Archive | October 16th, 2010



The Anti-Defamation League has created a list of the top 10 “anti-Israel” groups. Number six is the International Solidarity Movement:

International Solidarity Movement (ISM): Following Israel’s imposition of an economic blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in 2007, calls for “solidarity with Gaza” and efforts to “break the siege” have become significant themes of the anti-Israel movement.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM), founded in 2001, has played a uniquely important role promoting this agenda. Since its inception, ISM has brought volunteers to Israel to protest against the Israeli military’s presence and operations in the Palestinian territories, including weekly protests alongside Palestinians against Israel’s construction of the security fence. 

Despite its claims of “non-violent” tactics, protest actions organized by ISM sometimes escalate into violent confrontation and ISM has not shied away from putting its volunteers in harm’s way, which has had fatal consequences. ISM has also expressed support for the efforts of terrorist organizations that target Israel, and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned that its activity “at times” is “under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations.”

In 2007, ISM leaders launched the Free Gaza Movement, a campaign that has since sent eight boat missions to Gaza in an effort to “break the siege.” Its latest boat mission, a flotilla of six ships that attempted to reach Gaza in May 2010, was coordinated with Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), a pro-Hamas Turkish group, and resulted in a violent clash between the Israeli Navy that raided the ships and the activists on board.

It’s a badge of honor to be attacked by racist careerist thugs like those who run the ADL. Thanks Abie.

Technorati Tags: Adam Shapiro, ADL, Anti-Defamation League, Huwaida Arraf, International Solidarity Movement, Israel, Neta Golan, Palestine, resistance movements, Zionism

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Posted in UKComments Off on THE ADL’S TOP TEN LIST: ISM MADE IT



by Jesse Bacon

One after another, the parallels to fascism pile up in Israel, like the sticks (which is what the root of Fascism means) on a fire. Now a town in Israel has adopted perhaps the most visible feature of many a dictatorship: paramilitary police. The settlers have long functioned in this role in the Occupied Territories, but in the borderless Israeli occupation such methods do not stay contained.

What’s more the mission of the militia sounds uncomfortably like the thousands of “sundown towns” of American racism, keep ethnically-defined “outsiders” out of a town with the threat of violence.

Gush Shalom sounds the alarm.

Carmiel Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein, who was elected to the municipal council on the basis of a fiery anti-Arab campaign, candidly revealed the City Guard’s true aims.

Milstein has recently published an interview [in Hebew] in the ultra-right-wing publication “Be’Sheva”, where he said: “Carmiel is a Jewish city, plain and simple. It was founded for the purpose of Judaizing the Galilee. In my opinion it is not proper for Arab families to live here. In recent years, there are attempts by our [Arab] neighbors in the Western Galilee villages to migrate into Carmiel, and we must not ignore this phenomenon.”

According to Milstein, since being appointed deputy mayor two years ago, he had been striving ‘to do something real in order to change the situation’. To this end he founded the City Guard, in cooperation with the Carmiel police. Milstein proudly told the extreme right paper that members of the ‘City Guard’ are ‘monitoring every evening the entrances to the city and demand the I.D. of anyone seeking to enter the city. Thus, they reduce the number of neighbors seeking to just enter the city for no special reason.’”

While unlike Republican congressional candidates, this militia presumably does not wear Nazi uniforms, at what point will Israel’s defenders start to become concerned at what they are sticking up for? Hopefully they already are, and this bad of thugs will lead more to speak out.

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האומות המאוחדות


המשרד לתאום עניינים הומניטריים

השטח הפלסטיני הכבוש



(נפת שכם), ירו כוחות ישראליים מיכלי גז מדמיע על המפגינים. דווח על מקרים אחדים של שאיפת גז. הפגנות אחרות, המתנהלות על בסיס שבועי, לרבות אלו נגד בניית הגדר באל ולגה ואל מעסרה


נפת בית לחם) ונגד הסגירה הקבועה של רחוב מסחרי בעיר העתיקה של חברון, התנהלו בשקט ובלא.כ

200- פלסטינים ופעילים בינלאומיים וישראלים ארגנו אירוע חברתי בכפר אנבי סאלח (נפת רמאללה)

לרגל יום השלום הבינלאומי

אל הכפר

פרצו עימותים אחרי שהכוחות הישראליים ניסו למנוע מ

נעצרו חמישה פעילים ישראליים ובינלאומיים

, ב 25- בספטמבר. כוחות ישראליים הקימו מחסומי פתע שסגרו את כל הכניסות, ובכך מנעו גישה בכלי רכב מאנשים שרצו להשתתף באירוע. בין המשתתפים לכוחות הישראליים30- סטודנטים גישה למקום. במהלך העימותים, ששוחררו מאוחר יותר.

