Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The World for Israel, or Jews for the World?

by , January 09, 2012 
A remarkable event took place on Dec. 8, 2011, at the National Press Club in downtown Washington. It was a Jewish-Gentile forum on Israel, Palestine, Zionism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism, and the imminent threat of war.

At the heart was presentation of a new book, Rabbi Outcast: Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism, written by Jack Ross and published by Potomac Books. Ross, of Brooklyn, N.Y., graduated from National Labor College in 2006. Since 2005, he has been writing for, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and The American Conservative.

As the book’s caption says, dramatic changes have been taking place in the attitudes of American Jews toward Israel and Zionism. At no time since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 has there been such disenchantment with Israel and Zionism. The role the Israel lobby played in the Iraq War and the “global war on terror,” as well as Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, made large swaths of the American Jewish community question Israel’s foreign policy and its Zionist ideology.

The history of Jewish anti-Zionism in America predates the founding of Israel. Ross’s hero is Elmer Berger, a Reform Jewish rabbi (1908 –1996) who was one of the founders and first director of the American Council for Judaism (ACJ), which took a strongly anti-Zionist stance at its founding in 1942. Berger resigned from the ACJ in 1968, but he continued to fight via American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, an organization he led until he died in 1996.

Ross says his own discovery of the anti-Zionist heritage of America was “a revelation.” He praises Berger’s mentor, the father of American Reform Judaism, Isaac Mayer Wise, who in 1900 denounced the nascent Zionist movement as “a prostitution of Israel’s holy cause to a madman’s dance of unsound politicians.”
The forum’s panel included Ambassador Andrew Killgore, publisher of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; Allan Brownfeld, a former member of President Ronald Reagan’s transition team who now writes for The American Council on Judaism (ACJ); Josh Ruebner, national advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; and Jon Utley, associate publisher of The American Conservative magazine.

Killgore recalled his friendship with the rabbi. “Elmer and I were in agreement,” he said, that “Hitler’s persecution of European Jewry was being cynically exploited by the Zionists to further their own cause.” In the 1960s, said Killgore, the rabbi was tireless in explaining to U.S. diplomats dealing with the Middle East that “Judaism’s basic values could not be reconciled with disregard for the rights of the Palestinians upon whose lands the new Jewish state had been created.”

The forum was sponsored by the Freda Utley Foundation and Fran Griffin, founder of the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, which hosts a number of conservative authors, including several Jews. FGF’s mission is to educate leaders and the public on the need to preserve Western civilization.

Speaker after speaker praised Ross’s book as an act of scholarly perseverance and civic courage. The book also won the praise of such scholars as John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, co-author of the 2006 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Though he was not present at the forum, Professor Mearsheimer sent his comments, calling the work an “important book for anyone interested in understanding the complex history of how American Jews have related to the State of Israel.”

Actually, anti-Zionism in the United States has a long history. Among the several Reform rabbis who founded the American Council for Judaism, Berger is the best-known because he dedicated his whole life to the struggle to free U.S. foreign policy from the grip of Zionists. Whereas Berger’s anti-Zionism was rooted in Reform Judaism, his modern followers are not the only American Jews who oppose Zionist Israel. There are the radical pro-socialist leftists who want to make Israel a binational Jewish-Arab state. And there is the Neturei Karta movement of Orthodox Haredi Jews who call for a peaceful dismantling of Israel because, in their view, Jews are commanded not to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah.

Zionists, on the other hand, either reject or don’t care for the spiritual, eschatological, and metaphysical dimensions of Judaism. Theirs is a quasi-religious ideology that aims at purely political, materialist, territorial, and economic goals. As Brownfeld pointed out, true “Judaism is centered on the worship of God, not the idolatry or worshiping of any political entity.” He agreed with Ross that “the essence of Judaism is not in the ‘national narrative’ … but rather in … the prophets, who spoke out against the kings and priests who corrupted the nation and the people.”

Josh Ruebner noted that the more Israel oppresses Palestinians, the more young American Jews question the Israel lobby and the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Desperate to ensure support for Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pays for “birthright Israel” trips for Americans. But the majority of young Jews enjoy their American birthright, as they abhor the fact that since its inception Israel has relied on violence in pursuit of its goals in the Middle East.

“The façade of Jewish unanimity that AIPAC likes to project will not last forever,” said Ruebner. His organization is an umbrella for over 380 U.S. groups that aim to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They campaign for Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli interests in the U.S.

Though originally indifferent to religion, Zionist political ideology now likes to dress up Israel’s territorial ambitions in religious garb. This hypocrisy, however, backfired as it inspired the struggle of Palestinian Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, against dispossession, discrimination, and humiliation inside and outside of Israel.
In fact, some observers have described Israel as an apartheid state. Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for helping negotiate peace between Israel and Egypt, spelled out the stark choice Israel now faces in his book Palestine: Peace or Apartheid.

Zionist claims on Jerusalem as an exclusive capital of Israel have inflamed anti-Israeli and anti-American passions in all Muslim countries. It has helped the fanatical jihadists win the hearts and minds of millions of Muslims who came to mistrust their moderate and secular politicians for their failure to defend Muslim rights to Jerusalem, or Al-Quds, as sacred to their cultural tradition.

