Archive | January 23rd, 2011

PA: Endless Ugly Game

NOVANEWS

 

This seemingly endless and ugly game of the peace process is now finally over

The peace process is a sham. Palestinians must reject their officials and rebuild their movement

 

                         23 January 2011

It’s over. Given the shocking nature, extent and detail of these ghastly revelations from behind the closed doors of the Middle East peace process, the seemingly endless and ugly game is now, finally, over. Not one of the villains on the Palestinian side can survive it. With any luck the sheer horror of this account of how the US and Britain covertly facilitated and even implemented Israeli military expansion – while creating an oligarchy to manage it – might overcome the entrenched interests and venality that have kept the peace process going. A small group of men who have polluted the Palestinian public sphere with their private activities are now exposed.

For us Palestinians, these detailed accounts of the secretly negotiated surrender of every one of our core rights under international law (of return for millions of Palestinian refugees, on annexing Arab Jerusalem, on settlements) are not a surprise. It is something that we all knew – in spite of official protests to the contrary – because we feel their destructive effects every day. The same is true of the outrageous role of the US and Britain in creating a security bantustan, and the ruin of our civic and political space. We already knew, because we feel its fatal effects.

For the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, official Palestinian policy over these past decades has been the antithesis of a legitimate, or representative, or even coherent strategy to obtain our long-denied freedom. But this sober appreciation of our current state of affairs, accompanied by the mass protests and civil society campaigns by Palestinian citizens, has been insufficient, until now, to rid us of it.

The release into the public domain of these documents is such a landmark because it destroys the final traces of credibility of the peace process. Everything to do with it relied upon a single axiom: that each new initiative or set of negotiations with the Israelis, every policy or programme (even the creation of undemocratic institutions under military occupation), could be presented as carried out in good faith under harsh conditions: necessary for peace, and in the service of our national cause. Officials from all sides played a double game vis-à-vis the Palestinians. It is now on record that they have betrayed, lied and cheated us of basic rights, while simultaneously claiming they deserved the trust of the Palestinian people.

This claim of representative capacity – and worse, the assertion they were representing the interests of Palestinians in their struggle for freedom – had become increasingly thin over the last decade and a half. The claim they were acting in good faith is absolutely shattered by the publication of these documents today, and the information to be revealed over this coming week. Whatever one’s political leanings, no one, not the Americans, the British, the UN, and especially not these Palestinian officials, can claim that the whole racket is anything other than a brutal process of subjugating an entire people.

Why has this gone on for so long and at such high cost? And why haven’t the Palestinians been able to create the democratic representation so urgently needed to advance their cause? Israel, along with those who share its worldview, would assert that the problem lies with the Palestinians themselves, being part of an Arab political culture that can only breed either authoritarian governments or terrorists. Yet what these documents reveal is the extent of undemocratic, authoritarian, colonial and, frankly, terrifying coercion the US, Britain and other western governments have been imposing upon Palestinians through this unaccountable leadership.

The unconstrained power of America, the global superpower that has (now on record and in sickening detail) taken one party’s side in this conflict, can be seen on every page. Everyone is implicated, from the president to the secretary of state, from the military generals who have created the security forces to implement these policies to the embassy staff involved in the daily execution of them. It also shows this policy is an absolute failure, bringing ruination upon the Palestinians and increasing belligerency from the completely unfettered, aggressive and erratic Israel, currently practising a form of apartheid towards the Palestinians it rules through force.

This uneven balance of power can only be successfully addressed in the same way every national liberation movement has addressed it in the past: through the unassailable strength of a popular mandate. Ho Chi Minh sitting down with the French, or Nelson Mandela negotiating with the apartheid regime embodied this popular legitimacy, and indeed drew their principles and negotiating positions from it. The Palestinian leadership’s weak and incompetent posturing is the opposite of dignified and honourable national representation, and proves useless to boot.

On the positive side, had such deals eventually come to light, Palestinians would have rejected them comprehensively. But the worst betrayal has been what this hypocrisy has bequeathed to the young generation of Palestinians. These officials have led a new generation to believe that participating in public governance is base and self-seeking, that joining any political party is the least useful method to advance principals and create change.

Through their harmful example, they have alienated young Palestinians from their own history of resistance to colonial and military rule, so they now believe that tens of thousands of brilliant, imaginative and extraordinarily brave Palestinians never existed or, worse, fought and died for nothing. It cuts them off from any useful mobilising methods and techniques that they might draw upon today – the democratic and collective mechanisms that are needed more than ever. They have given young people the idea that there is no virtue in collective organisation, the mechanism by which popular democratic change is made and preserved.

The increasingly popular view that the Palestinian revolution was a failure from its inception, always corrupt, driven from above and never from below, is false – but it has gained credibility through the actions of the current regime. Its behaviour has nearly erased the record of the contribution made by tens of thousands of ordinary Palestinian citizens who, through the sheer force of their devotion to public life, fought for principles and created real and democratic self-representation under the worst of conditions. It is our most valuable freedom, and one well worth fighting for: the release of these devastating documents paves the way for its restoration.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

Dear Friends,

Today’s 6 items do not contain pleasant reports.  To the contrary, sorry to say.

Items 1 and 2 are reports by CPT (item one also by Operation Dove) of incidents in the South Hebron Hills (item 1) and the Hebron area (item 2).  In item 1 the situation ends ok, but only because internationals were monitoring and helping.   Item 2 does not end happily.

Item 3 is about suicide in the IOF.  3a is included as an introduction to 3b.  3a from 2005 reveals that except for periods of conflict, suicide had become the number 1 killer in the IOF, and that most suicides happened the first year after induction. This mooring Haggai Matar wrote about 4 military suicides with which he is familiar, one of them being a female.  His essay is in Hebrew, which is why I have not included it here, but for those of you who read Hebrew, it is athttp://www.mysay.co.il/articles/ShowArticle.aspx?articlePI=aaakru

The subject of IOF suicide has not been researched, but should be.  It is sad enough when a youngster falls in battle.  It must be 100 times worse for the family when the son or daughter takes his/her own life.

Gideon Levy in 3b writes about a single case.  And it is clear from it alone that peer pressure and perhaps also family pressure pushes some youngsters into the military who enlisted.  Yet though unable to withstand the pressure they were not cut out for what soldiering comprises.  In as militaristic a society as is Israel, it is very difficult for a youngster to say ‘no. I will not go.’  The pressure is doubly felt because the Israeli soldier is not going to be sent to Vietnam to fight a war, but supposedly is in the military to defend his/her own people and country by fighting perhaps in Lebanon or Gaza or the West Bank—that is, in the vicinity of his/her own country.  Most kids and adults fail to realize that it didn’t have to be this way—that there could have been justice and peace and no reason to enlist.  War, after all, is not a necessity. It is not a natural disaster.  Other means for dealing with most situations can be found.  But Israel devaluates life by putting land grabbing and colonization ahead of life, the most precious commodity that we have.

Item 4 is from the LA Times, and is about Israeli “intolerance,” which “shows up on Internet, in Knesset, on the street as Racism, homophobia and religious discrimination.”  As if to prove, Haaretz today brings up the editorial in the ultra-religious journal in which the call is to send Amalekites to death camps.   The link to the Haaretz piece accompanies the LA Times commentary.

Item 5 brings us to the Turkel Committee’s findings on the Gaza flotilla episode, in which 9 Turks lost their lives, one of whom was a 19 year old who held dual citizenship—U.S. and Turkish.  The commission did not explain why a 19-year old Turk who held also US citizenship, and who wished to be a doctor, ended up being killed with 4 bullets in his head and another in his chest.  The Turkel committee’s explanation that ‘he wanted to become a martyr’ is hardly satisfactory.  The domestic reports about the committee’s findings were far different from the international ones (and this was first page news on most internet newspaper editions).  The international ones contain in addition to the Turkel findings, remarks from others that in no way coincide with these findings.  The UN is presently running its own inquiry.  We shall see what its results will be.  I’ve posted below the Aljazeera report, as it seems to be the fullest, and have listed a few links from other newspapers in case you wish to see for yourselves the difference from the Israeli press and the international media.

Lastly, Gisha writes a position paper objecting to that portion of the Turkel findings that say that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is acceptable.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring better news.

Dorothy

=========================================

1. From Tuwani Team cpttuwani@cpt.org

January 23, 2011

At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills, West Bank – On Saturday, 22nd of January, Palestinian farmers successfully plowed fields in Khoruba valley, despite heavy harassment by settlers from the nearby  settlement of Ma’on.

In the early morning, about twenty farmers from At-Tuwani started sowing seed and plowing fields in Khoruba valley, southeast from At-Tuwani. Soon thereafter, five settlers arrived from nearby Havat Ma’on outpost and positioned themselves in front of the tractors, in an attempt to prevent the farmers from completing their work.  As more settlers arrived, tempers flared and the farmers attempted to move the settlers and physically block them from interfering with the land cultivation.

Approximately thirty minutes later, Israeli soldiers and Border Police arrived and immediately stopped the tractors from plowing. The Israeli forces took the ID cards of three farmers while removing both settlers and farmers from the immediate vicinity of the tractors.

The Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO), the branch of the Israeli military responsible for the coordination of civilian affairs,  later confirmed the right of Palestinians to plow the fields but the Border Police requested that all Palestinians and international peace activists leave the area, except for the farmers directly involved in the agricultural work.

Three settler youths moved from Khoruba valley to an area one kilometer south where they stopped another tractor from plowing and proceeded to throw stones at a Palestinian shepherd and his flock. Israeli forces again intervened, removing the settler youths from the area.

After the completion of the agricultural work, one Palestinian farmer was taken to the Kiryat Arba police station for questioning, and later released, after a settler made a formal complaint that he was assaulted.

An international delegation with four British MPs, was present for part of the incident and spoke with Palestinian farmers, Israeli forces, and an Israeli settler.

In the last five years, through several coordinated nonviolent actions, Palestinians from At-Tuwani and Yatta have successfully cultivated fields previously made inaccessible due to settler violence and harassment, Through the reacquisition of this land, Palestinians are asserting their right to the land and working to ensure their food security for the coming seasons.

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

Pictures of the incident: goo.gl/zqaGY

Video of the incident: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w24lt4Kvbw

For further information:

Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773

Christian Peacemaker Teams 054 25 31 323

===================

2.  CPTnet

DATE January 17,  2011

HEBRON REFLECTION:  They left their mark everywhere

by Paulette Schroeder

Her dropped head, her clasped hands, her sad face continue to haunt me.  I ask myself:  How anyone could endure this kind of pain, especially a mother.

I sat in a stupefied silence as the fifty-six-year-old woman told us about the invasion of her home last October.  Soldiers had awakened the family and their relatives next door by banging on the door at 12:00 a.m. They then ordered the families out of their homes, locked the women and young children in the shop next door handcuffed, and blindfolded the men and adolescent boys  and told them to stand in front of a shop.

In the next twelve hours, the Israeli military shot and killed two Palestinian men accused of killing four settlers. Afterwards soldiers entered the same house although the family had no connection to the killings, shot randomly into the bed, through the blankets, under the bed, into the windows, doors, and table. I wept within when the mother pointed out a beautiful blanket meant to be a wedding gift for one of the sons and his wife, now riddled with bullet holes.

The aggression did not end there.  While forty to fifty military vehicles blocked the streets outside, two bulldozers demolished the part of the house where a newly married son lived with his wife.  They then destroyed another part of the complex prepared for another son soon to be married.  Furniture and remains of furniture now hung from the skeletal frameworks, where once a -family building stood.

One week after they had arrested her sons, the military came for the mother. She remained in prison for 26 days.  When asked how the soldiers treated her, she said they “used words that no woman should hear.” At one point, they ordered her to strip, then checked her private areas, using a detector on some places of her naked body.  She said that if the soldiers did this to a woman in prison, what must her sons  be experiencing. I had no words to convey my sorrow to this mother. I assured her that God would give her strength, but my words sounded like “a ringing brass cymbal”-so weak.  I felt burdened with the sadness of this family that had lost so much, sad for the soldiers who now must carry the crimes they have committed into their future, ashamed of my country that continues to fund such aggression.

The mother told me that whenever she tells the story, she feels a headache coming on.  She is worried too because her four sons are not working and supporting the family, and her husband is sick.  One daughter earns 600 NIS (about $150.00) a week, but that must carry the family through all its needs.

When, Lord!  Why do these Palestinian people not count in world politics?  Where shall help come for a people who have no defense? Will these words I am writing also fall on deafened ears? Now it is I who hang my head.

==============================

3a. Ha’aretz,

December 14, 2005

Fewer officers to be armed as suicide becomes IDF’s top killer

http://demopedia.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=124×107590

http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/657996.html

Hebrew: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/objects/pages/PrintArticle.jhtml?itemNo=657978

By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent

Thirty-three Israel Defense Force soldiers committed suicide since the beginning of 2005, the chief of the IDF
manpower headquarters, Brigadier-General Avi Zimer, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday. 

The head of the IDF’s manpower division, General Eliezar Stern, said during the meeting that to combat this wave of suicides, it was recently decided that officers and non-commissioned officers in rear units will be armed. Additionally, soldiers in rear units will be prohibited to carry weapons while on leave.

