Search This Blog

Friday, December 30, 2011

Operation Cast Lead and a 2012 Deja Vu


Exactly three years after Operation Cast Lead, Israel is threatening another invasion on Gaza while Hamas leaders order a halt to all attacks on Israel.

This year’s week between Christmas and New Years reaped at least three Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza and several rockets fired from Gaza into Israel without reports of damage.

Israeli military chief Benny Gantz said a new offensive would be “Swift and painful. Sooner or later, there will be no escape from conducting a significant operation.” [1]

An Israeli army commander in the Gaza Division said, “We are preparing and in fact are ready for another campaign…to renew our deterrence, if we are called on to restore full quiet to the communities [in the south].” [Ibid]

Haaretz reported that the Israeli plan calls for the next Gaza operation to be shorter then Operation Cast Leads three-week onslaught and will employ even greater firepower.

Haaretz also reported that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal ordered the movement’s military wing to cease its operations against Israel and quoted unidentified sources from Fatah who said the instructions were issued as part of the reconciliation talks between the two factions in Cairo. The Cairo meet-up managed to focus the two groups on the people powered popular struggle against the Israeli occupation in the spirit of the pro-democracy demonstrations that spontaneously erupted in the Arab world this past year.

A Little History:

On April 3, 2009 the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council commissioned a fact-finding mission “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”
The Council appointed the Jewish Justice Richard Goldstone, a South African Constitutional Court judge and the former chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Justice Goldstone issued the 575-page report on September 29, 2009 and the Goldstone Report accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes perpetuated during the 22 days of assault on Gaza which began two days after last Christmas day, when the Israeli military launched Operation Cast Lead; a full-scale attack on Gaza that killed 13 Israelis and 1,400 Palestinians.

Over 5,000 Palestinians were injured, 400,000 were left without running water, 4,000 homes were destroyed, rendering tens of thousands who are still homeless because of Israel’s targeted attacks upon them, their schools, hospitals, streets, water wells, sewage system, farms, police stations and UN buildings.

US-supplied weapons enabled the 22 days of Israel’s attack on the people of Gaza and we the people of the US who pay taxes provide over $3 billion annually to Israel although Israel has consistently misused U.S. weapons in violation of America’s Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.

America is the worlds largest arms supplier to Israel and under a Bush negotiated deal with Israel, we the people who pay taxes in America will also provide another $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade.

During the 22 days of Israeli assault on Gaza, “Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault was decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza.” [2]

In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.

“Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.

“Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.

“Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.

“In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren’t in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died.” [Ibid]

In November 2006, Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza warned the world:

“Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry…people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope.

“Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles…Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate…Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom.

“Gaza cannot sleep…the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!”

During Operation Cast Lead, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called “self defense.”

This Citizen of CONSCIENCE for House of Representatives 2012 is on the Record saying NO to another assault on Gaza and an End to the Occupation of Palestine in 2012!

1. Israeli army plans new invasion of Gaza
2. US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza

Israel Is Illegitimate

By Alan Hart

05 April, 2010

For readers who may not be intimately familiar with English terminology, an oxymoron is a figure of speech by which contradictory terms are combined to form an expressive phrase or epithet such as cruel kindness and falsely true. (It’s derived from the Greek word oxymoros meaning pointedly foolish).

For my contribution to the De-legitimizing Israel series, I’m going to confine myself to one question and answer.

The question is: How can you de-legitimize something (in this case the Zionist state) when it is NOT legitimate?

Leaving aside the fairy story of God’s promise, (which even if true would have no bearing on the matter because the Jews who “returned” in answer to Zionism’s call had no biological connection to the ancient Hebrews), the Zionist state’s assertion of legitimacy rests on the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the UN General Assembly’s partition plan resolution of 1947.

The only real relevance of the Balfour Declaration is in the fact that it was an expression of both the willingness of a British government to use Jews for imperial purposes and the willingness of Zionist Jews to be used. The truth is that Britain had no right whatsoever to promise Zionism a place in Palestine, territory the British donot possess. (Palestine at the time was controlled and effectively owned by Ottoman Turkey). The Balfour Declaration did allow Zionism to say that its claim to Palestine had been recognised by a major power, and then to assert that the Zionist enterprise was therefore a legitimate one. But the legitimacy Britain conveyed by implication was entirely spurious, meaning not genuine, false, a sham.

Zionism’s assertion that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus legitimacy by the UN General Assembly partition resolution of 29 November 1947 is pure propaganda nonsense, as demonstrated by an honest examination of the record of what actually happened. 

In the first place the UN without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own. 

Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote, the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either. But the General Assembly resolution was only a non-binding proposal - meaning that it could have no effect, would not become binding, until and unless it was approved by the Security Council. 

The truth is that the General Assembly’s partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the US knew that, if approved, and because of Arab and other Muslim opposition, it could only be implemented by force; and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.

So the partition plan was vitiated (became invalid) and the question of what the hell to do about Palestine - after Britain had made a mess of it and walked away - was taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favoured and proposed by the US was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what do that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence - actually in defiance of the will of the organised international community, including the Truman administration.

The truth of the time was that Israel, which came into being mainly as a consequence of Zionist terrorism and pre-planned ethnic cleansing, had no right to exist and, more to the point, could have no right to exist unless ….. Unless it was recognised and legitimized by those who were dispossessed of their land and their rights during the creation of the Zionist state. In international law only the Palestinians could give Israel the legitimacy it craved. 

As it was put to me many years ago by Khalad al-Hassan, Fatah’s intellectual giant on the right, that legitimacy was “the only thing the Zionists could not take from us by force.”

The truth of history as summarised briefly above is the explanation of why, really, Zionism has always insisted that its absolute pre-condition for negotiations with more than a snowball’s chance in hell of a successful outcome (an acceptable measure of justice for the Palestinians and peace for all) is recognition of Israel’s right to exist. A right, it knows, it does not have and will never have unless the Palestinians grant it.

It can be said without fear of contradiction (except by Zionists) that what de-legitimizes Israel is the truth of history. And that is why Zionism has worked so hard, today with less success than in the past and therefore with increasing desperation, to have the truth suppressed.

Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent. He is author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. He blogs at and tweets via

UK Condemns Israel's 'Provocative' Plans in Jerusalem

12:04 12/30/2011

Britain's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt on Friday condemned Israel's plans to expand an illegal settlement and build a tourism center in occupied East Jerusalem.

Jerusalem municipality on Wednesday approved plans to build 130 new homes in Gilo settlement and a tourism complex in Silwan.

"I condemn the decision by the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee to build additional structures in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, and housing in the settlement of Gilo," Burt said in a statement.

"This is another provocative and deeply counter-productive step, the latest in a series by the Israeli authorities," he added.

The minister said Israel's continued settlement building made it "ever harder" to achieve a two-state solution.
France also said it was "deeply concerned" by Israel's plans for the occupied city in a statement Thursday.
It urged Israel to abandon the projects "in order to establish between the parties a climate of trust that is conducive to the resumption of direct negotiations."