As an exclusive capital of Israel, Jerusalem is an abomination to Muslims and Christians alike. It is also abhorrent to those religious and secular Jews who are proud that Judaism set high ethical standards for its Christian and Islamic offshoots. Now divided and sectored, Jerusalem ought to be a universal monument to religious tolerance and brotherhood under the auspices of the United Nations. Only then could it fulfill its prophesied role as a source of unity for mankind.

A hotbed of hatred, mistrust, and war in the Middle East, Israel also sets a bad example for right-wing demagogues in Europe and the United States who clamor for getting tough on Muslim and other immigrants, just as the Israelis were in their Operation Cast Lead against the Gaza Strip. It is noteworthy that the Labor Party youth group that the Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik attacked on July 22, 2011, expressed support for the BDS campaign against Israel.

Albert Rosenblatt, a poet and journalist who came to the forum from New York, suggested it’s not enough for American Jews to be “anti,” be it anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, or anti–American Empire. “Don’t we need to say what we are FOR?” Several people responded that they do not necessarily question Israel’s right to exist, but they want to have its policy revised in such a way that it would become not “a Jewish state,” but a normal country.

Since Jon Utley mentioned my role in finding the grave of his Jewish father, Arkady Berdichevsky, who was executed in the USSR during mass purges of the “Trotskyites,” I felt I had to speak too. Referring to Jon’s article published in 2005 in The Freeman and later turned into a film,  Return to the Gulag: Jon Utley’s Search for His Father, I thanked him for introducing me to the story of Rabbi Berger as a fellow dissident, just as Jon and I have been.

In my own comments, I noted that when I came to the United States in 1966 on an invitation from the University of Chicago, I didn’t find many Zionists on or off campus. My main concern was that too many of my colleagues and students were either pro-Soviet or soft on Communism. With all respect due to Rabbi Berger, I take exception to his illusions about the USSR as the land of liberty for the Jews. Communism was good neither for Jews nor Muslims nor Russians, especially the religious ones. As a totalitarian ideology, Communism was hostile to all free spirits, even the atheists who were not of the Marxist-Leninist stripe.
Zionism was not in vogue then in the United States. The predominant concern was not with the fate of Israel but with making sure we didn’t irritate the USSR in Vietnam and elsewhere, lest a nuclear war be unleashed. Sometimes, I felt I was just about the only Zionist in Chicago, and I’m a Gentile to boot. I knew Soviet propaganda manipulated Palestinians for geopolitical advantage.

The main significance of this forum is that we let the world know that there are many courageous and righteous Jews who are not Zionists. By honoring the memory of Rabbi Berger we inflict a blow not only to Zionists, but also to those who lump all Jews into one homogeneous group that rushes from one extreme to another, from Communist internationalism, which cares for neither religion nor nationality, to Zionist nationalism. Israel’s leaders profess to care for one religion and one nationality. In fact, they have but one self-serving goal: to perpetuate their own power at any cost, even at great risk to the rest of humanity.

We broke for refreshments and fresh efforts to figure out, face to face, what’s going on in Israel, the United States, and the world. The foremost topic was: Will Israel attack Iran? Will the United States allow it to happen? Will we facilitate the attack?

Nobody knew the answer, but the concern itself showed how far the Zionist regime was ready to take the whole world for the sake of its own survival.

Lately, this concern has spiked. I have already posted a report about Russian troops in the Caucasus being put on high alert in case an Israeli attack triggers warfare along Iran’s borders with Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

It was also reported, or rather, underreported, that on Dec. 16 President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The meeting was held in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., at the Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor, Maryland. It focused on the issue of a U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran.
Since Obama has already said he takes “no options off the table,” one might suspect, as Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research does, that the attack on Iran could include the use of tactical bunker-buster nuclear weapons that only the United States has and that Israel may request to make the attack effective. These bunker busters have an explosive capacity between one third and six times that of the Hiroshima bomb.

Most fittingly, at least, in the popular psyche, 2012 is the year of Armageddon. Fiat justitia, pereat mundus, “let justice be done even if the world shall perish”: this was one of the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s maxims. Whether this Latin motto stems from ancient Rome or Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I (1503-1564), its grave implications are no longer philosophical. Nor are they metaphorical.

Whatever pretext Israel and the United States (for consistency) might find for the war they threaten, at stake is the existence of the world as we know it. Even a triumph of their justitia may turn utterly hollow, for there might be no people to celebrate it. So the real question that Jews and non-Jews alike face today is: Is the world for Israel or are Jews for the world? We know how Rabbi Berger would have answered.

W. George Krasnow (also published as Vladislav Krasnov), Ph.D., runs the Russia and America Goodwill Association, a nonprofit organization of Americans for friendship with Russia. Formerly, he was a professor and director of Russian Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.