בסך הכול ניהלו הכוחות הישראליים במשך השבוע

62 מבצעי חיפושים ומעצרים ברחבי הגדה המערבית,

לרבות ירושלים המזרחית


עצרו את אחד התלמידים בעת שזה יצא את בית הספר

עשרה ימים

שני תלמידים ומורה

. בתקרית אחת ערכו כוחות ישראליים פשיטה על בית ספר בעיר העתיקה, אחרי יידוי אבנים לכאורה, אבל מנהל בית הספר מנע מהם להיכנס לכיתות. כוחות ישראליים, ושחררו אותו בתנאי שיישאר במעצר בית למשך. באירוע דומה ערכו כוחות ישראליים פשיטה על בית ספר אחר בעיר העתיקה של חברון, ועצרו. השלושה שוחררו מאוחר יותר.

תקריות בהקשר של אלימות מתנחלים

בנוסף על פציעתו של המתנחל שדווחה לעיל

, נפצעו השבוע שני מתנחלים, אחת מהם אישה הרה,

בתקרית ירי בעת שנסעו ליד הכפר א

דאהרייה (נפת חברון). התוקפים לא אותרו.

רשם השבוע חמש תקריות במעורבות מתנחלים

, שהסבו (OCHA) המשרד לתיאום עניינים הומניטריים


תקריות שהביאו לפציעת , נזק לרכוש פלסטיני. בסך הכול התרחשו עד כה, מתחילת שנת 2010

פלסטינים אוהסבו נזק לרכוש פלסטיני

מספר תקריות אחרות במעורבות מתנחלים ואשר השפיעו בעיקר על גישת פלסטינים

, לעומת 111 תקריות שדווחו באותה התקופה אשתקד. כן דווח על.

דיווחים נפרדים מן הכפרים עוורתא

מהתנחלויות איתמר וקדומים גנבו עצי זית מכפרים אלה

(נפת שכם) וכפר קדום (נפת קלקיליה) מצביעים על כך שמתנחלים. בתקרית


Posted in WorldComments Off on U.N REPORT: PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS




October 16, 2010

by Debbie Menon  

Eighteen months ago, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney blocked then-British MP George Galloway from Canada, labeling him a terror supporter and a national security risk. At the time, Galloway was scheduled to appear in four Canadian cities on a speaking tour called “Resisting War: from Gaza to Afghanistan.”

By James Clark —

Galloway in Toronto 

Galloway and his supporters protested, saying the move was a crass political attempt to silence criticism of Canadian foreign policy on Afghanistan and Palestine. Weeks before the ban, Galloway had led a humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza as part of an international campaign to break Israel’s illegal blockade.

This week, after Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley issued his 60-page decision on the matter, Galloway and his supporters were fully vindicated.

But you wouldn’t know it from reading the mainstream media’s response to the decision. Most headlines declared that Galloway “lost” his appeal because the judge dismissed the case. Justice Mosley ruled that, since Galloway had not been denied entry into Canada at the border, a final decision on his admissibility had not been made. This meant that Justice Mosley had no decision to overturn. Consequently, Justice Mosley dismissed the case, but not before agreeing with every other claim made by Galloway and his supporters. This is what most mainstream media seems to have missed.

The ruling is a victory for three reasons:

First, it exposes and documents the Conservatives’ ham-fisted attacks on Canadians’ free-speech rights. Galloway and his supporters argued that Kenney’s decision was purely a political one that had nothing to do with national security. Justice Mosley agrees:

“[T]he evidence is that the government wished to prevent Mr. Galloway from expounding his views on Canadian soil. I agree with the applicants that based on the evidence of the e-mails and public statements in the record, the concern with Galloway’s anticipated presence in Canada related solely to the content of the messages that the respondents [the government] expected him to deliver.”

Justice Mosley also acknowledges that the “highest levels of government” tried to influence the outcome of a potential admissibility assessment by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) at a Canadian port of entry:

“It is also clear that the preliminary assessment was prepared with the intention that it be used to justify a CBSA officer’s determination that Mr. Galloway was inadmissible should he appear at the border.”

This vindicates Galloway’s concerns that he would be deemed inadmissible at the border — which is what he was told in a letter from the Canadian High Commission before he left the UK. Galloway was right to worry about the possibility of being detained indefinitely at the Canadian border or, worse, being returned to the United States (where he was conducting a speaking tour at the time) for being a “national security risk” in Canada — an event that would have jeopardized his status on American soil.

Justice Mosley anticipates such a scenario in his ruling:

“Had Galloway actually been found inadmissible by a visa officer relying on the preliminary assessment and the alerts sent to the border points, I would have had little difficulty in concluding that the officer’s discretion had been fettered by the process followed in this case and that the e-mails and statements to the press raised a reasonable apprehension of bias.”

