Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,
Interestingly, or perhaps not, the sole item about Israel that I found in the 8 or so foreign press was about Israel returning Palestinian money to the Palestinians.  And this was only in a few of the newspapers.  Other than that, as concerns the Middle East the media remains mostly occupied with Syria , Egypt , and Iran .  When will we hear of Western governments placing sanctions on Israel ?  When will we hear them criticize Israel ?
I forgot.  There is also one additional item on Israel in the Huffington Post.  Abe Foxman, of all people, criticizes the spate of anti-democratic bills that Israel has on the agenda (item 3).  Foxman’s claim that these bills are  an “Assault on Israel ‘s Vibrant Democracy” is a typical attitude of Foxman as regards Israel ’s nature (he is an ardent Zionist, and apparently an admirer of the Revisionist branch of Zionism). Nevertheless, to call Israel a ‘ democracy,’ and to add that it is a ‘ vibrant’ one is far from reality.  The  bills that he refers to demonstrate just how far from democracy Israel really is, and getting farther from it every day.
Of the remaining 4 items below, Gideon Levy in item 1 comes down hard on Israeli policy and on Israelis for the degree of poverty in Israel and the absence of any plans to tackle it.  Instead Israelis are kept in fear over Iran or whatever else is at hand to keep them afraid. 
In item 2 Chief Justice Doris Beinisch accuses Israeli politicians for delegitimizing the High Court.
Item 3 is Foxman.
Item 4 contains materials from Mondoweiss—worth checking out.
Item 5 is Today in Palestine for November 30.  Apart from the section on bds, the rest is sickening.  When you read through the summaries, just substitute Jew wherever it is a Palestinian or Palestinians who are suffering!  Maybe that would bring the horrors of being Palestinian in the West Bank or Gaza home!   By the time I read through Today in Palestine it was too late to phone Hani Amer (whom I saw just a week ago) to check and find out the full details about what is happening in Mas’ha (one of the items).  If you want to know more about Hani Amer, you can find a lot by doing a search with Google, and also by checking out the Mas’ha Camp website— There’ s a short video of him on the home page, and if you click on “about” you will learn more about Mas’ha, too.  ‘Today in Palestine ’ really furnishes most of the information about what is actually happening in the West Bank and Gaza .  If you want to know, that’s the website to check out.
Have a good day, or evening (whichever it might be).
1.  Haaretz
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Israel is a third-world country in denial
There are people who want us to be scared by the Iranian bomb rather than by the home-grown social-welfare bomb; there are people who gladly devote themselves to this act of whitewashing and denial.
By Gideon Levy
It should have been a headline long ago, or at least the talk of the day Wednesday: Every fifth Israeli lives in fear of hunger, every 10th suffers from hunger. But this almost-African statistic, the kind that comes from the darkness of the third world, appeared only on the inside pages on Wednesday. Other issues were the talk of the day.
Iran , Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood – other fears are implanted in us with deliberate and malicious regularity. Some are futile fears, others are exaggerated, and compared to them this fear, the fear of hunger of every fifth person among us and the serious hunger of every 10th person, interests nobody but the victims. They have empty bellies, but no voice. Most Israelis have no idea what it’s all about.
After all the self-congratulations over our flourishing economy, after all the nauseating glorification of the wealthy, even after the dwindling summer protest and the radiant joining of the OECD, comes this bad news. And it didn’t slap us in the face. Israel has come a long way from the days when the country – which was far more egalitarian – was in an uproar over the comments by the hungry girl from Beit She’an. It has become fat and insensitive.
There are people who want us to be scared by the Iranian bomb rather than by the home-grown social-welfare bomb; there are people who gladly devote themselves to this act of whitewashing and denial. The dream of bombing Iran ‘s reactors is more exciting than the dream of Petah Tikva’s Ron Nagar , who wants to have a bank account. There are people who want us to do precisely that: Fear nuclear weapons, which are not of our doing, and forget about the hunger, which is of our doing. This behavior is typical of undemocratic regimes, and it’s typical of Israel democracy too.
The fact that there are so many poor and hungry people among us endangers Israel ‘s future no less than Iran ‘s nuclear weapons; the fact that this situation is swept under the rug of public discourse makes the danger even greater. Israel ‘s next Yom Kippur is liable to erupt from the factory in Hatzor Haglilit rather than the uranium conversion plant in Iran ‘s Isfahan . Human history is full of frightening examples of poor and hungry nations that led their rulers to commit acts of insanity. It could happen here too. Basically, it’s already happening here.