Settlers Attack House, Burn Car East of Hebron

Date : 9/1/2012   Time : 11:01

HEBRON, January 9, 2012 (WAFA) – Dozens of Jewish settlers attacked early Monday a Palestinian house and burnt a car in al-Baqa'a area, east of Hebron in the southern West Bank, according to witnesses.
Atta Jaber, a resident in the area, told WAFA that dozens of settlers attacked the house of Jodi Abdul Jawad, throwing stones at it, and set fire to his car, completely burning it.
He added that the settlers were divided into two groups; one set Abdul Jawad’s car on fire and the other attacked the house with stones to prevent Abdul Jawad from coming out to defend his property.
Baqa’a residents are regularly subjected to attacks and harassment by settlers from Kiryat Arba and Kharsina. Their property is also threatened with seizure by the Israeli authorities, which aim through the settlers’ attacks to force the farmers and residents to leave their land.

Dr Amer: The countdown to a new Israeli war on Gaza started

[ 09/01/2012 - 12:44 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)– Specialist in Israeli affairs and political analyst Dr. Adnan Abu Amer said the countdown to new military aggression against the Gaza Strip started, but when this war would happen is not yet decided by the Israeli occupation regime.

Dr. Amer made his remarks in a political symposium held on Sunday in Al-Omah university in Gaza.

“I think the occupation is busy now more than ever mulling over the timeline for a military campaign that seems to be closer,” the specialist in Israeli affairs stated.

He explained that the Israeli occupation, through its war threats, has sent several messages to the Arabs and the first of them is political.

“The regional changes, the occupation’s losing of more allies after the Arab spring and its military and security exposure have made it to live in a state of panic. The Israeli decision-maker wants to regain the balance he has lost and send a message that the war is not directed against Gaza and its resistance but against the political region around Gaza which changed greatly,” the specialist added.

The second message is related to the Israeli intelligence concern about the growing capabilities of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and its thirst to explore them, the specialist elaborated.

“The enemy will not stand up for the growing development of the resistance which has turned from guerrilla groups to a regular army, so it wants to test the weapons of the resistance and the level it has reached.”
For his part, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who took part in the symposium, said his Movement is geared up to confront any new Israeli aggression against Gaza.

“We are prepared for the war and deal with the Israeli treats at the same time as a psychological warfare,” spokesman Barhoum stated.

The spokesman stressed that the competition between Israeli leaders are based on who can inflict the biggest losses among the Palestinians.

“An Israeli leader cannot run for elections before his track record is examined to see if he is a killer or a politician, and of course if he is a killer he will win the elections,” he added.

Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

Twitter reveals JNF’s approach toward Palestinian Bedouin

In a tweet that was later deleted, the Jewish National Fund says Bedouins in unrecognized villages are “living on someone’s land illegally.” The JNF has been taking part in evacuations of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and in foresting actions aimed at preventing the Bedouin from accessing their lands; last month, a JNF board member resigned, citing “violation of human rights” by the organization

In recent months, we have reported here on the Jewish National Fund’s role in attempts to take over Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and in the evacuations of Palestinian Bedouins from their homes in the Negev desert.

The Fund – originally established to buy lands in the early days of Zionism – is today a quasi-government agency that controls 13 percent of the land in Israel. Since the fund only sells lands to Jews, the government occasionally transfers real estate in disputed areas to the fund, so it can carry out discriminatory policies that the government is forbidden from exercising directly. Such are the cases in East Jerusalem.

In the south, the fund does foresting work on the lands of unrecognized Palestinian villages, aimed at preventing Bedouins from rebuilding their homes. Last week, the Abu al-Qian Bedouin clan protested plans to evacute them from their homes in the Yatir area in order to make room for another JNF forest.

Last Thursday, there was an interesting tweet from the JNF USA office, essentially admitting that the Fund sees the Bedouin citizens of Israel as illegal invaders in their own land:

After several followers re-tweeted this message, the tweet was deleted. A new tweet directed readers to a public statement by the fund, claiming that the Bedouin issue “is too complicated to debate in 140 [characters].”

“The issue” is in fact not that complicated. When Israel was established, it chose not to recognize Bedouin ownership of  lands that they cultivated or lived on, making them illegal residents in their own home – even in cases where those settlements predated the state itself. More than 60 years after, the state still tries to evacuate the Bedouin, while refusing to connect them to infrastructure such as electricity and water. Yet in the world of the Jewish National Fund, its not even a disputed territory: All lands belongs to Jews by default, and people – Israeli citizens! – living there are doing so “illegally.”

The Jewish National Fund is knowingly and willingly taking an active role in taking over the lands of indigenous population in different parts of Israel and the occupied territories. Lately, JNF board member Seth Morrison resigned from the organization, calling its evacuations of Palestinians in East Jerusalem a “violation of human rights.”

Rabbis for Human Rights have launched a campaign against the Jewish National Fund’s attempts to take over Palestinian homes and evacuate Bedouins from their lands. You can read more about it here.

Read also:

Protest against settler-friendly JNF expands, raises existential questions
Forced relocation of 30K Bedouin biggest dispossession since ’48

IOA delivers demolition notices to seven families in Al-Khalil

[ 09/01/2012 - 07:48 PM ]

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) served demolition notices to owners of seven families in Khirbat Um Al-Kheir to the east of Yatta town in al-Khalil province.

