Dorothy Online Newsletter



Hi All,


Most of the international news today is about Iran.  But there is still some commentary about Guenter Grass’s Poem.  My favorite is the LA Times one.  Spiegel on line reviews German commentary on Grass’s poem.  One of the few to consider its argument seriously is Hamid Dabashi in Al Jazeera. The initial 4 items are about the poem and reactions to it.

The remaining 4 items are on various subjects that I hope will interest you, the final one being Today in Palestine for today.

All the best,




1 Haaretz

April 9, 2012

Israel has reacted with hysteria over Gunter Grass

German author Gunter Grass, a Nobel laureate for literature, did no more than write a poem. The State of Israel, through its interior minister, reacted with hysteria.


Haaretz Editorial

Tags: Iran nuclear Iran threat Iran anti-Israel Benjamin Netanyahu

Author Gunter Grass sees the State of Israel as a threat to world peace. He believes Israel is armed with nuclear weapons, and is threatening Iran as the Islamic Republic looks to obtain a nuclear arsenal.


After the poem he published to this effect in the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung last week drew extensive criticism, he asked to distinguish between the state and its government. It’s not Israel that worries him, he said, but the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


The reactions to Grass’ claims focused on the man, not on his positions. Naysayers recalled his past as a soldier for the Third Reich – a past he concealed until late in life. Interior Minister Eli Yishai hurried to declare Grass persona non grata. Should he land at Ben-Gurion International Airport and hand his passport to the immigration control officers, he will be hurriedly escorted by burly policemen to the first Lufthansa flight back to Frankfurt – or, even better, to Munich, as befits someone who once followed der Fuhrer’s orders.


The emotions can be understood, but it’s hard to accept the overreaction. When the interior minister says, “If Gunter Grass wants to continue to distribute his false and distorted works, I suggest he do so from Iran, where he’ll find an appreciative audience,” he doesn’t even detect the irony in his words. Because it’s precisely his decision not to let Grass enter Israel because of a poem he wrote that is characteristic of dark regimes like those in Iran or North Korea.


The combination of declarations against Israel and a past as a Nazi soldier is an explosive combination that invites sharp reactions. But while Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark describing Grass’ work as “ignorant and shameful declarations that any fair person in the world must condemn” can be accepted as part of the public debate, Yishai’s use of his governmental authority is not legitimate. Any protest should be expressed within the democratic-liberal framework, which allows every person to express his views – provocative though they may be.


Grass, a Nobel laureate for literature, did no more than write a poem. The State of Israel, through its interior minister, reacted with hysteria. It seems that at issue is less an undesirable person than an undesirable policy.



April 4, 2012

The World From Berlin

‘Israel’s Government Has Reacted Absurdly’

German politicians across the spectrum are criticizing Israel’s travel ban on author Günter Grass after the publication of his controversial poem. Editorialists condemn the decision, and some are alarmed over what the development could mean for traditionally close ties between the two nations.,1518,826582,00.html


The publication of German Nobel laureate Günter Grass’s controversial poem last week may have sparked an international uproar, but the reaction by Israel, the target of his critical verse, has also come under heavy fire.


On Sunday Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai banned the 84-year-old author from entering his country. The move came after the Thursday release of a poem in which Grass described Israel as a threat to world peace and insinuated the country might “annihilate” the Iranian population.


In a statement, Yishai said that Grass, a former Waffen SS soldier in World War II, was a “persona non grata” in Israel after publishing the poem, entitled “What Must Be Said.” But in both Israel and Germany, many voices — including those who have been critical of Grass’ poem — are describing the response as “exaggerated.”


Yishai heads an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, and the leftist Israeli daily Haaretz wrote that the interior minister’s declaration “simply smacks of populism.”


In Germany, deputy head of the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group Gernot Erler called the move “wrong and counterproductive.” Grass has strongly aligned himself with the center-left party in the past, often campaigning on their behalf.


Renate Künast, co-leader of the enviromentalist Greens in parliament, said the ban was a shame. “In the end, everyone will now be talking about (Grass’) travel ban and no longer about the content of the poem,” she said. German Health Minister Daniel Bahr, a member of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), which shares power in government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Party, told daily Die Welt that the action had been “totally excessive.”


And Israel’s former ambassador to Germany, Avi Primor, told public broadcaster ARD that Jerusalem’s response had been “exaggerated, a little bit hysterical or populist — in any case, not justified.”


