Dear Friends,

First off, an apology.  I got my Gideons mixed up yesterday.  The person initiating the law to prohibit East Jerusalem Palestinians from being tourist guides is Gideon Ezra, not Gideon Saar.  The two are much alike in their thinking and policies, but are nevertheless 2 different persons.  Sorry.

Below are 2 reports, 3 partial reports, and one item consisting of 2 brief letters—6 items all told.  The abbreviated items contain the links, should you wish to read the whole.

I find the initial item very disturbing.  Several years back (in 2006) the then Israeli Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir, expressed her intention to reinstate the ‘green line’ (the 1949 armistice line) on maps in textbooks. Her proposal caused such a ruckus in the Knesset that she had to back down. 

[for more on the story see Akiva Eldar ‘Putting back the green line—once we can find it’, and  ‘PM Olmert backs Tamir proposal to add green line to textbooks’]   

In the same vein as the uproar she faced, students at Tel Hai College were upset this year to find marked on a calendar distributed to them 3 dates commemorating Palestinian events.  

It’s not that the events did not happen.  Israeli Jews simply don’t want to publicize them or to know about them.  Israel’s history must remain clean and reflect only the Zionist or nationalist narrative. 

This is worse than the uproar that Tamir caused, because that was largely by politicians and Knesset members, whereas students are more likely to represent the thinking of the general public. 

And so it goes, friends.  As I said yesterday, we are speeding towards a repeat of Nuremberg, but with Jews now playing the parts of those who formed the Nuremberg laws. 

Item 2 reports on the continuation of the Corrie trial tomorrow, and reveals that the main witnesses of the event that killed the Corrie’s daughter, Rachel, will give testimony behind a screen.  The courts–the municiple court and the Supreme Court, to which the Corries appealed–care more for the supposed security of the man who drove the bulldozer over Rachel  than having him face his victim’s parents. 

There were 3 drivers that day, all told.  The screen will hide all 3 (one of whom testified on October 7).  I should perhaps add that the summary of the October 7th session that I distributed had one important omission.  My spouse caught it after I had sent the report.  There is in the area (or was?) a camera that operates 24 hours a day and has the potential to rotate 360 degrees.  For some reason that was not convincingly explained, the camera did not operate the 5 hours during which the crucial events, including Rachel’s murder, were taking place. 

Of course it is also possible that the camera was operating and did focus on what was happening, but that this part of the film somehow or other disappeared!?!  This is the kind of thing that the Corries are up against.

Items 3, 5, and 6 are merely extractions—3 relates that there is at present no majority in the Knesset in favor of the loyalty oath.  Let’s hope that remains the case when the bill actually comes up for a vote. But I wouldn’t bet on it.  5 is about olive picking in Palestine.  I have extracted the most important points of this piece, namely the number of olive trees that Israel has uprooted the past 10 years.  Item 6 informs us that the US is selling Saudi Arabia $60 billion in arms—exactly what is needed in this area!  Of course the deal is not to be carried out over night.  It is expected to last 15-20 years.  Just imagine–were such sums used for medical research how much progress could be made!

Item 4 contains 2 letters to the editor of the Guardian. The letters respond to an article or letter that apparently praised the Jewish National Fund.  The 2 letters (neither very long) set things straight.

All the best,



1. Ynet,

October 20, 2010

Student Protest

     Uproar at Tel Hai College: Nakba marked on calendar

Students return identity cards after finding out college calendar marks Palestinian commemoration days. ‘What’s next? Will they mark Six-Day War as national occupation day?’ One of them asks,7340,L-3972371,00.html

Tomer Velmer

Students at the Tel Hai Academic College discovered Wednesday that Nakba Day, Land Day and a day commemorating the Arab-Israelis killed during the October 2000 events are marked on the Student Union’s calendar. 

On Nakba Day Palestinians commemorate the ‘catastrophe’ of Israel’s inception in 1948, while Land Day commemorates the Israeli government’s announcement in 1976 of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for security and settlement purposes.”

The outraged students returned their student cards as an act of protest and said, “It cannot be that in a community which symbolizes Zionism the symbols of Israel’s enemies are sanctified.” 

Thousands of students at Tel-Hai received the calendar as a gift from the Student Union for the beginning of the academic year. “I was sitting in class with some friends, and out of boredom we looked through the calendar. We came across a page in which Nakba Day was marked proudly, as if it were the Jewish New Year or Passover eve,” said one of the students. “It was so bizarre that at first we didn’t comprehend what we were seeing.”