Ratib Al-Jibour, the coordinator of popular anti wall and settlement committees in the area, said that employees with the civil administration accompanied by Israeli occupation forces delivered the notices on Sunday.

He said that 60 citizens live in those seven houses near Karma’il settlement, which was established on the village’s land.

Jibour recalled that the IOF soldiers razed three houses in the same village a month ago, charging that the IOA was trying to terrorize inhabitants of the village to leave their hometown.

Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

Beit Shemesh women dance for change

(Video) After their city becomes symbol of exclusion of women, secular and religious female residents decide to convey their own message in flash mob to the sounds of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' 
Liron Nagler-Cohen
Published: 01.10.12, 15:37 / Israel Culture
VIDEO - When guns roar on streets of Beit Shemesh – muses break into a dance: Some 200 women, most of them residents of Beit Shemesh, gathered in the city center on Friday morning to perform a flash mob to the sounds of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now".
Moderate Perspective

Can religious women bridge IDF rifts?  / Chava Forman-Horovitz

Growing number of religious female soldiers believe it may be able to build bridges of understanding, religious tolerance within Israeli army
Full story

The song was not chosen randomly, and neither was the timing. "We had all kinds of ideas," says Miri Shalem, the project's initiator and director of the Ramat Beit Shemesh community center.

"We thought, for example, about Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' or 'I Will Survive'. It was important that the song would be in English, so that the message would be conveyed abroad too."

"I Will Survive" was eventually dropped, "because we didn't want a connotation of survival," says Shalem. The rhythmic Queen song was chosen by the choreographer, Liat Amar, and the rest is history.

A small Facebook group opened by Shalem and her friends Orna Nachmani, Etti Ben-Ami Suisa, Brenda Ganot and Paz Corcos spread the rumor, and many of the city's residents joined the initiative and even provided financial help.

'We wanted to present a different voice'

Flash mob is a way to convey a social message – and when religious and secular women dance together in the center of the city most identified with the exclusion of women, the message gets through.

The initiators – all social activists who hold management positions – set up a "women's council" several years ago, whose members are ultra-Orthodox, religious and secular women, veteran residents alongside new residents.
"הבענו בריקוד את הקול שלנו". נשים רוקדות בבית שמש (צילום: יששכר רואס)
Women dance in Beit Shemesh (Photo: Yissachar Ruas)

"In the past two weeks, Beit Shemesh has been making headlines in very negatives contexts," says Shalem, "whether on the background of separate sidewalks, a visit by the Knesset's Economic Affairs Committee on building reserves, or the story of Naama Margolese (an eight-year-old girl bullied by haredi men for being 'immodest').

"We wanted to present a different voice of many sane women who are against religious exclusion in the city, like living in Beit Shemesh and don't experience religious tensions every single moment."

תושבים הצטרפו באופן ספונטאני לחבורת הרוקדות. "אנשים מסתובבים כאן עם הראש באדמה"  (צילום: יששכר רואס)
Residents join dancing women (Photo: Yissachar Ruas)

"We were very unhappy with everything that's happened recently in terms of the exclusion of women," adds Orna Nachmani, manager of the Beit Shemesh seminary.

"It was important for us not to attack a certain public, but on the contrary – to come and say that we have a voice. We expressed our voice through the dance."

Brenda Ganot, a Jewish Agency project manager in the city, describes a situation of chronic depression. "Recently, women have been walking around here with their heads in the ground, and that's not good for one's soul. So we wanted to improve people's mood.

"I felt that it was very important to show the world that Beit Shemesh has an amazing communal organization. In the meantime, we live in a free city, where we can dance on the streets. We didn't do it in someone's face, that wasn't the goal, but there was a need to express something of a protest and positive nature at the same time. Something with good energies, which in my opinion only women can do."

Strong society

Even before the Naama Margolese affair was exposed on Channel 2 News, Beit Shemesh had already made headlines on the backdrop of the haredi struggle against a local religious school for girls.

Shalem, who at the time was considering ways to express the voice of Beth Shemesh's women, fell in love with the idea of a mass flash mob.
"אני לא יודעת אם בכל עיר אפשר היה לעשות את זה" (צילום: יששכר רואס)
'I don't know if it could be done in any city' (Photo: Yissachar Ruas)

"We worked on it for two weeks, and it turned out to be amazing," she says. "We hope this clip succeeds in explaining that Beit Shemesh is the home of a civilian society with a lot of strength. I don't know if this could be done in any city."

דתיות וחילוניות, תושבות ותיקות לצד תושבות השכונות החדשות. הפלאש-מוב (צילום: יששכר רואס)
Religious and secular, veteran and new residents (Photo: Yissachar Ruas)

Nachmani says she was surprised, "not at the number of participants, but at the variety. When we saw the response to our Facebook group, we already realized that it was serious. And with all my experience in organizing events, in most projects of this kind you don't really know who will eventually show up. But in the rehearsal the evening before, when we saw the masses, we were very happy."

The initiators – all women in their 40s, religious and secular from different parts of the city – seek to convey the message overseas as well.