This leads to the second reason the ruling is a victory for Galloway: it paves the way for his return to Canada. Should Galloway turn up at a Canadian point of entry — something that Galloway is expected to do very soon — a CBSA officer will have to rule on his admissibility. In light of the decision, it will be impossible for an officer to deem Galloway inadmissible based on the politically compromised preliminary assessment. The ruling should be seen as a warning to the government to end its political interference to block Galloway’s entry to Canada.”The assessment is not reasonable, in my view, as it overreaches in its interpretation of the facts, errs in its application of the law and fundamentally fails to take into

The third reason the ruling is a victory for Galloway is that it unequivocally dismisses the government’s claims that Galloway is a national security threat or a supporter of terrorism. Justice Mosley writes:

“From the evidence on the record, the question of Galloway’s admissibility was never an issue of national security. As indicated above, CSIS was consulted prior to the writing of the CBSA assessment and had no national security concerns about his visit.”

During the Federal Court hearing, it became clear that Jason Kenney’s Director of Communications — Alykhan Velshi, the staffer who set the ban in motion — did not include CSIS’s findings in the preliminary assessment.

Justice Mosley also slams how the government made its assessment:

“It is also clear that the preliminary assessment was prepared with the intention that it be used to justify a CBSA officer’s determination that Mr. Galloway was inadmissible should he appear at the border.”

This last sentence anticipates Galloway’s likely return, a scenario in which the CBSA will have to make a ruling on Galloway’s admissibility. The decision is so clear in its language that it should help ease Galloway’s entry into Canada should he appear at the border.

In addition, Justice Mosley dismisses the government’s familiar refrain that Galloway’s humanitarian support for the people of Gaza is the same as support for terrorism. Justice Mosley writes:

“To suggest, however, that contributions to Hamas for such purposes makes the donor a party to any terrorist crimes committed by the organization goes beyond the parliamentary intent and the legislative language. The purpose to which the funds are donated must be to enhance the ability of the organization to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity. Absent such a purpose, the mere assertion that material support was provided to such an organization is not sufficient. To hold otherwise could ensnare innocent Canadians who make donations to organizations they believe, in good faith, to be engaged in humanitarian works.”

The last sentence is critical: it makes clear that similar initiatives by Canadians — think of the Canadian Boat to Gaza — cannot be labeled as support for terrorism. They are humanitarian in nature.

By these criteria, even though the application was ultimately dismissed, the ruling sides overwhelmingly with Galloway and his supporters. The government and its backers in the press may try to spin it as a defeat for Galloway, but they really have nothing to cheer about: the government’s political interference has been exposed and condemned, the door is now open for Galloway to return to Canada this weekend, and the government’s unfounded allegations against Galloway have been dismissed.

But the ruling also raises some very troubling questions.

The most alarming concern is the way in which the government continues to exploit Canada’s so-called anti-terror legislation to stifle dissent. This is a long-standing criticism of Canada’s post-9/11 restrictions on civil liberties. Legal experts have pointed to the vague and undefined language of anti-terror laws that allows for the broadest possible interpretations of “terrorism.”

Justice Mosley makes a similar point:

“As there is no evidence of Galloway actually participating in a terrorist activity, complicity is the only basis upon which it can be asserted that he could fall within the scope of paragraph 34(1) (c) as ‘engaging in terrorism’, assuming that this extension of the complicity principle is warranted. Again, I think that it is overreaching on the facts of this case and the law to suggest that Galloway is complicit in the terrorist activities of Hamas.”

This is significant for civil liberties campaigners and legal experts who criticize Canada’s anti-terror laws: the ruling raises questions about their constitutionality and opens the door to further legal challenges.

Justice Mosley seems to anticipate this by identifying the way in which the government’s political interference undermined Canadians’ free speech rights. He writes:

“In the result, I agree with the applicants that the activity for which they seek s. 2 (b) protection is a form of expression. I also agree with the applicants that the main reason why the respondents sought to prevent Mr. Galloway from entering Canada was that they disagreed with his political views. If the respondents’ purpose was to restrict the content of the expression in order to control access by others to the meaning being conveyed, it limits freedom of expression…” 

If the Galloway ban were an isolated incident, it would be serious enough on its own to raise concerns about the state of free speech in Canada. Sadly, it is part of a much wider pattern of government-led repression against critical voices in Canadian civil society. In the last few years, the Conservative government led by Stephen Harper has exercised its political power to attack and smear its political opponents.

The list of its targets is long:

  • Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin who blew the whistle on the torture of Afghan detainees.

  • MPs who requested access to secret files about the involvement of Canadian troops in the torture scandal.

  • New Democratic leader Jack Layton, who was labeled “Taliban Jack” for suggesting a negotiated settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

  • The Canadian Arab Federation, whose funding was cut following its criticism of Canada’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

  • KAIROS, a human rights organization representing 11 of Canada’s largest Christian churches, which was labeled “anti-Semitic” following its criticism of Israel’s occupation.

  • Rights and Democracy, government-supported human rights body whose leadership was stacked with conservative ideologues.

  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which was smeared as having “terrorist” links.

  • Independent Palestinian MP, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, whose speaking tour in Canada was delayed because the government held up his visa.

  • Students involved in Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) and other Palestine solidarity campaigns.

  • Maternal health and women’s organizations which were told to “shut the fuck up” on abortion to preserve their funding.

