Archive | February 19th, 2011

Trident submarine plan: Tories Set to Backtrack on Commitment to Lib Dems


The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today strongly condemned Government plans to order the steel for the first new Trident replacement submarine before any formal decision is made on whether to go ahead with the project, a decision not due until 2016.


CND said “The decision by Liam Fox is a slap in the face for the Lib Dems and abetrayal of the commitments made to them by the Prime Minister. 

The deal struck for the Strategic Defense review allowed the Lib Dems to say ‘Trident will not be renewed this parliament – not on a Liberal Democrat watch’.” [quote in note 3] In answer to a Parliamentary question from CND Vice Chair Jeremy Corbyn MP, the Defence Secretary today confirmed that the “specialist high strength steel needed for the hull structure for the first boat is included as a long-lead item  in the Initial Gate Business Case for the programme.” It would therefore be purchased ahead of the 2016 ‘main gate’ approval point when MPs are expected to decide on the future of the multi-billion pound project.     

Liam Fox also confirmed he did not plan to seek Parliament’s approval for these pre-ordered items, which will run to well over a billion pounds. [note 5] Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said “Ordering the steel to build the submarine is what any ordinary person would think of as deciding to build the submarine. This decision is a real slap in the face for the Lib Dems and a betrayal of the commitments made to them by the Prime Minister.

Nick Clegg  was told the decision was delayed until 2016 – after the end of the coalition agreement, but it seems either he was sold a con, or Liam Fox is jumping the gun without the agreement of one half of the government. It is only four months since David Cameron announced “the decision to start construction of the new submarines need not now  be taken until around 2016.” [note 6]  “Last year the Lib Dem President wrote to their members celebrating the fact that ‘Trident will not be renewed this parliament- not on a Liberal Democrat watch’.  

 If this is still their position, Nick Clegg and his ministers need to be fighting tooth and nail to block Liam Fox from going ahead with ordering the core components of the boats ahead of the actual decision point. Lib Dem ministers need to take a stand on this – an issue that goes to the core of the Coalition – if they are to maintain trust in what they have been telling their own members and the public.”

CND Vice-Chair Jeremy Corbyn MP added “Ordering the steel and other items for the first submarines – worth over a billion pounds alone – before the Commons has even been asked to approve construction of these boats is a flagrant abuse of Parliament.

This is not some small project that needs a couple of parts ahead of time, but the biggest of all defence items where every decision has global implications.  

When MPs last voted on this, Tony Blair made it clear he was seeking “parliamentary approval for the concept and design phase” – not the construction of new submarines. The orders Liam Fox plans to take are therefore illegitimate, without parliamentary authority and must be halted.”


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The Hypocrite Inside of Me



Joseph El-Khoury
The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceives his deception, the one who lies with sincerity” Andre Gide (1869-1951)
So much has happened over the past few weeks that I struggled initially to find a specific thread for this piece.
To state the obvious, the Middle East is on the move after decades of stagnation and the absence of meaningful macro-political evolution, effectively since the 1980s. Being one of those who spent their University days dreaming of a new dawn of ‘Arab Revolt’ that would reverse the status quo emanating from the last Arab Revolt (Think Lawrence of Arabia, Lord Balfour and Sykes-Picot), I was bound to be shaken and stirred by the sight of hundreds of thousands of Arab men and women taking to the streets of Tunis, Cairo, Sana’a and now Manama and Benghazi in the name of a basic right to human decency.
But a lot has been written about the emotional connection that transcends the fictitious borders established by the colonialists and their heirs. With my growing dose of cynicism, I will not be able to compete with the revolutionary fervour that has swept Tahrir square but also Twitter and Facebook to land at the doorstep of every Liberal Orientalist enthusiast. So I will stick to pointing out the slightly perverse side of the current maelstrom (not to be confused with Tsunami in the Lebanese context).
The Arab uprisings and specifically the Egyptian chapter of it uncovered a latent hypocrisy that defines the position of pretty much everyone interested in the Middle Eastern question. Many insist that Democracy is at the core of their wishes for this region. I would argue that it is more a case of democracy with a small ‘d’ that we all humbly aspire for. The US administration, which is contemplating the most serious threat to its regional pack of cards within matter of months proclaimed its understanding of the people’s aspiration, having spent decades and millions propping up the ugliest authoritarian regimes.
You only need to google images of ‘Obama and Mubarak’ to confirm the admiration that the former had for the latter, until 10 minutes prior to his departure from office. France’s 180 degrees on the defunct Tunisian regime was as sharp. Ben Ali got on his plane believing Sarkozy was a genuine buddy to be disowned by the time he flew over Sardinia. But hypocrisy is not particular to our American friends. Fellow Arabs, of the ragtag Leftist, Islamist, Nationalist, Anti-Zionist alliance have so far successfully managed to shut down half of their brain matter in the assessment of the credentials of their own anti-imperialist allies. Iran, Syria and to a lesser degree Qatar are either ignored or reluctantly mentioned under duress as textbook examples of authoritarian, autocratic and intolerant regimes. The Baath party’s fondness for the art of political imprisonment and the Iranian Mullah’s tendencies for repressive social regulation are weighed against their supposed determination to liberate Palestine.
I will not even comment on the Israeli government position, as the ‘Only democracy in the Middle East’ Pin-up verges on losing its misleading title while eyeing another expansionist adventure to its North and to its South. As for me, I will come clean and declare that I am torn between my animosity for the dictatorships and my discomfort at Islamist movements taking over the task of defining the next few decades, which I believe to be the likely outcome of recent events (and I say this out of conviction rather than scaremongering).
So the Egyptians rioting in Tahrir have also displaced the fig leaf and we have all been revealed stark naked for our biased, selective and superficial subscription to democratic principles, nominally the rule of the majority within a system guaranteeing the safeguard of individual and communal rights. Displacing one tyrant is no guarantee of freedom and prosperity. All is not lost and Democracy with a ‘D’ can be earned through the multifaceted struggle that begins once the naive anarchist fantasies of some are satisfied.
This struggle will need to be led by reformists in the old tradition of a spearheading core with a solid perspective on the near and distant future. The uprising, beyond its very powerful symbolism in shattering the psychological wall of Arab impotence, should remain a means to an end. That end is still ill defined among true reformists and incomplete revolutions offered on a platter to military opportunists or retrograde faith/ethnically based organisations may yet bring a series of new challenges.
By all accounts this promises to be an exciting year… but then so was 1918. Unless!

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Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish: ”We saved Lives,” I told the children. Your sisters blood wasn’t wasted



Two years ago, Israeli shells fell on Dr Abuelaish’s family home in Gaza, killing three of his young daughters and their cousin. The horror was caught live on Israeli TV when the doctor phoned his broadcaster friend. Amazingly, the loss did not embitter Izzeldin Abuelaish. Instead he decided his girls’ deaths must not be in vain – and slowly he has turned his family tragedy into a force for peace.


Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, whose three daughters were killed by Israeli fire in Gaza, at his home in Toronto, Canada. Photograph: Donald Weber/VII Network

On 12 December 2008, Izzeldin Abuelaish, a doctor from Gaza, took his six daughters and two sons on a day out. The family rose early, packed a picnic and, at 7am, climbed into his old Subaru and headed out. Gaza is not big – just 25 miles long, and nine miles across at its widest – but the situation being what it is, it can take time to move around and Abuelaish was determined that they make the most of the hours ahead. Twelve weeks earlier, Nadia, his wife of 21 years, had died suddenly of leukaemia and ever since, every day had dawned black. It was his intention, that sunny winter morning, to shine a little light on them, to give his brood some respite, however brief, from their grief.

  1. I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey

  2. by Izzeldin Abuelaish

Their first stop was a surprise. Unbeknown to his family, Abuelaish had recently bought a small olive grove, about an acre in size. Separated from the urban sprawl by a 10ft-high fence, it was “a utopia, a little piece of Shangri-La”. The smaller ones, delighted to discover this new place, ran among the olive, fig and apricot trees, before finally settling down to eat their falafel sandwiches beneath a bower of vines. As they did so, the family talked. Abuelaish had been offered a job in Toronto, Canada, and he wanted to know how the children, who had never known anywhere other than Gaza, would feel about this. (Good, as it turned out. “I want to fly, daddy,” said his daughter, Aya.) The family discussion over, they headed to the beach, where the children dashed over the dunes, chased the surf, and wrote their names in the sand. Abuelaish cherished their laughter, the way they mimicked and teased one another. For the first time in many days, his spirits lifted. “We are getting there,” he remembers thinking. “They will be okay. Together, we can do this.”

In Gaza, though, a man may take nothing for granted. On 27 December,Israel launched an air strike against the Gaza Strip, a response to the firing of Qassam rockets into Israeli border towns by Hamas. This was followed, on 3 January 2009, by a ground invasion. For the next three weeks, Gaza was a war zone. It was impossible even to leave the house. Was Abuelaish frightened for his family? Of course, he was. “But we were prepared. I filled two small suitcases with precious things: passports, certificates. I told each of the children what would happen in a case of emergency. Because the shelling was everywhere. No one was without risk.”

All the same, he refused to consider the possibility that anyone in his family would be hurt. Apart from anything else, they were not involved. No weapons in the Abuelaish basement, no Hamas militia on the roof. “Could we fight the most advanced military in the world? No. We had only our muscles, our blood.” He trusted in God and, though he does not spell it out, in a kind of magical thinking. Don’t think about it, and it will not happen.

He also made himself useful. For the duration of the war, the Israeli government allowed no journalists to enter Gaza; they could only gather on the border, and listen to the shelling. But Abuelaish knew plenty of Israelis – thanks to his work as an infertility specialist, he had worked in several Israeli hospitals – and among his many friends on the other side was Shlomi Eldar, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 10. Eldar began calling Abuelaish late every afternoon to ask what had happened during the course of the day. Live on air, his friend would then describe the scene – from the vantage point of his living room window, he could see entire neighbourhoods being obliterated – for the benefit of viewers of the evening news show. Abuelaish knew that his audience was not likely to be particularly sympathetic to his point of view. Most Israelis believed the Gazans had brought this crisis on themselves. He also knew that there was a chance that someone on his own side would take against his addressing Israel, and that this might involve reprisals against his family, but he kept taking the calls. “With my voice in their ears, the Israelis couldn’t entirely ignore the cost to the Palestinians of their military action.”

The next days were dreadful. On 13 January, the air was so full of debris and dust, it was hard to tell day from night. On 14 January, a tank rolled up outside their front door, and only after a hysterical phone call to Shlomi – who, horrified, called the Israeli defence force to ask if they knew that they were aiming their guns at the house of a doctor with no connections to Hamas – did it finally move on.

Their home was starting to feel crowded. Abuelaish’s second eldest daughter, Dalal, 19, was at her aunt’s house, but his other children – Bessan, 20, Shatha, 17, Mayar, 15, Aya, 14, Mohammed, 12, Raffah, nine and Abdallah, six – were all with Abuelaish. So, too, was his brother Shehab and his daughter, Noor. In the apartment below was another brother, Atta, and his family; in the apartment above, his brother Nasser’s family. Between the three apartments, there was much coming and going: there was comfort in crowding together. But supplies of food and water were running low. There was talk of a ceasefire, and Abuelaish tried to reassure his children that it must surely happen soon. Privately, though, he was worried. Rumours of a ceasefire often signal the last violent bombardment of a conflict. Could the worst be yet to come?