"There are thousands of Anglo families living in Beit Shemesh. There are difficulties here, but there is also a different reality. Now we are moving on, thinking about other initiatives to show that we can still create a sane reality here, despite the complex reality of Sephardim and Ashkenazim, veteran and new residents, radical haredim and seculars."

Women went on dancing

Ganot and Nachmani say the goal was achieved on the ground: "Women went on dancing spontaneously even after we completed the shoot," says Ganot.

"They just didn't want to go home. This shows that something happened here. Women of different backgrounds saw that together we have the power to do positive things."
Nachmani adds, "I felt high, with so much adrenaline and a great feeling. We felt like we had done something. After all, just complaining and crying is unhelpful."

Ganot lives next to the bone of contention, the religious school for girls. "We know that these people are extremists," she says. "That's why it's important for us to show the world that Israel is not a crazy place.
"I hope we manage to protect our city. It's an amazing and beautiful place. If in the future I am no longer able to dance on the street, I won't be able to continue living here.",7340,L-4173737,00.html

When Palestine isn’t making headlines…

January 4, 2012
… this is what happens there, on a daily basis.

Watch the 3-minute video summary of 2011, by the ever-remarkable Israeli Human Rights organization B’Tselem. It’s a short window about life in Palestine. I also urge you to click on the links in the video.

Update: Jerusalem police detain seven (7) years child old for hours. Here’s another unreported yet terrifying story…

Peace Now: Israel began building 1,850 new houses in West Bank in 2011

  • Published 12:53 10.01.12
  • Latest update 12:53 10.01.12

Settlement watchdog says figures exclude East Jerusalem, which in 2011 witnessed the highest number of construction plans in a decade.


Israel started construction work on 1,850 new housing units in the West Bank in 2011, a 19 percent rise from a year earlier, an Israeli settlement watchdog said Tuesday.

Peace Now attributed the rise to a partial, 10-month moratorium on new constructions in the West Bank that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed in 2010 to spur peace talks with the Palestinians.

West Bank  settlement - AP-  Jan. 24, 2011 The West Bank settlement of Ariel
Photo by: AP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended direct peace talks with Israel in October 2010, after Netanyahu refused to extend the moratorium. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met this month in Jordan for the first time in over a year, but there was no progress. 

Peace Now said the Israeli Housing Ministry last year issued tenders for an additional 1,577 West Bank apartments, whose construction had not yet started.

The figures exclude East Jerusalem, which in 2011 witnessed the highest number of construction plans in a decade, Peace Now said.

Some 6,350 apartments planned in Jewish areas of East Jerusalem passed various stages of approval, it said.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem, including the city's east which the Palestinians want as a capital of a future state, as its "eternal" and united capital, a move not recognized internationally.

The Israeli government last year also began procedures to legalize 11 unauthorized settler outposts, containing a total of 680 structures set up near authorized settlements, Peace Now said.

Israeli legislators admit to leaking info on army’s movements to right-wing settlers

Monday January 09, 2012 00:37 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News
At least two Israeli Members of the Knesset (Parliament) have admitted to having divulged information about the Israeli military’s tactics and movements to right-wing settlers, at a time when the settler movement has been increasing its number and frequency of attacks.
Uri Ariel (image by Israel Matzav)
Uri Ariel (image by Israel Matzav)

In recent weeks, Israeli settlers associated with the right-wing ‘pricetag’ movement (aimed at making Palestinians ‘pay a price’ for every threatened removal of an illegal outpost by the Israeli government) have increased their attacks on both the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Israeli military force occupying the West Bank.

Now, right-wing legislators in Israel have openly stated their support for the right-wing settlers, admitting to having provided them with information that may have been used in the attacks on the military bases and personnel.

Uri Ariel with the National Union party admitted last week to leaking information, and on Sunday coalition chairman and member of the Likud party Ze'ev Elkin also admitted to leaking information to the settlers.

The admission came on the same day that five right-wing Israeli settlers were charged by Jerusalem's District Prosecutor with illegally tracking the movements of the army in order to target commanders and bases for attacks.

No charges have been filed against the two legislators, and none are planned.

Settlers 'attack 2 children' in Hebron

Published Sunday 08/01/2012 (updated) 09/01/2012 21:20

HEBRON (Ma'an) --Israeli settlers in Hebron attacked two Palestinian children in the West Bank city on Sunday, their family said.

The group threatened Muhammad Abu Eisha, 12, and his brother Ibrahim, 11, with a knife before striking the children in the Tel Rumeida area, their father, also named Muhammad, told Ma'an.

Israeli soldiers did not apprehend the group, he said.

Hebron is split into Palestinian Authority and Israeli military controlled zones. Around 800 Jewish settlers live among 30,000 Palestinians in the parts of the ancient city that are under Israeli control, including Tel Rumeida.

The settlers are trying to intimidate the remaining Palestinians in order to push them from their homes and take over the entire area, Muhammad Abu Eisha said.

Israeli soldiers 'tour Al-Aqsa compound'

Published Sunday 08/01/2012 (updated) 09/01/2012 13:51
(MaanImages/Moti Milrod, File)

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Uniformed Israeli soldiers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said.

Describing the forces as "behaving aggressively," the foundation said ten soldiers walked around the compound with a tour guide.