  • And hundreds of G20 demonstrators and ordinary citizens swept up in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

The list goes on. These attacks have contributed to a McCarthy-like atmosphere in Canada where critics of government policy can expect state-led retribution for expressing their views. The significance of the Galloway ruling is that it exposes how the government organizes these attacks: the court record that documents the minute-by-minute chronology of the Galloway ban is instructive.

The Galloway ruling also contradicts Kenney’s statements to the media and in the House of Commons in which he either denies involvement in the ban or avoids answering questions about it.

See Kenney’s response to Olivia Chow, New Democratic Party critic for Citizenship and Immigration, who questions Kenney in Parliament about his government’s double-standard in welcoming hate-monger Ann Coulter to Canada while blocking Galloway.

The sharp contrast between Kenney’s public claims and the court records raises questions about the credibility of his comments in the House of Commons. This alone should justify Kenney’s dismissal from cabinet.

But who will hold Kenney to account for his role in attempting to ban Galloway? What about Alykhan Velshi? Will Kenney stand by his statement that ministers must take responsibility for the actions of their staff?

In May 2010, Kenney stated on CTV’s Power Play with Tom Clark:

“The principle is a very simple one: that ministers are accountable to Parliament for the conduct of their ministries and their offices… The political staff of ministers are there to serve the minister. The minister answers for their conduct, is responsible for their conduct to Parliament… They’re not accountable to Parliament; their boss is. We’re saying it’s the bosses who should be answering for their conduct and that of their office. And that underscores the principle of parliamentary responsibility.”

See the full statement here.

And what will opposition MPs say about the ruling? Will they demand that Kenney be censured or forced to step down as minister? How much more blatant does a government-led attack on civil liberties have to be to merit serious and sustained criticism from the Opposition? Aside from a few lone voices like those of Olivia Chow, very few MPs have made this an issue.

As a consequence, the responsibility to hold Kenney and the Conservative government to account falls largely to ordinary people and the social movements. Activists must mobilize in greater and greater numbers to defend any semblance of democracy and accountability in Canada, and to push their elected representatives to express the public’s outrage.

In the coming days, Galloway is returning to Canada, to deliver the message he was prevented from delivering in person 18 months ago. His return will be a test of all of us who support free speech, free expression, and civil liberties.

It is up to us to hold Kenney to account for this most recent abuse of government power. Let’s not miss this opportunity.

To download the full decision of the Federal Court, please click here.

To read highlights of the decision, please click here.

James Clark is a member of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War and an applicant in the case brought by supporters of George Galloway against the Government of Canada.

Editor’s update: Former British MP George Galloway will now arrive in Toronto on Saturday, Oct. 2, to resume his pan-Canada speaking tour after being prevented from entering the country in March 2009. A welcome rally will assemble at 5 p.m. at the Terminal 1 arrivals gate at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, where Galloway will hold a 15-minute press conference.

On Sunday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m., Galloway will address a public meeting at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor Street, in downtown Toronto. This event is sponsored by, and will be livestreamed on rabbleTV.

Must watch:

George Galloway thanks Canadian supporters who defeated political ban by Harper government

YouTube – Veterans Today –

Posted in UKComments Off on GALLOWAY IN TORONTO



Dear All,

Before I run through the 5 items below, I have to tell  you about an incident  yesterday.  Actually, the day as a whole was lovely.  Spouse, I, and two acquaintances from abroad went to spend the day in the West Bank, mostly in the village of Qira.  That’s right.  Lina’s village (for those of you who know who Lina is; for those of you who don’t, she’s a Palestinian child who today is 8 years old, but was only 3 years old when she had a kidney transplant.  But that’s another story). 

In short, Lina’s family as many Palestinian villagers now were busy yesterday harvesting olives.  We joined them and also 3 German girls who had come for that purpose.  For anyone who has not experienced this, it’s difficult in just a few words to explain.  The work is not easy, but there is so much warmth and love and friendship among the family and friends while working that in the long run it’s a delightful experience. 

One incident spoiled the day for me, though.  As we left the village to return to road 5 on our way to Ariel to show our friends from abroad what a colony looks like, we came upon 3 soldiers standing on three sides (north, west, and east) with their rifles pointed at a villager who was probably in his 30s and his young 6 or 7 year old son, and their donkey carrying what appeared to be a bag of olives picked that day. 

The scene would have been ludicrous had it not been real.  I, who was driving, slammed on the brakes and stopped the car and asked the soldiers what they were doing.  One came over and said that the fellow and his son had been caught in a military area.  They were being held until the officer in charge came to tell them what to do.  Another one of the soldiers, the one apparently in charge, demanded to see our IDs.  He was decidedly unfriendly.  My spouse and I showed them our IDs, at which point I recalled that our friends had told me before we left that they’d forgotten their passports at their lodgings. 