These steps join other measures taken by the IDF on the matter, including reducing the number of weapons in soldiers’ hands when there is a fear the guns will be used to end their own lives. The IDF has also worked to increase commanders’ awareness of the necessity of caring for soldiers’ mental distress.

The number of suicide deaths accounts for half the total of 66 soldiers who died during their army service in 2005. Sixteen soldiers were killed in traffic accidents while they were on leave, nine died of illness, six died during operations and two died under what were identified as other circumstances.

Stern said the IDF is fighting a serious battle against suicide, and that the army approaches the subject in the most serious manner possible. The IDF doesn’t make any distinction between a soldier who dies during an operation and a soldier who commits suicide, Stern said, and both are buried in the same section of the military cemetery.

IDF commander-in-chief General Dan Halutz announced last month that suicide had become the number one cause of death among soldiers, although the number of suicides hadn’t grown and the number “is relatively low in comparison to that of other countries in the world.” Most of the soldiers who killed themselves did so during their first year of army service.

Overall, the number of total deaths in the IDF in 2005 is lower than in previous years, according to the statistics presented to the Knesset Committee. The drop can be attributed to a decrease in the number of soldiers who died in offensive operations. By comparison, in 2004, 112 soldiers were killed, and of them, 39 died in offensive maneuvers; in 2002, 230 soldiers died and of them, 134 were killed in offensive operations.


3b. Haaretz,

January 21, 2011

In the line of duty

Khalil Givati-Rapp, a medic in the Nahal Brigade, could no longer bear the role society had forced upon him.

http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/in-the-line-of-duty-1.338375

By Gideon Levy

“I would like you to write about Khalil. This time Khalil is a Jew, whose grief over the wrongs of the occupation led to his death at the age of 20 and a few months.” Those words, which reached me in an email from the father of Khalil Givati-Rapp, left me thunderstruck. It took a few days before I could muster the courage to reply, and another few weeks before I gathered the strength to make the visit.

Raindrops fell this week on Klil, in the Western Galilee, making the trees and plants glimmer with pearls of water. Smoke rose from the fireplaces burning in the widely scattered houses, and only the patter of the rain broke the silence. After three hours of painful, restrained conversation with Khalil’s father, Mishael, we went out into the lovely garden to smoke a cigarette. We stood there, mute. The very air seemed fraught. A path of stones leads to a pond of water plants, a vine straggling above it. Mishael suddenly broke the silence: Here, beneath the vine, at sunset, opposite the sea is where Khalil wanted to be married, he said in a whisper. After his son died, Mishael built the pond and added a pergola for the vine that was to have been a wedding canopy. A small shrine in Khalil’s memory.

His room, too, has been left as it was, as a memorial. Military gear lies on the table, as though its owner were just about to return, and alongside it are books. Maybe they tell the whole story. Maybe they contain the code that will solve the mystery of his death. Why, last Holocaust Remembrance Day, shortly after the ceremony on the base and lunch with his buddies, his manner indicating nothing unusual, did Khalil take his rifle, go into the bathroom and put a single bullet into his head?

It’s unsettling to look at the stack of books in his room. It’s hard to touch them. Every title is another clue. “Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits,” Friedrich Nietzsche; “The Book of Disquiet,” Fernando Pessoa ; “Death with Interruptions,” Jose Saramago; “The Exile of the Poets,” Bertolt Brecht; “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters,” J.D. Salinger; “Gog and Magog,” Martin Buber; “1984,” George Orwell; “Walden; or, Life in the Woods,” Henry David Thoreau; “At the Crossroads,” Ahad Ha’am; “The Birth of Fascist Ideology,” Zeev Sternhell; “Infiltration,” Yehoshua Kenaz; “Past Continuous,” Yaakov Shabtai; and also David Avidan, Lea Goldberg and Natan Zach; and Meir Ariel’s “Shirei Hag, Moed Venofel,” Khalil’s favorite album. A note written by Khalil lists books he loaned out: “The Complete Works of S.Y. Agnon” and “Catch-22” to Mishke; Naomi has already returned the two books she borrowed. There’s a soccer ball on the floor, signed by everyone who plays in the regular Tuesday game. In a drawer are all the publications of Breaking the Silence (“Israeli soldiers talk about the occupied territories” ) and pamphlets of the struggle for the rights of the Bedouin. Now Bat Sheva, Khalil’s mother, is reading her son’s books. Book after book, she seeks explanations for her son’s death.

Khalil was born in New York. His parents, graduates of the fine arts department of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, now in their fifties, spent seven years in New York. Shortly after the birth of their son, they returned to Israel and settled in Klil, an ecological village not far from Nahariya. Mishael’s father was the late Dr. Uri Rapp, a lecturer on theater; and Bat Sheva’s parents are Holocaust survivors. Her mother objected to the name Khalil, but Bat Sheva liked the sound of it, and Mishael liked the political connotations of the Hebrew-Arabic name.

Khalil was a very sociable boy who played sports, loved music and was very politically and socially aware. He read Spinoza and Thoreau at a very young age; Goldberg was his favorite poet. On his last leave from the army he took advantage of the “three books for NIS 100” deal at a Tzomet Sfarim branch to buy “Flight to Arras” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Periodic Table” by Primo Levi and a book on Zen Buddhism by Jacob Raz. His dream was to study medicine, become a surgeon and go to Africa. In high school he pondered whether to join the class trip to Poland. His parents say he did not care for the nationalism signified by students wrapping themselves in the Israeli flag at Auschwitz. But, not wanting to disappoint his grandparents, who had been through the Holocaust, he decided to go.

In the 12th grade he was one of the initiators of the letter from high-school seniors to Ehud Olmert about the fate of the captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Khalil spent two consecutive weeks in the family’s protest tent in Jerusalem and appeared twice on the “New Evening” current affairs program. Now I watch him on a video recording from 2008 telling the anchor, “As a young person who is about to be drafted for combat service, I feel that I have to enter the army with the thought that the state will bring me back if I am taken captive. That is a type of covenant between me and the state, between my parents and the state, and I feel that this covenant must be implemented. The fact that Gilad has already been in captivity for a thousand days shakes my confidence and the confidence of young people my age.”

A year later he was interviewed again: “We are being drafted with the feeling that the government is abandoning us.” His parents did not find out about the second interview until after he died, when they asked for the first interview. He said to his parents when they visited the protest tent: “Ehud Olmert and the government of Israel do not understand the depth of the crisis they are creating among young people.”

This week, his mother said, “I think we did not understand the immensity of the crisis. It flowed in his veins: the sense of failure about freeing Gilad.”

This week I watched the two interviews and video segments taken in the protest tent and edited into a film after his death. Khalil is handsome, sure of himself, tall and articulate, issuing orders to his friends in the tent, constantly surrounded by friends, very impressive, giving interviews in English and Hebrew, a red scarf around his neck. “Help!” reads a poster behind him, in Shalit’s handwriting. At the end of the film he is seen telling his friends about a tour he made in Hebron with Breaking the Silence activists and about how shocked he was at what he saw. He recommends that his friends in the tent go to Hebron. An argument breaks out; some of those in the tent voice hard-line nationalist opinions. Khalil was to have been deployed in Hebron shortly after he shot himself.

After high school he did a year of national service in Jerusalem’s disadvantaged Kiryat Menahem neighborhood. He lived in a commune, helped Ethiopian children with their schoolwork and was active in the neighborhoods’ consumer cooperative. His parents think the encounter with poor children in Jerusalem added to his consciousness of failure, like the failed struggle to obtain Gilad Shalit’s release. “He felt that his fate was sealed, that an individual could do nothing,” his mother says. He thought hard about whether to enter the army and was envious of R., a good friend from the commune, who refused to serve and was jailed.

On one occasion, on the way to the train station in Nahariya, his father told him, “If you decide not to serve, we will be behind you.” Khalil said only, “I know.” Now his father says softly, “maybe if he hadn’t gone into the army, none of this would have happened.” Khalil, his parents say, was torn between his civic duty to state and society, and the feeling that the army was partner to the wrongs of the occupation. In the end, he decided to do combat service, despite an offer to serve in an elite intelligence unit. He didn’t see himself sitting in an office, at a computer.

“It makes no difference whether you press a computer button or you shoot,” he told his parents, and was drafted into the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit. His parents trusted his choice, convinced that he had resolved the dilemma for himself.

No signs of distress were apparent in the course for combat medics. For the first time in his life, Khalil had an organized notebook; he studied day and night and was an outstanding soldier. At the end of the course he was declared an “exemplary cadet.” His parents were thrilled and proud to see him at the final ceremony in his oxblood combat boots. After the course he was given an extended leave.

It was to be his last Pesach. Khalil had a pleasant time on leave. He went to the desert with two girls and spent a day by himself with Primo Levi in his knapsack. Bat Sheva says he showed no signs of distress, not even of the type that people see in retrospect. She asked friends who were with him at the last parties whether he had stood apart or seemed preoccupied – but there nothing like that. He went to see “The Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock, bought clothes in the mall – Khalil hated brand names and wore nothing made of leather – and bought a knapsack for his older sister, who was about to go to Nepal. “He seemed to be at his peak,” his parents say about his last furlough.

At the end of his leave, his father drove him to the Nahariya train station. A friend who traveled with him related that Khalil had, as usual, given his seat to an elderly person with no place to sit. He was in a good mood. At the Nahal base outside Arad he met up with his team from the reconnaissance unit, whom he hadn’t seen since leaving for the course. The meeting was good, he told his parents on the phone. No one knew that at home in Klil, stuck deep inside a workbook of drawings from Bezalel that belongs to his parents, was a suicide note. A few days later, on April 12, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the usual ceremony was held on the base outside Arad. His friends said afterward that it was an uninspired event, but that at one point someone read out the words to Yehuda Poliker’s song, “Perach” (Flower ). Only one member of the team would later tell Khalil’s parents that he had thought Khalil was overwrought; no one else noticed anything.

After the ceremony the soldiers returned to the tent. Khalil stood and quoted from memory Tzruya Lahav’s lyrics to Poliker’s melody: “Whoever pulls the trigger, / Stains his heart with blood, / In wars for justice / Children die, too.” Then he asked his fellow soldiers, “What do you think that says about us?” No one replied. Khalil said no more. They went to the mess hall for lunch. Khalil asked someone for a pen and wrote something on a scrap of paper, which he stuffed into his pocket. After the meal he got up and left. A few minutes later a single gunshot was heard; everyone thought it was from the shooting range. In fact, Khalil had gone into the bathroom, locked the door and shot himself in the head. He was found a few minutes later, when a soldier noticed blood on the floor. The stained note in his pocket said only that he was sorry and “let whoever is supposed to read this, read it.”

Critically injured, he was flown by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. Not long after, while his family was having lunch at home, three army officers arrived with the tragic news and took the stunned parents to the hospital in Be’er Sheva. Khalil died the next day and was buried in Klil in a civil ceremony, at his parents’ request. He himself had once told them, “If anything happens to me in the army, I don’t want a military funeral.” The funeral took place five days after his death, when his sister returned from Nepal, after being located by Chabad emissaries.

On the day after his death, his mother turned his room inside out, looking for what people look for in such circumstances. “I just didn’t believe that he had gone from us like that.” Finally, she opened the drawer and found the letter, from which she now copies one passage for me: “This world is filled with evil, exploitation, injustice and pain. All my life I was between doing something to correct it (even though most of what I did was also meaningless ) and observing from the side. From the moment I was drafted I moved to being part of the side that creates this situation, and I could not cope with that … It’s said that everyone has to create a small change … Maybe finally I have succeeded … in creating my change.” The letter, in which Khalil takes his leave from each of his friends and the members of his family, is undated.

The flames dance quietly in the fireplace and a heavy silence has descended in the room. Only once during our conversation did tears well up in Mishael’s eyes. “I am so cynical. If I could only tell him: Khalilik, what you did creates no change. It’s such a pity for you.” His voice cracked. “If Khalil had studied medicine and gone to Africa, as he dreamed of doing, he would have fomented a bigger change. But I can no longer persuade him.”

I asked Bat Sheva and Mishael why they wanted me to write about Khalil. “I want to convey what Khalil wanted,” Bat Sheva said. “He hated the occupation, the attitude toward the Bedouin and the attitude toward Gilad Shalit. He saw the immorality of the army and he asked himself: What can I do? In our country that is not a legitimate question. There is one moral approach and there is no in-depth discussion about it. An 18-year-old kid has to fight Benjamin Netanyahu’s war. There is no deep discussion, and anyone who thinks differently is delegitimized. I would like to speak for the youth who are about to be drafted, who are not allowed to ask these questions and are delegitimized on top of it. I don’t say we don’t need an army, but there need to be other ways to serve the state. There is a great deal of deep contempt for anyone who thinks differently.”

Mishael adds: “He is exactly the person who should not have gone into the army. He could not handle it. With his vegetarianism and his hatred of the occupation. How sad that he had no one to talk to about that. How sad that he had no other option for serving. He felt that society would not allow him to refuse to serve in the IDF. And his conscience, too, told him that he was obligated. And then he felt that it was coming: another month and he would be in Hebron and might have to shoot someone. He postponed and postponed that moment. He went to a course, but he knew that in the end he would get to Hebron, and that tortured him. It was an ideological death that was planned in advance. He felt that very soon he would either have to shoot others or shoot himself. He chose the second option.”