Poem Still Controversial


Grass also received support from peace activists who gathered for traditional Easter marches on Monday, which was a holiday in Germany. One group associated with the event released a flyer stating: “It’s not Günter Grass who should be pilloried. Instead it should be the politicians who continue to turn the screws of escalation in the Middle East by pushing Iran further into the corner with economic sanctions.”


A spokesperson for the marches, Willi van Ooyen, welcomed the poem, telling German news agency DPA that the “political debate has been awakened, also through Günter Grass.”


Despite their objections to Israel’s travel ban on Grass, many remained critical of the content of the author’s poem, though. “Grass is a writer,” said Rainer Stinner, the foreign policy spokesman for the FDP in parliament. “Politically, I have always considered him to be a blockhead. His statements have confirmed that yet again.”


On Tuesday the editorial pages of many leading German newspapers continue to dedicate fresh ink to the debate on Grass. Many express concern over the state of German-Israeli relations, with one noting that, despite close diplomatic ties, a number of average Germans share Grass’ views.


The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:


“Grass incorporated many objective mistakes in his poem, but that doesn’t seem to be discrediting his words. But why not? Not because Grass is secretly right, but because this country distrusts itself. Germany is uneasy with its judgement of the world. More than that, there is no measuring stick, no criterion. And the country is locked in a special uncertainty when its judgement applies to Israel.”


“This poem has become a political issue. Israel’s government reacted absurdly to it by declaring the author a persona non grata and banning his entry into the country. That’s how one creates myths and martyrs. That’s how one fuels prejudices. And it’s also how one nurtures domestic radicals who see themselves as cornered by the enemy. It would have been more clever to invite Grass to a debate. He wouldn’t have won, either.”


“Elsewhere in the world the subtleties of this very German debate are not being covered. It is only a story about how a German Nobel laureate with a Waffen SS past has attacked Israel and is being praised for it in Iran. On television in places like England or Italy, this is accompanied by World War II images of steel-helmeted Wehrmacht soldiers and bombed-out ruins. That’s what simplistic reports on a country look like. The current situation shows that freedom, including freedom within society, is a valuable commodity. And that demagoguery still works. And that every country deserves objectivity and fairness.”


The conservative daily Die Welt writes:


“Israel is the sole democracy in the Middle East. Hardly any other country in the Western world features such a lively, perceptive and also amusing culture of debate. In the case of Günther Grass, such dialogue had just been set in motion and would have been enough to convince open-minded German skeptics that Israel was at least as much part of the West as similarly-sized Denmark. But by barring Grass from entering the country, the pubic discussion has now, rather annoyingly, been forced into another direction.”


“But that alone is not the most serious concern. … The behavior of the Israeli interior minister shows again how unsophisticated the current leadership is. While most of the former Israeli governments were characterized by intelligence and level-headedness alongside courage and military and political skill, (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s government has shown itself to be about as flexible as a bulldozer. This applies as much to its dealings with America as to Günther Grass. Just as the threat from Iran becomes more acute, one would wish for another Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan or Abba Eban. Unfortunately, such a person is nowhere in sight.”


The left-leaning daily Berliner Zeitung writes:


“The ban on Grass entering Israel will hardly have any practical effect. Grass hasn’t been to Israel for years. His invitation to the coastal city of Netanya overlapped with the release of his autobiographical ‘Peeling the Onion,’ in which he admitted for the first time to having been a member of the SS as a youth. The visit was delayed at the time. Back then, in 2006, the threat of not allowing him to enter Israel would have been logical. Any German born before 1928 — in other words, the war generation — is required to apply for a visa before visiting Israel. The Israeli authorities want to ensure that no former Nazi is able to enter the country, unrecognized, in the guise of a harmless tourist. But coming as it does now, the entry ban by Yishai merely makes clear that it is Grass’ recent words rather than his past that are resented.”


“Despite this, questions persist. For example, that of the extent to which the special relations between the German government and Israel — which under Chancellor Angela Merkel have been elevated to the status of a raison d’ état — actually reflects German reality. Grass incensed the Israelis with his skewed view of the Iran conflict. But the government in Jerusalem is also alarmed by the fact that opinion polls show that most Germans secretly believe that Grass is right. That merely reinforces the uneasy feeling the Israelis have that they can trust themselves alone and that they can rely on neither the United States nor Germany.”


