I just lost my complete longish introduction, and am too tired to repeat the hour or so of work that went into it. So a quick rundown of the 4 items will have to do.
Just let me mention that I was quite angry in writing it. One of the issues that angered me was Obama’s statement following yesterday’s murder of 4 Israelis that he would continue to guarantee Israel’s security. Fine. And what about Palestinian security? That doesn’t count? Fortunately there are people like Rabbi Arik Aschermann who realize that settlers can be mean, violent and vengeful, and who therefore send out calls for help, as tonight’s
« Date: Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 10:04 AM
Subject: Urgent: people needed TONIGHT against settlers’ “price tag” [price tag is a settler term for revenge acts]
“There are reports about around 100 settlers organizing for a “price tag” in the Hebron – Baqa / Hill 17 area.
If you can come – please contact Arik Asherman 050-5607034”
Last night following the murder of 4 Israelis he sent a like message.
Item one deals with this issue from the standpoint of the media. Palestinian violence against Israelis is news, but Israeli violence against Palestinians (unless the magnitude of the Mavi Marmara) is no news.
Item 2 is another one that angered me. Aluf Benn relates that he saw nothing wrong with harassing and torturing Palestinians when he was a kid in the army. All that he learned from his experience is that it’s better to be the inflictor than on the victim! Brilliant. The fact that he as a soldier, when young, did things that hurt others he probably shares with many other soldiers all over the world. But to not mature and to see things in proportion is more than regrettable. There are, after all, even youngsters that refuse to do such things, and there are others who did them but who in later life take no pride in what they did. Shame on you Aluf Benn!
Item 3 informs us that the Jerusalem municipality has okayed building a Zaka center in Sheikh Jarrah. Zaka is an organization of religious Jews who pick up the body pieces after suicide bombings, accidents, and other events in which pieces of body might be lying around. Great that the organization will have a center. But why in Muslim Jerusalem?
The message closes on a happier note. Item 4 relates that boycott apparently is picking up in the US.
[Other agencies blame Fatah and Ma’an reports it was the Al-Haq (“Rights”) Brigades – JPLO]
In July, Israeli security officials said they had arrested several members of the military wing of Hamas, the Islamic group, who were responsible for the fatal shooting of an Israeli police officer south of
Hebron in June.
In March 2008, a Palestinian gunman from East Jerusalem killed eight students, mostly teenagers, at a religious seminary in the city.As I am in the midst of analyzing data on settler violence it struck me how much
this coverage chose to ignore about the dynamics of violence around settlements in the West Bank when it mentioned only Palestinian acts of violence going back to 2008 but didn’t waste a word on mentioning
settler violence. Settler violence, often perpetrated with the knowledge, or assistance of the IDF, is just as likely to jeopardize the ‘peace process’ yet we rarely hear of it.
A quick query of the data, covering over 1000+ events, tells us the NYT story skipped over a lot, including over 260 acts of settler violence in the Hebron governorate alone since 2009. These include 56 instances of
assault, 53 instances of stone throwing, 28 attacks on houses and attempted house seizures, 11 acts of arson and many more.
These acts of settler violence, again, in this one part of the West Bank in only the last 20 months has left 1 dead and 93 injured among Palestinians as well as incalculable amounts of property damage (the totals for the entire West Bank are much higher). Attacks perpetrated against Palestinians over this time period in the Hebron governorate were launched from the settlements of Adorah, Bat Ayin, Bat Hadassah, Hagai, Harsi, Karmei Tzur, Karmiel, Kfar Etzion, Kiryat Arba, Maon, Mount Joher, Negohot, Shani, Shima and Sosia.
This is the kind of information that Kershner forgot to mention, but it is also the kind of information that will be discussed in great detail, looking at all parts of the West Bank and trends over time, at our upcoming Palestine Center briefing on settler violence <http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/d/EventDetails/i/14964/pid/187> . If you can’t make to it DC, you can watch the live streaming webcast of theevent at our website <http://thejerusalemfund.org//ht/d/sp/i/13537/pid/13537> . Maybe Kershner can follow the live stream from Jerusalem and give settler violence the attention it deserves.
2. Haaretz Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Latest update 00:53 01.09.10
When I was Eden Abergil
The occupation did not transform us into law-breaking criminals, it only taught us that it’s best to be on the stronger side.