On 16 January, after a lunch of duck with rice – Shehab had taken the risk of heading out to the backyard to grab the birds – and a phone call to Dalal, whom everyone was missing, the family drifted out of the dining room. The girls, meanwhile – Shatha, Mayar, Aya and their cousin Noor – went into their bedroom to read and do their homework until it was time for the family again to huddle together on the dining room floor (no one slept in their own beds; they were considered too close to the buildings’ outer walls for safety). Nine-year-old Raffah was in the kitchen, with Bessan. Mohammed was in the hall. Abdallah, the baby of the family, was on his father’s shoulders. Abuelaish was trying to distract the boy; the situation – his family’s imprisonment in their own home – was incomprehensible to him.

Suddenly, there was a monstrous explosion: “a thundering, fulminating sound,” says Abuelaish, that penetrated his body, almost as if it were coming from within him. There was a blinding flash, and then it was pitch dark. Dust everywhere, the struggle to breathe, the sound of a child screaming: these are the things he remembers, and always will. In the next few moments, it dawned on him that a shell had hit his daughters’ bedroom. He ran towards it. “I saw everything,” he says. “My children in parts. A decapitated head. And Shatha in front of me, with her eye on her cheek.” The room was now a heaped mess of school books, dolls and body parts. Mayar, Aya, and his niece, Noor, were dead, their limbs strewn about the place as carelessly as their toys. Shatha was bleeding profusely from her hand, one finger hanging by a thread. Then came a second blast. This took Bessan. Ghaida, his brother Atta’s daughter, who had run up the stairs from their apartment towards the noise, lay on the floor, wounds all over her body. Abuelaish looked at all this, and inside him, something stirred. A desire to fight pushed his shock, which should have been so paralysing, out of the way with unexpected force. “I thought: what can I do? And I started moving, fast. I thought of Shatha. I didn’t want her to be blind, to lose her fingers. I didn’t want that. Then I looked at my son. He has lost his sisters. Now what is he going to do? How can I protect him? Is he going to be an extremist, to be crazy, to hate the world?” These thoughts, he insists, are not retrospective. Truly. His brain was working overtime. “I started to think. What can I do for those who are living?”

Abuelaish remembered that, though there might be soldiers outside his door, though it would undoubtedly take a long time for an ambulance to push its way through the dangerous, pot-holed streets, he still had a powerful connection to the outside world. He pulled out his phone, and called Shlomi Eldar.

Eldar was in a Channel 10 studio in Tel Aviv, sitting behind a desk with another news pundit. He saw Abuelaish’s name come up on the screen of his phone, but he didn’t answer the first call. The show was live, after all. Then, just as an interview with the foreign minister Tzipi Livni was about to begin, his phone flashed again. This time – to this day, he doesn’t know why – he answered. Livni could wait.

I have since watched what happened next on YouTube at least a dozen times, and all I can tell you is that it never grows any less powerful. Eldar holds his mobile up to the camera, so the audience at home can see it. He also puts it on speakerphone so that the voice on the other end is clearly audible. On the line, a man is weeping. “My God, my God,” he says, over and over. “What have we done? What have we done?” The expression on Eldar’s face is terrible. It is clear that he is struggling not to cry. “Tell me where you are,” he says. “They’ll send an ambulance to your house.” Abuelaish seems not to hear this. “I wanted to try to save them,” he says. “But they died, Shlomi.” This goes on for several minutes until, finally, Eldar, ashen, tight-lipped, excuses himself, pulls his microphone from his shirt, and exits the studio. “I can’t hang up this conversation,” he says.

Outside the studio, on another line, Eldar rang the administrator of the Erez checkpoint. Open the border, he told him. Let the ambulances we’ve called through. The idea was that the Israeli ambulance teams would meet their Palestinian counterparts at the border, so that Shatha, Ghaida and his brother Nasser, who had also been injured, could be transferred to an Israeli hospital (Gazan hospitals are simply not well enough equipped for most emergency work). Meanwhile, someone else had the foresight to dispatch a camera team to the border, too – which is how, a little while later, television viewers in Israel came to see Abuelaish first kissing a heavily-bandaged Shatha, who is by now on a stretcher, and then directing the paramedics as they put her inside an ambulance. I’ve watched this several times, too. The first action is so tender, the second so determined. Though it seems not to make any sense at all, amid the chaos and the flash of camera lights, you already glimpse in Abuelaish the qualities on which, in the coming days, people were to remark admiringly, and with some amazement, again and again: his calmness, his stoicism and, above all, his dignity.

Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish

Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, with his son Abdallah, 6, feels the strain in the aftermath of the Israeli air strikes against the Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP Photo

In Toronto, it is far too many degrees below freezing for anyone’s comfort and when I arrive at his suburban house, Abuelaish is, somewhat inexpertly, shovelling snow. “You don’t get this in Gaza,” he says, with a smile. The job done – well, sort of – we go inside. “Welcome,” he murmurs, extending an arm. “Welcome.” The house smells faintly ofza’atar, the thyme and sumac mixture Palestinians claim as their national dish and, on a side-table, stands a model of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. But otherwise, this could be the house of just about any Canadian family: flat-screen television, computer, gleaming fitted kitchen. From upstairs comes the reassuring sound of children bickering. Everything is very normal, and very safe: about as far away from Gaza as it is possible to be.

Abuelaish is now a professor in global health at the University of Toronto. What does it feel like to be here? Another beaming smile. “It’s not such a change,” he says. “We just think: why can’t it be like this in Gaza? Why not? I hope that when we go back to Gaza, this is the feeling the children will take with them.” So they will return? “Of course, eventually.” Is the family homesick? “Yes. We are so far from our beloved ones, from the graves: my mother, my wife, my daughters. But we are also great! The children are great! Talk to them, you’ll see.” His daughter Raffah appears. She is very pretty. “I’m the second youngest,” she says. Her father gazes at her adoringly. “It’s true what people say,” he murmurs. And what do people say? “That time is a great healer. And faith helps. It’s a great asset; it’s a blessing from God, and it helps you.” Right from the start, he tells me, it was his children that reminded him of this. “When I called my friend [Shlomi Eldar] and I was screaming, my son Mohammed said to me: ‘Why are you crying? You must be happy.’ ‘Happy for what?’ I asked. ‘Because my sisters are with their mum,’ he told me. It came as a message: this 12-year-old boy telling me to move forward. I was saved, and now it was my job to save others. I could have been killed, too, so very easily, and then no one would have known our story.”

This is his mission: to tell his family’s story and, in doing so, prove to the world that not every Palestinian is motivated only by revenge – and he embarked on it right away, as soon as Shatha was out of surgery. The morning after he and Shatha arrived at the hospital, Zeev Rotstein, the director of the Sheba Medical Centre, a hospital where Abuelaish had once taught, organised a press conference, and asked him to speak. Abuelaish told the journalists that, inside the hospital, all were equal. Why, he asked, could this not also be the case outside? About halfway through, however, he was interrupted, in full view of the television cameras, by a screaming woman, her face contorted with rage: Levana Stern, an Israeli mother of three soldiers. She blamed the victim. “Who knows what you had in your house?” she shouted. “No one is saying anything about that.” Abuelaish, pale now, put his head in his hands. “They don’t want to know the truth,” he said. This is the only time most people have ever seen him look anything like close to defeated.

It must have been a horrifying moment. But, amazingly, it didn’t change anything. “Actually, it was good,” he says to me, now. “She was one Israeli, only one. Others started to open their eyes. Hundreds of people from all over the Holy Land, people I didn’t know, sent messages to me. They were awakened. And that’s when I understood: this tragedy will do some good.” Hours later, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, announced a unilateral ceasefire. “So, we saved lives. I told the children: your sisters’ blood wasn’t wasted. We sacrificed them for others. There was a reason.” Encouraged, he determined to keep going. During the two years since the shelling of his home, he has travelled the world, always giving, in essence, the same speech: I refuse to hate, he tells his distinguished audiences, and I do not believe in revenge; hatred is an illness, and the enemy of peace. His stance has won him humanitarian awards around the world, and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. But it has also, appallingly, led to claims that he is cashing in on his loss, a point of view to which I can only say: weren’t there people who said the same about Otto Frank?

So far, the Israeli government has neither compensated Abuelaish, nor apologised to him. “Actually, for me, it’s not a question of compensation,” he says. “But an apology? Yes. That would be good. The truth is the shortest way in life. It’s not shameful to apologise. If I did something wrong to you, and I said sorry, I would be highly valued by you, and in the eyes of others. I wish they would have the moral courage.”

He has been told that there exists a statute of limitations on the issue of compensation and apology of two years. Two years! “There is no statute of limitation for our loved ones. It’s insane. For me, it’s now. It’s now, and it will always be now. It will never leave me, so long as I am breathing.” He sees his daughters in waking dreams: they move, they smile. They live with him still, spiritually. “Believe me, even as I speak to you, I see them.” Though he makes no sound, he has begun to weep: huge tears, that he makes no effort to wipe away.

The pity of it is, he could not even bury his daughters. The Qur’an says that the dead must be buried quickly, and getting a permit to travel back into Gaza from Israel, where he was still watching over Shatha, Ghaida and his brother, would have taken too long. Nor were Bessan, Mayar and Aya permitted to be buried beside their mother; the family was told by Israeli soldiers that, at the present time, no one was allowed into the Jabalia camp cemetery. Did the doctors save Shatha’s eye? “Yes, but not its sight.” And her hand? “She is able to use it, but with some difficulty.” Where is she now? He smiles. “She’s upstairs, studying,” he says. “I wanted her to talk to you, but she apologises: she did not know you were coming, and so she is not ready to show herself.” A pause. He is grinning, now. “She is a very good student, believe me. Just a few weeks after the attack, you know, she got 95% in her final high-school grades. Now she’s studying computer engineering at the University of Toronto. She’s amazing.”

This is true. But my hunch is that she is also a chip off the old block. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s childhood was, as he puts it in his new book, spent “in the shadow of a promise”. We’ll go back soon, said his parents. Maybe in two weeks, maybe a little longer. The Abuelaish family is from Houg, a village near Sderot, the Israeli border town now so mercilessly plagued by Qassam rockets. The family was a large and prominent one, and Abuelaish’s grandfather, Moustafa, was the village head. In 1948, however, when the State of Israel was created, Moustafa decided that it would be wise for the family to leave; he had heard rumours of attacks on Arabs elsewhere and, though he didn’t know if these stories were true, he decided to run. Gaza, a designated safe area, was not far from Houg, so that was where they went. Today, the Abuelaish family farm is owned by Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli general and prime minister, who now lies in a coma in an Israeli hospital.

At the Jabalia refugee camp, where Abuelaish was born in 1955, life was hard. Until he was 10, the family, which eventually numbered 11, lived in a single room only 10ft square. Water was delivered by the United Nations; the children were usually barefoot, flea-bitten and hungry. When Abuelaish was five, one of his newborn siblings – there always seemed to be a newborn – was killed in a terrible accident. His brother Nasser had been messing around and, trying to escape his mother’s slap, had accidentally jumped into the dish bucket which doubled as a cradle at night, crushing his tiny sister. The child was buried the next day, and no one ever mentioned it again.

