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Dear Friends,


I hadn’t intended to introduce any of the articles below.  However, the first 3 really call for comment, if only brief.


Item 1 by Amira Hass reminds us that Israel rules the Palestinian roost, but allows the rest of the world to pay for it.  At one point, some time back, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) threatened to throw all the West Bank back into the lap of Israel, that is, to insist that Israel as occupier pay for its occupation,  just as it did before Oslo.  In other words, Israel would be responsible for Palestinian education, health, welfare, etc.  Abbas should carry out his threat.  Then occupation would cost Israel a pretty penny.  The way things now stand, Israel occupies but pays not a cent for it.


Item 2 gives me hope.  If Bradley Burston, who is hardly a leftie, can realize that all chance for 2 states is gone, and speak of one state as a solution, there is then some teensy spark of light at the end of this long long tunnel.  When a Burston speaks of this, he very likely represents a segment of opinion, which if not yet very vocal, is likely to become so.


Item 3 says that the Pentagon plans to ask Congress to approve more money for more Iron Domes.  Well,  American citizens should start shouting and tell Congress that they need the money at home, and not to spend a penny more on iron domes or other paraphernalia that Israel wants for its wars.  Imagine, were there peace Israel would need nary a gun much less an iron dome!  Tell Israel to make peace or to shut up.


The next 2 items are about criticism of Israel.  And then comes Today in Palestine for the 27th—a particularly disturbing one.  Imagine 7 teenagers are not only torn from the bosoms of their families, but are chucked out of their community, meaning also school and friends and the rest.  How would you take it if the army came in in the middle of the night and kidnapped your 14 or 15 or 16 or 17 year old son or daughter?  How do the kids feel?  And is this supposed to make them love Israel?  Or is this to create the future anti-Israel generation?  Also in ‘Today’ are updates on Hana Shalabee, going into her 40th day of hunger strike, along with others who have begun their own hunger strikes.  Not very pleasant reading this “Today,” but full of information, most of which you are unlikely to find in your own local newspapers or Israeli ones.


I had intended to leave item 7 out, but at the last moment decided that you should know that Israel’s leaders are still thinking of attacking Iran.  If this disturbs a German official, just imagine how I feel!



All the best,



1 Haaretz

March 26, 2012


Ignoring Israel’s complete domination

Israel’s position in its periodic report to the donor-coordination group for the Palestinian Authority reminds one of the boy who kills his parents and then demands an orphan’s pension.


By Amira Hass

Tags: Palestinians

Israel’s position in its periodic report to the donor-coordination group for the Palestinian Authority reminds one of the boy who kills his parents and then demands an orphan’s pension. Israel describes the failings of the Palestinian economy as if the colonialist occupation is not their primary cause.


The authors of the report express the view that the dependence of the Palestinian Authority on foreign aid will not diminish in the coming years. In doing so, they are showing disrespect for the intelligence of the donor countries’ representatives, who met last week in Brussels. Who better than these delegates knows the great service the family of nations is doing to Israel by providing massive, ongoing aid to the Palestinians? Taxpayers around the world are the ones who are relieving Israel of its obligations as an occupying power and repairing the damage it is causing. It turns out it’s easier for the family of nations to fund the occupation than to force Israel to put an end to it. The guys in our finance and defense ministries – upon whose data the report is based – state, in fact, that the donor countries should get their checkbooks ready, because our policy this year won’t be different.


With smug arrogance, the report’s authors ignore Israel’s complete domination over the resources essential to economic progress and expansion: land, water, time, a Palestinian population registry, currency, territorial expanse, air space, radio-frequency spectrums, territorial contiguity, banking services and television broadcasts, freedom of movement, border crossings, foreign nationals who are allowed entry and the duration of their stay, highways, and personal and communal security.


With all the precision of a shopkeeper, the drafters of the report recount all of the measures that Israel, in its great magnanimity, has taken “to support economic growth in the West Bank.” But beyond all the means of support detailed in the report, there are the unmentioned hours wasted by Palestinian, American and European bureaucrats seeking to convince their Israeli counterparts to put them into practice.