Page marking memorial day for student killed during October 2000 events

Nelson Mandela’s statement, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” was written under “Nakba Day,” leading the protesting students to believe that the Palestinian days of commemoration were purposely marked on the calendar.

“As students we have no problem with any political affiliation, and the calendar should of course include dates that are important to all religions, but marking the Palestinian commemoration days is disrespectful and shames the State of Israel,” another student said. 

“What’s next? Will they mark the Six Day War as the ‘Day of national occupation’? There are those in our college who are ashamed of our Zionist identity, but we are proud to be studying in Yosef Trumpeldor’s community,” he added. 

Zeev Greenberg, dean of students at Tel Hai College, said the chairman of the Student Union was not aware that the Palestinian days of commemoration were marked in the calendar. 

“The union was told that if another such incident repeats itself the college will stop funding it,” he stressed. 

The Student Union expressed regret over the “unfortunate mishap,” but added, “We represent the entire student body at the college, Arabs and Jews alike, and therefore it was important for us to mark the holidays of all the students who are enrolled here.” 

The Student Union said the calendar was produced off campus, adding that it did not sanction the addition of the Palestinian commemoration days to the calendar.


2.  The Guardian,

October 20, 2010

Rachel Corrie case: Israeli soldier to testify anonymously

Family criticises decision to allow soldier who drove bulldozer that killed daughter to give evidence from behind screen

 Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

[to see photo, use link] American peace activist Rachel Corrie being interviewed in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza Strip a few days before she was killed by a bulldozer. Photograph: Getty Images

The Israeli soldier at the controls of a bulldozer that crushed to death 23-year-old Rachel Corrie in Gaza in March 2003 is due to give evidence tomorrow in the civil lawsuit brought by the American activist’s family.

However the judge hearing the case in Haifa has ruled that, for security reasons, the soldier can testify anonymously from behind a screen, denying Cindy and Craig Corrie the opportunity to face the man who directly caused their daughter’s death.

Israel’s supreme court refused to hear an appeal by the family challenging the judge’s ruling. However, the unit commander in charge that day will testify in full view of the court as his identity is already known.

“I’ll be grateful at least to be able to hear [the bulldozer driver’s] words but I won’t get the complete picture and I’ll be disappointed by that,” Cindy Corrie said in an interview in Jerusalem last week.

“They’ve said it’s the security of the witnesses they are trying to protect. I can understand it would be uncomfortable for the soldiers to have to see us, but I can’t understand how our family is a threat to their security.”

Corrie, from Olympia, Washington state, was killed while attempting to protect the home of a Palestinian family in the Rafah area of Gaza from being demolished by Israeli troops seven and a half years ago. A posthumous book and play based on the graphic and moving emails she wrote to friends and family made her an iconic figure.

An internal Israeli military investigation, which was never published nor released to the US government or the Corries, concluded that the bulldozer driver had not seen Rachel and that no charges would be brought. The case was closed.

The family brought a civil case – “absolutely our last resort” – against the state of Israel, which opened in March this year and is expected to conclude early next year. Among the early witnesses was a fellow activist, Briton Richard Purssell, who described how Corrie disappeared from view under the advancing bulldozer.

The driver’s evidence will be a key moment in the case but the Corrie family has been careful not to invest too much in his evidence. “While the driver is very important, to me he is not the only person who has responsibility,” said Cindy Corrie. “Responsibility is shared with a lot of people. My focus isn’t entirely on the driver.”

Sarah Corrie Simpson, Rachel’s older sister, said: “Ultimately the individual had the ability to stop that act. However if you only hold responsible the individual, you’re losing the broader context of what’s going on. You have to look at the chain of command and what sort of orders were being given at that time.”

The family, while wanting an acceptable end to their battle for justice, was wary of the concept of closure. “It’s hard to conceive of that,” said Craig Corrie. “People talk about it, but it’s real hard to define what closure would be when you’ve lost a child, lost a little sister.”

Sarah Corrie Simpson said closure was difficult to define: “I’m not sure how you ever get to a place where you even feel close to that when you know there are people out there on the other end of what happened to Rachel, and you’ve never even been able to see their faces. Mum talks about being able to see the humanity of the person that was on the other end – and now the majority of soldiers will get to testify behind a screen, and that takes that away from us.”

At the very least, the family hoped their legal battle would shine a light on the Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) investigative process.

Cindy Corrie said if the IDF were, as it claimed, the most moral army in the world, “they should be willing to look at a system that is much more transparent than what exists right now”.

Last month, a colonel responsible for writing operating manuals for military bulldozers, testified that there were no civilians in a war zone.

