Dorothy Online Newsletter



Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC


Dear Friends,

The first of the 6 items below contains several reports, mostly brief, from the OPT and Gaza that you are unlikely to find in the commercial press in your country.  The final one of these should cause everyone, but in particular Christian readers who receive this, to demand religious freedom in Israel!  It is disgusting that Israel disallows Palestinian Christians to observe their religious holy days by preventing them from coming to Jerusalem!

Yesterday I decided not to send any more articles on the Goldstone retraction, but John Dugard’s criticism of it should be read and distributed widely.

Item 3. An Open Letter to Bernard-Henri Levy is not recent, but has not aged with time.  The writer believes that Levy’s support for the dissidents in Libya is warranted, but wants to know when Levy and the world will also see the Palestinian cause as just and needing attention.  The writer complains, and justly so, “as we witness the West rushing to support revolutionary struggles throughout the Arab world, it is hard not to wonder why the Palestinian struggle has not enjoyed the same political fortune. And this is exactly what I find lamentable, and the reason for this letter.”

Item 4 tells us that the IOF intends to heighten probes into civilian West Bank deaths, but not Gazan deaths.  I believe that the intent to probe  is a result of the criticism that Israel has faced resulting mainly from its attack on Gaza (Cast Lead) and on the Mavi Marmara, and in general a darkening of its image.  I wonder if the IOF omits Gaza because so often its kills there turn out to be civilians rather than fighters?

In Item 5Akiva Eldar reports that Israel “expedites” a vote on the construction of 100s of homes on the other side of the line—the Palestinian side, but the homes are not for Palestinians!  Yes, some of the world disapproves.  But does nothing. Only when the world will begin to impose sanctions, will Israel’s leaders possibly stop pretending that they want peace, and actually change their policies.  It could happen if pressure is exerted.  But so far, while at the grass roots level Israel is not doing so well, at the diplomatic level all we find is governments shaking their fingers at Israel, but doing nothing.  Thus, Israel can continue to ignore the finger shaking with impunity.

The final item tells us that Israel has begun its witch hunt in earnest on Palestinian citizens of Israel.  For now it is mainly they who will suffer, but there is no doubt in my mind that the witch hunting will eventually spread to touch anyone who is critical of government policies and practices.

Still hoping for a better day tomorrow.



1.  News from the OPT that you are unlikely to find in your newspapers

Israeli Soldiers Arrest Palestinians, Settlers Destroy Land in Hebron Area Date : 6/4/2011   Time : 19:07

HEBRON, April 6, 2011 (WAFA) – Israeli soldiers  arrested three Palestinians from the Hebron area Wednesday, while settlers razed land south of the city, according to witnesses and security sources.

Soldiers arrested three men after breaking into their homes and searching them. They were taken to an unknown destination, according to security sources. The soldier also handed three other men summons to report to an Israeli intelligence center in the Hebron area.

Witnesses told WAFA that several settlers destroyed agricultural land belonging to residents of Khirbet Janba, east of Yatta. Soldiers provided protection to the settlers.

The army also set up checkpoints at the entrances of Beit Awwa, Yatta, Halhoul, al-Fawar refugee camp and Beit Kahel, all in the Hebron area, stopping vehicles and checking identification papers of passengers.



Four Wounded in Israeli Air Raids on Gaza

Date : 6/4/2011


GAZA, April 6, 2011 (WAFA)- Four Palestinians  were wounded Wednesday in  three Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip, according to security sources.

The first raid hit east of al-Shaja’iya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, with no injuries reported.

The second raid hit a plastic factory in al-Sha’af area in al-Toffah neighborhood of Gaza City where four Palestinians were moderately injured, while the factory and nearby buildings were severely damaged.

Israeli jets staged the third raid on Jabal al-Rayis in al-Toffah, with no injuries reported.




