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Saturday, January 14, 2012

New book explores Jewish opposition to Israel’s occupation

 Jimmy Johnson

9 January 2012
Jewish Identity & Palestinian Rights book cover
David Landy’s illuminating new book, Jewish Identity & Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel, examines how diaspora Jews can articulate solidarity with Palestinian liberation and opposition to Israeli policies as Jews, and how their efforts interact with the broader Palestine solidarity movement and Palestinians.

Admittedly, my first thought when asked to review the book was, “Oh great, more navel-gazing about how Palestinian liberation is a Jewish issue.” After reading the text, my preconceptions were unfounded, but the skepticism is well-warranted.

My own experience as a lecturer and tour guide almost inevitably includes questions along the lines of “How does this affect you as a Jew?” or, “What does this mean for the Jewish community?” This not only displaces Palestine and Palestinians to the periphery of the discussion, it also reaffirms the power of white supremacy and Zionism by giving primacy not to analysis and critique, but to my white and Jewish voice.
This is one of Landy’s key concerns. To what degree is diaspora Jewish opposition to Israel complicit in silencing Palestinian voices, even while fiercely opposing Israeli actions?

Critical eye towards a movement


Landy begins the investigation with one such case, the 2010 Jewish Boat to Gaza. He writes that “it encapsulates so much about this movement” (2) in how it organizes media-friendly activities, promotes an alternative diaspora Jewishness and embraces universal concepts of justice. Moreover, it “also demonstrates the concerns with Jewish identity. This was a Jewish boat first and foremost, one which did not sail with the international flotilla bound for Gaza” (2).

It is thus separate from the general Palestine solidarity movement, even as it acts in concert with and often as part of it. It mirrors significant parts of Palestine solidarity efforts in another, more troubling way. It “can be seen as an example of outsiders doing things for Palestinians, bringing them aid, inscribing them as victims. As a story, it pushes Palestinians to the margins and centers on the struggle for Jewish identity” (3). He adds, “The structural inequalities which motivated these activists in the first place — the inequalities which privilege Jewish voices and Jewish identity over Palestinians rights — work their way through these groups” (3).

It is this critical eye towards a movement Landy both studies and is a part of that makes his work so valuable. He describes the evolution, current state and possible trajectory of a movement “to challenge Zionist hegemony among fellow Jews and to challenge Israel, speaking as Jews” (5). The movement in question can be loosely described as those both secular and to the left of groups that “declare opposition to the occupation and practice opposition to opponents of the occupation” (16).

Diaspora Jewish opposition to Israel, Landy writes, operates “in two fields, the specific Jewish field and the wider political field. It is this dual process of field contention that demarcates them as a discrete movement separate both from the Palestine [distant issue movement] and from purely identitarian Jewish groups” (5). He examines the movement through interviews with organizers and participants, archives of position statements, email and list-serve exchanges, blog posts, flyers and literature critical of the movement. He positions the movement inside fields of identity politics and “distant issue movements” while looking at how Jewish groups interact with non-Jewish Palestine solidarity groups.

Trapped in reactive mode

Landy’s descriptions of social movements and identity construction are useful in their own right, especially for critically engaging our activism. He writes that movements are “actor[s] guided by a plan or call to historicity — the conscious production of society by social actors” (21).

Too often, we activists trap ourselves in cycles of event-react-event-react; whereby we become historical “reactors,” simply holding governments and politicians accountable for actions they instigate instead of actors ourselves producing a better history. This can certainly enable rapid mobilization in response — keeping with the Palestinian example — to Israeli airstrikes and invasions, but it does little to posit an alternative vision.
The book’s highlights, though, are the chapters examining Jewish activists’ universalism, the terrain of Palestine solidarity activism, and what Landy calls “rooted cosmopolitanism.”

He critically engages “how participants ‘deploy’ and ‘use’ human rights language.” He writes, “It is important to recognize the darker side of how human rights and cosmopolitan vantage points affect activists’ perception of Israel/Palestine. There is a danger that the decontextualizing qualities in these discourses, which allow participants to relax their focus on Zionist narratives, also produce a corresponding blindness to Palestinian ones. […] This allows human rights to be used as a way of undercutting the political aims of oppressed peoples and their struggles” (138).

Thus the same “language of human rights, justice, anti-nationalism and peace” that is “often deployed to transcend tribalist Zionist discourse among Jews” (135) can be, for Palestinians, “futile demands by outsiders that their illegal occupier [act] legally” (138). This, of course, is not limited to Jewish groups — it is endemic in the Palestine solidarity movement (and is also deployed by some Palestinians, to a similar effect even). For example, amid all the celebration of the report by Richard Goldstone and other UN investigators examining Israel’s attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, few activists complained that ending the occupation and apartheid were not among the report’s recommendations.

Less problematically, Landy finds “a pleasant irony that Jewish Israel-critical groups might be performing an analogous service that Zionist groups formerly did by offering Jews a way of being Jewish, understanding Jewishness and being with other Jews” (142). Anti-Zionist (or Israel-critical) organizing, then, plays a crucial role in establishing a new secular Jewish identity, a field dominated by Zionism in Western nations for decades. This conclusion slightly complicates Landy’s statement that complicity between opposed political actors “can be summed up by the idea that a fight presupposes agreement about what is worth fighting about” (32).

Jewish groups and the boycott movement


Landy looks at the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) efforts and how Jewish groups have taken them up. “It is significant,” he writes, “that organizations, both Jewish and other, feel able to dismiss the Palestinian call for a full boycott” (155). Very often we associate selective boycotts (or opposition to boycott) with a specific political analysis of Israel and the Palestinians. Selective boycotts are often associated with more liberal groups and full boycott with more radical groups. Landy’s research questions this assumption.

He writes, “Initially I hypothesised that those who rejected boycott would express greater affinity to Israel than those who didn’t. […] In this, I was wrong. True, some who rejected boycott said they felt more at home in Israel than in Britain, or felt the romance of working in a kibbutz. Yet there were similar sentiments expressed by those who supported boycott. In addition almost all of those who rejected boycott didn’t use affinity with Israel to disagree with the boycott” (161). Instead Landy finds that decision to adopt BDS and to what degree to be based upon a strategic analysis of the fields in which individual groups operate.