The photographs of the female soldier Eden Abergil on Facebook with the young, bound Palestinians did not “shock” me, as did the automatic responses of people on the left who complained, as usual, about the corrupting occupation and our moral deterioration. Instead, the photos brought back memories from my military service. Once, I was also Eden Abergil: I served in a Military Police unit in Lebanon whose mission was to take prisoners from the Shin Bet’s interrogation rooms to the large holding camp of Ansar. I covered many eyes with pieces of cloth, I bound many wrists with plastic cuffs.
I never knew who the prisoners were and what they had done wrong, and I was not trained to know how to treat them. Everything was improvised. They showed me how to cuff them, apply the piece of cloth and load them onto army vehicles. And off we went. Very quickly I learned four words in Arabic that soldiers used when handling the prisoners: aud (sit ), um (stand ), yidak (put your hands out ) and uskut (quiet ). In the basement for Shin Bet interrogations at Nabatieh, in an old tobacco factory that had been transformed into the regional division headquarters, I saw prisoners eating like dogs, bent over with their hands tied behind their backs. And I smelled their sweat and urine.
I never saw “irregularities.” No beatings, no slappings, no maimings. But if the cuffs were put on a bit too tight, half a centimeter that couldn’t be reversed, the prisoner suffered great pain. The palms swelled because blood flow was restricted, and the trip became a nightmare when the prisoners begin to beg: “Captain, captain, idi, idi [my hands].” There were soldiers who tied the cuffs on too tight – a small torture that’s not in the reports by Amnesty International or the Goldstone Commission. It’s a torture that depends on a single soldier, without instructions from above or the military advocate general. An outlet for the hatred of Arabs during a routine mission.
And there were the humiliations. We did not force the prisoners to sing “Ana bahebak Mishmar Hagvul” (“I love you Border Police” ), as in the territories. The big hit back then was “Yaish Begin, mat Arafat” (“Long live Begin, Arafat is dead” ). In retrospect, it’s not certain that our Lebanese prisoners were opposed to Arafat’s removal; they may have even identified with that part of the song.
I once performed a leftist act of courage. I was guarding a truck full of prisoners who were waiting in the sun to be processed at Ansar. Suddenly a reservist thug showed up, with sneakers and no shirt on, and wanted to get on the truck and beat the prisoners. I refused to let him on. He made a threatening move. I had no chance against him one on one. I cocked my weapon, he took a step back and, enraged, said: “It’s because of people like you that the country is in the state it is.”
There was nothing special in my experience or in the photographs of Eden Abergil. Tens of thousands of soldiers who served in the territories and Lebanon, like Eden and me, were exposed to similar experiences. This is the routine of occupation: pieces of cloth, cuffs, sweat in the sun, aud, um, yidak, uskut. That’s the way it has been for 43 years. When 18-year-old soldiers with weapons guard civilians with their hands and eyes bound, and see the prisoners lying in pools of urine in the interrogation basements, the situation is violent and humiliating without diverging from orders or regulations.
The occupation did not “corrupt” me or any of my colleagues in the unit. We didn’t return home and run wild in the streets and abuse helpless people. Coming-of-age problems preoccupied us a lot more than our prisoners’ discomfort. Our political views were also not affected. Anyone who hated Arabs at home hated them when he was defeated and weak in the army, and those who read Uri Avnery before being drafted believed that it was necessary to leave Lebanon and the territories even when they actively took part in the occupation.
But we learned one lesson: Regardless of politics, it’s better to be the guard than the prisoner. Even those who dream of a permanent settlement and a Palestinian state and want to see the settlements gone prefer to tie on the cuffs than be cuffed. It’s better to guard the prisoner and eat at the mess hall than to eat on your knees with your hands tied behind your back in a smelly room. The occupation did not transform us into law-breaking criminals, it only taught us that it’s best to be on the stronger side.
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3, Ynet Wednesday, September 01, 2010
ZAKA headquarters authorized in east Jerusalem
As peace talks about to begin in Washington, Jerusalem municipal council for commemorating terror victims establishes facts on ground, authorizes headquarters for volunteer rescue unit on public land in east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah
As leaders gather in Washington to talk peace, the Jerusalem Municipality is promoting a building plan for the east of the city. Ynet learned on Wednesday that the municipal committee for commemorating terror victims has authorized the construction of a new headquarters for ZAKA, a voluntary rescue organization, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The planned headquarters will include facilities for refrigerating and storing thousands of bodies and a museum for commemorating terror victims.
This time around, the construction is not intended for Jewish residences, but for a public institution that serves the entire population. However, the move may still be interpreted as deepening the Jewish hold in the eastern section of the city and “establishing facts on the ground,” just as construction of the Police Shai District Headquarters provoked a storm in 2008.