In September 2010, Israel refused to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building despite intense international pressure, prompting the PLO to withdraw from talks.

All settlements are illegal under international law, and the PLO refuses to return to negotiations while Israel continues to build Jewish-only housing on occupied Palestinian land.

On Nov. 1, Israel announced it was speeding up illegal construction after the UN cultural agency UNESCO voted to admit Palestine.

(Ma'an News)

Israel Closes Karm Abu Salem Crossing

Friday December 30, 2011 13:02 by George Rishmawi - IMEMC & Agencies
Israeli authorities temporarily close the Karm Abu Salem Crossing with the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Security sources reported on Friday. The border crossing will re-open on Sunday.
Raed Fattuh, the Palestinian officer who is head of the committee supervising the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, said that Israel opened the crossing for two days only, Wednesday and Thursday to allow some food supplies and construction material to enter into Gaza.

Karm Abu Salem, also known as Kerem Shalom terminal, is the only crossing through which goods can enter the besieged coastal region from Israel.

The siege on the Gaza Strip has been imposed since the summer of 2006, after Hamas won the parliamentary elections, and was tightened after the abduction of Israeli private Gilad Shalit in June of the same year. The siege was tightened further still after Hamas took over the whole of Gaza, in a military coop against Fatah in 2007.

One ultra-Orthodox woman who did not stay silent

  • Published 06:10 30.12.11 Latest update 06:10 30.12.11

When Yocheved Horowitz, an ultra-Orthodox woman from Ashdod, sat down in the front of the gender-segregated bus, she believed her protest would provoke a change among the silent Haredi majority. Others aren't so optimistic.

By Tamar Rotem

When she sat down last week in the front of a gender-segregated bus on its way from to Ashdod to Jerusalem, the sole Haredi woman amid men, Yocheved Horowitz did not imagine that her actions would prompt such contradictory responses. In Haredi society, it is not customary to protest radicalization, and it certainly is not customary for women to do so.

Horowitz was prepared for abusive comments. As a Haredi woman, news of the publication of her unusual remarks condemning the humiliation of women on the so-called mehadrin buses spread quickly. Even before Shabbat, many had read the article about her in Haaretz or in pieces on the Haredi news sites. The story spread through the ultra-Orthodox community, where everyone knows everything about everyone. Within hours everyone knew who her husband was and how to reach her.

Yocheved Horowitz - Michal Fattal Yocheved Horowitz.
Photo by: Michal Fattal

 Phone calls started coming in. Some condemned not only her protest, but primarily the fact that she had cooperated with a secular newspaper. She responded to all: "Let me say these things in a Haredi newspaper."

 "After all, if I could give an interview to a Haredi newspaper, I would do so," she says. "That shut up the critics. They know you can't denounce the mehadrin [bus lines] in Yated Neeman. The only way I can express my opinion is by bypassing the Haredi press. The trouble is that most of the people responding hadn't read the article. If they had, they would have seen that I did not in any way desecrate the Lord's name," she says.

"What I found funniest was that commenters called me a 'secular woman in a wig.' People who write things like that are empty," she says. "I wasn't offended. I'm not afraid of those who oppose me; what's important is that they speak with respect. And I told those who contacted me that it is not written anywhere that women have to sit in the back."

But along with the expected opposition, she also received positive responses. "Courageous woman," "you are privileged," "you sanctified the Heavenly Name in public" are some of the things fellow ultra-Orthodox told her, whether in online comments on news sites or in Haredi forums, or phone calls from strangers.

Many Haredi streams - the entire Lithuanian public, Sephardim, Shas and the like - oppose gender segregation on buses. But now they seem to be pleased that Horowitz did their work for them, despite the convention in conservative societies of not washing dirty laundry in public. Many people evidently felt that she spoke for them.

She had been thinking of protesting for a long time. "I wanted to signal to the extremists, and not only on buses, that women are not hefker" [literally "ownerless property," though in this context meaning expendable]. "Of course I was scared at first. The Haredim don't like things like this. They fear having their name and image publicized. I was afraid of what people would say, especially my family. But I went with my truth and I knew that without a name the act would be less credible, and so I decided to go public."

Horowitz views the campaign in Beit Shemesh by the extremist Sicarii, who made headlines last week after grown men spat at an 8-year-old girl whom they believed was not dressed modestly enough, as yet another misinterpretation of the Torah. "The Sicarii are insane, and I don't even consider them religious. Lately everything has become forbidden, and I think that's extremist and twisted."

Following the reactions to her protest, Horowitz says she believes others will join her campaign against exclusion of women. "Suddenly they [the Haredim] can see that there is someone with the courage to broach this controversial topic. They never dreamed that a Haredi woman would know how to answer, wouldn't be afraid and would know how to handle insults. Now I am waiting for other women to start talking."

'Vulgarization of religion' 
One person who encouraged Horowitz but sounds a lot less optimistic is Dov Halbertal, an attorney and lecturer in Jewish law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Halbertal, who is himself Haredi, has been visiting the home of Ashkenazi Haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv for years. He has long warned against what he calls the politicization of religion, and against radicalization, such as that embodied by mehadrin buses or the Beit Shemesh zealots. He denounces "the vulgarization of religion that finds expression in the exclusion of women."

"This is not just an internal problem within Haredi society," he says. "Religion is taking over politics because it has a tendency to take over, and the ones who are pulling this cart are the silent ones," he says. This makes Horowitz's action "brave and truly unique."

"Beit Shemesh and the buses are not the main problem," Halbertal claims. "They are symptoms of the politicization of religion. They are the results of extremists feeling secure because they're receiving backing from the establishment. They have tremendous backing and tremendous security because they receive funding from the state. After all, what motivates them is taking control of the country. How could buses be stopped in Mea She'arim [as happened several years ago] and the police do nothing? One day you'll find yourselves, secular women and the general public as a whole, silenced altogether."

Halbertal says "the solution is to use force against the extremists and to forcibly remove the skullcap from the state." He has taken a great deal of flak from his community over his call for separation of religion and state, so he knows how hard it is for sane Haredim to go against the flow. Like Horowitz, he too evokes contradictory reactions. His Haredi detractors call him a fascist and a leftist, but he also has supporters.

"The Haredi street is against me. The online commenters swooped down on me from every direction. They consider me less than dust. But there are quality people in the Haredi world, mainly young people, including the sons of yeshiva heads, sons of people in key positions, who tell me, 'Go ahead.' They tell me, 'we can't express ourselves, but you speak for us.'"

He understands why they aren't speaking out, but he believes the majority's silence is a show of cowardice and servility. "The little guy doesn't usually come out against the majority. But that is a problem. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that more than condemning the bad people, we must condemn the silence of the good."

He can't vent his opinions in the Haredi press. "If I write in Yated Neeman, I'll be immediately thrown out of the community. The community is terrorized by way of such issues as matchmaking. After all, everyone has to arrange marriages for his children. But if you say a word or two in favor of secular people, they won't want to match anyone to your children. So you have a responsibility. The upshot is that your average Haredi is captive. Therefore only those handful of people who are not submissive can do something that might lead to change."