Can the Palestinian speak?


The literary theorist Gayatri Spivak’s asked “Can the subaltern speak?” This is a question relevant to why some Jewish groups active in the Palestine solidarity movement have rejected calls for a full boycott of Israel.
Landy notes “that nobody [he] interviewed who rejected boycott appeared concerned with Palestinian political subjectivity” (171). The strategic analysis “that local actors deploy to contend the local terrain of activism and the need to grant themselves political subjectivity both create tension with Palestinian political subjectivity” (180). The result is that while few “would disagree […] that Palestinians have an active role to play in bringing about a solution in Israel/Palestine; the problem is that Palestinians have little role in their activism” (183).

Where then, inside Jewish opposition to Israel (and in the Palestine solidarity movement more broadly) is the Palestinian voice? The fractured Palestinian political leadership has a role to play in this as there is no unified voice behind whom to organize solidarity. Even groups that practice uncritical solidarity have to pick which Palestinian organization or faction to support — Landy writes, “There is, as I heard time and time again, no Palestinian ANC” (183).

Thus Palestinian political subjectivity — a Palestinian voice on Palestinian liberation — can be difficult for solidarity groups. But while there is no ANC, there is a BNC, the Boycott National Committee call for BDS. The BNC call provides a coherent, unified (arguably as representative as the ANC was in South Africa) Palestinian voice. Rejecting this call points towards “the inequalities which privilege Jewish voices and Jewish identity over Palestinians rights” (3).

Landy notes this problem derives not from “specific identitarian concerns” among Jewish groups, but is “common to all distant issue movements” (186). Whether the “issue” is Sudan, Chiapas in Mexico, Afghan women’s rights, or Palestine, Global North activists have difficulty with Global South political subjectivity and most problematically, we often do not know that we have this problem. Landy’s movement critique thus has tremendous comparative value and insight for feminism and anti-racism in all distant issue movements.

Zionism and the negation of Diaspora


Throughout the book, Landy refers to Zionism’s “negation of Diaspora.” This misconceptualizes Zionism. Landy refers to it as a “semantic issue” (220) and addresses it briefly in a footnote. The difference between shlilat ha-golah (negation of Diaspora) and shlilat ha-galut (negation of exile) is significant.

As Gabriel Piterberg writes in his The Returns of Zionism (2008), “Golah means Diaspora, the actual circumstance in which Jews happen to reside outside of the land of Israel. Galut signifies something that is meaningful both literally and figuratively, as an existential state of being, as consciousness. What Zionism negates is, fundamentally, galut, not golah.” The golah Zionism attempts to negate is the Israeli diaspora, as seen in the ongoing campaign to lure Israeli expatriates back (“The demographic threat: Israel’s politics of reproduction,” JNews blog, 17 December 2011).

A second dilemma is Landy’s general adherence to the borders of Global North and South. While Landy works to keep Palestine and Palestinians in the picture, the diaspora Mizrachi (reductively, Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries) voice is conspicuously absent, as are voices from Argentina, Brazil and South Africa. There are organized Jewish communities in Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Syria, Brazil, Argentina and elsewhere whose governments already — to one degree or another — already take political positions that European and North American groups dream of their governments taking (plus Iran whose criticism is at times different in kind). Do these communities play a role in their governments’ criticism (or lack thereof) of Palestinian dispossession? Do their governments’ positions prevent the need for organizing a critical group inside their communities?

This is significant for European and North American groups. To what degree do the groups in this distant issue movement attempt to apply “distant” pressure, that is to say, pressure on the Israeli government itself versus “local pressure” on their own governments and communities?

Landy examines groups’ positioning vis-a-vis the local Jewish community, the Palestine solidarity movement, Israel and Palestinians, but by and large not vis-a-vis their own governments. This surely plays a role in Jewish engagement in local fields of contention. While the obvious answer to “Why are these communities absent from the book?” is, “there are no significant opposition groups in these nations.” The question “Why are there no significant opposition groups?” is unaddressed and has implications for Landy’s thesis.
Landy excluded the Jewish orthodox anti-Zionist groups Neturei Karta and Satmar from his study “mainly due to the limited, often non-existent contacts between such anti-secular groups and the worldly social movement [he is] studying” (16). Given various Satmar sects’ long-standing support for the Palestine Liberation Organization and Neturei Karta’s active presence in events and protests organized by Muslim, especially Shiite, groups, this may indicate a problem in defining this “worldly social movement.”

There are other criticisms to make, especially the general lack of the international context in which this takes place, but Jewish Identity & Palestinian Rights is an impressive work and is highly recommended. While Landy reminds us that “effort spent on discussing Jewishness is effort not spent trying to affect the situation in Israel/Palestine” (25), he provides fresh thinking on how both activists and academics should look at movement building and the construction of identity in social change. He does so while challenging activists to address the systemic power dynamics in distant issue movements. In this, his goal of creating “movement-relevant research” (15) is a great success.

Jimmy Johnson is the founder of Neged Neshek, a website focused on Israel’s weapons industry, and can be reached at jimmy [at] negedneshek [dot] org.

The phony war over which US party loves Israel most

10 January 2012
Man points at television screens showing Barack Obama
The Obama administration and its predecessor ramped up unprecedented levels of military aid to Israel.
No Aid to Israel?” wonders a recent Facebook ad sponsored by US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. “Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich say they would start foreign aid to Israel at zero. Reject their extreme plan now!” the ad implores, directing people to sign a petition to that effect on (“Stand against “zeroing out aid to Israel””).

After signing the petition, the caption underneath a beaming photo of the president declares that “Any plan to cut foreign aid to zero across the board is dangerous and ignorant. It’s up to us to get the word out about it. Donate now to help us spread the facts about the Romney-Perry-Gingrich plan to wipe out foreign aid to allies like Israel.”

As Salon writer Justin Elliott correctly notes, “the Obama ads are incredibly dishonest. First of all, the Republican candidates were talking about setting foreign aid at zero each year as a starting point in discussions about how much to give, not setting it at zero as a matter of policy” (“Obama’s dishonest Israel ads, Salon, 12 December 2011).