Israel Kills Palestinian, Injures Another in Gaza

Date : 5/4/2011


GAZA, April 5, 2011 (WAFA) – Israeli artillery shelling on Beit Lahiya area, in the north of the Gaza Strip, Tuesday killed a Palestinian and injured another, according to medical sources.

They said Israeli soldiers stationed on the northern borders fired tank rocket towards a group of men who were collecting gravel near the Erez crossing.

Medics identified the dead Palestinian as Mohamed Shanha, 22, and the wounded Palestinian was taken to hospital for treatment.



Palestine’s Christians Demand Freedom to Reach Holy Sites in Jerusalem Date : 5/4/2011   Time : 14:09


BETHLEHEM, April 5, 2011 (WAFA) – Palestine’s Christians demanded Monday freedom of access and movement to reach the holy places in Jerusalem without Israeli intervention.

A statement published by the Palestinian Christians called on the international community to intervene to facilitate freedom of entry of Christians to Jerusalem to worship during the Easter holiday.

“For Christians, Holy Week in Jerusalem has a special spiritual connection,” said the statement. “The Old City (of Jerusalem), its gates and roads, the Mount of Olives, Via Dolorosa and The Holy Sepulchre Church, where pilgrims from all over the world journey to, are equally important to the Palestinian Christians of Gaza and the West bank, who want to join their Jerusalemite Christian brethren in the liturgical events leading to the resurrection, the holiest celebration in Christianity,” it said.

“In every country that respects and implements freedom of worship, worshippers of different faiths live their faith and express their prayers without restrictions from the governing authorities. In Jerusalem, and for the past decade, this has not been the case. The occupying power is denying free access to holy places of worship to both Christians and Muslims on several important occasions,” it added.

West Bank and Gaza Christians are required to apply for Israeli military-issued permits to access their holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem. It is estimated that of those, only 2000 to 3000 Palestinian Christians receive permits.

“The permit system instated by Israel is in obvious violation of the ICPRR, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants and treaties to which Israel is a signatory,” said the statement. “Regardless of the number of people from the local congregation allowed to participate in the celebrations, we reject the imposition of a permit/quota system to access our churches and shrines,” it said.

Since Easter coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday, a military closure is usually imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip automatically cancelling permits since closure means Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza will not be allowed to cross into Israeli territory, including East Jerusalem annexed by Israel shortly after its 1967 occupation.

The statement also complained that heavy presence of Israeli police and military forces around and in the Old City and surrounding the holy sites preventing Christians from accessing the Holy Sepulcher Church and the Old City “disturbs the spiritual atmosphere of Easter, especially when Israeli commanders are around and inside the Tomb of Christ.”

The statement rejected Israeli police claims that the heavy presence of the police force is for the security of the worshippers, stressing that “our prayers and holding of candles are signs of peace and should not threaten the might of the Israeli police. There is no need or justification for a fully charged army and police force.”

“Actions taken against Palestinian Christians, the first and oldest Christian community in the world, attack not only the Palestinian people and their rights in the occupied city of Jerusalem, but in reality, the whole Christianity,” said the statement.



2. [thanks to Rupa for calling attention to Dugard’s criticism]

Where now for the Goldstone report?

Posted by John Dugard –

06 April 2011

In short, there are no new facts which could possibly have lead Richard Goldstone to change his mind.

Richard Goldstone looks on after delivering his report before the Human Rights Council at the UN office in Geneva, 29 September 2009. Credit:

Getty Images

In an op-ed in the Washington Post Richard Goldstone, former South African Constitutional Court judge and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, expresses misgivings about the central finding of the UN Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission Report on the Gaza Conflict of 2008-9 (named after its chairman, “the Goldstone report”) that Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians were intentional.

The op-ed makes strange reading.

It states that the Goldstone report would have been a different document “had I known then what I know now” but fails to disclose any information that seriously challenges the findings of the Goldstone Report.

