Archive | June 14th, 2010



14 June, 2010

Residents should be fully consulted before a new generation of CCTV cameras is switched on in Birmingham – and only then with their agreement says Roger Godsiff, the MP for Hall Green.

Godsiff is tabling an Early Day Motion today and seeking a Commons debate about the issue, and says that neither he nor his fellow MP’s in the areas affected at the time the cameras were commissioned by the Safer Birmingham Partnership in April – Lynne Jones and Liam Byrne – was asked for their views.

He believes that all the cameras are now in place but haven’t been switched on. That’s the way it should remain, too, he argues – at least until there’s been a wider public discussion.

Godsiff says that he’s not opposed to CCTV on principle, but believes the latest raft of ANPR cameras amount to “a gross intrusion of privacy”.


See:  Roger Godsiff MP @ Birmingham mail 15,2010 P: 11



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And peace activists, and it is conceivable that some of them were, but news is coming out of a slightly less savoury group of passengers on the Mavi Marmara, fascists.

Well, more accurately neofascists from the Turkish, Büyük Birlik Partisi (BBP)

The BBP is renowned for its connections with the Grey Wolves movement, older readers will remember the activities of those neofascist terrorists in the 1970s and their murderous campaign of bombings and killings.

Not the sort of people that you would immediately associate with humanitarian aid? It doesn’t make much sense, until you remember that they are also renowned for their anti-Jewish racism.

Jean-Yves Camus in an article on the European Extreme Right and Religious Extremism describes the Turkish Extreme Right:

“There are two political parties form the Extreme Right in Turkey: the Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP) and its youth wing, Bozkurtlar (Grey Wolves), and the Büyük Birlik Partisi (BBP), led by Muhsin Yazicioglu.

The former, which is very active in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and to a lesser extent in France, is secular and mostly concerned about the ethnic essence of the Turkish Nation, although some experts within the German Verfassungschutz believe that there is one “Turkish nationalist” and one “Turkish-Islamist” wing within MHP.[27]

The latter split from MHP in 1993 precisely because it felt the party’s Islamist credentials were “weak”. It received 1.02 % in the 2003 general election and did not contest the 2007 election. It operates in Europe under the name of Avrupa Tûrk Birligi, or Verband der Turkischen Kulturvereine E.V. in Europa, and promotes a mix between the Atatürk tradition of nationalism and the Koran.

Although BBP seems to have failed politically, while its rival MHP has become Turkey’s third political force with 14.29 % of the vote, the movement is worth monitoring, because of its extreme anti-Kurdish and anti-Armenian propaganda, and also because of its alleged involvement in violent activities.”

Not exactly natural bedfellows for humanitarians or peace activists, but violence would be second nature to these neo-fascists and might explain some of the activities on the deck of the Mavi Marmara?

From the IHH page, applauding the visit offered the BBP leader, Yalcin Topcu:

“Topcu handed over a letter to Bulent Yildirim, General President of IHH, which he wrote to Palestinian President Ismail Haniye, following his speech. After receiving the letter, Bulent Yildirim has offered his thanks to Yalcin Topcu and accompanying members of BBP who do not hesitate to give their support to the campaign.

He also mentioned Muhsin Yazicioglu in his speech, deceased former leader of BBP, put great importance into the Palestinian cause and it would be a great honor to deliver the letter written by Yazicioglu’s followers to Palestine and to Ismail Haniye. “

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A conversation about the Warsaw Ghetto

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

Norman Finkelstein and I have argued in emails about awful stuff Hamas did or didn’t do during the ’08-09 war. I say they used human shields, Finkelstein says there’s no confirmation of this in the human-rights reports. I say he’s naive and literal. He says, Show me the evidence. Though yes, he says, the reports show that they carried out revenge killings of collaborators. 

Last week Finkelstein and I had a meal with a third friend and Finkelstein told some stories about his mother and father in the Warsaw Ghetto. I’d known that his parents were concentration camp survivors, I didn’t know they were in the Warsaw Ghetto.  I said, How do you feel when I say that Gaza reminds me of what I learned about the Warsaw Ghetto as a boy?

Finkelstein said, I don’t really have a problem with it. My mother never said, “Do not compare.” She always told about her experience not to keep it hers, but to embrace others with her suffering. She didn’t see it as the unique property of the Jews.

That said, Finkelstein went on, I don’t know that you have to compare Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto. It is its own situation, and its own horror. Why not talk about each thing in its own right?

Someone asked how Finkelstein had discovered his parents’ experience, and he said it was when he was 8 and 9. The Holocaust was being explored in popular works, and his mother brought them home in the stack of books she got every week from the library in Brooklyn. Leon Uris’s Mila-18, John Hersey’s The Wall.

Finkelstein looked up in shock from the books to his prim mother, not believing she had been in such a place.

He related some of the stories. People dug catacombs to hide in with their bare hands. No one had implements. There were bodies littering the streets, and no one had anything to eat. Anyone who had a gun used it. The Jewish police were the worst collaborators. Some brought the Nazis to their own parents. When the head of the Jewish police was killed by the Jewish resistance, a sign was put next to him: “He lived like a dog, he died like a dog.”

It is for this reason, Finkelstein said, that when I hear stories about desperate or vicious behavior in Gaza, I am loath to judge the resistance. 

And he gave me a look.

[I would urge all readers to read the first chapter of Finkelstein’s own memoir, Haunted House]

Christian Zionists were the sine qua non of the creation of Israel

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

Re your claim that evangelical Christians were not important in the history of US support for Israel, here’s a key passage from the new book by Geoffrey Wawro:

Truman, a staunch supporter of Zionism as a senator, as president, saw the matter simply: there were five million Jews in the United State and most of them voted.  Moreover, settling the uprooted Jews of Europe in Palestine was politically popular in the United States among all classes and religions. … Americans predictably sided with the Zionists on humanitarian grounds. 

