that calls for theocratic rule over Israel.

Supporters of Manhigut leader and Likud politician Moshe Feiglin distributed fliers promoting Feiglin’s upcoming campaign for prime minister of Israel. An open advocate of ethnic cleansing who has proposed depriving the Palestinians of drinking water, Feiglin recently called Vice President Biden “a diseased leper.”

While the pro-settler elements rallied in Manhattan, their counterparts from the radical Kahanist movement in the Hebron-based settlement of Tel Rumeida rampaged through Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, inciting violent confrontations while announcing their intention to rid the area of its historical Arab presence.

Dov Hikind, a Democratic New York Assemblymember who represents Orthodox Jewish areas in Brooklyn, is a longtime supporter of Baruch Marzel, the settler leader who orchestrated the provocations in East Jerusalem. “These are people who love us and help us, they are real lovers of Israel,” Marzel once said of Hikind and his allies. Hikind’s role as a keynote speaker at the New York rally was one of many hints that the events in Manhattan and Jerusalem were closely coordinated.

The Manhattan rally took on a distinctively Tea Party-flavor. Besides issuing maximalist calls for the expulsion of the Palestinians, demonstrators assailed Obama as a secret Muslim with no legitimate right to serve as President of the United States. When I was identified by a particularly ornery rally participant as “the self-hating asshole Max Blumenthal,” I decided it was time to make my exit.

However, as I walked down 44th Street towards the subway, an elderly man grabbed me and attempted to snatch my camera (I had seen the gun-toting Marzel use similar tactics on anti-settlement activists documenting his exploits in the West Bank).

“You’re not a Jew! Give me the film!” the man exclaimed. A mob of demonstrators suddenly formed and began advancing towards me. Luckily, two NYPD officers were nearby. They pried the man off me and gave me enough time to escape. I paced for two blocks until I reached Grand Central Station then disappeared into the crowd.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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