"There are many matters about which the public has an opinion, but keeps it to itself," concurs a Haredi man who refuses to give his name. "People don't want to oppose, and they've gotten used to the extremists calling the shots. It's a dictatorship. The public doesn't like that it has to go along with the trend. So if you do hear from a man with other opinions, it influences you. It rouses you to action."

However, Haredi journalist Moshe Glasner thinks ultra-Orthodox condemning the exclusion of women won't change the consciousness of their public. Moreover, he says the media's preoccupation with these matters has hurt the cause by strengthening the community's sense of persecution.

"All this has done is strengthen the extremists, because the attack was on us as a Haredi public, and it was brutal," Glasner says. "Right now, people feel they are under heavy artillery fire, that the discussion has gone beyond the legitimate. In this state we cannot respond to the issue at hand, and that places the entire public reluctantly on the extremists' side. Even if there is a sane public that opposes segregated buses, they cannot speak out right now." Glasner adds, "It would be like proposing a vote of no-confidence during wartime. After the war, as it were, we'll set up a committee of inquiry. And we'll do the reckoning ourselves."

He says the Orthodox deal with issues such as segregated buses and the Sicarii on a regular basis. Within the Haredi media, there is a fundamental debate regarding who is to blame for all of this, and why the rabbis have not clearly denounced the Sicarii's extremism. Glasner says we have to wait and see what will happen when the smoke clears, but adds, "Anyone who thinks that the media spotlight will halt the exclusion of women, stop the mehadrin and force the extremists to surrender is mistaken."

Israel has bigger problems

Op-ed: Women’s exclusion gets inflated attention; we have bigger issues to deal with
Hagai Segal
Published: 12.30.11, 13:36 / Israel Opinion
In the eight days of Hanukkah, three people were murdered in Israel and the murder of a child killed on the eve of the holiday was solved. A resident of the northern “triangle area” was gravely wounded by assassins. Terrorists fired at an Israeli vehicle in Samaria.

Elsewhere, Qassam missiles exploded in Gaza-region communities. Seven Jewish girls reported that they were abducted by Bedouins. Meanwhile, the massacre of civilians by their leaders near our northern border continued.
Segregated Buses

We need 100,000 women / Yoel Esteron

Op-ed: Segregated haredi buses could be overcome if 100,000 women board them
Full Story

Yet nonetheless, most attention here in Chanukah was dedicated to an eight-year-old girl spat on by a local idiot.
The prime minister delivered two impassioned speeches against the spitting, the president expressed his presidential disgust, and even the IDF chief of staff was indirectly required to address the issue.

The main headline of Lieutenant General Benny Gantz’s holiday interview with Army Radio did not deal with the Iranian issue or the Gaza problem, but rather, with the singing of women. The news about the boosted defense budget was cast aside in favor of two female soldiers who were prevented from singing solo during a Chanukah party.
For a moment, the impression that was created is that military bands are the essence of the Israel Defense Force’s existence.

Priorities distorted

Ladies and gentleman, you got carried away. The inflated preoccupation with the phenomenon of women’s exclusion does not only constitute a wild exaggeration and a cynical distortion of our priorities, it is also a lethal boomerang.

The ultra-Orthodox community suspects that the major campaign against women’s exclusion is not premised on frank concern for women, but rather, on deep hatred for haredim. Hence, instead of developing anger at the violent minority within it, the haredi community is developing a feeling of collective persecution. It feels that there is no point in protesting against the radicals, because in any case the outside world despises the radicals and the moderates equally.

Regrettably, this is not a case of paranoia. The incidents of women’s exclusion are an effective secular means for slamming the haredim, just like the “price tag” acts are a leftist means for slamming the settlers. 

In both cases we are dealing with grave phenomena, yet certainly not ones that justify the overwhelming mass emotions of recent days. When one hits a nail with a hammer that is too big, the nail breaks.,7340,L-4169026,00.html

Haredi accused of sexually harassing soldier files appeal

Shlomo Fuchs, 44, accused of sexually harassing female soldier on public bus, files appeal with J'lem court. 'Unpleasant remarks are heard every day, most of them sexual,' he claims
Aviad Glickman
Published: 12.30.11, 12:07 / Israel News
Is it sexual harassment to call someone a slut ? Jerusalem resident Shlomo Fuchs, 44, accused of sexually harassing Doron Matalon, a female soldier on a public bus, calling her a "slut," has filed an appeal with the city's Magistrate's Court on Friday.

"Unpleasant remarks are heard every day in Israel, including some which may be considered humiliating, and most of them are based on a person's sexuality. Those who curse are never put on trial," Fuchs claimed in the appeal.
Police officials said Fuchs' behavior was unruly, and that he sexually harassed Matalon by humiliating her and making sexual remarks.

The court partially accepted Fuchs' appeal, ordering him to pay NIS 5,000 ($1,310) instead of NIS 20,000 ($5,242) in bail. He is scheduled to be released from jail on Friday.

דורון מטלון. פרצה בבכי והתלוננה (צילום: עטא עוויסאת)
The soldier, Doron Matalon (Photo: Atta Awisat)

Fuchs also claimed that even if cursing a woman "is deserving of moral obloquy, it does not constitute a criminal offense of sexual harassment." He further stated that the decision to put him on trial is based on an unfounded perception, claiming "there is no reasonable ground to suppose that the court… will not acquit the claimant."

Even if the expression he used was unpleasant to hear, the appeal stated, Fuchs should not be arrested for it, adding he's not considered a threat to the public.

'Not a sexual offender'

"I am not a sexual offender," Fuchs, father of 12, told his attorney on Thursday. "If anything – she harassed me. I wanted to move away and she kept moving closer."

Fuchs' attorney claimed this was not a criminal offense. "We live in a free country. We're allowed to curse, its part of the freedom of expression," he explained.

If the court does decide this is a sexual harassment case, said the attorney, then any man who calls a woman a "bitch" or other curse words would be considered a sexual offender.
According to the appeal, the Jerusalem court has no foundation to determine whether this is a growing phenomenon. Fuchs attorneys believe that the police was likely influenced by the current atmosphere. "Fuchs has nothing to do with Beit Shemesh."

The indictment against Fuchs follows a warning issued by Israeli authorities saying they would not tolerate the exclusion of women from the public sphere or any acts of violence towards women. State Prosecutor Moshe Lador stressed that "the prosecution will work with the police to bring this radical phenomenon of haredi extremism to an end.",7340,L-4169011,00.html

Campaign launched against French purchase of Israeli drones as senators demand deal be abandoned

French boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigners have called on their government to abandon a €318 million deal to buy Heron TP drones from Israel Aircraft Industries. Meanwhile, senior members of France’s Senate have called publicly for the country to abandon the purchase on grounds that the Israeli drones are unsuited to the needs of the armed forces.

