Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,


Just 4 items tonight—none very long, but then these are in addition to the 2 items that I sent earlier: a petition and a depiction of Palestinian farming in the South Hebron Hills—would that they could farm.  The international newspapers had articles on Yair Lapid leaving the TV world for the political one, and one or two papers remarked on an incident in which an MK dumped a glass of water on another MK at a parliamentary discussion.  But other than these, I found nothing on Israel or on Palestine.  The first two items are from Israeli media, the third from the NY Times.  It is not about Israel or Palestine but is rather about Islamophobia.  The final item is a 5 minute video by Ron Paul.  I agree with Mark’s introduction to it.  I could be tempted to vote for Ron Paul because of his foreign policy.  Unfortunately, apart from the foreign policy there is little if anything else that he stands for that I can agree with.


Item 1 is a response to the Dennis Ross op-ed that I mentioned on Saturday, and which I found simplistic (the link to it is below, in case you want to read it).  My objection to Ross is that rather than solving anything his recommendations guide Israel in how to make the occupation more palatable.  Barak Ravid brings a different criticism of Ross’s piece: Ross seems to believe that Bibi wants to end the occupation.  Well argued and worth reading.


Item 2 is about illegal building in East Jerusalem.  The complaints are not against Jewish building but against Palestinian building.  But of course all of you know by now that Palestinians never or almost never receive permits to build.  And since their families grow, since they, like Jews, have children, then obviously they need to add to existing structures or build new ones as the population expands. But this is an anathema to Zionist Jews, as is clear from the complaint.


Item 3 is not about Israel or Palestine.  It is about an incident and its cause, namely how Europe treats Muslims. They, in Sarah Wildman’s phrase, are ‘the new scapegoats of Europe.’


Item 4 is the video that I think you, too, will find worth watching.


All the best,





1 Haaretz

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dennis Ross discovers Palestine

In a Washington Post op-ed, Ross suggests ways of advancing Mideast peace; his ideas may sound ground-breaking, but anyone who has a clue knows they are nothing new – he has suggested them before to no avail.

[for the Dennis Ross piece ]


By Barak Ravid

 Over the past two and a half years Dennis Ross, Middle East adviser to the U.S. president, has been one of the most central people in the White House in everything that has to do with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He has whispered in the ear of U.S. President Barack Obama, maintained a secret and direct channel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his envoy Isaac Molho, and undermined U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell.

Despite his central role, his influence on Jerusalem’s actions was minimal. Despite the fact that he is considered to be Netanyahu’s man in the White House, he did not manage to get almost anything from the Israeli prime minister. In Ramallah, his status is even worse. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pushed him aside and effectively declared him a persona non grata. As far as Washington was concerned, he had a far greater impact: mainly a negative one.

Ross has been involved in the peace process for 20 years. He knows all the tricks of all the players and vice versa: they know all his formulas and political maneuvers. It was precisely for this reason that I was surprised to read the article Ross published in the Washington Post on Saturday.

Under the title, “How to break a Middle East Stalemate”, Ross writes that, “psychological gaps” between the sides will prevent the achievement of a permanent arrangement in the short term. Therefore, Ross suggests a different path: for Israel to carry out a series of steps in the West Bank to strengthen the Palestinian leaders, Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Ross presents various measures: stopping IDF forces from entering Palestinian cities, expanding the responsibilities of the Palestinian police in Area B of the West Bank, where they currently lack security authority, providing the PA with the opportunity to initiate economic projects in Area C, which is entirely under Israeli control, releasing prisoners and so on.

Steps like these, Ross maintains, will lessen the lack of trust between the sides, balance the Shalit prisoner swap deal which was a great success for Hamas, and assist Abbas and Fayyad in their quest to gain support among the Palestinian public, especially in light of the possibility of presidential elections in the coming months, in which one of them – or both – will run. All of these, as far as Ross is concerned, are in Israel’s interest.

