Categorized | Middle East



Dear All,

Five items below—but a smattering of the many that would also have interested you. But I promised not to overdo, and am trying not to. 

In case you did not know it, Israel is an extremely racist state.  This is not surprising.  A country that grounds itself on a single ethnicity, or religion, or race is bound to be racist sooner or later.  Israel wants to be seen as a Western country.  But apart from the Vatican (which is hardly typical), what other Western country grounds itself on ethnicity, race, or religion?  To the contrary, Western countries today are a mixture of races, religions, ethnicities.  And while not always do they meld, they eventually will, and also contribute to the whole the customs, foods, etc that they brought from their origins.  So much richer therefore a society that is mixed than is the one grounded on a single race, ethnicity, religion.

Today’s newspapers—Israeli main online newspapers and foreign online newspapers tore into the bill that will undoubtedly become law.  I found not one positive opinion of the ‘loyalty oath’ bill in the dozen or so newspapers that I checked, all of which had commentary on it.   Below are two views that are typical, one an editorial from the Guardian whose title “Discriminatory by Design” from the start states the viewpoint, the other by Knesset member Ahmad Tibi.  These are items 3 and 4.

Prior to that, item 1 is also a sample of straightforward Israeli racism—a ‘city guard’ protects Carmiel from Arabs.  I, being a Jew who grew up in the United States when Jews were not wanted in most country clubs, many neighborhoods, and when there were quotas in institutions of higher learning restricting the number of Jews who could be accepted to this or that department, I am particularly sensitive to racism.  Jews should be generally speaking.  The fact that many Israeli Jews are racist is to me one of the more disgusting outcomes of a Jewish country.  After all, there is no difference from a ‘pure Jewish state’ and a ‘pure Arian’ state (as I have said before).  It is therefore not surprising that the proposed Israeli ‘loyalty oath’ law is only a baby step away from the Nuremberg race laws.  Incredible!

Item 2 tells us that Israeli soldiers have shot 10 Palestinian youngsters in Gaza the past 3 months.  Their crime?  Collecting rubble to sell.

Item 5 has been included mainly because of the highlighted portion.  I have often said that release from the military does not mean that one leaves the habits acquired there behind when one switches from uniforms to civvies.  Item 5 is a case in point. 

All the best,



1.Gush Shalom Press Release

October 12, 2010

Gush Shalom: An extreme right racist militia is active in Carmiel, supported by the municipality and with the approval of the police

In a letter to the Attorney General, the Gush Shalom movement asks to disband immediately the so-called “City Guard” at Carmiel in the Galilee, which is actually a racist extreme right militia, and to launch an investigation against Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein who founded this body, as well as against police officials who helped in its establishment and operation.

The “City Guard” includes about 150 “volunteers” who turn up daily from 20.00 to 24.00 at the entrances to Carmiel and “check” incomers. The official site of the Carmiel Municipality defines the City Guard’s objectives as “increasing awareness, prevention of crime, apprehending drunk drivers, searching for drugs” and other legitimate and praiseworthy aims. However, Carmiel Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein, who was elected to the municipal council on the basis of a fiery anti-Arab campaign, candidly revealed the City Guard’s true aims.

Milstein has recently published an interview in the extreme right-wing publication “Be’Sheva”, where he said: “Carmiel is a Jewish city, plain and simple. It was founded for the purpose of Judaizing the Galilee. In my opinion it is not proper for Arab families to live here. In recent years, there are attempts by our [Arab] neighbors in the Western Galilee villages to migrate into Carmiel, and we must not ignore this phenomenon. “

According to Milstein, since being appointed deputy mayor two years ago, he had been striving “to do something real in order to change the situation”. To this end he founded the City Guard, in cooperation with the Carmiel police. Milstein proudly told the extreme right paper that members of the ” City Guard” are “monitoring every evening the entrances to the city and demand the I.D. of anyone seeking to enter the city. Thus, they reduce the number of neighbors seeking to just enter the city for no special reason.”