However, the Obama campaign is far from unique in employing a breathtakingly simplistic strategy of artifice and vituperation (both against opposing candidates and against Palestinians) to bolster their pro-Israel street cred in a transparent ploy to attract campaign donations and votes. US support for Israel, once a carefully nurtured bipartisan consensus, is fast degenerating in the context of the 2012 presidential election into a mud-slinging partisan contest as to which party, in the words of Mitt Romney, who leveled the accusation against Obama, is more guilty of having “thrown Israel under the bus” (“Mitt Romney accuses Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus”,” CBS News, 19 May 2011).

Last month’s presidential forum organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) managed to ratchet up the rhetoric another notch. Invoking the ghost of Neville Chamberlain, Michele Bachmann accused Obama of having “confused engagement with appeasement.” Romney blamed Obama for “immeasurably set[ting] back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.” Rick Perry asserted the administration has unleashed a “torrent of hostility towards Israel.”

Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich took to the airwaves the next day to dub Palestinians an “invented people.” Unnoticed until recently, Rick Santorum topped all other comers when he stated in November that “all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians” (“Pro-settler Santorum claims Mexico and the West Bank,” Salon, 6 January 2012).

This rhetoric occasioned Arab American Institute founder James Zogby to lament that “all of this goes beyond the normal platitudes offered up in an election year. It was dangerous, shameful and crass pandering, making it clear how far today’s GOP has moved from the reality-based foreign policy of the Bush-Baker era” (“GOP candidates discuss Israel-Palestine,” 12 December 2011).

Obama’s clear legacy of support for Israeli policy

Notwithstanding this political hot air, no political elite, whether in the Democratic or Republican Party, can legitimately be accused of “throwing Israel under the bus,” least of all Obama. On behalf of protecting Israeli occupation and apartheid, the president has employed the only US veto at the UN during his term to derail a mild condemnation of Israel’s illegal settlements and backtracked on his hope to see Palestine admitted as a member of the UN this year, while deploying the full arsenal of US diplomacy to block the initiative behind the scenes.

Also lost in the heat of this faux electoral debate is the fact that the Bush and Obama administrations, with a bipartisan rubber stamp in Congress, have tag-teamed to ramp up to unprecedented levels both military aid to Israel and the joint research, development and field testing of anti-missile projects financed separately by the Pentagon. According to the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries in 2007, the US is scheduled to provide Israel with $30 billion in tax-payer funded weapons between 2009 and 2018, a 25 percent average annual increase over previous levels (Memorandum of understanding, 2007 [PDF]).
While presidential candidates make risible claims that the other party is abandoning support for Israel, this increasing partisan sniping is no laughing matter to those advocating for a strong US-Israel relationship. In September, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a policy paper by Haim Malka, deputy director of its Middle East Program, warning that this “partisan wedge is likely to deepen, posing considerable challenges to Israel and the US-Israeli partnership.”

This burgeoning fear led two stalwarts of the Israel lobby — the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee — to issue a National Pledge for Unity on Israel, which beseeches “national organizations, elected officials, religious leaders, community groups and individuals to rally around bipartisan support for Israel while preventing the Jewish State from becoming a wedge issue in the upcoming campaign season” (“National pledge for unity on Israel”).

However, instead of calming the waters, the pledge initiative served only to roil them more. The ultra-alarmist Emergency Committee for Israel’s Bill Kristol responded in Washington Jewish Week with a dismissive “You must be kidding” statement, accusing the organizations of needing “a refresher course on the virtues of free speech and robust debate in a democracy” (“Should Israel be a partisan issue in American politics?,” 2 November 2011).

Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, declared that “This effort to stifle debate on US policy toward Israel runs counter to this American tradition.”

Far from rethinking US policy on Israel

Yet Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of “liberal” Israel lobby group J Street, lamented in The Washington Post that this debate is redefining what it means to be “pro-Israel” and rendering it the “exclusive property of the political right. In doing so, they are breaking new ground. Their agenda is not to ensure bipartisan support for aid to Israel or nurturing US-Israeli ties based on shared interests and values” (“What pro-Israel should mean,” 16 December 2011).

Instead, he rather naively accused the candidates of “seek[ing] political advantage,” as if everything that politicians do were not based on their political calculus of what is expedient to them.

While fretting about Israel as an electoral issue has been confined largely so far to the self-described “pro-Israel” crowd, an open and honest debate about US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians desperately needs to take place in the broader body politic as well.

However, this debate must be one which is more substantive and critical than the cotton candy served up in this electoral circus. For far too long, the US political system has treated Israel as a sacred cow, leading to unconditional military and diplomatic support for its illegal 44-year military occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and its human rights abuses of Palestinians.

Now that Israel is becoming just another issue over which the parties squabble, even if it is to trip over each other in a modern day redux of “who lost China?” (a debate over communism that raged for much of the twentieth century), US support for Israel is becoming in the process normalized as a political issue.

Proof of this normalization occurred after the bipartisan failure of the super-committee to produce a deficit reduction plan, triggering across-the-board budget cuts in 2013. Because of this deadlock, regular appropriations of US military aid to Israel are set to substantially decrease for the first time since President Gerald Ford’s 1975 “reassessment” of US policy toward Israel.

Obama was to have requested a record-breaking $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget, the level at which weapons to Israel was expected to plateau until 2018.

However, according to Nathan Guttman, writing in the Jewish Daily Forward, Israel will lose an estimated $250 million yearly from its military aid package when across-the-board budget cuts take effect. Surprisingly, Guttman notes, AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the US, has yet to publicly protest the upcoming cuts in military aid to Israel, because it “may fear a backlash if Israel is singled out for special treatment in the face of broad cuts favored by both Democrats and Republicans” (“Israel faces $250 million slash in aid,” 2 December 2011).

Even as these tangible cuts to military aid to Israel are in the offing, AIPAC and the rest of the Israel lobby also may have noted to its chagrin that inane electoral posturing over Israel has also seeped into the hallowed halls of Congress itself, thereby undermining the bipartisan consensus on Israel it has so laboriously constructed over the years.

