The initial one continues the subject of Israeli racism. A poll shows that racism in Israel is wide spread. 44% of Jewish Israelis support the rabbis call not to rent or sell property to Arabs. Only 48% oppose these calls. Israeli society, in other words, is no better than was German or Austrian society in the 1930s. Shameful, no? Shameful indeed. The question is where is this going to take us? With the major part of the Israeli public racist, it is not imaginary to believe that they would support ridding the country of all “disloyal” people, in other words, those of us who seek justice and peace.
Item 2 continues the racist line of thinking. Amira Hass is absolutely correct to maintain that “If anyone in the world had called Israel an “abscess,” we would have generated a wave of protests . . .” but when an Israeli calls Gazan Palestinians that, the world looks the other way. Obviously no one except a supercilious creature who deems himself superior to those whom he calls names would engage in such language.
Item 3 is in a more positive vein. It relates that Britain plans to upgrade the Palestinian diplomatic status.
Item 4 again returns to the less pleasant news, reporting that Palestinian prisoners are denied access to lawyers.
Item 5 is brief, relating that Adnan Jith, who has been expelled from Jerusalem for 4 months by the military, has decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court, because he feels that it is likely to support the Military and as such might prejudice decisions on future cases as his.
Item 6 accuses the United States as being a “rogue state” with respect to Israel. It also contains statistics that are worth considering.
All the best,
December 29, 2010
Poll: Jewish public split over call not to rent to Arabs
A majority of Jews in the country, 55%, support a law that would require people seeking Israeli citizenship to vow loyalty to the Jewish, democratic state.
A poll shows 44% of Jewish Israelis support rabbis’ calls to refrain from renting apartments to Arabs in Safed. Less than half – 48% – of Jews in the country oppose these calls.
These findings are part of a new survey conducted jointly by the Harry S Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR ). The survey shows that 40% of Israel’s Jewish population supports a law that would enable small communities to reject new candidates for admission on the grounds of cultural-social “lack of suitability.” Again, less than half of Jewish respondents, 48%, oppose such exclusion.
A majority of Jews in the country, 55%, support a law that would require people seeking Israeli citizenship to vow loyalty to the Jewish, democratic state; just 27% of Jewish respondents oppose this law.
A slim majority, 52%, of the Jewish population opposes a proposed law that would prohibit women from wearing a veil or forms of headdress in public areas. 10% of Jews and 3% of Arabs would support this law were it to apply only to Muslims; 30% of Jews and 9% of Arabs would support it were it to apply to everyone; and just 1% of Jews would support it were it to apply only to Jews.
A thin majority of Israelis, 54%, would support talks with Hamas were they deemed necessary to attain compromise agreements with the Palestinians. 41% of Israelis oppose the idea of such talks. 32% of Israelis support the plan proposed by the Arab League (the “Saudi plan” ) for a peace arrangement; 61% oppose it. Among Palestinians, 54% support the plan, whereas 42% oppose it. In contrast, 52% of Israelis support the Clinton peace framework, and 39% oppose it; among Palestinians, 40% support the framework, and 58% oppose it.
Palestinians are split about a scenario whereby Israel would evacuate the West Bank, apart from settlement blocs constituting 3% of the West Bank area, with other lands relayed to the Palestinians in compensation for this 3% retention by Israel. 49% of Palestinians say they would support, or strongly support, such an arrangement; 50% say they would oppose, or strongly oppose, such a peace deal. Among Israelis, 49% support a peace deal based on this arrangement; 43% oppose such a deal.
A minority of Palestinians, 41%, support a solution to the refugee question based on UN Resolutions 242 and 194, according to which refugee return to Israel would be limited and dependent upon Israel’s discretion, and refugees would have the option to settle in a new Palestinian state or move to other countries such as Australia, Canada or European states, and also receive compensation. A majority of Palestinians, 57%, oppose such an arrangement.
The survey was based on samples of 511 Jewish respondents and 408 Arab respondents. The margin of error is 4.5%.
