Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear All,


These are uncertain times—at least for those of us in the Middle East.  The only thing that most media people dealing with the situation seem to agree on is that if Egypt revolts, that is, if the demonstrations turn into a revolution, then the rest of the Middle East (Arab countries, of course) are likely to follow.  Should that happen, then what occurs after today’s Arab leaders are ousted depends much on what happens.  

Will the people replace their leaders with others intimately associated with the West or who are in America’s pocket, or will they go in the opposite direction? will the new leaders be wise or no better than the old?  Then, what happens in Israel also depends on whether or not the occupied Palestinians and the ones who have Israeli citizenship, but not the full rights of citizenship, will follow suit.  Only time will tell what will be.  May it turn out to be (in Voltaire’s words) ‘the best of all possible worlds.’


Just 4 items below.


The first relates an normal West Bank incident.  A settler kills a Palestinian.


Item 2 shows that academic freedom is perhaps more spoken of than practiced, as a lecturer loses his job because of his views on Israel.  We are asked at the end to write letters in support of the gentleman who lost his job.  Let’s see to it that a whole huge pile of them are put on the Provost’s desk!  They need not be long—just enough to tell him that we believe in academic freedom.


Item 3 is a press release reporting that the petition in support of Desmond Tutu was delivered to the Cape town Holocaust Center.


Item 4 is Amnesty International’s take on the Turkel committee findings on the Mavi Marmara affair, in which 9 Turks were killed by IOF soldiers. 


All the best,




1. Haaretz,

January 28, 2011


Palestinian killed after settlers open fire in West Bank village

Incident comes only a day after police confirmed Palestinian reports saying that a Palestinian youth was shot to death by an unidentified Israeli citizen.


By Avi Issacharoff


One Palestinians youth was killed and another wounded early Friday after settlers reportedly opened fire at a village north of the West Bank city of Hebron, only a day after a Palestinian youth was shot and killed by an unidentified Israeli citizen near Nablus.


According to preliminary Palestinian reports, the incident occurred after dozens of settlers from the settlement of Bat Ayin descended on the village of Khirbet Safa in the early morning hours and confronted some of the locals.


The confrontations reportedly resulted in the setters opening fire at the crowd, leaving one Palestinian lightly wounded and another in critical condition. The two were evacuated to a hospital in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, where one of them, a 17-year-old succumbed to his wounds.


The settlers, however, claimed that a group traveling nearby was fired upon, adding that others came to their rescue. Preliminary reports said it took police and Israel Defense Forces units over half an hour to arrive at the area.


Commenting on the fatal incident, Kiryat Arba’s council chief Malachi Levinger reiterated claims that the settlers were attacked while hiking in the area, and emphasized what he called as the “right of Jews to travel their country.”


“We call upon the IDF and the police to aid the defense of this right and to seek the guilty parties within the rioters not within the travelers who acted in self defense,” Levinger added.


On Thursday, police confirmed Palestinians reports claiming that a Palestinian who was shot to death near Nablus earlier in the day was shot by an unidentified Israeli citizen.


Palestinian eyewitnesses said that 18-year-old Fadi Kaddous was shot to death by a settler after clashes broke out between the shooter and a group of rock-throwing Palestinians.


A nearby security camera apparently captured grainy images of the shooting and confirmed that the shooter had Israeli features.


The camera footage showed the group of Palestinians attacking a man with rocks. The man responded by firing a gun in the air, which failed to deter his attackers. The man fired again, this time in the direction of the Palestinians. The video supposedly shows the bullet entering and exiting the shoulder-chest region of one of the attackers; it is being further studied by ballistics experts.


Police also investigated the group of three Palestinian villagers who reported the incident. The group had at first said that armed settlers attacked them but further on in the investigation changed their testimony. The police are currently searching for the unidentified shooter.


[from the email message on the event:


“One boy, Youssef Ikhlayl, a common fixture at Beit Ommar demonstrations and our programs at PSP, is braindead, at the Hebron hospital, shot by settlers who were allowed to rampage for over 2 hours before soldiers intervened, after Palestinians gathered from Sourif and Beit Ommar.  A picture of Youssef will be distributed shortly


2.  Forwarded by the JPLO List



[Abraham Weizfeld]

January 28, 2011



See the link below for a useful interview with the faculty

who was fired from this job.  Petersen-Overton draws attention to

the fact that this is also an attack on a graduate student faculty member,

a point of interest in light of the recent attack on graduate students here.


