Netanyahu: We’re a small country with a big heart

Netanyahu: We’re a small country with a big heart

Referring to the Israeli aid delegation sent to Haiti, the prime minister said that “the moment the dimensions of the disaster became known, I instructed the immediate deployment of an aid delegation on behalf of the State of Israel, which has already reached the place.

“This includes supplies, medication, doctors, a field hospital, an x-ray machine and many other vital things.”

According to the prime minister: “This is the true heritage of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. This act joins similar action we have taken in the past in Mexico, Kenya, and Turkey. We may be a small country, but we are a country with a big heart. This is the expression of Jewish ethics and heritage – to help others.” [continued…]

Eyes in Gaza

(h/t Mondoweiss)

Israel’s compassion in Haiti can’t hide our ugly face in Gaza

Who said we are shut up inside our Tel Aviv bubble? How many small nations surrounded by enemies set up field hospitals on the other side of the world? Give us an earthquake in Haiti, a tsunami in Thailand or a terror attack in Kenya, and the IDF Spokesman’s Office will triumph. A cargo plane can always be found to fly in military journalists to report on our fine young men from the Home Front Command.

Everyone is truly doing a wonderful job: the rescuers, searching for survivors; the physicians, saving lives; and the reporters, too, who are rightfully patting them all on the back. After Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon became the face we show the world, the entire international community can now see Israel’s good side.

But the remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza. Only a little more than an hour’s drive from the offices of Israel’s major newspapers, 1.5 million people have been besieged on a desert island for two and a half years. Who cares that 80 percent of the men, women and children living in such proximity to us have fallen under the poverty line? How many Israelis know that half of all Gazans are dependent on charity, that Operation Cast Lead created hundreds of amputees, that raw sewage flows from the streets into the sea? [continued…]

Arab taxi station attacked by Jews; police fail to come

Abdu opened the business about a year and a half ago, and employed Arab drivers. About a year later, a competitor opened a business about 200 meters away employing Jews and began making his life miserable, he said.

“They straight away began conspiring against me. They come every week, shouting ‘death to Arabs’, ‘we don’t want you here’, ‘we’ll murder you’.”

He added that only a month ago he was attacked by a “large group.” “They came with knives, clubs and stones, and caused a lot of damage. Many people were beaten. The attackers are all known to the police, but despite all the complaints against them, the police don’t do anything. They keep coming and damaging my business.”

Abdu added that he is certain that if it were Jews being attacked, the police would act differently. “In our village they bring investigators and police in response to the smallest incident, but here nothing happens. It makes me crazy. My drivers are scared. They don’t want to work here. It is destroying my business. I am a father of five – how else can I support them?”

Jerusalem city councilor Laura Wharton (Meretz) also criticized police behavior.

“I am shocked that pogroms are carried out in Jerusalem and the police don’t do anything,” she said. “I am concerned for the Arab residents, of course, but also for Jewish morality and the principles upon which the state should be based. It’s clear that the incidents are racist in nature, and if it was the other way round, everyone would call it a pogrom.” [continued…]

To the victor go the street names

Walking along the beachfront street in Akko recently with a social activist from the town’s Arab community, I looked up at a sign and saw I was at the corner of Shlomo Ben-Yosef Street. Then I looked again just to make sure. Really, I’m embarrassed I was surprised. Naming the street after Ben-Yosef showed an entirely predictable blend of bad taste and flagrant educational incompetence.

Akko, on the northern Israeli coast, is an ethnically mixed city: Arab citizens of Israel make up a little more than a quarter of the town’s 53,000 residents. The rest are Jews. Today’s relations between the two communities are just short of explosive, but I’ll leave that story for another time. Akko was entirely Arab until May 1948, when the Haganah — the proto-army of Israel — conquered it. Afterward, those Arabs who stayed in the town lived in the walled Old City, later spreading to nearby neighborhoods. The beachfront thoroughfare, which runs into the Old City, is named after the Haganah. This must be painful for Arab residents, but it follows an old, unwritten principle: To the victors go the street names.

Shlomo Ben-Yosef Street, just outside the walls, is a more egregious insult. In 1938, Ben-Yosef and two comrades from the ultra-nationalist Irgun underground attacked a bus full of Arab civilians on a mountain road, seeking to kill them all. (Historian Avi Shlaim gives details). The attack failed; the British rulers of Palestine captured, tried, and hanged Ben-Yosef, turning him into a martyr of the Zionist right wing. A smaller, nearby street is called Shnei Eliahu, “Two Eliahus.” It commemorates Eliahu Hakim and Eliahu Bet Zouri, two members of the even more extreme Lehi (Stern Gang) underground. In 1944 they assassinated Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in Egypt. They, too, died by hanging and became martyrs of the right. The Comprehensive Arab High School of Akko is on the street of the assassins, and you’d take the street of the bus ambusher to get there. I doubt those who picked the names thought of all the possible lessons that their choice might teach. [continued…]

Israel releases Palestinian boycott activists

M agda Mughrabi, the Advocacy Officer at Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, which represented Othman at some of his court hearings, argued Othman’s case exemplifies Israel’s use of administrative detention as a tactic to punish non-violent activism.

“Israeli is using detention as an arbitrary policy as opposed to something founded on strong evidence,” Magda Mughrabi, Advocacy Officer with Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, told The Media Line. “Mohammad Othman wasn’t charged with anything.”

“Representatives of the British, Norwegian and German governments all attended the hearings and there was no substantiated evidence,” she claimed. “They issued an administrative detention order against him saying he posed a security threat to the area and his detention was necessary to neutralize the threat. Then later the judge said Mr Othman still poses a security threat but that there is no progress in his interrogation.”

“This is contradictory,” Mughrabi maintained. “Legally administrative detention can only be used for preventative purposes when there is information that there is an imminent threat to the security of the state. So if they say that his administrative detention should be shortened because there is no progress in the investigation that means they are not holding him for preventative purposes but as a substitute for prosecution because they don’t have evidence against him.”

“This is a war between the campaign and the Israeli authorities,” she added. “The human rights community has written a lot about the arbitrary use of administrative detention. It’s not used as a preventive measure but as a punitive measure when they don’t have enough evidence to prosecute someone.”

There are over 7,000 Palestinians currently held by Israel as ‘security prisoners’, around 290 of them administrative detainees and many of whom, Palestinians claim, have been arrested solely for political reasons.

Palestinian groups claim that Israel has arrested a number of non-violent activists in reprisal for their international advocacy efforts or involvement in demonstrations. Most notable has been the detention of dozens of Palestinian activists arrested in nighttime raids in the West Bank villages of Ni’ilin and Bil’in, the sites of weekly demonstrations against Israel’s separation barrier. Many of those arrested have been accused by Israel of incitement and put in administrative detention based on secret evidence. Very few have been charged. [continued…]

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