Afterward we went out to the garden, to the pond of water plants and to the straggling vine, beneath which Khalil thought he would be married one day, and we said nothing.

======================

4.  LA Times,

January 23, 2011

Israeli intolerance shows up on Internet, in Knesset, on the street

Racism, homophobia and religious discrimination seem to be more prevalent, taking the form of threats and even a government motion. But one journalist says the trend is just a sign of ‘growing pains.’

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/middleeast/la-fg-israel-intolerance-20110123,0,5010431,full.story

By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Jerusalem

The intent of the anonymous Internet video was unambiguous: “This person should be killed — and soon,” read a message underneath a photo of Israel’s deputy state prosecutor, Shai Nitzan.

His alleged offense? “Betraying” his Jewish roots by opening a criminal inquiry into racist threats and hate speech expressed on two Israel-based Facebook pages with statements in Hebrew such as “Death to Arabs.”

It was the latest, and most overtly violent, sign of what many here are calling a wave of intolerance toward people of different races, religions, orientations and viewpoints.

From rabbinical prohibitions against renting homes to “non-Jews” to government crackdowns on left-wing activists, Israelis are grappling with their nation’s identity and character.

Across the political spectrum, some see the struggle as a threat to Israel’s democratic ideals. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, of the centrist Kadima party, warned that “an evil spirit has been sweeping over the country.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said a “wave of racism is threatening to pull Israeli society into dark and dangerous places.”

Faced with a Cabinet move to force non-Jewish prospective citizens to declare loyalty to a “Jewish state,” government minister Dan Meridor parted with fellow members of the conservative Likud Party in opposing the motion. After the motion won Cabinet approval, he said, “This is not the Israel we know.”

A recent Israel Democracy Institute poll found nearly half of Jewish Israelis don’t want to live next door to Arabs. But the list of unwanted neighbors didn’t stop there. More than one-third didn’t want to live next to foreigners or the mentally ill, and nearly one in four said they wouldn’t want to share a street with gays or the ultra-Orthodox.

“A Time to Hate,” was the headline in the newspaper Haaretz this month. Some have compared the hostile climate to 1995, shortly before a right-wing fanatic assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“The immune systems of Israeli society are clearly crumbling,” Labor Party lawmaker Daniel Ben-Simon said.

To some, the timing of the rising intolerance is surprising because it comes during a period of relative security and prosperity. The number of terrorist attacks in Israel dropped last year to its lowest level in more than a decade, and Israel’s economy is growing faster than those of most other countries.

Ben-Simon said the lack of pressing outside threats might be contributing to the domestic friction.

“The stronger the external tension, the more repressed the internal tension,” he said. “Any lull in outside pressure causes the internal ones to rise…. This led people to feel that if they’re squared off with the outside and feel secure enough, ‘Let’s fight a bit.'”

The rise of Israel’s nationalist and religious parties might also be playing a role. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party and the religious Shas party now account for about one-third of the ruling coalition’s seats in the parliament, or Knesset, and have emerged as key players in advocating a conservative agenda in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

Party leaders say their agenda is not about intolerance but is designed to instill Jewish values in the government, and preserve the Jewish character of Israel. They point to their growing popularity among voters as evidence of public support for their programs.

But critics say Arab Israelis and foreigners have borne the brunt of their agenda.

Last month, dozens of municipal rabbis issued an edict against renting or selling real estate to non-Jews, particularly Arab citizens. A group of rabbis’ wives followed with a public letter urging Jewish women to avoid contact with Arab men.

Meanwhile, the Knesset is considering a bill that would allow Israeli communities to form local committees that could ban prospective residents based on race, sexual orientation or marital status.

Israel’s rising population of migrant workers is also drawing fire. Ultra-Orthodox city leaders in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak have tried to ban the rental of apartments to foreigners and pressured landlords who resisted.

In Ashdod, some African immigrants narrowly escaped death when their front door was set afire with a burning tire. In Petah Tikva, Girl Scouts born in Israel to African parents were beaten on their way home by attackers who called them names.

Tolerance of differing political viewpoints also appears to be shrinking.

The Knesset this month gave its provisional approval to an investigatory committee to examine the foreign funding of leftist and pro-Palestinian groups that criticize Israel’s military. Leaders of the targeted groups likened the move to a “McCarthyist witch hunt” designed to silence government criticism.

But it’s not only liberals and minority groups who are facing attack. Some of the same religious and political groups who are backing the crackdowns on Arabs and leftists are also feeling the rise of intolerance.

After lawmaker Faina Kirschenbaum — part of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, which includes many Russian immigrants — introduced the motion to investigate left-leaning organizations, her office received a letter reading, “A good Russian is a dead Russian,” and characterizing Russian immigrants as “whores, thieves and hooligans.”

Last fall, a radio talk-show host launched into an on-air tirade about welfare payments to non-working ultra-Orthodox men, calling the men “parasites.”

And Arab Israelis, according to the Israel Democracy Institute poll, appear just as intolerant. About two-thirds said they wouldn’t want to live next to Jewish settlers, the ultra-Orthodox or gay couples. About half preferred not to live near foreigners.

Some question whether the tide of intolerance is rising at all, saying the public debate in Israel has been hijacked by extremists in part because of the weakness of the centrist and liberal political parties.

Bambi Sheleg, founder of the magazine A Different Place, a respected social affairs journal, said she doesn’t think Israelis are becoming more xenophobic, but that extremist viewpoints are receiving more attention.

“Israeli society consists of a gigantic center,” she said. “But there is no one to lead it and its voice isn’t heard.”

She expressed hope that the recent trend would trigger a backlash among Israeli centrists that would lead to more tolerance.

“We are on the threshold of the understanding that we all have to live here together and compromise,” she said. “These are growing pains.”

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

Batsheva Sobelman in The Times’ Jerusalem Bureau contributed to this report.

—————

Editorial calling for death camps for ‘Amalekites’ raises storm among religious

Term used in editorial after moderate religious Zionist rabbis condemn call to ban renting or selling homes to non-Jews.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/editorial-calling-for-death-camps-for-amalekites-raises-storm-among-religious-1.338588

====================

5. Al Jazeera,

January 23, 2011

Israeli panel: Flotilla raid legal

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/2011123132453333578.html

Contradicting a UN report, inquiry exonerates military of wrongdoing in raid on Gaza-bound Turkish aid vessel.

The commission questioned several high-ranking Israeli officials, but was not given access to individual soldiers  [EPA]

An Israeli inquiry commission has defended the actions of the country’s troops during a deadly raid on a Turkish-led flotilla of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip last year.

The core findings were issued in a 300-page report released on Sunday by an Israeli government-appointed panel.

Made up of four Israelis and two foreign observers, the panel said Israel did not violate international law.

However, it did criticise the military planners of the mission for not taking into account the possibility of serious violence in the May raid.

“The soldiers were placed in a situation they were not completely prepared for and had not anticipated,” the commission said.

The report, which was was widely expected to exonerate the country’s military of any wrongdoing, contradicts a UN-backed report issued last year.

UN report contradictions

In September, a UN-appointed panel concluded that Israeli forces showed “incredible violence” during and after the raid on the flotilla that left eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American dead.

The UN probe added that there was “clear evidence to support prosecutions” against Israel for “wilful killing” and torture committed when its troops stormed the aid flotilla.

IN DEPTH

Israel’s military response to the flotilla “betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality” and violated international law “including international humanitarian and human rights law”, the three-member panel said.

“The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence.”

The commando raid on the group of aid ships prompting international criticism of Israel’s actions and soured relations with several countries, particularly Turkey.

High-ranking testimony

Israel established its own commission of inquiry after rejecting criticism that its troops had acted with excessive force in the raid.

The inquiry commission, headed by Yaakov Turkel, a former supreme court judge, is reportedly also examining several other aspects of the raid, and is expected to release a second report at an as yet unspecified date.

That report is expected to look at the mechanisms available for complaints about the raid.

The commission has heard testimony from high-ranking Israeli officials, including Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, the defence minister, and General Gabi Ashkenazi, the army chief.

Giving testimony last year, Barak termed the flotilla a “planned provocation”. He said that top officials had suspected that the aid convoy’s organisers were “preparing for an armed conflict to embarrass Israel”.

“We regret any loss of life,” he said, “but we would have lost more lives if we had behaved differently.”

None of the soldiers who carried out the raid were authorised to provide their testimony. The commission was only authorised to speak to the army chief or Major-General Giora Eiland, who carried out the military’s own investigation into the incident, on matters relating to the military’s response.

Commission members were authorised to submit questions to individual soldiers who participated in the raid only through a military committee.

Turkish reaction

The raid on the flotilla severely damaged Israel’s relations with Turkey, which had been one of the few Muslim countries to enjoy friendly relations with it.

Recep Tayyib Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, dismissed the inquiry’s findings. He told reporters on Sundayin Ankara, the capital of Turkey, that the Israeli report had “no value or credibility.”

Cengiz Aktar, a journalist with the Turkish Daily News, told Al Jazeera that this latest report is unlikely to change their relations for the better.

“The relationship between the two countries is slowing down at a tremendous pace, and this report won’t help. There were some attempts by some members of the Israeli cabinet, but it totally failed, and this report will be yet another blow.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

A few Additional links to the Turkel Commission findings:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4017619,00.html

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-s-gaza-flotilla-probe-idf-soldiers-acted-in-self-defense-1.338711

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/23/AR2011012301146.html?hpid=topnews

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12260983

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israeli-inquiry-rules-that-flotilla-raid-was-legal-2192307.html

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/01/23/world/middleeast/AP-Gaza-Blockade.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

===============

6.  Gisha on Turkel Commission’s interim conclusions:

No Commission of Inquiry Can Authorize Collective Punishment

January 23, 2011: In response to today’s publication of the interim report of the Turkel Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May, 2010, and its conclusion that the naval closure of the Gaza Strip, as well as the actions Israel took to enforce it, are consistent with the provisions of international law, Gisha notes:

www.gisha.org

No commission of inquiry can authorize the collective punishment of a civilian population by restricting its movement and access, as Israel did in its closure of Gaza, of which the maritime closure was an integral part. Gisha notes that a primary goal of the restrictions, as declared by Israel, was to paralyze the economy in Gaza and prevent its residents from leading normal lives. International law forbids using civilians to advance “strategic” goals, under circumstances in which Israel controls their ability to transfer goods. Although some of the restrictions were removed following the flotilla incident, Israel continues to restrict the movement of persons, the entrance of building materials and the transfer of goods for sale outside Gaza – with no valid security justification.

International law permits restricting movement for purposes of security, so long as Israel protects the rights of residents in Gaza to engage in normal life. However, imposing a closure for purposes of punishment is forbidden, as the International Committee of the Red Cross stated in reference to the maritime incident. According to official documents obtained by Gisha under the Freedom of Information Act, Israel prevented the passage of civilian goods such as spices, raw materials and consumer items and even set limitations for the amount of food it would permit residents of Gaza to purchase. We disagree with the Commission’s conclusion that the restrictions were justified for military or “strategic” reasons. It is unclear how preventing the transfer into Gaza of industrial margarine, paper, and coriander contributed to a legitimate military goal.

So long as Israel controls central elements of life in Gaza, including movement via the crossings, it must take responsibility for the effects of its control on the 1.5 million human beings living in the Gaza Strip. Gisha expresses hope that Israel will cancel the many remaining restrictions that are not related to concrete security risks and will allow the free movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, subject only to individual security checks.

For a position paper on the maritime closure and the Turkel Commission,

click here. [if clicking does not work, visit the website]

For a position paper on the continuing restrictions on access into and out of Gaza, click here.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

Defending Freedom or Offending Humanity?

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross  

 
This article was a response to a piece on WIRED.COM  entitled ..

25 Tons of Bombs Wipe Afghan Town Off Map

Well, Well, Well .. Let me see if I got this right .. Our ‘oh so brave’ troops and their 50 trillion dollar war machine with the finest collection of mass murder hardware in the world .. attack and flatten some village over there and I’m supposed be ‘proud’ ?? !!
 
Boy I’m sure those villagers really appreciated the ‘job’ we did !
 
Just like the 1.5 MILLION dead Iraqi Men, Women, and Children we butchered on the basis of lies !!
 
(No doubt enjoying the new found democracy that we brought to them .. the right to die!)
 
When you cut through the crap and get down to it, we go half way around the world to rape, pillage and plunder countries because we can !  and then rationalize it .. (and the idiot drones cheer as they watch the carnage.)
 
Amerika’s time is coming !  We’ve got some heavy dues to pay !
 
There’s an old saying .. What goes around, comes around ..  and its true.
 
You can wrap it up in the flag, seal it with the cross of Christ, vote it in by both parties, have parades, and throw confetti   .. But its still genocide!
 
So the next time I see them dancing and waving there rifles after an I.E.D. blows up some tank or truck with our ‘oh so brave’ boys, it wont bother me a bit !
 
This is exactly what we did in 1776 to the British .. and if I lived over there ..
It’s exactly what I would be doing today !
 