Americans felt natural sympathy for Jewish victims of the Holocaust and were influenced by well-wrought Zionist propaganda … as well as by the sermons of Protestant ministers, who found all the justification needed for the Jewish national home in the books of Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. (91-92)

I understand that one of your natural concerns is to try to convert your own people, people you identify with, just as I’m largely concerned to influence Catholics when I write for my blog or email with family/friends.  Nevertheless, I think you do need to be careful not to underestimate the strength of theological factors.

And no doubt you may feel your most effective approach is not to get into theological wrangles for which you feel temperamentally disinclined and perhaps ill qualified.  However, Jewish nationalism is a complex animal, one that unquestionably has a theological component of sorts, so when you urge Roger Cohen to get involved in that area it’s almost impossible for him to do so convincingly without addressing religious issues–from the standpoint of historicity, etc. 

I think you’ve done a good job of trying to broaden the appeal of your web site.  I think of my very liberal Methodist sister in law.  People like her are reflexively favorable to Israel and inclined to feel that criticism of Israel reeks of anti-Semitism.  They need to be educated to the justice issues involved with Zionism–something they would ordinarily never look at in any depth at all–and you’re doing that educating. 

BTW, I thought the WaPo coverage of Emily Henochowicz was possibly groundbreaking, the type of article that would really get through to people who might not ordinarily give these issues much thought.


My contention is that, while Zionist propaganda and Jewish political contributions were unquestionably a significant factor in US support for a state of Israel, the theological predisposition in favor of Zionism was not only another major factor in such support but was probably–and still remains–a sine qua non for such support. 

 IOW, the Zionist seed fell on fertile ground and, had it not, it might have yielded no fruit.  That theological predisposition–and not just Holocaust guilt/sympathy–is also what makes the charge of anti-Semitism so potent in American public life.  Wawro also notes (25) that Balfour (he of the eponymous declaration) was “a classic Christian Zionist,” so this was a factor pretty much from the get go.  Now it’s true that Wawro imputes a type of hypocrisy to these Christian Zionists, but I think he’s missing the point with that sniping. 

 The point is that Christian Zionism has always provided an almost teflon like cover for accepting vast amounts of political contributions from Jewish donors–to criticize a political opponent for taking contributions from folks who support Israel opens one up to charges of anti-Semitism that resonate deeply not only among Jews but among many, many Christians as well as ordinary liberals (in the broadest sense). 

 I repeat my contention that this theological predisposition remains strong and until it is effectively challenged will remain a huge factor in support for Zionism.

So Goldman/Spengler makes an important point.  Among Catholics, Zionism is more controversial.  Support for Neoconservatism is fairly widespread among white pew sitters who have been increasingly influenced by Evangelicals, but support is more mixed in the hierarchy because Zionism doesn’t have the theological pull for Catholics. 

I assume this is why Spengler has made Catholics a special target for his writings: Evangelicals are already largely on board with Zionism to varying degrees, but Catholics are a large and, as yet, relatively untapped demographic.  That’s probably partly because Catholic fund raising is a much more centralized affair than is fund raising among Protestants (esp. Evangelicals).

The moral authority of non-violence

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

A response to the debate on this site over the question of non-violent protest, following from the Gaza flotilla raid.

For Gandhi and for King non-violence was a principle. Tactics such as the refusal to budge from a position where one has a right to be, may grow out of the principle but are not to be confused with it. The principle starts from a discovery of a violence one recognizes as evil in oneself, and a rejection of that evil. What follows is the writing-large of the rejection as resistance to the evil that comes from oppression by others.

One resists the violence within from the same discovery of justice that impels the resistance to the violence without. Both Gandhi and King emphasized the difficulty of the discovery. Both took care that their protest movements should on occasion go back to perform again acts of protest that had been corrupted by bursts of violence within the movement.

Both made clear their disapproval of parallel movements that opposed the same evils they opposed (segregation, imperial subordination) but did so by violent means. There was no reason for them to do these things except the firm belief in non-violent resistance as a moral principle.

Non-violent action is meant to be visible and exemplary, in contrast with the violent action of the oppressor, which is shameful and always partly hidden. One shows one’s commitment by a practice that requires enormous strength of self-discipline, a practice that may in consequence elicit wonder and provoke thought. Mass acts of non-violent resistance may cause a state power to remit its use of violence.

At the far reach of persuasion, they may cause the state power to surrender control. But there will always be reasons for this besides awakened conscience. The power, for example, may desire the approval of other powers which have their own motives for siding with the protest. Or, the state may in some way need the cooperation of those whom it rules by coercion; when, therefore, its method of governing proves bankrupt, it gives up domination in exchange for the lifting of the protest.

Every regime of domination carries with it an agreeable story to cover the brutality of the facts. In British India the story was that the British only governed by the voluntary acceptance of the people of India, and they would leave on the day the people of India made it clear that they did not consent to imperial rule.

Mass non-violent resistance did make the rejection of imperial rule transparently clear, without any possibility of confusion. Again, in the American South, the story was that segregation was a “way of life” that blacks and whites alike were happy with, and the trouble only came from “agitators.”

Mass non-violent resistance proved the explanation to be a fable. In Israel today, the story is that the blockade and the occupation are necessary because without them the Palestinians would subject Israel to an ungoverned series of terrorist attacks. Does terrorism or non-violent resistance seem a likelier method for disproving that assumption?

Both Gandhi and King searched these questions very deeply. Their writings are widely available. There is no excuse for attributing to them views which they argued against explicitly and with great cogency. As for the relativist idea that all who recognize an evil may freely choose their favorite tactic without judging among the tactics by any standard but success, such a resolution begs two questions at once.