According to the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s 112th Congressional Report Card, 35 of the 37 Members of Congress rating -5 or worse are Republicans — the only Democrats deserving of the dubious distinction are Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) and Representative Steve Rothman (New Jersey’s ninth Congressional district). This demonstrates that the most significant Congressional initiatives on Israel and the Palestinians last year were largely partisan affairs designed to undermine, constrain and humiliate any White House attempts to pressure Israel, even if only in the slight, ineffectual way that Obama did during the early days of his term (“Report card for the 112th congress (2011-2012)”).

Although the elites of the Democratic and Republican parties are far from rethinking US policy toward Israel, much less even considering abandoning it, the normalization of Israel as a political issue is already commonplace at civil society levels and in political discourse. Exasperated by political leaders seemingly incapable of policy change, dozens of university campuses and community organizations are deriving lessons learned from the global South African anti-apartheid movement to organize boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel and companies that profit from its human rights abuses of Palestinians. And even in the rarefied pages of The Washington Post, columnist Walter Pincus suggested in October that it is “time to examine the funding the United States provides to Israel” (“Unites States needs to reevaluate its assistance to Israel”).

By continuing to level sophomoric accusations against each other’s mythical abandonment of Israel, the presidential candidates are inadvertently and perhaps counter-intuitively helping to normalize the question of US support for Israel and providing fodder to the strengthening currents in civil society truly questioning failed US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.

As is the case in all processes of social and political change, this grassroots ferment is a necessary prerequisite for a broad-scale policy change at the political level. Such a policy review, although a long ways off as demonstrated by the 2012 election cycle, is nevertheless essential if the US hopes to broker a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of human rights, international law and UN resolutions, rather than continuing to obstruct its attainment.

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a former analyst of Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.

America on Israel’s Altar

by Paul J. Balles on 01/10/2012

Zionist Newt Gingrich

The Boston Globe called U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul a "Republican maverick".
The label has been attached to Paul primarily because he differs from the other Republican presidential candidates on foreign policy. Said The Globe after the presidential debate In Des Moines, Iowa on December 10th:
"While most of the Republican candidates are open to military action against Iran, Paul advocates diplomacy. While several of the candidates oppose cutting the defence budget, Paul wants to slash it. Paul was one of the only candidates in the debate to oppose extending the Patriot Act."
For those unfamiliar with the Patriot Act, it was enacted presumably to help fight terrorism after 9/11 while sacrificing individual rights.
According to The Globe,
"Dean Spiliotes, an independent political analyst from New Hampshire, said Paul's foreign policy contradicts core Republican tenets of strong national security and defence. But it appeals to Americans who are tired of war and focused on economic issues."
The foreign policy differences between Ron Paul and his adversaries make him an ideal candidate for those tired of America's war hawks bankrupting the country.
During the Republican candidates' debate, Paul didn't believe Israel would actually strike Iran--but if it did, "we need to get out of their way," he cautioned.
"When they want to have peace treaties, we tell them what they can do because we buy their allegiance and they sacrifice their sovereignty to us," admonished Paul.
"They decide they want to bomb something?" asked Paul. "That's their business, but they should suffer the consequences. Israel has 200--300 nuclear missiles and they can take care of themselves."
For an American politician to make comments like that took courage. The one that followed would certainly upset American Israeli supporters:
"We don't even have a treaty with Israel. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we're going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?"
In the debate, the other candidates were falling all over themselves, attempting to show their dedication to Israel. The leading candidate, Mitt Romney groaned:
"There's no price which is worth an Iranian nuclear weapon. And the right course is to show that we care about Israel, that they are our friend; we'll stick with them."
This is the same pre-emptive war hawk rubbish that Bush and Cheney and the Zioncons fed the public as the way to combat terrorism when, in fact, they were telling Israel and its lobbies that America will eternally fight Israel's wars.
Promised Romney,
Free Palestine shirt
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"If I'm president of the United States, my first foreign trip will be to Israel to show the world we care about that country and that region."
The Republican candidates, except Ron Paul, all go overboard in their attempts to prove to the supporters in America that they will serve the interests of Israel at any cost.
Of course, the rest of the world doesn't need to be shown that the U.S. cares about Israel. The only politician unwilling to sacrifice America for Israel is Ron Paul.
The American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee (ADC) recently illustrated the problem with Republicans' unabated support for Israel:
"Among politicians, Newt Gingrich called the Palestinian people an 'invented people', Eric Cantor said that Palestinian culture was 'infused with hatred and resentment,' and Mitt Romney said that he would consult with Benjamin Netanyahu in making U.S. policy toward Palestinians because, apparently, Israel does not have enough say in U.S. policy toward the Middle East."
If Ron Paul miraculously receives continuing strong support, his voting public will be tired of sacrificing America on Israel's altar.

'Intl. bodies ignore Israeli terrorism'

Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:35PM GMT
Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed in a terrorist attack in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Wednesday, January 11, 2012.
A senior Iranian lawmaker says international organizations are useless as they do not pay due attention to the terrorist actions of Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad.

Pointing to the recent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, Mohammad Kowsari said on Saturday that Iran has taken all legal steps to voice its protest to terror attacks.

“To show our outrage with regards to this issue we have undergone all necessary legal procedures, we have issued warnings and have written letters to all relevant authorities. We have also asked the UN to investigate this issue,” the lawmaker who is a member of the Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee added.

Kowsari stated that if Iran had not pre-warned international bodies and had not protested at terror attacks, it would have not started to talk about such additional measures as retaliation.

“International organizations have paid no attention to Iran's demands in this regard and some of them have just condemned terror attacks, which prove the uselessness of these organizations,” he said.

In the latest instance of terror attacks against Iran's nuclear scientists, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, an official of Iran's Natanz nuclear site, was assassinated by an unknown motorist on January 11.

The assailant attached a magnetic bomb to his car, killing Ahmadi Roshan along with his driver, while injuring a passer-by.

The latest terrorist attack comes as Iran has reached an agreement with the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States plus Germany - to hold negotiations in Turkey.

The US, Israel and their allies accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program and have used this allegation as a pretext to sway the UNSC to impose four rounds of sanctions on Iran.