Folks have a ‘God given’ right to defend themselves, and we better get our heads out of whatever dark, dank, place we’ve got it and wake up ! People will ALWAYS try to defend their freedom with whatever means they have access to. They don’t have a choice, it’s their home, not ours !
 
Flying 1/2 way around the world to kill a couple million villagers to steal their oil and other natural resources isn’t Patriotic .. It’s sick, aggressive, genocide .. motivated by greed .. pure and simple.
 
If we cant ‘bear the pain’ of seeing our sons and daughters ground up in this war of greed, then STOP sending them over there !  .. It’s that simple. 
 
Don’t blame it on ‘dem arabs’ Mom and Dad ! 
 
You are the ones who felt sooo proud as you watched them dress up and go over to kill ‘dem arabs’ …
 
You are the ones who gave them your blessing .. 
 
You are the ones they turned to for guidance … (they’re just kids for God’s sake !)  
 
You should know better !
 
And for what ?  So more weapons makers and politicians can get wealthy ?
 
So Israel can gobble up more land and kill more of there neighbors ? 
 
So you can feel all warm and fuzzy when you watch the news ?  
 
Well hang on to that ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling … After the telegram or phone call it may be all you have left !
 
That’s NOT ‘Defending America’ .. It’s Offending God, Justice, Humanity and any one left with a conscience.
 

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on Defending Freedom or Offending Humanity?

Arab Democracy

NOVANEWS

!فليتوحد اللبنانيين في ثورتهم جميعاُ

داليا عبيد
دفعت أحداث تونس اللبنانيين إلى التسلح بالحماس الشديد وقد لمست ذلك عن قرب عبر الشعارات التي رفعت على المواقع والمدونات

 الالكترونية حيث عكست المتابعة الدقيقة للشباب والنخب اللبنانيين خاصة الذين ليسوا على ارتباط مباشر بأطراف الحكم.
أثناء سقوط بن علي، كانت تسقط حكومة ائتلاف وطني في بيروت ولكن ليس عبر ثورة شعبية داخلية أتت نتيجة احتراق جسد مناضل للقمة العيش يدعى محمد بو العزيزي، بل نتيجة أزمة مستمرة تتفاعل منذ احتراق جسد رفيق الحريري في بيروت في شباط 2005. هذا الجسد الذي أدى بدوره إلى إشعال ثورة شعبية دفعت الناس بالزحف إلى وسط مدينة بيروت.
في ذلك الوقت، لم تتلاحم مكونات هذه الثورة وعناصرها. فلم تأخذ شكل كتلة مجتمعية واحدة موحدة تتظاهر نقمة على النظام السياسي اللبناني أو غضباً في مواجهة الأزمات الاقتصادية. إنما تشكلت من كتل طائفية ذو دعم دولي (تختلف الأسباب التي دفعت بكل منها إلى ساحة الحرية) في مواجهة كتلة طائفية أخرى ذو عمق إقليمي. وقد أتت اللحظة المليونية بثمارها ودفع رفيق الحريري ثمن تخلص اللبنانيين من شبح الخوف فخرج الجيش السوري الذي كان يحكم لبنان بقبضة بوليسية. وأمام تأملنا لهذه الأحداث، نستنتج بأن ما حصل لم يكن بالمسألة العادية بل هو حدث تاريخي كان بمثابة حلم لمعظم اللبنانيين صغاراً وكباراً.
وقد قدر لأقلية خارجة عن السياق الطائفي، شاركت في صنع الحدث، أن تتأمل في متابعة الثورة باتجاه تقويض دعائم النظام السياسي اللبناني ولكنها اصطدمت بهذا الحائط اصطداماً شديداً بعد أن خرج نظام الأسد من لبنان ولم يخرج معه رموزه اللبنانيين من دائرة الحكم. واستمر تفاؤل هذه الأقلية بالتآكل وصولاً إلى الانقراض حيث ظهر ذلك جلياً في تصاعد حماسهم تجاه ثورة الياسمين واختفاء وسائل تعبيرهم أمام ثورة تقويض الاستقرار اللبناني. وقد نتجت هذه اللامبالاة عن اليأس والملل من تكرار السيناريوهات المعهودة بعد كل أزمة: فراغ حكومي فوساطات دولية وإقليمية(بالرغم من نكهة تركية مميزة هذه المرة) فاحتقان في الشارع فدماء فاغتيالات ف ف ف ….. حيث النتيجة معلقة بانتظار تطور الأحداث في الأيام المقبلة التي من الممكن أن تكون سوداء قاتمة!
وهذا السيناريو إذ يبرهن على شيء فهو على وهن مشهد يعيد نفسه منذ الاستقلال الأول ويدل على فشل النظام السياسي اللبناني في الاستمرار وعلى قدراته الانفجارية المتجددة نتيجة احتدام تناقضاته! وقد كان زلزال الحرب الأهلية الذي اخذ معه مئات الآلاف من الأجساد المحترقة بنيران القصف العشوائي، أحد انجازات هذه التناقضات. ولم تؤدي دماء هؤلاء الشهداء ودموع الأمهات ونحيب الآباء إلى الاعتذار من اللبنانيين والاعتراف بالمجازر والمحاولة لإعادة النظر ببنية صلبة للبنان بل ذهبت الآلام هدراً واستمرينا في إنتاج الأزمات!
لقد أعاد مشهد جسد محمد بو العزيزي المحترق إليَ مشاهد الجثث المحترقة في الحرب الأهلية والتي ذهبت تضحيات أصحابها هباءً (المقارنة قائمة حول مشهد النار فقط) ولكن لم يعيد الشعب التونسي الموحد والمنتفض على الديكتاتورية إلا انبعاث أحاسيس بالانكسار وبذل الحصار. ولكنها في الوقت عينه، وأمام عجزي عن مواجهة الطرق المسدودة في لبنان وبالرغم من إدراكي لاثمان معرفة الحقيقة الباهظة، فهي جعلتني انتفض على حصاري وعلى انكساري وعلى نفسي وعلى كل اللبنانيين المتموضعين في الخنادق الطائفية والمذهبية والخارجية والداخلية لأواجه الظلم اللاحق بالشعب اللبناني ولأقول لنفسي:
ليس في لبنان ديكتاتور كبن علي ومعظم زملائه العرب (الذين لم يسقطوا بعد) ولكنه في لبنان ديكتاتوريات قادرة أن تضع الشعب اللبناني في خندق واحد في مواجهة: الفوضى والفقر والبطالة والارتهان للخارج، وفي إسقاط ديكتاتور الطوائف الأكبر الذي يتسلط على رقاب المواطنين!
فأليست هذه الأسباب بالوافية والكفيلة لتوحد اللبنانيين في ثورتهم جميعاُ؟

Posted in WorldComments Off on Arab Democracy

The Brothel

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross  

 

The madam opened the brothel door and saw a rather dignified, well-dressed, good-looking man in his late forties or early fifties.

‘May I help you sir?’ she asked.

‘I want to see Valerie,’ the man replied.
‘Sir, Valerie is one of our most expensive ladies. Perhaps you would prefer someone else’, said the madam.

‘No, I must see Valerie,’ he replied.

Just then, Valerie appeared and announced to the man she charged $5000 a visit. Without hesitation, the man pulled out five thousand dollars and gave it to Valerie, and they went upstairs. After an hour, the man calmly left.

The next night, the man appeared again, once more demanding to see Valerie. Valerie explained that no one had ever come back two nights in a row as she was too expensive. But there were no discounts. The price was still $5000.

Again, the man pulled out the money, gave it to Valerie, and they went upstairs. After an hour, he left.

The following night the man was there yet again. Everyone was astounded that he had come for a third consecutive night, but he paid Valerie and they went upstairs.

After their session, Valerie questioned the man, ‘No one has ever been with me three nights in a row. Where are you from?’ she asked.

The man replied, ‘  Cleveland ‘.

‘Really?’, she said. ‘I have family in  Cleveland .’
‘I know.’ the man said.. ‘Your sister died, and I am her attorney. She asked me to give you your $15,000 inheritance.’

The moral of the story is that three things in life are certain.
1. Death
2. Taxes
3. Being screwed by a lawyer

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on The Brothel

Zio-Nazi Gestapo Arrests Two Young Palestinians

NOVANEWS

RELEASE

Israeli Military Arrests Two Young Palestinians

Jean Fallon

22 July 2011

  

A call came for the Hebron Team to come quickly to the street Friday, January 21,1:30pm. The military had stopped the people going home after Friday prayers at the Mosque.  CPT  found the people bottled up in the narrow exit tunnel of the Old City.  It was an explosive situation. Some of the people had managed to push out into the Plaza where the soldiers were yelling at the people who were yelling back, asking the soldiers to let them return home.  

Fortunately two CPT-ers from Tuwani joined the Hebron Team in front of six soldiers who had their guns pointed at the crowd.  Each of the Team tried to get the soldiers to calm down, to stop yelling, to let the folks go home.  Instead of listening to reason, the soldiers yelled more at the people.  They tried to force the people to move back. They put their guns into people’s faces, young or old-anyone trying to sneak by. 

 

CPTers noted with joy the nonviolent ways the Palestinians were resisiting.  The young boys with the fruit carts were the heros of the day.  They lined their  fruit carts up to form a blockade to protect the people and give them a little space apart from the soldiers.  When a soldier was yelling in his face, one young boy calmly ate his apple and refused to budge.  Someone else passed out candy. 

One upset young man went up to the soldiers and pleaded with them. The soldiers eventually arrested him and  forced him into the military compound. Later, CPT heard from the boy himself that he was simply asking the soldiers over and over to let his father get to the hospital for a shot of medicine.  The boy said, after the soldiers arrested him, they blindfolded him, made him kneel, tied his hands behind him and hit him with full force on the head.

 

A man from Jordan who was in the crowd could not believe his eyes.  When asked why they were doing this, the military said theysaw someone with a gun. Once this word was spoken, the soldiers chased one or two young men and accused them of carrying the phantom gun.  Finally, the assemblage of military men managed to find one terrified youth whom they brought down to their gate with great show.  At that point the crowd was released. Some, however, stayed on concerned for the boy who had been detained. One of the merchants from the souk told us: “Forget any gun. This is a military exercise, the purpose of which is to discourage people from coming to Friday worship at the mosque.”

 

The young boy the soldiers had arrested earlier came by to tell CPT his story and to thank the CPTers who had tried to monitor what happened to him inside the gates.  He was the fortunate one of the two the Military had arrested.

 

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Zio-Nazi Gestapo Arrests Two Young Palestinians

Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

Dear All,

The 5 items below plus link to a sixth begin with interesting news.  It’s too early to call it ‘good,’ because it might fizzle out into nothing.  Still, it’s nice to hear that former US diplomats wrote a letter to President Obama recommending that he support the UN draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements.  I tend to doubt that the letter will alter US policy, but let’s for the moment give it the benefit of the doubt.  After all, a year ago a letter of that nature would not have been forthcoming.  Maybe something is happening after all.

Item 2 is also positive.  The French Foreign Minister supports Palestinian statehood.

Item 3 (use the link to get a full view of what the target-group readers see) at first glance seems depressing: an all out call to fight bds.  The Israel-first supporters have so much more money and clout than do those of us who want to see justice done, and who firmly believe that Jews, Muslims, Christians, seculars, and others can live in peace (after all, they do in the US and other countries, so why not here, too?).  On the other hand, so much anti-bds effort suggests to me that we are succeeding at least sufficiently to cause them worry.  Apart from that, the anti-bds movers forget that bds is non-violent resistance.  If they succeed to convince people to stay away from bds, that hardly means that the Palestinians will give up.  I would not like to see non-violent resistance replaced with any violent variety.  We’ll have to continue to work hard and keep up the struggle, but there is no reason to think that in the long run we might not achieve our aim of justice and peace with the help of bds.

Item 4 reports on conditions in East Jerusalem, where chaos reigns. The Jerusalem municipality neglects these areas, and no one else is there to fill the gap.

Item 5 deals with 2 subjects—one being the effect of  Canada’s decision this year to end its financial support for UNWRA, the other being the subject of the title “A fine line between Palestinian remembrance, radicalization,” with reference to Palestinian refugees and UNWRA’s commitment not to take sides.

The link in item 6, “Serving up Palestine, one slice at a time,” takes you to an interesting analysis of the US position on Israel, and ends with a rather surprising (or perhaps not so surprising) conclusion about the future of the United States.

All the best,

Dorothy

===============

1. Haaretz ,

January 22, 2011

Former U.S. diplomats to Obama: Support UN draft condemning Israeli settlements

Letter sent by former U.S. senior officials says the time has come to send clear signal to the parties, world that the U.S. will approach the conflict with objectivity and respect for international law.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/former-u-s-diplomats-to-obama-support-un-draft-condemning-israeli-settlements-1.338565

By Shlomo Shamir

Tags: Israel news US Israel settlements Barack Obama

Former senior U.S. officials have sent President Barack Obama a letter urging him to refrain from vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The letter, signed by a former U.S. secretary of defense, a number of former assistant secretaries of state and U.S. ambassadors, calls on Obama to instruct the U.S. envoy to the UN to “vote yes” on the resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

“The time has come for a clear signal from the Unites States to the parties and to the broader international community that the United States can and will approach the conflict with the objectivity, consistency and respect for international law required if it is to play a constructive role in the conflict’s resolution,” the letter urged.