For to use non-violence opportunistically nullifies the distinction of the protester; the state power itself does not use violence day and night but only opportunistically. And the moral authority of non-violence was always based on a definition of success that differed from that of sheer power. The end you seek, the state you intend to build, is already indicated and has begun to be constituted by the means you employ to get there. A state arrived at by means of terror has already set up a definition of success that will affect its future conduct and character.

Postscript: Three passages from Gandhi

1. Let us first take the argument that we are justified in gaining our end by
using brute-force because the English gained theirs by using similar means. It
is perfectly true that they used brute-force and that it is possible for us to
do likewise, but by using similar means we can get only the same thing that
they got. You will admit that we do not want that.
                                                    –Hind Swaraj, 1909

2. Such being the hold that the doctrine of the sword has on the majority of
mankind, and as success of non-co-operation depends principally on absence of
violence during its pendency and as my views in this matter affect the conduct
of a large number of people, I am anxious to state them as clearly as possible.
I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence I
would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have
done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether
he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his
physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him
that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence. Hence it was that I
took part in the Boer War, the so-called Zulu rebellion and the late War. Hence
also do I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of
violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her
honour than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless
witness to her own dishonour.

  But I believe that non-violence is infinitely superior to violence,
forgiveness is more manly than punishment. Forgiveness adorns a soldier. But
abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish; it is
meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature. A mouse
hardly forgives a cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. I,
therefore, appreciate the sentiment of those who cry out for the condign
punishment of General Dyer and his ilk. They would tear him to pieces if they
could. But I do not believe India to be helpless. I do not believe myself to be
a helpless creature. Only I want to use India’s and my strength for a better
purpose. Let me not be misunderstood. Strength does not come from physical
capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
                                  –The Doctrine of the Sword, 11 August 1920

3.  The German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The
tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing
it with religious zeal. For he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and
militant nationalism in the name of which mass inhumanity becomes an act of
humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter. The crime of an obviously mad but
intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity.
If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war
against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be
completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. . . .

  Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when
it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as
humanitarianism. It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it
looks in its nakedness.

  Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way
to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and
forlorn? I submit there is. . . .If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and
earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the
tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the
dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating
treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me
in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound
to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription
here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now.
                                –Zionism and Anti-Semitism, 26 November 1938

Palestinian Gandhi finds, No mitzvah goes unpunished

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

The Globe and Mail does what our media still seem incapable of– going after the story, in this case the Palestinian member of Knesset, Hanin Zoaby, 41, who has become the most hated person in Israel because she went on the flotilla. Fascinating profile, with hints of the emerging democracy movement that is likely in months to come to flood that country, and the world…

Accused of treason for supporting the Free-Gaza movement, forbidden by the courts to leave the country for 45 days, Ms. Zoaby was attacked, physically, when she spoke in the Knesset last week to explain her decision to join the flotilla of ships hoping to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. She said she viewed her action on behalf of 1.5 million “prisoners” in Gaza as a kind of “mitzvah,” a Hebrew term for a religious good deed. The reference only made her Jewish assailants angrier…

Ms. Zoaby explains the contempt for her as a reaction to the world criticism Israel is experiencing, similar to the backlash against Arab Israelis that followed criticism in the war against Hamas in Gaza.

“I embarrassed them,” she said, referring to Israelis. “I was an easy target for their revenge.”

Would she do it again, would she go on another flotilla? In a heartbeat, she says.

“I was appalled by the Israeli behaviour” on board the ship, she said. “I didn’t expect such violence.”

(Ms. Zoaby is credited by passengers with convincing the Israeli commandos – in her good Hebrew and tenacious style – with getting long-delayed medical treatment for the wounded.) What if doing it again meant losing her citizenship? “Yes,” she said determinedly. “It would just show that what they call citizenship is really just membership in the Zionist movement. It’s not real citizenship.”

“I want to be a full Israeli citizen,” Ms. Zuabi said at the time she was sworn into the Knesset last year, “but it must not come at the expense of my people’s collective rights to an identity and a past.”

Let’s get the facts straight on Hamas

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and five NY Congressional representatives have called a press conference for this morning to press the State Dept. “to investigate any and all passengers on the Mavi Marmara and other ships from Turkey’s IHH flotilla who apply for visas to enter the United States.” 

Part of their demand is for the State Dept. to investigate whether visa applicants who were on the Turkish ship intended “to fund or to give things of value to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization, namely Hamas.” 

This demand follows recent statements on Hamas from the likes of Senator Charles Schumer and other public figures that reflect the Israeli line and have been left unchallenged. While progressives have criticized Schumer’s deplorable “strangling” argument in favor of the collective punishment of 1.5 million Gazans,  there has been little analysis of Hamas’s goals.

The standard line is that Hamas is a “terrorist” organization “committed to Israel’s destruction.” 

Schumer said, “when there’s total war against Israel, which Hamas wages, [the Palestinians are] going to get nowhere.”

There are lots of legitimate criticisms of Hamas to be made, for instance of their policy of executing “collaborators” and destroying Palestinian homes that they say were built on public land. But repeating the standard line that Hamas rejects peace and is opposed to a two-state solution is simply not a legitimate criticism when you look at the factual record. 

Hamas is not waging “total war” against Israel. Before the Gaza massacres of 2008-09, “Hamas was ‘careful to maintain the ceasefire’ it entered into with Israel in June 2008, according to an official Israeli publication, despite Israel’s reneging on the crucial component of the truce that it ease the economic siege of Gaza,” as Norman Finkelstein has written.

After the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in January 2009, leaving Gaza in ruins, Hamas still didn’t wage “total war” against Israel. Rockets have sporadically been fired into Israeli territory since then, but they have been claimed by other groups within Gaza and have killed one person, a Thai foreign worker. Israel, on the other hand, has continued its policy of “total war” against Palestine by continuing to impose a crippling blockade on Gaza, destroying civilian infrastructure as a response to rocket fire and killing civilians in Gaza.