Such incidents are a violation of the sanctity of the compound and set a dangerous precedent, the organization said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was not familiar with any official visit by troops.

The Al-Aqsa compound, containing the mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the third holiest site in Islam and abuts the site where Jews believe the ancient Second Temple stood, attracting the far-right to pose the rebuilding of the Jewish site on the sanctuary.

The flashpoint site is under the custody of the Waqf (Islamic Endowment) authorities, and visits by Israeli extremists have been roundly condemned by Palestinian officials.

Hamas urges Arab hackers to expand cyberwar on Israeli occupation

[ 08/01/2012 - 10:42 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)– Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hailed the anonymous Arab hackers who managed to penetrate credit cards of Israelis and expose their details as a creative work and a new means of resistance against the occupation.

“We, in Hamas, bless this effort and urge the Arab youth to activate and develop it; we consider that this effort has the same value as any kind of resistance means used by the Palestinian young men in the land of Palestine,” spokesman Abu Zuhri stated in a press release.

“We stress our solidarity with the Arab hackers in the face of the Zionist threats and call upon the Arab youth not to pay any attention to these cowardly threats and to use all possible means through the virtual space to confront the Zionist crimes,” the spokesman added.

The Israeli foreign ministry had threatened to respond to any attempt targeting its websites on the Internet.
Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said in a speech in a symposium held in Beersheba on Saturday that any act against Israel’s cyberspace is a declaration of war and would be retaliated to.

He warned that Israel would follow the US strategy in this regard and would use its missile power, if necessary, to address these attacks.

Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

Disagreeing With Israel Doesn't Make One a Bigot

When 'Anti-Semitism' Is Abused

Real Anti-Semitism: We should all fight anti-Semitism. But some apparently need a reminder about the difference between real anti-Semitism and honest debate about Israel.
getty images
Real Anti-Semitism: We should all fight anti-Semitism. But some apparently need a reminder about the difference between real anti-Semitism and honest debate about Israel.

By Sarah Wildman


Published January 05, 2012, issue of January 13, 2012.

We were raised to be vigilant. We were taught to fight oppression, admonished to be New Jews — strong, muscular, defiant.

We were told to look for the signs, the slogans and the double-speak. We learned at the knee of those with tattooed forearms; knelt at the feet of those who lost brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, parents, grandparents, lovers, spouses, children.

We have cried, we have wailed, we have lit thousands upon thousands of memorial candles. And we have sworn, again and again, that we would never forget.

That is why when anti-Semitism is falsely applied, we must also stand up and decry it as defamation, as character assault, as unjust. That is why when we debase the term by using it as a rhetorical conceit against those with whom we disagree on policy matters, we have sullied our own promises to our grandparents. For if we dilute the term, if we render the label meaningless, defanged, we have failed ourselves, our legacy, our ancestors, our children.

Read the Forward’s news story about Josh Block’s campaign against liberal critics of Israel
I am speaking of the recent rise of the bogeyman of anti-Semitism wielded to criticize everyone, from the American ambassador to Belgium (himself the Jewish son of a Holocaust survivor), who was trying to negotiate the uncomfortable lines of Muslim-Jewish conflict in modern Europe, to foreign policy bloggers at Media Matters for America and ThinkProgress, the online magazine housed at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, responding to a story about divisions on Israel policy in the Democratic Party, freely called these blogs anti-Semitic. Commentary took up her lead, and The Jerusalem Post than found a historian to ruminate over word choices on the blogs, likening their use to classic anti-Semitism. In the meantime, Elliott Abrams of The Weekly Standard took on Thomas Friedman, beginning his piece, “If you were an anti-Semite dedicated to spreading your hatred of Jews….”

We should know by now that supporting the State of Israel does not mean uncritical support by all, that Jewish identity is not always under attack when a government of Israel faces criticism. Love for the Jewish state does not, by definition, mean a love for all things the state undertakes. For some that may mean fighting the segregation of women in Beit Shemesh; for others that means pushing for Israel to get out of the territories.
We can — we must — write about these things. We can argue over borders and refugees, democracy and lack of democracy, worry over the increasingly uncomfortable tension between the ultra-Orthodox and the secular in the state to which so many of us in the Diaspora feel connected.

We can do so because such criticism is not, by definition, anti-Zionism. We can do so because such criticism is not, by definition, anti-Semitism.

There comes a time when we must insist on common sense. We must reject the absurd. There comes a time when we must say, “Enough.” Real anti-Semitism exists. Real, ugly, hatred of the Jewish people is all too easy to find.

But when we are forced to sift through the thousands of posts of an organization affiliated with the Democratic Party in order to come up with six or seven sentences that may, taken out of context, feel uncomfortable to the community with regard to Israel, that should not lead to pointing fingers, libeling writers and screaming about hate speech. We cannot jump up and shout that these think tanks are harboring anti-Semites or brewing hatred because we disagree with something they have written. We cannot call that anti-Semitism. We can call it policy disagreement.