The data are dry, the statistics are boring, but every trip away from the media bubble to other areas in Israel paints the picture in all its urgency. This week I visited the central bus station of Afula, not the poorest city in Israel . A third world bus station, with third world stores and third world passengers. Nothing there resembles the familiar Israel covered in the media.
And what were the people in Afula’s central bus station talking about? About their poverty? Of course not – they were talking about the Arabs. One not very young resident came up to me and complained about his problem. He’s on trial and the judge is an Arab, of all things. “In the Golani Brigade they taught me that the Arabs should be killed,” he told me over a cup of coffee in the pathetic local kiosk. “It’s a race that should be eliminated. I’m ready to be sentenced to 20 years in prison, but not by an Arab judge.”
This racist discourse, which is typical and authentic, flourishes on the foundation of social hardship, which some people divert maliciously to such shady affairs. That’s what poverty and hunger produce when the government and media divert attention from the genuine hardship to xenophobia, the refuge of the ruler and the ruled.
There are also people who divert attention from the real solutions to this hardship. They encourage us to accept the scandalous budgets for security and the settlements as a divine edict and not to protest, or even to ask whether these efforts should be the priorities of a society whose fringes are suffering from hunger. They encourage us to attack anyone who questions these priorities, claiming that he “doesn’t understand anything” and “doesn’t have the tools,” this “traitor and heretic.”
On the day the hunger report was published the prime minister was in Eilat. The mountains surrounding it were full of Border Police, a blimp hovered in the sky, the city was like a fortress, the hotel where he spoke was like a citadel, and Benjamin Netanyahu walked around as usual surrounded by dozens of armed and ridiculous tough guys. That also costs us money, and we don’t even ask how much, why and at the expense of what.
2.  Haaretz
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Israeli politicians trying to delegitimize the Supreme Court, says chief justice
Dorit Beinisch tells Public Law conference that an incitement campaign against Israel ‘s justice system has been ‘gaining momentum’ for years.
By Tomer Zarchin
Tags : Israel Supreme Court Knesset
Israel ‘s Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch on Thursday condemned the recent “delegitimization campaign” carried out against the Supreme Court, saying Israeli politicians are responsible.
Speaking at a conference of the The Israeli Association of Public Law at the Dead Sea, Beinisch warned against the incitement directed toward Israel ‘s Supreme Court.
“Over the past five years I warned against the trend to harm the Supreme Court, to diminish its role, to limit its power and to prevent it from carrying out its important role, and in this way to undermine its ability to protect the democratic values of this country,” she said.
“The writing was on the wall. The warnings were heard, but no one got up,” she told the conference.
Referring to the accusation that judges are out of touch with Israeli society, Beinich said,“The judges are not out of touch. We see ourselves as part of society.”
“Supreme Court judges did not grow up in noble estates. They worked, and put energy into their professional achievements. Why incite against them?”
“ For a few years now there has been a campaign that is gaining momentum from year to year, which aims to weaken the justice system, with the Supreme Court at its head. This is a campaign of deligitimization headed by a number of politicians, members of Knesset and even government ministers, who take advantage of their immunity and send the wider public false and misleading information that has degenerated to incitement directed against the court, against its judges and against its rulings,” the Supreme Court president said.
“There is clearly incitement against the court and its judges,” she added.
Beinsich also spoke then recent legal initiatives going through the Knesset aimed at modeling Israel ’s justice system on that of the U.S. , saying that the bills only relate to the vetting of judges, and not at any further aspects of the U.S. legal system.
Since the Knesset opened for its winter session, a number of controversial legal initiatives have passed before it which aim to limit the Supreme Court and increase political influence on it. These include the “Grunis Law,” that passed a first reading earlier this month, and has been approved for a second and third reading by the Knesste legislative committee.
With this bill, there would be no need for the Supreme Court president to spend at least three years in the role. The initiative is considered to pave the way for the appointment of judge Asher Grunis, seen as a right-wing favorite, as Supreme Court president.
