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Thursday, December 15, 2011

IDF soldiers: Problem in West Bank isn't Palestinains, it's Jews

  • Published 00:41 16.12.11 Latest update 00:41 16.12.11

'Our purpose there is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It's very confusing,' says combat soldier discharged last year.

By Gili Cohen 
Recent attacks by right-wing extremists on Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the West Bank are just one manifestation of the violence to which many have been subjected during their service in recent years. Both regular and reserve soldiers, including junior officers, spoke about the complicated situation they find themselves in: having to protect the settlers while at the same time being attacked by them. 

"Our purpose there is to protect the Jews, but they generate many of the problems. It's very confusing," said Nadav Bigelman, a combat soldier who was discharged last year. 

Nadav Bigelman - Abdulla Shama - 16122011 Nadav Bigelman of Haifa. 'It’s the same people who bring you cake at 2 A.M.'
Photo by: Abdulla Shama

"You understand pretty quickly what is going on, but it's not so clear what you are supposed to do about it," he said. "We never received an order telling us what to do when a Jewish boy throws stones at a Palestinian. Are we allowed to detain him or not? There's a gap between the battalion commander's instructions and what happens on the ground. 

"It's the same people who bring you cake when you're on guard at 2 A.M.," he added. "What, are you going to arrest their kid when he throws stones the next day?" 

As Haaretz reported on Thursday, the "new instructions" the prime minister issued this week to deal with Jewish rioters in the West Bank had for the most part already been in force on paper. But authority to act in principle does not always translate into clear orders out in the field. What counts there are the personal relations between settler leaders and IDF commanders. 

A reservist platoon commander who served in the South Hebron Hills about three months ago said he had discussed the possibility of friction between settlers and Palestinians with his commanders beforehand. But nothing prepared him for the confrontation at the Mitzpeh Eshtamoa outpost, where settlers and Palestinians were in a face-off over grazing ground. 

"We stood as a buffer between the Palestinian shepherds and the settlers and they [the settlers] started arguing with us," he related. "They said awful things to me: '[Ariel] Sharon evacuated Gaza, he got what was coming to him, don't worry, God will see to you too. Why do you come for reserve duty? You're a disgrace as soldiers.' They ranted and raved. We didn't know what to do, we were in shock. 
We thought the problem would be with the Palestinians, but the problem is with the Jews. 

"There were 15 settlers swearing at us, not three. This is an entire community whose agenda is to treat soldiers like that. Even the chief security officer told us, 'listen, that's the way it is. In a few days they'll puncture my car tires.' 

"These guys [the settlers] are out of control. I guard them, I'm responsible for protecting them and I know one day they'll sabotage my car. That's what is going on here," the reservist concluded.
A junior officer serving in the West Bank now said "the clashes with [settlers] are mainly at the checkpoints. They come to the checkpoints a lot and it's beneath their dignity to wait like others, so they break through and drive on. Not many harass us, but when the moment comes to inspect them, they humiliate us. They don't understand we're doing security work. They're not all like that, but the clashes with Jews at checkpoints are much worse than they are with Palestinians." 

The situation in the West Bank has turned upside down, he said. "We used to have a code for Palestinians throwing stones. Today it's been reversed to indicate Jews are throwing stones at Palestinians." 

Bigelman, today a researcher for the Breaking the Silence organization, served in Hebron in 2008. At the time he kept a "Hebron diary" documenting settlers' violent activities, from stone throwing to cursing Palestinians, tourists and left-wing activists. One day a settler attacked his battalion commander during an argument and tore his epaulets off. 

"That's the clearest example," Bigelman said. "Here is a man who is sacrificing his life for them. Suddenly they don't like something he does, and that's the way they react? 

"And if it happens to your commander, what does it say about you? That you can't do anything. You hate it. You hate being there. You know whom you're protecting but you don't understand why you have to pay such a price for it."

U.S. Jewish conservatives target Obama for treating Israel 'like a punching bag'

 Published 21:27 15.12.11 Latest update 21:27 15.12.11

Full-page ad in major newspapers by Emergency Committee for Israel criticizes U.S. President for Israel policies, as senior New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says Congress 'bought' by Israel lobby.

By Natasha Mozgovaya

A new campaign by leading U.S. Jewish conservatives took aim at President Barack Obama's Israel policies on Thursday, amid attempts by Democratic officials to recuperate the incumbent's image in the American Jewish community.

The full page ad by Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), and published in such leading newspapers such as the New York Times, the Miami Herald, and Variety, asked: "Why does the Obama administration treat Israel like a punching bag?"

Barack Obama - AP Obama speaks about the economy last Tuesday at Osawatomie High School, Kansas.
Photo by: AP

Under the headline the ad included a now infamous exchange between Obama and French President Nikola Sarkozy on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's alleged lack of reliability, as well as a comment recently made by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's remarks at the Saban Forum in Washington, where he called Israel to "get to the damn table," a move interpreted by conservatives as putting blame on Israel for the peace talks stalemate.