Responding to the latest development in a poem mimicking Grass’ style, translated into prose here, the Financial Times Deutschland writes:


“It is the right to hit below the belt that a poem written by a loudmouth is using to steer towards organized outrage, to stir up the Israeli people in whose area of control he is no longer allowed to enter.”


“But why are we remaining silent about the name of the elderly man, who for years — even if it has been kept secret — has disposed of a fading poetic potential, but has gotten out of control because no one is allowed to question him?”


“The general concealment of the facts in this case, subordinated by our silence, is something we feel is a nuisance, because we once again have to write so much about old issues and rituals, only because Grandpa is writing poems again. The verdict of senile stubbornness is due.”


“Why did we wait until now, when we’re relaxed and have fresh ink to say this? Günter Grass is annoying, as is all the populism that he emits. It was just Easter and we were hunting for eggs — it was lovely, but a little cold. And also because, as the Financial Times Deutschland, we are burdened enough already by other subjects like the euro crisis, and will now go silent on this issue again, because we feel weary of the hypocrisy in this debate. We also hope the culprit and his poem are soon forgotten. That’s the only thing that can help.”


— Daryl Lindsey


3  LA Times

April 10, 2012,0,7035322.story




Israel’s poetry critics


Barring German author Gunter Grass for expressing his political views is the kind of reaction expected from Iran’s mullahs.


The people in Israel and Germany who are most outraged by Nobel Prize-winning author Gunter Grass’ latest work have one thing in common: They think it’s ridiculous, and possibly anti-Semitic, for Grass to assert a moral equivalency between Israel and Iran. Yet by overreacting to Grass’ criticism, Israeli officials are acting like, well, Iranians.


Grass, 84, is being lambasted in his native Germany [by some, not by all; see Spiegel on-line below] over his poem “What Must Be Said,” published last week in the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The poem is Grass’ reaction to assertions by Israeli officials that their country may be justified in launching a first strike against Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, even though Israel is widely believed to have itself acquired nuclear arms without the knowledge or acquiescence of the international community. The poem appeals to Israel to renounce violence and for both Israel and Iran to open nuclear sites to international inspectors.


“Putting Israel and Iran on the same moral level is not ingenious but absurd,” wrote German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. While Grass’ work raises old questions in his native land about whether it’s acceptable to criticize Israel given Germany’s Nazi past, it’s having an even more divisive impact in Israel, where some see it as part of a growing international movement to delegitimize the nation. Hence the resulting personal attacks on Grass by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who suggested that Grass was motivated by anti-Semitism that could be traced back to his time as a World War II soldier in the Waffen SS. And the terrible decision by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai to bar Grass from entering the country.


Grass’ wartime past is certainly troublesome. Yet it does little to undercut the power of his anti-fascist novels (including the 1959 masterpiece “The Tin Drum”), nor does it imply that there is anything anti-Semitic about his poem. There isn’t; it’s a polemic about Israeli policies with which Grass disagrees. For Israelis to accuse him of anti-Semitism plays into a common belief that such accusations are a mere excuse to suppress dissent against official policy.


Israel and Iran aren’t morally equivalent because Israel is an open democracy that cherishes free speech and the rule of law. Yet barring a prominent European intellectual from the country for expressing his political views is precisely the kind of reaction we’d expect from Iran’s mullahs.



4  Al Jazeera

10 Apr 2012 12:39


Hamid Dabashi

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.


Columbia UniversityBooksRSS


Gnter Grass, Israel and the crime of poetry


In his poem, Nobel laureate Gnter Grass criticises Israel and condemns German arms sales to the Jewish state.

Last Modified: inShare.3EmailPrintShareFeedback


Gnter Grass identifies Israel as a threat to world peace in his poem, ‘What Must Be Said’ [GALLO/GETTY]

New York, NY – On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published Nobel laureate Günter Grass’ poem (the German original) that has created quite a stir not only in Germany, Israel and Iran, but also across the globe. As a result Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai has banned the Nobel laureate from entering Israel.


In this poem, Günter Grass breaks a long standing German taboo and publicly criticises Israel for aggressive warmongering against Iran, identifies the Jewish state as a threat to world peace, accuses “the West” of hypocrisy and denounces his own government for providing nuclear submarines to Israel:


… Because we – as Germans burdened enough –

Could be the suppliers to a crime

That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity

Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.


