Category Archives: Goldstone Report

International Holocaust Day becomes Attack Goldstone Day

Israel: Goldstone Report anti-Semitic

The world will mark International Holocaust Day on Wednesday. Monday will see President Shimon Peres fly to Berlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leave for a visit to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. They will be joined by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Budapest and Information Minister Yuli Edelstein in New York.

Before meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Edelstein referred to the report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza, calling it “anti-Semitic”.

Israel’s political echelon plans to slam then distortions in the Goldstone Report on International Holocaust Day of all days, in order to point to an anti-Semitic trend which blames the victims of Palestinian rockets. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — 2009 saw a record number of anti-Semitic attacks – especially after the release of the Goldstone Report… well, no, it was actually in the three months immediately after the war on Gaza. I guess Judge Goldstone just got swept up in the rise in anti-Semitism.

The war on Gaza couldn’t possibly have driven the rise in anti-Semitism. Or could it? I wonder…

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel will never quit settlements

The Israeli prime minister has taken part in tree-planting ceremonies in the West Bank while declaring Israel will never leave those areas.

Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jewish settlements blocs would always remain part of the state of Israel.

His remarks came hours after a visit by US envoy George Mitchell who is trying to reopen peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.

A Palestinian spokesman said the comments undermined peace negotiations.

“Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of Israel for eternity”, the prime minister said. [continued…]

Does Israel have an immigrant problem?

TThe presence of a large, non-Jewish population [of foreign workers] in the Jewish state stirs great unease. In November, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz blamed foreign workers for a rise in unemployment and a “widening of social gaps”; the mayor of Eilat, Meir Yitzhak Halevi, recently called them a “burden on the welfare authorities.” He added: “They consume alcohol and have introduced cases of severe violence.” The situation is routinely described in the media as a ticking social time bomb. The military estimates that as many as 1 million Africans could try to cross into Israel (though the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees puts the number at 45,000).

Responding to such concerns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Jan. 10 that Israel will build two fences along the Egyptian border — one around Eilat, the other near Gaza — in the hope of staunching the flow of “infiltrators and terrorists.” Construction is expected to take several years, and the fence will be entirely on Israeli territory. Netanyahu also directed the Justice Ministry to formulate a plan to sanction businesses that hire illegal immigrants. “This is a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will remain open to war refugees but we cannot allow thousands of illegal workers to infiltrate into Israel via the southern border and flood our country.” There is reason to be skeptical. For two decades, Israeli policy toward foreign workers and refugees, has been widely regarded as a complete failure.

Foreign workers first arrived in Israel in the late 1980s to address a sudden labor shortage caused by the outbreak of the first Intifada. Following the Six Day War in 1967, Israel issued work permits to Palestinians for menial, low-wage jobs, primarily in construction and agriculture. By 1987, the year the Intifada began, Palestinians comprised nearly 8 percent of the Israeli labor force. The uprising, which prevented Palestinians from traveling back and forth to jobs inside Israel, threw the economy into crisis. In response, the Israeli government began to import workers from abroad. By 2000, foreign workers comprised 12 percent of the Israeli workforce. [continued…]


IDF to finally engage Goldstone, day late dollar short

IDF to finally engage Goldstone, day late dollar short

Ethan Bronner writes a N.Y. Times report on a new propaganda offensive by the IDF against the Goldstone Report. It seems Israel has finally decided to engage with the document’s claims that Israel may have committed war crimes during last year’s Gaza war. Of course, it could’ve done so by testifying to the UN investigative body so that Israel’s perspective could’ve been incorporated into the finished document. At the time, Israel evidently judged it could filibuster and disparage this effort, as they have so many previous international attempts to hold Israel accountable for its actions concerning the Palestinians. But for some reason, Goldstone has developed much more staying power than other similar past efforts. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — Richard Silverstein does a nice job of critiquing the Bronner article — the only other thing I was struck by was the Netanyahu quote naming Israel’s three-pronged axis of evil: “We face three major strategic challenges: The Iranian nuclear program, rockets aimed at our civilians and Goldstone.”

Wow! Richard Goldstone, the diminutive and rather modest judge from South Africa, now poses an existential threat to Israel!

Or am I reading that the wrong way round? Maybe Netanyahu is moderating his rhetoric and conceding that Israel does not actually face external existential threats. Existential threats may well persist, but these would be the ones of Israel’s own making.


Israel’s effort to silence political protest

Israel deports US journalist

Israeli authorities today deported an American journalist who was working as an editor for a Palestinian news agency.

Jared Malsin, who is Jewish and in his late 20s, was detained at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport eight days ago as he returned from a holiday in Prague.

His girlfriend, a Lutheran church volunteer who flew back with him, was deported two days later., but Malsin was held in detention at a cell in the airport while he began a legal challenge to his deportation order.

Early today Malsin, who has worked with the Ma’an news agency for two years as its English news editor, spoke by telephone to a colleague to say he was being deported and was then put on a flight to New York. “He was not in a good place. He sounded very confused,” said George Hale, a staff writer at Ma’an.

Sabine Hadad, a spokeswoman for the Israeli interior ministry, said Malsin had refused to answer questions and co-operate with security staff when he landed at the airport last week. “It is the minimal right of every immigration authority to ask questions or to clarify things that are not clear about every person who wants to enter Israel,” she said. “He refused to co-operate and we told him if he continued to refuse he would not enter Israel.”

Hadad said they did not know Malsin was a journalist until they were contacted by the press about his detention.

However, Hale said Malsin was interrogated repeatedly and was asked about articles he had written from the occupied West Bank that were critical of Israeli policies. Hale said Malsin had briefly overstayed his last tourist visa, but was registered as a journalist with the Palestinian Authority and with the authority’s labour ministry. He had applied for an Israeli government-issued press card, which most foreign journalists here carry, but was told it would not be granted because he was based in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. [continued…]

Israel accused of silencing political protest

Israel is arresting a growing number of prominent opponents to its policies toward the Palestinians, say critics who are accusing the government of trying to crush legitimate dissent.

