The 8 items below open with a brief note: the Palestinians now have an ambassador in Italy. Not quite sure how this will work out since there is as yet no Palestinian state, but it is a first for which I wish the Palestinians luck. Hopefully it will be something more than merely cosmetic. I still hope for a single secular democratic state, but till that happens, may the ambassadors multiply.
There are two items below relating to demography: 2 and 5. Item 2 reports that a PhD student is being deported because it is feared that he will decide to settle here after he completes his studies, So? What’s the problem? You guessed it: he’s not Jewish. That’s the way it goes when demography is the main criterion on which all else is grounded. No thought of how much his studies might contribute to knowledge in his field, no thought of the cruelty of denying a student the right to complete his studies. Nope! Nothing but demography counts! One non Jew more is one non-Jew too many!
Item 3 smells of racism. The background to it is openly racist. Residents of an apartment building in one Israeli community have agreed not to rent or sell to Ethiopians. The news was broadcast the day before yesterday on the radio and TV news, and obviously angered the Ethiopian community, which resulted in a large protest in that community against the racism. The subject came up for discussion in a Knesset committee meeting, and a Minister, herself a former immigrant (from Russia) responded to the accusation of discrimination that ‘Ethiopians should be thankful for what they received.’
Item 4 reveals that cooperation between the IOF and settlers is nothing new.
Item 5, the 2nd item that relates to a demographic criterion, is an editorial opposing Israel’s new anti-infiltration law, which allows Israel to incarcerate infiltrators for 3 years without trial. Israel today will do anything to keep non-Jews away from its door.
Item 6 reports that Israel is again subsidizing West Bank construction, obviously for the purpose of inveigling Israeli Jews to live there rather than in Israel where housing is not subsidized and therefore much more expensive.
Item 7, another PCHR narrative—The Hamouda family—is the kind of story that makes me think that Ron Paul is on the right track with his foreign policy. Enough wars. It would not surprise me that notwithstanding Paul’s domestic policy Americans who would normally vote Democrat might be sufficiently tired of wars to vote Ron Paul.
Item 8 is the link to the Occupation Magazine, just in case you are not familiar with it. Its contents (10 items) change daily, but are always worth reading. Some particularly interesting or important items are kept for a longer period, but under ‘recommended reading’ rather than interfering with the 10 new items. Well worth checking out.
That’s it for tonight. All the best,
1 Palestine News & Information Agency – WAFA
Italy Accepts Credentials of 1st Palestinian Ambassador Date : 11/1/2012 Time : 11:38
ROME, January 11, 2012 (WAFA) – Italian President Giorgio Napolitano accepted the credentials of the first Palestinian ambassador to Italy, Tuesday said sources at the Palestinian delegation in Rome.
Italy upgraded the Palestinian representative office to delegation last May and granted head of the delegation, Sabri Attiyah, ambassador status.
The Palestinian community in Italy praised the positive development, and thanked Napolitano and the Italian people.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Israel to deport Japanese researcher over fear he will ‘settle down’ after studies
Israel’s Immigration Authority decided not to extend Koji Yamashiro’s visa, needed to complete his doctorate at the Hebrew University.
By Talila Nesher
More than 300 lecturers and doctoral students sent on Tuesday letters to Israel’s President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar to protest the Immigration Authority’s decision not to extend a foreign student’s visa. In its decision, the Immigration Authority said it feared the student – who asked to extend his visa so he can finish his doctorate, might “strike down roots” in Israel.
Koji Yamashiro finished his B.A. and M.A. in the Department of Jewish Thought in Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, and won a presidential scholarship for his doctoral studies. Yamashiro’s research focuses on monotheistic religions.
The Immigration Authority said it is concerned that Yamashiro, who has been in Israel for eight years, will not want to leave the country once he is completes his studies. A German doctoral student has in the past been forced to stop his studies at the Department of Jewish Thought after his visa was not extended.
The Hebrew University also sent a letter requesting Yamashiro’s visa be extended, saying that his research enriches the field and even stated that Yamashiro “agreed to sign a document committing to not staying in Israel.”
Yamashiro told Haaretz in fluent Hebrew that even though he is not Jewish, he became interested in Kabbalah. “I read Gershom Scholem’s books and was drawn to this world,” he said.
In his research, Yamashiro looks into the myth of the Primordial Man in Abrahamic religions. “There is no access to material in my field like the there is in Israel,” he said, adding that he has written the Interior Ministry twice to inform them that he intends to leave Israel once he completes his studies.
In their letter, the academics write that “we see the Interior Ministry’s decision as damaging to our academic activity and to the academic community in Israel in general, at a time when there are more and more voices around the world calling for an academic boycott on Israeli researchers.”
The Immigration Authority told Haaretz that “the issue will be reexamined by Immigration Authority head Amnon Ben Ami.”