Plot set aside for ZAKA headquarters (Photo: Avi Peretz)
The new structure will be built on public land owned by the municipality a mere 300 meters (yards) from the contested Shepherd Hotel, which stood at the epicenter of a disagreement between Israel and the US administration a few months ago during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous visit to Washington.
It still remains unclear whether Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is aware of the decision or of the fact it was being raised for discussion in the committee at such a sensitive time.
The committee’s authorization acts as a recommendation that is still pending final authorization in the municipal council. Unless decided otherwise, the plan will be brought before the municipal council for final authorization in the council in another two weeks. Following this, because ZAKA is not a governmental or municipal organization, the next stage in the process will be allocating the plot of land to use by a non-profit organization. Once these authorizations are obtained, the bulldozers will get to work on the land within a year.
‘Matter of national and Jewish importance’
The said plot is located next to the Hebrew University campus, just east of the government buildings. In May 2007, the District Planning and Building Committee authorized the land for public use, which includes search and rescue according to municipal planning statutes.
“The position of the government of Israel is that there is no building freeze in Jerusalem. As such, we found this plot to be the most befitting of these municipal needs,” said Yair Gabai, a member of the Jerusalem municipal council and chairman of the commemoration council, to Ynet.
“This is a complex bordering the government building area, and there is no reason it shouldn’t serve the important public goal of providing proper burial in Israel and addressing this topic of national and Jewish importance.”
Gabai continued, “ZAKA volunteers are on the frontlines of the State of Israel and grapple with some of the most horrific terrorist incidents, as we witnessed in the terror attack on Tuesday, and are in need of a proper headquarters for their activities.”
‘Have a place for bodies, not like in Haiti’
Jerusalem City Engineer Shlomo Eshkol, present during the discussion, explained, “The plan is statutory. There is valid ownership on the land and the property is defined as belonging to the Jerusalem municipality, which allows us use under the category of ’emergency needs.’ The location is available for construction.”
Per ZAKA’s request, the building will spread over 6,500 m. sq. (about 70,000 sq. ft.), with 1,200 sq. m. allocated for a museum memorializing terror victims and 1,500 sq. m. for refrigeration of bodies.
ZAKA CEO Arele Zur explained the need for the headquarters during the discussion. “At least in the case of an earthquake, when some areas of the country will be cut off, or some other mass-casualty event, there is no choice. If you want to treat the issue like Jews, we need a place to store bodies. We are not like Haiti where people were buried in pits only weeks later,” Zur said.
[forwarded by Dalit]
4. Support builds for boycotts against Israel, activists say
WASHINGTON — In May, rock legend Elvis Costello canceled his gig in Israel. Then, in June, a group of unionized dock workers in San Francisco refused to unload an Israeli ship. In August, a food co-op in Washington state removed Israeli products from its shelves.
The so-called “boycott, divestment, and sanctions’’ movement aimed at pressuring Israel to withdraw from land claimed by Palestinians has long been considered a fringe effort inside the United States, with no hope of garnering mainstream support enjoyed by the anti-apartheid campaign against South Africa of the 1980s.
But in recent months, particularly after an Israeli raid on a flotilla delivering supplies to Palestinians, organizers are pointing to evidence that the movement has picked up momentum, even as Israelis and Palestinians are moving toward a new round of peace talks.
“Peace talks have been going on for decades and all they have resulted in are more dispossession,’’ said Nancy Kricorian, a New-York-based staff member for Code Pink, an antiwar group that launched a boycott of the cosmetic company Ahava because its products are manufactured in an Israeli settlement.
Kricorian, who grew up in Watertown, said Code Pink experienced increased interest by groups wanting to endorse the boycott during the Israeli operation in Gaza last year, and again since a May 31 Israeli raid on a flotilla left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead. Ahava did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Susanne Hoder, a member of a “divestment task force’’ set up by the Lawrence-based New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, said she believes activists will continue efforts until the Israeli military leaves the West Bank.
“Slowly but surely people are starting to recognize that some action is needed,’’ she said.
Her task force supports divestment from 29 companies it says are involved in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including Motorola and Caterpillar, but not from Israel itself.
The movement has gained energy from a Palestinian boycott announced in May of products made by Israeli settlers, but it also has sparked a backlash from Israeli lawmakers, who are now considering a bill that would bar non-Israelis involved in “boycott divestment sanctions’’ efforts from entering Israel for 10 years.
