Categorized | Middle East



Dear Friends,

I know that those of you who tried to watch the video about Breaking the Silence after 8:00 AM this morning found a note advising that it had been removed from the site.  I have advised Breaking the Silence and hope that it can send another link that will allow us to watch the video. 

These are trying times, not only here, I know.  But this being where I live, it is what I feel and focus on most, which is not to say that many things today are not isolated or localized.   Israel is what it is because the world lets it get by with, literally, murder.  But whose hands are clean?  Certainly not the hands of the United States. 

Ok to business.  If you have already seen Bradley Burston’s ‘A special place in hell,’ I apologize.  I hadn’t, but feel that it is an important piece not the least because it suggests what you (wherever you live) can do to help change the situation.  I recommend clicking on the link and reading the original, because then you can click on the many blue lines that lead to information either about what Burston is saying or to addresses or other material relevant to doing something about what is happening in Israel these days. 

At the end Burston recommends organizations that you can join and support.  They are not my favorites, but ok.  I would add to them, however, organizations that support bds (boycott/divestment/sanctions), and to International Solidarity Movement, and other organizations in your community that support an end to Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestine.

Three additional items follow Burston’s piece (the longest).  The 2nd tells us that Netanyahu wants the proposed loyalty oath to be taken also by Jews who wish to become Israeli citizens under the Law of Return.  Much easier for a Jew (perhaps—I’m one Jew who would not sign) to sign than for a Muslim or Christian or Buddhist, etc. to affirm loyalty to a Jewish state.  Leave the democratic part out.  Israel is not now nor has ever been democratic.  How many Jews would wish to affirm loyalty to the White Christian United States of America, or Germany, or any other place? 

The law is obviously racist.  But it is worse yet, because it will make Palestinians or other non-Jews who wish to live here as citizens demean themselves.  Not enough to be a loyal citizen?  No one has to be a lesser citizen, the Jews being the top drawer.  Not my cup of tea.  The bill has received a great deal of flack.  Let  us hope that the Knesset does not vote it into law.  But . . .

Item 3 is a sad report from the Christian Peacekeepers Team about a Palestinian shepherd made homeless and his young son jailed.

The 4th item is on a more positive note.  “The British film-maker Mike Leigh has cancelled a visit to Israel in protest against controversial plans to compel non-Jewish new citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.”  May many others follow suit.  BDS is picking up and if that keeps up, it eventually will pressure Israel’s leaders to temper their policies and perhaps even to change them! 

Let’s hope.



1. Haaretz,

October 12, 2010

A Special Place in Hell / Top 10 worst errors Israel is about to make

Making major mistakes: what they are, why they matter, where they stand, and what you can do about it.

By Bradley Burston

1. The Loyalty Oath.

What it is: A proposed amendment to Israel’s Law of Citizenship, which, if approved by the Knesset, would require non-Jews seeking citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” The bill does not require Jews to make the same declaration.

Why it matters: A watershed measure which has been widely condemned as formally racist, passage of the bill, a key demand of Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, could also fuel Lieberman’s drive to head the Israeli right, and eventually, run for the premiership.

Where it stands: Approved by the cabinet this week by a 22-8 vote, with all Labor ministers and three Likud MKs opposed. To become law, it must now pass three Knesset votes in the coming months.

What you can do: Add your voice to those working to defeat passage of the law. The law must have the support of the Likud [27 seats] and Labor [13] in order to pass. Write to Prime Minister and Likud Chair Benjamin Netanyahu and to Defense Minister and Labor Chair Ehud Barak to urge them to bar the bill from passage. The individual e-mail addresses of all Likud MKs may be found by clicking their names on the Knesset website. Senior Likud MKs Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin have already spoken out strongly against the Loyalty Oath. Others are believed to have serious reservations, and may be persuaded to abstain or work to keep the bill from reaching the Knesset floor.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has compiled an extensive and informative listing of pending legislation with potentially anti-democratic consequences, including bills which could strip citizenship from people having taken part in Gaza aid flotillas and penalties for commemorating Naqba Day, the Palestinian day of mourning for the events of 1948.

2. Deporting Children Who Want to be Israelis

What it is: Interior Minister Eli Yishai, chair of the ultra-Orthodox Shas, has dug in his political heels to demand that the government expel 400 children of foreign nationals working in Israel, who no longer have valid permits to stay. Many of the children were born in Israel. Most say they feel that Israel is their home, and that they want to remain and become citizens.

