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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

A total of 22,867 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods.

Since the end of the War of Independence, 2,443 people have been killed in Israel in ‘terror’ attacks – 13 in the past year.

 

In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2010, 183 members of the security forces – police, IDF, Border Police, Israel Security Agency and other organizations – have been killed in the service of the state.

 

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2011/Israel_63_years_independence-May_2011.htm

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Dear Friends,

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs anually on the eve of Memorial Day for Israelis killed in wars publishes the statistics of its fallen.  The above are the stats for 2010.  What they do not tell you is that quite a few of the ‘fallen’ servicemen/women did not die in the service of their country, but rather died by their own hand.  This is the subject of the initial item below.  There have been years, in fact, in which suicide was the number one killer in the military.

 

The 3 following items all deal with the Nakba law, enacted on March 22, 2011.  It is an unjust law that in its modified form aims at institutions rather than at individuals, docking funds for any school, club, hospital, etc that commemorates the Nakba, thus supposedly implying negative views of  Israel’s independence.  If you can imagine how Jews would feel should some country decide to outlaw commemoration of the Holocaust, then you can imagine how Palestinians feel by not being allowed to commemorate dispossession of their land.

 

Item 2 is by a Jewish Israeli commentator, Merav Michaeli, who complains that this year by contrast to previous ones, on Independence day (which immediately follows Memorial Day) due to the new law, she will be thinking more of the Nakba (the Palestinian Catastrophe) then of Independence

 

Item 3 is by a Palestinian citizen of Israel who argues that “If Israel is to embrace its Palestinian-Israeli citizens, recognizing the minority’s narrative is a vital starting point for full civil participation and greater feelings of belonging.”  Indeed, this would seem to be so true that one wonders if by enacting the Nakba law Israel’s leaders are shouting that they don’t want to recognize the minority in any way.  They want rather to rid themselves of it.

 

Item 4, Independence Day and the Nakba law, is again from the Palestinian standpoint, and argues that the law is intended as intimidation, which can hardly be denied.

 

The report of the 5th item is disgusting!  Rahat is an Israeli Bedouin town that Israel constructed so as to have an excuse to force Bedouin citizens of Israel into when it stole their lands.  Palestinian Bedouins are traditionally farmers and husbandmen.  Cities do not allow the Bedouin to live their traditional lives or practice their traditional roles.  Moreover, in building Rahat, Israel did not provide other employment for its inhabitants.  And now, after what Israel continues to do to the Bedouins—demolishing existing communities, it rubs salt into the Bedouin wounds by bringing tanks and other military equipment into Rahat for a ‘show’ on Independence day.  What kind of a country is this Israel anyhow?

 

The final items has an entirely different subject.  I almost left it out, because it does not fit in with the rest.  But I think it will interest you.  The issue is whether or not the United States Supreme Court will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The details are in the article.

 

All the best,

Dorothy

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1.  By Max Blumenthal  May 9, 2011

 

Despite declaring an “all-out war” on suicide, the Israeli army saw the epidemic rise in 2010

 

http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/05/on-israeli-memorial-day-suicide-fratricide-and-accidents-remain-top-causes-of-soldier-deaths/

On Israel’s Memorial Day observances for “fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks,” the Defense Ministry’s commemoration unit claimed that 183 Israelis “were killed in the line of duty or in terror attacks since last year’s Remembrance Day,” according to YNet. The number appears to represent a wild exaggeration that is inconsistent with past statistics documenting the number of Israeli soldiers killed annually in combat operations versus those who died by suicide or in accidents. In recent years, suicide has been either the leading cause or among the leading causes of deaths in the Israeli army.

 

While I was having lunch in Tel Aviv last summer with my friend Ruth Hiller, a founder of the Israeli anti-militarization group New Profile, she told me that around 50 percent of Israelis buried in military cemeteries had died through suicide, accidents or fratricide. I asked my roommate at the time, Yossi David, a left-wing Israeli blogger who had served in occupied Hebron, if Hiller’s figures were accurate. “All I know is that there were two suicides a month in my unit during training,” David said. “It happened all the time.”

 

In 1989, the Israeli army’s personnel department put the rate of suicides at 35 a year. By 2003, during the height of the Second Intifada, 43 Israeli soldiers died by suicide, making it the leading cause of death in the army. By 2010, suicide was on the rise again. During the first seven months of the year, 19 soldiers had killed themselves, a ten percent spike from the previous year. That number exceeded the number of deaths that occurred that year in combat operations.

 

In 2008, an Israeli border policeman committed suicide in front of French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy. A young soldier shot himself last year after learning that his friend had committed suicide moments before. The phenomenon continues to plague the Israeli army despite Brigadier General Avi Zamir’s pledge in 2005 to “wage an all-out war on suicide by soldiers.”