The number of tourists coming to the West Bank city of Bethlehem last year, for example, was 1,174,280 (compared to 1,092,811 – note the precision! – in 2010 ), according to the report. Then there was the extension of the hours of operation at checkpoints; the agreement over the Palestinian police presence in Area B (which is under Israeli military control and Palestinian civil responsibility ); construction of a visitors’ lounge for meetings between Palestinian and Israeli business people at one of the checkpoints; the drilling of four wells in a nature reserve’s eastern aquifer; 17 (again, note the precision! ) preparatory meetings (regarding water infrastructure ) with representatives of the U.S. State Department and USAID; one meeting with a Dutch representative over Israeli-Palestinian cooperation; 434,382 cars, owned by Palestinian citizens of Israel, that were allowed passage via the West Bank town of Jenin; consideration of a Palestinian request for a customs exemption for cars owned by foreign investors and the disabled; and approval of 2,777 requests for changes of address on ID cards from Gaza to the West Bank (of 3,857 people who sought approval ).


With a whiff of the theories of economist Milton Friedman, the report sneers at the size of the Palestinian public sector. But if there is anything that assures Palestinian social stability – and in turn quiet and prosperity for Israel – it is the regular (if unreasonably low ) salaries paid to that public sector. Since the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO were drafted in the 1990s, payment of wages has been a major means by which support of and dependence on the PA leadership has been buttressed. The adaptability of the Palestinian leadership to Israel’s policy of carving out Palestinian territorial enclaves was based in part on that very internal instability.


And what about the bloated Palestinian security forces, which are an inseparable part of the public sector? They are subcontractors for the Israeli Shin Bet security service and the Israeli army, who have tasked them with participating in controlling, suppressing and containing the various manifestations of Palestinian resistance. It’s as if the big Israeli boss is not only benefiting from the workers supplied by the subcontractor, but is also complaining that there are too many of them.


2  Haaretz

March 27, 2012


One state – one vote: Rethinking an Israeli Spring

There is no denying that settlement construction, Palestinian disunity, and other factors are fast rendering the two-state concept impracticable.


By Bradley Burston


A beleaguered Democratic president, beset by an unpopular war overseas and raging polarization at home, clamps heavy pressure on Israel to make a dramatic gesture over the future of the West Bank.


Israel’s cabinet convenes to discuss the White House initiative. A minister-without-portfolio, less than three months in his first cabinet post, asks for the floor. He has a proposal regarding the Palestinians of the West Bank: Offer them citizenship and the right to vote.


Under the plan, “If an Arab from Shehem (Nablus) wants to become a citizen of the state of Israel, he’s entitled,” the minister says.


“We want a Jewish state with a large Arab minority. So what do we need to do? First of all, we’re capable of keeping a Jewish majority.


“Of course, if that majority were to break down, our situation would be a bitter one. We are not South Africa, nor Rhodesia,” he declared. “The Jewish minority will not rule over Arabs.


The date is August 20, 1967. The minister is Menachem Begin.


The minutes of the cabinet meeting are classified Top Secret and kept under wraps for 44 years.


There is something fitting about the timing of the release of the transcripts, declassified in recent weeks at the request of former senior Begin aide Prof. Aryeh Naor for a book he is completing about the late prime minister.


At this, the anniversary of the Arab Spring, there has been something of a Jewish Spring in rethinking the future of Israel and its relationship to the Palestinians, the Mideast, and the Jewish people.


Peter Beinart’s very public and also very personal act of biur hametz, his call in The New York Times for a targeted boycott against settlements, has spurred many Jews to re-examine and re-define their own positions with respect to Israel and the territories.


The AIPAC conference’s laser focus on the Iran issue has, paradoxically or not, encouraged a widening debate over the necessity and the wisdom of calls for pre-emptive strikes on Tehran’s nuclear sites.


And in an essay which is as revolutionary as it is calmly argued, Noam Sheizaf, editor of the online +972 Magazine, manages the impossible: explaining Israelis to Israelis.


Sheizaf’s thesis: The status quo of an occupying Israel – inherently immoral as even some rightists now acknowledge – “represents the most desirable political option for Israelis.” Regardless of developments on the Palestinian side, for Israelis, “keeping things as they are will remain preferable to the alternatives of either pulling out of the West Bank or to annexing it.”