I was so grateful that the soldier did not ask for their IDs that I pulled out and left the poor man and his son and their donkey standing there.  Later it occurred to me that I could have driven off out of sight, then stopped, gotten out, and let my spouse take our friends for the tour of Ariel while I went back to try to release the Palestinians that were being held (they looked so helpless).  But I didn’t.  .  I won’t make that  mistake again.  But even once was too much.  Hope that the detained were released.  I hope.  But I don’t know, and that bothers me.

Two days ago I asked you to phone the police to demand the release of a woman who had tried to stop the demolition of an Arab village (unrecognized) in Israel (the village was demolished for the 6th time in a month or so.  Found out tonight that she’d been released, though not unconditionally.  She is not allowed to return to the village for the next 10 days.  She plans to appeal.  To those of  you who phoned or tried to, Thanks.

Now to the items below.  There are 5.  There were many more that I had thought I’d send, but don’t want to overload  you.

The first 2 deal with the about-to-become law loyalty oath.  Tonight spouse and I joined the marchers and sign carriers and walked through Tel Aviv chanting our slogans in Hebrew and Arabic.  Will the protest make any difference?  I very much doubt it, but one has to try.  The only Israeli newspaper of the 3 main ones mentioned the number of protestors– apparently about 6,000.  Sounds about right.  The government has already passed these bills, but needs the Knesset vote to make them into law.  It will.  But Israel in making this law is helping to cut off the branch on which it sits, as the 2nd item shows.  It is an opinion piece on the issue, and its title gives away the author’s feelings about the law “Keep Dreaming: An oath worthy of Orwell.”

Items 3 and 4 also deal with a single subject: Israel’s ok to construct additions to the settlements, particularly ones in East Jerusalem.  The Independent advises that leaders of a large number of countries oppose the act, but item 4 says that Israel is laughing in their faces. 

Item 5 is about yesterday’s demonstration in Bil’in.  Meanwhile, while that demonstration took place, in other parts of the West Bank villagers found when they started out to harvest their olives that they not only had no olives but also no trees.  Colonists had come and cut them down and then burned them to the ground!  One family apparently lost some 45 trees, another family 50 trees.  Nice people these colonists and also the soldiers who would hold their rifles on a father and his kid—farmers coming home tired after a hard day’s work.




1. Jerusalem Post,

October 16, 2010   

 Photo by: Ben Hartman

 Thousands in Tel Aviv march to protest loyalty oath



Organizers say demonstration against “Liebermanism, the threats of transfer, and the legislative initiatives of the past week.” 

Thousands marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday, to protest a recently passed citizenship amendment commonly referred to as the loyalty oath. Protesters also voiced their opposition to what they described as a rising tide of fascism in Israel, as well as the growing legitimization of calls to transfer Arabs out of Israel.

Entitled “Together against Racism – Arab and Jewish march for democracy”, the march from Gan Meir park to the Defense Ministry headquarters brought together demonstrators from the left-wing Hadash and Meretz parties, members of a number of NGOs and activists groups, and thousands of unaffiliated protesters.

Organizers said the protest march was called to “protest the murky tide of Liebermanism, the threats of transfer, and the legislative initiatives of the past week and those planned for the coming months.”

The group also said it is protesting “the dangerous retreat of Israeli democracy”

The controversial amendment was approved by the Israel cabinet on Sunday, October 10th by a vote of 22 to 8. Under the amendment, non-Jews trying to become citizens must pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

The 8 opposing votes included five ministers from the Labor party and three from the Likud.

Many protesters, including Hadash Party Chairman Dov Henin spoke about what they said is the mainstreaming of calls to transfer Arabs from Israel proper, mentioning a police and prison service exercise earlier in October as evidence.

Speaking outside the Defense Ministry, Henin said “transfer is no longer something that only the extreme parties talk about, or that is only on the extreme margins,” adding that “we must fight this and that is one of the reasons we are here today.”

On October 7th, Israel Radio reported that security forces held a large-scale exercise in the north of Israel the day before partly to prepare for a scenario in which Israeli Arab riots break out in the wake of a population exchange agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

In response to controversy that greeted publication of the exercise, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the exercise “was to train officers for an imaginary incident dealing with demonstrations, and does not indicate any sort of standing or intentioned policies.”

Israeli “Elka Kaye” (not her real name), was at the march on Saturday, and said it brought up memories of her past protesting fascism in the UK, before she immigrated to Israel in the 1960s.

“I remember standing in Trafalgar Square (in London) to protest fascism 40 years ago. And now here I am doing the same in Israel,” Kaye said, adding that watching what is happening in Israel gives her “a terrible, sad feeling, I’m crying on the inside.” 


2.  [Forewarded by Asaf Oron]

Jerusalem Post,

 October 15, 2010

 Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem

 Keep Dreaming: An oath worthy of Orwell



George Orwell defined ‘doublethink’ as ‘simultaneously holding two opinions which cancel out…’ Its articulation uses a vocabulary ‘deliberately constructed for political purposes.’ 