Why it matters: Yishai has cast the deportations as holding the line against the possibility of millions of workers flooding into Israel, posing threats of disease and demographic dilution of the Jewish character of the state. In practice, however, the deportations come in lieu of a coherent policy on refugees, asylum seekers, and foreign nationals. Beyond this, most of the children know no other home, and like their parents, have demonstrated strikingly good citizenship.

Where it stands: Yishai said this week that the deportations would begin in a few weeks, adding that he could have ordered another 10,000 to leave the country, but did not.

What you can do: Voice your concerns to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who has led the effort for a cabinet reconsideration of the deportations. Also, support groups working to help vulnerable resident non-citizens, including Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Kav Laoved and Hotline for Migrant Workers.

3. Expanding settlement in East Jerusalem

What it is: Plans to further expel Palestinians in order to install Jews in homes in the flashpoint areas of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, and to create a large tourism area to promote the City of David settler tourism enterprise.

Why it matters: Any changes in Jerusalem, in particular operations in which the municipality and the police shield and foster settlement expansion can have devastating consequences.

Where it stands: City officials are watching closely, waiting for protests and U.S. scrutiny to die down, before ordering new expulsions into effect.

What you can do: Support the protests. Attend. Monitor events. Make your concerns known to members of congress, senators, the President.

4. Resuming Construction of the Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance

What it is: A mammoth, contentious project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles, built on an ancient Muslim cemetery in the heart of the Holy City’s downtown.

Why it matters: The location of the excavation work, the extravagance of the complex in a poverty-plagued city, and the insensitivity demonstrated by Wiesenthal Center chief Rabbi Marvin Hier have enraged Muslims and moderate Jews in the city and around the world.

Where it stands: The project has been faltering of late, following the resignation of renowned architect Frank Gehry. But SWC has declared its determination to go on, hastily hiring a new architectural team.

What you can do: Contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to urge that the project be put to an end.

5. Perpetuating the siege on Gaza

See Israel’s 10 worst errors of the decade.

6. Using attack dogs against protesters sailing on aid boats to Gaza

Enough said.

What you can do: See contact Defense Minister, above.

7. Barring entry and/or jailing and/or expelling additional Nobel Peace Prize winners, intellectuals, authors, and clowns.

8. Gratuitously and intentionally angering Turkish and other Mideastern neighbors.

9. Gratuitously and intentionally angering the U.S. and E.U., and giving them the impression that Israeli and Diaspora Jews prefer settlements to peace with the Palestinians.

What you can do: Get involved with Americans for Peace Now, J Street, the New Israel Fund, Tikkun, Ameinu, Meretz USA and any of the many other organizations working at the local, national, and international level on behalf of peace, democracy, and social justice in Israel.

10. Failing to indict Avigdor Lieberman for alleged money laundering. 

What you can do: Pray.


2.  Ynet,

October 18, 2010


   Netanyahu orders change to loyalty oath

Prime minister heeds furor caused by suggested amendment to Citizenship Act, demanding aspiring citizens pledge allegiance to ‘Jewish, democratic Israel’; instructs justice minister to change new law to include Jewish Law of Return applicants,7340,L-3971329,00.html

Attila Somfalvi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman Monday to draft a new amendment to the Citizenship Act, this time applying the controversial loyalty oath to Jews seeking Israeli citizenship under Law of Return guidelines, as well. 

The original amendment, which stated that those seeking Israeli citizenship would be required to pledge their allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic Israel” instead of simply to the State of Israel, caused a political and public uproar and was slammed as racist.

Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) commented on Netanyahu’s instruction to change the loyalty oath bill saying that “the idea is bad to begin with.” 

“It has no place in this or Lieberman’s version as there is no reason to compete with his fascism. Forcing an identity on Arabs and Jews alike is completely redundant,” he said. 

Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka added that the proposed change “changes nothing.” The law, he said, “Remains racist because it demands Palestinians debased themselves by pledging allegiance to the Jewish state. If a country ever forces Jews to pledge allegiance to Christian or Muslim ideology, they would be accused of being anti-Semitic.”

Deputy Health Minister Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) also criticized the decision, saying that “instead of the prime minister focusing on the real issues, such as the housing plight, he’s focusing on nonsense. 

“This pledge carries no benefits to the state or its citizens. I oppose it and I hope it fails to find a majority,” he said. 

Various senior legalists addressed the amendment since its publication, and while the consensus was that there was nothing legally wrong with the proposed bill, many agreed the wording was problematic.