Sheizaf stirred wide debate in 2010 with an article in Haaretz that quoted a string of prominent Israeli hard-liners advocating versions of what Menachem Begin appeared to be suggesting in 1967. One of them, columnist Emily Amrousi, who lives in a settlement and promotes dialogue between settlers and Palestinians, told Sheizaf that the status quo must change “because it’s really not moral. It’s impossible to go on like this, with a situation in which my Palestinian neighbors have to cross three checkpoints to get from one village to another – we can’t go on accepting this.”


Admittedly, across the political spectrum, the citizenship concept is much easier to dismiss than to seriously consider, as are other alternatives, such as a Palestinian-Israeli confederation, possibly including Jordan as well.


There is no denying, however, that settlement construction, Palestinian disunity, and other factors are fast rendering the two-state concept impracticable. I say this with profound regret, as someone who still believes that two independent states would provide Israelis and Palestinians with their best chance for a future of freedom, justice, security and well-being.


A new reality is already in place, however. There are children being born who constitute the third generation of West Bank settlements.


When Begin addressed the cabinet in 1967, he outlined the concept of a “bi-ethnic” state, allowing both Jews and Arabs to develop as culturally distinctive peoples, and ruled by the majority, rather than a bi-national state with power shared equally, regardless of the numerical majority or minority.


In contrast with a bi-national state, “We have never ruled out a bi-ethnic state, and the difference is crucial,” Begin said. “Zionism, as I have known it, has never viewed the state as mono-ethnic.”


Even as I look into Begin’s proposal, which raises more questions, and suspicions, than it answers, I can feel another, deeper response welling up. Fear. The same fear that keeps Israelis, this one included, from fully committing to a substantive change in an intolerable reality.


“If every path seems to reach an impasse,” Sheizaf quoted former Netanyahu chief of staff Uri Elitzur, a fierce, even radical rightist and also an early advocate of citizenship for Palestinians, as writing, “usually the right path is one that was never even considered, the one that is universally acknowledged to be unacceptable, taboo.”


The rule of fear is the underpinning, the psychic secret police, of the dictatorship of the status quo. To use Begin’s word, we are all n’tinim, subjects, of the rule of fear.


In another week, it will be Pesach. The enemy of fear. Time to cast out the chametz, which is everything we put up and hoard and refuse to part with and acquire and consume too much of, as our insulation against everything that scares us. Ideas included.


Time to burn it. Time to burn what we are so comfortable believing, knowing to be true.


It’s Spring. Time to start again. Time to think again, to leave behind what we know. Time to hit the road. Even if we can see that the route leads between gigantic, threatening walls, with nothing visible holding them from falling in on us, drowning us, annihilating us. Nothing, that is, but faith and a willingness to try something we hadn’t, until now, considered.


3  Haaretz

March 27, 2012


Pentagon to seek additional Iron Dome funding, U.S. official says

Statement by Department of Defense spokesperson comes after U.S. officials initiate Iron Dome Support Act meant to allow purchase of additional anti-missile systems.


By Natasha Mozgovaya


The Pentagon will approach Congress to enlarge the amount aid the United States awards Israel toward the production of the Iron Dome anti-missile systems, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.


Last week, Rep. Howard L. Berman introduced the Iron Dome Support Act (IDSA) authorizing U.S. President Barack Obama to provide assistance if requested by the Israeli government to procure additional Iron Dome systems.


While the Iron Dome Support Act was still in initial stages of the legislation process, it has already won support from both parties. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was one of the initial supporters of the bill, along with four other congressmen from both parties.


In a statement released by the Pentagon on Tuesday, spokesman George Little said that “supporting the security of the State of Israel is a top priority of President Obama and Secretary Panetta,” adding that last year the US provided 205 million dollars for the system.


“The Department of Defense has been in conversations with the Government of Israel about U.S. support for the acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems and intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity,” Little said.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in response to the Pentagon’s statement, said that the decision was “another indication of the depth of the security relationship between the United States and Israel, and a badge of honor to the Israeli security industries which developed the Iron Dome and which are working on developing a multilayered interception system.”


“I congratulate the American administration for aiding the bolstering of Israel’s security,” Barak added.


Congressman Steve Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said in a statement following the Pentagon’s announcement that he was “pleased to see that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Obama Administration understand the importance of and remain committed to funding the life-saving rocket defense program, Iron Dome.”


“We must continue to stand with Israel to make sure that our most important strategic ally in the region has the additional Iron Dome batteries it needs to protect its population from rocket attacks. As a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, I will continue to work with my colleagues to robustly fund Iron Dome,” Rothman added.