As the eldest son, Abuelaish was expected to contribute to the family’s meagre finances as soon as he was capable, and by the time he was 12, he had no choice but to combine school with part-time work. He sold milk rations to other desperate families, and he loaded fertiliser on to farm trucks, rising at four o’clock every morning to start. Life was a grind, punctuated by more misery: in 1967, came the six-day war, after which Israel assumed full control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; when Abuelaish was 15, his family home was unaccountably bulldozed under orders from Ariel Sharon. There were, he writes, two ways young men could respond to all this. Some became political. Abuelaish’s brother, Noor, joined Fatah, Palestine’s biggest political party, and went on to do a stint inside an Israeli prison (after his release, he went to Lebanon; the family has not heard from him since 1983). Others invested everything they had in education. This was what Abuelaish chose. He worked, and worked, and he was rewarded: a scholarship to study medicine in Cairo; a postgraduate qualification in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of London; and a masters degree in public health at Harvard.

Right from the beginning, he was determined never to generalise when it came to Israel. It was easy to despise an individual: a particularly difficult soldier at the border; the Jewish mother who accused him – a highly qualified Arab doctor – of trying to murder her baby. Ditto the policies that made life in Gaza so difficult. But it was not acceptable, he felt and still feels, to allow these feelings to transmute into hatred for an entire people. Besides, he had so many Israeli friends.

As a teenager, he had worked on an Israeli moshav, where he was never treated with anything other than kindness by its owners. As a doctor, he had been employed by several Israeli hospitals, helping Israeli women with fertility problems. At the time of the shelling of his home in 2008, he was working full-time at the Gertner Institute, a renowned centre for the study of health policy and epidemiology in Tel Hashomer, near Ramat Gan. During the long – they sometimes felt endless! – journeys between Gaza and Israel, he learned, not hatred, but a patience and a humility that have seen him through a great deal. Impossible to get ideas above your station when you spend as much time as any taxi driver, farmer or waiter standing at the border checkpoints. On one occasion, Abuelaish arrived at the Israeli hospital where he was working, only to find that he had left his briefcase behind accidentally at the crossing. By the time he had driven the 27 miles back, it had been blown up by the soldiers. It took him two months to replace the documents – those all important travel permits – that had been destroyed.

Tell him that you wish more people were able to be so clear-sighted, though, and he will only admonish you. “I am not exceptional,” he says. “You think the same, don’t you?” But it’s easy for me, I say; I don’t live in Gaza or, for that matter, in Sderot. “Well, in the case of the Palestinians, we need to make them ready to listen. You didn’t do this interview out in the street in the cold, or in the middle of the night. You came with your tape recorder, and you were prepared, and you listened. It’s the same with Gaza. People are hungry, and sick. If we made sure they were not hungry, or sick, they would be in a position to listen. Who can help them? The Israeli side. Their sickness, their hunger, affects the Israelis. Return my life to me, and I will show you how much I appreciate that life.”

Nevertheless, I am in awe of his extraordinary optimism. Even from the safety of my sofa at home in London, I can’t feel optimistic about the situation in Israel/Palestine. “But that’s not true,” he says. “Why did you come to see me? Because you feel optimistic about this interview. And that’s great! This small spark of hope… maybe we can turn it into a big fire.”

There is talk of another war in the region right now; the borders are more tense than they have been for many months. Does this worry him? “I think that nothing is impossible. But I also think there are alternatives. If this situation was a patient of mine, I would not necessarily be suggesting surgery.” His main anxiety, he says, is the refusal of the Israeli government to stop building settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. “It’s such a small thing: just to freeze it for a few months. The world is begging them! But if we can’t even make this happen…”

What does peace look like? “I can say only that there will never be peace when it works only for one side, and that maybe peace cannot be imposed but must come by choice. It looks to me as though Palestinians and Israelis are sailing in the same boat, and what’s dangerous for one is dangerous for the other. They are like conjoined twins! We need a two-state solution which gives security and dignity to both.”

Meanwhile, in Canada, his work goes on. Abuelaish has established a charitable foundation, Daughters for Life, which he hopes will support the education of girls. “Because I am determined that my daughters’ names will not only be written on their gravestones, but on the doors of institutions, and other good places.” The week after we meet will be the second anniversary of their deaths. For the first anniversary, he returned to his house in Gaza, now finally rebuilt. He needed to be there. But this year, he will stay at home in Canada. “We will sit together as a family, and we will talk about them, and pray for them, and look at photographs. Those precious, lovely souls. They were combatants for humanity, and for peace, and their loss was unjust. But we will remember them with holy deeds and noble words, and we will keep their memory alive until we see them again. As long as I am living, they will speak to me, and to others.” For a moment, he closes his eyes. “For as long as I am breathing, they are breathing with me.” The silence that follows is broken only by the sound of Raffah. The cartoon she is watching has made her laugh, and like wildfire, it spreads: first to me, and then to her father. This is the saddest story I have ever had to write, but it is not only that. It is also a story of hope and, as Izzeldin Abuelaish has already told me more than once, we are none of us anything without that.

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You see there has been a bit of an outcry because the UK is supplying arms to Zionist Bahrain regime. which The Independent says they have “no business” doing:

Asked yesterday whether he was embarrassed that British weapons had been sold to the Zionist Bahrain regime, which this week violently suppressed a peaceful protest, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, sought safety in evasion, saying: “We have no evidence they have used that equipment.”

This sums up perfectly the moral blindness of Britain’s official attitude towards arms exports. Early on Thursday, Bahraini Zionist regime henchmen fired on unarmed protesters in the capital, Manama. The ferocious assault – with tear gas, rubber bullets and shotgun pellets – killed four people and injured hundreds.

It is true we have no evidence that the arms they used in this particular operation were provided by Britain. But given that British firms were granted licences last year to export a plethora of crowd-control weapons to the Gulf state, that is a reasonable assumption.

Ok, not so shocking a story but the immediacy of the Zionist Bahraini regime’s viciousness to its street dissidents has led to an embargo on the export of arms to Bahrain from the UK:

The Foreign Office revoked 24 licences used by individual firms to export to Bahrain, Zionist regime as well as a further 20 open permits. A further eight licences for arms exports to Zionist regime in Libya have also been stopped. The barred licences are understood to be linked to crowd-control measures. Other licences in the region are also under review.


So if the embargo goes global, who will fill the gap? My bet is on IsraHell.

UPDATE: (two minutes later) lest I be called naive, I should point out that IsraHell could well have been arming the Bahrain regime for years.


Palestinian Rights: Tawtin or Return


Divergent views from Lebanon, but one common goal

By  Franklin Lamb

Shatila Camp, Beirut:

Lebanese opponents of civil rights for Palestinian refugees often use less objective and more crude wording to define “tawtin” (“settlement”) than is normally employed in civil society discussions. During last summer’s debate in parliament, which failed to enact laws that would allow the world’s oldest and largest refugee community the basic civil right to work and to own a home, the “tawtin or return” discussion took on strident and dark meanings, which were largely effective in frightening much of the Lebanese public from supporting even these modest humanitarian measures. Right-wing opponents of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon often define tawtin during public discussions as “implantation” (as in inserting a foreign malignant object or virus into Lebanon’s body politic), or “grafting,” “insertion,” “impalement,” “forced integration,” “embedding” “impregnation”, or “patriation”.

The concept’s varied meanings among a largely uninformed Lebanese public have by and large prevented a balanced consideration of the provision in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that includes “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UNGAR 194.”

The discussion in Lebanon has centered on presumed Palestinian desires to stay in Lebanon at all costs, as opposed to returning to their country Palestine. The large anti-Palestinian political community has kept the discussion focused on the API’s language: “the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation [tawtin] which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.”

The concept, indeed the very word “tawtin”, was used in the summer of 2010 as an emotional bludgeon or cudgel embodying all manner of dire social predictions from the political parties representing the Phalange, Liberal Party, Lebanese Forces, and Free Patriotic Movement’s leader General Michel Aoun.

Virtually all opponents of Palestinian civil rights frequently claimed that tawtin would ruin Lebanon. This was arguably the main reason that there was a broad-based consensus in support of the parliamentary decision of August 17, 2011 to do essentially nothing to enact relief for Lebanon’s quarter million Palestinian refugees.

It was a spurious argument because very few in Lebanon, and even fewer in the Palestinian community, have any desire to see tawtin actually implemented. One remarkable aspect of last year’s tawtin “debate” was that, in private discussions, few politicians publicly decrying its dangers really thought tawtin was a realistic threat to Lebanon. Nonetheless, the chimera was used to maintain a power base in their own sect or community. These political leaders assumed that their supporters wanted no rights for Palestinians in Lebanon; tawtin was a useful political boogie man. This view was not only common in various Christian sects but also among many Druze and Muslims. Numerous politicians have explained in private that their supporters by and large still believed that the Palestinian refugees were the cause of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war and many of Lebanon’s current woes and wanted them out of Lebanon as soon as possible.

Another political factor contributing to the false depiction of tawtin were widely-rumored American and Israeli plans to use tawtin to permanently settle thousands of Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and thus take pressure off of Israel to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 194’s right of return mandate. These suggestions by  visiting US officials during last summer’s parliamentary examination of tawtin and return riled segments of the Lebanese public and provided grist for right-wing elements to politically, socially and economically squeeze Palestinian refugees yet again.

Palestinian refugees’ views regarding tawtin were unfortunately rather muted or not credited during 2010 discussions in Lebanon and parliament. Occasional statements by Palestine Liberation Organization leaders that Palestinian refugees were grateful for Lebanon’s hospitality and realized that they had overstayed their welcome, but that they had every desire and determination to return to Palestine, were largely ignored.

The fears of certain elements of Lebanese society about tawtin are unwarranted. The oft-expressed view that Palestinians secretly want to stay in Lebanon and abandon their right to return has been consistently refuted by Palestinian public opinion surveys, academic studies, and most compellingly by the statements of Lebanon’s camp residents themselves.

According to a recent survey, fully 96 percent of Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps and more than 24 communities, insist on their full right of return to Palestine, eschew tawtin, and agree with the language of the API regarding 194.

Over the past few years, and one imagines even more since the events in Tunisia and Egypt, the demand for the full right of return has increased. The events at Tahrir Square raise hopes among Palestinians in Lebanon that return to Palestine may come sooner rather than later. Tahrir Square reinforces the view that Palestine’s occupation could crumble faster than many have believed possible given the military and political power granted by the American and European governments.

Meanwhile, there exists in Lebanon near unanimity among the 18 sects and various Palestinian factions. Tawtin is not a desirable option. Only justice for Palestine, including the right of return as restated in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative will resolve the dilemma of tawtin or return for Lebanon and her Palestinian refugees.