For the average reader, who knows nothing about the details of the contacts between the U.S. government and Netanyahu over the past two years, Ross’s suggestions sound new and refreshing. If only someone had thought of that two years ago. So here’s the catch: they did. More than one person had these ideas. More than once.

Not only did they think of these things, but they also suggested them to Netanyahu and to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Not only did they suggest it, they requested, pushed and begged. In fact, Ross himself was one of the people who did so. He was joined by Mitchell, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Quartet envoy Tony Blair, the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany, and many others. Ross omits this fact from his article.

So why has this still not happened? Ross also keeps this information from the Washington Post readers. He doesn’t tell them that the Israeli prime minister promised him personally (along with other international officials), on numerous occasions starting in late 2009, that he would take exactly these sorts of steps to advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Ross also didn’t mention that Barak, who holds the authority to carry out such actions, told him and additional senior U.S. officials that he believes this is the right road to travel.

But for Netanyahu and Barak there lies great distance between words and deeds. Even a technical step such as paving a road to the new Palestinian city of Rawabi has not been carried out until today, despite repeated promises. The reality is that Ross requested it, but until today his request has not been accepted. He insisted, but was rejected. He pushed, but was dissolved. That is the truth.

Reading the article gives the impression that Ross discovered the Americas. Or, more accurately, discovered Palestine. As though he was an alien that landed from Mars and offered magical formulas that human beings had not yet thought of. Netanyahu does not want to stop the occupation? It couldn’t be. The Israeli government persists in its settlement policy? Nonsense. Abbas is unwilling to negotiate with Netanyahu even for a million dollars? Garbage. Just listen to Dennis Ross – there will be peace here in no time.


2 Jerusalem Post

Monday, January 9, 2011

Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem


MKs slam J’lem for illegal building in e. J’lem



Illegal building grows at approx 1,000 per year, worse in areas across the fence.

The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee slammed the Jerusalem municipality for “losing control” of illegal building in east Jerusalem, especially in areas that are part of Jerusalem but are located on the West Bank side of the separation fence, in a special committee hearing on Monday.

According to Regavim, a right-wing activist group which filed a petition in the High Court of Justice regarding lack of enforcement of demolition orders, said that Jerusalem building inspectors haven’t been into Jerusalem areas on the other side of the barrier since 2005. Without inspections, the municipality cannot issue demolition orders.

“It’s like saying the Jerusalem municipality and Jerusalem police have no ability to enforce laws [in these areas],” said MK Yulia Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima). “Has Jerusalem already been divided? Because if it has, I want to know.”

In 2010, a State Comptroller’s report estimated that there are 20,000 to 30,000 illegal buildings in east Jerusalem, growing at a rate of roughly 1,000 per year.

Committee member MK Ibrahaim Sarsour (United Arab List-Ta’al) appealed to the city to increase building permits for Arab residents rather than destroy more homes. “The [Arab residents] want real equality in Jerusalem, and that needs to start with the minimal things, the right to a roof, to a house, to a place, to live for the thousands of people that don’t have it,” he said.

MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) also expressed grave concern over the proliferation of six and seven story apartment buildings built right next to the security barrier on the West Bank side, which he said were destroying the effectiveness of the barrier because they are ten or more meters taller than the barrier.

The director of activities for Regavim, Betzalel Smotrich, said the “racist legal system” was enforcing the laws selectively against Jewish right-wing activists in the West Bank while allowing illegal building to run unchecked in Arab neighborhoods. “It’s a shame that in our capital we don’t have sovereignty,” he said after the meeting.

“It’s not possible to flee from reality, and the reality is that providing services on the other side of the fence is really difficult,” said Ophir May, the municipality’s building supervision branch.  “We need security accompaniment to go into these areas, these are the guidelines of police, but these also come from our experience and my personal experience,” he told the committee.

According to May, in 2011 the municipality carried out eight demolitions of illegal structures in east Jerusalem, compared with 67 in west Jerusalem. In 2010, there were 23 demolitions of illegal structures in east Jerusalem, compared with 58 in west Jerusalem.