Based on these accusations, they have also repeatedly threatened Tehran with the "option" of a military strike.

This is while in November 2011, some of the US presidential hopefuls called for conducting covert operations ranging from assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists to launching a military strike on Iran as well as sabotaging Tehran's nuclear program.

The calls for assassinations are not idle threats as a number of Iranian scientists have been assassinated over the past few years.

According to reports, Ahmadi Roshan had recently met International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, a fact which indicates that the IAEA has leaked information about Iran's nuclear facilities and scientists.


Settlers Destroy 100 Olive Trees Near Salfit

Date : 14/1/2012   Time : 09:32

SALFIT, January 14, 2012 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers from Tappuah settlement in the northern West Bank cut off and destroyed on Friday around 100 fully-grown olive trees northwest of Yasouf, a town east of Salfit, according to local sources.
Residents say the settlers, in collusion with Israeli soldiers and government, want to prevent Palestinians from using their land as a measure to take it over and expand area settlements.

Two Palestinians attacked by settlers, then abducted by soldiers

Saturday January 14, 2012 01:25 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
A number of fundamentalist Israeli settlers attacked, on Friday, two Palestinian youths in Ash-Shuhada Street, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene and kidnapped the two Palestinians; while the settlers were not even questioned.
File - Maan Images
File - Maan Images

The Maan News Agency reported that the settlers violently attacked the two Palestinian youth while they were crossing the street, punched and kicked them repeatedly, and the soldiers “intervened” to kidnap the victims instead of the attackers.

The soldiers went on to handcuff the two Palestinians and took them to an undisclosed location.

Also on Friday, extremist settlers cut at least 100 olive trees that belong to Palestinians residents in the Central West Bank district of Salfit.

Fundamentalist settlers groups have recently stepped up their assaults against the Palestinians, their orchards and lands and their property, and even went on to burn and deface several mosques, and a church.

The settlers also defaced property that belongs to activists of the Israeli Peace Now Movement.

Fundamentalist settlers even attacked Israeli military and police vehicles. They blame the Palestinians and Israeli peace groups to the evacuation of some random settlement outposts that were dismantled by the army.

Ron Paul runs into anti-Zionist rabbi amid Israel policy debate

  • Published 20:18 10.01.12
  • Latest update 20:18 10.01.12

Republican presidential hopeful holds chance meeting with top Neturei Karta rabbi, who told him Judaism shouldn't turn into a nationality, to which Paul replies, 'Good advice.'

By Natasha Mozgovaya 

U.S. Congressman and Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul found himself in the eye of a potential controversy on Tuesday, following a brief encounter with a leading member of the anti-Zionist Haredi sect Neturei Karta.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, Paul met Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a one-time attendee of conference by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioning the Holocaust, in a New Hampshire campaign event.

Neturei Karta - Natasha Mozgovaya Neturei Karta members protesting near the Capitol Hill ahead of a speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, May 2011.
Photo by: Natasha Mozgovaya

Approaching Paul, Weiss reportedly told the Republican presidential hopeful that Judaism "is a religion, and it should never be transformed into a nationalism, "to which Paul reportedly said that the suggestion was "good advice."

A photo of the occasion was posted on the American Spectator website.

The reported incident came amid recent controversy concerning Paul's views on Israel, with former aide Eric Dondero claiming last month that the Texas representative was anti-Israel.

“He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all,” Dondero wrote in his blog on the RightWing News website. “His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer.”

Another former Paul aide, Leon Hadar, however, defended Paul, telling Haaretz that the Republican presidential hopeful was "against Israel as I am against January. He is just against foreign aid, and does not see any reason to grant an aid to the country that is a member of OECD."

"We should remember it's the primaries, and the Republican party establishment is not happy about his popularity, because on many issues his positions run contrary to the traditional party's agenda," Hadar added.
The issue was finally addressed by Paul himself, who in interview to Haaretz denied allegations that he has promoted anti-Semitism, saying that this would be “a betrayal of my own intellectual heritage.”

“Any kind of racism or anti-Semitism is incompatible with my philosophy,” Paul said in an interview with Haaretz, conducted by email.

“I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend. We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun,” Paul said.

Western intelligence sources tell Time Magazine Israel's Mossad targeted Iranian scientist

  • ublished 21:07 14.01.12
  • Latest update 21:07 14.01.12

On Saturday, Iran claimed it had information tying U.S. to the incident; Senior Israeli official tells Time Magazine he 'doesn't feel bad' for scientist killed.

By Haaretz and Reuters 

Western intelligence sources told Time magazine on Friday that Israel's Mossad is responsible for the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist.

A magnetic bomb was attached to the door of 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan's car during the Wednesday morning rush-hour in Tehran. His driver was also killed. Sources tell the magazine Israel was behind three previous assassinations of scientists.

Iran scientist - AP - January 13, 2011 The shrouded body of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan is seen prior to his burial in Tehran on January 13, 2012.
Photo by: AP

A senior Israeli official told is quoted in the report as saying "yeah, one more… I don't feel sad for him."
On Saturday, Iranian state television said that Iran had evidence the United States was behind the latest assassination. We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA," the Iranian foreign ministry said in a letter handed to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, state TV reported.

"The documents clearly show that this terrorist act was carried out with the direct involvement of CIA-linked agents."

The Swiss Embassy has represented U.S. interests in Iran since Iran and the U.S. cut diplomatic ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Tension has mounted between Iran and the West as the United States and European Union prepare measures aimed at imposing sanctions on the Iran's oil exports, its economic lifeblood.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear dispute.
Also on Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. has stepped up contingency planning in case Israel launches a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

According to the report, U.S. defense officials are becoming increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to carry out such a strike.

IDF soldier: Burn all leftists, Arabs

Paratroopers Brigade soldier Amihy Zoaretz publishes Facebook statuses calling for 'death to leftist traitors' prior to arrest over involvement in Ephraim Brigade base raid 
Yoav Zitun
Published: 01.11.12, 19:30 / Israel News
Amihy Zoaretz, a soldier from the Paratroopers Brigade's 890th Battalion was arrested by Military Police earlier this week on suspicion he disclosed information to right-wing activists who were charged with organizing last month's raid on the Ephraim Spatial Brigade base in the West Bank.
The investigation against Zoaretz is still ongoing. The soldier is not cooperating with investigators and, according to his attorney, has denied the allegations. However, his Facebook page reveals his radical views.