The plot thickens. In our last episode of “As the Jewish World Turns,” the once sacrosanct maxim “we are one” was being attacked by Knesset members promoting legislation on conversion that threatened to alienate vast numbers of Jews around the world. With tension over the issue reaching a crescendo, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu orchestrated a dramatic end-of-season cliffhanger by keeping the proposed law from coming to a vote until the Knesset recessed for the summer – leaving a large audience of avid Israel-watchers waiting breathlessly for the show’s next installment.

This week the drama resumed with an unexpected twist, boosting Israel’s media rating once again and assuring our beleaguered nation yet another chance to be crowned “the country the world most loves to hate.”

Even as Jewish leaders were still struggling to defuse this spring’s “who is a Jew?” crisis, the prime minister overloaded them a new one by raising the no less complex issue of “what is a Jewish state?”

He did this by advancing legislation requiring non- Jews wishing to become citizens to declare their loyalty to Israel “as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Sorry, but this time the director has lost me entirely.

ONE, THE proposal is oxymoronic, not to mention duplicitous. Equality is fundamental to democracy, yet this declaration, purportedly intended to uphold that very value, tramples on it instead. Only non-Jews would be required to pledge their allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state, thereby instantly turning it into a nondemocratic one. Doublespeak at its finest. Words, in the words of George Orwell, “deliberately constructed for political purposes.”

Two, it’s not sensible. Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe in Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

I was one of the authors of the Jerusalem Program adopted by the World Zionist Organization in 2004 that calls for “strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.”

But that same manifesto also calls for making of that state “an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character… rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.”

There needn’t be a disconnect between the two phrases, but this week the cabinet created one.

In this newly proposed loyalty oath, does “Jewish state” refer to a political entity inherently belonging to the Jewish people – in which case we are back to grappling with the question of who is a Jew, not to mention ignoring the Palestinians’ legitimate claims to portions of the land. Or perhaps it refers to a state based on Jewish values, or maybe Jewish law? Is it a country in which Bible is history, or metaphor? Maybe it means a state which guarantees a Jewish majority – leaving open the question of how a growing non-Jewish minority might eventually have to be dispensed with.

All these options are open to innumerable interpretations and multiple manifestations. As a non-Jew I certainly wouldn’t pledge allegiance to a Jewish state until I knew just what “they” had in mind. I probably wouldn’t do it then either, even if I’d had every intention of being a loyal citizen. There are some things that are just too hard to say. For God’s sake, Jews in America are incensed by morning prayers in public schools even when their own children are excused from attending them. And how many Jews would be prepared to live anywhere where they had to swear loyalty to Christendom, even if guaranteed full equality and religious freedom?

Three, it’s not wise. Passage of this amendment to the Citizenship Law is a gratuitous and blatant provocation. And one with no positive practical implications. Any idea of how many non-Jews actually become naturalized citizens each year? A maximum of 200 to 250, primarily after marrying into the families of Arab citizens. Clearly our prime minister and foreign minister don’t really fear that their disloyalty would topple the Jewish state. The animosity and sense of estrangement that their initiative will breed at home, and the legitimacy it will lend to our detractors abroad, constitute a far greater danger to our survival.

BUT PERHAPS I am being overly sensitive, a bleedingheart liberal concerned about defending everyone else’s rights but not his own. So I decided to investigate the matter to gain a little perspective and accessed the oaths required of naturalized citizens in a dozen countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Jamaica, the Philippines, Singapore, Norway and Romania. Turns out they have a number of things in common.

None of them require fidelity to a Jewish state. That’s not the surprising part. What I didn’t expect to discover, however, is that neither do any of them require faithfulness to any other religious, ethnic or social group.

Nor do any of them define their countries in such terms.

What naturalized citizens in these places are required to do is declare their commitment to the state and its laws, and – in some cases – the monarchy. Some also require an undertaking to fulfill one’s duties and obligations, or to abide by the constitution and uphold the values embodied therein – though those values are never defined more specifically than by the terms “democracy” and “human rights.”

Furthermore, none of these countries include in their process of naturalization any phrase that in any way would distinguish between, cause discomfort to or create dissonance for applicants of different ethnic, religious or national origins.

Of course, another thing these countries have in common is that no one is challenging their legitimacy. While not a minor point, and certainly not one to be dismissed cavalierly, the way to counter this vile campaign against our very right to exist is not by providing our adversaries with fuel for their fires. There is a large discerning and undecided public out there – including many thousands of our own youngsters – whose opinions matter to us and who just might be swayed against us by our adoption of a law easily interpreted as racist or undemocratic.

I am also concerned about losing even some of our loyal sponsors with the direction in which things are moving. As one problematic episode after another airs, they are becoming increasingly hesitant about backing our product, and finding it progressively more difficult to stand up for our cause.

For all these reasons, it is urgent that we rally against the passage of this legislation. Though approved by the cabinet it has yet to be approved by the Knesset.

It is not too late to remind Binyamin Netanyahu that if over the last six decades we had invested more in assuring the equality of our minorities and the development of a society that engendered the allegiance of all its citizens, we would have a far more authentically Jewish state than we do at present, and one in which we would not have to worry about legislating loyalty. As he found a way to hold off one impending crisis last spring, perhaps our prime minister can still be persuaded to find a way to hold off the one that is now looming.