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Anti-discrimination protest in Kiryat Malachi Poto: Reuters
Minister: Ethiopians should ‘say thank you’ for what they got
Ethiopian social activist draws Immigrant Absorption minister’s ire after telling Knesset Committee they are ‘hypocrites’ who are ‘creating a 21st Century version of Apartheid in Israel’
In a case of new immigrants versus the more established immigrants, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver caused an already heated Knesset Committee meeting to get out of control.
Speaking at a Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee meeting on discrimination against the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Malachi, Landver told an Ethiopian social activist: “Say thank you for what you got.”
Her statements came in response to those made by the social activist, Gadi Yiberkan, who called the MKs hypocrites and said: “You have created a 21st Century version of Apartheid in Israel.”
Landver then replied: “While you hand out marks you need to understand that the State of Israel invests a lot in this matter,” and stressed “Say thank you for what you got.” MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) then joined the argument, screaming at Yiberkan: “When they were speaking against haredim no one said a word, I wish I was Ethiopian.”
The Ethiopian community is angered by what they believe is the racist behavior of Kiryat Malachi’s established residents who are unwilling to rent out or sell them apartments. Some of the residents have even signed contracts under which they have made a commitment not to sell or rent out apartments to members of the Ethiopian community.
Members of the Ethiopian community and their supporters numbering in the thousands demonstrated against the discrimination in Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday night.
Speaking at the Knesset meeting, Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) said: The Kiryat Malachi case is a warning bell but it isn’t the only case. We want to come out of the committee meeting not just with platitudes and empathy but with decisions on the legislative level.”
Danon announced his intention to promote a legislation package that would aggravate punishment and declare racial discrimination as a criminal offense with a NIS 100,000 ($26,000) fine and up to six months imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau announced that Netanyahu has directed his advisor on Ethiopian affairs Allali Admaso to act to strike out against the phenomenon of racism against Ethiopian immigrants.
Admaso met on Tuesday night with the organizers of the demonstration. According to the bureau, the prime minister stressed that “racist phenomenon are inciting and have no place in Israeli society.”
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
IDF transfer of information to settlers is nothing new
If the IDF doesn’t leak the ‘secret’ of which heap of boards in the shape of a hut it plans to sic its bulldozers on, some MK or minister surely will. That’s how it has always been, and that’s how it will be in the future as well.
By Zvi Bar’el
Who has better information: the Israel Defense Forces, which didn’t know that a group of right-wing activists planned to cross the border into Jordan last month, or the band of thugs living on West Bank hilltops, who know when the IDF plans to destroy every last hut? The IDF and the Shin Bet security service, which have been unable to determine who is behind the torching of mosques, or those same Jewish terrorists, who get information directly from officers, soldiers and Knesset members about plans for IDF operations against illegal settlement outposts?
Even as senior politicians are declaring that a cyber attack is like a declaration of war or a terror attack, it turns out that an intelligence war is taking place under their very noses, using simple, traditional, unglamorous tools like cell phones, Excel spreadsheets and chatting with “sources.”
But this actually isn’t an intelligence war. Transfers of information from the IDF to the settlers are nothing new; they have accompanied the settlement enterprise from the outset. Nor should this be surprising in a reality where the IDF is viewed as an enemy, while the hilltop thugs are viewed merely as mischievous kids.
As long as the IDF boasts of how many religious Jews it has among its combat ranks, it shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that religious Jews have an agenda. They either have friends in the settlements or are themselves are residents of settlements who won’t lend a hand to house demolitions there, even if the houses were built illegally. For some, service in the IDF is conditional on not receiving orders that contradict the divine decrees transmitted by their rabbis. They don’t view passing on information about plans to destroy their homes as a crime, but as a religious obligation.
Would the IDF be willing on this account to forgo the service of an entire community that it views as “the salt of the earth”? Would it be willing to exclude them from army service the way it does many Israeli Arabs?
After all, the exemption Israeli Arabs receive from IDF service rests in part on the desire not to put them into a situation in which they would have to fight their brothers across the border. Settlers similarly understand that IDF soldiers won’t fight their brothers from the territories.
Moreover, anyone who views passing information to settlers as serious espionage, even treason, must in the same breath define that band of thugs as an enemy of the state. But as long as the prime minister refrains even from calling the torchers of mosques and uprooters of olive trees “terrorists,” much less enemies of the state, the suspicions of “espionage” leveled against MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) are pathetic.
Elkin is no more of a criminal than those who have hitherto allowed these illegal buildings to go up – the same buildings about which he reported on plans to demolish, or not demolish. Indeed, he has more integrity than those who, for months and years, have been making a mockery of the High Court of Justice, which ordered these buildings destroyed, or than those who knew in advance that these buildings were slated to be built on privately-owned Palestinian land, or than those who portray the leaking of this “secret” information to the settlers as a blow to the IDF’s most deeply-held secrets.