On his Facebook wall Zoaretz shared the following statuses in recent months: "I've come to the conclusion that the Maccabees were the 'price tag' of today," "Death to all leftist traitors and to our Arab enemies," "We should burn all the Arabs and transfer them to the sky," "We've gone out to Kahane in Tapuach, this time we'll try not to get arrested," "May all the policemen, Yassam people and especially the Civil Administration burn!! Revenge."

יימח שמם של הבוגדים. עמיחי זוארץ מכוון
Paratroopers Brigade soldier Amihy Zoaretz

Even his profile picture features the symbol of far-Right party Kach, which was banned in 1994 and is considered a terror organization. His Facebook wall is filled with statuses voicing his critical opinion of leftists, Arabs and the razing of outposts by the IDF.
Zoaretz also wrote against the Gilad Shalit swap deal, calling to "kill all the leftists including the Shalit family."
Over Hanukkah he wrote: "Shabbat Shalom to all and a happy holiday. May we get to burn the Arabs and leftists and then keep the Commandments of Hanukkah and watch them burn."

'Army of traitors'

In another instance he jotted: "I think we should burn all the Arabs and just transfer them to an apartment in the skies! Where were all the leftists when the synagogue in Ramallah burned down. May the names of all the traitors be blotted out."

השחתת רכוש בבסיס החטיבה המרחבית (צילום: יואב זיתון)
IDF vehicle after raid (Photo: Yoav Zitun)

Referring to the removal of the Star of David symbols from ambulances in the West Bank, Zoaretz stated: "An army of traitors, erasing the Star of David and the sign of God the king!"
According to the allegations, the soldier relayed information to rightists who raided the Ephraim Bridage's base in protest against the government's plan to evacuate illegal outposts in the West Bank.

Zoaretz is one of two soldiers arrested for allegedly relaying such information to rightist extremists who organized the riots at the base.
According to an indictment filed in relation to the case, the two had gathered intelligence on the movement of army forces in the area with the help of about 30 informants, some of them IDF soldiers serving in the region.
The information was relayed to the rightists via text messages and phone calls, the indictment said. The rioters also obtained confidential aerial images and codes which shed light on the Ephraim Brigade's activity.

According to the indictment, the informants disclosed to the rightists the exact time the army was planning to evacuate Ramat Gilad. Based on this information, the rightists mobilized dozens of other activists who eventually raided the Ephraim Brigade base and blocked the road leading to it with burning tires and boulders.

The commander of the base and his deputy were lightly injured during the riot.,7340,L-4174512,00.html

Yair Lapid gets death threat on Facebook

'If you challenge Netanyahu, your fate will be similar to that of Yitzhak Rabin,' man writes on journalist turned politician's Facebook page. Police investigating 
Nir Cohen
Latest Update: 01.11.12, 10:49 / Israel News
The Tel Aviv District Police have launched an investigation into death threats made against journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid, Ynet learned Wednesday.

"Believe me, if I see you I'll want to kill you. You are an anti-Semitic Israel hater," a man who identified himself as "Itzik Chen" wrote on Yair Lapid's Facebook page Tuesday evening.

"You are a bastard and a son of a bastard, and you are hopeless. Maybe if you were a regular bastard you could have changed, but with a rotten and dirty father such as yours – there is no hope for you. You deserve to die, and he who carries it out will be blessed," the man wrote.

"It will be a shame if you (challenge) Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu (Israeli prime minister), because then it will be very similar to what happened to (slain prime minister) Yitzhak Rabin," the man wrote. 

The message was removed from Lapid's webpage.

Since announcing that he was leaving his news anchorman position on Channel 2 and entering politics, Lapid has used his Facebook page to relay messages to the press and the general public.

Eli Senyor contributed to this report,7340,L-4174079,00.html

Report: Schools discriminate against Ethiopians

New survey presented to Knesset's Immigration Committee reveals Ethiopian student body 'forced' into specific schools 
Tomer Velmer 
Published: 06.28.11, 08:15 / Israel News

Israel has over 100 preschools and schools with a majority of Ethiopian students, a new report by the Knesset Research Center revealed.

The report will be submitted to the Knesset's Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Tuesday, as it debated the integration of Ethiopian children in schools.

Ethiopian children make up 1% of the education system's student body. The report suggests that the concentration of Ethiopian immigrants in certain communities has resulted in some schools becoming "ghettos" for the community's children.

The data indicated that Israel has 10 kindergartens and one elementary school whose student body is exclusively Ethiopian; and these students make up over 50% of the student body in 75 preschools, 17 elementary schools, four junior high schools and seven high schools.

The percentage of Ethiopian student to successfully graduate high school has risen from 32.7% to 42.1% between 2007 and 2010, but it is still significantly lower than the percentage noted in the general Jewish student body – 64.6%.

The report found that only 21% of Ethiopians qualify for higher education.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said that his ministry was "working to ensure the optimal integration of Ethiopian students in Israeli schools and strives to place them is schools which can offer the proper academic and social integration."

Since the ministry cannot prevent parents from enrolling their children in a specific school because of the ratio of Ethiopian students, he added, "We are working on making school more attractive, so they would appeal to a diversified population."

A position paper submitted to the committee by the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews said that "The separation of Ethiopian students and 'holding' then in schools 'of their own' are indicative of a clear policy of segregation, which perpetuates racist perceptions labeling them as weaker than other students.

 "This policy is in clear contrast to the spirit if the State of Israel as a democratic state which welcomes immigrants and offers them equal opportunities."

Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) called the findings "insulting to Israeli society," adding that "this somber reality of 'ghettos' requires the attention of the government ministries and professional bodies, which must formulate a work plan for the proper integration of the Ethiopian community, instead of forcing it to the sidelines.",7340,L-4088147,00.html

Religious school says no to Ethiopians

Five girls sent to Chabad school by Petah Tikva Municipality after their educational institution shut down. 'We don't take in Ethiopian children,' they are told by school staff
Danny Adeno Abebe 
Published: 09.08.11, 14:08 / Israel Jewish Scene

"We don't take in Ethiopian children. We don't think you match our lifestyle and we're not sure about your Jewishness either." This is what five young girls of Ethiopian descent were told when they arrived with their parents at the "Or Chaya" school in Petah Tikva.