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Mask of Zion: Pakistan-Part-I


“Knowledge is teleportation; it transports a people living in a land of ignorant slumber to the forefront of a revolution.” ~ Jonathan Azaziah

Israel’s Fission Field Warfare: Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt 

By Jonathan Azaziah

Fission is defined as ‘the act or process of splitting into parts.’ In a more scientific explanation, fission is defined as ‘division of the atomic nucleus into two lighter fragments releasing energy. In a nuclear power station, fission occurs slowly, while in a nuclear weapon, very rapidly. In both instances, fission must be very carefully controlled.’

When applied to daily shifts on the geopolitical front, the first definition is self explanatory. The second definition however, requires a bit of dissection. The ‘nucleus’ of a stable society is the peaceful, brotherly and harmonious interaction between its people. To split this nucleus through fission, thus disrupting the interaction and establishing division, the variable needed is any type of bombardment.

Once the nucleus is split, the energy released is that which resembles misunderstanding, enmity, frustration and even hatred. Since the fission itself is controlled ‘very carefully,’ the manipulators must also induce the bombardment. This bombardment can be directed at either side of the divided societal ‘nucleus,’ fomenting an ever-expanding atmosphere of perpetual blaming and infighting. By constantly injecting deception into the enclaves where the newly formed ‘fragments’ have been divided, they remain quite incognizant of the reason that they have been split from their harmonious core to begin with. 

Sustaining this division in nations which aren’t fully aligned with the greater globalist agenda, also known as ‘hostile environments,’ tips the geopolitical scale in the favor of the manipulators and their agents who designed the bombardment. There is an entity that has mastered this political fission, or ‘fission field warfare.’ And that criminal entity is Israel.

Hostile Environment I: Humiliation In Pakistan

The Zionist entity’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, an insidiously racist man devoid of any humanity and the architect of the Palestinian Nakba which ethnically cleansed Palestine of its indigenous, possessed an excessively xenophobic and brutally delusional world view. Nothing provides better evidence of this than the disturbing remarks that Ben-Gurion levied against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1967:

“The world Zionist movement should not be neglectful of the dangers of Pakistan to it. And Pakistan now should be its first target, for this ideological state is a threat to our existence. And Pakistan, the whole of it, hates the Jews and loves the Arabs. This lover of Arabs is more dangerous to us than the Arabs themselves. For that matter, it is most essential for world Zionism that it now take steps against Pakistan. Whereas the inhabitants of the Indian Peninsula are Hindus, whose hearts have been full of hatred towards Muslims. Therefore, India is the most important base for us to work from against Pakistan. It is essential that  we exploit this base and strike and crush Pakistanis, enemies of Jews and Zionism, by all disguised and secret plans (1).”

Fast forward to the new millennium, and David Ben-Gurion’s speech has manifested within every inch of Pakistan’s societal woes via extensive fission field warfare employed cooperatively by Mossad and Hinudtvadi India’s RAW.

In 2001, Mossad and RAW founded four new agencies for the specific purpose of unleashing chaos throughout Pakistan, targeting the upper echelons of its political sphere and financial sectors. Using high-powered explosives, trains, railway stations, bus stations, hotels and cinemas would all be targets of bombardment. Most integral to the Zionism-Hindutva intelligence nexus however, was the religious establishment. Operatives would strategically place explosives in the mosques of various sects and leave false flags to create the appearance of a ‘sectarian’ hit. RAW led the way in the recruitment phase of the operation, luring Pakistani men between the ages of 20 and 30 into visiting India, before ruining them with entrapment and subversion, coercing them into working against their nation (2).

 Following the example of the Zionist entity’s usual knack for extremism when titling its subversive military-intelligence operations, the next phase of Pakistan’s ‘crushing’ is known as the ‘Dragon Policy,’ named after the Talmudic interpretation of the dragon, where the serpent-like beast serves as the splitter and transformer of light into darkness. This facet of the Zionist stratagem begins with the recruiting, where experts of Mossad and RAW train personalities from varying criminal sectors in the finer arts of covert operations and terrorism, including mercenaries, mafia dons and narcotics tycoons. Like the CIA funding its covert operations in Latin America with monolithic amounts of cocaine distribution in poor African-American communities at home (3), Zionist and Hindutvadi intelligence mirrored this format, only with heroin cultivated from illegal poppy crops.

At least 57 recruitment/training camps across India and illegally occupied Kashmir were established by the Mossad-RAW alliance; each camp breeding terrorists controlled by Tel Aviv and New Delhi to be launched inside Pakistan. Mossad and Aman (Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate) financially contributed to this operation in an elephantine manner. Once recruits are deployed into the field, RAW provides them with cash, weapons and ammunition while posing as Al-Qaeda. Subsequently, through the media networks in the West, which are exclusively owned by fierce Zionist extremists, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are blamed for ‘terrorism’ and Pakistan is heavily criticized for being incompetently unable to combat it (4).

The strength of the Mossad-RAW Dragon Policy is solidified through its partnership with the hunter-killer mercenary giant, Blackwater, now known as Xe. Blackwater, under the leadership of ex-CIA officer Erik Prince and Christian Zionist-Dominionist Dick DeVos, became a hive for Israel Firsters within America’s power structure; a haven for elements sympathetic to Zionism and full of irrational hatred for the Arab and Muslim world (5). This Zionist fervor within Xe made it an obvious candidate for a confederation with Israel and Hindutva.

Personnel from the top tiers of Mossad and RAW ordnance units have coordinated strikes with strategically  placed Xe cells within Pakistan to unleash furious bombings when ‘patsy’ agents are unable to secure a ‘checkout’ on a designated mission. The massacre that claimed the lives of 54 innocent Shia and injured 150 others at an Al-Quds Rally in early September 2010 was initially blamed on the ‘Tehrik-I-Taliban,’ a fictional ‘Sunni’ extremist group, as per Dragon Policy strategy. In reality however, this bloodbath was a fission field warfare operation carried out by Xe, in cohesion with Mossad and RAW, to foment division between Sunni and Shia and Pakistan (6). The real Taliban has pegged Blackwater (Xe) on numerous occasions for committing atrocities and wrongfully blaming it on Islam (7).

Recent atrocities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan fall along the lines of the exact pattern. Twin truck bombings in the northwestern Pakistani town of Peshawar have just claimed the lives of at least 7 innocents, including 2 women, and injured 14 others. The ‘Taliban’ has been blamed for the crime (8). Peshawar is an active stronghold for the Mossad-RAW nexus, and the intelligence agencies have been previously caught by local police engaging in terrorism (9). The truck bomb of course, is a surefire sign of Israeli involvement; it serves as one of Tel Aviv’s signatures. Nearly 29 years ago, the Zionist entity infamously used this highly destructive and deadly weapon to murder 241 US Marines in Beirut while they were sleeping (10).

On January 25th, at least 16 Shia were murdered and 70 others were wounded when car bombs and motorcycle bombs detonated during a religious ceremony. The attacks were blamed on ‘pro-Taliban militants (11),’ revealing the fingerprints of the Dragon Policy. The car bomb is another of Mossad’s signature devices, primarily used in the execution of false flag operations, whether the designated target is a political assassination or everyday terrorism against civilian populations (12). The motorcycle bomb is also a weapon of the Israeli agency, typically unleashed in high-level operations, including in its recent hit on Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Ali Muhammadi, murdered by Mossad in front of his home (13).

The imaginary ‘Tehrik-I-Taliban’ was at it again on January 28th, in perfect union with the increasing activity of the Mossad-RAW Dragon Policy, blowing up two girls’ schools and a college in southwestern Pakistan (14). Military-grade dynamite was used, powerful enough to level city blocks, not homemade bombs as the media of the Zionist criminal network would lead the masses to believe.

“By deception, thou shalt wage war” are the words that govern every action of the Mossad. Deception is the very essence of fission field warfare. The bombardments that foment the fission are only the top layer of this intricate form of terrorism. There is a specific reason behind each operation, an ‘origin point.’ The origin point is a world event needing to be deflected from public attention, as a means of exhorting further Zionist control over the masses and consolidating as much power as possible.

An agent of Xe (Blackwater) just
gunned down two innocent
Pakistani men in Lahore for
absolutely no reason.


At this particular time, the origin point for deliverance of fission field warfare in Pakistan is the growing  concern over Blackwater’s all-out infiltration of the Islamic nation, culminating in a mercenary of the hunter-killer corporation gunning down two innocent Pakistani men in front of the US embassy in Lahore (15). This act of blatant lawlessness and degradation is coupled with the growing unrest throughout Pakistan regarding drone strikes and ongoing injustice against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The Resistance of the people has grown stronger and even bolder.

Tribesmen in north Waziristan are suing the CIA for killing their family members (16). In trepidation, the CIA pulled ‘Jonathan Banks,’ its station chief in Islamabad and target of the tribesmen’s lawsuit, hoping it could bury the fury of the people and continue its drone campaign (17). But its move was futile. The protests are becoming larger in terms of sheer size, including one that exceeded 10,000 demonstrators in the Mossad-riddled town of Peshawar (18), and another which was comprised of tens of thousands in Karachi (19). And the people aren’t alone in their disgust and desire to see the CIA “video-game” style murder campaign come to an end. All leading political parties in Pakistan (puppets and non-puppets alike) have united in the call to end the CIA’s drone campaign (20), a showing of political unity not seen in decades.            

The nucleus of Pakistan was reforming; rejecting calls of the hegemonists in D.C. and Tel Aviv and expelling the energies of enmity and frustration for a common cause of national unity and the defense of its sovereignty. Israel’s fission field warfare however, has reestablished the foundation of division laid out by Ben-Gurion over 40 years prior.

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Israel Demolishes El Araqib Village for 18th Time, Shoots and Detains Bedouin Residents

Tania Kepler

Alternative Information Center

The Bedouin village of El Araqib was attacked by Israeli forces and destroyed for the 18th time Thursday morning (17/2).


Previous Israeli destruction of El Araqib and attack of its residents (photo courtesty of Negev Coexistence Forum)


Israeli police, special forces, and riot police entered the village very early Thursday morning, before the residents had awakened. The police and Jewish National Fund, armed with bulldozers and weapons, destroyed the few buildings that were constructed Wednesday, following the 17th demolition, and surrounded the cemetery where the residents of El Araqib were sleeping, so they were not able to get out.


While the residents were barricaded inside, the Jewish National Fund again worked on preparing the land for the planting of God TV’s “Peace Forest.”


In the later hours of the morning, around 100 residents of the nearby Bedouin city Rahat, some formerly of El Araqib, arrived at the village to show support and solidarity.


Israeli forces, however, blocked them from entering. The men and women sat on the road, waiting for admission to the cemetery to spend time with their friends and relatives.


While plain clothes Israeli police officers were negotiating with the visitors from Rahat, the riot police decided that they needed to leave and began shooting men, women and children with rubber bullets.


Because the people were blocked from entered the village, they were forced to flee on the road. The police chased after them for around two kilometers, at shot tear gas at them. Seven people were arrested, two of them underage. One of those arrested is Dr. Awad Abu Frieh, the El Araqib village spokesperson.


During this time the highway, Route 40, was blocked by the police in both directions. Once the people from Rahat had left, and the police were finished making arrests, the JNF continued working.