The authors of the letter said they recognize that the UNSC resolution will not resolve the issue of settlements, but said it is “an appropriate venue for addressing these issues.”

They went on to remind Obama of his 2009 Cairo speech in which he said that the U.S. does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements and urged Israel to stop its settlement activity.

“If the proposed resolution is consistent with existing and established U.S. policies, then deploying a veto would severely undermine U.S. credibility and interests, placing us firmly outside of the international consensus, and further diminishing our ability to mediate this conflict,” the U.S. officials wrote.

Moreover, they warned Obama that a veto on such a resolution would diminish the overall “seriousness” of the U.S. as a “guarantor of international law and international legitimacy.”

Diplomats say that the point of the draft resolution condemning settlement building is to highlight Washington’s isolated position on the Security Council, show the Palestinian population that the Palestinian Authority is taking action, and to pressure Israel and the United States on the settlement issue.

Council diplomats said privately that the 15-nation panel was unlikely to take any action on the draft resolution in the near future – if at all – because of the likely veto.

It has nearly 120 co-sponsors, exclusively Arab and other non-aligned nations. UN diplomats said that the draft would probably receive 14 votes in favor and the one veto if put to an immediate vote.

The draft says that “Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Intensive U.S. diplomatic efforts to revive direct peace talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed last year after Israel failed to extend a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

============================

2.  Ynet,

January 22, 2011

French FM backs Palestinian statehood

After being attacked in Gaza, Michele Alliot-Marie slams settlements, says state needed ASAP

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4017233,00.html

Elior Levy

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Saturday that her country does not recognize the legitimacy of West Bank settlements and that Israel must stop building them.

“France supports the establishment of an independent, democratic Palestinian state as soon as possible,” she said at the conclusion of her visit to Israel.

Alliot-Marie visited the town of Sderot Friday after being attacked by angry Palestinians in the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.

Dozens of Gazans encircled the minister’s car while hurling eggs and shoes at it as result of a comment mistakenly attributed to Alliot-Marie, who was erroneously quoted as saying that the holding of Gilad Shalit is a war crime.

Meanwhile Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the future state’s infrastructure would be ready by August, according to plan.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Fayyad defied skepticism voiced by other officials regarding his schedule. “Unless we have the spirit to defy it, it’s not going to happen. Unless we believe it, how is it going to become a reality?” he said.

But the leader stressed that a Palestinian state will have to include Hamas in Gaza, despite the current rift with Fatah in the West Bank. He also denied having a secret plan to disengage from Israel unilaterally.

“Getting ready for statehood, by itself, is not going to end the occupation. It’s necessary, but not sufficient. You need a political process to deliver on that,” he said.

===========================

3. From: Scott Kennedy

Sent: January 21, 2011

Subject: “No to the BDS movement”

In case you haven’t seen this, from “Stand With Us” :

http://realisraelblog.com/2011/01/20/say-no-to-the-bds-movement/

Posted on January 20, 2011 by jewishfedspringfieldillinois

Boycott the Boycotters

August 25, 2010

By Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid

Roz Rothstein is CEO of StandWithUs.  Roberta Seid, PhD is Education Director, StandWithUs.

Excerpt:

Anti-Israel activists are now putting all their energy into their Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign (BDS). Their goal is to portray Israel and Israelis as pariahs that should be excluded from all international spheres—diplomatic, political, economic, social, and cultural.

It is time to expose the distorted values that drive the BDS movement, and its alliance with the most repressive and dangerous forces in the world today. It is time to unequivocally say no to this BDS movement and to all who would consider complying with it.

Any public figures, retailers, institutions or organizations that adopt or defer to BDS policies should themselves be boycotted.

Read complete opinion column here.

==============================

4.  Ynet,

January 22, 2011

No man’s land in east Jerusalem

Ynet special: Chaos reigns supreme in Jerusalem neighborhoods situated beyond security fence

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4017005,00.html

Elior Levy

The main road in Kafr Aqab, a northern Jerusalem neighborhood adjacent to Ramallah, is bustling with traffic. One lane for each route cannot contain the number of taxis, trucks and many private cars the road regularly sees. Local traffic wardens donning yellow vests are steering traffic in exchange for NIS 1 (roughly 30 cents) they receive from each taxi driver. In the absence of Israeli presence, this is the only solution the residents have found.

“We have no other choice, otherwise the road will get congested and no one will be able to pass through,” says one of the wardens, Nazmi Jaber. Asked why there are no traffic police vehicles or at the very least traffic lights, he smiles and says the only police they get here are Border Guard jeeps coming in cases of riots or stones being hurled at the Qalandiya checkpoint.

The Shin Bet chief’s recent overview of the “no-man’s land area” in east Jerusalem surprised no one. This is life for the residents of Jerusalem neighborhoods situated beyond the security fence, such as Kafr Aqab and Shufat.

Shufat refugee camp (Photo:Elior Levy)

The Jerusalem vicinity fence surrounds the entrance into the Shufat refugee camp on nearly all sides. Several hundreds of meters away from Pisgat Zeev is no man’s land. Crowded buildings, narrow, faulty roads, no parks or gardens. Even trees are hard to come by. The road to the refugee camp entails crossing a military roadblock. A new checkpoint is currently being built causing concern among locals holding Israeli IDs.

“We know that steps are being taken to keep us within Palestinian Authority territory but most of the people here would rather stay inside Israel,” a local who wishes to remain anonymous says. “It’s not that we love Israel, but we know that the Palestinian Authority cannot provide work for everyone, and national insurance in the PA is not like what we get here.”

Haven for Palestinian criminals

The increase in Palestinian license plates on the highways is proof of the immigration growth from the territories to Shufat and to the Anata village.

“Since 2004 many Palestinians have moved here from the territories in search of work near Jerusalem, and with them a lot of criminals who escaped the Palestinian Authority looking for a safer place. We became their haven,” says the mukhtar of Shuafat, Jameel Sanduka. “Life here is very similar to anarchy.”

Life of anarchy (Photo: Elior Levy)

Sanduka described an incident that occurred a few weeks ago when two Bedouin were shot and killed by armed men near a garage. “We called the police but they refused to enter the camp and requested that we move the bodies to the checkpoint. No one arrived to collect evidence from the crime scene. We were told that the investigation was handed over to the hands of the Palestinian Authority,” he says.

Even during medical emergencies, he claims, the residents are forced to call for a Red Crescent ambulance, and then to drive patients to the checkpoint as the Red Crescent refuses to enter the premises without police escort.

When a fire broke out last winter in a house at the refugee camp, killing two brothers aged two and five, the firefighters called in refused to enter as well. The residents were forced to break one of the walls in a desperate attempt to rescue those trapped inside but failed to save them.

This tragic outcome created a window of opportunity to amend the situation, but Sanduka says nothing has changed. “We’ve talked with the municipality and asked that they supply us with our own fire extinguishing equipment so we could respond immediately the next time, but so far we have gotten nothing,” he says.

All one has to do is walk around the refugee camp and see the garbage pilled up on the streets to understand the dire situation. The residents have to burn the garbage in order to get rid of the stench. The streets are filled with potholes that go unfixed.

Yet some know how to make the most of the situation: The PA, and especially Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The Palestinian PM provided the camp residents with financial aid to build new roads. In doing so, the PA managed to gain a little more control over the territory, which is officially defined as part of Jerusalem.

The PA is gaining a foothold in other ways as well. “In certain cases, undercover PA security forces come here, kidnap people and bring them in for questioning in Ramallah,” says Samih, a Kafr Aqab resident. “Even when a clan fight begins and things become dangerous, Palestinian police arrive in civilian vehicles, pick up suspects, resolve the situation and get out quickly,” he says.

The lack of enforcement and Israeli presence has led to extensive illegal construction. Buildings are being built one after the other, without municipal permits. Orly Noy the of Ir Amim group, which works to promote equality in Jerusalem, says that authorities encourage Palestinians residing in east Jerusalem to move to the other side of the fence and therefore ignore the illegal construction.

Trouble at Shufat refugee camp (Photo: Reuters)

Jerusalem city council backs up Noy’s statement. Council member Yakir Segev, a rightist, charged a few months ago that Israel has given up on neighborhoods beyond the security fence and that he does not know anyone who wishes to enforce Israeli sovereignty there. Segev told Ynet he thinks things have gotten much worse ever since he made these statements.

“(Shin Bet Chief) Yuval Diskin is right. There is no control here, not by Israel and not by the Palestinian Authority. There’s no master,” says Nassar Jubran, a member of Anata’s residential council. “This is going to hit Israel like a boomerang, because Hamas might take advantage of this vacuum and establish a strong base here and take over the neighborhoods.”

A Jerusalem city council official said in response that the citys provide the neighborhoods surrounding Jerusalem with cleaning, infrastructure, education and sanitation services. “Firefighting, emergency and rescue services are provided immediately when needed,” the official said.

Jerusalem district police said they “abide by the law and investigate any complaint from these neighborhoods.” Police officials said that when security forcsd enter these neighborhoods they usually get attacked and stoned, and many times it turns out that “these calls are bogus and are made in order to attack the forces entering the area.”

==============================

5.  [forwarded by Rupa Shah]

Embassy photo: Lee Berthiaume

A Child is Like a Blade: Ten-year-old Hala Mohammed Harb recites a poem about resisting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza at a UN school for Palestinian refugees in Amman, Jordan. Canada has begun moving away from the UN agency that runs the schools after 60 years of support.

A fine line between Palestinian remembrance, radicalization

http://embassymag.ca/page/view/palestine-01-19-2011

By Lee Berthiaume

January 19, 2011

AMMAN, Jordan—The schoolyard teems with young girls in blue uniforms, some sporting headscarves, most carrying backpacks, all of them smiling. Shaded from the hot Middle Eastern sun by a structure of corrugated metal, one class runs around in circles, playing a game. Next to them, a teacher leads another class through morning stretches and jumping jacks.

Inside the two-storey building, the majority of the students at Nuzha Prep Girls’ School are in classes, but in one room, a special meeting of the institution’s Parliament on Human Rights and Women’s Issues has been arranged in honour of my visit. This student council-like body features many of the school’s top students.

As I enter, I am surprised to be greeted by several of the girls in English. I am led to a special seat at the front of the classroom. Then the nearly two-dozen girls who make up the parliament take their own seats, which have been set up in a horseshoe. The teachers, all wearing headscarves, take up positions in the background.

Unsure how to start, I ask what the girls think of their school. After a slight hesitation, a few raise their hands.

“I’m so happy when I come to school,” responds one 12-year-old in English. Another, however, complains in Arabic through a translator that there was a shortage of textbooks at the beginning of the school year. Then I get an answering I wasn’t expecting.

“I don’t care about the school,” says one girl. “I want to be in Palestine, my homeland.”

If it weren’t obvious from the bright blue and white sign outside, the girl’s answer makes it readily apparent that this isn’t just any school in Jordan. Rather, this is one of 691 educational institutions across the Middle East run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, a special agency set up specifically to support the more than 4.7 million registered Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. UNRWA also operates 137 primary health clinics, one of which is located right next door to the Nuzha Prep school.

Canada has helped pay for this school and the clinic, if only indirectly. It has been contributing millions of dollars to UNRWA each year since 1950, when the agency was established to provide emergency relief and support to Palestinians displaced by the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Altogether, Canada has alternated between being UNRWA’s sixth- and seventh-largest donor.

But a year ago this month, the Harper government quietly stopped providing core budget support to UNWRA, switching all funding to food aid instead. In practical terms, that meant Canada was no longer giving money on an ongoing basis to help pay the salaries of 30,000 teachers, doctors and other staff members, build schools and health clinics, or provide text books, medical equipment and other necessary supplies.

Many interpreted the move as the first step in Canada’s disengagement from the agency—and, by proxy, a move away from supporting Palestinians.

The decision was met with surprise, particularly given Canada’s decades-long support, its traditional interest in Palestinian refugee issues—and because the action was taken unilaterally and without previous warning.

In response, UNRWA staff said the agency, already struggling with a $90-million shortfall, desperately needed ongoing Canadian budgetary support—and worried other donors would follow suit. Jordan’s ambassador to Canada took the unprecedented step of admitting the issue was a concern to the highest levels of his government. Behind the scenes, other donors were reportedly grumbling.

The Harper government has refused to provide any real explanation for the move, aside from saying the decision was made simply to align Canada’s contributions to UNRWA with CIDA’s [Canadian International Development Agency’s] food secur**          ity agenda. Many, including both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups, haven’t bought that explanation. Yet that’s where any agreement ends, and the girls of Nuzha Prep and other UNRWA schools come in.

‘But in Gaza!’

UNRWA introduced human rights curriculum in 2002, and it was immediately met with controversy. According to a local director in Jordan speaking on background, some parents, teachers and even international observers worried what would be taught, others what wouldn’t be included.

Sitting in the Nuzha Prep classroom, surrounded by smiling faces from the school’s Parliament on Human Rights and Women’s Issues, I ask the girls what human rights they have learned about. Hands shoot up and the answers come quickly: the right to play; to live peacefully; to security and equality; to protection from torture and slavery.