As for the claim that Hamas rejects the two-state solution, that also doesn’t bear scrutiny. We don’t have to look very far to come to the conclusion that Hamas is willing to make a settlement with Israel based on the principles of international law and United Nations resolutions.  Likud, on the other hand, does reject a Palestinian state.

Charlie Rose recently interviewed Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas’ political bureau. An excerpt:

KHALED MESHAAL: So when the occupation comes to an end, the resistance will end. As simple as that. If Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, so that will be the end of the Palestinian resistance.

CHARLIE ROSE: You are saying if the Israelis withdraw to the ‘67 borders, give or take this place or that place, right of return, Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, what else?

KHALED MESHAAL: If Israel withdraws to the borders of 1967, and from East Jerusalem, that will become the capital of the Palestinian state with the right of self — with the right of return for the refugees and with a Palestinian state with real sovereignty on the land and on the borders and on the checkpoints.

Then we — the Palestinian state will decide the future of the relationship with Israel. And we will respect the decision that will reflect the viewpoint of the majority of the Palestinian people both inside and outside Palestine.

Does that sound like “total war” against Israel?

Tortured Egypt

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

Hosni Mubarak has struggled for years to secure the reputation for being the most loathsome of the Arab tyrants. He imprisoned dissidents, murdered rivals, and tortured activists so effectively and with so much zeal that even George W. Bush sought his services (and until it’s demonstrated otherwise, I will assume Barack Obama has, too).

It is no wonder then that the Egyptian police beat 28-year-old Khaled Said to death in the streets of Alexandria on Sunday, June 13th. According to a source, authorities claimed Said died “because of an overdose of weed.”  Said was reportedly filming Egyptian police engaging in a drug deal (video here).  Observers are speculating that Said’s video is the reason he was targeted by the police.   

The Egyptian police know fully that they operate with impunity while projecting an aura of official sanction. An impromptu protest was called by human rights activists in Cairo and was met by heavy-handed riot police intervention. Several prominent activists were detained and later released.

Egyptian-German activist and film maker Philip Rizk, who was kidnapped by the Mubarak authorities while protesting the 2008-2009 Gaza massacre, has kept a chronicle of events at his blog Tabula Gaza.

Separately, the Egyptian authorities prevented 400 activists from entering Gaza despite claiming that the Egyptian siege has been lifted.

According to one source, “There was a relative big demo against torture… Three hundred people gathered today in front of the ministry of interior. Many activists were kidnapped… but later released… I was in [Egyptian] Rafah Friday and Saturday with an Egyptian aid convoy. We were refused entry and did a 24 hour sit-in in front of the border…”

My brother-in-law was going to pray when he was killed

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

We received a note from “the Jilani family” responding to Adam’s post yesterday on the killing of Ziad Jilani, a 41-year-old tradesman and father, on Friday night:

I am writing to you on behalf of my nieces, the daughters of Ziad Jilani, who was killed by Israeli police/military yesterday June 11th in Jerusalem. Until the witnesses are polled and the correct information is gathered, I hope that more people question what happened and that Ziad did not die in vain. I do not have the truth at this time either, as there is mass speculation as to what truly occurred, but when the photos and videos of what truly happened do come to the surface, it will turn the AP report that has been reprinted globally – without knowing the facts – into gossip and speculation. .

For the memory of my brother-in-law, I will say this: he was not trying to injure anyone with his vehicle. He was going to pray; one of the rights that we hold so dear as an American but yet seem to have turned a blind eye to the rights that the under-45 male, Islamic community in Jerusalem have now lost. He was a great father of my three beautiful and loving nieces and an amazing husband to my sister, Moira Reynolds-Jilani – an American born in the island of Barbados who has lived in Israel since 1993. He was college-educated, a humanitarian to all who he knew, and a person who prayed for a better world for his children. He was looking forward to taking his girls to dinner Friday night – instead he was buried.

In the second it took the soldier to shoot the last bullets – in the back and face of an unarmed man – he forever altered the life of my sister and her daughters. Let the blood on his hands never wash away and may God have mercy on his soul and all that participated and did nothing while my brother in law lay bleeding and saw the gun put to his face and the last trigger pulled.
What world is this? More importantly I challenge everyone who reads this to say ‘NO MORE’.

‘LA Times’ runs two incisive pieces on the conflict

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

 I’ve continually asked for one thing: journalism about the occupation of Palestine that rivals journalism about other outrages. The LA Times has delivered. Read Edmund Sanders’s first few paragraphs from Gaza:

Don’t ask Hatem Hajaj whether there’s a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Four months ago, the unemployed salesclerk’s son was born with a heart blockage. Doctors told Hajaj that the baby’s only hope was transfer to a Jerusalem hospital because Gaza lacked a pediatric surgery unit.

While his son, Mohamed, fought to breathe on a ventilator, Hajaj spent a week gathering the transfer documents needed under Israel’s strict border rules. Then there was another agonizing week, watching as his son’s tiny body began to bloat as he waited for an answer.

Approval finally came — two days after Mohamed died.

“Why should it take so long for a days-old innocent baby with such a serious problem?” asked Hajaj, 37, in his Gaza City home, clutching the medical records and authorization form that came too late.

How much more information do our politicians and citizens need to know that the U.S. is underwriting persecution? And the same day, here is an Op-ed by Saree Makdisi attacking the defenestration of Helen Thomas, and linking it to the real problem, racism:

If, however, it is unacceptable to say that Israeli Jews don’t belong in Palestine, it is also unacceptable to say that the Palestinians don’t belong on their own land.

Yet that is said all the time in the United States, without sparking the kind of moral outrage generated by Thomas’ remark. And while the nation’s editorialists worry about the offense she may have caused to Jews, no one seems particularly bothered by the offense felt every day by Palestinians when people — including those with far more power than Thomas — dismiss their rights, degrade their humanity and reject their claims to the most elementary forms of decency.