4 Seattle Times

March 26, 2012

Sponsors of Israeli group weren’t here for open dialogue

The Seattle LGBT Commission was right to cancel the reception for visiting Israeli gay leaders and its decision opens the door for true, inclusive dialogue, writes guest columnist Stefanie Fox.


By Stefanie Fox


Special to The Times


I love to talk. As a child, my mother constantly had to remind me not to share widely my recently memorized phone number and address. “You should know who you’re talking to first!” she’d chastise. As a community organizer, I joke that I’m in it for the conversation. I truly believe social change is built in the relationships between people.


So why did I ask the Seattle LGBT Commission to cancel its recent event? And as a Seattle citizen who is queer and Jewish, with a lifelong commitment to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, why did the commission’s decision make me proud of our city?


Because — just as my mother taught me — you have to know to whom you’re talking, and why they are interested in talking to you. The planned event has been presented to many as a group of Israeli LGBT activists here in Seattle simply to share stories cross-culturally. That is a lie.


The flier for the event indicates that among the primary sponsors are the Israeli government, through its Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest, and the hawkish right-wing Israel advocacy group, StandWithUs (SWU). These sponsors are not interested in promoting open, inclusive or honest conversation about LGBTQ rights in the Middle East.


I may love to talk, but I don’t trust a conversation about my rights as a queer person led by an organization that cozies up to some of the most vicious homophobes on record.


SWU, which tellingly claims Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are legal despite the fact that virtually every country in the world, including the United States, says they are not, also has an ongoing alliance with the virulently homophobic pastor John Hagee and his group Christians United For Israel (CUFI). The organization’s director, Roz Rothstein, has given a featured keynote at CUFI’s conference. Hagee infamously argued that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans,” because “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that Katrina came.” He also claimed the anti-Christ was “a homosexual.”


Furthermore, SWU members are on record bullying with homophobic and racist taunts, and in one case physical violence, those seeking peace and justice in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.


So why is SWU bringing LGBT Israelis to Seattle if they don’t care when Hagee or the organization’s own members spout homophobic hatred? The answer is simple: to cynically co-opt LGBT identity and issues in order to shift perception of Israel.


Indeed, this well-documented “pinkwashing” tactic is part of “Brand Israel,” a campaign launched by Israel in 2005 to counter its increasing international isolation. Rather than address Israel’s human rights violations, the root reasons for concern in the international community, the Israeli government decided instead to direct international attention away from its treatment of Palestinians by promoting Israel as a model of progressive modernity.


Many of us actively support LGBTQ friends and relatives in Israel and their struggle to live a life free of discrimination, but advances for Jews have not affected Palestinians living under occupation, including those who are LGBTQ, who suffer from discrimination, persecution, restriction, and daily threats of violence from Israel.


LGBTQ Palestinians don’t have a special line at checkpoints; special body armor when Israeli bombs drop on hospitals, schools and civilian homes; or magic wands to stop the weaponized bulldozers that tear down homes and uproot orchards. And Palestinians living inside Israel are treated as second-class citizens, regardless of sexuality.


The LGBT Commission’s responsibility is to LGBTQ people in Seattle, not the Israeli government and groups that cynically exploit our LGBT community to justify Israel’s illegal occupation. The voices of Palestinian queers and queer Jews like myself are systematically silenced by the kind of “Brand Israel” propaganda SWU and the Israeli Consulate advance. The commission’s decision opened the door for real, inclusive dialogue about LGBTQ issues in Seattle and the Middle East.


Stefanie Fox, a lifelong Washington resident, is the director of grass-roots organizing for Jewish Voice for Peace, which promotes Middle East peace through justice and equality for both Palestinians and Israelis.



5 Haaretz

March 27, 2012


Pro-Palestinian activists disrupt meeting with Israeli MKs in U.S.

WATCH: Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine, the same group which interrupted a speech by former minister Avi Dichter in 2011, chanted at the meeting: Knesset is silencing dissent and civil and human rights.

[use this link to see the video—about 2 minutes]


By Haaretz

Tags: Jewish World Knesset

U.S. pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a panel comprised of Israeli MKs in Massachusetts on Monday, a year after the same activist group interrupted a speech by Kadima MK and former minister Avi Dichter.