December 29, 2010
Israel’s Qassam strikes on Gaza
Vilnai is depending on Israelis’ total indifference to our Qassams: our soldiers’ nearly daily firing on Gaza civilians, regularly wounding and sometimes killing them.
If anyone in the world had called Israel an “abscess,” we would have generated a wave of protests, and learned scholars of anti-Semitism would lecture about the vocabulary that the Nazis borrowed from pathology and microbiology (the same holds for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ). But when a deputy prime minister of Israel and a member of the Labor Party used a clinical metaphor to talk about the Gaza Strip this week (“Gaza is an abscess, troublesome pus” ), no one got upset. We are always allowed to do what others are not.
In February 2008, the same politician, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, warned the Palestinians that they would bring upon themselves “a bigger shoah” – using the Hebrew word for both a generic catastrophe and the Holocaust – if they continued firing rockets at Israel. That was shortly before an Israel Defense Forces offensive that killed 107 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians. Two IDF soldiers were also killed.
Vilnai’s words at the time were misunderstood, or deliberately twisted, making it sound like he was pledging that Israel would bring about a “bigger shoah” in Gaza. (“Bigger” than what? Than the Nakba of 1948? ) But he did announce that Israel would take revenge imminently, and laid the blame on the Palestinians. And without intending to, he revealed a characteristic imperviousness to the connotations of his words and showed contempt for our people’s history.
Exactly two years after the start of Operation Cast Lead, an offensive that kept 1.5 million people trapped by clearly superior Israeli firepower, Vilnai decided to describe the Gaza Strip as an abscess. What was he trying to convey when he made his comments Monday during an appearance before the Eshkol regional council? That now Israel needs to use radical surgery to fully remove the localized infection? Vilnai once again renounced any Israeli responsibility for the volatility, placing all the blame on Hamas. “Instead of worrying about its own people, Hamas is trying to conquer Jerusalem,” he said.
Vilnai didn’t have to depend on Israelis’ short memory, since you can’t forget what you don’t want to know in the first place. He is depending on Israelis’ total indifference to our Qassams: our soldiers’ nearly daily firing on Gaza civilians, regularly wounding and sometimes killing them. The civilians are mainly farmers trying to work their land, fishermen who make their living off the sea, and unemployed parents and their children who rummage through the rubble of Gaza’s former settlements.
Just like the masked men of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Vilnai is employing the logic of “They started it, so we have the right to respond.” Hamas cannot guarantee even that college students will be able to reach their universities or that destroyed Palestinian homes will be restored, so it boasts about some mythical future. For domestic consumption, and to justify Islamic financial support, Hamas commanders are faking their ability to match the IDF’s deterrent capability. Along comes Vilnai, who uses that to depict a virtual reality in which Israel is not the occupying power but the victim, and to say that the reason Israelis in the south don’t feel secure has nothing to do with his government’s policies, but is linked to some kind of external contamination.
In January 1991, when Vilnai was GOC Southern Command, he signed a military order on which the entire disastrous Israeli policy toward Gaza is based. It was the order to revoke the general exit permit granted to Palestinians at the beginning of the 1970s. In other words, it’s the order that denied the Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement and that imposed the closure regime that prevails to this day. Beyond the economic deterioration and the serious health and environmental damage that continues to be caused by the closure, the isolation from the rest of the world – especially from Palestinian society in the West Bank and Israel – has closed off the educational, cultural and social avenues of development in Gaza.
It was Vilnai’s signature, not a persistent infection, that fated the Gaza Strip to be the world’s largest and most overcrowded detention camp. And we, the Israelis, are its wardens.
3. The Independent,
28 December 2010
Britain risks Israeli anger by extending diplomatic recognition to Palestinians
Hague’s planned move increases pressure on Netanyahu government after latest round of US-sponsored talks collapse
The Foreign Secretary William Hague, who met the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank city of Ramallah last month, has followed moves by France, Spain and Portugal in upgrading the Palestinians’ status
Britain is expected to risk Israeli protests by upgrading the status of the Palestinians’ diplomatic representation in London in response to the progress made in state-building preparations by its leadership in the West Bank.