Are we seriously to accept the idea that some people have more rights than others? Or that some people’s sensibilities should be respected while others’ are trampled with total indifference, if not outright contempt?..

To accept this appalling hypocrisy is to be complicit in the racism of our age.


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Descendants File Key New Evidence with United Nations over Israeli Construction on 12th Century Muslim Cemetery

Simon Wiesenthal Center Vows to Build “Museum of Tolerance” Despite Mounting Opposition: Petitioners Appeal to Board of Directors
June 14, 2010, New York, Jerusalem, Geneva – Today, parties defending a 12th Century Muslim cemetery and holy site in Jerusalem from desecration by Israeli authorities and a U.S. financier submitted key updates and new evidence to UNESCO, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, and the Swiss government. 

The original Petition for Urgent Action was filed on February 10, 2010 in Geneva by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York on behalf of descendants of individuals buried in the Mamilla Cemetery, including 60 signatories from 15 of the oldest Jerusalem families. The Petitioners argue that disinterring thousands of Muslim graves and building a “Museum of Tolerance” by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) on part of the cemetery violates international conventions protecting cultural heritage, the manifestation of religious beliefs, and the right to culture and family. 

International reactions 

The Addendum to the Petition submitted today highlights the widespread interest that the Petition has generated in the UN, the media, and among the public. This includes dozens of articles and other press reports around the globe, and the endorsement of 8700 individual co-petitioners that have joined a Public Petition in support. An investigative series published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in May 2010 has confirmed with new evidence and exclusive photographs the arguments and evidence presented in the Petition and generated a new wave of public concern about the issue. 

While the UN officials undertake the investigations requested of them in the Petition, the matter was taken up by the UN Human Rights Council, which adopted in March a strong resolution expressing “its grave concern at the excavation of ancient tombs and removal of hundreds of human remains from part of the historic Ma’man Allah (Mamilla) Cemetery in the holy city of Jerusalem in order to construct a museum of tolerance.” 

Meanwhile, Arab and Islamic Ambassadors in New York presented the Petition to the UN Security Council and met with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who promised to follow up with Israel and with UNESCO on the matter.  In addition, the Swiss Foreign Minister endorsed the Petition and encouraged continued efforts to resolve the matter, stating in a letter to Petitioners that Switzerland “deplore[s] the decision to build such a museum on the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery” which “was not helpful with regard to fostering the peaceful cohabitation between the different faiths.” 

Said Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and the descendent of several individuals buried in Mamilla, “Our efforts to insure that the competent UN authorities fully address this issue will continue, and we intend to keep the campaign on the international agenda until Israel and the Simon Wiesenthal Center desist from this project that has desecrated an important Muslim and Palestinian cultural heritage site.”  

Petitioners Appeal to the Simon Wiesenthal Center

The Addendum to the Petition also refutes claims made by the SWC following the submission of the original Petition. New photographs presented in the Addendum show that ancient walls and tombs remain on the site, contrary to the SWC’s claim that the several layers of graves and artifacts known to be on the site have already been removed by infrastructure works. 

SWC also claims that an obscure 1945 Supreme Muslim Council proposal to build on the cemetery justifies the current project. This ignores the fact that the alleged plan was never sanctioned by legitimate Muslim scholars, since the Council at the time was appointed by British Mandate officials and had no authority to make judicial decisions about religious affairs.  Nor did the idea gain traction or come anywhere near fruition.  The Addendum also affirms that Petitioners, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, have initiated this wholly civil, voluntary and family-based effort with no affiliation to any political or other organizations.

Last week, the Petitioners and the Center for Constitutional Rights sent each member of the Board of Directors of the SWC a letter fully explaining the facts behind the case and calling for them to intervene, stating “that the ultimate responsibility for the continuation of this project now rests with the Board members, who are accountable to the public and private world for supporting this assault on common sense and decency.”  
Said CCR President Michael Ratner, “We have reached out to the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the hope that they will put a stop to the terrible irony of building a museum of tolerance on the site of a Muslim cemetery. Each board member who fails to act effectively condones the desecration of human remains and the violation of a sacred burial site.” 

The Mamilla Cemetery has been a Muslim burial ground and holy site since as early as the 7th century, when companions of the Prophet Muhammad were reputedly buried there.  In addition, numerous Sufi saints and thousands of other officials, scholars, notables, and Jerusalemite families have been buried there over the last 1000 years. The cemetery was declared a historical and antiquities site by successive authorities in Jerusalem, including the Supreme Muslim Council, British Mandate and even Israeli authorities. It was an active burial ground until 1948, when the new State of Israel seized the western part of Jerusalem and the cemetery fell under Israeli control. 

The Petition, the Addendum and other documents may be consulted at

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit

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[The item below is a translation (mostly my spouses—I did the typing and syntax, he the translating) from the Hebrew published on Ynet on June 9th,7340,L-3902887,00.html ] ,  The translation, though not elegant (but neither is the Hebrew original) is adequate to show you the direction that Israel is taking.  I’d hoped that Ynet would itself put out an English version, but since it did not, we have furnished the lack.]

Proposed Bill Forbidding imposition of boycott ‏‏2010

[26 members of the Knesset have signed in support of the bill]


1.  A “person” as defined in the law of definition 1981.

“area  under control of State of Israel” including Judea and Samarea


The demand from others not to maintain connections with a person

“Boycott against Israel”

Definition: a boycott imposed on a person because of his connection with the State of Israel or with an area that is under control of the State of Israel

“A foreign entity” as defined in paragraph 36a in the law governing  non-profit associations 1980. 

Forbidding boycott against Israel

2.  A boycott against Israel should not be initiated, nor participated in, should not be supported or be given help or information to advance it.