An additional measure being considered would allow settlers to sue activists inside Israel and the West Bank who help organize boycotts. If the measures pass, they could be used against US activists, the Palestinian Authority, and Israeli groups such as Boycott from Within and whoprofits.org, a website that lists settler products.
Jonathan Peled, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said it is unclear whether the bills will pass. He called the various boycott and divestment efforts in the West Bank and the United States “regrettable and counterproductive,’’ especially as Israeli and Palestinian leaders are set to begin peace talks in Washington next month. It is unclear whether the Palestinian boycott will continue throughout the peace talks.
But activists in the United States and Europe — where the movement has much more widespread support — say such actions provide a much-needed outlet to people who want to end the conflict.
“We used to lobby the US government, the Israeli government, and the Palestinians to do something,’’ said Sydney Levy, of Jewish Voices for Peace, a California-based group that collected 17,000 signatures since June asking investment firm TIAA-CREF to divest from companies involved in the occupation. “But now we realize that we can take action on our own. We are only waiting for ourselves.’’
TIAA-CREF said in a press release that it would not alter its investment policy.
The movement is such a hot-button issue that the sale of stock in Israeli companies often sparks unfounded speculation. Earlier this month, after a blogger reported that Harvard University sold $41.5 million in holdings in a number of well-known Israeli companies, the university had to issue a statement explaining its investment strategy and assuring the public that it had not “divested from Israel.’’
Last year, after student activists at Amherst-based Hampshire College told reporters that they had successfully lobbied for the sale of holdings in an Israel-related mutual fund, the university swiftly announced that the sale was not political.
Boycott activists say they are not discouraged by the lack of popular support, noting that the successful boycott of apartheid South Africa took decades to come to fruition. But that boycott had strong support among African-Americans, while boycotts against Israeli companies face passionate opposition from many Jewish Americans, who have mobilized to oppose such efforts.
“Their goal is to brand Israel the new South Africa,’’ said Jonathan Haber, a Boston consultant who started the website DivestThis.com to fight against the movement. “Israel is not an apartheid state.’’
Hussein Ibish, of the Washington-based American Task Force for Palestine, said the “boycott, divestment, sanctions’’ movement had no chance of becoming mainstream inside the United States as long as it targets Israel. But he said actions aimed at Israeli settlements “had a shot’’ at garnering popular support, especially now that the US government is pressing Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank on land that US, European, and Arab officials hope will become a Palestinian state.
“There isn’t a big constituency in the United States for being hostile to Israel, but I think there is potentially a huge constituency for pressuring Israel to end the occupation,’’ said Ibish.
For decades, Israel has provided tax incentive and subsidies for settlers who move to and open businesses in the West Bank, a territory the size of Delaware that the Israeli military took control of in 1967, when it won a war against Arab nations.
Today about 17 percent of the area’s 2.5 million people are Israeli settlers, while the rest are Palestinians, according to US estimates. International law forbids a country from moving its civilians into occupied territory. But Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory exempt from that provision.
Hoder, 58, a former communications director, said the goal of the New England Methodist divestment task force is to help end the conflict, not to harm Israel. Earlier this year, she led a Methodist fact-finding mission in the West Bank. This summer, the task force helped persuade two more Methodist groups to pass divestment petitions, bringing the total number to 11 out of 62.
Hoder said she became an activist in 2002, after a group of Palestinian YMCA officials came to visit Rhode Island. She traveled to see Israel and the West Bank for herself for the first time in 2004.
“I was shocked,’’ she said of hardships that the occupation brought in Palestinian daily life. “I came back with a clear sense that as churches, we shouldn’t be sitting on the sidelines.’’
In 2005 — a year after the church’s worldwide governing body voted to oppose the Israeli occupation — Hoder and other church activists established the task force, which recommends that individuals divest from 29 companies, including Motorola, which sells security surveillance systems for settlements and checkpoints; Caterpillar, which sells bulldozers that tear down Palestinian homes; and Veolia, a French transportation company involved in building a light rail system between the settlements.
Spokeswoman Tama McWhinney said Motorola is “concerned about any issues that shareholders raise’’ but will “continue to provide communications systems to more than 70 countries around the world in accordance with their laws.’’ Jim Dugan, spokesman for Caterpillar, said strict US antiboycotting laws prevent US companies from participating in boycotts.
“We expect our customers to use our products in . . . ways consistent with human rights,’’ he wrote. A spokesman for Veolia was not available for comment.
The Methodist church’s largest investment body, the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, still holds stock in companies on the list, including Motorola, Caterpillar, and Veolia.