Yet one answer keeps coming up over and over: the right to return to Palestine. In fact, the girls invariably tie the other human rights they have learned about to the homeland they say they desperately wish to see.

“Here in Jordan, we have all the rights,” says one girl. “But I want to remember the children in Palestine. They do not have the ability to laugh.”

Ten-year-old Hala Mohammed Harb is clearly the smallest girl in the parliament. With her big brown eyes and a shy smile, she slowly approaches me and says through an interpreter that she would like to re-enact a poem. The name of the piece, says the interpreter, is A Child is Like a Blade.

What follows is unexpected and requires no translation. Hala’s young face takes on a surprising hardness, her body movements become militaristic and martial in tone as she mimics defying the Israeli occupiers, raising a flag over a free Palestinian state that she will call home. She is unwavering in her conviction, forceful in the telling.

When it ends, the other students erupt into applause and Hala returns to her shy schoolgirl persona. The teachers are beaming with pride.

A little later, I am led to a science lab. Two rows of long metal tables run down either side of the room, with high benches behind them, while the walls are covered with diagrams showing human organ systems. A computer has been set up at the front and is connected to a projector hanging from the roof.

An audio-visual presentation begins, and amid Arabic music, a picture of smiling children is projected onto the blackboard under the words: “My right to live a happy life!” A few seconds later, three more words appear underneath: “But in Gaza!”

Another picture of smiling children who look to be of North American or European descent. The words: “My right to play!” Then the image changes to show Palestinian children on the street, clothes ripped, skin covered with dirt. “But these people, where’s their right?” the presentation asks.

It continues like this. Pictures of happy white children and families give way to the image of an old Palestinian woman in tears supporting herself with an olive tree, an Israeli military patrol in the background. Another shows Israeli soldiers in a classroom, books and broken desks strewn around the room. The presentation ends with the words: “We will not give up!”

Judging by the video presentation, and the fact that it was put together at the school and clearly bears Nuzha Prep’s name on the credits, it would be easy to say the school’s teachers are responsible for the content, which some could easily interpret as borderline incitement.

Yet when asked who has told them about Palestine, the students offer a number of answers that revolve around the same people: Their families. Grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, fathers, mothers, brothers.

“We live the dream that our grandparents could not,” says one girl.

In fact, few of the students, if any, have ever seen what they repeatedly call “home.” They were born in Jordan. Many of the students’ parents weren’t born in the Palestinian Territories either. The first Palestinian refugees were primarily older family members who fled during the war between Israel and its Arab neighbours in 1948 or, more recently, the Six-Day War in 1967.

Does this mean they aren’t really refugees? Or even Palestinian?

There are some who believe that UNRWA has, in the words of B’Nai Brith Canada executive vice-president Frank Dimant, “become an industry unto itself.” The argument is that as long as the UN agency survives, Palestinian refugees will be able to continue identifying themselves as such instead of assimilating into whatever culture or place they have moved to.

At the same time, people like Mr. Dimant argue, by supporting the Palestinian refugees and not forcing host governments to deal with them, an invisible barrier is created between the Palestinians and the local population, be they Jordanians, Syrians or Lebanese.

The UN High Commission for Refugees has three stated solutions for dealing with refugees, a fact confirmed with UNHCR in Ottawa. The preferred option, which the agency encourages, is voluntary repatriation, providing it is safe and their reintegration is viable. “We don’t even say that,” says a senior UNRWA official in an interview in Jerusalem a few days later.

Yet the official says the agency also isn’t about to tell those it supports to stop identifying themselves as refugees or Palestinians, to begin focusing on a new future in their new homelands.

“I don’t think it’s our role to tell them: ‘You know, you should give up on that,” the official says. “We just want to teach them to read and write and prepare them for life.”

Measuring the costs

Next door to the Nuzha Prep Girls’ School is the Nuzha Health Centre. Past the gates and inside the building’s white walls, old men sit on benches, waiting to be seen by a doctor. Further back, young mothers sit with children on their laps amid pregnant women waiting for a check-up. While the centre provides basic health care to about 56,000 people, the primary focus is maternal and child health. On one side of the clinic, a nurse calls patients’ names to distribute free prescription medication through a window.

In explaining the funding change in January 2010, CIDA Minister Bev Oda’s spokesman, Jean-Luc Benoît, said that “there are all sorts of rumours. But I think people are reinventing the wheel. There is a need, it’s part of our priorities, so we said ‘Fine, our $15 million will go towards food aid….’ There’s nothing else there.”

Some could consider that answer, however, to be disingenuous. First, Canada gives core funding to a wide range of multilateral organizations that don’t fit neatly into CIDA’s priorities. With that in mind, the West Bank and Gaza have been identified as a priority region for Canada’s aid agency.

At the same time, children and youth have been identified as a CIDA priority, while maternal and child health is also a major focus. UNRWA, through its schools and health clinics, does both. And if the UN agency doesn’t do them, then someone else will have to.

In an interview with Embassy in May, after Canada announced its decision not to provide anymore core funding to UNRWA, then-Jordanian ambassador Nabil Barto said international assistance to UNRWA from countries like Canada is essential.

By the numbers, the agency’s core budget last year was just over $600 million, of which $336 million was spent on education, $101 million on health and $48 million on other social services. (These figures include only core activities, not emergency appeals.)

According to UNRWA figures, the agency’s budget in Jordan was $115 million last year, of which $98 million was for education and health.

Last month, the Jordanian government unveiled its 2011 budget, which stood at US$8.8 billion. This included a $1.5-billion deficit. Meanwhile, its public debt grew from 58.3 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 64.7 per cent in 2009. What impact would there be with an addition $115 million?

Difficult to say, but in many ways, the issue isn’t about money, at least not in Jordan. Arguably more pressing is the political difficulties associated with Palestinian refugees continuing to reside in that country.

For example, it is estimated that about half of Jordan’s 6 million people consider themselves Palestinian refugees. There is a growing sense that the Palestinian-Jordanians are being intentionally under-represented in government for fear giving them more power could shake the country’s moderate policies in the region or lead to Jordan becoming a virtual State of Palestine.

At the same time, even if the Jordanian government wanted to fully embrace the Palestinians, such as freeing up resources for education and health care, doing so would be a difficult sell to the rest of the population, which consider themselves the real Jordanians.

The issue, however, is about money in the West Bank and, in particular, the Gaza Strip. UNRWA spent almost $300 million between the two Palestinian Territories last year, two-thirds of that in Gaza where Hamas holds sway. More than 260,000 children are enrolled in UNRWA schools in those two areas, while 6.3 million patients were made treated at agency health clinics.

Shortly after Hamas won legislative elections in January 2006, Canada became the first country to cut off aid to the new government. The European Union and US followed suit, instead distributing it directly to the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah Party rivals Hamas. That rivalry came to a head in mid-2007 with Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip and leaving the West Bank to Fatah.

With Hamas listed as a terrorist organization by a number of donor countries, including Canada, UNRWA is one of the main conduits for providing assistance in Gaza. However, Hamas spends a great deal of time and money providing social services as well.

“Hamas devotes much of its estimated $70-million annual budget to an extensive social services network,” a Council on Foreign Relations briefing from August 2009 reads. It goes on to cite an Israeli scholar’s estimate that as much as 90 per cent of its budget goes to social, welfare, cultural and educational activities.

“Hamas funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues,” the report reads. “The Palestinian Authority often fails to provide such services, and Hamas’s efforts in this area—as well as a reputation for honesty, in contrast to the many Fatah officials accused of corruption—help to explain the broad popularity it summoned to defeat Fatah in the PA’s recent elections.”

There have long been allegations, particularly from groups like B’Nai Brith, that UNRWA has been infiltrated by extremists, that money given to the UN agency is being diverted to terrorist groups, and that UNRWA facilities are being used as recruitment centres.

Internal CIDA documents obtained by Embassy, however, showed that after Canada became the first country to cut ties with the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Authorities in 2006, “CIDA investigated UNRWA’s internal financial and human resources policies and controls. CIDA’s legal and program staff concluded that the risks of UNRWA funding terrorist groups are minimal.” An updated analysis in 2009 concluded the UN agency represented a “low risk” from a financial management perspective.

The documents also cited UNRWA’s “policy of zero tolerance concerning the involvement of its staff in terrorist organi[z]ations” and that “UNRWA, as any agency, cannot police the beliefs as well as the national and political sympathies of its staff, but its [sic] does strictly police their behaviour.”

In fact, there have been numerous reports that Hamas and UNRWA have actually had numerous disputes. Most recently, in September, there were numerous reports of ongoing arguments over UNRWA’s decision to teach human rights.

The human rights subject “violates and harms Islamic faith by talking thoroughly about personal freedom and encourages people even to select their religion as if they are selecting from a food menu,” Xinhua quoted Hossam Ahmed, the head of Hamas’s refugee department, as saying this past September.

‘What would you do?’

On the morning of March 12, 2009, a teleconference was scheduled between CIDA Minister Bev Oda and UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd. In advance, a briefing book was prepared that included “key messages” for Ms. Oda to relay to Ms. AbuZayd and questions to ask.

“What measures do you feel would best demonstrate UNRWA’s neutrality in carrying out its mandate?” reads one question. “What do you see as the inherent challenges in guarding that neutrality?”

Neutrality. Should a video like what I saw be at an UNRWA institution? Should UNRWA be discouraging its charges from thinking of themselves as refugees, or even Palestinian? Can it even do so? And if it tries, will that play into the hands of Hamas and other extremists?

There are no clear answers. When asked about the video and other incidents that have been reported, the senior UNRWA official says: “Where we find cases of the neutrality clause being crossed, we deal with it.” He notes as an example that student unions have been banned from agency schools in the West Bank because of problems that arose from them.

But during the discussion at Nuzha Prep, when I ask about negotiating with Israel, the girls are unequivocal: talking failed.

“Dialogue is of no use anymore,” says one girl. “We have tried, we have tried. Talking with the Israelis is useless.”

“What has been taken by force should be returned by force,” adds another through the translator, who, seeing my reaction, unconvincingly adds that knowledge is power.

In an interview with the Winnipeg Jewish Review in November, then-minister of state for the Americas Peter Kent, who was also the Harper government’s unofficial spokesman on Israel, was asked about UNRWA. He responded that agency officials “shouldn’t take sides [in the conflict] first of all…and that they shouldn’t take sides with groups that encourage terror.”

In the same article, Liberal Immigration critic Justin Trudeau said that “it’s easiest to divide when people have empty belies, when the sense of hope for something good isn’t necessarily tangible.

“So the more there is economic suffering…marginalization, and lack of capacity to dream big and achieve those dreams, then people fall into the pit of aggression and enmity articulated through a form of an nihilism like suicide bombers.”

The agency has offered to open its books to Canada to prove that foreign funding isn’t going to extremists or other radicalization efforts, to let the country have unprecedented control over what core programs and services to fund if it means money will come in. While unhappy with the prospects of other donors making similar demands, it says it needs continued Canadian support. It hasn’t received a response.

Rather, “UNRWA has been informed that CIDA will continue to support UNRWA’s emergency appeals in the West Bank and Gaza in line with CIDA’s priority of strengthening food security,” CIDA spokesman Scott Cantin said in an email when asked to explain Canada’s relationship with the UN agency.

Meanwhile, for the girls in Nuzha Prep’s Parliament on human rights and women’s issues, there is no question of giving up on Palestine.

“In the West, they present an image of us that we are not educated, that we have given up our desire to return,” says one girl. “We don’t give up on our right. We know we have this right.”

Sixteen-year-old Wisam Mousa turns to me. “Imagine if you were living outside Canada and you weren’t allowed to return,” she says. “What would you do?”

lee@embassymag.ca

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

On Hamas

NOVANEWS

 

M. came over and discussed the Hamas government. “They are occupying the culture,” he told me. “Our grandparents used to dance Dabka together, boys and girls, now this is forbidden. What is Hamas doing?” I mentioned that girls had been forbidden from clapping and smoking shisha in cafes on New Year’s Eve.* He said this was terrible, and that “Anyone who likes Hamas, gets money from them. Hamas pays for their schools, pays for their food, and gives them something. Almost no one likes Hamas.” He was referring to the strong Hamas social welfare regime.

Hamas also pays for mourner’s tents for poor families. M.M. also complained about some NGO leaders: “They sit in Beach and Badia [two comparatively expensive restaurants in Gaza City], they don’t come to our protests, they don’t come to the non-violent protests in the buffer zone, they write letters…what are they doing? They are visible in the media.” But they don’t put themselves on the line: “If Hamas saw strong men with us, they would retreat, they would fall back.” “This is not our Islam,” he added. Another friend, A., my most radical friend in Gaza, told me, “I don’t like Hamas but I hate the left the most…do you think if we had a good left, if Fateh was not corrupt, anyone would have supported Hamas?

At least Hamas is in the camps with the people. The leftists’ children study in Europe, they pass easily through Rafah.” He was practically yelling when he said this to me, and his fury was clear. He lives with the consequences of the left’s failure.