The one that should really be worried is the Yesha Council of settlements, which always knew how to gather reliable information on the IDF’s plans quickly and effectively. Suddenly, under its nose, a parallel intelligence organization has sprung up, comprised of thugs who undermine the council’s sovereignty. Until now, the council itself had been the official underminer of IDF sovereignty in the West Bank.
Elkin did not reveal state secrets. His main crime is that because of him, that game of winks and nods that has been conducted for years between the IDF and its governmental masters from both right and left on one hand, and the settlers on the other, has been revealed in all its nakedness. All he did was tear the remnants of the veil off the face of the reality that everyone already knew quite well: a reality in which the IDF, the sovereign power in the territories, was ordered to shoot itself in the foot.
The IDF has the unfortunate duty to both assume responsibility for the security of those hilltop thugs, allow them to build their illegal shacks, and also, when necessary, destroy those very same shacks – with a wink and a nod, of course. It must be stealthy and effective when it is allowed to use its sovereign power, but it knows this power is a sieve.
If the IDF doesn’t leak the “secret” of which heap of boards in the shape of a hut it plans to sic its bulldozers on, some MK or surely will. That’s how it has always been, and that’s how it will be in the future as well.
5 Haaretz Editorial
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Israel’s anti-infiltration law is a disgrace
Any detention without trial is an extreme act that should be foreign to a law-abiding state, much more so when the victims are work migrants who harbor no ill intentions against the state.
Of all the antidemocratic laws that have descended on us of late, it is perhaps the most shameful. After a long, late-night session on Monday the Knesset plenum approved the second and third reading of an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law. Only eight Knesset members voted against the amendment, while 37 supported it.
From now on, work seekers from Africa who enter Israel illegally can be imprisoned for three years, without the benefit of a trial and without any distinction between asylum seekers and labor migrants. Anyone who aids migrants who smuggle drugs or weapons, including by providing shelter, could also face a lengthy sentence. Even the courageous objections of Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon were to no avail, and the law was passed.
Words fail in the face of such a disgraceful act of legislation. Sending desperate human beings, who come to Israel to find gainful employment, to jail for an extended period is completely antidemocratic and inhuman. Any detention without trial is an extreme act that should be foreign to a law-abiding state, much more so when the victims are work migrants who harbor no ill intentions against the state. The fact that the original law from 1954 was aimed at the fedayeen and Palestinian refugees seeking to return to their homes, if only to salvage some of their belongings, after the 1948 War, only underscores its problematic nature. If during the state’s early years it was somehow possible to accept such a draconian law, in 2012, when those who cross the border illegally do not pose a genuine security threat, sending them to prison for such a long period is intolerable.
The problem of the labor migrants must be solved in other ways, certainly not through long incarceration without trial. Israel has the right to close its borders and set its own immigration policy, like the world’s most developed nations. But it does not have the right to imprison people – some of whom have been recognized as refugees, to whom no door should be closed and certainly not that of Israel. On Monday a jingoistic and unnecessary law that is unlikely to solve the problem for which it was intended was added to Israel’s legal code.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Israel subsidizes West Bank housing, breaking promise to U.S.
Revelation comes as PM Netanyahu announces plan to build 277 housing units in Efrat settlement as part of series of reprisals for the PA’s admission to UNESCO in October.
By Chaim Levinson
Tags: Palestinians Palestinian Authority Benjamin Netanyahu Mahmoud Abbas Gaza
Despite the government’s promise to Washington to stop giving financial incentives for construction in West Bank settlements, the Housing Ministry recently published a tender for 213 new housing units in Efrat under a program that offers substantial discounts on the land.
In 2004, then-U.S. President George W. Bush gave then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a letter offering various assurances regarding a final-status solution with the Palestinians. Over the preceding year, Sharon envoy Dov Weissglas met numerous times with Bush’s envoys, Stephen Hadley and Elliott Abrams, to negotiate the document. The letter was given primarily as recompense for Israel’s planned disengagement from Gaza. But in addition, Israel promised four other things: not to expropriate Palestinian land for the benefit of the settlements, not to establish new settlements, to confine new settlement construction to within the settlements’ existing boundaries, and not to give financial incentives that would encourage people to move to the territories. In line with this promise, the government canceled all the grants and other benefits that residents of the territories had enjoyed for years. But the new tender includes a financial incentive that could encourage people to move to Efrat.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build 277 new housing units in Efrat as part of a series of reprisals for the Palestinian Authority’s admission to UNESCO in October. The tender was published at the end of last month and is due to close at the end of February.