In the meantime, please stay tuned in. Anything could happen in the next episode of “As the Jewish World Turns,” and rumors have it that there might even be a role opening up for you.

The writer is the vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of the Jewish Agency Executive. The opinions expressed here are his own.


3.  The Independent,

16 October 2010

East Jerusalem settlement revival casts doubt on peace talks

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Israel yesterday cast a new shadow over prospects for a resumption of direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians when it disclosed fresh plans for 230 housing units in Arab East Jerusalem.

The move in effect ends an undeclared freeze on Jewish construction in East Jerusalem. The plans are the most significant of their kind in the city since the diplomatic row that blew up in March over approval of a major planned expansion of the Jewish Ramat Shlomo settlement during the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden.

It comes as Washington is trying to persuade the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend his moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank in order to bring Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas back into direct talks. The moratorium officially ended last month.

East Jerusalem was never officially included in that moratorium because Israel regards it as its own territory since it occupied it in the 1967 Six Day War. The international community, by contrast, has never accepted Israel’s subsequent unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital.

But Mr Netanyahu had restrained settlement building in East Jerusalem since the larger plan for 1,200 units in Ramat Shlomo infuriated the Obama administration and seriously embarrassed Mr Biden on his goodwill mission to Israel. The latest plan for new units in the Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot settlements was among others announced across Israel itself by the Housing Ministry.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said: “This decision shows the position of the Israeli prime minister has not changed. He continues to take every possible step to prevent the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. By tendering in the occupied Palestinian territory, Netanyahu has again demonstrated why there are no negotiations today.”

The new construction tenders came to light after a week in which Mr Netanyahu has already been seen as tacking to the right, for example by throwing his weight behind the highly contentious proposal of his hard-line nationalist foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to require newly naturalised non-Jewish Israelis to pledge their loyalty to the country as “a Jewish state”.

Western diplomats have expressed uncertainty over whether this was for his own ideological reasons or as a means of securing support from his coalition’s right-wing flank before a possible agreement with the US to resume the West Bank settlement moratorium. Mr Abbas has insisted he will not re-enter direct talks without the moratorium being restored.

The US is widely believed to have made a substantial offer to Mr Netanyahu in return for a resumption of the moratorium – in effect a partial freeze. This is thought to include extra military hardware and possibly a measure of backing for Israel’s determination to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley after the formation of any Palestinian state.

There have been unconfirmed Israeli media reports that Israel discussed the latest housing plans with Washington and had reduced the numbers of planned units in an effort to meet US sensitivities.

Kurt Hoyer, spokesman for the US embassy in Tel Aviv, said yesterday: “We are trying to discourage both sides from actions which appear to, or do, prejudge final status issues.”

Mr Hoyer said such issues included the future of East Jerusalem and added: “We have been very clear about this.”

Mr Netanyahu said this week he would be prepared to seek an extension of the moratorium if the Palestinians agreed to recognise Israel as a “Jewish state”.

But Mr Abbas was quoted by Haaretz yesterday as telling Knesset members from the leftist Arab-Jewish party Hadash that would not happen.


4.  Ynet,

October 16, 2010

    Ministers unfazed by global condemnation

Senior government member says statements issued against Israeli decision to approve new homes in Jerusalem neighborhoods ‘not serious’,7340,L-3970215,00.html

Attila Somfalvi

Government ministers on Saturday appeared unfazed by the global condemnation of an Israeli decision to approve building plans for 240 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Givat Ze’ev and Ramot, located beyond the Green Line. 

“The issued statements of condemnation were not serious,” said a senior minister. “What counts is what the Americans say. Those who remember what happened with Joe Biden understand that what they said was not a condemnation. All they are saying is that they’re disappointed. The Olmert government sometimes faced condemnations which were much more serious.”

Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias told Ynet on Saturday evening that “all governments built in Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods, both the right-wing and the left-wing ones, including the previous government which negotiated with Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas). Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, no timing is right.”

Atias clarified that the United States had been informed in advance about the plan to issue the east Jerusalem bids. According to the Shas minister, “We have a lot of respect for the American administration. The number of bids issued conveys the message that we are not looking to halt the process. We must remember that bids have not been issued in Jerusalem for 10 months, although Jerusalem was not included in the freeze.”

The housing minister said the Palestinian president was not interested in advancing the peace process. “Abu Mazen is hanging on to straw in order not to return to the talks,” Atias stated. “The negotiations are in the interest of both sides. In the meantime, the only one taking steps and not causing difficulties is Israel.

“It’s clear to everyone that the places in Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods will remain, under any future agreement, in Israel’s hands. The Palestinians know it too. We must not get the Palestinians and the world used to having Jerusalem under a freeze, even in a passive acceptance. This is Israel’s capital and a matter of consensus to the Israeli public.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office said Saturday evening that Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Abbas, which was scheduled to take place in Paris on October 21, has been canceled following consultations. 