 Interview with Kristofer Petersen-Overton

Another Professor Fired for Views on Middle East





Weekend Edition

January 28 – 30, 2011


An Interview with Kristofer Petersen-Overton

Another Professor Fired for Views on Middle East



Brooklyn College fired PhD student Kristofer Petersen-Overton yesterday, one day after New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) sent a letter to BC president Karen Gould accusing Petersen-Overton of being an “overt supporter of terrorism.” Hikind has complained in interviews that Petersen-Overton’s academic work is anti-Israel, and that his attempt to “understand” suicide bombing is unfathomable. Petersen-Overton and I are colleagues at the CUNY Graduate Center.


JS: You were preparing to instruct a course on the Middle East and were fired. What happened?


KPO: I was hired by Mark Ungar at Brooklyn College’s political science department on the recommendation of Dov Waxman at the Graduate Center. I went in for an interview, and he was impressed with my credentials. I have an MA and I’ve published on the situation [in the Middle East], and he said “I would be honored to have you.” And this was for a grad level seminar, which is not lecture-based, meaning that our classes would be discussion-oriented and not some sort of alleged platform.


JS: What was the official explanation for your firing, and why doesn’t it make sense?


KPO: I have not once been contacted by the department itself, but I was told that the official reason I have been fired is that I don’t have a PhD, which is untrue, because no student teaching this course has a PhD, and there are of course many student teachers at BC who do not have their PhD’s. And I’ll point out that I am somewhat more qualified than many student teachers because I came into the program with a Master’s degree, which many students who are teaching for CUNY don’t have.


I was fired immediately after Dov Hikind contacted the school. He is an especially radical assemblyman who goes after people who he perceives as being anti-Israel. He’s actually made a career out of targeting people for alleged anti-Israel bias.


JS: And the charge of bias is doubly problematic. Because, one, it’s inaccurate. But, two, even if it were accurate, what does it imply?


KPO: We all come to the table with our personal political views; there’s not a single professor who doesn’t have their own views. So it all comes down to how one approaches those views, and I devoted an entire class in the syllabus to the subject of objectivity and humanism, meaning I wanted to put this issue of bias on the table to facilitate open and productive discussions.


JS: What does your firing suggest about contemporary politics and higher education?


KPO: They’ve targeted professors up for tenure for so long and have been relatively unsuccessful except for several cases, like with Norman Finkelstein (JS: and, among others, Nicholas De Genova and Thaddeus Russell, at Columbia University and Barnard College, respectively), now I think they’re going after graduate students before their careers even begin. One of the most direct implications of this which is deeply troubling is not the fact that people take issue with one particular class, which is inevitable, but the way in which the college administration caved so quickly – for it to occur within 24 hours is incredible to me, and the school never even consulted me. For this to be decided by a state official poking his nose in a college syllabus is Orwellian. I’ve received tremendous support, which I’m very grateful for. Norman Finkelstein wrote me, and after I contacted Neve Gordon he (Gordon) contacted BC’s provost, writing that he reviewed my syllabus and that it was excellent and reflected a number of different perspectives, noting that the textbook was mainstream and “emphasizes the Zionist narrative.” He also read a scholarly paper I had written, and wrote that he was “struck by (my) academic rigor.”


JS: What can people do to lend support?


I would be greatly appreciative if people can send an email to the provost, even better a letter, and tomorrow it would be great if people could call, and more importantly if people could disseminate this story. It’s especially disgusting that they would go after a grad student, because they have not only impacted my career but also my income and health insurance.


Office of the Provost (William A. Tramontano)

Brooklyn College

2900 Bedford Avenue

Brooklyn, New York 11210


[email protected]


Kristofer Petersen-Overton can be reached at [email protected]. His website is


Joshua Sperber can be reached at [email protected]


PS:  To be added to the list of professors boycotted for their critical views on the Israel governments polices is Abraham Weizfeld who taught at York University 1977-1980 and never since. His doctoral Thesis;  Nation, Society and the State: the reconciliation of Palestinian and Jewish Nationahood was expelled in 2005 from l’Université du Québec à Montréal and reinstated by Court order 2009.