It claims that investigations published by the Israeli military and recognised by a follow-up UN Committee Report chaired by Judge Mary McGowan Davis, which appeared in March, “indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”, but the McGowan Davis report contains absolutely no such “indication” and instead seriously questions Israel’s investigations, finding them to be lacking in impartiality, promptness and transparency.

Goldstone expresses “confidence” that the officer responsible for perhaps the most serious atrocity of Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s codename for its assault on Gaza) — the killing of 29 members of the al-Samouni family — will be properly punished by Israel despite the fact that the McGowan Davis report provides a critical assessment of Israel’s handling of the investigation into this killing.

Finally he claims that the McGowan Davis report finds that Israel has carried out investigations “to a significant degree”, but in fact this report paints a very different picture of Israel’s investigations of 400 incidents which have resulted in two convictions, one for theft of a credit card, resulting in a sentence of seven months imprisonment and another for using a Palestinian child as a human shield which resulted in a suspended sentence of three months!

In short, there are no new facts which exonerate Israel and which could possibly have led Goldstone to change his mind. What made him change his mind therefore remains a closely guarded secret.

The Goldstone report was not the only fact-finding report on Operation Cast Lead. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the League of Arab States (whose mission I chaired) all produced thorough reports on the conflict.

In all reports, including the Goldstone report, there were accounts of the killings of civilians by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in a cold, calculated and deliberate manner. But the principal accusation levelled at Israel was that in its assault on Gaza it used force indiscriminately in densely populated areas and was reckless as to the foreseeable consequences of it actions which resulted in at least 900 civilian deaths and 5,000 wounded.

In terms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court it is a war crime to intentionally direct attacks against a civilian population (article 8(2)(b)(i)). Such an intention need not be premeditated: it suffices if the person engaging in such action meant to cause the consequence of his action or “is aware that it will occur in the ordinary course of events”(article 30).

Goldstone’s op-ed may be interpreted to mean that he is now satisfied (although there is no evidence to support this) that Israel did not as a matter of policy deliberately and in a premeditated manner target civilians and that where the calculated killing of civilians occurred this was without the blessing of the Israeli military and political leadership.

But he could not possibly have meant that Israel did not “intentionally target civilians as a matter of policy” in the legal sense of intention. That Israel’s assault was conducted in an indiscriminate manner with full knowledge that its consequences would be the killing and wounding of civilians is a matter of public record fully substantiated by the Goldstone Report and other equally credible reports.

In his op-ed Goldstone declares that Hamas’s indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel, which resulted in the killing of four civilians, was an “intentional” targeting of civilians and consequently a war crime. But how he can suggest that the indiscriminate bombing and shooting of Palestinians in Gaza by the IDF, which resulted in nearly a thousand civilian deaths, was not “intentional” is a mystery.

Goldstone does not, like his critics, describe his op-ed piece as a retraction of the Goldstone report. This is not surprising. Richard Goldstone is a former judge and he knows full well that a Fact Finding Report by four persons, of which he was only one, like the judgment of a court of law, cannot be changed by the subsequent reflections of a single member of the committee.

This can be done only by the full committee itself with the approval of the body that established the Fact Finding Mission – the UN Human Rights Council. And this is highly unlikely in view of the fact that the three other members of the Committee – Professor Christine Chinkin of the LSE, Ms Hina Jilani, an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Colonel Desmond Travers, formerly an officer in the Irish Defence Force – have indicated that they do not share Goldstone’s misgivings about the report.

Last month the Goldstone report was referred to the General Assembly of the United Nations by the Human Rights Council with the request that it be referred by the Assembly to the Security Council and that the Security Council submit the matter to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as it has done in the cases of Darfur and Libya.

Doubtless the General Assembly will refer the Goldstone report to the Security Council, despite Goldstone’s op-ed, but it will end there as the customary United States veto will ensure that Israel remains unaccountable.

The Goldstone report is a historical milestone. It is a credible, reasoned, comprehensive and thoroughly researched account of atrocities — war crimes and crimes against humanity — committed by Israel in the course of Operation Cast Lead and of war crimes committed by Hamas in the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel. It is a serious attempt to secure the accountability of a state that has for too long been allowed by the West to behave in a lawless manner.