Other Obama officials quoted in the ad were U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who recently criticized the discrimination of women in Israel, and U.S. envoy to Belgium Howard Gutman, who recently linked the rise of anti-Semitism in the Arab world to the unsolved Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Speaking of the ad, the ECI's chair Bill Kristol said that “the Obama administration has been using Israel as a punching bag. The pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community is punching back."

Emergency Committee for Israel ad Emergency Committee for Israel ad attacking Barack Obama's Israel policy, Dec. 15, 2011.

The group's director Noah Pollak said: "In a month that has seen Islamists come to power in Egypt, rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and Lebanon, progress on the Iranian nuclear program, and the continued slaughter of civilians in Syria, the Obama administration has chosen to repeatedly condemn the only liberal democracy in the region: Israel."

The ad quickly garnered Democratic responses, with National Jewish Democratic Council Chair Marc R. Stanley and President and CEO David A. Harris saying in a statement that ECI is "treating the truth like a punching bag," accusing the conservative organization of "spreading fictions and smears about President Barack Obama and his powerfully pro-Israel record."

"When members of their own party repeatedly suggest that foreign aid should 'start at zero' and then make no mention of the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the U.S., they're silent as can be", Harris wrote, adding: "When 100 percent of House Republicans repeatedly side with business over strengthening Iran sanctions, they're nowhere to be found."

"But they have plenty of cash on hand to spread myths about this President, and to shamefully turn support for Israel into a partisan football. The sad truth is that they're more committed to hurting this President than they are to helping the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that's reprehensible," Harris said.

Regarding Secretary Panetta's comments, the NJDC stressed the top U.S. official "delivered a staunchly pro-Israel address at the Saban Center," while Obama's administration "have a perfect voting record at the United Nations"; and the Jewish Community in the US share the same concerns with Secretary Clinton "over Israeli legislation limiting foreign funding of Israel's non-governmental organizations, and regarding women's rights in Israel."

Thomas Friedman: Netanyahu's applause at Congress were bought by Israel lobby
Another story causing a storm amid the U.S. Jewish voting public was stirred by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who in his column earlier this week titled "Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir" attacked Gingrich for calling the Palestinians "invented people," accusing him of pandering to Israel.

However it was Friedman's attack against Netanyahu that garnered the attention, as the veteran columnist wrote: "I sure hope that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics."

"That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused," Friedman wrote.

In the ensuing maelstrom, Friedman was accused for "hitting a new low" by conservative "Washington post" blogger Jennifer Rubin, with Democratic Congressman Steve Rothman saying that Friedman "owes an apology" to the pro-Israeli community.

"I gave Prime Minister Netanyahu a standing ovation, not because of any nefarious lobby, but because it is in America’s vital national security interests to support the Jewish State of Israel and it is right for Congress to give a warm welcome to the leader of such a dear and essential ally. Mr. Friedman owes us all an apology," Rothman said.

Once at the briefing with Israeli reporters in Washington Netanyahu was asked about the constant criticism by Friedman. "We might have lost Thomas Friedman, but we didn't lose America," he answered.

An Israeli official told "Haaretz" that "Friedman has crossed a line that true friends of Israel should never allow themselves to cross and inadvertently encouraged anti-Semitism."

Israel's treatment at the UN 'obsessive' and 'ugly,' U.S. diplomat says

  • Published 23:51 15.12.11 Latest update 23:51 15.12.11
Speaking at Conference of Presidents event, American UN envoy Rice says Obama administration committed to oppose efforts to 'chip away at Israel’s legitimacy.'

By Natasha Mozgovaya
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice denounced the treatment Israel receives in the United Nations on Thursday, adding that American support of Israel's security was an "essential truth." 

Speaking at the annual reception of the Conference of Presidents Fund in New York, Rice said that the treatment Israel receives at the UN was “obsessive, ugly, bad for the United Nations and bad for peace.” 

UN headquarters AP October 12, 2010 United Nations General Assembly Hall on Oct. 12, 2010.
Photo by: AP

The ambassador stressed that the Obama administration was commitment to oppose all efforts to “chip away at Israel’s legitimacy,” adding that U.S. commitment to Israel’s peace and security was an “essential truth that will never change.” 

The American official said U.S. President Barak Obama “has been clear all along that our special relationship with Israel is deeply rooted in our common interests and our common values,” adding that these common interests and values were the reason the U.S. has increased its financing of Israel’s military capabilities to record levels. 

Other speakers at the Conference of Presidents event were Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor and Consul General of Israel in New York Ido Aharoni. 

At the event, Rice received a National Service Award from on behalf of the Conference of Presidents Fund for her service at the UN, particularly her opposition to the Durban III conference as well as her opposition to a unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood. 