Link to full Hebrew interview:

In their letter to Attorney General Weinstein, Uri Avnery and Adam Keller wrote on behalf of Gush Shalom that “the aims and activities of the Carmiel City Guard, as described candidly by its founder, are manifestly racist and illegal. There is no doubt that all citizens of Israel – regardless of religion, race or nationality – have the inalienable right to move freely all over the country, enter any city and village, any public place, as they see fit and, and “for no special reason”. They need not ask permission nor give an account of themselves to anyone – certainly not to a militia of despicable racists in Carmiel.

Gush Shalom said that the fact of this abominable body being established by an Israeli deputy mayor, with the full support of Israel’s police, is yet another serious warning sign in the growing list of blatant racist manifestations in the Israeli public life. The racists’ aim – in the government, in the municipality of Carmiel and throughout the country – is to drive out the Arabs, because they are Arabs. In practice, the immediate and direct result of their activities is to drive the state of Israel out of the community of democratic peoples and turn it into a pariah and outcast country. ” 

Contact: Uri Avnery 0505-306440, Adam Keller 03-5565804 or 054-2340749


2. The Guardian

October 11, 2010

Mohammed Sobboh and his brother Adham Photograph: Guardian At least 10 Palestinian children have been shot and wounded by Israeli troops in the past three months while collecting rubble in or near the “buffer zone” created by Israel along the Gaza border, in a low-intensity offensive on the fringes of the blockaded Palestinian territory.

Israeli soldiers are routinely shooting at Gazans well beyond the unmarked boundary of the official 300 metre-wide no-go area, rights groups say.

According to Bassam Masri, head of orthopaedics at the Kamal Odwan hospital in Beit Lahiya in the north of Gaza, about 50 people have been treated for gunshot wounds suffered in or near the buffer zone while collecting rubble in the past three months; about five have been killed.

He estimates that 30% of the injured are boys under 18.

Defence for Children International (DCI) has documented 10 cases of children aged 13 to 17 being shot in a three-month period between 50 and 800 metres from the border. Nine were shot in a leg or arm; one was shot in the stomach.

The creation of the no-go area has forced farmers to abandon land and residents to leave homes for fear of coming under fire. Last month a 91-year-old man and two teenage boys were killed while harvesting olives outside the official zone when Israeli troops fired shells. Forty-three goats also died in the attack.

In another case a mother of five was killed by a shell outside her home near the zone in July.

Israel declared the buffer zone inside Gaza after the three-week war in 2008-9, saying it was intended to prevent militants firing rockets. It has dropped leaflets from planes several times warning local people not to venture within 300 metres of the fence that marks the border or risk being shot.

However, the UN, aid agencies and rights groups say that Israel has unofficially and without warning extended the zone to up to 1km from the fence, leaving residents and farmers uncertain whether it is safe to access their land or property.

“The army knows the kids are there to collect. They watch them every day and they know they have no weapons,” said Mohammed Abu Rukbi, a fieldworker with DCI. “They usually fire warning shots but the kids don’t take much notice.”

Mohammed Sobboh, 17, was shot just above the knee on August 25 when he was 800 metres from the border, he said. The 12 people in his family have no other income and are not entitled to aid from the UN as they are not refugees.

Israeli soldiers shot dead a horse and a donkey used by Mohammed and his brothers to carry the rubble, he said.

His brother, Adham, 22, said children as young as eight collect debris from former settlements and demolished buildings for 30-40 shekels (£5.20-£7) a day. “The price has gone down because a lot of people are collecting,” said Adham.

According to Dr Masri, the number of shootings has increased as more impoverished Gazans turn to collecting rubble to sell as construction material, which is still under Israeli embargo. “Every day we have one or two cases. Some kids are facing permanent disability. Most of the injuries are to the legs and feet, suggesting the soldiers did not aim to kill. That means they know that the people aren’t militants.”

Ziad Tamboura, 27, lying in a hospital bed with a heavily bandaged foot, was shot last week while collecting 500 metres from the border. X-rays showed the bones in the foot to be smashed by the bullet. He collected rubble in order to feed his wife and child. “If I am able to walk again, I will go back. There is no other work.”

The Gaza City-based Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights is to mount a legal challenge jointly with the Israeli groups Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights to breaches of the official buffer zone. “The area [the Israelis] announced is not the same as what exists on the ground,” said the centre’s Samir Zaqout.