A boycott is civil disobedience

3.  The act of a citizen or resident of Israel contradicting paragraph 2 constitutes civil disobedience, will be subject to the laws and regulations law of torts [pkudat nezikim].


4.  The court will impose compensation resulting from civil disobedience in accordance with this law in the following manner:

(a) compensation up to 30,000 shekel to those impacted on, subject to proof of any damages

(b) additional compensation for damages in accordance to the actual damage and subject to proof


5.  In addition to what is stated in paragraph 4, a citizen or resident of Israel acting against the instructions in paragraph 2 will be subject to double the fixed penalty in 61(3)a –in the law of penalties 1977

Law applying to non-residents and non-citizens

6.  Whoever is not a citizen or permanent resident of Israel and the court judged in accordance with request of the Minister of Interior, that the person acted in contradiction to paragraph 2,

(a) will be denied the right to return to Israel at least up to 10 years,

(b) throughout the period of his exile from Israel the person will not be allowed to enact any transactions with Israeli banks, stocks and bonds sold in Israel, real-estate, or any other commodity that requires registration upon transaction,

Boycott imposed by a foreign agency

7.  If a foreign agency passes a law imposing a boycott on Israel then until that law is cancelled, the government with the majority of its members decides that this foreign entity transgresses the orders of paragraph 2 and unless the government decides otherwise:

(a)  The foreign entity will be forbidden to enact transactions in Israeli banks, stocks and bonds sold in Israel, in real-estate, and in any other commodities that requires registration upon transaction.

(b) No money or any other asset by agreement or government decision that has been arrived at prior to paragraph 7 or passage of a foreign law will be forwarded to this foreign entity or to an agent acting on its behalf .

(c) An Israeli citizen or State Treasury that has been harmed by the boycott of the foreign entity may sue for damages from the amount collected in accordance with paragraph (b) in paragraph 4 with whatever changes required.


8.  The Minister of Justice is appointed to establish regulations to implement this law, and he will consult the Minister of Interior for implementation paragraph 6 (a)



(a) This law will take effect from the day that it is published

(b)  Despite sub-paragraph (a) he who initiates or participates in boycott a year prior to publishing this law will be assumed to continue to advocate or call for boycott even after the law has been published.




Haaretz ,

June 14, 2010

Amira Hass / Beatings, arrests, nighttime raids and dubious indictments

Israel detains Palestinian children in the middle of the night, holds them in conditions of fear and pain before their interrogations, and interrogates them without the presence of their parents or a lawyer.

By Amira Hass

M., a Haaretz reader from Zichron Yaakov, was disturbed by reports about the manner in which Palestinian children are arrested in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are being detained held in the middle of the night, held in conditions of fear and pain before their interrogations, and then finally interrogated without the presence of their parents or a lawyer.

On March 14, M. wrote the following to attorney Yuri Gai-Ron, the head of the Israel Bar Association: “I am appealing to you to use all of your authority to intervene and put an end to the abusive behavior and violation of the law with regard to children and youths… Any decent citizen silent – and even more so the body you have headed over the past few years – cannot remain silent in the face of the frivolity with which children are kept in detention, interrogated and even condemned.”

On April 22, attorney Linda Shafir, the director general of the bar association, sent a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador. Copies were also sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the commander of the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank (whose name she did not mention ), and the Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit, as well as to M.

Among other things, Shafir wrote: “In her appeal, Ms. M. mentions that Palestinian children and youngsters from areas of the West Bank are detained under inappropriate circumstances and are held in inappropriate conditions.

It goes without saying that the Israel Bar Association considers the holding of detainees in appropriate conditions to be of supreme importance, from both the legal point of view and on the level of human rights. I should be grateful if the appeal is transferred to all concerned parties, so that possible means of dealing with the situation are examined with a view to eradicating the phenomenon.”

Broken camera

Another Palestinian detainee, though not a child, is Imad Bornat of Bil’in, a photographer and film director. He was arrested in October 2006 by Border Policemen while photographing the weekly demonstration against the separation fence in his village. After being detained for 21 days, he was then kept under house arrest outside his village for a month and a half. Bornat’s trial, during which he was accused of throwing stones and attacking Border Policemen, dragged on for some three years.

This became a routine method of deterring demonstrators in the villages fighting against the separation fence – beatings and arrests, nighttime raids, and indictments based on dubious testimonies.

In April 2009, Bornat was acquitted of all the charges; no trace of anything. He never hit anyone, he never threw any stones. But despite his acquittal, from the police perspective the criminal file remains open, alongside a police order forbidding him to enter Israel (which is five kilometers from his village ). When he required medical treatment, he received some limited exit permits only thanks to the intervention of his lawyer, Gabi Lasky.

Last month Bornat was invited to participate in an event in Tel Aviv organized by CoPro, an Israeli foundation for marketing documentary films. They planned to screen part of the movie he and his partner, Israeli cinematographer Guy Davidi, are busy editing – “Five Broken Cameras.” Haaretz published a short item reporting that Bornat had been prevented from participating in the event.

On the same day, May 26, the Civil Administration issued him a permit in a particularly accelerated move, despite the police’s position. His file remains open, however, in the police computers. Lasky was told last week that she must send the court verdict, evincing Bornat’s acquittal, to the Binyamin police station, which she has already done at least four times.

‘A different aspect of Israel’

On May 27, yours truly received a letter from Amir Merom, the spokesman for the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, in which he wrote: “Your efforts on behalf of upholding human rights, which have been a guiding principle of your work as a journalist over the years, are not supposed to hold back from your readers at Haaretz journalistic facts which are not in line with one organized doctrine or another.