The incident took place during a Town-Hall style meeting in Temple Emanuel in the town of Newton, participated by Likud MK Ofir Akunis, Yisrael Beitenu’s, Lia Shemtov and Faina Kirshenbaum, as well as former Labor minister Raleb Majadle and Meretz MK Ilan Gilon.


According to a statement by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine, members of the group, as well as activists from affiliate groups, wearing t-shirts displaying the word “apartheid” in Hebrew letters, “mic-checked the panel, protesting the undemocratic nature of the Israeli apartheid state and notified the offending officials that until their government ceased its discriminatory policies they were not welcome by students at Brandeis University community events.”


“The activists were pushed outside the hall by police officers and private security guards. One Brandeis student was arrested and another was injured while being thrown to the floor by a police officer,” the statement added. A video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube.


Activists chanted at the panel: “Israel is an apartheid state and the Knesset is an apartheid parliament,” as well as: “We will not welcome Israeli officials to any Brandeis University event until apartheid ends.”



They also charged Akunis and. Kirshenbaum for “sponsoring fascist legislation in the Knesset, targeting legitimate human rights organizations.”


“Mr. Akunis and Ms. Kirshenbaum, how does it feel to be silenced? The Knesset is silencing dissent and civil and human rights,” the activists said.


In response to the protest, MK Kirshenbaum released a statement, in which she said: “I don’t understand the audacity and hypocrisy of the protestors.”


“The State of Israel is one of the biggest democracies, perhaps the only one, in the Middle East,” she wrote, while Syrian President Bashar “Assad is massacring his people and enforcing a dictatorial regime in his state. I didn’t see the activists protesting before us provoke or engage in violence to stop the Holocaust experienced by the Syrian people.”


Kirshenbaum indicated that her fellow delegation member was Raleb Majadle, “who was the first Arab Minister,” asking: “How can the protesters call us fascists when there was an Arab minister in the Israeli cabinet.”


In April 2011, Avi Dichter was interrupted by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine activists as he stood up to speak to an audience of hundreds of students at Brandeis University near Boston. Several students got up out of their seats and called Dichter a war criminal, both in English and Hebrew. The incident was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube.


Students hurled insults at Dichter and accused him of torture and crimes against humanity. Brandeis University is considered to be a bastion of liberal politics in the United States and has a large Jewish student population.



6 Today in Palestine

March 27, 2012


7 Haaretz

March 27, 2012


Germany official: Meeting with Israel’s Barak left me ‘more concerned’ of war with Iran

Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere says feels some Israeli cabinet members do not give enough thought to the negative consequences that could develop in wake of a strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities.


By Ofer Aderet

Tags: Iran nuclear Iran threat Ehud Barak Barack Obama

Germany’s defense minister Thomas de Maiziere said that a recent meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak left him “more concerned” as to the possibility of war with Iran, an interview published on Tuesday indicated.


Get all the updates on’s Facebook page


De Maiziere’s comments came after U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday there was still time to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff through diplomacy, indicating, however, that the window for such a solution was closing.


Obama reiterated his position on the Iran nuclear issue after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of a nuclear security summit in Seoul.



“I believe there is a window of time to solve this diplomatically, but that window is closing,” Obama told reporters.


Obama has pressed Israel to hold off on any attack on Iran’s nuclear sites to give sanctions and diplomacy time to work, but has said military action remains an option if all else fails.


In an interview with German newspaper Bild published on Tuesday, de Maiziere was asked whether his meeting with Barak gave him any indication as to the possibility of war with Iran, to which de Maiziere said: “I don’t know, but from my talks, including with Israel’s defense minister, I have become more concerned that secure.”


“We’re doing everything we can to discourage Iran from its nuclear program. First and foremost using sanctions. But the Israeli side doesn’t believe the sanctions are successful,” the German defense minister said.

Later on, de Maiziere was asked on the possibility of an Israeli attack in Iran, saying: “Iran is trying to hide a considerable part of its nuclear program deep in the ground. If that succeeds, it would hinder an Israeli attack.”


“But some Israeli cabinet members don’t estimate enough the negative consequences of such attacks. I told Ehud Barak that it was hard to calculate the consequences, and one mustn’t take uncalculated risks,” de Maiziere said, adding that, “as a result,” as Israel’s friends, we warned it against such a move.”



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