When we take apart a speech about anti-Semitism by one of our ambassadors who has, through observation and analysis, come to the reasoned conclusion that the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and the failure of the peace process, has an impact on Jewish communities abroad, we should not call for his resignation. Instead, we must acknowledge that when Israel takes an action against the Palestinians — whether we agree with that action or not — the action may, and often does, reverberate elsewhere. But we cannot call those who acknowledge these things anti-Semitic. We can call that an uncomfortable truth.
And when Haredi men and women put their children in striped pajamas and place a yellow star emblazoned with the word “Jude” on their chests and parade in the streets of Jerusalem to protest the secular world, we can call that spitting on the graves of our ancestors.

And we can weep that we have lost all perspective.


Sarah Wildman is a columnist for the International Herald Tribune and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and is a contributing editor to the Forward.

The blog post that led to the investigation of an Israeli left-wing activist

  • Published 21:03 06.01.12
  • Latest update 21:03 06.01.12

A complaint was lodged against blogger Yossi Gurvitz by a right-wing organization over a blog post which, they claimed, was an incitement to violence against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens.

By Barak Ravid

Blogger and left-wing activist Yossi Gurvitz was questioned by Israel police two weeks ago on suspicion of incitement to violence. Gurvitz gave an update on the investigation in a short post published on his blog “Friends of George,” on Friday morning.

The investigation was opened following a decision by the deputy state prosecutor for special procedures, the lawyer Shai Nitzan, after the right-wing organization “The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel” presented a complaint in August last year.

Under the headline “A Short, Personal Message” Gurvitz wrote on Friday morning that he was being investigated again for incitement following a blog post he had published.

A left-wing protest in Tel Aviv last year - Tal Cohen. A left-wing protest in Tel Aviv last year.
Photo by: Tal Cohen

“This was a political investigation, which originated with a complaint by a political foundation, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, whose goal is to keep mouths shut,” Gurvitz wrote.

“I did not commit any crime, and I am convinced the case will be closed. Until now I could not report on this, and I am unable to expand further on the matter because of police instructions and the advice of my lawyer.”

I spoke with Gurvitz on Friday afternoon in order to find out more. He politely declined to comment, explaining that he is not allowed to discuss the investigation.

“The questioning continued for a few hours in a pleasant atmosphere, and the investigator was very nice,” he told me. “After questioning I was asked to sign something declaring that I would not give any interviews or give details about the questions I was asked and answers I gave. This affects my ability to defend myself and to respond to the complaints against me, but these are the conditions the police presented me with.”

I approached The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel on Friday afternoon and they confirmed that they presented a complaint against Gurvitz as early as August last year. The Forum spokesperson, Shmulik Klein, also passed me a letter the organization received two weeks ago, which states that the decision had been taken to open an investigation into Gurvitz on suspicion of incitement to violence based on the article published on his blog.

The events started on July 21 2011, when The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel sent a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in which they asked that an investigation be opened against Gurvitz following the blog post in question, which he had published on his blog four days earlier.

In the post, under the headline “On Violence,” Gurvitz referred to an article he had written a decade earlier in which he argued that Israeli settlers were not Israeli citizens. He expressed regret over the things he had written ten years earlier, and expressed his opposition to violence against the innocent.

Gurvitz wrote that there are situations, “In which violence is required and justified, such as resistance to invasion or occupation. However, it is necessary to limit violence to people in combat roles or those who carry weapons, whether they are in uniform or not.”

This paragraph, together with Gurvitz’s response to a reader “talkback” on another blog post he published a few days earlier, are what led the organization to make the official complaint against Gurvitz. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel claimed that, in response to the talkback, Gurvitz wrote that thesettlers are, “A legitimate target for Palestinian military operations.”

“His writing suggests that violence should be used against Israel Defense Forces soldiers and citizens of Judaea and Samaria who carry weapons,” The Legal Forum for Eretz-Israel wrote to the government legal advisor.

“Within two days 190 responses have been published, so that it looks as if many people have read Mr.Gurvitz’s article, and his influence is likely to be broad…we are convinced that what he wrote could be considered as incitement and sedition….the fact that the article was distributed via the internet, and received many responses within only a few days, means that there is a real possibility that it could lead to organized use of violence against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens.”

Responding to Gurvitz’s comments on Friday morning that the investigation against him is political and aimed at keeping mouths shut, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel stated that, “Despite the importance of freedom of expression, and the importance of upholding it in a democratic society, it cannot be used as a cover and as a rationale for inciters and those who call for violence.”

The Slow Death of Adham Baroud: Welcome to Gaza

15:24 01/06/2012

Adham Baroud was the latest casualty. (Oxfam Gaza)

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
A baby fighting for his life.

Parents are panic stricken.

Doctors desperate for help.

Permission to get medical help denied.

Welcome to Gaza!

The world’s largest open air prison in the world, with a population of 1.7 million Palestinians, 50% of which are children under the age of 18 years old. 80% of the population living on less than $2 per day with unemployment at 45%. Desperately needed medical supplies not being allowed in. Thanks to Tel Aviv and Cairo, Gazans are denied to get in or out of the strip, not even the mail.
The illegal Israeli siege on Gaza continues to take innocent lives daily. Adham Baroud was the latest casualty. A seven month old baby who died on December 26th in a slow and painful death from renal failure when he could be easily treated.

