4 not very long reports—beginning with an anticipated one (continuation of colony construction), the second an angry Amira Hass relates how the Shabak (General Security Service) treats Palestinians in dire need of medical assistance and the ok of the Israeli consensus, the third and fourth both about possible boycotts against Israel. Should they materialize, should the great granddaughter of Wagner declare that her decision to not come to Israel is in effect her Boycott, and should one or both soccer organizations kick Israel out because of its treatment of Palestinian soccer players, each of these will hurt, Will Israel be forced to at the least alter its treatment of Palestinian athletes? Not likely. It will be another indication for the Israeli public on how anti-Semitic the world is.
Few, (if any) really expected Netanyahu to continue the settlement freeze once it had expired. So it is no surprise that construction in the colonies is once again going on, in the OPT, and apparently at a pace. Actually it never entirely stopped. Thus the present government’s intentions have been and are clear. The so-called ‘peace’ talks are (as in the past) a smoke screen for Israeli expansion.
As for Amira Hass, here anger is justified. The situation when an extremely ill person does not have medical help available in her country and is not allowed to exit if for medical help in another country is disgusting, to say the least. But that’s Israel today. And, as Hass remarks, the Israeli public is complicit in its attitude towards such events.
Item 3 is about the possibility that Israel will be kicked out of the UEFA, and, possibly also, out of FIFA. If either or both transpire, they are unlikely to bring Israel to change its ways, but they will hurt. Eventually, as more people realize what Israel is, and as more organizations and individuals refuse to be partners with Israel, then we might yet see Israel behaving differently, not because it wants to, but because it cares about its image. As for the final item, no reasons are given why Wagner’s great granddaughter has announced just one week prior to her planned appearance here that she will not come. Perhaps we shall also eventually learn why. I found nothing mentioned about this in the European newspapers that I checked, nor in Al Jazeera. But both the last, however they turn out, are positive events.
All the best,
October 06, 2010
10 days after settlement freeze expires, 350 new units under construction
West Bank settlers satisfied with the momentum; council chair: Building proceeding normally, not at a heightened pace.
A Haaretz investigation reveals that since the building freeze in the West Bank was lifted ten days ago, bulldozers have been working furiously on the construction of 350 new housing units in various settlements.
As the end of the freeze approached, the settlements have made great efforts to launch a massive building campaign in response. The Yesha Council has expressed satisfaction at the large amount of construction that has taken place so far.
Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council of Settlements, said, “construction in Judea and Samaria is resuming normalcy. After ten wasted months, that only caused harm and didn’t benefit anybody, we are returning to routine.”
Dayan continued, “When you [finally let go after you] throttle someone’s neck for two months, he does not start breathing four times as heavy, he starts breathing normally. That is what is happening right now in the settlements.”
A long queue of Palestinian laborers lined up Tuesday at the entrance to the settlement of Talmon, west of Ramallah. The vehicles with white license plates parked at the side of the road, and Palestinian workers exited the vehicles.
The workers waited for the security officer to check their identity cards before entering the various construction sites spread out over the settlement that have sprung up since the end of the building freeze.
In the settlement of Kedumim, laborers are working on 56 new houses, and in Ariel bulldozers are flattening the land where 54 staggered-floor houses will be built for the evacuated Gaza settlers of Netzarim. The lands are also being measured because of a problem in the way that the land is parceled.
In Karmei Tzur in the Gush Etzion bloc they have started building 56 houses and executing major earth-moving work. In Adam, land-leveling work has begun for 24 new houses; some of those houses will be ready for their concrete foundations in the near future.
In Kiryat Arba they have begun construction on 34 new houses, and in the small settlement of Nariya they are expanding with 20 new houses. Workers are building 20 new houses in the settlement of Matityahu, and between five to ten in Nili.
There are also a number of settlements in which only a handful of houses are being built. In Oranit and Sha’arei Tikvah there has been some ‘D-I-Y’ construction. In Revava in Samaria, a single-digit number of houses are being built, some of which were already partially constructed. A similar situation exists in Yakir, Elazar and Kochav Hashachar.
In Barkan, building has begun on a small number of houses. In Kfar Adumim and Tekoa a few houses are being built. In the settlement of Dolev, two new houses are under construction.