The girls were slated to begin the school year at the "Ner Etzion" school, which only had students of Ethiopian descent. The school was closed at the instruction of Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, following the parents' protest, and the five students were directed by the municipality to the "Or Chaya" school, which belongs to the Chabad movement.

Bad Education

Report: Schools discriminate against Ethiopians / Tomer Velmer

New survey presented to Knesset's Immigration Committee reveals Ethiopian student body 'forced' into specific schools
Full story

The girls arrived at the institution accompanied by their parents, and were met by a person at the gate who took them aside and informed them that the school was not interested in taking in Ethiopian students.

The girls were forced to return shamefacedly to the municipality. The Education Department staff called the school and was surprised to receive the same answer: "You're welcome to lead us to the gallows. This has never happened and will never happen," a school official said.

The Petah Tikva Municipality filed a complaint with the Education Ministry against the school, and Minister Sa'ar instructed the ministry's director-general to summon the school principal, Nechama Dina Deitch for a hearing.

"We won’t tolerate these behavior toward children of Ethiopian descent," Petah Tikva Municipality spokesman Hezy Hakak said Wednesday.

In the meantime, a week after the start of the school year, the five students are still sitting at home. "They looked at her as if she were a monkey," said Molko Wanda, the father of a girl who was slated to begin the second grade at the "Or Chaya" school. "Do you know what it means telling a seven-year-old girl that she's not wanted for being black?"

Moshe Ashgara, the father of another girl, feels helpless too. "My daughter is a diligent student. Why won't they take her?"

Sixty-six of the "Ner Etzion" students have yet to be absorbed in an alternative educational institution. The municipality promised that a place would be found for all children within the next few days, and that a school refusing to take in students of Ethiopian descent would be punished.

The principal of "Or Chaya" school was unavailable for comment.,7340,L-4119710,00.html

Minister: Ethiopians should 'say thank you' for what they got

Ethiopian social activist draws Immigrant Absorption minister's ire after telling Knesset Committee they are 'hypocrites' who are 'creating a 21st Century version of Apartheid in Israel'
Omri Efraim
Published: 01.11.12, 13:30 / Israel News

In a case of new immigrants versus the more established immigrants, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver caused an already heated Knesset Committee meeting to get out of control.

Speaking at a Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee meeting on discrimination against the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Malachi, Landver told an Ethiopian social activist: "Say thank you for what you got."  

Her statements came in response to those made by the social activist, Gadi Yiberkan, who called the MKs hypocrites and said: "You have created a 21st Century version of Apartheid in Israel."

Landver then replied: "While you hand out marks you need to understand that the State of Israel invests a lot in this matter," and stressed "Say thank you for what you got." MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) then joined the argument, screaming at Yiberkan: "When they were speaking against haredim no one said a word, I wish I was Ethiopian."
The Ethiopian community is angered by what they believe is the racist behavior of Kiryat Malachi's established residents who are unwilling to rent out or sell them apartments. Some of the residents have even signed contracts under which they have made a commitment not to sell or rent out apartments to members of the Ethiopian community. 

Members of the Ethiopian community and their supporters numbering in the thousands demonstrated against the discrimination in Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday night.

Speaking at the Knesset meeting, Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) said: The Kiryat Malachi case is a warning bell but it isn't the only case. We want to come out of the committee meeting not just with platitudes and empathy but with decisions on the legislative level."

Danon announced his intention to promote a legislation package that would aggravate punishment and declare racial discrimination as a criminal offense with a NIS 100,000 ($26,000) fine and up to six months imprisonment.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau announced that Netanyahu has directed his advisor on Ethiopian affairs Allali Admaso to act to strike out against the phenomenon of racism against Ethiopian immigrants.

Admaso met on Tuesday night with the organizers of the demonstration. According to the bureau, the prime minister stressed that "racist phenomenon are inciting and have no place in Israeli society."

Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report,7340,L-4174325,00.html

Hundreds of Ethiopian demonstrators protest against racism in Israel

 Published 19:23 10.01.12 Latest update 19:23 10.01.12

Ethiopians claim Kiryat Malachi housing committees refuse to sell them apartments; hundreds of protesters include various groups who feel weak in Israeli society.

By Revital Blumenfeld and Yanir Yagna 

Hundreds of demonstrators hit the streets of Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday afternoon, protesting what they call the discrimination of Ethiopian immigrants. According to Ethiopian residents of Kiryat Malachi, housing committees in the city have been refusing to sell them apartments.

The protest was not only attended by Ethiopian immigrants, but by representatives of various groups who feel weak in Israeli society.

ethiopian protester Protesters in Kiryat Malachi on Jan. 10, 2012.
Photo by: Ilan Assaya
"The phenomenon of racism harms us all, and it is impossible to separate the discrimination of Ethiopians in Israel from the discrimination of Arab residents or Russian-speakers," said Rabia Elsagir, a resident of Shfaram and member of The Coalition Against Racism in Israel, who attended the protest with a handful of people from the Arab sector.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel also condemned the phenomenon, requesting that the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs dedicate a portion of a meeting scheduled for tomorrow to the matter. The association said the committee must clearly state that they do not condone racism and discrimination and that they "are taking clear and decisive steps to eradicate" the phenomena.

State denies entry to Israeli's Nigerian husband for being 'just a sperm donor'

  • Published 04:36 11.01.12
  • Latest update 04:36 11.01.12

Yifat Zohar married Goodluck Ayemo in Nigeria and applied for permission for him to come to Israel to start the naturalization process as her spouse, but the ministry refused to let him into the country.

By Talila Nesher

The Interior Ministry is refusing to let an Israeli woman's Nigerian husband enter the country, claiming she intends to use him only as a sperm donor.