The poem drew much appreciation from those opposing yet another pending war in the region by pointing to the big elephant in the room, but also widespread condemnation by Jewish and non-Jewish groups and public figures in Germany, igniting the irritable Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in effect corroborating Günter Grass’ own assessment that his silence so far had to do with the concern that he would be accused of anti-Semitism. He was accused of anti-Semitism.


Inside Story – Israel: A ‘democratic’ violator of rights?


But has the charge of anti-Semitism really silenced the critics of Israel – as Günter Grass suggests in this poem? Not really – or perhaps only so in Germany, for obvious reasons, but certainly not around the globe. The only people who are afraid of being called anti-Semites are the anti-Semites. Yes certain segments of pro-Israeli Zionists, by no means all, hurtle that accusation to silence their opponents. But by no stretch of the imagination has that charge silenced anyone but the anti-Semites – and they better remain silent.


In the European and by extension North American birthplace of anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is either perfectly alive and well, or transformed into Islamophobia, or camouflaged into Evangelical Zionism, or else abused by some Zionists to silence any opposition coming towards Israel – certainly to no avail.


To be sure, the condition in Germany is perhaps different – as indeed it should be. But by overcoming that false fear, Günter Grass can no longer be accused of anti-Semitism – and thus the significance of his poem is not in the straw man he constructs to shoot down (perhaps rhetorically, for after all, we are talking about a poem). It is somewhere else.


Tomorrow may be too late


In the body of the poem itself, titled “What Must Be Said”, Günter Grass, 84, says that he risks the danger of being called an anti-Semite because:


Aged and with my last ink,

That the nuclear power of Israel endangers

The already fragile world peace?

Because it must be said

What even tomorrow may be too late to say…


Remaining silent at these dire circumstances is irresponsible and dangerous:


I am silent no longer

Because I am tired of the hypocrisy

Of the West…


Now that is good enough a reason to break the silence – and you need not invoke fear of being called an anti-Semite. Günter Grass expresses fear of a pending war that “could erase the Iranian people”. He pulls no punches as to the facts that we all know:


Yet why do I forbid myself

To name that other country

In which, for years, even if secretly,

There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand

But beyond control, because no testing is available?


He then points finger at his own country:


Now, though, because in my country

Which from time to time has sought and confronted

The very crime

That is without compare

In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also

With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares

A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,

Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence

Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,

But through fear of what may be conclusive,

I say what must be said.


Setting the dubious fear of being accused of anti-Semitism aside, Günter Grass provides ample reasons – European hypocrisy, German complacency, American barefaced double-standards, Ahmadinejad’s buffoonery and Israeli warmongering – for his poem to assume the global significance that it has. But the importance of the poem is not in stating the obvious – it is in revealing the repressed.


European colonialism and Jewish Holocaust


Given the history that culminated in the Jewish Holocaust, Jews around the globe, including Israel, have every right to get agitated with a prominent German public intellectual lecturing them about violence. But Zionism is chiefly responsible for having wasted the moral authority of the Jewish Holocaust – through what Norman Finkelstein has aptly called “the Holocaust Industry” – on establishing a racist apartheid state called “Israel” – a colonial settlement as a haven for the victims of a whole history of European anti-Semitism, on the broken back of a people who had nothing to do with that travesty.


Talk to Al Jazeera – Rabbi Dovid Weiss: Zionism has created ‘rivers of blood’


With a leading German public intellectual openly criticising Israel, pointing to European hypocrisy, and blaming his own country for aiding and abetting in the aggressive militarisation of the Jewish state – a gushing wound is opened that implicates both Europe and the colonial settlement that in more than one sense is its own creation. In two specific terms, both as a haven for the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and as the legacy of European colonialism, Israel reflects back on its European pedigree. It is here that Grass’ poem reveals more than meets the eye.


For over 60 years, Palestinians have paid with their lives, liberties and homeland for a European crime with which they had absolutely nothing to do.


The Zionist project precedes the European Jewish Holocaust -that ghastly crime against humanity following the horrid history of European anti-Semitism expressed and manifested in systematic pogroms over many long and dark centuries. Palestine was colonised by the victims of European anti-Semitism – as a haven against Jewish persecution. That paradox remains at the heart of a Jewish state that cannot forget the truth of its own founding myth.