While the event seemed to imply that the Obama administration had been supportive of Israel, a full page ad by the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), published in such leading newspapers such as the New York Times, the Miami Herald, and Variety, asked: "Why does the Obama administration treat Israel like a punching bag?" 

Speaking of the ad, the ECI's chair Bill Kristol said that “the Obama administration has been using Israel as a punching bag. The pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community is punching back."
Another story causing a storm amid the U.S. Jewish voting public was stirred by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who in his column earlier this week titled "Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir" attacked Gingrich for calling the Palestinians "invented people," accusing him of pandering to Israel. 

However it was Friedman's attack against Netanyahu that garnered the attention, as the veteran columnist wrote: "I sure hope that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics." 

An Israeli official told "Haaretz" that "Friedman has crossed a line that true friends of Israel should never allow themselves to cross and inadvertently encouraged anti-Semitism."

Israel's State Terrorism

Published on Monday, April 1, 2002 by Tikkun Magazine

by Lev Grinberg
What is the difference between State terrorism and individual terrorist acts? If we understand this difference we'll understand also the evilness of the US policies in the Middle East and the forthcoming disasters. When Yassir Arafat was put under siege in his offices and kept hostage by the Israeli occupation forces, he was constantly pressed into condemning terror and combatting terrorism. Israel's Stateterrorism is defined by US officials as "self-defense", while individual suicide bombers are called terrorists.

The only 'small' difference is that Israeli aggression is the direct responsibility of Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Shimon Peres and Shaul Mofaz, while the individual terrorist acts are done by individuals in despair, usually against Arafat's will. One hour after Arafat declared his support of a cease fire and wished the Jews a Happy Passover feast, a suicide bomber exploded himself in an hotel in Netanya, killing 22 innocent Jews celebrating Passover. Arafat was blamed as responsible for this act, and the present IDF offensive has been justified through this accusation.

At the same time, Sharon's responsibility for Israeli war crimes is being completely ignored. Who should be arrested for the targeted killing of almost 100 Palestinians? Who will be sent to jail for the killing of more than 120 Palestinian paramedics? Who will be sentenced for the killing of more than 1,200 Palestinians and for the collective punishment of more than 3,000,000 civilians during the last 18 months? And who will face the International Tribunal for the illegal settlement of occupied Palestinian Lands, and the disobedience of UN decisions for more than 35 years?

Suicide bombs killing innocent citizens must be unequivocally condemned; they are immoral acts, and their perpetrators should be sent to jail. But they cannot be compared to State terrorism carried out by the Israeli Government. The former are individual acts of despair of a people that sees no future, vastly ignored by an unfair and distorted international public opinion. The latter are cold and "rational" decisions of a State and a military apparatus of occupation, well equipped, financed and backed by the only superpower in the world.

Yet in the public debate, State terrorism and individual suicide bombs are not even considered as comparable cases of terrorism. The State terror and war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli Government are legitimized as "self-defense", while Arafat, even under siege, is demanded to arrest "terrorists."

I want to ask: Who will arrest Sharon, the person directly responsible for the orders to kill Palestinians? When is he going to be defined a terrorist too? How long will the world ignore the Palestinian cry that all they want is freedom and independence? When will it stop neglecting the fact that the goal of the Israeli Government is not security, but the continued occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people?

As Israelis in the opposition, we are fighting against our government, but the international support that Sharon receives is constantly jeopardizing our struggle. The whole international public opinion must be reverted, and the UN must deploy intervention forces in order to stop the bloodshed and the imminent deterioration. Israelis and Palestinians desperately need the awakening of the international community's public opinion and a reversal in the global attitude. These are needed both in order to save our lives (literally), and preserve our hope in a better future.

Dr. Lev Grinberg is a political sociologist, and Director of the Humphrey Institute for Social Research at Ben Gurion University

Now We’re Invented?

Sunday, December 11, 2011... by Amer Zahr

So I was watching the news on Friday (as I always do… remember, CNN is a social activity for Palestinians), and I heard Newt Gingrich say the following:
Newt on CNN: “I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state.”
Me at home: “OK…”
Newt on CNN: “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire.”
Me at home: “Uh oh.”
Newt on CNN: “And I think we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, who are historically part of the Arab community.”
Me at home: “Huh?”
Now, as a Palestinian, I’ve heard a lot of racist stuff about us.  I’ve heard Abba Eban say that Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”  I’ve heard Menachem Begin call us “beasts” and Ehud Barak call us “crocodiles.”  I’ve even heard Ariel Sharon say he would “kill as many Arabs as necessary.”

But now, we’re “invented”?  I’m still not sure what it means.  So, were we there before Israel? Were we not there?  Lies about us usually have some level of clarity.  But this one is just confusing.  I want to be mad.  I do.  But I just don’t know what to do.