“We read your May 26 article about the photographer from Bil’in, and were left with the impression that your attempt to present the saga vis-a-vis the military authorities and the police was paramount, from your point of view, to the need to add objective factual parameters that would widen the scope of the story for the reader’s benefit and offer a broader spectrum of reference on an already loaded subject.

“Besides the lengthy paragraphs describing, in minute detail, the conduct between the various bodies – which attempt to present Israel in an unflattering light – you mentioned in one general sentence that ‘in November 2008, Bornat was seriously injured in a car accident and required medical treatment in Israel.’ It is most surprising to me that you chose so strange a way to mention the fact that the patient arrived on the threshold of death at Sheba Medical Center, the leading government hospital in the State of Israel, and that his life was saved thanks to the dedicated treatment he received there…

“In addition, I am certain that your readers, who possess varied points of view, will be glad to be exposed to a different aspect of Israel from that described in your article – an aspect of love for human beings, of humanity and compassion.

“As the spokesman for a hospital where Arabs, Jews and members of all faiths are treated alongside one another with the same degree of professionalism and love, I would expect that you would be wise enough to use the abovementioned facts in your upcoming articles on the subject.”

Bornat paid for his hospital treatment.

Waiting for a letter

No reader wrote a letter about the fate of Adib Abu Rahma – a resident of the same village as Bornat, a regular participant in the demonstrations against the separation fence, a 40-year-old taxi driver and a father of nine. He was arrested on July 10, 2009 on the basis of a photograph showing him holding an onion, to be used against tear gas, which a prosecution witness somehow interpreted as a megaphone.

On the basis of incriminations conducted with minors from Bil’in, who had been arrested in the dark of night and held in frightening circumstances, Abu Rahma was charged with incitement, disturbing the public order and entering a military area. Many of the “facts” illicited through these interrogations later turned out to be false.

Abu Rahma has been in jail for 333 days already. on Sunday a military judge found him guilty, as was expected.

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Ynet ,

June 14, 2010

Terrible ramifications on family (archives)  Photo: AP

 Ex-prisoner: Administrative detention – mental slaughter

Palestinian journalist Ali Jaradat, who spent 11 years behind bars, tells Ynet ‘uncertainty and wait are the most difficult things for administrative detainees.’ B’Tselem reports number of Palestinians held in administrative detention lowest since 2001, but 222 still jailed without being convicted,7340,L-3904696,00.html

Ali Waked Published:  06.14.10

In Israel 2010, a person can vanish off the face of the earth without anyone knowing: The number of Palestinians held in administrative detention in Israel is now lowest since 2001, but according to a B’Tselem report on the situation of human rights in the West Bank and Gaza, 222 people are still being held in detention without being convicted of anything. 

The organization, which released the report on Monday morning, attributes the reduction in the number of administrative detainees to the drop in the amount of violence in the area, rather than to a change in Israel’s policy. 

The Justice Ministry, on the other hand, says the reduction stems from Israel’s cautious use of that measure, as well as from the improvement in the security-related situation. 

According to the report, the Israeli policy contradicts all the rules of international law regarding the use of administrative detention, while seriously infringing on the detainees’ rights. B’Tselem says Israel is mocking the protection provided by the law, going against freedom and the right for a fair procedure.

‘Like the stone of Sisyphus’

One of those who experienced it first hand is Palestinian journalist Ali Jaradat, who completed his last administrative detention in December. 

“The life of an administrative detainee is like the stone in the Sisyphus story. Every time the stone reaches the top of the mountain, it deteriorates once again, and this is the human absurdity of the administrative detention,” he tells Ynet. 

Jaradat, who was considered an unofficial spokesman of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian in the past, was arrested several times between 1992 and 2010, and spent a total of 11 years behind bars. 

“Apart for the first time, in each of my detention I was not questioned and was not informed what I was arrested for,” he claims. According to him, each time the six months of detention came to an end, his arrest was extended by another six months. “This is mental slaughter for a prisoner, without talking about the ramifications for his family.” 

As a journalist and writer, Jaradat compares his situation to that of the hero of “Waiting for Godot”. 

“As in the play, you cannot defend yourself,” he explains. “What kills the administrative detainee is the fact that he doesn’t know how to defend himself against some kind of guilt. I may be guilty for writing. Is my crime the fact that I speak about an independent state? (Former Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon believes in an independent state as well, the difference is in the borders of the two states between me and them.

“This is an impossible situation, the mental wait each time the six months of detention end is a mental phenomenon which ruins the prisoner and his family,” he says of the stage in which the detainee waits to find out whether he is about to be released or remain in custody.

“A normal prisoner knows that he will be released after a long or short period, but the administrative detainee doesn’t know, and the uncertainty and wait are the most difficult things.” 

Jaradat says that at a certain stage, his health began deteriorating and he started suffering from a heart disease and diabetes. “I joked with the judge. I told him, ‘When you first took me I was young. Today it’s not the same anymore. I don’t know how much time I have left to live, and you keep on extending it by six months.'” 

‘No other alternative’

The Justice Ministry said in response to the report, “The administrative detention is a measure taken when there is no other alternative, and it is fully compatible with the rules of international law, and particularly clause 78 in the fourth Geneva Convention.”

The ministry added that “the law enforcement system is making every effort to run a criminal procedure rather than an administrative one, often at the cost of filing a criminal indictment for a less serious offense.” 

In addition to the drop in the number of administrative detentions, the B’Tselem report also points to the ease of restrictions on Palestinians in West Bank roadblocks, in a way allowing Palestinians to move between the city centers in a much more convenient manner than in the past. 

In early February 2010 there were 44 roadblocks, compared to 62 in 2008. The organization, stresses, however, that there is yet to be a complete freedom of movement.

B’Tselem also addresses the killing of Israeli and Palestinian civilians since the end of Operation Cast Lead, ruling that the number of Palestinian casualties has been the lowest in the past few years – 83, most of the Gaza residents. The organization criticizes Israel’s investigation policy in Palestinian death cases and condemns the execution of Palestinians who cooperated with Israel. 