He criticised the Israelis for shooting and shelling unarmed civilians. “They know everything. They have the technological capacity to monitor the area. They have drones in the sky all the time. They are observing and screening everything.”

According to the UN, about 30% of Gaza’s arable land is contained within 300 metres of the 50km border. The difficulty farmers face in reaching their land had had an impact on the availability of crops in Gaza, Zaqout said. “Tomatoes are now 10 shekels a kilo, whereas the price used to be one or two shekels.”

The Abu Said family, whose land lies outside the buffer zone, felt confident that their faces were well known to Israeli troops monitoring the area. “Every day six or seven members of my family are there [on the land],” said Mohammed Abu Said.

But on 12 September, 91-year-old Ibrahim Abu Said, his 17-year-old grandson, Hussam, and a family friend, Ismail Abu Owda, 16, were killed by a shell fired from a tank on the Israeli side of the border. “This was a very old man taking care of his goats,” said Mohammed, Ibrahim’s son. “Our land used to be like a heaven. Now it’s like a desert.”

He blamed Palestinian militants for firing rockets as well as the Israeli military.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the 300-metre buffer zone was created in response to “many incidents of hostile terrorist activity” close to the security fence, often made “under a civilian disguise”.

It added: “The IDF acts in order to prevent harm to civilian populations in its operations and any complaint expressed regarding its soldiers’ conduct will be … examined according to the existing policy.”

In the firing line:

Children shot in “buffer zone” while collecting rubble

Mohammad, 17, shot in left leg, 800m from border, 25 August

Khaled, 16, left thigh, 600m from border, 31 July

Hameed, 13, left arm, 50m from border, 14 July

Nu’man, 14, right leg, 300m from border, 10 July

Arafat, 16, left ankle, 50m from border, 10 July

Mohammad, 16, stomach, 500m from border, 23 June

Abdullah, 16, just above right ankle, 60m from border, 22 June

Ibrahim, 16, right leg, 400m from border, 16 June

Awad, 17, just above his right knee, 350m from border, 7 June

Hasan, 17, just below right knee, 300m from border, 22 May 

Source: Defence for Children International


3. The Guardian Editorial

11 October 2010 

Israel’s loyalty oath: Discriminatory by design

New pledge requires future citizens declare their loyalty to an ideology, one intended to exclude Palestinians

There are two narratives at work in Israel that have a bearing on the capacity of its leaders to negotiate the creation of an independent Palestinian state next to it. The first is official and intended for external consumption. It is the one that claims Israel is ready to sit down with the Palestinians in direct talks without preconditions and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, should not have wasted so much of the 10 month partial freeze on settlement building before he did so. On Saturday, America was given another month by the Arab League to persuade Binyamin Netanyahu’s government to halt settlement building, the bare minimum required for talks to continue.

There is however a second narrative, which could be called business as usual, and it has nothing to do with occupation, Iran’s nuclear programme, Hizbullah’s rocket arsenal, or any threat which could be called existential. This was evident in all its inglory yesterday when the Israeli cabinet approved a measure requiring candidates for Israeli citizenship to pledge loyalty to “the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”. The naturalisation oath would not apply to Jews, who are granted automatic citizenship under the law of return, so it is, by definition, discriminatory. The existing text binds individuals to declare their loyalty to the state of Israel. The new version requires future citizens to declare their loyalty not just to a state but an ideology, one specifically designed to exclude one fifth of its citizens who see themselves as Palestinian.

Palestinian Israeli leaders have described this proposal as racist. Palestinian Israeli citizens do not have to take this oath, but their partners seeking naturalisation do. Neither could agree with Israel’s characterisation of itself as a Jewish state. It could be a state of Jews and all its citizens, but never a Jewish state. Nor is this the only bill around. There are 20 others in the slipstream that have a similar effect: there is a loyalty law for Knesset members and for film crews; there are bills that make it a criminal offence to deny the existence of Israel; that penalise the mourning of Nakba Day; that force any group financed by a foreign nation to report each contribution; and a bill to deny ethnic minorities’ access to Jewish settlements. The authors of these proposals not only intend to create a state ideology but to police it.

The question that lies behind this is why, and why now? Are these the actions of a nation prepared to make a historical compromise, end occupation and live in peace with its neighbourhood? If they are and we are all wildly misinterpreting this, why alienate and incite the very people who could have helped by their example bring a historic settlement about, people who have accepted the existence of Israel, who have never in their history taken up arms against it? This applies to Christian as well as Muslim. The opposite is happening. The Palestinian Israeli experience of inequality and discrimination only promotes the view that being a minority in a state with a Jewish majority is rapidly becoming untenable. 

The Labour minorities minister Avishay Braverman described the loyalty oath yesterday as a terrible mistake. But it is surely more that. Mistake implies miscalculation, and there is calculation in this. It seeks to pre-empt negotiation on the third core issue after borders and the division of Jerusalem – the right of return of Palestinian refugees to sovereign Israeli territory. Abbas happens to be one of those refugees. If Netanyahu refuses to extend the settlement freeze, Abbas, the most pliant Palestinian negotiator Israel is likely to encounter, has threatened to resign, dissolve the Palestinian authority or seek US and UN recognition for a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu is only hastening the day when this happens and in one sense, he is doing the world a service. Future citizens will be swearing loyalty to a state that can not make peace.


4.  Ynet,

October 12, 2010

    The ethnic cleansing plan

Op-ed: Ahmad Tibi says loyalty oath initiators sending clear message to Arab Israelis,7340,L-3968038,00.html

Ahmad Tibi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “Israel is a Jewish state, yet it maintains equality and grants rights to all its citizens.” He is so wrong. 

I head the parliamentary committee on hiring Arabs in the public service. The Arabs constitute 20% of the population, yet make up roughly 6.5% of all public service employees. This figure says it all. It is very from equality and expresses social exclusion, marginalization, neglect, and mostly discrimination.

There is almost no area of life here where equality between Arabs and Jews prevails – not in education, not in infrastructure, not in agriculture, not in industry, not in sports, not in employment, and most certainly not in earmarking land or in planning and construction. 

Since 1984, Israel has been defined as a Jewish and democratic state through a Basic Law. Jewish comes before democratic, and this is no coincidence. I argue that both values cannot coexist within the same definition. A state that defines itself as “democratic” is obligated to offer full equality to all citizens. Yet if to begin with it defines itself using ethnic, religious or national characteristics – Jewish in this case – this creates preference for Jewish citizens over anyone else. 

The prime minister, who knows that an incisive and fundamental domestic dispute about this definition is taking place in the State of Israel and at the Knesset, decided to export this debate to the international community and demand that the PLO recognize Israel as the Jewish people’s nation-state as a condition for signing an agreement. 

There are three reasons for the Palestinian refusal to do so. First, the definition would reinforce the inferior status of Arab Palestinians within Israel, while granting a political, civil, and mostly constitutional advantage to Jews over Arabs – a fact that gravely undermines the value of “democracy.” Second is the issue of refugees and right of return. Such recognition would prevent any Palestinian from bringing up the refugee issue in the negotiations even before they started.

Let’s call the third reason “the narrative.” Such recognition would amount to admitting that the Palestinian narrative was a false sham, and that the Zionist narrative is true. That is, this demand asks the victim of Zionism – that is, us the Arabs – to admit that the Nakba did not happen in fact and that our Nakba narrative is baseless. No Palestinian leader would do that. 

Those who decided to get the world involved in this debate as a condition for a deal should be confronted with a counter demand by Arab states and the international community: In addition to the refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, the Arabs should demand that in any political agreement, the Arabs in the State of Israel would be granted full political and civil equality and be recognized as a national minority within the State of Israel. 

Lieberman’s shamelessness

Yet Yisrael Beiteinu’s plans do not stop at the amendment to the citizenship Act, where naturalized citizens are required to recognize a Jewish, democratic Israel. This clause is part of a whole program highlighted by Foreign Minister Lieberman’s words at the UN in support of population tradeoffs. 

Lieberman compares settlers who live on occupied land robbed from its Palestinian owners to Arab citizens who are a native population group and were here even before the State’s establishment. He wishes to keep the settlers where they are now and maintaining their citizenship, while annulling the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and removing them from Israel’s sovereign territory. 