In the most high-profile case yet, Jerusalem police detained the leader of a leading Israeli human rights group during a vigil against the eviction of Palestinian families whose homes were taken by Jewish settlers. [continued…]

What the Gaza war meant for Israel

Last month the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) revealed an alarming trend in its annual survey on the protection of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories – the conditioning of rights.

“The realisation of the entire spectrum of rights is now more than ever dependent on what we say or believe, what ethnic group we belong to, how much money we have, and more,” says the ACRI.

“We have the freedom to express ourselves and demonstrate – only if we don’t say anything displeasing; we have the right to equal treatment and opportunities – only if we are “loyal” to the state.”

In the streets, the Israeli security forces are waging a war against protests by Jewish left wing and human rights activists, who non-violently protest against Israel’s separation barrier or against Jewish settlers taking over Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

Many have been arrested and some were attacked by the security forces.

However, right-wingers protesting against the government’s decision to temporarily freeze building in settlements are accorded much more leniency by Israeli law enforcement agencies.

During Operation Cast Lead about 800 Israeli citizens, most of them Arab, were arrested, with criminal charges brought against most of them.

In a recent editorial, the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz called the arrests “an evil omen regarding the state’s attitude toward protesters” and said that as a result, “concern is growing over Israel’s image as a free and democratic country”. [continued…]

Israel withholding NGO employees’ work permits

The Interior Ministry has stopped granting work permits to foreign nationals working in most international nongovernmental organizations operating in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, Haaretz has learned.

In an apparent overhaul of regulations that have been in place since 1967, the ministry is now granting the NGO employees tourist visas only, which bar them from working.

Organizations affected by the apparent policy change include Oxfam, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Terre des Hommes, Handicap International and the Religious Society of Friends (a Quaker organization). [continued…]

Israel targets Palestinian anti-wall activists

Jamal Juma’ could not help but laugh at one of the accusations he said he had been threatened with while in Israeli detention.

“They said they would indict me for links to Hizbollah. They didn’t like it when I started laughing,” Mr Juma’, a lifelong communist, said on Sunday, five days after his release.

He was talking in an office in Ramallah at the headquarters of the Stop the Wall organisation, of which he is a coordinator. Stop the Wall is a Palestinian grassroots effort dedicated to peaceful and popular resistance against the separation barrier Israel is building up and down the occupied territories. [continued…]


Israel threatened a “seond Gaza” in the West Bank

Diskin to Abbas: Defer UN vote on Goldstone or face “second Gaza”

The request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the United Nations Human Rights Council last year to postpone the vote on the Goldstone report followed a particularly tense meeting with the head of the Shin Bet security service, Haaretz has learned. At the October meeting in Ramallah, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told Abbas that if he did not ask for a deferral of the vote on the critical report on last year’s military operation, Israel would turn the West Bank into a “second Gaza.” [continued…]

Lebanese protest Egypt’s Gaza barrier

Lebanese protesters accused Egypt’s president Sunday of acting like an agent of Israel over his country’s construction of an underground steel wall along the Gaza border.

The Egyptian barrier could deprive Gaza’s Hamas rulers of their only lifeline by blocking hundreds of smuggling tunnels. [continued…]

Israel is engaging in gangster diplomacy

Now we have also shown the Turks who we are, because when it comes to the Jewish, Zionist honor of a nation that endured the Holocaust and the Goldstone report, no one will make a movie about us – certainly not the Turks – portraying us as war criminals. If Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan thinks he can reprimand us without a reaction, we’ll show him and all the other countries of the world.

There’s no choice because they only understand force. Britain wants to boycott Israeli goods? We’ll summon the British ambassador and have him sit on a bed of nails. The United States handles the settlements unfairly? We’ll point an unloaded gun at the American ambassador’s head and pull the trigger, just to scare him. We’re not murderers. We’re just trying to frighten, which, as is well known, creates respect. Just ask the Godfather. [continued…]

So who is Israel’s one true friend? Clue: it isn’t the US

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, an old American slogan says. By that measure the US has hardly been a real friend to Israel over the past decade. It has enabled a pattern of Israeli behaviour so reckless as to endanger Israel’s prospects of ever achieving peaceful coexistence with the states and peoples around it.

An aggressive drunk often reserves his most toxic invective for those of his friends who tell him the truth: that his behaviour is intolerable, is dangerous to himself and others, and can’t be allowed to continue.

So it should come as no surprise that the most belligerent of Israel’s leaders are shaking their fists at Turkey, most recently in last week’s adolescent stunt in which the deputy foreign minister deliberately humiliated the Turkish ambassador. The specific complaint was a negative portrayal of Israelis in a Turkish TV drama. The deeper grievance is that Turkey, a long-time friend of Israel, has started to deliver a message no longer heard from the US or most of Europe: that normal relations with Israel depend on Israel pursuing a policy of peace. [continued…]

Detained American journalist Jared Malsin goes to court today to fight deportation from Israel

Four days ago we posted on the the case of Jared Malsin, the chief English editor at the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency. Malsin was detained at the Ben Gurion Airport for the past four days and is in danger of deported from Israel/Palestine today. Apparently, the primary reason for his detention was his critical reporting of Israeli policy. Here is a timeline of Malsin’s case so far. People who have been in touch with Malsin say he has been kept in a windowless room for five days. [continued…]


Turkish human rights group: Arrest Barak when he arrives here

Turkish human rights group: Arrest Barak when he arrives here

espite the intensifying crisis between Israel and Turkey, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is insisting to follow through with his scheduled plans to visit Turkey next week. However, on Thursday it became clear that an arrest warrant may await him there.