In the report, B’Tselem also criticizes the Gaza siege, the demolition of Palestinian houses, the use of Palestinian lands in favor of new settlements and the separation fence. 

Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report

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Haaretz ,

June 14, 2010

B’Tselem: 83 Palestinians, Israeli Arabs killed in Gaza, West Bank since Cast Lead

By Chaim Levinson

Tags: West Bank Gaza Palestinians Israel news Eighty-three Palestinians and seven Israeli Arabs have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009, according to the annual report of the B’Tselem human rights group, which was released Sunday.

Of the dead, 31 did not participate in hostilities, nine were killed by Palestinian security forces and two were executed for allegedly collaborating with Israel, the report said. Two-thirds of those killed lived in the Gaza Strip.

The report also said there has been a drop in the number of administrative detentions in the past year, from 229 in late March 2009 to 222 in April. However, B’Tselem said Israel continues to allow its security forces and civilians to harm Palestinians or damage their property without being penalized.

“The policy according to which security personnel suspected of harming Palestinians are not held accountable for their actions, except in unusual circumstances, remains unchanged,” the report said. “Israeli citizens who harmed Palestinians or damaged their property have, in general, not borne the consequences for their actions. Even though Israel has declared a freeze on settlement construction, the settlement enterprise continues to undermine the human rights of Palestinians.”

The report also states that since January 2009, four more kilometers of the separation fence have been built, bringing the total length to 412 kilometers. There are 39 roadblocks along the fence, 19 of which are used for security checks of those wishing to enter Israel.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the number of manned checkpoints went down from 63 to 44, 18 of them in Hebron.

During the 16-month period the report covers, the Civil Administration Authority razed 44 illegal structures built by Palestinians, most in the Jordan Valley, the report found.

“These days we are marking 43 years to the seventh day of the Six-Day War, which was also the first day of Israel’s occupation in the territories,” said Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem. “So long as Israel rules over millions of Palestinians, it is obligated to safeguard their rights. The ongoing occupation holds clear dangers to Israeli democracy and as such, we as Israelis have the duty to demand accountability for what is being done in our names in the territories and a change in the policy that harms human rights.”

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June 14, 2010

Netanyahu: Gaza flotilla probe will show the world Israel acted lawfully

Israeli cabinet approves inquiry commission into raid on Gaza-bound aid flotilla in unanimous vote.

By Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Monday’s cabinet meeting that the main goal of the Gaza flotilla probe is to prove to the world that the Israel Navy operation on the Gaza-bound aid ship was appropriate and met international standards.

“The government decision will make it clear to the world that Israel is acting legally, responsibly, and with complete transparency,” said Netanyahu.

The cabinet approved the inquiry commission into the Gaza flotilla events in a unanimous vote.

Netanyahu told the ministers that it was particularly important to announce the Gaza flotilla probe commission on Sunday and for it to be approved on Monday, since the foreign ministers of the European Unions are due to convene on Sunday to discuss the events that led up to the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla which killed nine Turkish activists.

N. Irish Nobel laureate, Canadian jurist to serve as observes in Gaza flotilla probe

The committee will include two international observers and tackle the legality of the blockade of Gaza and the legality of the navy’s actions. The committee will also determine whether investigations of claims of war crimes and breaches of international law conform to the Western standards.

A retired Supreme Court justice, Jacob Turkel, will head the committee, whose members will included Shabtai Rosen, 93, a professor of international law who is an Israel Prize laureate in legal sciences and a Hague Prize laureate in international law. Also on the commission will be Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Horev, former president of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

Two foreign observers will take part in the committee’s deliberations. The statement released by the Prime Minister’s Bureau did not say what their powers would be. The first observer will be William David Trimble, a Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Trimble joined the “Friends of Israel” initiative launched in Paris some two weeks ago, in which Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, was also involved. Gold is considered a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The second international observer will be Ken Watkin, former military judge advocate general from Canada.

The committee will also examine the Turkish position and actions taken by the flotilla’s organizers, especially the Turkish group IHH, which has alleged ties to terrorist groups, as well as the identity of the participants in the flotilla and their intentions.


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Jim Toomey and millions of Americans are about to lose their insurance.

JIm toomey
Tell your senators to stop vacationing and vote to extend these benefits.

add your voice


Let me tell you about Jim Toomey: Jim was a regular working American. He had a degree and a good job at a big magazine publisher in New York. But when the recession hit, Jim got laid off like nearly one-in-10 Americans as part of the Great Recession we’re still climbing out of.

Thankfully, an emergency package of aid helps Jim pay the rent and lets him keep buying health insurance. Without it, Jim wouldn’t be able to get the blood pressure medication he needs and might not have insurance at all.

But those emergency benefits are about to expire.1 And even though they had a chance to extend them last week, your senators walked out on a vote that Jim and millions of unemployed Americans need, so they could take a four-day weekend.2

If you’re sick of politicians doing more for Wall Street than for Main Street, click here to tell your senators it’s time to vote on the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.

The House has already passed the bill, but without Senate action, millions of people like Jim will fall through the cracks. Here’s what Jim says this bill means to him:

“Without [these benefits] I don’t know how I could have kept up my health insurance coverage … and the thought of losing health insurance coverage terrifies me because I know how costly one accident or one major health crisis can be and don’t want to be bankrupted by a medical emergency.”

People like Jim shouldn’t have to live in fear. But Republicans have been blocking a vote on the Senate bill because it will raise taxes on oil companies and Wall Street executives.3

We can break the logjam. Click here to tell your senators to get back to Washington and vote on this emergency extension so people like Jim can keep their insurance, keep paying their bills and get back to work ASAP.

– Cassandra

Cassandra McKee
Program Director
TrueMajority / USAction

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