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October 06, 2010
Israel is now punishing Palestinians shamelessly
What is delaying treatment of a 47-year-old Palestinian woman, if not punishment of someone who opposes her foreign rulers?
Behind a modest desk with a view of Beit Jala sits a nameless Shin Bet security service officer who is very pleased with himself. He has just saved the Jewish people in Israel from yet another grave security risk by preventing a 47-year-old woman, for five weeks now, from going abroad for urgent medical tests.
Or perhaps this isn’t a story about just one officer, but rather about a committee of three. What matters is that Khalida Jarrar, a resident of Al-Bireh, has not gone to Amman for diagnostic brain tests that cannot be done in the West Bank due to lack of the necessary medical equipment.
I first wrote about Jarrar’s case a month ago. On July 19, a doctor in Ramallah informed her she could obtain the necessary tests in either Israel or Amman. The Palestinian Ministry of Health told her it would not pay for the tests to be done in Israel.
Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was refused permission to leave in 2008, when she was supposed to participate in the intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo. But until getting that note from her doctor, she had never fought for her right to freedom of movement.
This time, officials in the Palestinian Authority promised they would arrange her exit permit for medical tests with their acquaintances in Israel. They promised, and then they disappeared.
After about three weeks, some of her lawyer friends applied directly to the Civil Administration and tried to discover how her exit permit could be arranged. Two weeks later, the answer arrived in writing: Jarrar, it said, does not have a notation by her name barring her exit.
The Civil Administration officer had relied on computer input from the Shin Bet. So on August 30, Jarrar set out for the Allenby Bridge. But there, the Israeli border control computers had different data: She was not allowed to exit. What had been true a few hours earlier stopped being true when she arrived at the border.
At the time, the Shin Bet told Haaretz that Jarrar had to apply for an exit permit via the Civil Administration’s health coordinator. So the lawyers resent all the documents to the coordinator.
At first, there was some delay: The Civil Administration said the documents and the application had not reached their destination. Then work began on the application. But our anonymous man from the Shin Bet is evidently in no hurry.
This is a mere footnote in the chronicle of the Palestinians’ life under foreign rule. But this footnote is a typical chapter in the history of Israeli society: a democratic society that gives those wonderful fellows from the Shin Bet a blank check to act like the last of the great dictators and juggle with their subjects’ lives – without elections, without oversight, without supervision. Their word is sacrosanct. And if they say, as they did in reply to Haaretz, “Relevant information exists indicating that [Jarrar’s] exit from the area poses a risk to our security,” we all salute.
If she were dangerous here, she would have been arrested long ago. Her address, after all, is known. Hence the Shin Bet’s bluster about “relevant information” showing the danger she poses will somehow materialize only abroad. Evidence? Explanations? Common sense? No need. They, after all, are paid a salary by the Israeli taxpayer in order to invent new kinds of punishment and torture.
For what is the endless postponement of an urgent medical test if not torture of a sick person and her family? And what is delaying treatment, if not punishment of someone who opposes her foreign rulers?
Until six or eight years ago, a journalist’s report of a similar situation would have embarrassed someone up there on the security ladder and an exit permit for medical reasons would have been issued despite the “security considerations.” But today, the sense of shame has disappeared. Society’s backing is assured.
3. Haaretz Wednesday,
October 06, 2010
Soccer / Arab press: UEFA mulls banning Israel over treatment of Palestinian athletes
UEFA President Michel Platini reportedly pledged to exert his influence in removing Israel from European competition.
The head of European soccer’s governing body told a senior Palestinian Authority official that Israel is in danger of eviction from UEFA if its government does not change its policies limiting the freedom of movement for Palestinian athletes, according to reports in Palestinian and Arab media outlets.
During a late September meeting in the West Bank with Palestinian Olympic Committee chairman Jibril Rajoub, UEFA President Michel Platini reportedly pledged to exert his influence in removing Israel from European competition over the authorities’ refusal to permit members of the Palestinian national soccer team to attend games due to “security reasons.”