Other legal initiatives include a bill introducing Knesset vetting for Supreme Court judges, a bill to change the make-up of the committee for the appointment of Supreme Court judges, and a final bill that was up for debate, and has now been delayed, to limit High Court petitions.
3.  Huffington Post
, November 30, 2011
Abraham H. Foxman.National Director of the Anti-Defamation League
The Assault on Israel ‘s Vibrant Democracy
Posted: 11/30/11 04:23 PM ET React Important
There are many reasons why the recent spate of domestic legislation in Israel — regarding non-governmental organizations, the media, Israel as a Jewish State , the Supreme Court — is disturbing.
In many of these cases, the Knesset is addressing real and challenging problems. But it is doing so in the wrong way.
The truth is that a number of foreign governments and non-governmental organizations have been funding activities in Israel that go beyond representing a diversity of viewpoints about Israel ‘s political and security situation.
The truth is that it is important that the Palestinians and the Arab world finally acknowledge Israel ‘s right to exist as the Jewish State.
The truth is that there is a perception that the media seems to be tilted to the left in Israel , as in so many other countries.
The truth is the Supreme Court may have rushed too hastily to assert a stronger position in Israel ‘s political system, frightening many on the right.
All of these matters are legitimate subjects for public debate.
When, however, laws are passed that stifle free expression, seek to undermine the independence of the judiciary and, in the name of defending a Jewish state , seek to undermine the rights of Arabs and other minorities, then the very democratic character of the state is being eroded.
This is bad for Israel internally. The modern state of Israel was founded on the principles of democracy and pluralism. Moreover, on a practical level, democracy has been the glue holding together a disparate community.
And it will hurt Israel externally, particularly at a time when delegitimization campaigns are rampant and when so much of the international community sees Israel as blocking peace efforts. Israeli democracy and the perception of Israel as defending democratic values are crucial to Israel ‘s good name.
Most significantly, the efforts by some on the right to paint these laws as consistent with Likud ideology are egregiously off the mark. Indeed, those who initiate these laws are doing great damage to the nationalist cause they espouse.
A little history is in order. When Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and then Menachem Begin created and built Revisionist Zionism, they were often accused by the Zionist establishment as not only being extreme nationalists but of being anti-democratic. Some suggested they were Zionist “fascists” in the making. Indeed, when Begin was elected prime minister in 1977, there were those on the left who implied that Israeli democracy was at risk.
Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. The very fact that Likud came to power after 30 years of Labor’s dominance of the Israeli political system was a sign of Israel ‘s democracy strengthening and maturing. Whatever one thought about their broader nationalist views, and clearly, the arguments about territory continue to this day, the charge that the Revisionists, and later the Likud leadership, were anti-democratic was inaccurate and insidious. Prime Minister Begin, consistent with the views of his mentor Jabotinsky, did everything to strengthen democratic values, free speech, free courts and free expression.
For decades, Likud, representing the mainstream right, has been a living example that nationalism and democracy can co-exist in a healthy and harmonious relationship. Indeed, as strong defenders of Israel ‘s democratic values, the right was more able to make its case for nationalist foreign policies. Whether one agreed with them or not, the case could not be made that they were undermining democracy at home at the same time. While the left may have claimed that nationalism and anti-democracy were linked, they had no basis for that assertion.
Now the introduction of a series of laws that in their totality have the feel of restricting democratic values is making the early politicized criticisms of the left seem relevant.
Much of the legislation is being introduced by Yisrael Beiteinu, but the fact is that these bills could not progress without the approval, tacit or otherwise, of Likud. In doing so, they are potentially tainting legitimate expressions of hawkish security policies.
There are so many reasons why this movement should be resisted. Likud members and cabinet ministers Benny Begin and Dan Meridor, and at times opposition leader Tzipi Livni — heirs to the Revisionist tradition — have made it clear that these laws violate the democratic principles that underlay Revisionism.
It is clear that people on the left will oppose such legislation. What really ought to happen, however, is that more leaders from Israel rightist camps should be standing up against efforts to undermine Israel’s judicial, press and speech freedoms. They must assert that not only is democracy an essential component of Israel’s very being and a potent constructive force throughout Israel’s history, but that the defense of Israel’s vibrant democratic traditions are a core value for those on the political right.


4.  Mondoweiss for December 1, 2011
5.  Today in Palestine for November 30, 2011

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