 

The suicide rate has been particularly high among Ethiopian members of the Israeli army. By 1997, six years after an airlift brought the second wave of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, Ethiopian soldiers accounted for 10 percent of army suicides — but comprised only four tenths of a percent of the army. Racism was a key factor in the epidemic. One soldier’s suicide note read: “Every morning when I get to the base, six soldiers are waiting for me who clap their hands and yell, `The kushi [black] is here.’”

 

During Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s last major combat operation, the army suffered its largest loss of life in an accidental incident of fratricide, when a tank shell killed three members of the Golani Brigade. This year, several Israeli troops died at the Gaza border when their comrades accidentally rained mortars down on their position.

 

40 Israeli prison guard cadets died weeks before in the Carmel Wildfire when their bus was trapped in the flames. The cadets presumably comprised the majority of the 70 “soldiers and civilians” whom the Israeli Army spokesman claimed (via Twitter) were “killed in operational duty and terror attacks since last Memorial Day.”

 

Tagged with: ethiopians • idf • israel • israeli army • israeli soldiers • memorial day • militarism • militarization • palestine • Racism • suicide

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2.  Haaretz Monday, May 09, 2011 

What kind of independence is this?

The Nakba Law is a sad reflection of the non-independence of the State of Israel. It is not merely that, after 63 years, Israel is unable to recognize that no matter how necessary and justified its establishment was, it was accompanied by wrongs and pain inflicted on others.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/what-kind-of-independence-is-this-1.360641

 

By Merav Michaeli

 

Thanks to the Nakba Law, this will be my first Independence Day during which I think more about the Nakba than about Independence Day. The Nakba Law, which bars public funding for groups that mark the Nakba – which is Arabic for “catastrophe” and is the name Israeli Palestinians use for the events of 1948 – is yet another act by successive Israeli governments that constitutes a blow to Israel’s Arab citizens, harms them and pushes them into the corner. But the thing is that these acts also harm the state itself. They push the Jews into a corner and damage the Jewish society that exists within the sick and twisted reality created by these actions.

 

Israel’s Jewish society is falling apart because Israeli governments do not allow it to give up the role of frightened victim under constant threat, or to stop fighting the rest of the world. In the same way, the Nakba Law means that instead of fostering a potentially empathetic discourse between the majority and the minority, the Nakba becomes just another time for hatred and quarrels.

 

“A mature, wise and righteous nation should be able to understand that there are other people here, who cannot take part in celebrating an independence that pours salt on the open wound in their hearts,” Avirama Golan wrote in Haaretz last month. But how will the Jewish nation in Zion understand the open wound in the hearts of the Arab citizens who live here if it has never had a proper chance to be exposed to the story of their catastrophe, certainly not as a legitimate narrative? The vast majority of citizens do not grasp the significance of the Nakba because they have not had the opportunity to hear firsthand about the pain, trauma and loss that the Israeli Palestinians experienced in 1948. Until now, Israeli governments have disregarded, hidden or denied this pain; from now on, acknowledging it is also prohibited by law.

 

The Nakba Law is a sad reflection of the non-independence of the State of Israel. It is not merely that, after 63 years, Israel is unable to recognize that no matter how necessary and justified its establishment was, it was accompanied by wrongs and pain inflicted on others. The country is insecure about itself and its continued existence; both its leaders and its opposition figures tirelessly warn that the state will cease to exist, each in accordance with his or her own ideology and fears. Sixty-three years after its establishment, the State of Israel and its Jewish society lack confidence, require external approval and recognition, and feel threatened by the entire world – and even by the minority that lives within. Is that independence? Is that what the “free people in our land,” as per the national anthem, looks like?

 

Thus the citizens of Israel arrive at this Independence Day in a kind of schizophrenic state, which is expressed every time they answer the question “How are you?” with the answer “Personally, excellent.” Personally cannot be less than excellent because collectively we are victims all the time, either because someone is threatening us or because someone is blaming us. Collectively, everything is onerous and difficult and exhausting, so personally everything is simply wonderful. That’s why every year the public opinion polls discover anew that Israelis are supremely happy with their lives even though they don’t trust the government and can’t make it through the month without an overdraft. Thus it is that on the 63rd anniversary of the state’s founding, the citizens of Israel have more and more foreign passports and more and more thoughts about living elsewhere.

 

I hope that one day we get to celebrate an Independence Day when we will be genuinely independent – when we want to make peace, when we realize that there are partners with whom to do it, when we understand that the Arab citizens here want to be reconciled with us and that they declare this in the Israeli Arab Future Vision document, and when we stop fearing that soon we will no longer be here. Happy Independence Day.