“We accepted Israel into Europe and it must abide by the laws and regulations which require freedom of movement for players,” Platini is said to have told Rajoub. “If Israel does not do this, it will bear the serious consequences and it is liable to be thrown out of Europe.”
A UEFA spokesperson said the organization cannot confirm or deny that the statements were made since it does not comment on private conversations held between two officials.
Sources in both UEFA and FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, said that officials are angered by the difficulties that Israel imposes on athletes in the Palestinian Authority.
The president of the International Olympic Committee expressed concern yesterday over “obstacles” facing Palestinian athletes and urged Israel to grant them free movement regardless of politics.
Palestinian officials say Israel routinely hinders the movement of Palestinian athletes, particularly those from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Israel denies the accusations.
Making his first trip to the West Bank, Jacques Rogge said there is a “unanimous voice” in the sporting world for governments to allow athletes to travel freely. “The International Olympic Committee is a sport, not a political or sovereign organization,” he said. “I will try to persuade the people who we speak to … so we will focus our efforts on removing the obstacles.”
Rogge was meeting with Palestinian leaders and watching an exhibition soccer match in the West Bank before heading to Israel today for talks with President Shimon Peres and other dignitaries. In the midst of a four-day visit to the region that also included a stop in Jordan, Rogge said he would raise the freedome of movement issue with the Israelis.
Bilal Abualarish, spokesman for the Palestinian Olympic Committee, said the soccer team’s 30 players live in various countries and struggle to enter the West Bank for training or games. The committee has a hard time planning training schedules because they don’t know whether players will arrive. The captain of the Palestinian soccer team, Ahmed Kashkash, a Gaza native, was unable to play at yesterday’s match because Israeli officials would not allow him to enter the West Bank from neighboring Jordan, he said.
Guy Inbar, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said Israel does not target athletes specifically, but sometimes raises concerns about individuals. An official from the Shin Bet security agency, speaking on condition of anonymity under agency regulations, said Israel had approved special travel permits for Palestinian football players in recent weeks.
Rajoub said yesterday that the Palestinians were also encountering difficulties building stadiums and importing sporting goods because of Israeli restrictions. The Israel Olympic Committee says it would be pleased to help their Palestinian counterparts overcome any bureaucratic hurdles, but said the Palestinians have not reached out to them.
Palestinian Olympic officials say that some 70 percent of athletes work in various Palestinian security services and therefore are regarded with suspicion by Israeli authorities and often face travel restrictions. Rajoub himself is a former West Bank security commander.
4. Haaretz Wednesday,
October 06, 2010
Wagner’s great-granddaughter cancels Israel trip week before arrival
Katharina Wagner had been expected to announce that Israeli Chamber Orchestra is invited to open annual Wagner festival next July.
The great-granddaughter of composer Richard Wagner, Katharina Wagner, has canceled a visit to Israel next week, fearing criticism in Israel and abroad. Katharina Wagner is the head of the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth, which was founded by the composer in 1876.
Wagner’s work was long taboo in Israel due to his anti-Semitism and his status as a favorite of Adolf Hitler.
Katharina Wagner’s visit to Israel has been kept secret for the past year, and tensions surrounding the trip have been high. Wagner had planned to call a press conference on October 13, during which was to extend an invitation to the Israel Chamber Orchestra to open the Wagner festival next July. She had planned to precede the announcement of the invitation with comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel in honor of the occasion.
Reports of the visit, however, were leaked in the Israeli press, and soon reached the media in Germany, Austria and around the world. Reactions to the news were mixed: Austrian newspaper Der Standard quoted Israeli journalist and Holocaust survivor Noah Klinger as saying that such a step would be seen as “capitulation” after years of boycotting Wagner’s work.
In light of the leaks regarding the invitation, the organizers of the festival held an emergency meeting in Bayreuth on Tuesday night, during which the decision was taken to cancel Wagner’s visit to Israel; it seems unlikely that this decision will be reversed, barring a last-minute development.
The ties with the Bayreuth festival were established by the new director of the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, Austrian Jewish conductor Robeto Paternostro, who is friends with Katharina Wagner.
In an interview with Haaretz, Paternostro described how the two thought up the idea in Frankfurt a year ago, as an act of reconciliation between the Wagner family and Israel.