One of the major human rights organizations in Turkey, Mazlumder, requested from the Turkish state prosecution to order that Barak be arrested upon landing in the country for what they call “his responsibility for war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.”

A statement published Wednesday night by the Istanbul branch of Mazlumder claimed that the request is rooted in the right of universal jurisdiction and Article CMK98 of Turkish law. [continued…]

U.S. to store $800 million in emergency gear in Israel

The U.S. Army will double the value of emergency military equipment it stockpiles on Israeli soil, and Israel will be allowed to use the U.S. ordnance in the event of a military emergency, according to a report in Monday’s issue of the U.S. weekly Defense News.

The report, written by Barbara Opall-Rome, the magazine’s Israel correspondent, said that an agreement reached between Washington and Jerusalem last month will bring the value of the military gear to $800 million.

This is the final phase of a process that began over a year ago to determine the type and amount of U.S. weapons and ammunition to be stored in Israel, part of an overarching American effort to stockpile weapons in areas in which its army may need to operate while allowing American allies to make use of the ordnance in emergencies. [continued…]

Bomb in Jordan misses convoy of Israeli diplomats

A roadside bomb exploded near a convoy of vehicles carrying Israeli diplomats in Jordan on Thursday, but no one was injured, according to Israeli and Jordanian officials.

“All I can say at this moment is there was an attack that targeted an Israeli embassy vehicle,” foreign-ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. “The Israeli embassy staff in the vehicle were not injured. The vehicle proceeded.”

A senior Israeli official said Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, Danny Nevo, wasn’t in the convoy, but refused to specify who was. [continued…]


Gaza’s civilians still unable to rebuild one year after ‘Operation Cast Lead’

Gaza’s civilians still unable to rebuild one year after ‘Operation Cast Lead’

The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action to secure the ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and recovery, say a group of 16 leading humanitarian and human rights groups in a new report released today (22 December) ahead of the anniversary of the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza (27 December-18 January).

The Israeli authorities have allowed only 41 truckloads of all construction materials into Gaza since the end of the offensive in mid-January, warn the groups, which include Amnesty International, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Mercy Corps and Oxfam International. The task of rebuilding and repairing thousands of homes alone will require thousands of truckloads of building materials, they add.

Little of the extensive damage the offensive caused to homes, civilian infrastructure, public services, farms and businesses has been repaired because the civilian population, and the UN and aid agencies who help them, are prohibited from importing materials like cement and glass in all but a handful of cases, says the report. [continued…]

Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country’s forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called “antisemitic”.

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran’s state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians. [continued…]

Challenge to the Jewish Taliban

A struggle for the character of the Western Wall, this city’s iconic Jewish holy site and central place of worship, is under way, and it is being fought with prayer shawls and Torah scrolls.

On Friday, sheets of rain obscured the Old City’s ancient domes. But by 7 a.m. about 150 Jewish women had gathered at the Western Wall to pray and to challenge the constraints imposed on them by traditional Jewish Orthodoxy and a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court.

Under their coats many of the women, supporters of a group of religious activists called Women of the Wall, wore a tallit, or fringed prayer shawl, a ritual garment traditionally worn only by men. Some wore their prayer shawls openly, an illegal act in this particular setting that can incur a fine or several months in jail. [continued…]

MK Tibi: Israel is democratic for Jews, but Jewish for Arabs

he Knesset Law and Constitution Committee conducted a heated debate Tuesday on two parallel law proposals that would enable certain communities in Israel to handpick their residents.

The proposals come amid controversy over a number of Jewish communities in the north who have refused entry to Arabs wishing to reside there.

The laws proposed by MKs Israel Hasson and Shai Hermesh (Kadima) and the committee’s chairman MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) circumvent the High Court decision that the reception committees are illegal.

MK Ahmed Tibi condemned the bills, which passed a preliminary vote a few weeks ago, claiming they would only allow systemic racism to take hold.

“This law is like pissing in mid-air,” said Tibi. “Racism is starting to be legislated in the statute book. There is an influx of racist law proposals; you aren’t even ashamed of yourselves.”

“This country is Jewish and democratic: Democratic towards Jews, and Jewish toward Arabs,” Tibi said, adding that that if Israel’s declaration of independence was to be voted on in the Knesset today, it would not pass.

The proposals were actually meant to enable communal settlements, like moshavim, to disqualify candidates on grounds of economic status or incompatibility with the settlement’s lifestyle. The debate quickly developed, however, to the fact that the committees would be able to prevent Arab landowners from building on community land.


Hamas using English law to demand arrest of Israeli leaders for war crimes

Hamas using English law to demand arrest of Israeli leaders for war crimes

The Islamist group Hamas is masterminding efforts to have senior Israeli leaders arrested for alleged war crimes when they visit European countries including Britain, a top Hamas official involved in the effort has told The Times.

The claim comes amid continuing diplomatic fallout after a British arrest warrant was issued last week against Tzipi Livni, who served as Foreign Minister during Israel’s Gaza offensive last winter. The warrant was withdrawn when it became clear that Ms Livni, now leader of the opposition, was not in the country. Its existence apparently prompted her to cancel a trip to attend a meeting in London.

President Peres described the incident as “one of the greatest political mistakes” that Britain could have made and calling for the law to be changed. “Everything is based on … a hostile majority public opinion,” he said last week. “The British promised they would fix this and it is time that they do so.” [continued…]

The democratic value of universal accountability

In important global dynamic today bridges the worlds of politics, morality and violence. Societies are grappling with the challenge of how to hold accountable the political leaders who are accused of various degrees of criminal behavior, including war crimes, torture — even genocide or crimes against humanity. The most outrageous cases are tried in special international tribunals or at the International Criminal Court. Other cases reflect more contested situations and raise critical issues of the universality of ethics and law.

Two cases last week in the United States and Israel are interesting in this respect, because these two countries remind us twice a week — and more often in war time and on patriotic national holidays — that they are democracies whose values should be spread around the world. Well, the world at the receiving end of their moral munificence frequently asks an important question to which it has yet to receive a clear answer:

Are the United States and Israel subject to the same standards of accountability for their behavior as everyone else in the world, or do they operate at a higher plane of impunity when it comes to using violence to kill, torture, and invade or occupy other peoples? [continued…]


Israeli women’s group tells Livni to turn herself in

Israeli women’s group tells Livni to turn herself in

The Women’s Coalition for Peace sent a letter on Wednesday to Israel’s former Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, calling on her to cooperate with international investigations into her role in the assault on Gaza last winter, after a British court issued an warrant for her arrest on Monday.

The Israeli organization wrote in the letter, which was attached to a translated copy of the Goldstone report on alleged war crimes in Gaza, “We are convinced that if you refer to the report you will understand why British citizens and organizations have turned to the courts with a request to issue a warrant for your arrest.”

The letter added that the Goldstone report directly refers to remarks by senior political figures in Israel which encouraged indiscriminate attacks on civilians, in contradiction of international law.

It is in this context that Livni was quoted as saying, on 13 January 2009, “We have proven to Hamas that the equation has been altered. Israel is a state that, when its citizens are shot at, will respond insanely. And that’s a good thing.” [continued…]

Most Israeli ministers would face arrest in UK

Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni is not the only one, or even one of a select few, who face the near-certainty of arrest should they make the mistake of visiting England.

According to former Foreign Ministry legal adviser
Allan Baker, two of every three ministers in the cabinet would also likely be arrested and detained in a British jail if they did the same.

Britain is one of several west European countries that have passed laws granting it international jurisdiction – that is, the right to try anyone suspected of violating various provisions of international law, no matter where the alleged crimes were committed or the citizenship of the suspect.

Israel first tasted the sting of international jurisdiction in 2001, when a warrant was issued in Belgium for the arrest of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former army Chief-of-Staff Raphael Eitan and former head of IDF Northern Command, Amos Yaron, for their alleged roles in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in Beirut by Christian militiamen. The charges were eventually dropped, and Belgium changed its law to make it more difficult to apply universal jurisdiction.

But the threat remains in other countries. In 2005, former head of IDF Southern Command Doron Almog narrowly escaped arrest when he was advised to remain on board the plane that had brought him to London and immediately return to Israel. [continued…]

Israeli officials at risk for civil lawsuits in US

Four American Jewish groups are urging the US Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision that could lead to Israeli officials being slammed with civil lawsuits in the United States.

Coinciding with a British judge’s decision to sign an arrest warrant for Kadima leader Tzipi Livni for alleged “war crimes” during Operation Cast Lead, the brief seeks to overturn a Fourth Circuit decision to strip foreign government officials from immunity in American civil lawsuits.

Written by Washington attorney Nathan Lewin on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Agudath Israel of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the “friend of court” brief warns against a “torrent of unfounded lawsuits against Israeli government officials” in the absence of absolute immunity. [continued…]

Livni has no right to claim immunity from prosecution

It is not at all surprising that the Israeli government is outraged at the attempt – initially successful – to obtain an arrest warrant in Britain against their former foreign minister Tzipi Livni. But their characterisation of it as a “diplomatic offence” is wide of the mark. Those who come to Britain are subject to its laws.

It is necessary to step back from the particular case and look at the broader picture. War crimes and crimes against humanity are international crimes transcending national boundaries. Universal jurisdiction to put those accused of them on trial is a logical development of that recognition. Such crimes are unlikely to be redressed in the country where the perpetrators hold political power. If they are not, they can only be adjudicated in courts of another state, or in an international court or tribunal.

Since the Second World War there has been a steady expansion of legal mechanisms designed to ensure that there is no hiding place for the perpetrators of international crimes. Complying with UN treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, many countries, including the UK, give their courts jurisdiction to try specific crimes committed outside their own territory. [continued…]


Blaming the Goldstone Report

Blaming the Goldstone Report

A brief news item in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) a few days ago made depressing reading. It was entitled: “State Department blames Goldstone for stalled peace talks.”

“Wow!” I thought to myself, has it really come down to this? The United States and Israel, who do not hesitate to toot their horn about their democratic credentials, now blame the stalled Arab-Israeli peace-making process on the publication of the report on the potential war crimes of the Gaza war issued in September by the UN Human Rights Council enquiry commission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone?

It is hard to think of a more distorted and backwards brand of political morality than this American-Israeli view of the Goldstone report, which most of the world sees as a historic breakthrough in the elusive quest to apply international norms of accountability to the savagery that has come to define Arab-Israeli warfare. [continued…]


British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni

British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni

A British court issued an arrest warrant for Israel’s former foreign minister over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza this year – only to withdraw it when it was discovered that she was not in the UK, it emerged today.

Tzipi Livni, a member of the war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead, had been due to address a meeting in London on Sunday but cancelled her attendance in advance. The Guardian has established that Westminster magistrates’ court issued the warrant at the request of lawyers acting for some of the Palestinian victims of the fighting but it was later dropped.

The warrant marks the first time an Israeli minister or former minister has faced arrest in the UK and is evidence of a growing effort to pursue war crimes allegations under “universal jurisidiction”. Israel rejects these efforts as politically motivated, saying it acted in self-defence against Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza. [continued…]

U.S. tax dollars fund rabbi who excused killing gentile babies

The White House condemns the torching of a mosque, yet respectable Americans contribute to a yeshiva whose rabbi said it’s okay to kill gentile babies. It is no surprise that the American administration tacitly, if unenthusiastically, accepted the excuse that the map of national priority zones the cabinet approved on Sunday does not violate the decision to freeze construction in the settlements.

How can President Barack Obama object to furthering education in a settlement like Yitzhar, located in the heart of the West Bank? After all, his own tax revenues contribute to the flourishing of the Od Yosef Chai Shechem yeshiva, the settlement’s crowning glory.

This is the same yeshiva whose rabbi said it is permissible to kill gentile babies because of “the future danger that will arise if they are allowed to grow into evil people like their parents.” In his latest book, the head of the yeshiva, Yitzhak Shapira, who bears the honorable title of rabbi, even permits killing anyone “who, through his remarks and so forth, weakens our kingdom” (Obama, beware!). [continued…]

How Israel’s system of Jewish apartheid operates in Jerusalem

Green Zone from Nimrod Zin on Vimeo.

Green Zone – is a 20 minute long documentary, exploring Israel’s discriminatory policies in occupied East Jerusalem. Since 1967 urban planning has been used by the Israeli establishment as a tool to contain the growth of the Palestinian population in the mixed city. The impact of these policies has been catastrophic for many Palestinian residents, resulting in an average of 100 house demolitions every year. The film incorporates interviews with Israeli and Palestinian residents, architects, journalists and politicians, in an attempt to present this complex situation, which has significant ramifications to the whole peace process.

Lawless settlers are an inseparable part of Israel

The dogs of Shiloh run about, excited. Barking loudly, they try to chase after the long convoy of security vehicles passing the doghouses. But they aren’t going anywhere: They’re collared to long iron chains.

No sight could better illustrate the futile journey of the inspectors and police officers through the West Bank this week.

They’re here to deliver the building freeze orders, to people who rip them up in front of the cameras. This week, they traveled from one settlement to the next, and we followed, an odd convoy of armored vehicles from the Civil Administration, the Yasam special police forces and the Border Police, two cars full of journalists and one car driven by a settler activist reporting to his friends from the field and giving advance notice.

Some settlements the convoy passed quickly, without stopping, which raised even more speculation about the objective of this shadowy trip. At other settlements, its way was blocked. When the convoy parked at one West Bank junction, a few Palestinian passersby from a nearby village stared. They had no idea where it was headed; it seemed like the members of the secured convoy weren’t so sure either. [continued…]

Far-right yeshiva head: My duty is to tell troops to refuse orders

The head rabbi of a far-right West Bank yeshiva declared Monday after his school was ousted from the Israel Defense Forces hesder program that he encouraged his students to refuse settlement evacuation orders because he had an obligation to “speak his inner truth.”

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, whose Har Bracha Yeshiva’s status was revoked late Sunday, wrote in an article published on Arutz 7 that he had skipped a critical hearing on the matter with Defense Minister Ehud Barak because he would not give in to “governmental pressure.”

“Although I knew by the Defense Minister’s rudeness that this could cause the end of the arrangement with Yeshiva Har Bracha,” wrote Melamed. “And despite all of the harsh significance that it entailed, I was obligated to stick to my independent principles and not give in.” [continued…]

Israel votes new funding for settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted more funding for Jewish settlements on Sunday as violence over a temporary settlement building freeze in enclaves in the occupied West Bank increased.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak voted against the plan, saying it would reward settlers living in parts of the West Bank where Palestinians have lately come under attack, such as a village where parts of a mosque was torched at the weekend.

Netanyahu condemned the burning of carpets and copies of the Koran at Yasuf village near Nablus, where graffiti scrawled in Hebrew called the act “a price tag.” It was similar to a slogan left by suspected settlers after other acts of vandalism. [continued…]

Life behind The Wall


The Israel lobby and the Jewish kings

The Israel lobby and the Jewish kings

When people ask why Obama has capitulated to the prime minister of a tiny state– Bibi Netanyahu– various theories are offered about Health care first, or the economy, or Afghanistan, or oil. Few say directly: Netanyahu feels invulnerable because of the Israel lobby in the U.S. As readers of this site know, I am a bull on this issue: I think the lobby has a tremendous amount of power. And all efforts to poohpooh its influence strike me as foolish until such time as the media address it openly and vigorously, as they do, say, the gun lobby. Once there’s information and sunshine, we can argue about its magnitude.

The difficulty is that you cannot be plain about this matter without addressing the idea of Jewish influence. Israelis are often more plain about this. Anshel Pfeffer wrote in Haaretz the other day, “the most significant joint endeavor of America’s Jews [is] six decades of unswerving support for the Israeli government of the day.” I.e., a hammerlock on U.S. policy. And last year at the NYPL, former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg described “two structures” built by Jews, one being Israel, the other “the semi-autonomous American Jewry, which was not here 150 years ago– powerful influence, access to the corridors of power, impact on the culture, and civilization… plus the infrastructure of the community of solidarity and fraternity and support system and education etc.” [continued…]

Israel ‘personally attacking human rights group’ after Gaza war criticism

America’s leading human rights organisation has accused Israel and its supporters of an “organised campaign” of false allegations and misinformation, including “extremely personal attacks” on its staff, in an attempt to discredit the group over its reports of war crimes in Gaza.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) ties the campaign – which has included accusations that the group’s reports on the Jewish state are written by “anti-Israel ideologues” and that it has sought funds from Saudi Arabia – to a statement by a senior official in the Israeli prime minister’s office in June pledging to “dedicate time and manpower to combating” human rights organisations. [continued…]

Haaretz poll: 57% of Israelis support plan to talk to Hamas

In a few words, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was able to encapsulate the political situation in Israel: “There is no more peace camp.” New survey numbers appear to prove him right.

Nine months after the elections, the left has evaporated and the right has only grown stronger, probably stronger than ever. The Labor Party and its leadership continue to sink lower and lower, but the general public is actually exhibiting intellectual flexibility and political moderation: the majority, including most of the Likud voters, support negotiations with Hamas, if it relinquishes terrorism and recognizes Israel.

These are the main conclusion for a special survey carried out during the past days on behalf of Haaretz and Dialog, under the guidance of Professor Camil Fuchs of the Department of Statistics at Tel Aviv University.

The survey shows the impressive rising strength of the right and a serious shrinking of the center and the left. The balance in the current Knesset stands at 65 seats for the right and 55 for the center and the left parties, but if elections were held today , the current survey suggests that the right would garner 72 seats to 48 for the center and left.

During the nine months since the elections, the equivalent of seven seats in the Knesset have moved to the right from the left-center. Kadima is retaining its strength, but Labor is crashing and it is on its way to disappearing from the political scene. Continue reading


Goldstone to Haaretz: U.S. does not have to protect Israel blindly

Goldstone to Haaretz: U.S. does not have to protect Israel blindly

The Goldstone report is expected to be raised for discussion in the United Nations Security Council in the near future, and Goldstone Thursday discussed the possibility that the United States would veto any resolution that would hurt Israel when it comes to the implementation of the report’s findings. “I do not believe that any nation should protect another nation blindly. I would prefer to see the United States furnish reasons for criticizing the report. The United States has supported our call for credible investigations by Israel and by the Gaza authorities, whether the PA or Hamas,” he said.

Goldstone reiterated statements he has made, as well as those made by a number of Israeli human rights groups, inviting an open, public investigation and categorically rejecting a probe by the Israel Defense Forces of the Gaza campaign. “It does not suffice for the military to investigate itself. That will satisfy very few people and certainly not the victims.”

However Goldstone stressed that “in any public inquiry, it would be open to the Israeli government and the IDF to have sensitive security information protected from public disclosure.”

When asked how far up the chain of command he felt such a criminal investigation should go, and whether decision-makers in government be its subject, he replied: “A criminal investigation should go as high up the chain of command, both military and civilian, as the evidence justifies.” [continued…]


What Goldstone says about the US

What Goldstone says about the US

… if Israel is guilty of committing systematic war crimes across Gaza and the West Bank, then the US, which supported, funded and armed Israel during the war, is an accessory to those crimes.

Goldstone explains in no uncertain terms that Gaza was not an aberration in terms of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Rather, it marked not only a continuation of Israel’s behaviour during the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, but “highlights a common thread of the interaction between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians which emerged clearly also in many cases discussed in other parts of the report.

It referenced continuous and systematic abuse, outrages on personal dignity, humiliating and degrading treatment contrary to fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law”.

“The Mission concludes that the treatment of these civilians constitutes the infliction of a collective penalty on those persons and amounts to measures of intimidation and terror. Such acts are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and constitute a war crime,” the report says.

Put simply, if there is blood on Israel’s hands, than it is has dripped all over America’s shirt.

Israel could not and would not have engaged in the level of wholesale destruction of Gaza painstakingly catalogued in the report without the support of the outgoing Bush administration, and acquiescence of the incoming Obama administration. [continued…]


Admiral Mullen: Nuclear Iran is existential threat to Israel

Admiral Mullen: Nuclear Iran is existential threat to Israel

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, said last week in Washington that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.

Mullen said he would prefer that the U.S. work diplomatically to keep the country from acquiring nuclear weapons, but hinted that should such efforts fail, the U.S. air force and navy could be put into action as well.

Ahead of Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to the Pentagon this week, Israeli military sources said they were satisfied with the progress in talks with their American counterparts over acquiring F-35 fighter jets. Israel will pay $135 million per jet if it buys 25, and $100 million if it buys 75.

Meanwhile, Washington has retracted its opposition to installing Israeli-made systems on the jets. However, a disagreement over Israel’s request for complete access to the planes’ computer systems is yet to be resolved.

At a conference at the National Press Club, Mullen said he has spent a significant amount of time with his Israeli counterpart, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and that “it’s very clear to me that a nuclear weapon in Iran is an existential threat to Israel,” according to a transcript released by his office. [continued…]

Iran said to ignore effort to salvage nuclear deal

…members of the Obama administration, in interviews over the weekend, said that they had now all but lost hope that Iran would follow through with an agreement reached in Geneva on Oct. 1 to send its fuel out of the country temporarily — buying some time for negotiations over its nuclear program.

“If you listen to what the Iranians have said publicly and privately over the past week,” one senior administration official said Sunday, “it’s evident that they simply cannot bring themselves to do the deal.” The administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were speaking about delicate diplomatic exchanges.

Iranian officials told the energy agency on Oct. 29 that they could not agree to the deal that their own negotiators had reached, but they never explained why. Iran has never publicly rejected the deal, but its official reaction has been ambiguous at best.

Dr. ElBaradei insisted he still had hope, but he conceded that the chances were receding.

“I have been saying to the Iranian leadership, privately and publicly, ‘Make use of that opportunity. Reciprocate,’ ” Dr. ElBaradei said last week. But he said that it now appeared that “the foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen,” partly because of the country’s own domestic turmoil.

So far, President Obama has said nothing about the stalemate threatening his first, and potentially most important, effort at diplomatic engagement with a hostile foreign government. When the first meeting in Geneva ended Oct. 1, Iranian and American officials said they would meet again later in the month to discuss the nuclear program and the potential for a broader relationship. That meeting never occurred, and none is scheduled. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — It’s hard to push the narrative that Israel faces an existential threat and that it provides a safe haven for Jews. The “existential threat” argument would simply seem to reinforce what has for decades seemed to be objectively true: America and Europe and much of the rest of the world provide a much safer haven for Jews than does Israel.

In light of this we are likely to hear another argument presented with increasing force: that Israel’s necessity rests in its providing the only base in the world for a Jewish army.

Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, in an address to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America on Sunday noted that the creation of Israel provided the opportunity for the creation of “the first Jewish defense force in 2,000 years” as, in the wake of the Goldstone report, the issue of Israel’s right to exist in now being made subordinate to its right to defend itself.

Haaretz reported:

[Oren] said Israel was now facing questions about its legitimacy, not only from its traditional enemies but also from young people in the U.S., both Jews and non-Jews.

He told the conference that Israel’s ability to withstand the “onslaught of delegitimization” depends on the unity of the Jewish people, not just in Israel, but in communities all over the world.

“Our strength derives from the belief that we have a right to independence in our tribal land, the land of Israel, and that Jews have a right to defend themselves, there and everywhere. That Jews have a right to survive as Jews and as a legitimate nation.”

He seems to be claiming that the ability of Jews to survive anywhere hinges on the ability of Israel to defend itself.

If a Qassam rocket gets fired at Sderot, subtly — perhaps almost imperceptibly — it gets a little more dangerous to be living in Brooklyn.



Is using aid to Israel as leverage becoming a mainstream idea?

Is using aid to Israel as leverage becoming a mainstream idea?

Tom Friedman today has some very harsh words for both the Israelis and Palestinians, both of whom — he claims — are not serious about reaching a peace agreement. As a result, these are the principles which Friedman — rather surprisingly — advocates the U.S. should follow:

Let’s just get out of the picture. Let all these leaders stand in front of their own people and tell them the truth: “My fellow citizens: Nothing is happening; nothing is going to happen. It’s just you and me and the problem we own.”

Indeed, it’s time for us to dust off James Baker’s line: “When you’re serious, give us a call: 202-456-1414. Ask for Barack. Otherwise, stay out of our lives. We have our own country to fix.” …

If the status quo is this tolerable for the parties, then I say, let them enjoy it. I just don’t want to subsidize it or anesthetize it anymore. We need to fix America. If and when they get serious, they’ll find us.

The only specific course of action Friedman explicitly advocates to fulfill those principles is that the U.S. cease its efforts to forge a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stop trying to pressure them into concessions, instead leaving each side to stew in the status quo — in other words, do exactly that which the Netanyahu government would like most. That would be a perfectly fine suggestion if not for the fact that the U.S. is heavily invested in the outcome of that process and its interests substantially and directly impacted by what happens. That’s because we single-handedly enable Israeli behavior with our massive amounts of military aid, diplomatic protection, and weapons supplying, which means Israeli behavior is rationally perceived by much of the Muslim world as being one and the same as American behavior. Muslim anger towards Israel will inevitably translate into Muslim anger towards the U.S. for as long as we continue to flood Israel with aid and cover. [continued…]

Israel’s apartheid is worse than South Africa’s

Regardless of whether there is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, the United States became a distinctly pro-Israel world power after the 1967 war. It has no intention of being a “balanced mediator” when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Barack Obama’s public relations moves in the Arab world have frightened many average Israelis. But Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, allies of the final takeover of the West Bank, know very well that U.S. policy has not changed. It doesn’t take a genius to read the working papers of past prime ministers.

The prevailing attitude of all U.S. administrations was drafted by Henry Morgenthau, and was later updated by Kenneth Waltz. One line guided all of them – Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, George Mitchell – essentially, that any possible settlement must match the positions of the stronger party. [continued…]

Abbas charts new course by abandoning faith in the US

‘Who lost China?” was the battle cry of a witch-hunt conducted in the US State Department following the 1949 victory of Mao Zedong’s communists. The department’s “China hands”, critics charged, had been woefully ignorant of the dynamics at work on the ground in China after the Second World War, and undermined the US ally Chiang Kai-shek. While the purge that followed is unlikely to be repeated, Washington may soon be asking itself, albeit quietly, “Who lost Fatah?”

Last week’s announcement by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that he would not seek re-election next January was a warning to the Obama administration, which had put Mr Abbas in an untenable position. Having retreated from its own demand that Israel halt all construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Washington expected Mr Abbas to open talks with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu without conditions.

For the Palestinians, however, the settlement-freeze demand was a test of Mr Obama’s willingness to pressure the Israelis into taking steps they won’t take by choice. Mr Abbas knows that Mr Netanyahu, if it were up to him, would not yield to a viable, independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. If the US is not prepared to pressure Israel, negotiations would not only be fruitless, they would actually help sustain a reality that is relatively comfortable for the Israelis but intolerable for the Palestinians. [continued…]

U.N.’s Goldstone criticizes U.S. reaction to Gaza report

The head of a U.N. investigation that accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, Richard Goldstone, has said he is disappointed there has been such a “lukewarm” reaction to his findings in the United States.

The report by Goldstone, a South African jurist, lambasted both sides in the December-January war, which killed up to 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, but was harsher toward Israel.

It gave Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants six months to mount credible investigations or face possible prosecution in The Hague. Both Israel and Hamas denied committing war crimes. [continued…]


UN assembly votes for probes of Gaza war charges

UN assembly votes for probes of Gaza war charges

In a move that angered Israel, the U.N. General Assembly voted on Thursday to urge the Jewish state and Palestinians to investigate war crimes charges leveled in a controversial U.N. report on the Gaza war.

The Arab-drafted resolution is nonbinding and unlikely to lead to inquiries by either Israel or the militant Palestinian Hamas movement that rules Gaza into their conduct during the December-January conflict.

But the outcome was seen by Arab states as a public relations coup and a public discomfiture for Israel, which has reacted with outrage to the findings of the U.N. report, as have American Jewish groups. [continued…]

No safe haven for suspected war criminals

The Jerusalem Post recently quoted Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, as lamenting the “tactical” problem of Israel being unable to defend itself without facing prosecution. He added that “no one in Israel buys” that the Israeli military targeted civilians during Operation Cast Lead last winter.

“It goes not just against all of our principles, but the personal knowledge of people who participated in the operation,” he said, adding that he was speaking from personal experience.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, human rights campaigners and lawyers working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been collecting evidence of serious human rights violations by Israel’s military for many years. Some of those violations appear to amount to grave breaches (i.e. war crimes) contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, which protects civilians living under military occupation. After many years of placing the evidence of such war crimes before the Israeli legal system and attempting to seek justice locally, Palestinian victims have lost any faith in the Israeli legal system. [continued…]


How Israel creates the scenario for the next war

The doomsday weapon

Every few weeks you have to sow fear, every few months you need to make threats, and once every year or two you have to have another little war. Blind cooperation between the defense establishment and the media holds the promise of another round of fighting. In that way, it’s possible to escape some of the blame from the Goldstone report and wallow in the conditions we love best: being the victim, feeling threatened and uniting in the face of the great external danger allegedly in the offing.

The Israel Defense Forces will be above it all and cleanse itself of a series of suspicions and failures. This can also translate into huge budgets, glorified importance and influence for both the generals and the military commentators. It also creates good television ratings and sells sensationalist newspapers and advanced weapon systems. What’s better than that for us?

The most recent cry of alarm: NASA in Palestine, Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Gaza. Hamas launches an Iranian rocket – it must be Iranian – 60 kilometers. The head of Military Intelligence reported on it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke immediately about missile systems, and the media immediately broke into its favorite war dance. “Three million citizens within range,” “Confrontation in December,” “Are you within range?” “Outskirts of Tel Aviv in danger,” “Doomsday weapons” – frightening headlines accompanied by no less scary maps. “This is a new dimension confronting the IDF. It’s not a simple matter. It’s really a different story altogether. We should remember that there will be many casualties on the home front,” roared the national baritone – the military commentator on television.

So again we are dealing with the grotesque – a strip of land under siege wallowing in its distress and ruins, with a pitiful paramilitary organization whose weapons arsenal would be an embarrassment to an IDF basic training camp. And it already proved its inadequacy in the last war. But the militants are portrayed to us as a superpower. That’s how they create the scenario for the next war. That’s how they empower not just the enemy, but first and foremost the IDF, which can beat the enemy [continued…]

U.N. set to endorse inquiry into possible war crimes in Gaza

The General Assembly is preparing to approve a resolution that would endorse a United Nations report calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate possible war crimes in the Gaza Strip within three months.

The assembly began discussing the nonbinding resolution, introduced by about 20 Arab League members, including Iraq, on Wednesday, but with about 50 nations scheduled to speak, a vote was not likely until Thursday. Given the widespread support for the Palestinian cause and broad criticism of Israel, passage of the measure seemed assured.

Some members of the European Union were threatening to abstain, however, holding out for changes. One issue was wording that would require Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to work with the Security Council on additional action; another was the resolution’s full endorsement of a decision last month by the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt the report completely, diplomats said. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, declares the Goldstone report as “conceived in hate and executed in sin.”

Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, Danny Gillerman, is on his way to New York to assist in the PR campaign against the report. “This is war, and in war when you are sent a Tzav Shmone (emergency draft order), you enlist,” Gillerman tells Ynet.

The more overblown the rhetoric gets, the more Israel reinforces its international image as a nation governed by buffoons and demagogues.

The battle over Palestinian representation

“From now on, Palestinian leaders will be judged by the stand they took on the Goldstone Report — anyone who tried to bury it, or who remained silent, will have lost their claim to leadership,” a Palestinian historian friend remarked after popular outrage forced the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas to rescind his decision to postpone the Report at the Human Rights Council.

Now the Report has moved to the United Nations General Assembly, where the United States, flanked by Israel and some European allies, has reportedly spent the weekend putting heavy pressure on representatives from African countries and others who might have wanted to uphold international law and end impunity.

Two key issues faced the General Assembly at its November 4 debate: Whether to endorse or simply “take note” of the Goldstone Report, as Israel’s supporters would like. And whether to exclude the High Commissioner for Human Rights from follow-up in favor of the UN Secretary General’s office. Seasoned UN observers fear that giving Ban Ki-moon’s office control over follow-up would effectively bury the report because of the political pressures that can, and are, placed on him. [continued…]

Jewish Appeal to Support the Goldstone Report

The primary author of the recently released UN Report on Gaza, the internationally respected jurist Richard Goldstone, has been attacked by establishment voices within the Jewish community. When those within a community try to “excommunicate” and dishonor truth-tellers, it is our obligation and responsibility to speak out vehemently on their behalf and on behalf of the truth they bring.

By all accounts, Judge Goldstone, who has a deep connection to Israel, approached his task with no pre-conceptions about what he and his team would find as they investigated the circumstances and aftermath of the Israeli attack on Gaza. Goldstone is a former South African constitutional law court judge who also served as a prosecutor of the Yugoslav and Rwandan war crimes tribunals. His credentials for this task are impeccable.

For following where the truth led him and releasing a report detailing human rights abuses and violations of international law by Israel, as well as by Hamas, Judge Goldstone should be applauded for his honesty and integrity. Instead, he and the report have been viciously and relentlessly attacked by many within the Jewish community.
When it comes to Israel, hard-core censorship and intimidation by those claiming to speak in the name of the Jewish people have been the order of the day. Our saying, “Three Jews — four opinions,” reflects the traditional Jewish encouragement to argue and debate. However, the reality, sadly, is that diverse opinions are welcome — except when it comes to Israel. [continued…]