On December 1, Adham was referred to Israel for emergency treatment by his doctors in Gaza after his condition became terminal fallowing a catheter inserted four months earlier in a previous operation in Israel gets infected. Adham never made it.
Julia Hurley, a New York City area human rights advocate, lecturer, and blogger has posted Adham’s tragic story on her blog, (see here) with this comment:

“This story in particular broke my heart because it was completely avoidable. This is dangerous. This is inhumane. There is NO excuse for denying medical treatment to ANYONE. This, right here, is collective punishment. It cannot, and should not, be tolerated.”

Adding salt to the injury, Israel has, according to a December 28, 2011 issue of the British Guardian, ‘upped’ the ante for those wishing to exercise their right to freedom of movement by requiring them to become informants:

“Palestinian patients and business people hoping to leave the Gaza Strip are being asked to collaborate with Israel in exchange for an exit permit, a leading Israeli human rights organization claims. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) say that 172 people, mostly men aged 18 to 40, were called for interrogation by the Shabak, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, last month. Some who attended interviews were granted exit permits.”

The Guardian story revealed more stunning information about Israel’s typically- ruthless and inhumane method of taking advantage of Palestinians who are seeking medical treatment in Israel. Case in point is the story of Ahmad Hamada, a 20-years-old who has suffered serious head injuries, including memory loss. His father Emad, arranged for him to receive treatment in Israel. He had worked there as a laborer for years and was stunned when a week before the appointment, his son was summoned for an interview with the Shabak on September 19. He was led to an interrogation room deep beneath the Erez crossing terminal north of Gaza where an Israeli officer introduced himself in Arabic. Littering his conversation with Gaza slang, he asked briefly about his medical condition.

“I know everything,” he warned him. “You didn’t fall off a wall did you? Why are all those tubes inside you? Tell me the truth. Is your father Hamas? Who is Hamas in the port? Who in your neighborhood?”

“He became very angry when I kept answering that I didn’t know,” Hamada recalled. “I explained I couldn’t remember much since my fall. I was in pain and I just wanted to go home.”

After an hour of questioning, Ahmad was left alone in a locked interview room. The entire process had lasted four hours and he needed the toilet. As his knocks and calls went unanswered, he was forced to pee on the carpet.

Ahmad was eventually sent home and told he would be called for a second interview. He has not heard from them again but says he will refuse to go if they call. He now has a referral for treatment in Egypt but hasn’t gone due to the turmoil there.

The simple truth is, Israel wanting to continue punishing the people of Gaza for voting for Hamas in democratic elections that took place years ago is inhumane and barbaric. The siege on Gaza is one of the greatest moral travesties of our time and we all have a role we can play in bringing the siege to an end. We have to wake up and educate ourselves and others about this crisis.

If we leave it to the mainstream media and to politicians who take their marching orders from Tel Aviv, this bully of the Middle East will continue oppressing the innocent people of Palestine and defy the rules of civilized nations and those of human decency. In other words, we will continue to read and hear more about needless death and tragic stories similar to those of Adham Baroud and Ahmad Hamada of Gaza, Palestine.

- Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a retired USAF Veteran. He contributed this article to Contact him at:


 January 10, 2012 at 07:28

“Targeting Israeli Apartheid is the guide many of us in the movement have been waiting for. This forensic, clear and systematic account details the where, who, how and why of the flows of capital and contracts which enable the colonisation of Palestine to continue.” 
Taking its cue from the unified Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Targeting Israeli Apartheid examines the Israeli economy and details the Israeli and international companies complicit in Israeli state repression. Based on original research in Palestine, the book shows how these companies can be targeted and provides the international BDS movement with the information necessary to bring the Palestinian struggle to the doorsteps of those who profit from Israeli apartheid.

The book begins by examining the Israeli economy industry by industry and suggesting where the movement should focus its campaigning energy in order to be most effective. Part two contains five in-depth geographical case studies. The final section looks at how campaigners can bring the fight home to the UK.
The rationale for this book is simple: information for action.Targeting Israeli Apartheid: a BDS Handbook provides the international BDS movement with the information necessary to bring the Palestinian struggle to the doorsteps of those profiting from Israeli apartheid.

The book begins by examining the Israeli economy industry by industry and suggesting where the movement should focus its campaigning energy in order to be most effective. Part two contains five in-depth geographical case studies. The final section looks at how campaigners can bring the fight home to the UK.

Targeting Israeli Apartheid picks out Barclays Bank as the British bank with the most substantial investments in Israeli companies, including companies based in Israeli settlements. The book goes on to examine the investments of several British universities and UK pension funds revealing investments in companies based in Israeli settlements and arms companies supplying weapons to the Israeli state. Finally, the book shows how charities registered in the UK donate to the Israeli army and settlements.
“Targeting Israeli Apartheid is the guide many of us in the movement have been waiting for. This forensic, clear and systematic account details the where, who, how and why of the flows of capital and contracts which enable the colonisation of Palestine to continue.”
- Ewa Jasiewicz – Coordinator of the Free Gaza movement