There is a link between the Jewish Holocaust and the history of European colonialism, of which Zionism (perhaps paradoxically, perhaps not) is a continued contemporary extension.


It was Aimé Césaire who in his Discourse sur le colonialisme/Discourse on Colonialism (1955) argued that the Jewish Holocaust was not an aberration in European history. Rather, Europeans actually perpetrated similar crimes against humanity on the colonised world at large.


With German atrocities during the Holocaust, Europeans tasted a concentrated dose of the structural violence they had perpetrated upon the world at large. Colonialism and the Holocaust were thus the two sides of the same coin: the aggressive transmutation of defenceless human beings into instruments of power – into disposable “things”. Long before the Jewish Holocaust, the world Europeans had conquered and colonised was the testing ground of that barbaric violence they had termed the “civilising mission of the white man”.


European guilt about the Holocaust is absolutely necessary and healthy – it is an ennobling guilt. It makes them better human beings, for them to remember what they did to European Jewry. But, and there is the rub, they are, with a supreme hypocrisy that Günter Grass notes in his poem, spending that guilt (when not redirecting it into Islamophobia) on sustaining a colonial settlement, an extension of their own colonial legacy, in supporting Israeli colonialism in the Arab and Muslim world – as a garrison state that further facilitates their renewed imperial interests in the region. Europeans are turning their legitimate guilt into an illegitimate instrument of their sustained imperial designs on the globe, from whom Americans then take their cues.


European logic of colonialism


Israel is a European colonial settlement, the last astonishingly barefaced remnant of European colonialism in a world that calls itself “postcolonial”.


The same people who are with perfect justification enraged by the foolish Ahmadinejad (when he denies the Holocaust) are evidently entirely undisturbed when their Prime Minister Golda Meir or their favourite presidential candidate Newt Gingrich denies the existence of Palestinians.


The daring imagination of Günter Grass’ poem – a heroically tragic act precisely because the poet is implicated in the moral outrage of his own poem – is significant precisely because it captures this German and by extension European logic/madness of colonial conquest and moral cannibalism. A German intellectual exposing the structural link between Zionism and colonialism marks the even more innate link between the Holocaust and colonialism – precisely at the moment of warning against the regional warmongering of Zionism as the post/colonial extension of European colonialism.


What Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reaction to Günter Grass’ poem, and many others like him, do not recognise is that precisely when they accuse the German poet of anti-Semitism they are in fact acknowledging the colonial provenance of the Jewish state. The harder they object to Günter Grass, the clearer becomes the fact that the Jewish state is the rhetorical articulation of the very logic of European global colonialism, of which the Jewish Holocaust, as Aimé Césaire rightly recognised, was a local overdose.


There is one, and only one, definitive resolution for that paradoxical consistency to come to an end: the one state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. It is only in that basic, simple, elegant, humane, non-violent, enduring and just resolution that the paradox of Zionism as colonialism, and the structural link between the Jewish Holocaust and European colonialism, can once and for all be resolved.


The fact and the inevitability of that solution, delivering both Israelis and Palestinians from their mutual (however asymmetrical) sufferings, has been staring the world in the eye from day one – and yet the belligerent politics of despair has caused an intentional blindness that prevents that simple vision. So, yes, Günter Grass is right – and in this revelation he could no longer possibly be an anti-Semite:


Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,

Even more, all people, that in this

Region occupied by mania

Live cheek by jowl among enemies,

In the end also to help us.



Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.  His forthcoming book, The Arab Spring:  The End of Postcolonialism (Zed, 2012) is scheduled for publication in May 2012.



5  Haaretz

April 10, 2012

Israeli Arabs are the 0.5 percent

Netanyahu says Israel’s Arab citizens are the only ‘truly free’ Arabs in the Middle East, yet he considers even us a burden.


By Oudeh Basharat

As it turns out, last summer’s social protestswere actually aimed at the Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox. They only seemed to be against big business. That, at least, is the implication of the prime minister’s statements in his recent interview to Sami Peretz and Moti Bassok (TheMarker, April 5 ).


After declaring that without the Arabs and the Haredim, Israel is in great shape, Benjamin Netanyahu lamented the state of the middle class, which feels as if it is supporting these two groups, adding, with the objectivity of a UN observer, “They’re not always wrong.”