Campaign against Israeli drones


A petition launched by Campagne BDS France urging the government to end the deal and calling for an immediate military embargo on Israel has already garnered more than 1300 signatures. The text states:
No to the purchase by France of 318 million euros worth of Israeli drones!
An immediate military embargo against Israel!

On 20 July the French Ministry of Defence took the scandalous decision to buy from Israel more than 318 million euros worth of war weapons.  When this outlaw state is guilty, day after day, of grave violations of international law, when there is a climate of austerity, when there are calls for demilitarization and for sanctions against Israel’s impunity, we are outraged by the disgraceful choice made by the Ministry of Defence.

Israel has a well established record of violations of international law and human rights, on display in its various military operations and aggressive attacks, incursions and occupations of Palestinian territories and other Arab countries, in its abusive and indiscriminate use of force and in the deliberate targeting of civilians and infrastructure. All of which result in a ceaseless repetition of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The BDS French Campaign joins the Palestinian BNC in calling for an immediate military embargo against Israel, similar to that imposed upon South Africa in the past.  We demand the immediate cancellation of the contract to purchase drones from Israel.

Decision to buy Israeli drones “surprises” French Senate


Earlier this month, the vice-chairs of the foreign affairs and defence and armed forces committees of the French Senate wrote an open letter in Le Monde strongly opposing the decision. The four senators, two from President Nicholas Sarkozy’s UMP party and two from the Socialist opposition, wrote (my translation):
On July 20, the Minister of Defence, Gérard Longuet, chose to equip our forces with the Heron TP, manufactured by the Israeli company IAI [Israel Aircraft Industries] and imported by Dassault. This decision caused surprise in the Senate. When a state undertakes to equip its forces it must be done impartially, in a rational, that is to say, measurable manner: at what price, what specifications, and what industrial sovereignty? If possible it must reconcile all these objectives, otherwise it must prioritize the security of its soldiers and the effectiveness of its armed forces.
The senators added that the Israeli drone was unsuited to French needs. The Heron TP, they wrote, is “big, slow and vulnerable in degraded weather conditions.” They advocated purchasing the US-made Reaper drone instead.

Their support for the Reaper underscores that the senators, while strongly opposing the Israeli drone, did not raise any ethical concerns about the purchase. Their opposition – according to their words – is strictly on technical merit.

Nonetheless, with a significant core of opposition to buying from Israel already in place it may well be easier for BDS campaigners to bring more public pressure to abandon the deal.

French campaign follows in Finland’s footsteps


The campaign in France echoes a long-standing citizens’ initiative in Finland to get that country to abandon a possible deal to buy Israeli drones.

The Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja had already gone on record, while in opposition, against purchasing the Israeli weapons on ethical grounds and recently condemned Israeli “apartheid.”.

Last July, the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) came out publicly in support of an arms embargo on Israel and called for an end to “all military-related training and consultancies with the Israeli army, military companies and academic research institutions.”

Exposed: UK university student claiming bias works for project of Israel pressure group

30 December 2011
A worker at an Israeli media pressure group used her low dissertation mark as a post-graduate student at University of Warwick to smear a professor involved in Palestine solidarity activism this month.

Smadar Bakovic claimed that Professor Nicola Pratt had unfairly graded her dissertation. She told a pro-Israel journalist that the same dissertation was passed with a distinction after being re-marked by a second professor. But the paper running the story failed to mention that Bakovic works for MediaCentral in Jerusalem, an agency affiliated with pro-Israel media pressure group HonestReporting.

The article appeared in The Jewish Chronicle (a pro-Israel paper), first published on their website on 22 December. It drew heavily on Bakovic as its source, but portrayed her merely as an Israeli student, without mentioning her MediaCentral affiliation. A university spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada that the article contained multiple inaccuracies, which he had alerted the paper to but they still ran their version (“Anti-Zionist professor’s low marks for Israeli - now a distinction,” 22 December 2011).

University spokesperson Peter Dunn said Bakovic’s claims were false. It is “not true that she made repeated requests for a supervisor change,” he said. She asked to change supervisors only once, and, despite that, said she was happy with Pratt’s supervision. It was only when she received her low mark that she asked the university to change.

Nicola Pratt is associate professor of international politics of the Middle East at the University of Warwick in the midlands of the UK. She is reportedly active in Palestine solidarity campaigns, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

I did it for Israel”


The Electronic Intifada contacted Professor Pratt who referred us to Dunn. He said the Jewish Chronicle journalist had also told him Bakovic admitted to being happy with Pratt’s supervision. Dunn said Bakovic had to resubmit her dissertation to the second professor with “substantial changes” for the higher mark. Dunn said he had confirmed with her new supervisor that Bakovic’s claim this second version was only “tweaked” was untrue. In order to protect Bakovic’s privacy, Dunn could not name the second professor.

The Electronic Intifada wrote to Bakovic to ask her to reveal the name of the second professor in order to verify this, but she declined to respond. “I did it for Israel,” she told The Jewish Chronicle, referring to her year-long campaign to be allowed to redo her dissertation. The Jewish Chronicle claimed it had seen emails (presumably from Bakovic) showing the second dissertation contained “no major changes” from the one marked by Pratt.

Dunn said he had not been shown these emails, and the journalist was making an unjustified inference, probably based on an early stage in the process. Dunn said: “the first mark was also matched by an external examiner as well as Nicola. The university stands by both marks for both pieces of work and the complaints panel found Nicola’s supervision to be exemplary.” The Electronic Intifada asked Bakovic to prove the second version was not substantially different, but she failed to reply.

University’s disappointment


Bakovic is listed as the media services coordinator on the website of MediaCentral. Based in Jerusalem, the group says it is a “free or low-cost” fixer agency that immerses foreign journalists in Israeli perspectives.
The group is a project of HonestReporting, which once described itself on its website as “an organization dedicated to defending Israel against prejudice in the media” (“Our Mission”).

Its managing editor, Simon Plosker, is a reservist soldier in the Israeli army’s press office. He previously worked for the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and NGO Monitor, another Israel lobby group (“Meet the editors”).

Asked to comment on Bakovic’s membership of MediaCentral, Dunn said he knew nothing about her beyond the academic issues, and that the university’s concern was only to defend its academic reputation. It was unusual for the university to allow a student to redo her dissertation in this way and they had thought Bakovic would be grateful, and were disappointed to be depicted like this, he added.

The Electronic Intifada put Dunn’s claims to Bakovic via email, and asked whether or not she had informed The Jewish Chronicle she works for MediaCentral. She declined to reply.

Bakovic told The Jewish Chronicle that she monitored the university’s Palestine solidarity movement: “I knew Prof Pratt because whenever there was an anti-Israel event at the university I went along and she was often there,” she stated.

Professor Pratt was one of many academic signatories to a seminal letter in The Guardian during the 2008-09 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, which asserted that “if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides … against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank” (“Growing outrage at the killing in Gaza,” 15 January 2009).

In the Reut Institute’s now-infamous 2010 report on how to counter the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the influential think tank advised Israel to “sabotage” the movement of solidarity with Palestine.
One of the many examples it gave of possible counter-strategies was “Mobilizing and training civil society partners … for example students and faculty in academia” (“The Delegitimization Challenge: Creating a Political Firewall, March 2010, p. 71).

If this was another attempt to “sabotage” the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, it was an especially clumsy one.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who writes about Palestine.

Aussie Dave Exposed ~ by Richard Silverstein (including update)

Dec 28, 2011 | Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam-תיקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place

For those who have a long memory here, one of my earliest prolonged blogging battles was with a far-right wing Islamophobic Australian-Israeli blogger who used the pseudonym, Aussie Dave and wrote an especially putrid blog, Israellycool. Originally, I went head to head with him over his Jewish blogging contest which he organized under the sponsorship of the Jerusalem Post. In taking him to task for the far right wing nature of the vast majority of the blogs nominated, I earned his eternal enmity. He’s now organizing a new version of the contest, the Pro-Israel Blog-Off, for only the farthest right of pro-Israel blogs.  To ensure the Zionist ideological kashrut of the project, the judges include the CEO of the pro-Israel media advocacy group, Honest Reporting (“Honest” should be in square quotes) and “the Embassy of Israel in Dublin.”  Don’t ask how an entire embassy can judge a blogging contest.  The nominees are a very veritable hate-fest of the right-wing Anglo-Israeli blog world including CIF Watch, Elders of Ziyon, My Right Word, etc.

Ever since the days of his first contest, he’s taken every chance he could to attempt (invariably unsuccessfully) to shame, embarrass, humiliate or insult me. I won’t go into the specifics since they’re so puerile and sophomoric.  Davey has threatened to sue me and warned me that he was a lawyer. But somehow, being the bully he is, he talked a good game never following through. I’ve always wondered why he refused to reveal his real identity, especially since he’d published my home address, phone number and my wife’s employer name and work phone at his blog. It seemed especially hypocritical under the circumstances.

david loeb facebook profile

David Loeb’s Facebook profile

david loeb aussie dave
David “Aussie” Loeb at the blackjack table

Now, due to a sloppy error on his part (thanks to an Israeli who finds him as repellant as I, who caught it), Aussie Dave has exposed his real identity. And since I believe that hypocrites deserve their comeuppance and that their dark secrets deserve to see the light, I’m exposing him for what and who he is: David Loeb, 23 Rashi Street Beit-Shemesh, Israel. In his Facebook profile he notes some sort of affiliation with Virgin Megastores, which may mean he works there. If anyone knows, I’d like to find out. Loeb’s FB photo indicates he likes to gamble as it shows him at what appears to be a casino blackjack table.

The last straw that determined my decision to expose him was his feeble attempt to link me to a couple from my home city sharing my last name, who were charged with welfare fraud. Loeb hoped at the very least that the cheat might be my brother or some other close relative. It’s bad enough when they implicate me personally in their scummy revenge fantasies. But when they attempt to ensnare innocent family members, that goes too far.

So Dave, I’m throwing you the coming out party you so richly deserve. Enjoy your moment the sun. Now that you’ve been outed you won’t have any more protection than the rest of us, who blog under our own name, have. I daren’t believe it will make you any more responsible or any less bilious. You and leopards, after all, cannot change your spots.

NOTE ABOUT CHANGES TO COMMENTING: I’ve been innundated by spam lately and disappointed that the Akismet anti-spam plugin, which had been doing a great job, began to perform so shoddily.  I’ve implemented a new system that requires commenters to check boxes before their comment is sent to the queue.  I didn’t want to implement a Captcha plugin because I thought that was too intrusive.  I hope this is a reasonable compromise.

Source and more at  Tikun Olam-תיקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place.

Dec 29, 2011 | Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam-תיקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place

The Sad Case of Aussie Dave

Yesterday, I reported in a post that I believed I had exposed the real identity of Aussie Dave, author of the Israellycool blog.  It appears that he invented a fake identity in order to perpetrate a hoax on me.  It boggles the mind that he went to the immense amount of trouble he did to perpetrate this hoax.  It tells you how much free time he has on his hands to engage in all the subterfuge that was necessary to fool me.  It tells you precious little about me, but quite a lot about him.

Dave thinks he’s a genius because I fooled me.  What he doesn’t realize is that in his blog post, he proudly admits that he created a hoax Facebook account for a non-existent person using the photo of a real person, a clear violation of Facebook rules.  Here’s how he bragged about it:
David Loeb is a fake name. The photo in the Facebook profile I set up is of basketballer Jordan Farmar…I used his photo deliberately…

I included in the profile my supposed address (Beit Shemesh)…as well as the URL of this blog to connect David Loeb to it.
I’ve reported him to Facebook for doing this.  I hope there will be repercussions and that he doesn’t have a real Facebook account.  If he does, perhaps Facebook will express its displeasure with idiots like him exploiting company for his own tomfoolish purposes.

Dave moans in his post that I not only violated his privacy by posting what he wanted me to believe was his home address, but that I potentially endangered him.  Which is funny because he doesn’t mention that he not only published my home address and phone number, but my wife’s employer and her work phone.

He and his allies are trying to embarrass Jillian York, a staffer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who correctly warned me that his Facebook account appeared to be fake.  They’re claiming that I exposed the private details of an individual in violation of EFF guidelines and that York is somehow guilty of violating her employer’s mission statement in protecting the privacy of bloggers.  This is yet more nonsense since Aussie Dave created a publicly accessible Facebook account to which anyone had access and which displayed his alleged address for anyone to see.  Not only that, but the account is fake as is virtually all the information in it.
Dave of course doesn’t mention the recent incident when he hoaxed himself, seeking to believe that my brother had been arrested for being a welfare cheat.  The only truth to his fantasy was that someone with my extremely common last name had been arrested for such a crime.  He created an entire post in which he gleefully and hopefully speculated that the perpetrator might be my brother.  He even searched through my online photo galleries finding a photo of my brother-in-law and speculating that because he had the same first name as the welfare cheat that he might be the same person.  He wasn’t.  Not a word from Dave about this violation of the privacy of my brother-in-law, a totally innocent party in his charade.

There’s a larger point here as far as I’m concerned.  It’s that doing what I do is complicated because I have to trust my sources and go with my gut about their credibility.  Yes, I can do some elementary research to determine their credibility.  But in the end, you have to decide whether or not to take a jump.  Usually, the times when I’ve been hoaxed are when I decide to trust people I’ve never dealt with before and whose bona fides aren’t clear.  That’s what happened in this case.

I’ve said before that I’ve made mistakes in trusting a few hoaxsters (luckily only two as far as I know).  Luckily those mistakes have been few.  Now we can add this one to the previous ones.  When you report stories that I do, there is always the chance that you will make mistakes.  Some will involve discrete points in an overall story.  Others will be larger and more serious errors.  I’ve never claimed to be perfect.  In fact, I think conceding mistakes shows readers that you are human and have nothing to hide.

Dave wrote in his post that he believed I would take down my earlier post exposing him.  I certainly won’t.  Both because I want readers to know that I’m transparent; and because I want people to see what he has done and judge him for it.  I want people to understand the pains that the pro-Israel Islamophobic blog world takes to smear its opponents.  And the nastiness of their methods and outcomes.

Source and more at Tikun Olam

PCHR Weekly Report: One Palestinian killed, 11 wounded by Israeli forces this week

Friday December 30, 2011 11:41 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News
In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 22- 28 December 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed and 5 others were wounded in two extra-judicial execution attempts by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. 6 additional Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded by Israeli forces.
Israeli Occupation Forces demolish agricultural facilities in Ethna village, west of Hebron
Israeli Occupation Forces demolish agricultural facilities in Ethna village, west of Hebron
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:

The 27th of December marks the third anniversary of the commencement of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip. The PCHR believes that Israeli forces committed serious violations of IHL and IHRL over the course of the offensive. Violations entailing individual criminal responsibility include – but are not limited to – the crimes of willful killing, the extensive destruction of civilian property, the direct targeting of civilians and civilian objects, the use of human shields, and the launching of indiscriminate attacks.

The PCHR calls upon the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to refer the situation in Israel and Palestine to the International Criminal Court. The PCHR also reminds States, as High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention, of their pressing legal obligation, to search for and prosecute all those suspected of committing war crimes, regardless of their nationality.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian resistance fighter and wounded 10 Palestinians, including two children in the Gaza Strip.

On 27 December 2011, Israeli forces extra-judicially executed a Palestinian resistance fighter and wounded another one and 3 civilian bystanders, including a child. An Israeli drone fired a missile at two fighters of a Salafist group who were traveling on a motorcycle opposite to Concorde Gallery near Abu Sharekh Square in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya. As a result, one of the fighters was killed, and the other one was wounded by shrapnel to the chest. Additionally, 3 civilian bystanders, including a child, were wounded. Two houses and 4 shops were also damaged, and a civilian car was completely destroyed.

On the same day, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a civilian vehicle, in which 4 Palestinian resistance fighters were traveling, in al-Jalaa’ Street in the north of Gaza City. As a result, the four fighters were wounded, one of them sustained a serious wound. Additionally, a civilian bystander was lightly wounded.

Also on the same day, a Palestinian child was wounded by Israeli gunfire in the central Gaza Strip.

On 23 December 2011, Israeli forces fired 3 artillery shells at agricultural areas to the east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported.

Israeli attacks in the West Bank:

During the last week, Israeli forces conducted 32 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted 28 Palestinians, including 4 children and a university professor.

In addition, Israeli soldiers abducted two Palestinian civilians at various checkpoints in the West Bank.

In an example of this week’s invasions, on Thursday, 22 December, at approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Wajeeh Hmaid Abu Maria, and abducted his two sons: Ahmed, 18; and Mohammed, 17. At the same time, Israeli forces raided a house belonging to the family of Mohammed Saqer Abu Maria, 20, to abduct him but he was not there. Israeli soldiers attempted to hold his sister as a hostage to force to him to surrender, but the family intervened and prevented them. So, Israeli soldiers confiscated the ID card of his brother, Napoleon, 25.

On the same night, at approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Jenin refugee camp. They raided and searched a number of houses and abducted 8 Palestinian civilians to question them in regard to the death of a Palestinian theatre director who held Israeli citizenship, Juliano Mir Khamis, who was shot dead on 04 April 2011. The detainees were released a few hours later.

These are just two examples of this week’s 32 invasions by Israeli forces into West Bank towns and villages, most of which occurred in the early hours of the morning while people were sleeping.

Israeli settlement activities:

Israeli forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On 28 December 2011, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem approved the construction of 130 settlement units in “Gilo” settlement, south of Jerusalem. It also approved the establishment of a large tourist project in Silwan village to the south of the old town of Jerusalem. On Tuesday, 27 December 2011, the Israeli daily Maariv reported about a planned settlement project in Silwan village to the south of the old town of Jerusalem. This project is planned by the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem and “Elad” settlement association. The Israeli newspaper reported that “the large tourist project” is a joint project planned by the settlement association, the municipality of Jerusalem and “Nature and Gardens Authority.” It includes the establishment of archaeological centers, pools and basins. According to the newspaper, the local committee of planning and construction of the municipality of Jerusalem is expected to approve presenting the plan for any possible objections. The project is planned on a 5,400-square-meter area of land. According to “Elad” association, a car park absorbing about 250 cars will be established.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces demolished a house and destroyed 5 wells, 4 water tabks and 4 agricultural rooms in Ethna village, west of Hebron, claiming that they were established without licenses. They also confiscated some agricultural equipment.

Israeli forces also destroyed a well and 9 agricultural pools in Dura village, southwest of Hebron. They also confiscated some agricultural equipment.

Israeli Annexation Wall:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces used force against peaceful demonstrations organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest to the construction of the Wall and settlement activities in the West Bank, and in protest to the establishment of a buffer zone in the Gaza Strip. As a result, a Palestinian civilian was wounded. Additionally, dozens of Palestinian civilians and human rights defenders suffered from tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces also abducted a Palestinian civilian.

Following the Friday Prayer on 23 December 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Bil'ein village, west of Ramallah, in protest to the construction of the annexation wall and support for efforts to achieve national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah movements. They raised the Palestinian flag and called for ending political division. They then moved towards areas of Palestinian land, which the Israeli High Court ordered to be returned to their Palestinian owners. Israeli soldiers stationed in the area fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, a number of civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Also following the Friday prayer on 23 December 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders gathered in the center of al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, to start the weekly peaceful protest against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities. The protesters walked towards the gate erected by Israeli forces near the entrance of the village and leading to Palestinian lands that Israeli settlers from the nearby "Halmish" settlement are trying to seize. Israeli soldiers who had been extensively deployed in the area and near all the entrances of the village since the morning, began to confront the protesters who wanted to walk towards the affected lands. Israeli soldiers fired live and rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protesters. As a result, Waleed Yousef al-Barghouthi, 22, was wounded by a bullet to the foot, and dozens of civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Also following the Friday Prayer on 23 December 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Ne'lin village, west of Ramallah, in protest against the construction of the annexation wall. They clashed with Israeli troops positioned near the annexation wall. Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. As a result, a number of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation.

Recommendations to the international community:

Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these was a recommendation that the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention comply with their legal obligations detailed in Article 146 of the Convention to search for and prosecute those responsible for grave breaches, namely war crimes.

In addition, the PCHR called for the immediate implementation of the Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice, which considers the construction of the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank illegal.

The PCHR recommends that international civil society organizations, including human rights organizations, bar associations and NGOs, participate in the process of exposing those accused of grave breaches of international law and urge their governments to bring the perpetrators to justice.

For the full text of the report, click on the link below:
category palestine | human rights | news report author email saed at imemc dot org
Related Link(s):

Armed Israeli Settlers Parade in West Bank Town

BETHLEHEM, December 30, 2011 (WAFA) – Around 200 armed Israeli settlers paraded in the town of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem Friday morning and walked around the convention center and nearby Solomon’s Pools, said local activists.

Awad Abu Sway, member of the local anti-settlements committee, said the settlers, protected by Israeli soldiers, took pictures of the convention center and the pools and held prayers in the area.

The settlers then left the area and went to another neighborhood of al-Khader, where a settlement outpost was erected.

Another area activist, Ahmad Salah, said settlers have increased their activities in that area of al-Khader. The Israeli army declared on Thursday dozens of dunums of al-Khader closed military zone.

He said area farmers are regularly harassed by settlers who prevent them from working on their land.


Land Expropriation and Settlements in the International Law

The establishment of settlements in the West Bank violates international humanitarian law which establishes principles that apply during war and occupation. Moreover, the settlements lead to the infringement of international human rights law.

The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Article 49). The Hague Regulations prohibit an occupying power from undertaking permanent changes in the occupied area unless these are due to military needs in the narrow sense of the term, or unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population.

The establishment of settlements results in the violation of the rights of Palestinians as enshrined in international human rights law. Among other violations, the settlements infringe the right to self-determination, equality, property, an adequate standard of living, and freedom of movement.

The illegality of the settlements under international humanitarian law does not affect the status of the settlers. The settlers constitute a civilian population by any standard, and include children, who are entitled to special protection. Although some of the settlers are part of the security forces, this fact has absolutely no bearing on the status of the other residents of the settlements.

Video: Elderly Israeli Fighter Talks About 1948 Genocide

Jeremy Sapienza, December 29, 2011 
Electronic Intifada‘s Benjamin Doherty shared a video from “Nakba”-awareness group Zochrot – “Remembering” – of a former Palmach fighter who participated in the expulsion of unarmed Palestinian Arabs from their villages in Southern Israel. Amnon Neumann casually describes that he helped kill people, burn their villages, and chase off women and children. He regrets his actions but notes he is one of the few to admit his crimes; even so, he is loath to talk about the details of the atrocities.

In one grimace-inducing moment, Neumann talks of the Palestinians who didn’t quite realize they wouldn’t be coming back, who sneaked out of Gaza refugee camps at night to tend their villages’ grapevines. There, says Neumann, they were gunned down.

As late as the 50s, he notes, Arab villages were being evicted wholesale and forced to Gaza. The desert was made to bloom, it seems, only after its villages were ploughed under.

The reason for the Nakba, said Neumann, was “the Zionist ideology.” Like all ultranationalist movements, Zionism requires the murder and expulsion of a people and the destruction of all evidence of their existence. Those not destroyed must be permanently subjugated by the ethnicity in charge. It seems that for many, the tragedy of the Holocaust was that it happened to Jews. That the Nakba happened to Arabs means it’s not worth our attention — or worse, they are revised as aggressors.

“This is very clear. We came to inherit the land. Who do you inherit from? If the land is empty you inherit it from no one. The land was not empty when we inherited it.”

Israel doesn't really want to end gender segregation

 Published 03:37 29.12.11 Latest update 03:37 29.12.11

Walking in the streets of a big city at night is dangerous, and not only for girls - much more dangerous than in Beit Shemesh. Which collective is held responsible for that?

By Israel Harel

Are we really interested in ending gender segregation in Haredi (ultra-Orthodox ) society, or any of the similar and even graver ills that exist in that society, as well as others? Not likely. From the strident tones of the past few days, one can safely assume that the goal of most of the critics, including the religious ones, is Haredi-bashing, pure and simple.

Most social ills happen because, as the Bible puts in, "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes." And it is not at all clear that the ultra-Orthodox community is taking greater advantage than others of the lack of reverence for sovereignty.

Beit Shemesh protests - Michal Fattal Protesters at Beit Shemesh last week.
Photo by: Michal Fattal

But the Haredim are subject to different laws than everyone else - except, perhaps, the settlers. How easy it is to unite against them, especially during Hanukkah, and sing with great feeling that old holiday favorite, "Banu Hoshech Legaresh," "We have come to banish darkness."

The violent sect in Beit Shemesh could have been dealt with while it was still small and weak. However, there were weaker parties: the police, the municipal authorities and the silent majority of its residents. Now that the media has woken us all up, what should have been done years ago but wasn't will finally be done in Beit Shemesh and beyond.

The weeds that grew in the gardens of the settlement movement should also have been nipped in the bud. But there too, there was no hurry. Yet amazingly, only two weeks after an attack on soldiers sparked a public outcry, there are persuasive signs that the police have begun to act decisively.

Problems similarly in need of eradication, but on an incomparably greater scale, also exist in other communities. But political correctness accords greater import to the segregation of women in Haredi society than to emotional abuse, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse and pornography in other communities.

This political correctness certainly bars open discussion of serious problems in Arab and Bedouin society (such as polygamy, which the law clearly prohibits; marriage between close relatives; female genital mutilation, etc. ). It's not even permissible - and this is self-evident - to discuss incidents of Arabs and Bedouin enticing Jewish girls from peripheral communities and poor homes to leave their parents and move to Arab villages, though this is kidnapping in every sense of the word when the girl is a minor.

Although this phenomenon is well known, it is rarely reported, and the police and welfare authorities rarely take action even when parents file complaints. Nor is anyone as interested in the stories of those girls who manage to flee psychological, physical and sexual abuse as they were in the story of Naama Margolese last week (not to mention the fact that the abusers are never indicted ). Why?

Walking in the streets of a big city at night is dangerous, and not only for girls - much more dangerous than in Beit Shemesh. Which collective is held responsible for that? Which public leaders are blamed, or at least required to explain? Why are only the ultra-Orthodox and the settlers collectively to blame for what happens in their back yards, while people in Tel Aviv, or the intellectuals who are perceived as their spiritual fathers, are never accused of bearing responsibility as rabbis are? Why is an accusing finger pointed at the collective in Beit Shemesh, while severe problems in other places are orphans, with no educational or public fathers?

The main problem for which the ultra-Orthodox can be collectively blamed, and their rabbis held responsible, is the degeneration to which they have sentenced themselves, of which segregation is only one symptom. But the productive part of society must ask itself: Why does it docilely accept and fund this ongoing decline? Why, in response to this burden and this injustice, does a protest movement not rise up, the way it did against the cost of housing, and a "million-person demonstration" not take place?

Orthodox Judaism treats women like filthy little things

  • Published 02:48 30.12.11 Latest update 02:48 30.12.11

If a man and a woman are drowning in a river, first they'll save the man, 'who is obligated to perform more commandments,' whereas a woman's 'wisdom is only in the spindle.' In fact, 'words of Torah should be burned rather than being given to women.'