That the credibility of the Goldstone report has been undermined by Richard Goldstone’s strange op-ed in the Washington Post cannot be denied.

Although the Report was authored by four experts with the backing of a team from the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights it has undoubtedly come to be associated with the name of Richard Goldstone. Inevitable the misgivings he has expressed about his own role in the Report will weaken its impact as an historical record of Operation Cast Lead.

Already the Israeli Government has expressed delight at what it construes to be a retraction of the Report and demanded both a contrite apology from Goldstone and a refutation of the Report by the United Nations. Predictably the US Department of State has welcomed Goldstone`s op-ed and one fears that European governments will find in it an excuse to justify their continued support for Israel.

Richard Goldstone has devoted much of his life to the cause of accountability for international crimes. It is sad that this champion of accountability and international criminal justice should abandon this cause in such an ill-considered but nevertheless extremely harmful op-ed.

John Dugard is Professor of Law, University of Pretoria; Emeritus Professor, University of Leiden; former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.


3.  An open letter to Bernard-Henri Lévy

Bernard-Henri Lévy is internationally known as a public intellectual, philosopher, cultural producer and activist. He recently visited Libya, and on 12 March called for support for its revolution, broadcast on France’s TF1 (1) and Al-Jazeera (2), and reported extensively on his own website. (3)

Comment 17 March, by Dr Marcelo Svirsky

We can hardly disagree that your recent reports from Libya during your short visit signal the sort of attitude Europe is adopting on the war taking place there. Your sincere call to support and actively aid the Libyan revolution – expressed direct from Benghazi on various television channels, and spiced with ethnographic (if dubiously colonial) smells and visuals – is finding more and more adherents. Beyond minor differences between your position and his, President Sarkozy’s announcement on the matter is concordant with this; as it is also with David Cameron’s last trip to Cairo.

However, as we witness the West rushing to support revolutionary struggles throughout the Arab world, it is hard not to wonder why the Palestinian struggle has not enjoyed the same political fortune. And this is exactly what I find lamentable, and the reason for this letter.

Everyone nowadays starts from the assumption that the Gaddafi regime was unbearable for larger parts of the Libyan citizenry, and that therefore the present revolt should be encouraged for their benefit. Gaddafi’s repression of and war on his own citizens is unquestionably repugnant and compels the international community to consider how to assist the rebels. Hence your support for the Libyan transitionary government engaged in a legitimate struggle to end a regime of oppression.

But we should be under no illusions: for governments, cosying up to those who may become the future rulers of Libya would facilitate the exploitation of the country’s vast resources in the future. By contrast, an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and the stabilisation of the region that would bring along, is far less attractive to Europe and the West’s interests.

But let us stick with the assumption that all that counts is a sincere preoccupation with the fate of the Libyan people as they fight to overcome decades of oppression. This assumption reflects an admirable spirit which may be tested in other cases as well – and here it is only right to consider your own opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. A couple of years ago, in a debate at the New York Public Library on16 September 2008, (4) you insisted on the extraordinary democratic character of the State of Israel by emphasising its tolerance towards Arab political parties and others who aim at democratising Zionist structures. I struggle to find the words to describe your ignorance here, in particular with regard to how ethnic segregation and discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens within the Green Line structures an imperative to fight the system. More recently, right after the deadly events of the Flotilla to Gaza in May 2010, when you expressed your criticisms of the IDF at a public meeting in Tel Aviv, you stressed your surprise at their actions and your belief in the morality and the sense of democracy of the Israeli Army (see the English edition of Haaretz, 30 May 2010) (5). These are just two reminders of your well-known public support for Zionism and for Israel (6), which must be now measured alongside your present support for the revolutionary wave shaking the Arab world.