Haniyeh lives–or at least maintains a residence–in a camp. It’s easy to hate Hamas: for liberals, for conservatives, even for radicals, they’re religious, conservative, authoritarian in manner. But also facile. The leftist and secular parties failed in Palestine, and the Islamists embedded with the people. If we want a Palestinian left (forget religion, that’s not the point) we better gets our hands filthy building the civil society links that are the only thing we can do to affect internal social dynamics. And we better quit judging. A. has it right.

*Compare to this article–http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11714.shtml–either deceitful or idiotic, as if it matters.

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Palestinians, America and the U.N

NOVANEWS

ToSubject: Letters of Support Needed: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi in the International Herald Tribune

WRITE! for Justice, Human Rights, and International Law in Palestine   

  

Today, the International Herald Tribune online published a devastating op-ed by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, ‘Palestinians, America, and the UN’ (1/20) which urges the US not to veto a proposed UN Security Council Resolution condemning Israeli settlements which are illegal under international law.

 

Ashrawi explains the international consensus position on settlements in a manner that the US media typically tends to avoids, “Not only are they a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; under the Rome Statute, they are considered a war crime.”  She discusses the dangers settlements and settlers pose to Palestinians as they “superimpose a colonial grid over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”  Ashrawi is also frank about why the peace process has been terribly off track for so long, “Negotiations are not a substitute for international law. Rather, they should be guided by international law, which alone establishes the benchmarks for a just peace.”

 

Please WRITE! to the New York Times letters@nytimes.com and thank them for publishing this important and timely op-ed as it is sure to generate a heavy response.  Ashrawi’s op-ed will likely appear in the IHT print edition tomorrow.  Letters should be kept under 150 words in length and be sure to include your name, address, and phone number for verification purposes only.  

 

For further information:   

 

Ma’an News Agency: US to oppose condemnation of settlements
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=352429

 

Pickering, Hills, Sullivan, Beinart, Dobbins, More Ask Obama Administration to Support UN Resolution Condemning Illegal Israeli Settlements
http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2011/01/pickering_hills/

Greybeards Urge U.S. not to Veto U.N. Anti-Settlement Resolution
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54179

  

Philip C. Wilcox: The U.S. should vote for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements

http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/05/the_us_should_vote_for_a_un_security_council_resolution_condemning_israeli_settleme

 

**************************************************************************

 

Palestinians, America and the U.N.

 

By Hanan Ashrawi

January 20, 2011

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/opinion/21iht-edashrawi21.html?_r=2

 

Palestinians are well within their rights to bring the issue of Israeli settlements and their illegality before the United Nations Security Council. Our decision to do so follows both Israel’s refusal to cease all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, and America’s failure to ensure Israel’s compliance with international law and existing agreements. The United States should support such a move, not block it. It is universally recognized that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, and that without a full cessation of all settlement activity, Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the two-state solution are both doomed. In spite of the dilution of American public statements, the United States still recognizes settlements as illegal. Not only are they a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; under the Rome Statute, they are considered a war crime.

 

With America unwilling to hold Israel accountable to international law and existing agreements, Israel has remained intransigent in the face of international efforts to revive genuine negotiations. A Security Council resolution would reaffirm today’s international consensus in support of the two-state solution by recognizing the threat posed by illegal settlements.

 

This is not rocket science. Settlements are built on occupied Palestinian land. They also entail the exploitation of Palestine’s natural resources, including water. Both belong to a future Palestinian state. Without them, no Palestinian state can be viable.

 

The true impact of Israeli settlements is measured not only by the way they undermine the two-state solution; it is also the enormous damage they inflict on countless Palestinian communities.

 

Settlements superimpose a colonial grid over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. They constitute an illegal exercise of Israeli extraterritoriality in Palestine. Built on the expropriation and theft of Palestinian land, they dominate the surrounding hilltops of the occupied West Bank, encircling and besieging Palestinian towns and villages below.

 

They stand at the heart of an ever expanding web of checkpoints, walls, roadblocks and settler-only bypass roads that marginalize Palestinian realities and render all normal life impossible. Palestinian farms, businesses and homes have all been destroyed to make way for settlement expansion, while Palestinian lives and livelihoods have been shattered in the process.

 

The rights and protections enshrined under international law apply as much to Palestinians as to anyone else. Indeed, at the very heart of the Palestinian struggle is a determination to win back these very rights and protections long denied us by Israel. This applies as much to the rights of Palestinian refugees living in exile for the last 60 years, as it does to the many Palestinians who have suffered for over four decades under the brutality of an Israeli military occupation.

 

Settlements are a fundamental part of this. Given that they continue to expand in flagrant violation of international law, it is perfectly reasonable for Palestinians to turn to the United Nations as a forum in which to pursue their legitimate rights.

 

The question is not whether or not Palestinians should approach the United Nations. We have every right to pursue all legal avenues available to us, whether in the absence of or parallel to negotiations, just as the African National Congress did in its struggle to overthrow apartheid in South Africa. Rather, the question is why the United States should oppose such a move, particularly given that its own attempts to revive Palestinian-Israeli negotiations have been thwarted time and again by Israel’s refusal to stop building settlements.

 

Negotiations are not a substitute for international law. Rather, they should be guided by international law, which alone establishes the benchmarks for a just peace. Nor are settlements a bilateral issue whose illegality is up for discussion.

 

It is just such a message that the Obama administration is in danger of sending by opposing a Security Council resolution reaffirming the illegality of Israeli settlements. It sets up a false opposition between negotiations and international law, substituting one for the other. And it closes down what few avenues are open to Palestinians, in the absence of negotiations, to continue our national struggle through nonviolent means.

 

The U.N. charter explicitly references its “faith in fundamental human rights” and the need to uphold “conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law” be respected. What could be more applicable than the damage done by Israeli violations, in particular unilateral measures like settlement activity?

 

Hanan Ashrawi is a former Palestinian peace negotiator and an elected member of both the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee and the Palestinian Legislative Council.

 

To join our mailing list, please contact us at writealert@yahoo.com 

 

Thank you,   

 

WRITE! Team

www.writetruth.org 

www.facebook.com/pages/WRITE/95536762137

www.twitter.com/write4justice

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Palestinians, America and the U.N

Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

Dear All,

The 6 items below begin with another IOF shooting.  As you read item 1, you have to realize that road 60 is the main north-south route through the West Bank.  It is heavily traveled in the morning and again during the evening rush hours.  The report below tells us that a temporary checkpoint was erected—not a regular one, so that drivers would not expect a checkpoint.  I don’t know why the driver did not slow down, but it could very well have been because he did not expect the checkpoint to be there.  What is clear is that the soldier aimed for the head.  Why?  Had I been driving on that road and neglected to slow down would this soldier have shot me, too?  After all, the person shot is an Israeli citizen, that is to say, he had yellow license plates, Israeli plates.  Again the question comes up, why not shoot at the tires if you suspect the worst? Why again at the head?  Why?

Item 2 reveals that on the ruins of a Palestinian village a modern Jewish village will arise. There is nothing new about this. All of Israel is built on former Palestinian land.  The trouble with the new plan is that it is for Jews not for Palestinians.  But that too is true for most of Israel.

Item 3 begins with the question ‘How old does a Palestinian have to be to pick strawberries?’  This issue is permits to enter Israel and work at various of the jobs it offers.  There has been a slight increase in the Palestinians allowed in to Israel to work.  Of course it is clear why there would be a demand for jobs.  After Israel has taken much of WB land for settlements and other purposes, many Palestinian farmers are left without work.  Israel, by urbanizing the WB is creating a cheap labor force for its own uses.

Item 4 is about the PA’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and his plans for a Palestinian state.

Item 5 informs us that Gideon Levy will be speaking in London on March 6, and the negative reactions received about the affair.  Not everyone likes to have his/her dirty laundry washed in public, I guess.

Item 6 is an initiative that I am taking part in, being one of the 4 petitioners who are appealing to the Israeli High Court, to invalidate the formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate human rights organizations.

An item not included below that might interest you,  Hillary Clinton’s reaction against the idea of the PA going to the Security Council to ask it to recognize Palestine  http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-possible-un-censure-of-settlements-not-helpful-to-peace-process-1.338303

All the best,

Dorothy

=======================

1. Ynet,

January 21, 2011

West Bank

Halhul roadblock Photo: Alex Kolomoisky

Arab-Israeli critically wounded from IDF fire

Reserve troops who set up surprise roadblock in order to check vehicles notice driver speeding towards them, fire at him under assumption he was trying to break through roadblock. Man sustains head wounds, taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4016903,00.html

Hanan Greenberg

An Arab-Israeli citizen was critically wounded Thursday night after the IDF fired at his car at a roadblock near Hebron. The injured man was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem. The IDF has launched an inquiry into the incident.

The man, driving on Route 60, encountered a surprise roadblock set up by reserves troops in order to check suspicious vehicles. For an unclear reason, the soldiers thought the driver was trying to break through the roadblock and fired at him. He sustained head wounds and was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center on an IDF intensive care vehicle.

The Etzion Brigade’s deputy commander later arrived at the scene and began probing the incident. The IDF is looking into a possibility that the driver did not notice the improvised roadblock and as a result speeded towards it, which aroused the soldiers’ suspicion. The other possibility is that the driver intentionally tried to target the troops.

Military sources said that the IDF is on high alert following Wednesday’s shooting incident near Mevo Dotan.

An Islamic Jihad militant began firing at a Nahal Haredi post prompting the soldiers to fire back. He was killed as a result. Security elements said that the militant has been arrested twice in the past few years over his involvement in terrorist activity.

=========================

2.  Haaretz,

January 21, 2011

Israel moves to turn deserted Palestinian village into luxury housing project

Israelis and Palestinians dedicated to the village Lifta’s preservation have called the plan to build 212 luxury units and a small hotel the end for the last Arab village of its kind.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-moves-to-turn-deserted-palestinian-village-into-luxury-housing-project-1.338280

By Nir Hasson

Tags: Israel news Palestinians Jerusalem

Yakub Odeh, 67, walks among the ruins of the Arab village of Lifta at the entrance to Jerusalem and is oblivious to the new neighborhoods and freeways that surround it. He doesn’t see the train tunnel being dug above it or the secret escape route for the country’s leaders being dug below.

Odeh doesn’t see the “Death to the Arabs” graffiti at the entrance to the village or the Arabic version of the name that someone blotted out on the sign there. He sees a village and an area as it existed until March 1948, before it was abandoned by its Palestinian residents.

“Ali Badr’s family lives here, and here’s Salah Mohammed’s house,” he says on a walk through Lifta. The village for him is not limited to the houses left standing around the well-known village spring. For him, it is also the remnants of houses in the Romema neighborhood of Jerusalem. the land on which new housing in Ramot was built. It is also the village school, which now serves as an ultra-Orthodox educational institution, at the entrance to Jerusalem.

“My roots are here. My whole mentality is from here. I will never be able to forget,” he says.

Now, the remains of the village are threatened by changes to the special character of the

place. Two weeks ago, the Israel Land Administration published a public tender for

construction in Lifta, which is to transform an abandoned Palestinian village on the edge of Jerusalem and a popular location for hiking into a luxury residential neighborhood. The developers have committed to preserve the houses and meticulously restore them. Plans call for the houses to become restaurants and galleries.

Odeh calls the redevelopment plan a second Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe” and the word the Palestinians use to speak of the events surrounding the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Architect Gabriel Kertesz, who designed the new development in Lifta, together with Shmuel Groag and Shlomo Aronson, said the redevelopment is the best thing that could happen to Lifta.

“There is one approach that nothing should be done, which means the disappearance of the village. Our approach is one involving preservation and revival. The plan requires the most meticulous preservation rules and permits construction only after the historic buildings are preserved and everything is done under the supervision of the Antiquities Authority and a conservation architect,” he said.

Odeh is now involved in human rights work, but he is a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who served a lengthy prison term. He was eight when his family fled Lifta. His former house overlooks the spring in the center of the village.

Lifta is an anomaly. Among the hundreds of Palestinian villages abandoned in 1948, it is the only one that was neither destroyed nor reinhabited. The villages of Ein Karem and Ein Hod, for example, remained standing but were inhabited by Jews.

Odeh and others see the remaining 55 homes in Lifta and the surrounding terraces as a kind of memorial to Palestinian society before Israel’s War of Independence. After the village was abandoned, the ceilings in the buildings were deliberately destroyed to deter intruders, however the homeless and others on the margins of society took up residence there.

One of the buildings houses a successful program for young drug addicts, which has been operating there for 20 years. The program’s director said yesterday that he doesn’t know what will become of the program once the redevelopment of the village begins.

In open areas around the existing homes in the village, plans call for 212 luxury housing

units and a small hotel. Israelis and Palestinians dedicated to Lifta’s preservation have

called the plan the end for the last Arab village of its kind.

Odeh said: “Our dream is that there be peace, and that we be able to return to our village.

There is enough room in Palestine for everyone. These are our homes. We were born here. We breathed the air here, and we are entitled to return here.”

Not all of the opponents of the proposed development share Odeh’s aspiration that he and descendents of other villagers return to live in Lifta. Architect Gadi Iron envisions Lifta as a world heritage site that should be preserved. He called it a “Garden of Eden” of streams and fruit trees and beautiful landscapes and a site containing important Palestinian architecture.