By Yossi Sarid

If you would like to know the source from which your brothers derive their brazen behavior, go over to the study hall and open a page of Talmud. It's true that the Torah has 70 faces, but the trend of these faces is clear: The source of the pollution is in halakha (Jewish law ) itself. What is happening in Beit Shemesh and its satellites is not "contrary to halakha," it is mandated by halakha. And the rest will be told to the grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters.

Anyone ignoramus knows that the Torah's "ways are ways of pleasantness," that "the honor of a king's daughter is within," and that "proper behavior comes before the Torah," but it's worth knowing more. It's worth knowing that a woman is unfit to be a judge, and is also unfit to give testimony. She is unfit for any public position with authority. "Thou shalt appoint a king over thee" - a king and not a queen.

A daughter, commanded the sages, must not be taught Torah, because "the mind of woman is not suited to be taught, but [only] to words of nonsense." Women are light-minded and have little knowledge.

And if a man and a woman are drowning in a river, first they'll save the man, "who is obligated to perform more commandments," whereas a woman's "wisdom is only in the spindle." In fact, "words of Torah should be burned rather than being given to women."

A man must say three blessings every day during morning prayers: He thanks God "that He didn't make me a gentile, that He didn't make me a woman, that He didn't make me an ignoramus." And it's not proper to speak to a woman too much, since "all her conversation is nothing but words of adultery," and whoever talks to her too much "causes evil to himself and will end up inheriting hell." And let's not even talk about the fate of someone "who looks even at a woman's little finger."

The extremists who spit at women, who call themselves Sikarikim, learned their lesson 101 times and learned it well: A husband would do well not to let his wife go outside, into the street, and should restrict her outings "to once or twice a month, as necessary, since a woman has no beauty except by sitting in the corner of her house."

Because inside the house - very deep inside - her glorious honor awaits her: "Every woman washes her husband's face and feet and pours him a cup and prepares his bed and stands and serves her husband. And any woman who refrains from doing any of these tasks that she is obligated to perform - is forced to do them." Some recommend forcing her with a whip or by starvation "until she gives in."

And needless to say, she is at her husband's disposal whenever he is overcome by a desire "to satisfy his urges with her." And if she continues to rebel, he always has the right "to divorce her without her consent."

And there are many similar halakhot, only a few of which we have collected here. Nor have we cited everything in the name of the ones who said them, for lack of space. The readers are invited to find the references on Shabbat - and to browse around - on their own; this is a good opportunity for study. We will direct your attention to Tractate Shabbat, which does a good job of summing up halakha's attitude toward women: "a sack full of excrement" with a bleeding hole.

Some people will seek to console themselves: It's true that this is the halakha both m'doraita (from the Torah ) and m'drabanan (from the rabbis ), but that is not what is taught nowadays. But it suffices to listen to the sermon the sage Rabbi Ovadia Yosef delivered five years ago, based on the well-known halakhic work "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch": "A man must take care not to walk between two women or between two dogs or two pigs, and men should also not allow a woman or a dog or a pig to walk between them."

Treating women as impure and filthy begins with halakha and continues with actions. As long as the religious and ultra-Orthodox parties - Shas, United Torah Judaism, Habayit Hayehudi and National Union, none of which have any women in the Knesset - are not disqualified, their nakedness will continue to sing out and the nakedness of the land will be revealed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Israeli navy attacks international observers, injures Palestinian, on monitoring boat in Gaza waters

Thursday December 29, 2011 06:25 by International Solidarity Movement - press release
At 10:55 am on Wednesday December 28th, an Israeli naval warship attacked the international observers and Palestinian captain of the Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA) boat Oliva, injuring its captain in an apparent attempt to capsize it.
Rosa Schiano, Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA)
Rosa Schiano, Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA)

“The Israeli navy passed near us and the fishermen, and started to go around us, creating waves,” said Rosa Schiano, one of the international observers. “The fishermen escaped, but we couldn’t because of a problem with our engine. We couldn’t move, and they went around us very quickly. The Israelis saw that we couldn’t move, and that the captain was trying to fix the engine, but they didn’t stop. We told them, ‘Please stop! Please stop!’ But they didn’t.”

When the warship was two meters away from the Oliva, one of the waves it had created nearly capsized the small boat, filling it with water and causing the Palestinian captain to fall out, injuring his left leg.

“Their intentions were to do something very bad,” said international observer Daniela Riva. “Coming so close to us was very dangerous, and they obviously knew that.”

After more than twenty minutes, the warship retreated, and the Oliva was rescued by a small Palestinian fishing boat, or hasaka, which threw it a line and towed it toward the shore.

The incident followed similar attacks on the Oliva during previous missions.


Restrictions on the fishing zone are of considerable significance to Palestinian livelihood. Initially 20 nautical miles, it is presently often enforced between 1.5 – 2 nautical miles (PCHR: 2010). The marine ‘buffer zone’ restricts Gazan fishermen from accessing 85% of Gaza’s fishing waters agreed to by Oslo.”

During the Oslo Accords, specifically under the Gaza-Jericho Agreement of 1994, representatives of Palestine agreed to 20 nautical miles for fishing access. In 2002 the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan empowered Catherine Bertini to negotiate with Israel on key issues regarding the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and a 12 nautical mile fishing limit was agreed upon. In June 2006, following the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit near the crossing of Kerem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom), the navy imposed a complete sea blockade for several months. When the complete blockade was finally lifted, Palestinian fishermen found that a 6 nautical mile limit was being enforced. When Hamas gained political control of the Gaza Strip, the limit was reduced to 3 nautical miles. During the massive assault on the Strip in 2008-2009, a complete blockade was again declared. After Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli army began imposing a 1.5 – 2 nautical miles (PCHR: 2010).

The fishing community is often similarly targeted as the farmers in the ‘buffer zone’ and the fishing limit is enforced with comparable aggression, with boats shot at or rammed as near as 2nm to the Gazan coast by Israeli gunboats.

The fishermen have been devastated, directly affecting an estimated 65,000 people and reducing the catch by 90%. The coastal areas are now grossly over-fished and 2/3 of fishermen have left the industry since 2000 (PCHR: 2009). Recent statistics of the General Union of Fishing Workers indicate that the direct losses since the second Intifada in September 2000 were estimated at a million dollars and the indirect losses were estimated at 13.25 million dollars during the same period. The 2009 fishing catch amounted to a total of 1,525 metric tones, only 53 percent of the amount during 2008 (2,845 metric tones) and 41 percent of the amount in 1999 (3,650 metric tones), when the fishermen of Gaza could still fish up to ten nautical miles from the coast.

Current figures indicate that during 2010 the decline in the fishing catch continues. This has caused an absurd arrangement to become standard practice. The fishermen sail out not to fish, but to buy fish off of Egyptian boats and then sell this fish in Gaza. According to the Fishermen’s Union, a monthly average of 105 tons of fish has been entering Gaza through the tunnels since the beginning of 2010 (PCHR 2009).

Video footage of the incident on December 28th: