Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem Chair of West Midland PSC
This is your lucky day. Only 5 items below this evening, thanks to our (spouse and I) having spent the afternoon in the OPT visiting Palestinian friends whom Israel will not allow to visit us in our home. And now we are off to a demonstration against the Israeli Fascism that is threatening not only human rights organizations but Israel itself. So I have just a few minutes to write before we leave for Tel Aviv. Not that I believe that the demonstration will bring about change or topple the government, not even if 5000 actually attend (as is hoped), and not even if a million attend. But it is our duty to stand up for human rights and to tell the world that at least some Israelis—Jewish, Muslim, Christian, secular—are not willing to go down without saying a word, like sheep led to the slaughter.
So for a quick run down of the items below, item 1 (a and b) are updates from Terry, including his letter to the editor which was published Thursday, and about the call to arrest Tsipi Livni when she arrives in S Africa for having committed war crimes. Item 2 is the Ynet report on the call to arrest. Whether Livni decides not to come as a result of the call, or decides to come nevertheless, the act has already gotten the media attention needed and will undoubtedly receive more.
In item 3 Tony Greenstein reveals that some rabbis are “advocating death camps for the Amalekites, a euphemism for Palestinians.” Racism and fascism are gaining ground in Israel and among some Jews abroad.
When we spoke today with our Palestinian friends about events in Tunisia, which hold great interest for them, one of the questions that I asked was about the possibility of this spreading to Egypt. Both responded (independently of one another, as they were in separate locations) that while there was a chance of it happening in Jordan and Algeria, there was at present small chance of it happening in Egypt.
However, the report by Ynet (item 4) below seems to suggest that matters might be otherwise. If by chance mass revolutions occur throughout the Arab world, and fundamentalists take control, Israel might be in for harder times. We shall see what happens. As I have said many times, although I want change, although the Israel that exists is by no means my dream of what a country should be, I don’t want to see change come via a bloodbath.
I agree with Zeev Sternhell that in a democracy “Gov’t protects the people, not the other way around” (item 5). But Israel has never protected all its citizens, certainly not equally. And again, although I agree with all the principles that he speaks of, I do not agree with him, as he implies, that the apartheid regime has been in effect for 40 years. It has been in effect since the establishment of Israel—that is, for over 62 years. But Sternhell is one of the Israelis who justifies what was done in 1948-9 (necessary to establish the state) but not what has been done since 1967. We heard him state this in a talk a year or two ago. This double standard I cannot accept. Either something is right or it is wrong. The Nakba was wrong!
Am off to the demo, hoping that it doesn’t rain till we return home.
Published January 13, 2011
1a. From: Terry Crawford-Browne
Sent: January 12, 2011
Subject: Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor Sandown Crescent E105,
Royal Ascot, Milnerton,
Cape Town 7441
Cape Times 021-555-4059
January, 12. 2011
I have just returned to Cape Town after three months of monitoring the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and the villages of the Bethlehem area. My colleagues and I were at the checkpoint four days a week from 4am until 7:30am to collect data for the World Council of Churches and the United Nations, and to provide a calming international presence when tensions flared. We formed part of a team of 27 people from 12 countries.
The “apartheid wall” runs 750 kilometres – the distance from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. In Bethlehem it is 12 metres high. In rural areas where it is a “fence,” it is even more economically devastating because it cuts a swathe 100 metres, and prevents farmers from tending their fields. The rationale always is “security.” This is utter rubbish, as monitoring the checkpoints soon confirms.
The “apartheid wall” is there to strangle the Palestinians economically so that they emigrate and, secondly, to foment fear amongst Israelis to support right-wing militarisation and a fascist state. The “apartheid wall” is about land and water theft, and it is totally illegal in terms of international law including the Geneva Conventions. The Christian population has already dwindled to less than one percent.
After 62 years of military occupation of Palestine, every aspect of Israeli society is corrupted – political, legal, economic, religious, social. Israel is a military dictatorship masquerading as a democracy, where everything is trumped by “national security.” The “rule of law” is a farce. There is massive war profiteering by Israeli and international corporations. The “West Bank” and Gaza are Bantustans, even less economically viable than the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa.
The Holocaust was a crime against humanity. Sadly, the Zionist descendants of its victims have become the perpetrators of another crime against humanity in Palestine.
The good news is that the apartheid “two-state solution” is fast collapsing, and a bi-national state will emerge in which Palestinians will form the majority. Even ardent Zionists within Israel now recognise that “Israel as a Jewish state” has no future.
PS Attached is a picture of the apartheid wall in Bethlehem.
Subject: Media Review Network & Palestine Solidarity Alliance statement on Livni
PRESS STATEMENT: Warrant of Arrest for Tzipi Livni
Following the horrors inflicted upon Gaza by Israel during Operat
ion Cast Lead (between December 2008 and January 2009), the Media Review Network (MRN) and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) lodged a formal request to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) seeking arrest warrants and prosecution of those responsible for war crimes.
The material evidence submitted to the NPA in what has come to be known as the Gaza Docket is on the basis of South Africa’s obligation as a signatory of the Rome Statute to honour the provisions of International Laws and Conventions.
The imminent arrival of one of the architects of the illegal war against Gaza’s besieged civilian population, Tzipi Livni, to South Africa, is viewed as a provocation and needs to be challenged. We have thus instructed our legal team to take all necessary steps to secure a warrant for her arrest and prosecution as a war criminal.
We are grateful for messages of support from many sectors of South African civil society, including trade unions and activists.
Media Review Network & Palestine Solidarity Alliance
2. from Jan. 15 electronic edition of Ynet, SA group wants Livni arrested
Ynet Saturday, January 15, 2011
Report in SA: Group wants Livni arrested
Media Review Network disappointed that Jewish Board of Deputies invited ‘known murderer who is a wanted criminal in many parts of the world’
The South African group Media Review Network (MRN) is trying to secure an arrest warrant against Israeli Opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her role in the Gaza war, a local news website reported Saturday.
News24 quoted MRN chairperson Iqbal Jassat as saying that Livni, who served as foreign minister during Operation Cast Lead, is due in South Africa this month on the invitation of the Jewish Board of Deputies.
“We have now been informed that she has been invited to this country and have therefore instructed our legal team to take all necessary measures to secure an arrest warrant and to pave the way for her prosecution,” Jassat said.
“Our decision is based on the fact that SA is a signatory to the Rome statutes which obligates all member states to honor their responsibility in the prosecution of war criminals.”
Following the Gaza war, the MRN and the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance submitted a dossier to the National Prosecuting Authority which cited Livni as one of the “key architects” of the “onslaught on Gaza’s civilian population.”
“We believe that her visit to this country would be an act of provocation and are therefore deeply disappointed that her hosts – the Jewish Board of Deputies – displayed such intolerance and callousness by having a known murderer who is a wanted criminal in many parts of the world, visit SA,” Jassat said.
The Jewish Board of Deputies accused the MRN of playing “petty politics”.
“Livni has become one of Israel’s leading voices for negotiations with the Palestinians with the aim of achieving peaceful co-existence between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors,” the board said in a statement.
“She has consistently been supportive of a viable Palestinian State, and this has won the respect of the international diplomatic community for her commitment to making peace.”
Spokesperson Zev Krengel said the board saw no reason why the MRN’s actions should thwart or hamper Livni’s visit. He confirmed that Livni’s visit would go ahead.
“It’s pure intimidation tactics by people who do not want to see a solution to the situation in the Middle East,” he added.
3. Tony Greenstein,
January 14, 2011
It was only a matter of time before a Rabbi (who else?) advocated death camps for Palestinians. Now a ‘family magazine’ of the rabid right of Israel’s rabbis, headed by Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba and Hebron, carries an article advocating death camps for the Amalekites, a euphemism for Palestinians.
What is worse is that these creatures are not divorced from the rest of Orthodox Jewry even in this country. Lubavitch rabbis are spearheading this rush to open Nazi-style racism in Israel and in the UK their representatives, like Rabbi Yitzhak Schochet of Mill Hill Synagogue and Principal of the Rosh Pinah Jewish Primary School in Edgware are members of the same religious sect. Schochet is also a columnist for the Jewish News and Diary Rabbi for The Guardian
Arab activists celebrated the anti-government protests that ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as the uprising raised hopes for similar change in other countries accused of having repressive regimes.
Saudi Arabia confirmed the former Tunisian president and his family had arrived in the kingdom early on Saturday morning to stay for an unspecified period of time.
“The kingdom welcomed the arrival of the President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family,” a statement on the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
“The kingdom states its complete support for the Tunisian people and hopes all Tunisians stand together to overcome the difficult stage in their history,” SPA said.
It said the royal court decision to welcome Ben Ali was based on appreciation of the “exceptional circumstances” Tunisia is going through.
A Saudi official told Reuters Ben Ali was in the port city of Jeddah.
Thousands of messages congratulating the Tunisian people flooded the Internet Friday on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and many people replaced their profile pictures with red Tunisian flags.
Dozens of Egyptian activists opposed to President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade regime danced outside the Tunisian Embassy in Cairo, chanting “Ben Ali, tell Mubarak a plane is waiting for him too!”
Mubarak, 82, faces mounting dissatisfaction over the lack of democratic reform and frequent protests over economic woes in the country, a key U.S. ally.
Egyptian human rights activist Hossam Bahgat said he was glued to the news watching the fall of the Tunisian government and hoped that his countrymen could do the same someday.
“I feel like we are a giant step closer to our own liberation,” he told The Associated Press. “What’s significant about Tunisia is that literally days ago the regime seemed unshakable, and then eventually democracy prevailed without a single Western state lifting a finger.”