Now, to be fair, Newt does have some company.  Golda Meir was the Prime Minister of Israel from 1969-1974 and she said a lot of stuff about us.  Most famously, she told the world, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist.”  When addressing the Palestinian right of return to their homeland, she stated, “We shall not let this happen.”  She defiantly told us, “Arab sovereignty in Jerusalem just cannot be.” And to top it all of, she declared, “How can we return the occupied territories? There is no one to return them to.”
So I guess Newt Gingrich can claim some sort of camaraderie with Golda Meir.  But it’s nothing to be proud of.  She was more evil than Ann Coulter, Casey Anthony, Lady Macbeth, Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”…  combined.

Of course, Newt was just trying to cozy up to Jewish voters in America by telling them something he believed they wanted to hear.  But doesn’t he know that denying our existence is out of style?  Even the Israelis now acknowledge our existence.  Benjamin Netanyahu calls us a “demographic threat.”  See Newt, you can’t be a threat if you don’t exist!

But being “invented” might not be that bad.  People have invented things that were really good for people, like penicillin, the smoke detector, and seatbelts.  A lot of really cool stuff was invented too, like the Internet, the iPhone, and Twinkies.  But I listened to Newt’s tone when he spoke.  Somehow I don’t think he meant we were a “good” invention.  My suspicion is that he was lumping us in with the bad inventions, like the Snuggie, the Macarena, and Farmville.  I think he meant the world “invented” the Palestinians, just like it “invented,” say, Kim Kardashian.

In last night’s Republican debate, Newt staunchly defended his comments, saying that what he said was “factually accurate.”  But he didn’t stop there.  He said Palestinians were “terrorists,” and that we have hateful entries in our textbooks like, “if there are 13 Jews and 9 Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?”  The claim that that sort of stuff is in Palestinian textbooks is, of course, false and racist.  But in case he was wondering, the answer is 4.  We’re not a bunch of inhumane terrorists, but we're not dumb either.

At any rate, we Palestinians have been around for a very long time.  Just ask Jesus.  But all this talk about inventions does remind me of another famous Israeli quote spoken by David Ben-Gurion, the chief “inventor” of Israel:
Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul, Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta, Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis, and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.
We were not “invented.”  But our struggle was… by the same people that deny it today.

Swedish professor links Israel to Norway massacre

Ola Tunander suggests Israel behind bloody terror attacks committed by Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik in July, stirring up controversy in Oslo
Published: 12.15.11, 23:23 / Israel News

A Swedish professor suggested Israel was behind the bloody terror attacks committed by Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik this past July, stirring up controversy in the country.

Research professor Ola Tunander of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) published an article in the Norwegian academic journal Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift in which he called to further examine Brevik's motives.

According to Tunander, it is possible that some country was behind the terror attacks, hinting that Israel might be that country.

Far right extremist Breivik, 32, had previously confessed to the Oslo bombing, which killed eight people, and to the youth camp massacre which killed 69 at the small island of Utoeya northwest of Oslo earlier in July. 

In December the confessed killer disputed an expert conclusion that he is criminally insane. His lawyer was quoted as saying: "We have examined a good part of the report that details the conversations he had with the psychologists." 

Breivik "reacted by saying that it contained factual errors (and) lies and that his statements were taken out of context," his lawyer added.

Tunander claimed that in order to carry out a terror attack of such magnitude the involvement of state forces is needed, “and we can’t rule out that being the case this time too,” he wrote.

July 22 in history

While quoting the controversial article, the Swedish news site The Local presented the professor's theory. Tunander mentioned the political tensions between Oslo and Jerusalem in the months prior to the terror attacks in light of Norway's intent to recognize a Palestinian state.

He goes on to link between July 22, the date of Breivik's killing spree, and the significance of that date in Israel's history. Tunander brings up the Lillehammer affair of 1973, when Mossad agents accidently killed a Moroccan waiter in the Norwegian city believing he was Ali Hassan Salameh, the chief of operations for the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes. One of the agents was arrested the day after the murder, on July 22nd. 

The Norwegian professor also discussed the bombing at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem carried out by the Irgun on July 22, 1946. 

“We have discussed the right-wing extremist Israeli and Judeo-Christian side of Breivik’s network, Israel’s interest in disciplining Norway, and Israel’s celebration of bomb attacks. In this respect, Breivik’s attack appears to resemble a new king David Hotel attack: July 22nd,” he said. 

PRIO director Kristian Berg Harpviken told Norwegian magazine Minerva that Tunander's article left him with a feeling of “considerable unease.” Harpviken added that it was a wrong call on behalf of the Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift to publish it. 

Tunander said that it was unfair to conclude from his article about any intention to link between Israel and the most murderous event in Norway's history since World War II.,7340,L-4162450,00.html