What is it in your liberal heart that blinds you to the effects on Palestinian life caused by the tragic ethnic cleansing of 1948, by six decades of discrimination within the Green Line, and four decades of Zionist military oppression in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem? As the world rightly distinguishes between oppressors and oppressed in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, why not apply, with the particularities of the case taken into account, the same treatment to Palestine? Europe’s enthusiasm for the Arab uprising, like your own, irritates because of the double standard which is all the more striking in its spatial aspect: by refusing to support the Palestinian struggle in the same terms in which you support the Arab uprising across the whole region, Israel is singled out as a site exempt from critique. Inevitably, this problematic moral code caricaturises your political attitude towards the region and, sadly, helps Israel to continue its various ways of oppression, not only against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories but also against those of its citizens who aspire to transform the regime.

I agree with your demand to support the Libyan people in their struggle to redefine their citizenship. But let me conclude by saying that it is indeed in the same manner that I understand my own Israeli citizenship: as giving me not a mandate to perpetuate present modes of oppression but the right to redefine the whole spectrum of rights by way of struggle. It is in this light that I expect you and the world to support the struggle to transform the Israeli regime.


4.  Haaretz,

April 06, 2011

IDF to tighten policy of probes into civilian West Bank deaths

New policy will apparently make it necessary to bring all instances of civilian Palestinian death for immediate criminal investigation, unless such an incident occurred during ‘operation of clearly combative nature’.

By Amos Harel

The Israel Defense Forces is expected to announce next week changes to its policy of investigating military action in the Palestinian territories, as a result of a relative calm in the area and pressure stemming from the international arena.

The IDF will inform the high-ranking Turkel Commission of the changes next week, but has already clarified some of its new policies in a statement to the High Court of Justice.

According to the new policy, incidents in which a Palestinian civilian is killed by IDF fire will be brought to the army’s criminal investigation division for immediate investigation, unless the deaths occurred within the realm of an “operation of clearly combative nature”.

Until now, civilian deaths in the Palestinian territory were brought for investigation only after an initial fact-checking usually carried out through operational inquiry.

The change in IDF policy comes in the wake of both a more calm security situation in the West Bank as well as due to international criticism launched at Israel over their current investigative policies that have been deemed insufficient.

In October of 2000, at the start of the second intifada, the Military Advocate General determined that a criminal investigation into IDF activity would only be opened in instances where a criminal offense was suspected.

This precedent has been utilized as an explanation for not carrying out investigations into combat situations, and has been widely criticized by leftist and international human rights groups.

It is expected that this new investigation policy will only apply in the West Bank and will not apply to Gaza.

The policy was created by Military Advocate General Brigadier General Avichai Mendelblatt along with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. The two will appear separately before the Turkel committee next week to discuss the new policy.


5.  Haaretz,

April 06, 2011

Israel expedites vote on hundreds of new homes beyond Green Line

Proposal to construct 942 housing units in Gilo was approved Monday by the building and planning committee; according to standard procedure, the district committee would have waited months before bringing the matter to its own agenda.

By Akiva Eldar

Tags: Israel news East Jerusalem

The Jerusalem District Committee will expedite its discussion on the construction of nearly 1,000 new apartments beyond the Green Line, despite criticism expressed by the United States and the European Union.

The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee on Monday approved the construction of 942 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood in the south of the city.

The decision of the district committee, which answers to the Interior Ministry, to debate the matter on Tuesday means just over a week will have passed between the two votes. Under standard procedure, the district committee would have waited months before bringing to its agenda matters approved by the planning and building committee.

If the district committee approves the proposal, the public will have the opportunity to voice opposition. The construction plan was proposed by the Jerusalem Development Authority, and not by a private initiator.

The State Department chastised the building plans, warning that further construction in East Jerusalem would be detrimental to building good faith between Israel and the Palestinians.

The lack of resolution to the conflict “harms Israel, harms the Palestinians, and harms the interests of the United States and the international community”, the State Department said.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday that she was “deeply disappointed” by Israel’s approval of new settlement building in East Jerusalem.