Professor Yedidya Stern of the Center for Democratic Studies, who also serves as president of the Israeli Democratic Institute, explained that while Israel was well within its right in demanding naturalized citizens pledge their allegiance to the state, “If we wish to prevent racism, this should be applies to everyone seeking citizenship, including Jews.”

The redrafting ordered by the prime minister coincides with a proposal to the effect made by Ne’eman himself.  

Sharon Roffe-Ofir and Roni Sofer contributed to this report


3.  from cpt_hebron


Monday  18th October 2010

Al-khalil(Hebron)  Shepherd made homeless, livelihood threatened, son in prison.

Noah El-Rajabi is a shepherd, with two hundred  sheep and goats. He lives in Bani Na’im,17 kilometres from Hebron. He is married, and has seven children.

Bani Na’im is under Israeli military and civil control.

Ten weeks ago the Israeli military demolished his house. His wife and younger children now live in two rented rooms in Hebron. Noah and his oldest son lived in a tent supplied by the Red Cross, so that Noah could continue to work with his flock.

On Monday 11th October, at 8.00 a.m. the Israeli military arrived without warning and destroyed his water cistern, his tent, and a small wooden structure Noah used for cooking and storage.

His oldest son, aged 14, who was with Noah, protested at the soldiers’ action, and was arrested. His son is accused of assaulting two soldiers. Noah reports that soldiers kicked and beat some of the animals and that one pregnant ewe aborted.

CPTers met Noah in Hebron on Tuesday morning 12th October. He did not know where his son was being held, and where he could get water for his animals.

CPTers accompanied Noah to three Israeli police stations. The only information Israeli police gave was that his son was being held in Ofer military prison.  They refused to accept a complaint against the Israeli soldiers for their behaviour.

CPTers also visited Noah’s rented accommodation in Hebron. They met his wife and some of his younger children. ‘Please bring my son home’, his wife pleaded.

The animals are being looked after by Noah’s brother, and have been moved to another hillside, where there is water. Agencies in Hebron are trying to reconnect Noah’s water supply, but the cistern will have to be restored, and will run the risk of further demolition orders in the future.

CPT Al-Khalil is deeply concerned about the number of children who are being detained by the Israeli army and police. For further information on the imprisonment of Palestinian minors by the Israeli military, please refer to the annual reports of Defence for Children International (Palestine):  Go to ‘publications’, and then to ‘Palestinian Child Prisoners’ June 2009


4.  BBC,

October 18, 2010

Mike Leigh cancels Israel trip over loyalty oath

Mike Leigh is the award-winning director of Naked and Secrets & Lies

The British film-maker Mike Leigh has cancelled a visit to Israel in protest against controversial plans to compel non-Jewish new citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.

The director, 67, had been due to spend a week at a film school in Jerusalem in late November.

But in a letter to the school’s director, he said Israel’s government had gone “from bad to worse”.

He called the loyalty oath “the last straw”.

Speaking on Monday at the London Film Festival, where he is showing his new film Another Year, Leigh said he wanted to send Israel “a very clear message”.

The bill, which has been approved by Israel’s cabinet but still has to be passed by the Israeli parliament the Knesset, would add a phrase to the citizenship oath taken by non-Jews, requiring them to pledge allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”.

Critics say the move is discriminatory and would largely target Palestinians marrying Israelis. Some suggest that there is a contradiction in describing the Israeli state as both Jewish and democratic.


Leigh said on Monday: “When the time comes that Israel behaves respectably, and when there is a just peace for the Palestinians, and when Gaza is returned to humanity, then I will be first in line to go and share anything that anyone wants to with my colleagues, the Israeli filmmakers and other artists.

“But until that happens I think it’s appropriate for all of us to leave a very clear message that we shouldn’t and can’t do that.”

Leigh’s letter to Renen Schorr, the director of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, and Mr Schorr’s response have been published on the school’s website.

In it, Leigh – himself Jewish – cites the Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May and the recent resumption of settlement-building on the West Bank as factors in his decision.

“I have become ever-increasingly uncomfortable about what would unquestionably appear as my implicit support for Israel were I to fulfil my promise and come,” he writes.

“I have absolutely no choice. I cannot come, I do not want to come, and I am not coming,” writes the award-winning director of Naked and Secrets & Lies. 

The move is regretted by Mr Schorr, who in his response says “the academic-cultural boycott of Israel… does not arouse the Israeli public… Boycotts and ostracism are the antithesis of dialogue”.





    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

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