But it turns out that of these 277 units, 213 are being offered under the “Mechir Lamishtaken” program, under which the government sells the land to contractors for less than its full market value. In normal tenders, the land goes to the contractor who offers the highest price for it. This is the system being used for the remaining 64 units in Efrat. Under Mechir Lamishtaken, however, the Housing Ministry sets a fixed price for the land that is well below market value – often as much as 50 percent lower. The tender is then won by the contractor who pledges to sell the houses for the lowest price. Consequently, Mechir Lamishtaken tenders usually result in consumers paying less than the market rate for new housing. And while houses of up to 100 square meters are reserved for people eligible for public housing, anything larger than that can be sold on the open market, as long as the price doesn’t exceed the contractor’s bid price.
The Prime Minister’s Office responded that “Mechir Lamishtaken tenders are published in many cities throughout the country. Therefore, issuing a tender of this type in Efrat doesn’t entail granting any kind of special benefit to this city.”
The Efrat Local Council said that “Mechir Lamishtaken isn’t a government subsidy. The government isn’t giving a present, but selling the land to contractors for the equivalent of the land’s real value. What the government does via the Mechir Lamishtaken system is give the contractors specifications for the construction and base the tender on the contractors’ construction costs, so that the contractor with the lowest price [to the consumer] wins the tender.”
Nevertheless, in an announcement to Efrat residents, the council said the new tender was expected to result in “significantly lower apartment prices than are the norm in the town today.”
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
11 January 2009: The Hamouda Family
“I cannot even pick up another child in my arms, I had a new grandchild, he is six months old, but I have yet to take him in my arms, I feel that place belongs to Fares”
Talat and Intissar Hamouda
In the early morning of 11 January 2009, the home of Intissar Hamouda, 41, in Tal Al-Hawa. Gaza City, came under attack from Israeli forces. Israeli tank fire resulted in the death of her son, Fares Hamouda, who was two years old at the time of the attack, and her step son Muhammed who she cared for with her husband Talat, 54, Muhammed’s father. Fares died immediately in Intissar’s arms, while Muhammed bled to death as medical crews were unable to reach them.
“Muhammed and Fares had a lot in common. After I had Fares I could not breastfeed so we had to give him manufactured milk. Muhammed lost his mother at ten months and so was also fed manufactured baby milk. As a result, both had similar illnesses with similar symptoms,” says Intissar. Throughout their brief time together the brothers remained close. “Fares would refuse to go to sleep until Muhammed came home from school. On the day of the attack Fares was sick, but he refused to take medicine from me, he wanted it from Muhammed,” says Intissar.
Following the attack Intissar was severely debilitated. “I could not walk on my legs even six months after the incident due to injuries in my legs and pelvis; I needed help from my step daughters and sisters to move around the house.” Intissar has since undergone three surgeries to remove shrapnel from her abdomen as well as reconstructive plastic surgery.
Fares was not only close to his half brother Muhammed, but also to Intissar’s step daughter Kariman and step grandchild Rania, who were 13 and 2 respectively at the time of the incident. Both have been traumatised as a result. “Kariman became extremely aggressive in school and at the advice of teachers Talat decided to withdraw her from it,” says Imtissar. “Three months following the incident I came back to the house with Rania to get her toys and other things, but she begged me not to enter the house and wouldn’t take anything from it.” Similarly, Intissar said that “ten days ago we were in the Old City shopping and Rania saw a funeral of someone killed in a recent Israeli attack, it reminded Rania of Fares and Muhammed and she started to cry, when I explained they had gone to heaven, she replied, “just like Muhammed and Fares”.”
Intissar and Talat have both been emotionally affected by the loss of their sons. “I cannot even pick up another child in my arms, I had a new grandchild, he is six months old, but I have yet to take him in my arms, I feel that place belongs to Fares,” says Talat. The anniversary is particularly hard on Intissar, who still suffers chronic pain from nerve damage as a result of the attack. “As the day approaches they show interviews taken of me after the incident or start to talk about the attack,” says Intissar, “I can’t even watch stories of other women with similar experiences, so I don’t turn on the television.”
As regards the future the couple feel they have nothing left to be taken from them. “We lost the nearest things to us, we have nothing else left to lose,” says Intissar. “I am no longer even afraid of the bombings.” However Intissar clings to some hope that she can have another child following the death of Fares, who she tried to conceive for 21 years. “I have tried through artificial insemination already, but it didn’t work. I’m hoping to try again.” Similarly Talat has hopes that there will be political reconciliation among the Palestinian political factions. Regarding the prospects of their complaint in Israeli courts, Intissar is unimpressed; “the Israeli’s committed war crimes against us, they destroy the houses over the heads of civilians, I expect no justice from them.”
PCHR submitted a criminal complaint to the Israeli authorities on behalf of the Hamouda Family on 21 July 2009. To-date, no response has been received.
8 The Occupation Magazine