“The actions taken by the Israeli Government contravene repeated and urgent calls by the international community, including the Quartet, and run counter to achieving a peaceful solution that will preserve Israel’s security and realize the Palestinians’ right to statehood,” Ashton said in a statement.

On the same day that the planning committee approved the construction, Haaretz was informed that Defense Minister Ehud Barak plans to sign off on four settlement development plans.

The Defense Ministry, however, has only confirmed a new zoning plan for one of the four settlements.

The plans Barak is reportedly considering approval for are for the settlements of Rotem, Eshkolot-Sansana, Halamish-Neve Tzuf, Nofim, and Kiryat Netafim.

All of the above settlements were founded following a government decision, and all of their lands are converted state lands.

The plans set to be signed will in fact perpetuate the status quo in these settlements, disallowing any new legal construction, making the planned signing more of a symbolic achievement.


6, [forwarded by Ruth H, my thanks]

|| Wed, April 06th

Israel Begins Witch Hunt against Palestinian Educators, Pupils who Honoured Land Day

Wednesday, 06 April 2011 15:36 Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)    Israel launched a witch hunt against Palestinian educators and pupils who commemorated Land Day by participating in the community’s declared strike. Education Ministry supervisors visited Palestinian schools on Land Day and schools were ordered to send lists of teachers absent that day.

On 30 March 2011, the 35th commemoration of Palestinian Land Day, the Israeli Ministry of Education launched a campaign of intimidation against Palestinian schools and educators in northern Israel.

Dr. Orna Simchon, director of the Education Ministry’s northern district, sent a letter to Palestinian schools in the region on Land Day, demanding  to know whether classes were held that day and if not, why. They were also asked to immediately report the attendance records for the day, including lists of teachers who had and had not come to school.

Land Day commemorates the 1976 Palestinian strikes and demonstrations, against Israeli land confiscation policy, during which six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, hundreds arrested and hundreds injured.

This year as in previous years, a general strike took place on Land Day in Palestinian towns and villages in Israel. This strike included the education system and was fully supported by the High Arab Monitoring Committee- National Committee’s local council heads, together with most student- parent committees and councils, elected in Palestinian schools.

In response to this attack, the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education-Israel sent a letter to Knesset Member and Minister of Education Gideon Saar, together with Dr. Shimshon Shoshani, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Education.

“We wish to emphasise that this is the full right of the Arab population, as a national minority and as citizens with equal rights, to conduct a strike in order to protest policies of discrimination and home demolitions, together with the worrying racist tendencies that have picked up speed in the state, in addition to the raging racism that is expressed by, amongst other ways, racist legislation that pushes Israel to become an apartheid state…A collective strike of national minority citizens has a crucial educational message, from which the majority group can also learn.”

The letter concludes by demanding that “all districts and Education Ministry officials immediately halt persecution of the Arab teachers on this backdrop. Such inexplicable steps serve solely to increase the feeling of distrust of the Arab public in the system and the alienation amongst Arab pupils, teachers and parents.”

This is but the most recent attempt by Israel to prevent Palestinian citizens from celebrating and commemorating their history.

On 22 March, the Israeli Knesset approved the controversial “Nakba Law”, which mandates fines for state funded bodies that commemorate the Nakba, the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe of death, displacement and dispossession.

The Palestinian public in Israel has stated it will continue to commemorate its national days and history, despite this legal threat.

A statement released by the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education- Israel, following the vote, says, “The Palestinian Arab public in Israel has every right to observe national days and preserve the national collective memory, including content in school curriculum.”

“The Follow-up Committee on Arab Education will continue to target Arab schools, specifically on Nakba Day, Land Day, the massacre in Kafr Qasem and other important historical events, to enhance the national and cultural affiliation of Arab students and present the denied Palestinian narrative, and will continue to fight for inclusion in the curriculum.”

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