In a few years the revisionists will write that the summer of 2011 marked the start of the uprising by the builders of the country against the Arab parasites (they’ll figure out a way to conceal the Haredim ) – one more glorious chapter in the history of the nation’s return to its homeland.


Netanyahu’s approach in this regard should be enough to keep any right-thinking person awake at night, in part because of his evasion of responsibility – it is the government that is responsible for setting economic policy, after all – but mainly because of how he tars entire sections of society with a broad brush. If the laws against harassment applied to leaders, Netanyahu probably would have been charged long ago with harassing whole sectors of the population. Moreover, the unhinged members of Israeli society could interpret his remarks as license to go after the two groups. The Haredim, bless the Lord, are not lacking in saviors in the corridors of power; only the Arabs will be in for a beating.


Instead of slinging mud, the prime minister should acknowledge the discriminatory policies of his government. His foreign minister is trying to export the country’s Arabs, while he himself said at the 2003 Herzliya Conference, “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs” and not with the Palestinians.


And how exactly does the middle class float the Arab sector? Perhaps he is speaking of the enormous sums that turned Israel’s Arab villages into refugee camp replicas? Or maybe the generous budget allocations that have left no available housing for the younger generations of Israeli Arabs or industrial areas in the Arab communities? Now we know why last month the prime minister so generously exempted Arabs from the duty to sing the national anthem: Evidently, it is a step on the road to excluding them from the state.


In his address to his cheering fans in the U.S. Congress nearly a year ago, Netanyahu said: “Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa … less than one-half of one percent are truly free, and they’re all citizens of Israel.” With the same pathos he could have added that just as the Jews are a light unto the nations, their Arabs are a light unto the rest of the Arabs – a kind of poor man’s “light unto the nations,” if you will. Now the pessimists can have their day: If Israel is in “great shape” economically only when that one-half percent – the Arab creme de la creme – is removed, what does that say about the remaining 99.5 percent? They’re a lost cause.


Nevertheless, the holiday atmosphere and the smells of the spring flowers had their effect, and I decided to make my own exclusionary list: After subtracting the pro-settler cabinet members, we have a normal government; after deducting the ministers of hate and discrimination, everyone will be hugging in the streets; after removing the occupation and the settlements, the desert will bloom; after taking away the tycoons and monopolies, justice and equality will reign; after discounting Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich, we will have an opposition with a spine.


Out of fear that excluding too many people might make this country a little boring, I left Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon off the list. He and his low chair did inject a little entertainment into our lives.  [The reference to the ‘low chair’ is to the chair prepared for the Turkish ambassador, when called in following the Mavi Marmara affair; the chair was lower than the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s, to give the Turkish official to understand his place in Israel’s eyes. D]


6 Haaretz

April 10, 2012

Netanyahu is using Oslo Accords to annex more West Bank land

Israel’s political and security establishment, as well as the legal system, view Area C – spreading over 60 percent of the West Bank – as an integral part of the country.


By Akiva Eldar

The director of an international organization working in the occupied territories told me he was recently asked by an IDF officer the meaning of the terms “Areas A, B and C.” Naturally, the NGO head answered that according to the Oslo Accords, A is the area under Palestinian civil and military control; B is under Palestinian civil control but Israeli military control; and C is under complete Israeli control.


“You are wrong,” the Israeli officer laughed. “A is for Arafat, B is for bollixed up and C is ours” (in what language, I wonder ). But anyone familiar with the situation on the West Bank, such as Yossi Beilin, knows this is no joke. The Israeli political and security establishment, as well as the legal system, view Area C – spreading over 60 percent of the West Bank – as an integral part of Israel. This is one reason why Beilin has suggested to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to bury the Oslo agreements, the baby at whose birth they were present nearly 19 years ago.


When Beilin convinced Yitzhak Rabin to shake Yasser Arafat’s hand, then-opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu was already marching in front of the coffin symbolizing the end of the accords. Even in his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu understood that the terms of Oslo were a precious etrog to be preserved in thick layers of cotton, but not to be eaten. The division into three areas of control, meant as a temporary, transitional stage on the way to a final agreement, turned into a “legal” repository for the settlement enterprise.


Upon his return as prime minister three years ago, Netanyahu got back Area C with any number of improvements; the designers of Ariel Sharon’s separation wall set their sights 10 years ago on scattered parts of Area B. The settlers saw that it was good, and facts on the ground followed, with and without aid from the state.