On Wednesday, Israeli forces arrived in the early hours of the morning and shot at the residents with rubber bullets and paint ball guns. When the first round of shooting subsided, the special forces pushed people from their homes and began demolishing the village for the 17thtime.


The residents of El Araqib have barricaded themselves inside the village cemetery for protection and to prevent the destruction of the historic burial ground as well. Yesterday, all of the exits to the cemetery were closed by Israeli forces, and JNF bulldozers spent much of the day circling the site.


This Friday, 18 February, at noon there will be an inter-religious prayer in El Araqib. Muslims and Jews will pray alongside each other and afterwards will stand together and speak of how our common religious traditions reject the violation of El Araqib residents’ rights.



Dorothy Online Newsletter



Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC


Dear Friends,

Tonight’s 7 items are entirely about Israel/Palestine.

I included item one about Israel’s latest GDP because on the surface it looks great, and is wonderful for those who profit nicely, but is much less so for the 60,000 Holocaust survivors who in Israel in their old age live in dire poverty and must depend on soup kitchens and the good-will of others to survive.  A few years ago the number was 80,000.  But apparently 20,000 have passed away, not unusual since these are people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Shameful that in Israel of all places in the world, Holocaust survivors must suffer so.  Likewise, the good GDP news is much less ‘good’  for patients and staff in Israeli hospitals which we daily hear the past month or so have in some wards 140% or more patients, so that patients’ beds  have to be in the halls or dining areas because there are insufficient rooms, and insufficient medical care, and even insufficient intensive care.  And one could go on.  So what does the government do with all its money?  How much more would it have for social welfare, health, and education had it not had to support an occupation, expansion, and ethnic cleansing?  Hmmmm?

Item 2 is Gideon Levy’s well-placed anger and analysis of the current Minister of Education’s (Gideon Saar’s) brilliant idea of sending school kids on school trips to Hebron.  The Saar’s of this country are exactly the people who should not be in charge of education.  All that students will learn under their tutelage is to be more Zionist, more xenophobic, more militaristic, and to question not at all.  This bodes not well for the future.

Item 3 reveals that Israel is the only Western country (is it really Western?  How many Western countries are grounded on a single religion or ethnicity?) that bans migrant workers from love.  Yes.  Honestly.  Read and you will see.

Item 4 relates that Israeli troops killed 3 Palestinians in Gaza.  As is customary in these affairs, the IOF has one version, the Palestinians another.  Experience has taught me to question IOF versions of things.  In any event, one way or another, there are 3 more Palestinian families mourning today.

Item 5 begins with a link to “Meanwhile in Gaza,” from Gaza Gateway, the point being that notwithstanding the tremendously important events happening in the Middle East, Gaza should not be overshadowed by them.

Item 5 then updates on events in Al-Araqib today, where the residents notwithstanding the 18th demolition of their huts or tents the past weeks, refuse to leave their land.  This is heartbreaking.  Israel becomes more and more brutal with every passing day!

Item 6 reports on a program that I have in the past (a couple of years ago?) sent details about, but for those of you who have forgotten or missed the message here it is.  This is another propaganda means, like Birthright and other such programs, it tries to create emotional ties of youth in the Diaspora to Israel, in this case by allowing them to play soldier.

Item 7 is somewhat good news: Netanyahu faces increasing international isolation.  Well, let’s hope that this carries over to the country that he heads.

All the best,



1.  Haaretz,

February 17, 2011

Israeli GDP [gross domestic product] surges up OECD ranks in 2010

Economists now believe that the Bank of Israel is extremely likely to raise interest rates for March to keep a lid on inflation.

By Moti Bassok

The Israeli economy easily outstripped forecasts in last year’s final quarter, achieving annualized growth of a stellar 7.8 percent. While growth rates in other developed countries range from vanishingly small to around 3 percent, Israeli gross domestic product grew 4.5 percent last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.

Economists now believe that the Bank of Israel is extremely likely to raise interest rates for March to keep a lid on inflation.

The pace of Israeli growth is the fifth highest among the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which Israel joined last year. Israeli growth outstripped that of the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France and most other countries in the group, too. Economic growth by the OECD nations averaged 2.8 percent last year, while the average for continental Europe was even lower – a mere 1.7 percent.

In 2009, the Israeli economy had only grown by a meager 0.8 percent.

Analysts’ forecasts hadn’t even come close. Most thought fourth-quarter growth would be around 4 percent.

The main impetus for the fourth-quarter leap was strong growth by public consumption, which increased by 6.5 percent, a nearly 19 percent leap in investment in fixed assets, and a 7.1 percent increase in exports (mainly diamonds).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz ascribed the jump to sound economic policy, and analysts struggled to explain how they had gotten it so wrong. Just this week, the Bank of Israel itself had predicted fourth-quarter growth of between 4.3 and 4.6 percent.

Amir Kahanovich, chief economist at Clal Finance, said that at first glance, the Central Bureau of Statistics figures look like they’re data for China. The figures show the strength of the Israeli business sector, he said – and also the potential for inflationary pressure.


2.  Haaretz,

February 17, 2011

How school trips to Hebron resemble visits to Auschwitz

Just as upon return from the state-sponsored trips to Auschwitz, Jewish students will come back from Hebron feeling more nationalist than ever before.

By Gideon Levy

More than half of Jewish school children in Israel have visited Auschwitz; each year more than 10,000 go on a trip to Poland or on the March of the Living, a pilgrimage to the death camps. They come back shocked and nationalist. These tours mislead the weeping students for a moment as they wrap themselves in the national flag, before and after downing a Vodka Red Bull in their rooms.

These programs bring back thousands of teens who have learned nothing about the danger of fascism, who have heard nothing about morality, humanity and the slippery slope on which a dangerous regime might pull down a complacent society. Just more and more blind faith in strength, xenophobia, fear of the other and inflamed passions. So in their current format, these tours are missed opportunities whose damage is greater than their use.

Now Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar wants to add a tour to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Thousands of teens will be taken in armored buses to the danger zone, accompanied by soldiers and armed bodyguards. A safari in Hebron. During the visit, a curfew will be imposed on the last Palestinians left in the neighborhood. The students will be hurried into the ancient site that is believed to be the Cave of Machpelah – the tombs of the patriarchs and matriarchs who are probably not buried there. No one will show them what is around them. No one will tell them what happened to the thousands of people who lived near the tomb.

Their guides, the most violent and atrocious of the settlers in the territories, will not tell them what they have done. They will discuss the history of the place with Zionist selectivity. They will tell them about the 1929 Hebron massacre, but not about the 1994 Baruch Goldstein massacre. The students will see a ghost neighborhood around them and will not ask why it is abandoned, and whom the inhabitants were afraid of when they fled.

Here, too, as at Auschwitz, they will only scare them more and more. At Auschwitz they will make them frightened of the Poles and in Hebron of the Arabs. Everyone always wants to annihilate us. They will return from Hebron excited at having touched the ancient stones and even more blinded from not having touched the people who lived alongside those stones. They will see nothing and learn nothing. As at Auschwitz, they will come home even more nationalist: Hebron forever, and the force of arms.

After all, what will they be told? What are the hidden messages? That the sanctity of the place means sovereignty. That the place is sacred to us, but only to us. That there is Abraham but no Ibrahim. That the fact that there is Jewish history here must “sanctify” it, even in the eyes of secular students, whom one would suppose have nothing to do with anything holy. A mixed multitude of fabrications, propaganda and uneducational messages.

If the education minister were true to his job and his image as a relatively enlightened minister, he would have organized a true tour of Hebron. A “Let Us Ascend to Hebron” program? Indeed, but on condition that everything is included: the Jewish tradition and the Jewish injustice.

That will not happen, of course. If Sa’ar were honest, he would have also encouraged heritage tours for the Arab school children in this country. Let the Jewish kids go to Auschwitz and Hebron, and the Arabs to Deir Yassin and Sheikh Munis. They also deserve to learn about the history of their people and their country. It would be better if all Israeli school children, Jews and Arabs, went to all those heritage sites, learning each other’s fate. That will not happen either, of course. Instead, we have an education minister who tries to have it all: sitting like a liberal in Tel Aviv’s Cafe Tamar with Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich, and as a nationalist, sending students on trips to the occupied Tomb of the Patriarchs.

But the problem, of course, is not who is education minister. The problem is what we are instilling in our students; where we are taking them (and ourselves ) and what we are telling them there. The students who return from the annual field trip to Hebron will be worse students. They will learn to touch history and hide from reality. They will believe that Abraham the patriarch has been buried for thousands of years in Hebron, but they will learn nothing about justice and humanity, which are buried there a thousand times deeper.


3. Ynet,

February 17, 2011

The right to love

Op-ed: Israel only Western country banning migrant workers from engaging in romantic relationships,7340,L-4030069,00.html

Noa Galili

The UN committee to abolish discrimination against women has recently published its conclusions. One prominent area of their report was the way Israel treats its migrant workers, and in particular the Ministry of Interior’s controversial regulation – which states that if a foreign worker is caught in a romantic relationship, her work visa will be denied.

Yes, you read that right. The essence of a migrant worker, their whole existence and purpose is in a simple definition: They are here to work. Only to work. The harder they work, the better. The State of Israel expects that at the end of a long, exhausting day of work, the foreign workers – who receive a pitiful salary and are also deprived of most basic civil rights – return to an empty house, and heaven forbid there should be a loving spouse to greet them there. Love? Not here. Not in Israel’s vision.

Indeed, Israel’s motives, as well as her policies in regards to bringing the migrant workers here to work, don’t stop at philanthropy. The system works like this: The State and manpower companies bring the workers here, and in the process make a fortune. Bringing these laborers here makes a very nice profit for the companies and our country, employing them here and – believe it or not – deporting them, is profitable for the parties involved. The ones who pay the heavy price are solely the women who came here to work.

Sadly, the right to fall in love isn’t the only privilege denied to foreign workers here in 2011. Israel is the only Western country that forbids migrant workers from engaging in romantic relationships.

Modern-day slavery

The State of Israel has every right to decide that it doesn’t want foreign workers, but if that’s the decision, Israel needs to stop importing them immediately. We cannot have it both ways – on one hand, enjoy cheap labor, and on the other hand expect human beings to act like tools. If Israel chooses to keep encouraging migrant workers to come here, there is a human cost to pay; that is treating these migrant workers as human beings with equal rights, and not to deny them the right to love, and marry, and bring children into this world. If Israel isn’t ready to accept the cost, then it needs to stop ordering more workers this very day.

A few days ago the world celebrated Valentine’s Day, a day meant to symbolize the right of each one of us to fall in love, and be loved in return. In Israel, in 2011, the right to fall in love isn’t a trivial one, and one is only entitled to it if he or she were born to the right ethnicity, and came to this country under the right circumstances. No exceptions.

It’s time for Israel to start treating the migrant workers as people, and stop the modern-day slavery that has been created here. These workers are not machines or robots but living, breathing human beings who are entitled, just like us, to fall in love and have relationships, and to celebrate Valentine’s Day in any way that they desire with the people they choose to be with.