PS:  To be added to the list of professors boycotted for their critical views on the Israel governments polices is Abraham Weizfeld who taught at York University 1977-1980 and never since. His doctoral Thesis;  Nation, Society and the State: the reconciliation of Palestinian and Jewish Nationahood was expelled in 2005 from l’Université du Québec à Montréal and reinstated by Court order 2009.



[forwarded by Terry]


3.  From: Open Shuhada Street [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: 24 January 2011

To: Open Shuhada Street

Subject: OSS Press Statement: Petition in Support of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu Delivered to Holocaust Centre


24 Jan, 2011




Today, members of Open Shuhada Street delivered the petition in support of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to Richard Freedman, Director of the South African Holocaust Foundation. The petition, carrying 5,815 signatures, defends the Archbishop Emeritus’s standing as a patron of the Cape Town and Johannesburg Holocaust Centres and affirms the vital service that these Centres perform in our communities. 


Late last year, many South Africans were shocked to learn of a petition being circulated calling for the removal or resignation of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu from the patrons lists of the Cape Town and Johannesburg Holocaust Centres.


In response, members of Open Shuhada Street, acting in their personal capacities, launched a counter-petition on January 9th of this year.


In just over two weeks, this petition received a monumental outpouring of support both nationally and worldwide. The majority of signatures were collected electronically, but several hundred were also accumulated by hand outside clinics and shopping centres in Khayelitsha. In total, 5,815 signatures were collected. The signatories hail from 88 different countries: from Sweden to Botswana, from New Zealand to Brasil.


Prominent signatories of the petition include Arthur Chaskalson, Lord Joel Joffe, Omar Barghoutti, Adam Hochschild, Andrew Feinstein, Neve Gordon, Albie Sachs, Annie Lennox, Zackie Achmat, Dennis Davis, Geoff Budlender, Barbara Hogan, Pregs Govender, Elinor Sisulu, Nomalanga Mkhize, Jay Naidoo, Eddie Makue, Lael Bethlehem, Jeremy Raizon, Jean Comaroff and Jan Kavan.


Comments appended to the signatures reveal a remarkable diversity of perspectives, histories, languages and faiths. Holocaust survivors joined union organisers, priests, political activists, members of the LGBTI community, Palestinians and Israelis in collective affirmation of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s record as an unwavering advocate for human rights, justice and equality, and therefore an ideal patron for the CTHC and the JHC.


Through this petition people have been educated about the Holocaust. The petition is a forceful affirmation of both the criminal truth of, and universal lessons inherent in, the Holocaust as a human and moral catastrophe. To find a contradiction between asserting human rights and memorialising the Nazi genocide is to abrogate the true meaning of this horrific event, and arrogate it to much narrower purposes. The petition shows that the Holocaust can and must guide us in the struggle against injustice and ethical betrayal that grips our world today. As this petition affirms Archbishop Tutu so it affirms the work of the South African Holocaust Foundation, an institution whose moral bearing dignifies our country.


A meeting is expected between the Board of Trustees of the Foundation and the Archbishop Emeritus within the next two days. For comment please contact Open Shuhada Street at 079 242 4476 or by email at [email protected].


Some noteworthy comments from petition signatories:


“As a former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and President of the UN General Assembly and as a Jew whose father’s family perished in the Holocaust I have always fought against racism, discrimination, persecution, apartheid and occupation. I fully share Archbishop Tutu’s values.”


#2601 Jan Kavan, Prague, Czech Republic

As a holocaust survivor, I cannot think of anyone better than Desmond Tutu to be a Patron of Holocaust Centers. He has shown himself to be a man of courage, clear vision, and broad compassion. Those who slander him for his criticisms of Israeli policies only show their moral mediocrity. They do not want to see what stares them in the face‚ Israel’s continued dispossession and oppression of another people.


#3198 Annette Herskovits, Berkeley, CA, USA




28 January 2011


Israeli inquiry into Gaza flotilla deaths no more than a “whitewash”  


Amnesty International has condemned the findings of an Israeli inquiry into last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla as a “whitewash” which failed to account for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals.


In a report published on 23 January, the Turkel Commission concluded that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acted lawfully when they captured the Mavi Mamara on 31 May 2010, killing nine activists on board, and intercepted five other ships. Despite being nearly 300 pages long, the report crucially fails to explain how the activists died and what conclusions the Commission reached regarding the IDF’s specific actions in each case.


The Commission’s failure to account for the deaths reinforces the view that the Israeli authorities are unwilling or incapable of delivering accountability for abuses of international law committed by Israeli forces. It also highlights the need for follow-up to ensure that the sharply contrasting conclusions of the International Fact-Finding Mission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, which were issued on 22 September 2010, but not even mentioned by the Commission, are addressed and that the rights of victims to an effective remedy are upheld.


The Turkel Commission concluded that, of the 133 incidents of force used by the IDF during the raid on the Mavi Marmara that it examined, 127 were in conformity with international law, while it had “insufficient information” to make a determination on the other six, three of which involved the use of live fire. Significantly, it chose to base its analysis of the lawfulness of the actions taken against those who resisted the boarding of the ship on international humanitarian law, which governs armed conflict and allows much greater latitude for the use of lethal force. Amnesty International categorically rejects the application of this legal framework to the events concerned.


The Commission does not indicate which of the incidents of force resulted in deaths or even if it has this information. However, it states that a detailed analysis of each incident, as well as the Israeli soldiers’ written testimonies on which this analysis was based, are contained in an unpublished annex to the report, which it recommends that the Israeli government “examine the possibility of making… public”. Amnesty International calls on the Israeli authorities to do so without delay, so that it can be read by independent parties.


The September 2010 report of the International Fact-Finding Mission concluded that IDF use of force during the raid on the Mavi Mamara was “unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers”. Based on forensic and firearm evidence, it said that “at least six of the killings can be characterised as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions”.


The Mission also found that at least 24 passengers on the Mavi Mamara were seriously injured by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces, while other passengers on the flotilla who were posing no threat to Israeli soldiers were injured by electroshock weapons, plastic bullets, soft-baton charges fired at close range, stun grenades, and physical force. It concluded that the IDF also used excessive force in intercepting three other vessels in the flotilla, the Challenger 1, Sfendoni and Eleftheri Mesogios.


The Turkel Commission claimed that activists on the Mavi Mamara used firearms against Israeli forces, even though it could not establish that activists had brought firearms on board, despite previous IDF allegations to this effect. This assessment was based on written statements, which the Commission acknowledged reflected “a situation of considerable confusion”, submitted by soldiers who were not subjected to cross-examination, as well as the fact that two IDF soldiers were treated for bullet wounds. However, there is no indication in the report that medical professionals who treated the soldiers were questioned or that ballistics tests were conducted to determine the source of the wounds.


By contrast, the International Fact-Finding Mission “found no evidence to suggest that any of the passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken on board the ship”, and noted that Israeli authorities refused to provide medical records or other evidence substantiating the allegations of firearm use by activists.  


The Commission’s report notes the limitations of the evidence on which its analysis was based, but it is far from clear that it made sufficient efforts to obtain additional evidence and testimonies during its seven-month investigation. It did not have the power to question Israeli soldiers, relying instead on their written testimonies, as well as written and oral testimonies of senior IDF officials and Israeli political leaders, much of which has not been made public.


The Commission heard testimony from only two of the more than 700 passengers and crew on the flotilla. While the vast majority of passengers live outside of Israel, and the Commission invited flotilla participants to testify, it appeared to make only half-hearted attempts to secure their testimony, and made no effort to utilize the extensive eyewitness testimony collected by the International Fact-Finding Mission, with which Israel refused to co-operate.  


The Commission noted that it did not have access to autopsy reports for those killed during the raid, claiming that this was due to the Turkish government’s request that the Israeli authorities not perform autopsies before returning the bodies to Turkey. However, the Turkish authorities subsequently performed autopsies on those killed during the raid, and there is no indication that the Commission requested the autopsy reports, as the International Fact-Finding Mission did.


Highly contentious legal arguments were used by the Commission to argue for the applicability of international humanitarian law to the raid, rather than international human rights law or law enforcement standards. The Commission viewed the events on the Mavi Mamara as armed hostilities between activists engaged in violent conduct and the IDF, and argued that these activists “lost the protection of their civilian status for such time as they directly participated in the hostilities”. Effectively, the Commission argued that these activists could be shot dead lawfully whether or not they were posing a direct threat to the lives of IDF soldiers.


Amnesty International rejects this interpretation, and believes that Israel’s interception of the Gaza aid flotilla and the resistance it encountered from some of those on board the Mavi Marmara did not form part of an armed conflict. International human rights law and law enforcement norms should have been applied. As such, the use of force – and especially lethal force – should have been an act of last resort.


Amnesty International also rejects the Commission’s conclusions regarding the status of the Gaza Strip, the nature of Israeli control over Gaza, and the Israeli closure of Gaza.


Citing an Israeli Supreme Court ruling, Al-Bassiouni v. Prime Minister, the Commission argued that Israel’s “effective control” of the Gaza Strip ended following the withdrawal of Israeli forces based in Gaza and the dismantling of illegal Israeli settlements in the Strip during the “disengagement” of 2005. Amnesty International has repeatedly highlighted that Israel remains the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, due to its continuing control of Gaza’s land crossings, air space, and territorial waters, as well as the “buffer zone” inside the Gaza Strip.


Amnesty International also contests the Commission’s findings that the purpose of Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza was “primarily a military-security one”. Israeli officials have repeatedly justified the blockade as an economic sanction against an “enemy entity”, including in the Al-Bassiouni case cited by the Commission. The naval blockade must be assessed in the context of the closure policy implemented by the Israeli government since June 2007 – a siege that constitutes collective punishment and violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.


Finally, Amnesty International rejects the Turkel Commission’s conclusion that the closure policy is lawful.  The siege of Gaza has been punishing its entire population of 1.5 million people, half of whom are children, since June 2007. Israel’s “easing” of the blockade in June 2010, following the raid on the Gaza flotilla, and its announcement in December 2010 that certain limited exports would be permitted, have failed to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where 80 per cent of the population depend on international assistance to meet basic food needs.



The Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May 2010 was established by an Israeli government resolution on 14 June 2010. The Commission was chaired by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, and its other members included General Amos Horev; Professor Shabtai Rosenne, who died on 21 September 2010; Ambassador Reuven Merhav; and Professor Miguel Deutsch. Two international observers, David Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland, and Ken Watkin, former head of Canada’s military judiciary, participated in the Commission’s hearings and concurred with its findings. The Commission’s report is available at


The International Fact-Finding Mission was set up after the President of the UN Human Rights Council appointed Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, retired Judge of the International Criminal Court and former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, to be its chairman. The other appointed members were Sir Desmond de Silva, of the United Kingdom, former Chief Prosecutor of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the Board of Directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific and former member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. On 29 September 2010, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution endorsing the conclusions of the Fact-Finding Mission’s report published on 22 September ( and calling for their implementation. It also requested that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report on the status of implementation at the Council’s 16th session in March 2011, and recommended that the UN General Assembly consider the report.


In its report, the Fact-Finding Mission concluded that “the right to an effective remedy should be guaranteed to all victims” and that victims should be “compensated adequately and promptly”. It also called upon the Israeli authorities to return unlawfully seized property and assist in the identification of perpetrators of serious violations with a view to “prosecuting the culpable and bringing closure to the situation”. Finally, the Fact-Finding Mission noted the urgent need for a solution to the “deplorable” and “unsustainable” humanitarian situation in Gaza resulting from the Israeli blockade, which it found “amounts to collective punishment in violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law”.





East Mediterranean Team

Amnesty International, International Secretariat

Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street

London WC1X 0DW

United Kingdom

E-mail: [email protected]

Tel:       +44 (0)20 7413 5500

Fax:      +44 (0)20 7413 5719



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