Wheels of West Bank justice


It’s now been six years since an investigation into the building of hundreds of illegal apartments in the Matitiyahu East neighborhood in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Upper Modi’in. In April 2006, the State Prosecutor’s Office informed the High Court of Justice that the police fraud unit had opened a criminal investigation of local council head Yaakov Gutterman (now mayor ); developers and large building firms; Jewish land dealers who had acquired private Palestinian land; and lawyers and settler organizations involved in what they termed the “redemption” of land. As reported then in Haaretz, the petitioners – Peace Now and residents of the village of Bil’in (in Area B ), on whose land the neighborhood was built and the route of the separation wall set – gave the court land sale contracts suspected of being forged.


Explaining the length of the investigation, a Justice Ministry spokesman told Haaretz a new file was recently added to the case and new evidence came to light a few months ago. “The State Prosecutor’s Office is aware of the length of this investigation,” the spokesman said, “and is exerting much effort and continuing to examine it all the time, but has not yet come to a decision.”


We will wait patiently, but can’t be sure that Abbas will wait until Netanyahu and the settlers have fully marked the territory of Area C. According to Abbas’ plan, after a large majority of UN member nations recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, the Palestinian Authority will announce that all the territory east of the Green Line belongs to Palestine, without distinguishing between Arafat, what’s bollixed up and what’s “ours.”


Going over attorney general’s head


The problem with Area C is that Palestinians who happen to live there find it hard to understand that the land is “ours,” and they insist on remaining. Most of the residents have documents that testify to their ownership of land that has been annexed by settler outposts. Even the Israeli attorney general can’t make these lands “ours.” To get around this obstacle, Netanyahu set up a committee in January to examine the status of land in the West Bank. Headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, the panel has invited testimony from several human rights organizations, including Peace Now, B’Tselem and Yesh Din.


This week Yesh Din, whose name translates roughly to “the law exists” or “judgment exists,” prohibited its members from cooperating with the committee, which it considers illegitimate because it bypasses and challenges the authority of the attorney general. A letter to this effect, sent by Yesh Din board chairman Yair Rotlevy, notes that the Shamgar Committee (which sought to reform the process of appointing the attorney general, following the Bar-On/Hebron affair ) decided in 1998 that the attorney general is the government’s authorized and most senior interpreter of the law applying to all governmental branches, and that unless a court has ruled on an issue, the attorney general’s opinion is the government’s official one. The Shamgar Committee, which included three former justice ministers, decided that the government could not accept any external advice without the agreement of the attorney general.


Yesh Din’s leaders say in their letter that as far as they know, the Levy committee was not created with the knowledge of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who has also informed Netanyahu that the committee’s recommendations will not be binding on him or his office. Former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair of the Yesh Din board told Haaretz on Monday that in Weinstein’s place, he would have announced at the outset that he does not require the committee’s advice even it turns out to be close to his own position. He said the committee’s establishment infringes on the standing of the 350 employees of the Attorney General’s Office.


7 Ynet

April 10, 2012

Rejecting Violence


Salam Fayyad Photo: Noam Moskowitz


Palestinians gather for popular resistance conference

PM Salam Fayyad endorses non-violent resistance during conference in Bilin [The title should be ‘Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals gather for popular resistance conference’],7340,L-4214679,00.html


Elior Levy

“The non-violent popular resistance is showing results and the whole world supports us on this issue,” declared Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the International Conference for Popular Resistance in Bilin. This is the seventh year the conference is being held.


The three-day gathering is being attended by hundreds of Palestinians, foreign activists, Palestinian diplomats and senior officials.

Addressing a Quartet meeting to be held in Washington on Wednesday, Fayyad said that the Mideast mediators must show more empathy towards the Palestinians.


The Palestinian prime minister refused to address questions about his scheduled meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


The conference paid tribute to Palestinians killed during anti-fence protests whose photos were displayed at the event.

Basel Mansour, a member of Bilin’s popular committee declared 2012 as the year of popular resistance and called on the Palestinians to devise a comprehensive strategic plan for non-violent resistance.

The general message of the conference was that while the struggle is slow and not always rewarding it is the right way to fight Israel, unlike armed resistance.


Naji Tamimi of Nabi Saleh stressed the need to boost ties with Israeli activists who support popular resistance and called for a boycott of all Israeli goods.


8 Today in Palestine

April 10, 2012



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