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3.  [Forwarded by Ruth H.]

 

Jerusalem Post May 8, 2011 0:12 IST   

 

Independence Day and the ‘Nakba Law’  [the law was enacted March 22, 2011.  While it has not yet had an actual case, now that In

 

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=219803

 

By ISSA E. BOURSHEH

 

If Israel is to embrace its Palestinian-Israeli citizens, recognizing the minority’s narrative is a vital starting point for full civil participation and greater feelings of belonging. 

  

‘We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”

 

This is what the founders of the State of Israel guaranteed to the family of nations and its own people. Full and equal citizenship; and this is what I, as a Palestinian-Israeli, am anticipating, with fairly low expectations.

 

Mabrouk [congratulations], Israel, you’ve made it. You’ve become a prosperous and flourishing state; now let us take one step further toward recognizing the minority’s narrative and not claim sole ownership over the “truth.”

 

Just as the four characters of Rashomon recount events from their points of view, this is how we see the events of 1948, without sympathy or the other’s catastrophe. A lot has happened since, and neither we nor the reality remain the same. In order to move ahead to real, full citizenship for all, we must confront our history with open ears and eyes, willing to listen to another narrative that might not fit well with our own.

 

MY PARLIAMENT recently passed the “Nakba Law,” prohibiting state funds from being used to commemorate the Nakba. How does that fit into full citizenship? If Israel is to embrace its Palestinian-Israeli citizens, telling the Nakba story is a vital starting point for full civil participation and greater feelings of belonging.

 

While Jewish Israelis are honoring their heroes, Palestinian-Israelis have the right to honor theirs. I want to be able to remember my grandfather’s saying, “I would rather die as a dog in my own land rather than live as a king in exile”; I want to be able to examine the relationship between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine, and I want to be able to criticize the Zionist and Palestinian leadership equally. I want to be able to visit demolished villages and have an open, honest dialogue about our past, and future. I want to be able to discuss not only the Jewish immigration to Israel, but also the exodus of my people. I want you to know about my history as much as I know about yours. I want you to know who Emile Habibi and Tawfik Toubi are, just like I know who David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett are.

 

If we are to share a brighter future, we must learn about the aliyas to the Holy Land, but also about the exodus of Palestinians.

 

In a perfect world, we all might be able to celebrate Independence Day and Nakba Day jointly. Realistically, I would compromise on an Independence Day on the fifth of Iyar and a Nakba Day on 15th of May; live and let live.

 

The Israeli and Palestinian narrative may never agree, but I trust that in the long term, with proper steps taken now, we will be able to reach a point of understanding. We might never celebrate Independence/Nakba together, but we may be able to have sympathy toward a hope that is not lost – to be free people in our land.

 

The writer is a graduate student at Tel Aviv University. 

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

4.  Palestine Monitor|2 May 2011

 

Bracing for Nakba Day in Israel and Palestine

 

http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/bracing-for-nakba-day-in%C2%A0israel-and-palestine/

 

As the Israeli military has announced it will increase troop deployment in the Occupied West Bank for the approaching Nakba Day, Palestinian schools and communities prepare for their first ‘illegalized’ commemoration of the day that marks the evacuation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from their homes to make way for the creation of Israel.

 

On 22 March, the Israeli Knesset approved the “Nakba Law,” which criminalizes stated-funded organizations, bodies and schools from observing 15 May as the Palestinian catastrophe, instead of Israeli Independence day.

 

Palestinian schools inside the Green Line have already experienced signs that portend increased censorship. According to an Alternative Information Center report, officials from Israeli Ministry of Education visited Palestinians schools on Land Day, 30 March, requesting that school officials send the Ministry a list of teachers and students that were absent that day.

 

This act of intimidation was received as a reminder to schools that the Ministry of Education is in fact watching their political activities.

 

The Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education, an Israeli organization founded in 1984 to advocate for and protect Arab education in Israel, have vocalized their opposition to the law and dedication to Palestinians’ right to observe national days that form cultural and collective memory.

 

In the past, Palestinian schools have worked with their mayors and local councils to develop lesson plans, activities and video screenings to memorialize the Nakba. Since the passing of the “Nakba Law,” FUCAE is working with legal organizations, Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, to understand how Palestinian schools will be able to recognize their historical narrative without incurring heavy fines.

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5.  Monday, May 09, 2011   

 

 Islamic Movement protest in Rahat Photo: Amir Cohen

 

    Rahat objects to IDF Independence Day exhibit

 

Source says Bedouin city’s mayor, who represents Islamic Movement, ‘would rather have Nakba Day’

 

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4066563,00.html

 

Ilana Curiel

 

The head of Rahat’s business licensing department tried to prevent the IDF from establishing an exhibition of its tanks and weaponry at the entrance to the Bedouin town on Monday, apparently on orders from the mayor, who is a representative of the Islamic Movement.

 

Traditionally, every Independence Day, sees the army choose various locations throughout the country to showcase its weapons for the benefit of Israel’s citizens. A lot at the entrance to Rahat was approved by police as well as the local authority for the exhibit. 

 

But on Monday morning Sami Abu-Sahiban, whose department is preparing to construct its headquarters on the lot, was found yelling at IDF representatives to go home. 

 

“You don’t respect the authority under which you are acting. You don’t have the proper permits. Let’s see you do this type of thing in Tel Aviv,” he said, unmoved by the permits shown to him by the officials present. 

 

Some of the soldiers who were present at the scene are Bedouin, and many of them confessed to feeling uncomfortable. A few explained that Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban, who represents the Islamic Movement in the city, was behind the outburst. 

 

“The municipality would prefer to have Nakba Day here rather than Independence Day. They want to show the residents that they are ostensibly objecting to the exhibit,” said a source from the defense Ministry who resides in Rahat. “They have to behave this way.”

The mayor did not deny the allegations, explaining that in prior years the exhibition was held outside the city’s territory but that this year the army wanted it to be inside. “This makes the residents uncomfortable,” he said.

 

“When the army does navigation training in the area they don’t update us either. This is no way to behave. They bring tanks here, what for? We can see tanks on TV. Let them bring Iron Dome.”

 

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6.  [Forwarded by Sam Bahour]

 

Wall Street Journal

 

The Supreme Court and the Jerusalem Debate 

 

The court may rule on whether the U.S. should recognize the city as Israel’s capital. 

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703859304576307371730275828.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

 

By SETH LIPSKY 

 

 

Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin used to warn against deciding the political status of Jerusalem in the U.S. Congress. But what about at the Supreme Court? It’s a pressing question because America’s highest court might soon rule on whether, under American law, Jerusalem is or is not part of Israel. 

 

The court has just agreed to hear a case in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being sued by a 9-year-old American citizen named Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky. M.B.Z., as the court refers to the youth, was born in Jerusalem and wants the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to issue him a certificate of birth abroad stating that he was born in Israel. 

 

What makes the case so explosive is not only that it involves the question of Jerusalem, but that it also pits the executive branch against the Congress. In agreeing to hear the case, the court specifically ordered the lawyers to focus on whether the law “impermissibly infringes the President’s power to recognize foreign sovereigns.” The case also involves presidential signing statements. Can a president, in signing a piece of legislation, announce that he doesn’t agree with part of it and doesn’t intend to enforce the law? 

 

Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers argue that this case raises a political question of the kind that the Supreme Court has steered away from in the past. But it’s not a dispute between, say, Democrats and Republicans. It involves a law passed in 2002, when the Senate was controlled by the Democrats and the House by the Republicans. 

 

The relevant law is the part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2002 that deals with “United States policy with respect to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” The Supreme Court will adjudicate the provision stating that, for “purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary [of State] shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.” 

 

The bill passed the Senate, of which Mrs. Clinton was then a member, by unanimous consent. In other words, she’s now refusing to carry out a law she helped pass. But when President George W. Bush signed the law, he issued a signing statement suggesting that he didn’t intend to enforce that part of the law. The measure, he said, “impermissibly interferes with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct the Nation’s foreign affairs and to supervise the unitary executive branch.” 

 

Mr. Bush also complained that “the purported direction” would, “if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the President’s constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the Nation in international affairs, and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states.” 

 

Mr. Bush was challenged by the infant Mr. Zivotofsky—via his parents—not long after he was born. In the fight over whether the Supreme Court would take the case, Mrs. Clinton echoed Mr. Bush’s concerns, citing her department’s view that “any unilateral action by the United States that would signal, symbolically or concretely, that it recognizes that Jerusalem is a city that is located within the sovereign territory of Israel would critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.” 

 

So far, lower courts have agreed with Mrs. Clinton that this matter is a “political question” and not justiciable. But the young Mr. Zivotofsky’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin, was able to convince the Supreme Court to hear the case by arguing, in part, that this matter is no longer a “political question” precisely because Congress has already acted. 

 

Given all the other foreign affairs and political disputes in which Congress does act—from foreign aid to the United Nations to the Senate’s ratification of treaties—it’s illogical to suggest that the terms for issuing certificates of birth abroad are beyond the reach of the elected legislature. 

 

Mr. Lipsky, editor of the New York Sun, is the author of “The Citizen’s Constitution: An Annotated Guide” (Basic Books, 2009). 

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