Yifat Zohar, 42, married Goodluck Ayemo in Nigeria about a year ago and then applied for permission for him to come to Israel to start the multiyear naturalization process as her spouse. But the ministry refused to even let him into the country.

Yifat Zohar and Goodluck Ayemo - Alon Ron - January 2012 Yifat Zohar and Goodluck Ayemo.
Photo by: Alon Ron

In its response to her application, the ministry's Population and Immigration Authority wrote that Zohar "asked us to consider her advanced age, because she "wants to bring at least one child [into the world] before it is too late" - a statement that attests to her true intentions in entering into marital relations" with Ayemo.

Moreover, it wrote, "for you, this is a third marriage, and the second to a foreigner, while for Mr. Goodluck, this is a second marriage." The authority was also disturbed that "you're the one who financed the entire cost of his flight and even bought the ring, while he promised to repay you the money once he is working in Israel," as well as by the fact that the two initially met while Ayemo was here illegally.

Taken altogether, it concluded, Zohar did not supply enough evidence to show that "this is a genuine, honest relationship and not a move whose entire purpose is essentially a quid pro quo - for [Ayemo], obtaining status in Israel, and for [Zohar], a way to get pregnant."

This response was approved by the ministry's legal division.

Zohar said that she would accept the standard procedure of examining the validity of the relationship at various stages during the naturalization process. "But how is it possible to categorically deny the existence of a genuine relationship in advance?" she asked.

The authority declined to comment, saying its response to Zohar "needs no interpretation." Her lawyer, Yadin Elam, said that if the authority doesn't retract its decision, Zohar will fight its "ugly, chauvinistic" arguments in court.

Israel subsidizes West Bank housing, breaking promise to U.S.

  • Published 04:36 11.01.12
  • Latest update 04:36 11.01.12

Revelation comes as PM Netanyahu announces plan to build 277 housing units in Efrat settlement as part of series of reprisals for the PA's admission to UNESCO in October.

By Chaim Levinson 

Despite the government's promise to Washington to stop giving financial incentives for construction in West Bank settlements, the Housing Ministry recently published a tender for 213 new housing units in Efrat under a program that offers substantial discounts on the land.

In 2004, then-U.S. President George W. Bush gave then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a letter offering various assurances regarding a final-status solution with the Palestinians. Over the preceding year, Sharon envoy Dov Weissglas met numerous times with Bush's envoys, Stephen Hadley and Elliott Abrams, to negotiate the document. The letter was given primarily as recompense for Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza. But in addition, Israel promised four other things: not to expropriate Palestinian land for the benefit of the settlements, not to establish new settlements, to confine new settlement construction to within the settlements' existing boundaries, and not to give financial incentives that would encourage people to move to the territories. In line with this promise, the government canceled all the grants and other benefits that residents of the territories had enjoyed for years. But the new tender includes a financial incentive that could encourage people to move to Efrat.

Construction West Bank - AP Construction in the West Bank settlement of Modi’in Ilit.
Photo by: AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build 277 new housing units in Efrat as part of a series of reprisals for the Palestinian Authority's admission to UNESCO in October. The tender was published at the end of last month and is due to close at the end of February. 

But it turns out that of these 277 units, 213 are being offered under the "Mechir Lamishtaken" program, under which the government sells the land to contractors for less than its full market value. In normal tenders, the land goes to the contractor who offers the highest price for it. This is the system being used for the remaining 64 units in Efrat. Under Mechir Lamishtaken, however, the Housing Ministry sets a fixed price for the land that is well below market value - often as much as 50 percent lower. The tender is then won by the contractor who pledges to sell the houses for the lowest price. Consequently, Mechir Lamishtaken tenders usually result in consumers paying less than the market rate for new housing. And while houses of up to 100 square meters are reserved for people eligible for public housing, anything larger than that can be sold on the open market, as long as the price doesn't exceed the contractor's bid price.

The Prime Minister's Office responded that "Mechir Lamishtaken tenders are published in many cities throughout the country. Therefore, issuing a tender of this type in Efrat doesn't entail granting any kind of special benefit to this city."

The Efrat Local Council said that "Mechir Lamishtaken isn't a government subsidy. The government isn't giving a present, but selling the land to contractors for the equivalent of the land's real value. What the government does via the Mechir Lamishtaken system is give the contractors specifications for the construction and base the tender on the contractors' construction costs, so that the contractor with the lowest price [to the consumer] wins the tender."

Nevertheless, in an announcement to Efrat residents, the council said the new tender was expected to result in "significantly lower apartment prices than are the norm in the town today."

Israel Police: West Bank mosque defaced, cars torched in suspected 'price tag' attack

  • Published 09:59 11.01.12
  • Latest update 09:59 11.01.12

Attack in village of Dir Istiyya comes one week after settlers accused of perpetrating attack at East Jerusalem car wash.

By The Associated Press

Israeli police said on Wednesday that a mosque has been defaced with Hebrew graffiti and three cars have been torched in a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that vandals painted "price tag" and "Gal Arye Yosef" overnight on a wall of the mosque in the village of Dir Istiyya.

price tag - Shiron Granot - 05012012 A car torched during a suspected price tag attack in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sharafat on Wednesday.
Photo by: Shiron Granot

 "Price tag" refers to a practice by Jewish extremists of accosting Palestinian property - and more recently, Israeli military bases - in retaliation for Israeli government action against settlers.

 Gal Arye Yosef is the name of a small, unauthorized settlement outpost that Israeli security forces demolished on Tuesday.
Last Wednesday, two vehicles were set on fire in what police described as "price tag" attacks in a Palestinian car wash in the East Jerusalem village of Sharafat before dawn.

Fire fighters and police were called to the site, where a GMC mini-van and a truck were going up in flames. Vandals had sprayed the words "revenge" on the truck's side and "price tag" on a nearby electrical closet.
A number of people were called in for questioning at the police station shortly after the incident.

On Thursday, Police Commander Haim Rahamim told the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee that there were 228 cases of Israelis attacking security forces in the West Bank during 2011, but all were at the initiative of the attackers, who were not pushed into it by police.

Last year, which saw a rash of reports of settler violence against Palestinians and Israeli forces, was the first time the police have kept separate numbers for attacks by Israelis.