Although the move would be symbolic rather than practical, it is being contemplated at a sensitive time because of deepening Israeli unease over Palestinian efforts to achieve international recognition ahead of negotiations or peace agreement.
Those efforts have gathered momentum in the wake of the United States’ decision earlier this month to abandon efforts to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to renew a moratorium on settlement-building in return for resuming direct negotiations between the two sides. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that he would not take part in such talks without a settlement freeze.
4. The Guardian,
28 December 2010
Palestinian territories Israeli authorities deny Palestinian prisoners access to lawyers
Israeli security services deny Palestinian detainees access to legal advice or family before confessions are signed
A Palestinian man sits blindfolded under guard of Israeli troops. He is unlikely to receive any legal advice before signing a confession. Photograph: Tsafrir Abayov/AP
Palestinian detainees are systematically denied the right to meet a lawyer during interrogations by Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, according to a report published today by an Israeli and a Palestinian rights group.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club say detainees from the occupied West Bank are cut off from the rest of the world in Israeli detention facilities. The report also cited cases of “systematic violence” and torture.
Between 70% and 90% of the detainees in the years 2005 to 2007 were not allowed to meet a lawyer able to provide advice and assistance prior to signing a confession, say the organisations. The average time prisoners represented by the group were isolated from the outside world was 16.7 days. Irit Ballas, a lawyer and one of the report’s authors, said the situation has remained the same for the past three years. “The information we receive from our lawyers tells us that the incommunicado detention has not decreased,” he said.
Shin Bet refuses to reveal the number of detainees who had no access to legal services. Asked about the report, the agency said: “One of the tools, used in accordance with the law, is the authority to prevent meetings with a lawyer for a period of time established within the law.” Shin Bet added: “The accusation that denying access to lawyers was being used to prevent the monitoring of ‘mental and physical abuse’ is completely baseless.”
In Israel, the legal period for detention in isolation is 48 hours for so-called regular violations and up to 21 days for “security” violations. In cases where military law applies, it can reach 90 days.
“All the detainees who testified reported grave negative consequences of being held incommunicado, emphasising the feelings of fear, helplessness, confusion and despair,” says the 67-page report.
The document lists other forms of ill-treatment during the interrogation: “painful and prolonged shackling to a chair, painful cuffing of the hands, sleep deprivation, repeated threats to harm the detainee and his family, the conditioning of meeting an attorney with confession, giving of false information to the detainee and intentional deception of the detainee”.
The report reproduces, among others, the testimony of Ziad Shanti, 32, from Qalqilya in the West Bank, who was arrested in October 2006 while walking down the street with his friends. He was seriously injured during the arrest by two bullets. He was forbidden contact with his family or with a lawyer for 40 days, even during his stay in hospital and later while in a cell with no windows.
“I asked [repeatedly] for them to inform my mother that I am alive. The interrogator said he would allow this only after I confess … the interrogator took me to the interrogation room and shackled me to the chair with handcuffs. I stayed until 3am and was then returned to the isolation cell. Around 8am I was taken to interrogation.”
The sessions were repeated for several days. Shanti confessed. He was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for stealing a truck and harbouring activists from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.
December 29, 2010
Palestinian activist withdraws appeal of order banning him from Jerusalem
The IDF Home Front commander banned Adnan Jith from Jerusalem for four months, saying he threatens public order.
A Palestinian activist says he has withdrawn his court challenge of a military order banning him from his native Jerusalem for four months.
Adnan Jith said on Wednesday he didn’t believe Israel’s Supreme Court would rule in his favor against the military.
The Israel Defense Forces Home Front commander invoked a rare, British Mandate-era statute to ban Jith from Jerusalem, saying he threatens the public order. His expulsion was postponed while he appealed. He must now leave Jerusalem by Jan. 12 .
Jith, who has led protests against settlers in his East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, said he hasn’t decided if he’ll obey the order.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War in 1967 and considers it part of its capital. The Palestinians claim it as the capital of a future state.