There is no doubt that this is a gradual ethnical cleansing scheme; removing as many Arabs as possible while creating a Jewish, homogenous Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu is playing into the hands of Yisrael Beiteinu and is being led by the nose by Lieberman (yet prides itself on initiating the Citizenship Act amendment.) 

The State of Israel, via ministers Lieberman, Ne’eman and Yishai, and with the Ehud Barak’s active cooperation, is bluntly provoking the Arabs in the country in direct continuation to the arrogant attitude ignoring the authentic feelings of this minority. 

These people wish to convey the message that they are the masters of the house while we are subtenants in this country, which is in fact our national home and native land; we never immigrated here, as opposed to the chutzpah of the man making the proposal, who arrived here less than 40 years ago. These people are creating a growing sense of suffocation while minimizing the democratic living space.

The State of Israel manages to market itself to the whole world as the region’s only democracy, yet this description is far from being accurate. Israel manages three systems of government. The first one is a clear democracy for 80% of the population – a democracy for Jews, that is, an ethnocracy (or Judeocracy if you will.) The second regime is one of nationality-based social seclusion and discrimination of 20% of the population, the Arab minority. The third regime is the occupation in the territories.  

Until Israel starts to treat the Palestinians, whoever they are, as equals, including the ones living within it as citizens, and until it recognizes their rights for this land, we shall all continue to be stuck in place and say with great degree of accuracy that Israel is indeed Jewish and democratic – democratic to the Jews, and Jewish to the Arabs. 

Knesset Member Dr. Ahmad Tibi is the deputy Knesset Chairman and chairman of the United Arab List – Taal 


5.  Haaretz

October 12, 2010

Israeli who killed British tourist to be freed early from 20-year sentence

Daniel Okev was convicted of murdering British tourist Jeffrey Hunter and of seriously injuring his friend Charlotte Gibb 13 years ago.

By Liel Kyzer

Daniel Okev, who was convicted of murdering British tourist Jeffrey Hunter and of seriously injuring his friend Charlotte Gibb 13 years ago, is soon slated to be released after completing two-thirds of his 20-year sentence, an Israel Prison Service parole board decided on Monday.

The decision may be reversed if the Attorney General’s Office decides to challenge it. Otherwise, Okev is expected to be released in a week.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement that “the parole board’s decision was received by the prosecution today, but it has not yet been reviewed and therefore, we are unable to comment.”

According to the terms approved by the parole board, Okev will have to appear at a police station once a week after being freed from Ma’asiyahu Prison. He will not be allowed to leave the country without permission from the parole board and will be under house arrest in the evening hours.

According to the parole board, which was chaired by retired judge Zvi Hertel, “throughout his years in prison, the prisoner committed no disciplinary violations and his behavior, both in prison and outside, including in his conduct and work, was exemplary. The prisoner’s progress in rehabilitation has contributed to preparing him to live outside of prison.”

The board also wrote that prison officials and social workers were “impressed by his honest remorse for the murder and aggravated assault he committed against innocents. The psychiatric treatment and diagnoses that the prisoner underwent during his incarceration have led him, he says, to understand the link between his military experience in a unit where he assassinated terrorists and the murder and aggravated assault … which occurred without any reasonable cause.”

The board therefore accepted his request for parole and ordered his sentence cut by a third.

Okev was convicted of killing Hunter and injuring Gibb in August 1997, after picking them up while they were hitchhiking from Eilat to Mitzpeh Ramon. During a rest stop, he shot them with his pistol with no warning. Hunter died from the shots and Gibb was wounded.

He was arrested nine days after the murder but claimed he had no recollection of either his decision to shoot his passengers or the actual shooting. He said he learned he had shot two people only after he recovered from the psychotic episode and saw the two lying bleeding on the ground – while he still held the pistol.

The Be’er Sheva District Court accepted the assessment of the district psychiatrist, who concluded that Okev’s ability to understand his actions was limited due to a psychological problem stemming from a brain defect. The court therefore sentenced him to only 20 years instead of the life term normally given to murderers.

“The decision is correct and balanced,” said Avi Amiram, Okev’s defense attorney, of the parole board’s ruling. “The board asked for a report by the Prison Service’s chief psychiatrist, who concluded unequivocally that he constitutes no danger to himself or those around him.”

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