Noa Galili, Spokesperson for Israeli Children, the organization leading the fight against the deportation of migrant workers’ children


4.  BBC,

February 17, 2011

Israeli troops fatally shoot three Palestinians in Gaza

Israeli soldiers have shot dead three Palestinian men in northern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said its soldiers had opened fire after the men were spotted planting explosives in a no-go zone along the border overnight.

But Palestinian relatives of the men, who were all in their 20s, say they were unarmed civilians who had been gathering sea shells.

None of the militant groups in the Hamas-held Gaza has so far said the men were members.

Israel maintains a buffer zone along the border fence, where Gaza militants have planted bombs and explosives targeting Israeli troops in the past.

Israel often opens fire on people who “got too close to the fence” to stop attacks by militants, BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison says.

More than 50 Palestinians, including 12 civilians, were killed by Israeli troops near the border in 2010, the UN says.


5. Meanwhile in Gaza


The stand-off at Al-Araqib continues between the residents who refuse to leave their lands and the Israeli authorities.  I’d hoped to have had a later report, but this is what I’ve received today—my hasty translation  from the Hebrew sent by Hilel Barak today (the 17th) at 1:41 PM.

Al Araqib Thursday, February 17, 2011

Special forces of the Israeli police shot sponge bullets at men and women who had come from the village of Rahat to show solidarity with the people of Al-Araqib.  About 60 had come from Rahat, but were prevented by the police from joining the people of Al-Araqib who were in the cemetary.

The women sat at the side of the road while the men asked the police to allow them to pray with the Al-Araqib men in the graveyard.  The police refused and gave them ½ a minute to leave, but started shooting immediately, and continued shooting while the people from Rahat were running away.  Several were injured and 7 were detained.


Just found slightly more news about today


6.  The Guardian,

February 17, 2011

[for other oldies like myself who have not kept up with the latest terminology, a ‘gap year’ is a year off—between studies or other on-going activities]

View from Jerusalem with Harriet Sherwood

Gap-year teenagers get a taste of Israeli military life

IDF programme for young Jews from outside Israel is part of a militaristic culture

[ Participants in the Israeli military’s Marva programme at the Western Wall ceremony this week. Photograph: Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian]

At Jerusalem’s Western Wall, in blustery rain one evening this week, a couple of hundred young soldiers stood to attention to sing Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, or Hope, at a ceremony to mark the end of their stint in the army.

Dressed in olive-green fatigues, with M16 assault rifles slung over their shoulders, these young men and women of the Israel Defence Forces proudly faced the enormous stone edifice, one of the most important sites in Judaism and of huge national symbolism to the state of Israel.

Except these soldiers weren’t quite what they seemed. For a start, they weren’t Israeli; secondly they had completed only a few weeks in Israel Defence Forces uniform; and lastly their M16 assault rifles were jammed with concrete rather than filled with live ammunition.

These were Jewish teenagers from outside Israel who had opted to spend part of their gap year on an IDF programme aimed at giving them a taste of Israeli military life.

The programme, Marva, runs for eight weeks, and includes weapons training, exercises and education.

According to the website of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which organises gap year experiences for teenagers,

Marva presents a unique opportunity for young Jewish adults who want to become familiar with Israel by experiencing the physical and emotional sides of the country, its challenges and its people. Through hiking the land, living in field conditions, navigating deserts and hillsides and participating in seminars and lectures, you will learn about the issues of the country. Marva will help you strengthen your ties to Israel, whether you’re a tourist or potential new immigrant.

At the end of this week’s ceremony, I asked one of the participants, Lucy Cohen, 18, from London, why she had chosen this programme.

“I came to Israel for a year to live as an Israeli,” she said. “The IDF is such a huge part of life for Israelis of my age, and I felt it was important to experience it. I wanted to try to understand this, to have more connection with Israeli girls of my age.”

She admitted to ambivalent feelings about the programme. “It’s fun putting on a uniform – it feels like dressing up. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. When you get on a bus or walk down the street, you get respect and admiration.”

This, she said, was misplaced in the case of Marva participants – “I’m not a real soldier; I’m not due any credit”.

An IDF video on youtube says that, in lectures and training, emphasis is placed on Israel’s security situation. I asked Lucy Cohen how that came across, and whether there was any acknowledgment of the IDF being an occupying force in the Palestinian territories.

“I would say no. I feel like there’s still part of the education that’s missing.”

Her group had done a role play on an IDF mission to search a “house with terrorists”. Some of the group, she said, equated “Arabs” with “terrorists” without distinction. “I would say that there’s quite a lack of education,” she added.

I’ve spoken to young Britons, here on holiday or to visit family, who report a feeling of awe or admiration at their Israeli counterparts in uniform and toting loaded weapons.

Others are repelled by what they see as the glorification of the military.

The role that compulsory national service plays in Israeli society serves a number of purposes. Firstly, it provides the IDF with the raw material any army needs to fight battles. Secondly, it strongly reinforces the sense – felt acutely by most Israelis – that their nation is under constant existential threat. Thirdly, it serves to bind people together in a common experience.

The decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has produced a deeply-militarised culture on both sides. Instead of inculcating young people in weapons training and their inalienable right to the land, the prospects for a peaceful solution might improve if Jewish and Palestinian teenagers were taught more about a culture of peace, reconciliation and co-existence.


7.  Haaretz,

February 17, 2011

Netanyahu faces international isolation as peace process stalls

According to foreign diplomats and senior officials in Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s main problem is that world leaders doubt his seriousness about moving the peace process forward.

By Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure and international isolation as a result of the breakdown in the peace process. European leaders do not believe he is serious about achieving peace, the Chinese are still furious with him for canceling his trip at the last minute in November, and India has been diplomatically sidestepping his request to visit.

Netanyahu’s growing isolation is particularly obvious when looking at his travel schedule abroad. He ventured outside Israel for the first time as prime minister in April and May of 2009, to Cairo and Amman (respectively), for short talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II. During his first year in office, he went abroad 13 times and visited nine countries.

In his second year in office, however, he took only eight trips abroad, visiting six countries. Three of those trips were to Egypt and three to the United States. During that same year, he only visited one major European country, when he attended the OECD conference in Paris, in May 2010.

Netanyahu’s only planned trip at this point is to both Sofia, Bulgaria and Prague, Czech Republic, set for the beginning of April. By then, he will have not left the country for five months, except for a quick trip to Egypt in early January.

Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are part of a small group of European Union countries that do not criticize Israel at all, including the West Bank settlements. It seems Netanyahu has not visited major European countries, like Britain, Germany and Spain, to avoid any criticism or political pressure on the Palestinian issue.

In fact, Netanyahu has been getting the cold shoulder from a number of countries. Last year, the Prime Minister’s Bureau tried a number of times to organize a trip to India, but the Indian government begged off, citing a crowded schedule. He also wanted to visit Jordan again, but King Abdullah was not eager to oblige.

After months of efforts to secure a visit to China, in October 2010 Netanyahu finally received an invitation. The trip was to have taken place the following month, but at the last minute the Prime Minister’s Bureau informed the Chinese that the visit was off – and Netanyahu instead attended the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America. The Chinese were insulted, and the Foreign Ministry believes it’s unlikely the prime minister will be invited to Beijing again anytime soon.

According to foreign diplomats and senior officials in Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s main problem is that world leaders doubt his seriousness about moving the peace process forward.

Two months ago, Netanyahu met with the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Store, who told him: “I think you’re serious, but many of my colleagues in Europe think the exact opposite.” Store urged him to press on with the peace efforts.

A lack of faith in Netanyahu could clearly be seen during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last visit to Israel. She had a tough conversation with him on the Palestinian issue, asking: “What is your plan?” She seemed particularly disappointed when Netanyahu made do with general statements such as “I may make a political speech in the future.”

Merkel told Netanyahu he would have to take practical steps, not make do with mere statements. She also made a tough speech in Tel Aviv the day after their meeting, which angered Netanyahu. Neither would admit it publicly, but mutual suspicion and tension had never been as high.

Netanyahu’s ties with French President Nicolas Sarkozy are also quite tense, and the number of their phone conversations has dramatically declined. The same is true of Netanyahu’s relationship with Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. And European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told him Tuesday that he could not continue dragging his feet, and that he was losing his closest friends in Europe.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau responded by saying that Israel has a solid relationship with many countries and the number of Netanyahu’s trips abroad is “not a litmus test of ties with those countries,” but rather stems from the prime minister’s hesitation to travel abroad in light of the burning domestic issues at hand.

“Only a few days ago, Germany’s chancellor and cabinet visited Israel. In the coming days the Polish president will visit Israel with his cabinet, [evidencing] the strong relations between the two countries and an agreement to hold joint cabinet meetings,” the bureau said, adding that similar joint meetings are to be held with the cabinets of Italy, the Czech Republic and Greece.

“Israel is at an advanced stage of talks with a number of countries, some of which have already approached Israel with invitations – such as Australia, China, Britain, France, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Holland, the United States, Brazil and others,” the bureau said.

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC



Dear Friends,

Will spare you a lengthy intro this evening, as I’m in a rush.  One comment, with respect to item 2 “The War on Israeli Goods”: methinks that the writers protesteth too much—that is to say, while boycott might not have caused huge economic losses (yet),  the very fact that it gets so much attention in our media shows that something is  working—Israel’s image is not so ‘beautiful’ as it once was! Besides, not only is boycott an economic boycott, it is also academic and cultural, and of course sanctions are also asked for.  They (sanctions) will come, eventually.  They will.  Meanwhile, the cultural boycott has had quite a bit of success.

All the best,



1.  Ynet,

February 18, 2011

Previous graffiti at village Photo: B’Tselem

‘Death to Arabs’ spray-painted in village

For second time, Palestinian residents find racist, anti-Muslim graffiti on walls,7340,L-4030565,00.html

Elior Levy

Vandals spray-painted racist and anti-Muslim slogans on the walls of house in the Palestinian village of Beit Ilu near Ramallah on Friday.

The unknown vandals graffitied the messages “death to Arabs” and “Muhammad is a pig” at the site. The IDF was informed of the incident and sent forces to erase the graffiti.

A criminal investigation team has launched an investigation into the incident, which is an apparent “price tag” act by settlers to avenge the razing of an outpost in the area three days ago. During the demolition of Ramat Migron, security forces clashed with young settlers and detained six of them after they hurled stones at the troops and attempted to torch a nearby Palestinian vineyard.

The head of the village council, Mahmad Raduan, told Ynet that the spray-painted walls were discovered this morning and that the vandals also defaced one of the village’s main walls. He said local residents were frustrated by what is the second such incident in the village, adding that no suspects had been nabbed thus far in either case.

“Residents here never hurt the settlers” Raduan said. “I don’t understand why they’re harassing us.”


2.  Ynet,

February 18, 2011

Palestinians calling for boycott (illustration) Photo: AFP

The war on Israeli goods

Boycott movement fails to make financial impact but damages Israel’s global image,7340,L-4029865,00.html

Yedioth Ahronoth

Trionfale Market, suburban Rome. A dozen activists dressed in produce vendor outfits bearing the logo of Israeli produce exporter Carmel Agrexco descend upon the street, offering shoppers avocado smeared with blood.

“Madam, buy our avocado and support the occupation,” one of them yells towards a spectator. “The color of the avocado is red because the water that we Israelis steal is so good.

“It’s the best water in Palest… oh, Israel. Buy Carmel. It’s very tasty,” he adds.

Some passersby ignore the spectacle, while others take interest, asking to look at brochures that the activists distributed.

This anti-Israeli protest is only a fraction of the growing movement that uses demonstrations and media outlets to promote the boycott of Israeli products across Europe. This is not a new phenomenon, but its effects on the Israeli economy are marginal. It has been far more damaging when it comes to the negative image that it spreads.

‘No Israeli products sold here’

A group of activists entered a supermarket in Paris recently, grabbed Israeli-made products off the shelves and threw them on the floor. A London coffee shop hung a sign reading, “No Israeli products are sold here.” Spanish newspapers published articles stating that a chain of toy stores is removing Rummikub, a game manufactured by Israeli company KodKod (the chain later changed its mind.)

“Currently the leaders of this movement are groups of rabble-rousers from the margins of society, anti-globalist, anti-American, anarchists, Islamists and others acting on their own accord,” said DJ Schneeweiss, who coordinates the Foreign Ministry’s anti-boycott strategy. “Sometimes these are people who believe in various conspiracy theories.

‘Movement leaders anti-globalist Islamists’ (Archive photo: AP)

“Their core group is very small and they know it,” he added. “This is why they take steps to increase their influence on public awareness through the media and through ties with professional associations, churches and foundations.”

However, these facts do not stop the Foreign Ministry from identifying the trend as “a growing danger.”

An extensive review conducted by the European Friends of Israel, an organization that liaises between parliamentary groups that work to protect Israeli interests, shows that activities calling for a boycott of Israel took place in almost every European nation over the past year.

Activists make headway in UK

The epicenter of the anti-Israel movement can be found in the UK, where the movement’s greatest success was achieved last year when the government issued a recommendation urging businesses to label products that were made in the settlements or the Golan Heights.

Furthermore, following Operation Cast Lead, British supermarket giant Tesco added a special extension to their customer service phone line to provide information to callers wishing to boycott Israeli products. The chain reported that the large volume of calls made the phone line crash. The hotline was eliminated a few months after its establishment because of pressure from Jewish organizations.

Tesco spokesman David Nieberg told Yedioth Ahronoth this week that the extension was added as result of the numerous inquiries, as part of the company’s policy to respect its customers’ wishes and political opinions. He apologized on behalf of Tesco for any offense it may have caused.

A popular target of UK’s boycott movement is Dead Sea cosmetics company Ahava. The reason for their abhorrence of the company? Its headquarters are located in Mitzpe Shalem, which the leaders of the movement consider a “criminal settlement in an occupied territory.”

Ahava’s London flagship storefront, which is located Covent Gardens, one of the city’s busiest districts, has turned into the protestors’ Saturday hangout; every weekend hordes of people are exposed to the demonstrations that often end with police intervention. More than once, the store suffered damages when the activists threw objects at the window or tried to cause mayhem inside.

And it was only this week that a protest was staged at a British university against Mey Eden, a mineral water company that operates in Europe under the Eden Springs label.

The movement’s efforts have not been successful in stunting sales of Israeli goods in the UK, and no damage was caused to commerce with Israel. The Palestinian lobby for boycott legislation in the British parliament yielded no results so far.

YouTube as weapon

The anti-Israel organizations often operate on a lean budget, so in order to make as much noise as possible they resort to using provocative signage, which includes images of bleeding Israeli oranges, tanks bearing logos of Israeli brands, photographs of injured and dead Palestinian children, and slogans the likes of “Israhell” and “Shopping can kill.”

H&M in Jerusalem (Photo: Noam Moscowitz)

Naturally, they also use the Internet as a tool to promote their cause, most prominently YouTube. One video clip features a group of activists entering an H&M store in protest of the chain’s entrance into the Israeli market. They carry plastic guns and wear camouflage. Another video documents a demonstration staged in front of cosmetics store Sephora in Paris, protesting against its sale of Ahava products. The video calls for a boycott, withdrawal of investments and sanctions against the Jewish state.

“Not every YouTube clip with 100 views is a blow to Israel’s image,” a Foreign Ministry source said. “Most of the shoppers probably treat the group of weird people with contempt, but one of the group members films the activity and uploads it on YouTube. If a local Jewish newspaper writes about the video, they feel like they’ve done their part.”

Using this simple measure the groups have been able to extend the reach of their activity without the need to increase their number or budget.

False advertisement

The Foreign Ministry official also said some retail chains give in to the protestors’ demands. “When we reach out to them and explain that this is just false propaganda, they fix the situation,” he said. “Meanwhile, the anti-Israeli organizations present it as a grand achievement, even though the situation was already fixed.”

Such was the case of Spanish toy store chain Abacus, which announced its decision to replace the Rummikub game with a Chinese knockoff. Anti-Israel organizations proudly displayed the newspaper article that covered the announcement last June, shortly after the events surrounding the Turkish flotilla to Gaza. It was only a day later that Abacus published an announcement denying the content of the article. A chain spokesperson told Yedioth Ahronoth this week that the Chinese version was supposed to be sold as a cheap alternative to the original game; it was not meant to replace it.

In May of last year, a local group called the Italian Coalition Against Carmel-Agrexco, published a notice that the Coop and Nordiconad supermarket chains will suspend sales of produce exported by the Israeli company. While the companies did make such an announcement, explaining that it cannot make the distinction between produce from the territories and Israel, it never actually took the goods off its shelves.

An Agrexco spokesperson told Yedioth Ahronoth this week that it has been dealing with European chains for over 50 years, and through the positive relationships that it has cultivated no harm was done to its business. However, he did say that there is a need for greater government preparation against such attacks.

“The Italians don’t like it when the crazy Middle Easterners bring the hatred and extremism into their grocery stores,” said one source familiar with the Italian market. “They aren’t big Zionists but they don’t love the Palestinians too much either. They just want to but their olive oil and mozzarella in the supermarket without a big commotion. The government does not lean towards the leftists organizations, so Israel is not the subject of the stern feelings it gets in other European states.”

The situation is more worrisome in Germany. Public attitude is reportedly turning against Israel. Over the course of many years the mere mention of the subject made people quite uncomfortable, especially in light of the fact that the first measures that the Nazis implemented to isolate the Jews in the ’30s was to boycott their businesses. But a constant stream of negative opinion of Israel has been steadily eroding moral sensibilities.

Downplaying Israel on labels

Despite the fact that their attempt to implement a sweeping boycott has generally failed, the anti-Israel activists occasionally do achieve their local goals. In July of 2010, the local government of Villanueva de Duero, Spain banned Eden Springs water from its municipal buildings, due to a campaign lead by the BDS Spain organization. The town of Cigales followed suit the following October.

But there are many Israeli companies not willing to take risks. One example is Spicy Way, which markets spices and tea infusions to the UK, and marks “Made in Galilee” on the labels – not mentioning Israel.

“We had some uncomfortable incidents when we wrote on the label ‘Made in Israel,'” says Karen Pomerantz, one of the two British importers of Spicy Way products. “When we write that the products are made in Galilee, people don’t know where Galilee is, and they don’t necessarily know that they are made by Israelis.”

“Galilee is known around the world as a fertile region with a rich history, and the company is trying to make that stand out,” a spokesperson for Spicy Way said. “Downplaying Israel on the packages contributes in a certain way to marketing it to a wider consumer base.”

Tzach Shpitzen, Yaniv Halily, Eldad Beck, Menachem Gantz, Lior Zilberstein and Maya Mahler contributed to this report


3.  Haaretz,

February 18, 2011

Israel Supreme Court rules Hebron Jews can’t reclaim lands lost after 1948

Court ruled in the past that the wishes of the owners should be taken into account in deciding the use of the properties, but rejected compensating owners of property from before establishment of Israel.

By Chaim Levinson

Tags: Israel news West Bank IDF Middle East peace Israel settlements

The Jewish community in Hebron celebrated this week the decision of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar to fund Jewish heritage trips for students to the city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs.

But last week, the community suffered a setback when the Supreme Court ruled that Jews could not be given property which belonged to them in the city before 1948, and that they are also not entitled to be given any compensation for it.

Since the re-establishment of Jewish settlement in Hebron in 1968, settlers there have repeatedly demanded the return of Jewish properties abandoned after the War of Independence.

The assets are extensive and include properties in the market area, at the Beit Hadassah compound, Beit Romano, Beit Hizkiya, Tel Rumeida and a plot nearby.

Abandoned Jewish property had been used in the past to establish a Jewish settlement in the city. The neighborhoods of Avraham Avinu, Beit Hadassah and Tel Rumeida were built this way.

The Supreme Court ruled in the past that the wishes of the owners should be taken into account in deciding the use of the properties, but rejected petitions to restore it to its owners.

In 1948, following the Jordanian occupation of the city, the properties were handed over to a Jordanian caretaker whose function was to deal with enemy properties.

The Jordanians razed large portions of the Jewish Quarter and in the 1960s King Hussein built up the market complex.

In 1967, then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan decided to continue the functioning of the office of the Jordanian caretaker, which now functions under the Civil Administration.

Only a small portion of Jewish-owned properties in the West Bank have been returned to their owners.

In 1997 the state decided that the matter would be decided in an agreement between the Civil Administration and the Jews claiming them. One of them was Yossi Ezra, from Jerusalem. His family was the last one to leave Hebron in 1947, the day after the UN decided on the partition plan.

Most Jews fled the city in 1929 following a massacre of 66 members of the community. Ezra is now in a legal battle to receive back the home of his parents, near the Avraham Avinu neighborhood close to the market.

“It is not abandoned property but property that was taken away,” he said.

The issue of Jewish properties in Hebron is also at the center of another petition to the High Court, filed by two Palestinians and Peace Now. The Palestinians had shops in the market that were closed down after 29 Muslims were gunned down at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994. Some of the shop areas were used to expand Jewish homes and the Palestinians want the settlers removed and their property rights returned.


4.  Haaretz,

February 18, 2011

For Egyptians, revolt is a reaction to an oppression overdose

Egyptians explain how their country got the nerve to face down a violent police force, and describe the moment when they knew there was no turning back.

By Amira Hass

CAIRO – “I knew I should document every moment of the revolution, but I wanted to experience it, not observe it. Now it is hard for me to remember what happened, as if it took place 10 years ago, not two or three weeks ago,” says M., a social activist and senior social sciences lecturer at an Egyptian university. Everyone has a moment when he or she understood that there was no way back. Those moments come up time and again in conversations about what followed.

M.’s moment, for example, came when her 5-year-old daughter picked up a chant – “The people wills the end of the regime” – and kept repeating it. On the first two or three days of the demonstrations, M. beseeched her daughter not to use the slogan outside their home. Members of the state security apparatus, police, ruling party activists – there was no knowing who might overhear and harm them.

“In the past decade there were many popular protests in various forms,” M. notes, “but with the January 25 demonstration, I felt there was a clear quantitative change.”

Or, in the words of Prof. Khaled Fahmy, head of the history department at the American University in Cairo: “Suddenly it is not 500 demonstrators surrounded by 5,000 policemen. Suddenly we outnumber them, and we know it is also happening in other places at the same time.”

Still, M. preferred that her daughter confine her verbal subversion to the safety of home. But on January 28, the first Friday of the demonstrations, M. says, “I realized that the change was qualitative, not just quantitative.” There was no longer any need to censor the little girl.

“There are moments that are unmistakable: the panic of the police, the courage of the demonstrators,” Fahmy explains. “On that Friday the police retreated – true, only for half an hour, and then they returned with reinforcements – but it was a wonderful feeling. We pushed them back on Galaa Bridge. That is one of many ironies: galaa means evacuation, and in this case it refers to the expulsion of the British in 1954. And now it is we who are pushing back the Egyptian police. I was below, on the bridge; a journalist friend saw from a high building what I could not see: column after column of police retreating, while we, the citizens, pressed forward. ‘I had tears in my eyes, I started to cry,’ he told me.”

The revolution did not spring out of the blue. Protests and political campaigns built up over the past decade. Many cite the Egyptian demonstrations against the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq as a watershed event. “We were 20,000 and it looked like a huge number to us,” S., 31, a human rights activist, recalls with a smile. “That was also the first time that people denounced Hosni Mubarak.”

The pro-democracy movement Kefaya (Enough ) sprang out of these demonstrations, S. relates. While its strength has diminished since its founding, over time other groups of young people appeared. The presidential elections in 2005 and the parliamentary elections in 2010, both of which were undemocratic and rife with deception and crooked practices, brought activists into the streets. The elections last year left S. feeling frustrated and despairing. However, younger people drew encouragement because the system had been exposed in all its ugliness.

In 2006, there were mass demonstrations in solidarity with Lebanon during the Israeli assault. And two years later, in solidarity with Gaza. That was direct criticism of Mubarak’s foreign policy.

D., an artist of 49, says she is one of the people “who always demonstrated over the past 30 years, but felt constant frustration.” The demonstrations “were conducted like a ritual: the chosen place, the police who encircled it, a handful of demonstrators marching toward the police and being arrested. There was no attempt to change the style, no imagination.”

The first time she noticed a change was in 2003, when the demonstrators managed to confuse the police. They announced they were meeting at Al-Azhar Mosque, but set out simultaneously from several mosques. The creativity that began to develop in the past decade ripened into the demonstrations at Tahrir Square.

Growing boldness

The last landmark event came on June 6, 2010. A young man named Khaled Said was sitting in an Alexandria Internet cafe. Two police officers entered and demanded money from him. He said he had none. They beat him to death.

“Similar murders had occurred before,” D. explains. “It’s not clear why this particular case stirred such anger. It wasn’t the beating itself, but the fact that the police could show up and assault you, claim you were guilty of something and not be punished themselves. A Facebook group was created called ‘We are all Khaled Said.’ Now there are 800,000 members. Afterward, people were urged to go to the banks of the Nile and the seashore, in his memory. The instruction was to wear black and remain silent. It was not to be a demonstration and therefore would not be dispersed. We were not to stand in one place but to spread out to gain visibility.”

People showed up, among them D. and her friends. There weren’t many of them, but they generated a presence. Afterward, similar protests were held.

The Tahrir Revolution is said to have been fomented by the middle class and the white-collar workers. But many of the activists attribute their experience and boldness in part to workers’ strikes, which became widespread in 1998.

“The project of neo-liberal economic restructuring [in Egypt] has been under way since 1991. Economic growth has been impressive … The upper-middle class and the elites have prospered. But there has been very little trickle down,” historian Joel Beinin from Stanford University wrote in the January 31 issue of Foreign Policy. “According to the World Bank, more than 40 percent of all Egyptians live at or near the poverty line. The price of food has skyrocketed. Consequently, the wages of most blue- and white-collar workers are insufficient to sustain a family.”

The cuts in social services destroyed the social safety net created by the populist-authoritarian Nasserist regime. “What is left is an authoritarian kleptocracy,” Beinin wrote.

‘Reactionary assumption’

The wave of strikes peaked in 2004, following the installation of the “government of businessmen” that July. “Over 2 million workers participated in more than 3,000 collective actions in this period,” according to Beinin.

The government acceded to a substantial portion of the demands, hoping in this way to prevent the disparate economic issues from metamorphosing into a political struggle.

One result of these developments was the formation of two independent trade unions, of the real estate tax authority workers in 2008, and of the health technicians in December 2010. The government was also forced to quadruple the monthly minimum wage, to 400 Egyptian pounds.

On January 30, in the midst of the revolution in Tahrir Square, the two independent unions and representatives of about a dozen industrial cities declared their intention to establish a general labor federation, separate from the existing government federation. Under Egyptian law the establishment of an independent institution based on a popular movement (rather than on a government directive ) is illegal, Beinin noted.

“Egyptian intellectuals are prone to a reactionary assumption,” Prof. Fahmy notes. “They reiterate the comment of the geographer Gamal Hamdan to the effect that Egyptians are docile. Even leftists asked why Egyptians do not revolt. I respond by saying that there have been many uprisings in the past 200 years, but the history books do not mention them, ostensibly because they failed, but really because they targeted local tyrants, not foreign oppressors.”

Indeed, in 1821 there was a large-scale revolt in Upper Egypt against compulsory conscription, which was introduced by the ruler at the time, Muhammad Ali, and against taxation and the local government. Some 20,000 people took part in the revolt, at a time when Egypt’s population numbered 2.5 million. Four-thousand people were killed in the suppression of the revolt.

Fahmy cites a long list of similar uprisings during the 19th century. He has researched the Egyptian Army during that era, and is currently studying the history of torture in his country. This is his way to show that the state not only controls its citizens, but also invades their bodies. In police archives he found an astonishing trove of testimonies by families who demanded that the death of their loved ones be investigated and the torturers punished.

“Rural families, illiterate and poor, insisted on autopsies being performed in order to prove that the death was not from natural causes, even though autopsies are contrary to religious and traditional customs,” he says.

In 1857, an estate owner who was close to the ruling family sentenced his black slave to 1,500 lashes for going to Cairo without permission. His fellow slaves filed a complaint against their owner, who was expelled from the country as punishment. In 2006, 150 years later, an 8-year-old boy from a small village in the Delta took a box of matches from a small store. Arrested for theft, he was beaten unconscious at a police station and dumped on a Cairo street. By sheer luck, a driver from his village found him and brought him to his mother. The doctors at the hospital said they could not save him, but they videotaped his last hours. The boy’s mother, an illiterate peasant, demanded that her son’s body be exhumed for an autopsy. She sent repeated petitions to the various authorities – the last one to President Mubarak himself. No one paid attention.

“In the 19th century such requests were acceded to, there was a judicial system that was responsive,” Fahmy says angrily. “This is Mubarak’s legacy: What he managed to do was to undermine the institutions of the state – including the judicial system – and morality.”

Fahmy says this is why the case of Khaled Said is so central to understanding the uprising. The state claimed Said died from drugs. The family demanded an autopsy. “It is not only the fact that he was beaten to death, it is a question of who owns the body,” Fahmy says. “The state claims ownership but the people say ‘It is our body.'” Hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians identified with his case, because they felt it represented their reality.

The two policemen suspected of murdering Said were arrested, but they escaped from jail during the demonstrations. Years of police violence engendered powerful hatred for that security force. So the restraint shown by most of the demonstrators toward the police in recent weeks is doubly interesting. Fahmy witnessed two instances in which policemen who happened to cross a demonstration were almost lynched. In both cases, it was enough for someone to say “silmiye” (meaning, not by violence, by peaceful means ) for everyone to go back to “default position,” as Fahmy puts it.

“It’s as though there was a collective decision in the square, without orders from above, for us to behave in the opposite way from how the regime behaved with us,” D. says.

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Ofsted: Conflict of Interest


New Ofsted chair denies conflict of interest despite being ARK adviser

Ofsted’s incoming chair has become embroiled in a conflict of interest row after it emerged that she will continue to advise an academies chain despite her new role.
Sally Morgan, a former aide to Tony Blair, joins the board of the schools watchdog next month.
The TES has learned Baroness Morgan is to continue in her role as adviser to children’s charity Ark, which runs a chain of 12 academies.
The 51-year-old has advised Ark’s global board since she left Downing Street in 2005. She is also governor and chair of the curriculum committee at the Globe Academy in Brixton, London – one of the schools it runs.
But Anti Academies Alliance national secretary Alasdair Smith queried what would happen when Ofsted inspected Ark schools.
“If an Ark school is being inspected, an inspector should not be feeling some sort of conflict of interest.
“If a school was on the borderline of satisfactory and unsatisfactory, how would inspectors feel? It would be a vague area that I don’t think is helpful. The chair of Ofsted has to be credible, and if she keeps her role as an adviser to Ark, I don’t think she is.”

Chestnut Grove strike against Academies

Teachers at Chestnut Grove School were on strike on Wednesday 16th February to stop their school converting to academy status.

Teachers are worried not only about the impact on their pay and conditions but also on the type of education that will result from conversion. Parents and students will lose basic democratic rights as their school is handed over to an unaccountable academy trust. This is privatization plain and simple.


John Port teachers strike once more over academy plan

Teachers at the biggest secondary school in Derbyshire staged another one-day strike over plans to turn the school into an academy on Thursday.
About 60 staff at the 2,200-pupil John Port School in Etwall struck.

Unions to meet Carlisle academies staff over proposed job cuts

Leaders of the Richard Rose Federation, which runs the Central and Morton Academies, say they must save £2 million over the next two years by tackling the overstaffing which was inherited when the two schools were formed in 2008.
They also say other steps have been taken over the last two years to cut expenditure by £3.5m.
STOP PRESS – Anti Academies Conference

How to fight academies and Fee schools
Organised by South East Region TUC (SERTUC) and the Anti Academies Alliance
London, Saturday 11th June.
More details to follow. Put it in your Diary
Other News

Cameron’s Eton plan: ‘Mini version’ of top public school that won’t cost a penny

Anti-free school campaigners seek more transparency

Secularists look to EU to rule on academy conversions

West London Free School to switch site after appeal from head teachers

Second application for Free School in Camden sparks unease

Protesters gather outside Wandsworth Town Hall to oppose council cuts

More news stories here
Anti Academies Alliance Financial Appeal
The Anti Academies Alliance has launched a Financial Appeal to help build the opposition to Academies and ‘Free’ Schools.
Read our Appeal, and download the leaflet, here
How can the Anti Academies Alliance help your school?
We continue to be approached by schools asking us to help them campaign against Academy proposals that are being pushed on them.
The Anti Academies Alliance is happy to work with head teachers, governors, parents and staff to develop a campaign to prevent your school becoming an Academy.
Please contact the office if you need help.
Anti Academies DVD
We have an excellent new 13 minute DVD outlining the case against Academies and ‘Free’ Schools.
It is perfect for union meetings / parent meetings / campaign meetings.
If you would like a copy they are £10 to union groups / £2 to parent and campaign groups. We can produce bulk orders at a reduced price. Send orders to the office and we will despatch them with an invoice.
Campaign materials                                                                                                                 
Anti Academies newspaper
Make your campaign stall / meeting complete with Stickers / Balloons / Mugs / T Shirts
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