Protest in Tunisia (Photo: Reuters)
Bahgat said the events in Tunisia would boost the confidence of opposition members in a region where leaders often rule for life.
“What happened in Tunisia … will give unimaginable momentum to the cause for change in Egypt,” he said.
Sudanese opposition leader Mariam al-Sadek said she had mixed feelings about the Tunisian riots: excitement the president was overthrown but sadness that her people haven’t done the same.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on an international indictment for war crimes in the western region of Darfur, faces the division of his country after a vote for southern independence, a rebellion in the west and east, and internal opposition.
“What caused this in Tunisia is so little compared to what we are going through,” al-Sadek said. “Our country is being divided; our sovereignty is lost and we are humiliated, and this is happening in Tunisia … I feel ashamed.”
Jordanians also held separate protests Friday in several cities over rising prices for fuel and foodstuffs, although King Abdullah II slashed some prices and taxes earlier this week to try to stanch the public anger and ease the burden on the poor.
About 200 people, some wearing Tunisian flags as capes, huddled together on Paris’ Place des Invalides after being directed away from the nearby Tunisian Embassy.
French police closed off the street where the embassy was located to foot and car traffic.
Haitham Nasri, a 21-year-old university student from the southern city of Sfax in Tunisia who has lived in Paris for two years, said Friday was a day of celebration but warned the mobilization could continue.
“It’s like halftime in an important football match, when the home team is up 1-0. We’re happy with our performance so far but are regrouping for the second half. We’ve won the battle but not the war yet,” said Nasri, who was wrapped in the red-and-white Tunisian flag.
Reuters and AP contributed to the report
January 14, 2011
Gov’t protects the people, not the other way around
In a democracy, restrictions must be imposed on legislation, because the purpose of a liberal democratic regime is to protect human and civil rights and ensure equality. When the legislature ignores these basic duties, it undermines the very reason for democracy’s existence.
The campaign of intimidation being waged by the right against left-wing organizations – which ranges from arbitrarily arresting activists and throwing them in prison, as in the case of Jonathan Pollak, to establishing parliamentary committees of inquiry – has one clear objective: to identify opposition to the government and its policies with rejecting the legitimacy of the state. The right is trying with all its might to inculcate the public consciousness with the idea that the government is the state and the government’s interests are identical to the aims of Zionism.
It is a national duty to denounce this crude lie, both in Israel and abroad. It is a national duty to recite and teach that not every Knesset decision is legitimate. In a democracy, restrictions must be imposed on legislation, because the purpose of a liberal democratic regime is to protect human and civil rights and ensure equality.
When the legislature ignores these basic duties, it undermines the very reason for democracy’s existence. Since the 17th century, liberal thought has recognized the right to oppose a government that infringes on fundamental rights, and this is a basic tenet of any free regime.
Similarly, it is a duty to resist legislation that would prevent non-Jewish Israeli citizens from living in Jewish communities. Now the old slogan “Yesha ze kan” [the West Bank and Gaza are here] is coming true: The settlements are taking over Israel. After all, for a regime of ethnic and religious separation to be established within the Green Line would be just a natural continuation of the apartheid regime that has been in effect in the territories for more than 40 years. Once that happens, it will be a mockery to continue to speak of Israeli democracy in the present tense.
Therefore, those who collaborate with this creeping Lieberman-ism, whether actively or passively, will bear responsibility for the real delegitimization of Israel worldwide. And we should not be surprised, or complain of anti-Semitism, when the European Parliament proposes drastic changes in Europe’s relations with Israel. In these difficult times, it is only the human rights organizations that are saving Israel’s honor.
One immediate conclusion is that when a parliamentary committee of inquiry whose only purpose is to intimidate the left is set up, it would be best to ignore its existence and refuse to appear before it. This committee has neither the moral nor the legal authority to force any citizen to attend its sessions.
If the committee wants to keep up an appearance of objectivity, it will have to open probes into all foreign sources of funding for all Israeli political bodies, including the sources that fund the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu election campaigns. An investigation of left-wing bodies only, due to both its discriminatory, violent nature and the cheap demagoguery that will accompany it, does not deserve any kind of attention.
Finally, since there has been a great deal of talk recently about the analogy to McCarthyism, it is worth stressing that the situation here is worse than it was in the United States in the 1950s. On one hand, the Israeli Supreme Court lacks an entrenched constitutional status and contempt for it is only growing, while in the United States, it was the Supreme Court that eventually put a stop to this phenomenon. On the other hand, unlike McCarthy, Avigdor Lieberman is one of the pillars of the government, and McCarthyism has gained control of the political establishment itself.
Just as was true in Europe in the past, Lieberman-ism will most likely gradually destroy the last vestiges of the liberal right. And Israeli society
will pay a heavy price for a political elite that has lost its way.