European leaders are now trying to organize a summit between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the end of next month in Barcelona.



Greg Wilkinson

Business as usual? Weekly ritual? Sporting event?  A bit of all three, but more than that.

Nobody injured, nobody killed, this week. Mercifully. No ground lost or gained, but nearly 100 people walking, talking, shouting singing in the sun, behind a Palestinian flag towards a boring line of metal fence – no Great Wall of Israel, just a stupid obstacle to little things like justice, peace and people’s land

What’s the message of this march? Get out, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Free our prisoners, and one in particular this week. Abdullah Abu Ramah was jailed for a year three days ago.  His daughter is somewhere in the crowd, with a picture of her dad. Abdullah in prison, Bassem dead…

And me, from Wales, UK, What am I doing? And  the other internationals who make up a third of this week’s ritual march. And the Israelis?  They’re here too, on both sides of the fence. I can only speak for myself. In1956, in Lebanon, a few months before the Suez war, I met a young Palestinian refugee. We ate up a month’s meat ration in his family’s one-room refugee-camp house, and he gave me a book called ‘Palestine is our Business.’   True enough, I thought when I read it, then forgot it for nearly 50 years…

The last time I got a whiff of teargas was in Paris, 1968 and the formula seems to have stayed the same.  That also goes for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, here, there and everywhere. Our old terrace house in Swansea looks over the sea. Too cold for me, but my wife, who still swims in it, says ‘Why dont you swim where it’s warm?  Red Sea, the world is my oyster, Gaza perhaps.

From Bil’in, the sea is a mirage on pale dry earth and rock, a dusty track between the olive trees, that leads on and up to…a stupid metal fence, with a yellow gate. Presumed locked. A man with a Palestinian flag goes up to and shouts to the soldiers in Hebrew. What’s he saying, something about land and freedom or ‘Go home, enjoy yourself, do something useful’? Some boys come up to the wire, and an old photographer. I get my moment too. I try a bit of a song I remember, changed a bit “Free, free, free Abdullah..(as in Free, free Nelson Mandela,Youtube, Special AKA), and ‘Shame, shame Israel, jail your own war criminals.’

Not many soldiers to hear us, just a faceless foursome against the sun, and a few more in wait further up the hill. ‘They’re the ones to watch,’ says a tall Israeli in a red hat. When the first teargas shell is fired, it lands near us but the gas blows back towards the soldiers. Next the first stones, flying in the other direction like hungry sparrows. It takes the soldiers  time to find their range while the kids – shebab – fan out among the olive trees. Big bouncy teargas shells, like fat black onions,  set light to the weeds among the olive trees, and smaller ones rain down from high in the air, meteorites with give-away tails. The greywhite smoke drifts down across the track, so we can all get a taste. Some cameramen, or women, have masks, as has a man in a wheelchair. Another, on crutches, has no mask but a black Che Guevara beard.

Then the soldiers open the gate and four musketeers charge down the hill towards us. The tall Israeli says ‘We should have locked the gate from this side.’    The crowd and gas disperse, the shebab escape among the olive trees. A boy breaks off a branch to beat out flames. Scorched earth and big black tasteless onions.

Honour satisfied,  soldiers and the crowd go their ways, to lunch perhaps. Another day, another no-win not-quite-waste of time. Soon this bit of fence will be removed, and a stretch of Bil’in land beyond will be released, become workable again. Not all their land but an area between today’s stupid fence and a solider, stupider new concrete wall.  A small legal victory, except that the Supreme Court first ordered the fence to be moved back then legitimised the settlement behind it.

Win some, lose some. BUT, as one of the committee-members said, ‘We’ve shown that Palestinians, Israelis, internationals CAN work together. And when the soldiers open fire, everyone can see who are the terrorists.

‘This is the message our Popular Committees must get across. Bi’lin, Ni’ilin, Budrus, Ma’asara… It is difficult, but we can organise ourselves. We need the people, we need the parties, and we think that they need us.’

As I watched those Bil’in boys with their slingshots, how near-accurate they were, I could almost believe the story of David and Goliath. And it must help to practice every week.











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Entertainment News: Tea, A Would-be Witch And Mel Gibson.

modernityblog | 16/10/2010

I suppose we shouldn’t laugh, but the idea of starting a political advert saying “I’m not a Witch…” is only something that a Tea Partyer could do.

This is Christine O’Donnell’s advert, and I dare you not to smile:

And below another clip from 1999 where she admits to being a Witch:

Ms. O’Donnell makes Dan Quayle look like a erudite scholar by comparison, and here’s a reminder of his abilities:

More humour from the States, apparently Mel Gibson’s one-time partner, Oksana Grigorieva, is hiring a lot of lawyers, some 39.

Ms. Grigorieva will need them, having put up with Gibson’s rants, assaults and his racism she’ll need all the help she can get.

I have a feeling that Mel might be up for Tea Party membership shortly


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