6. The Guardian,
29 December 2010
On Palestine, the US is a rogue state
Nations covering 80-90% of the world’s population recognise Palestine as a state. The US, subservient to Israel, stands out
Protesters wave Palestinian national flags during a demonstration to mark the second anniversary of Israel’s offensive on Gaza. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty On 17 December, Bolivia extended diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine within its full pre-1967 borders (all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem). Coming soon after the similar recognitions by Brazil and Argentina, Bolivia’s recognition brought to 106 the number of UN member states recognising the state of Palestine, whose independence was proclaimed on 15 November, 1988.
While still under foreign belligerent occupation, the state of Palestine possesses all the customary international law criteria for sovereign statehood. No portion of its territory is recognised by any other country (other than Israel) as any other country’s sovereign territory and, indeed, Israel has only asserted sovereignty over a small portion of its territory – expanded East Jerusalem – leaving sovereignty over the rest both literally and legally uncontested.
In this context, it may be enlightening to consider the quality as well as the quantity of the states extending diplomatic recognition.
Of the world’s nine most populous states, eight (all except the US) recognise the state of Palestine. Of the world’s 20 most populous states, 15 (all except the US, Japan, Mexico, Germany and Thailand) recognise the state of Palestine.
By contrast, the 72 UN member states that currently recognise the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state include only one of the nine most populous states (the US) and only four of the 20 most populous states (the US, Japan, Germany and Turkey).
When, in July, the international court of justice held that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence did not violate international law because international law is silent on the subject of the legality of declarations of independence (meaning that no declarations of independence violate international law and all are “legal”, albeit subject to the political decisions of sovereign states to recognise or not the independence declared), the US responded by calling on all countries that had not already recognised Kosovo to do so promptly. Five months later, only three more have seen fit to do so – Honduras, Kiribati and Tuvalu.
If the Arab League were now to call on the minority of UN member states that have not already recognised Palestine to do so promptly, it is certain that the response would be far superior (both in quantity and in quality) to the response to the recent American appeal on behalf of Kosovo – and the Arab League should do so.
Notwithstanding that states encompassing between 80% and 90% of the world’s population (by my rough calculations) recognise the state of Palestine, while states encompassing only between 10% and 20% of the world’s population recognise the Republic of Kosovo, the western media (and much of the non-western media as well) act as though Kosovo’s independence were an accomplished fact while Palestine’s independence is only an aspiration that can never be realised without Israeli-American consent; and much of international public opinion (including, apparently, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah) has – at least until recently – permitted itself to be brainwashed into thinking and acting accordingly.
As in most aspects of international relations, it is not the nature of the act (or crime) that matters but, rather, who is doing it to whom. Palestine was conquered, and is still occupied 43 years later, by the military forces of Israel. What most of the world (including the UN and even five EU member states) still regards as the Serbian province of Kosovo was conquered and is still occupied, 11 years later, by the military forces of Nato; the American flag is flown there at least as widely as the Kosovo flag and the capital, Pristina, boasts a Bill Clinton Boulevard and a larger-than-life-size statue of the former American president.
Might makes right, at least in the hearts and minds of the mighty, including most western decision makers and opinion formers.
Meanwhile, as a perpetual “peace process” appears suddenly threatened by peaceful recourse to international law and international organisations, the US House of Representatives has adopted, by a unanimous voice vote, a resolution drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) calling on President Obama not to recognise the state of Palestine and to veto any effort by Palestine to obtain UN membership.
Western politicians and the western media customarily apply the term “international community” to the United States and whatever countries are willing to publicly support it on a given issue, and apply the term “rogue state” to any country that actively resists Israeli-American global domination.
By its slavish subservience to Israel – as reflected yet again, both in the absence of a single brave voice raised against this new House resolution and in the Obama administration’s recently rejected offer of a huge military and diplomatic bribe to Israel in reward for a mere 90-day suspension of its illegal colonisation programme – the United States has effectively excluded itself from the true international community (redefined to refer to the great majority of mankind) and become a true rogue state, acting in consistent and flagrant contempt of both international law and fundamental human rights.
One might hope that the United States could still pull back from the abyss and recover its own independence, but all signs are pointing in the opposite direction. It is a sad ending for a once admirable country.