Iron said: “Lifta is more important than the Taj Mahal, from the standpoint of its beauty and for its Mediterranean heritage. The Taj Mahal is kitsch. In Lifta, there’s no kitsch.” He

proposed the village be preserved as an architectural museum.

=======================

3.  Haaretz,

January 21, 2011

How old does a Palestinian need to be to pick strawberries in Israel?

Defense Minister sets criteria for Palestinians to be issued a work permit in Israel; 19,500 Palestinians are permitted to enter Israel to work in construction.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/how-old-does-a-palestinian-need-to-be-to-pick-strawberries-in-israel-1.338304

By Chaim Levinson

A Palestinian must be at least 28 years old to pick strawberries in Israel, and to work in a field he must be at least 35, according to set criteria for Palestinians to be issued a work permit in Israel, Haaretz has learned.

The government of Israel occasionally sets quotas for Palestinian workers. The number of Palestinians working in Israel has increased in recent years and currently stands at 32,000.

The defense minister determines the criteria for being issued a work permit, and a Palestinian who wants to cross into Israel for work must first find an interested employer willing to file an application on his behalf.

According to the criteria established by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and received by Gisha, a non-government organization, the quota for Palestinians seeking construction work in Israel is set at 19,500. Gisha had filed a petition, on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act, requesting data on Palestinian workers.

In order to receive a work permit in construction, the Palestinian applicant must be at least 35 years old and married with children.

In the industry or services sector, 2,250 positions are allotted; 1,750 positions in agriculture; and 3,000 for work in orchards and groves. In these sectors, too, a Palestinian must be at least 35 and married with children to receive a work permit.

On the other hand, to pick citrus fruits or strawberries, a Palestinian worker can be 28 and married with children. It is not clear from the list of criteria why a 30-year-old Palestinian can pick strawberries but cannot water fields.

To work in a hotel in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian can be single and aged 25; to work in the Atarot industrial zone in East Jerusalem, one must be at least 21.

Responding to a Haaretz query, the Defense Ministry explained that “the criteria are set on the basis of security concerns of defense establishment officials and according to updated assessments.”

The number of Palestinians entering Israel for work has been on the rise in recent years. In 2003, at the peak of the second intifada, 12,708 Palestinians were given work permits. In 2008, the figure stood at 23,821.

==================

4.  LA Times,

January 21, 2011

Leader confounds both sides with plans for Palestinian state

Salam Fayyad believes in nonviolence and is well thought of in the international community. But Israelis don’t get him and Palestinians lack faith in him.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-palestinian-fayyad-20110121,0,3066483,full.story

By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank

No one seems to know what to make of him. Israelis puzzle over the cleanshaven technocrat who denounces violence. Palestinians see an outsider who never cut his teeth on the tear-gas-choked streets of intifadas.

Now, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad hopes to confound expectations even further, pursuing what some see as a quixotic goal of laying the groundwork for an independent country by August.

No matter that peace talks are stalled. If Palestinians build the trappings of a state, he believes, a real state will follow.

“Part of getting where we must go comes from transforming this from abstract concept to the realm of the possible,” he said in an interview in his Ramallah office. “A key point of strength is to impart a sense of inevitability.”

Over the last year, the pragmatic, suit-wearing former World Bank economist has worked hard to burnish his image with skeptical Palestinians — harvesting olive trees with farmers, attending protests against Israel’s separation barrier and organizing boycotts of products made by Jewish settlements in the West Bank. His government’s approval rating rose from 34% in 2008 to 43% last month, according to one poll.

During a visit to Jericho in the fall, Fayyad could barely hide his delight when children mobbed him like a returning war hero. In a display of adoration he rarely sees, they even serenaded him with a popular Palestinian chant about sacrificing their “blood and soul.”

Israelis too have taken notice of Fayyad, and they seem unsure of how to confront this new-styled Palestinian leader who’s a darling of the international community and is demonstrating increasingly sharp political instincts.

In a public relations coup in November, Fayyad embarrassed Israeli officials by announcing that the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority had spent $5 million renovating neglected schools and roads in East Jerusalem, an Arab-dominated area that is under Israeli control but where Palestinians hope to one day build their capital.

“He will kill us with his moderation,” quipped Yossi Sarid, newspaper columnist for Haaretz and a former lawmaker, who only half-jokingly labeled Fayyad as Israel’s “Public Enemy No. 1” because he is quietly defying the usual Israeli characterization of Palestinians as extremist and violent.

Israeli President Shimon Peres calls Fayyad the “Palestinians’ first Ben-Gurionist,” referring to Israel’s founding father.

Fayyad, 58, denies political ambitions, but many think he’s angling to take over one day as president; the current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is 75 and has frequently threatened to quit over the faltering peace talks.

Although Fayyad is a long shot because he is not a member of the powerful Fatah party, the list of possible presidential successors is short, particularly with the recent sidelining of Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who apparently angered Abbas by appearing too eager to take over the top job.

“Fayyad is going to become a serious political player because he is the only one who can play this game,” Palestinian political analyst Hani Masri said. “Fatah does not have a person to replace Abbas when the time comes for Abbas to leave. Their only option would be Fayyad.”

At the same time, Masri said, Fayyad, who has vowed to remain a political independent, may have to fight for the post.

“There are people in Fatah who hate Fayyad and speak against him,” Masri said. Some in Fatah complain that Fayyad’s pacifism will never work against Israelis and his state-building only “beautifies” the occupation.

Fayyad insists that he has no political aspirations beyond implementing his two-year plan to whip Palestinian institutions into shape so they will be ready for statehood by this summer.

“It’s a campaign for the statehood vision, not a political campaign for office,” he said. “Why would anyone who is so preoccupied with this kind of mission have other aspirations? It’s a full-time job.”

He dismissed speculation among Israelis that his secret aim is to unilaterally declare statehood, and break away from Israel, rather than reach an agreement over borders and territory. Israelis have been alarmed in recent weeks by Palestinians’ success in winning formal diplomatic recognition as a state from several South American nations, including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Fayyad says that a fully functioning state can arise only from the political process and that his goal is simply to be ready once an agreement is reached.

He said he is surprised that his approach seems to “confound” Israelis, since he is largely borrowing from their playbook.

“Israelis say they want peace and a two-state solution,” he said. “We’re doing it. There is no hidden plan…. I’m sure Israelis can relate to this and to their own experience. It worked for them. Why not for us?”

Since taking over as prime minister in 2007, Fayyad has won praise for overhauling the Finance Ministry and rooting out the corruption that plagued the Palestinian Authority under the late Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. Fayyad’s government has also created a professional police force that restored security to several West Bank cities and it is embarking on hundreds of civic projects, from a new cellphone provider to master-planned cities outside Ramallah.

International donors, who provide more than half of the Palestinian Authority’s budget, have let it be known that they want Fayyad to continue holding the purse strings.

“Fayyad’s best job security is his support from the international community,” said one European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The PA [Palestinian Authority] realizes that if they get rid of him, they might lose their international funding.”

That partly explains why Fayyad has survived numerous attempts by Fatah critics to topple him or wrest control of the Finance Ministry.

But a senior Israeli intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned that Fayyad’s position remains tenuous and largely reliant on his alliance with Abbas.

“If [Abbas] retires, it might happen that Fayyad is not there,” the official said. “He has aspirations, but his problem is he’s not coming from the right party and doesn’t have real support.”

Fayyad dismissed the criticisms as “background noise” and expressed confidence that Palestinians are warming to his nonviolent alternative.

“This is about concepts and ideas,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in the immense power of nonviolence.”

On the streets, however, some don’t see Fayyad as a maverick. In polls, he still lags behind other Palestinian leaders, including Abbas, jailed activist Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

“He’s just like everybody else,” said Rani Bakri, 32, a shop owner in East Jerusalem. Business in Bakri’s glass-window shop remains sluggish. Teachers at the government school across the street went on strike for lack of salaries. “We hear about the things they are doing, but we don’t see them.”

Fayyad’s political fortunes also face a major test this summer, when his state-readiness campaign is slated to be completed by Aug. 26.

He acknowledged that there is major unfinished business, including weak courts, a nonfunctioning parliament and the absence of elections because of the split between Fatah and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. All of that, including the reunification of Fatah and Hamas, needs to be completed before Palestinians will be ready for statehood, he said.

Some think Fayyad should start backing away from the August deadline and lowering expectations, because he might be blamed for failing to deliver statehood.

“He created a dream with his statehood plan and made people believe it, but this is not going to happen,” Masri said.

Fayyad insisted that the work can be completed on time.

“I can’t project anything but full confidence,” he said. “Unless we believe it, how is it going to become a reality? Let the skeptics have second thoughts. I have no Plan B. No parachute.”

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

Special correspondent Maher Abukhater contributed to this report.

======================

5.  The Independen,

21 January 2011

I’ll be chairing an event at Jewish Book Week where the great Gideon Levy will be speaking

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/01/21/ill-be-chairing-an-event-at-jewish-book-week-where-the-great-gideon-levy-will-be-speaking/

[see also http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/43682/book-week-attacked-anti-israel-event]

By Johann Hari

Notebook

It’s on Sunday, 6th March. Please do come along – there’s a really ugly campaign going to boycott the event due to Levy’s brave stance defending Israel from those within the country who are leading it on a path to self-destruction by ramping up the occupation and further wars. You can book tickets here.

For myself, I’ll also briefly respond to a smear against me. In 2008, I witnessed how, on the occupied West Bank, raw sewage is sometimes pumped from the settlements onto Palestinian land, where it contaminates the water supply in obviously highly dangerous ways. I didn’t break the story: it has beendocumented by the BBC, Friends of the Earth, and others, and is an established fact. After I wrote about it, a number of far right websites invented the claim that, by factually describing this, I had “compared Israel to excrement”, and even tried to revive the blood libel of Jews poisoning the wells. These claims have now been revived to argue therefore I am an inappropriate person to host an event at Jewish Book Week. Anybody who reads the article can see that this description is an outright and preposterous lie. I said no such thing, and would vehemently oppose anyone who did. Unlike the people who invented these smears, I have in fact taken considerable physical risks to oppose and expose anti-Semites, including working undercover at the Finsbury Park mosque and among Holocaust deniers, and receiving a large number of death threats after I went on the Islam Channel to challenge Hizb ut Tahrir over their disgusting anti-Semitism.

Yet this blatant lie is repeated in the latest Jewish Chronicle in a call for a boycott of the event. Sadly, it’s not the first time the Jewish Chronicle hasprinted provably false (and weirdly contradictory) smears against me. The JC also contains some very good and valuable journalism, which makes these bursts of dishonesty all the more disappointing. By all means vigorously disagree with my position, or Levy’s – but not with a series of repellent straw men. Alas, this is part of a much larger process of smearing people who try to urge the Israeli state towards a safer path.

I’d urge people to ignore these smears and to come along to the event to hear one of Israel’s most remarkable people explain how the country can make itself, and the Palestinians, safe at last. You can read the full brochure for Jewish Book Week – there’s some other amazing events – here.

Tagged in: Gideon Levy, jewish book week

=======================

6.  Ibn Khaldun Center for Legal Services

37 Ben Gurion Boulevard, Haifa

Petition against the formation of a Parliamentary Committee to Investigate Human Rights Organizations

Four Israeli women, represented by advocates Lynda Brayer and Yossi Schwartz, submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice against the formation of a parliamentary committee for the investigation of the financial resources of human rights organizations in Israel.

The petitioners are Israeli citizens concerned for the democratic future in Israel.

The respondents are the Israeli Knesset which exceeded its authority as the legislative body, and the Attorney General who did not fulfill his responsibility as the defender of the Basic Laws of Israel and its democratic regime.

The State of Israel is constituted as a parliamentary democracy.  The supreme principle of such a regime is the separation of powers.

The primary function of the Knesset is to legislate laws which do not contradict the principleof the separation of powers nor the constitutional Basic Laws of Israel which constitute its democratic system.  The relevant Basic Laws are Basic Law: Knesset; Basic Law:  Government; Basic Law: Judiciary; Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation.

Freedom  of expression is a central principle in the democratic framework and is protected by Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom and the right to criticize the actions of the government is both central  and necessary to this freedom.

Human Rights organizations use standards of critcism of acts of the Israeli regime taken from the laws of Israel, and the directives of customary law and the humanitarian directives, at the very least, of the International Treaties of the United Nations Organization.  The courts have recognized these directives as an integral part of the laws of Israel.  Furthermore, the United Nations is the source of the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

The decision of a plenary session of the Knesset, led by the “Israel Our Home” party, to create an investigative parliamentary committee undermines the basis of the democratic system of Israel.

In order to suppress legitimate criticism the Knesset wants to step into the shoes of the police, which is the only body, as part of the Executive Branch of the democratic system,  which has the legitimate authority to investigate  suspected criminal activities.  The creation of such a parliamentary body is an expression of political persecution.

Such an act resembles the totalitarian  persecution of the former Soviet Union towards the  Soviet authors Andrey Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel for the books they wrote and published abroad, as well as the actions of the House Un-American Committee (HUAC) under the baton of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

In the light of this analysis, the High Court of Justice has been asked to prevent either the formation of such a committee or its functioning.

Advocate Yossi Schwartz 052467107  Advocate Lynda Brayer 0524337692

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