“We need to understand if there’s a lack of ability or lack of desire [to enforce these laws],” said Maklev. Regavim has an additional petition before the Jerusalem District Court regarding enforcing demolition orders against illegal building in east Jerusalem, which is expected to be heard in the coming months.

City Councilor Yael Entebbi, who represents Pisgat Zev and Neve Yaakov, urged the MKs to pressure the city into taking immediate action. “I can see illegal building from my window at home,” she told the Post after the committee meeting. “The reality on the ground shows that there is no building freeze, not in east Jerusalem and especially not over the fence. It is really important that the MKs deal with this to enforce the laws, because we really need to solve this problem. We are talking about a danger that is right under our noses.”


3  NY Times

January 9,2011

The New Scapegoats of Europe


One afternoon in November, Océane Sluijzer, a 13-year-old Belgian Jewish girl, was beaten up after soccer practice by a group of schoolmates. Her tormenters, girls of Moroccan descent, called her a “dirty Jew” and told her to “go back to her own country.”

Two weeks later, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium mentioned the beating in a speech about the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. Howard Gutman, himself a Jew, saw Océane’s plight as symptomatic of a larger problem: Jews and Muslims in Europe are caught in a proxy war that mirrors events in the Middle East, especially between Israel and the Palestinians.

“[E]very new settlement announced in Israel, every rocket shot over a border or suicide bomber on a bus, and every retaliatory military strike exacerbates the problem and provides a setback here in Europe for those fighting hatred and bigotry,” Gutman said.

He’s right: Politics in the Middle East refract into tensions between Jews and Muslims in Europe. Violence against Jews on the Continent tends to increase when violence rises between Israelis and Palestinians, for example. The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights counted 815 acts of anti-Semitic violence in France in 2009, compared with 459 the year before, and found that the uptick was a response to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s bloody incursion into Gaza in early 2009.

But while incidents in the Middle East are relevant, the root cause of the problem between Jews and Muslims in Europe isn’t simply the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it is primarily the failure of European states to integrate immigrants, Muslims in particular.

Governments throughout Europe have struggled for the last half-century to expand their notion of citizenship. Muslims who came from North Africa and Turkey as workers in the 1960s and early 1970s were expected to go home eventually. But they stayed and built families in Europe. Today, their children and grandchildren are still defined as second- and third-generation immigrants rather than as Belgian, French or German.

This is partly because many Europeans cannot quite imagine how Islam and a secular European identity might co-exist. It is also because the once-marginal anti-Muslim ideas of the far right have become more mainstream; Muslims have replaced Jews as the scapegoats of Europe. If Muslims in Europe so thoroughly identify with the Palestinian cause today — posters at rallies for the right to wear the hijab often call for a free Palestine — it is partly because a weak Palestine subs in for their own maligned population.

And so while Gutman’s diagnosis of the problem rings true, his fix for it is misguided. In that speech in late November, he said that the solution to tensions between Jews and Muslims in Europe “is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East.”

In fact, the real answer lies much closer to home: according to a position-paper by the Brookings Institution, if Muslim communities in Europe felt less marginalization and had more economic opportunities, they would resort less to misdirected violence. Although attacks on Jews are scary and hard to explain away, there is no broad and systematic anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe, neither among Muslims nor among the rest of the population. This is not 1936.

The key to helping Belgians understand the attack on Océane is not to sit down with Benjamin Netanyahu. It is to sit down with the girls who punched her and find out how to make them feel welcome in Belgium.

Sarah Wildman writes about the intersection of culture and politics, and history and memory in Europe and the United States.


4  forwarded by Mark, whose comment below.

Anti-war video by Ron Paul. Absolutely brilliant. Not directly about Israel/Palestine, but the parallel is obvious. A strong argument can be made that Ron Paul is the best hope for peace in Israel/Palestine:   


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