Cindy Corrie said: “It’s a window, hearing that coming from these people, a real window into the mindset – and it’s very, very concerning. And I think every Israeli should be really concerned.”


3.  Haaretz,

October 20, 2010

No Knesset majority for loyalty oath for Jews and non-Jews

Only 56 of 120 MKs say they support the bill requiring Jews and non-Jews alike to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; Justice Minister: I’ll quit if loyalty oath applies only to non-Jews.

By Jonathan Lis


4. The Guardian,

20 October 2010


Why the Jewish National Fund plants forests in Israel 

If diplomats are virtuous men sent abroad to lie for their country (Henry Wotton), what is Samuel Hayek of the Jewish National Fund’s excuse (Letters, 16 October)? The JNF’s focus, from the day it was established, was to purchase land for Jewish settlers and to alienate it from the Arab peasants who tilled the land. When Hayek writes that the JNF’s work “is not based on any political or religious affiliation”, he is either being disingenuous or he has not read the JNF’s own entry on the Charity Commission website, which states that its objects include the “such charitable purposes as benefit persons of Jewish religion, race or origin”.

When the supreme court ruled in the Ka’adan case that the Israeli Lands Authority (and so the JNF) could not refuse to lease land to non-Jews, the JNF lobbied for a new law, which passed its first reading by four to one in the Knesset in 2007. The bill included a clause stating that “the leasing of JNF lands for the purpose of settling Jews will not be seen as unacceptable discrimination”.

Last week the “unrecognised” Bedouin village (Jewish villages are never unrecognised) of Arakib in the Negev was demolished for the seventh time in order that the JNF could begin planting its forests. This is not sustainable development but colonial expansion at the expense of the indigenous populaton. If Hayek doesn’t believe the JNF’s behaviour is racist, what would he say about a British National Fund that refused to rent or lease its land to British Jews?

Tony Greenstein


• Samuel Hayek portrays the Jewish National Fund as humanitarian and politically neutral, supporting incontestably worthwhile projects such as planting trees to develop the environment of Israel. It’s true that millions of trees were planted by the JNF in Israel in the 1950s and 1960s using donations from diaspora Jews. The narrative promoted by the JNF was that a barren, rocky land was being turned into a green oasis.

As a child in the 1950s, I eagerly contributed to this project, donating my weekly “charity money” to JNF-sponsored fundraising activities at my synagogue school. I have certificates to show that trees were planted in Israel in my name. But when I visited Israel years later, I realised the darker purpose of the massive tree-planting project. I found many wooded parks planted on the sites of Arab villages razed to the ground by Jewish militias in 1947-48.

Mr Hayek is right: JNF-sponsored tree-planting transformed the landscape ecologically. I now know that the programme of tree-planting was used to transform the landscape in a more political and historical sense as well, to render invisible any trace of the previous inhabitants. Mr Hayek’s claim that the JNF supports the population of Israel, whatever their background, represents (to use his own words) “a distortion of the truth on the grandest of scales”.

Dr Barry Stierer


5.   Al Jazeera Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Olives – A Palestinian family affair

By Nour Odeh in  Middle East

This product [olves] is part of the Palestinians’ identity and history; an element in their collective memory, despite their reality of exile. This is why patriotic rhetoric, writings, poems, and songs abound with reference to olive trees and their stubborn roots, deeply planted in the earth – able to resist and survive.

But this important commodity is one of the most battered sectors of the economy.

In the past 10 years alone, Israel has uprooted approximately 1.2 million fruit-bearing trees, most of them olives. Israel has also confiscated tens of thousands of hectares of Palestinian land as part of its illegal settlement expansion practice and wall building. This means that thousands of Palestinian farmers have been barred or severely restricted from accessing their olive groves.

Employing an intricate and ever-changing system of permits and movement restrictions, Israeli occupation authorities control when and for how long a Palestinian farmer can access his grove to plant, plough the field, or harvest his crop.


6. Haaretz,

October 20, 2010

No Knesset majority for loyalty oath for Jews and non-Jews

Only 56 of 120 MKs say they support the bill requiring Jews and non-Jews alike to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; Justice Minister: I’ll quit if loyalty oath applies only to non-Jews.

By Jonathan Lis


6.  Haaretz,

October 20, 2010

U.S. announces $60b arms sale to Saudi Arabia, says ‘Israel doesn’t object’

Official Andrew Shapiro says U.S. consulted with Israel over course of sealing deal, which includes 84 new Boeing F-15 aircraft and 70 upgrades of existing Saudi F-15s.

By Natasha Mozgovaya


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *