Has he no shame? 
Posted: 11 May 2010 10:55 AM PDT

The good news is that the Goldstone Report is having incredible impact, it won’t go away…
After apologizing for calling Richard Goldstone a moser, meaning a Jew who informs on other Jews, Alan Dershowitz has now likened the great judge to Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who performed heinous experiments.
(Thanks to Marsha Cohen of Lobelog.)

University of California execs say they’ll only divest from occupation if US gov’t finds genocide 
Posted: 11 May 2010 09:43 AM PDT

Yesterday Weiss wrote that Elena Kagan’s nomination calls on American Jews to recognize our prominence in the elite of American society. Here’s some more evidence. According to wikipedia, Marc Yudof, an educator who is president of the University of California, is Jewish and has sterling Zionist credentials:

In 1993, he and his wife, Judy, were the co-recipients of the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award. Judy Yudof became the first female international president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in 2002

The Jewish National Fund was the chief means of taking former Palestinian lands and making them Jewish in Israel and Palestine.
Sherry Lansing is vice chair of the University of California Board of Regents. The big movie executive, she is also Jewish. We don’t know if she is a Zionist.
But yesterday, responding to Blankfort’s email, Yudof sent back a statement signed by himself, Lansing and Russell Gould, who is chair of the board of regents, slamming the divestment-from-the-occupation campaign by students at two schools in the system:

…In 2005, the Regents stated that a policy of divestment from a foreign government shall be adopted by the University only when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide. It was also noted at the time that divestment is a serious decision that should be rarely pursued.
We share The Regents’ belief that divestment needs to be undertaken with caution. We firmly believe that if there is to be any discussion of divestment from a business or country, it must be robust and fair-minded. We must take great care that no one organization or country is held to a different standard than any other.
In the current resolutions voted on by the UC student organizations, the State of Israel and companies doing business with Israel have been the sole focus. This isolation of Israel among all countries of the world greatly disturbs us and is of grave concern to members of the Jewish community.
We fully support the Board of Regents in its policy to divest from a foreign government or companies doing business with a foreign government only when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide. The U.S. has not made any declaration regarding the State of Israel and, therefore, we will not bring a recommendation before the Board to divest from companies doing business with the State of Israel.

Note the concern for the Jewish community. Note the deference to the US government (we thought college was supposed to teach you to think for yourself!). Note that if such a line had been held in the ’80s, no one would have divested from Apartheid South Africa.

‘NYT’ grants East Jerusalem to Israel 
Posted: 11 May 2010 09:25 AM PDT

The world doesn’t recognize Israel’s 1970 annexation of East Jerusalem. It violates international law, and ideas of religious respect. It violates Herzl’s promises to the Ottoman Empire and the Pope. But the New York Times recognizes the annexation!
Check out this travel section. You have to look carefully, On the right, it says, “Jerusalem, Israel.” Then here’s the piece by Felix Burrichter, a NY architect/blogger, describing a beautiful visit to Israel, can’t wait to get back. It’s clear that by Jerusalem, Israel, the Times means to include the Holy Basin, which is East Jerusalem.

Even for those who only stay in Israel for a short time, a night in Jerusalem is always worth it. By car, the two cities are only one hour (yet worlds) apart. Whereas Tel Aviv oozes hedonism, Jerusalem bears the weight of history and centuries-old religious conflict. Deciding to bypass the most famous sites — the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (to name but two) — I follow the advice of Noam Dvir, the architecture correspondent for Haaretz, and went looking for Jerusalem’s less obvious architectural gems.

He also puts the Jaffa Gate in Israel (it’s part of the Old City). Hey maybe it really is one state. But if it’s one state, shouldn’t the Palestinians be given voting rights?

Obama knows that Israeli policies are out of kilter with our values 
Posted: 11 May 2010 08:45 AM PDT

Wonderful piece by civil rights activist Hagai El-Ad at Foreign Policy says that it’s not about Israel’s right to exist, but its defiance of international law. Israel is out of kilter, and Obama knows it. This is another sign that there are currents in Israeli society that want their country to be judged by international standards.

Netanyahu is correct in recognizing that for a country like Israel the loss of moral credibility (domestic as well as international) is no less a danger than strategic military threats. In that, he would seem to echo the words of then President-elect Obama in his victory speech on November 4, 2008:
the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
Having agreed on this beautiful principle, the two leaders could not diverge more on how it is then applied in their respective circumstances. For President Obama this meant reviewing and at least being open to correcting existing policies that were dramatically out-of-kilter with America’s own self-image and the role it seeks to play in the international arena.
For Netanyahu it seems to be all about the effectiveness of the cover up–hope nobody notices the gaping chasm between hype and reality and if that chasm is exposed then blame (and crush) the messenger. The actual policies that are undermining Israel’s standing are not only left untouched, but accelerated and entrenched.
This in turn generates a greater need to suppress the whistle-blowers, the dissenting voices without whom there is no democratic accountability, the clamp-down produces its own egregious examples of un-democratic regime behavior and so the vicious cycle in which Israel is trapped (by design of Netanyahu’s government) continues.
Netanyahu confuses (perhaps intentionally) the legitimacy of his government’s particular policies with the very legitimacy of Israel’s existence–but the two are not equivalent. Criticizing specific government policies that violate human rights and civil liberties is a far cry from questioning a country’s core legitimacy; secondly, instead of addressing the real policy issues that are the basis for his loss of legitimacy, he is treating the matter as a PR problem, to be solved by going after those who dare point out his government’s shortcomings.
Netanyahu cannot secure international acceptance for his policies.This is unsurprising given the measures that his government is taking to further sustain the 43 year-old occupation–one that Netanyahu shows no signs of ending–and given that he came into office following the erosion of Israeli adherence to international law and norms witnessed during Operation Cast Lead.
True, the current government did not create the occupation nor was it in power during Operation Cast Lead; yet, it is under this government’s watch that the following policies have been enacted or perpetuated: the insistence on not undertaking a credible independent Israeli investigation into Operation Cast Lead-something previous Israeli Governments did after past military operations; the ongoing blockade on Gaza, collectively punishing a million and a half human beings and depriving them of basic needs; the arrests of leaders of the emerging non-violent Palestinian campaign against the occupation; the removal of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrahin East Jerusalem; segregated roads (pdf) and separate legal systems for Palestinians and settlers in the occupied West Bank multiply;and the abysmal record for holding settlers accountable for acts of violence….
for those in Israel and Palestine who are steadfast in their commitment to the realization of democracy, human rights, social justice,and an end of the occupation: while the attacks against our values are becoming more and more aggressive, there is no reason for despair. For if our message did not resonate and even shame then it is unlikely that such efforts would be invested into silencing us.
If our values were not so challenging we would not be so targeted. The fears of the past join hands with the shortsighted politics of the present, together fueling anti-democratic campaigns and prolonging an unsustainable, unacceptable reality.

Promises, promises 
Posted: 11 May 2010 06:36 AM PDT

In supporting the establishment of the Jewish National Home in Palestine the United States had no thought of embarking upon a policy which would be prejudicial to the interests of the indigenous population of Palestine… We would be firmly opposed to any solution of the Palestine problem which would permit a majority of the population to discriminate against a minority on religious, racial, or other grounds… I am convinced, furthermore, that the responsible Jewish groups and leaders interested in developing the Jewish National Home in Palestine have no intention of expelling now or at a later date the indigenous inhabitants of that country or of using Palestine as a base for aggression against neighbouring Arab States…
No people have suffered more than the Jews during recent years from aggression and intolerance. No people stands more in need of world sympathy and support at the present time. It is therefore inconceivable that responsible Jewish groups or leaders could be contemplating acts of intolerance and aggression against Arabs in Palestine or elsewhere which would be sure to arouse public opinion and to provoke indignation throughout the world.

The quotation is from President Harry Truman, in a letter to the King of Saudi Arabia, January 24, 1947, from a US government publication quoted in Victor Kattan’s great book, From Coexistence to Conquest, International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949.
Note that Truman’s State Department (as Kattan shows with other documentary evidence like the above) later turned against Partition as it became clear in 1947-1948 that it was fostering violence between Jews and Palestinians and Palestinian dispossession and in spring ’48 was on the verge of endorsing a trustee agreement to maintain one state in mandatory Palestine.
Truman reversed this decision, and in May 1948 recognized the fledgling state of Israel. (Presidential historian Michael Beschloss called this decision one of the bravest a president has ever taken.) Recently Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen has said that the creation of Israel was a “mistake,” but one that must not be undone.
Note that the promises that Truman made to the Saudis are ones that American policy continues to nullify to this day. Read Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard’s piece in Foreign Policy yesterday on all the ways that Israel is right now undermining the settlement freeze, including by quietly legalizing outpost colonies in the West Bank.

Suffer little children 
Posted: 11 May 2010 06:20 AM PDT

“the jeep reversed for five or six metres and then rammed once again into the tractor” [Indymedia Israel report on an April incident in the Jordan valley in which two Palestinian girls, 5 and 8, were killed when an Israeli jeep left the road to hit their father’s tractor; they were in a “basket” seat.]

On brothers and keepers: a missing link? 
Posted: 10 May 2010 02:52 PM PDT

Maybe it’s just a coincidence.
On May 6, just before dawn, Ameer Makhoul was arrested.  Initial reports state that the Haifa home of the director of Ittijah, a network of NGOs and grassroots organizations representing the interests of Arab citizens of Israel, was invaded by 16 Israeli security agents police officers.
They confiscated documents, maps, computer hard drives, a camera and a tape recorder belonging to the couple and their two daughters.  Ameer was taken away, as  another security service team raided Ittijah’s offices, taking possession of documents and computer hard drives.
On May 7, the IAEA released the preliminary agenda for its June 2010 meeting, and for the very first time, Israel’s nuclear program is slated to be scrutinized as never before.
Ameer has a brother, Issam.  Between 1999 and 2006, Issam was an elected member of Israel’s parliament (Knesset),  representing  the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, better known as Hadash (New), a small Arab-Jewish “communist” political party.   Issam became the first Member of Knesset (MK)  to break the taboo on any public discussion of Israel’s nuclear policy.  In a speech he delivered to the Knesset on Feb. 2, 2000, he dared to speak  the unspeakable:

The international community has recognized that the nuclear issue is not an internal affair of any state, but has implications that reach beyond national and geographic borders and require international attention. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other treaties relating to this issue are the sum total of worldwide human wisdom mobilized to defend us from nuclear holocaust. Israel has chosen to remain outside the realm of human wisdom. That was a dangerous choice.
The mentality of ‘a nation unto its own’ entails, in the context of the issue at hand, the syndrome of national suicide. Our lives and our security will not be guaranteed by the reactor in Dimona, nor by the hundreds of atomic bombs, nor by the millions of biological warfare germs that are produced at the Biological Institute in Nes Tsiona, nor by the chemical weapons that Israel is developing. Rather, our security would come from an inspired initiative to make the Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the party that started the race, and it bears the responsibility for changing that course.

Makhoul praised the recent release of portions of the transcripts from the trial of Mordechai Vanunu.  [Vanunu was a 31 year old technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor who described Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program in detail to the British  Sunday Times,which published his revelations on Oct. 5, 1986. Subsequently, a  seductive Mossad agent named “Cindy” facilitated Vanunu’s involuntary repatriation to Israel, where he was tried in secret, and spent 18 years in prison, most of it in solitary confinement.]  But more had to be done.
Makhoul declared that the Dimona reactor should be opened to international inspection, and Israel should declare a moratorium on the production of all weapons of mass destruction–nuclear, biological, and chemical.  Not only did Makhoul propose the release of all information about the quantity of bombs that Israel possesses, but further demanded that Israel announce, as a confidence-building measure, its willingness to begin unilateral nuclear disarmament, to be completed in the framework of a general Middle East treaty.

Members of the Likud, the National Religious Party, Shas and several other Jewish parliamentarians had stormed out of the Knesset in protest even before Makhoul began to speak.  Those who stayed excoriated Makhoul.  The Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot reported the next day (Feb. 3, 2000) that the ruling coalition’s parliamentary chairman, the dovish Ophir Pines-Paz of the Labor party, had shouted at Makhoul, “You are committing a crime against Israeli Arabs today!”  Yosef Pritzky of the secular and relatively progressive  Shinui (Change) party told Makhoul, “If anyone needed justification why Arab Knesset Members should not be members of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, you just provided it.”
“What are you blabbering about? Makhoul yelled back at his hecklers. “What I said appears in every newspaper in the world. You’re dummies!”
In spite of an attempt on his life in 2003 – a small bomb rigged  under the family car exploded, nearly killing his wife — Issam Makhoul hasn’t given up—or shut up—about Israel’s weapons of mass destruction program.   This past October, he wrote an article for the Hiroshima Peace Media Center:  “Hiroshima and the World: From the Old Nuclear Order to the New Anti-Nuclear Order”. In it, Makhoul pointed out:

What motivates the public debate in the nuclear question today is not really the dangers facing countries who possess nuclear weapons, but rather the obsessive desire of these countries to preserve the old nuclear order which grants them, arbitrarily, a monopoly of nuclear weapons, both globally as well as regionally. This is especially the case with countries that are not signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), such as Israel, but threaten disastrous war on those nations that aspire toward nuclear capability. Those who oppose the Iranian nuclear project and wish to stop it cannot turn a blind eye to the extensive Israeli nuclear arsenal without being accused, and rightfully so, of hypocrisy.

Issam’s brief bio appended to the above article  noted that he is “a member of the International Planning Committee of the NPT Review Conference in May.” That NPT Review Conference is taking place right now in New York, (May 3-28, 2010).  Whether Issam is actually there now, actively involved or on the sidelines, or just served on a planning committee whose work is done, is unclear at this time.
Nevertheless, Issam Makhoul now has a support base of unknown but presumably somewhat influential nuclear experts from around the world who also are working on nuclear non-proliferation issues.  From a public relations perspective, the Israeli government can’t afford another Vanunu scenario, especially right after the Dubai assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh back in January, allegedly by Mossad-linked agents carrying forged international passports, which is currently being investigated by various governments,   Is it conceivable that, rather than attempting to rein in Issam, the Israeli security apparatus might go after his brother Ameer instead?
About two weeks before the beginning of the NPT Review Conference, on April 21, Israeli Interior Eli Yishai had barred Ameer from leaving the country for 60 days for unspecified reasons of “national security.”  The security officers and police who took Ameer from his Haifa home on May 6 claimed they had a warrant for his arrest signed on April 23.  Why did the Israeli security services (not usually known for dragging their feet on matters concerning security threats) wait until two weeks after the warrant was issued to arrest him–one day before the IAEA announced its June agenda?
Understandably, human rights groups and political activists are viewing Ameer Makhoul’s arrest as another example of Israeli repression of Arabs, which, of course, it is.  But no one yet appears  to have considered the possibility of a link between Issam’s efforts to bring an end to Israeli nuclear “ambiguity” and to subject Israel to the kind of international accountability and scrutiny it demands be imposed on Iran.
Of course it might all just be a coincidence.  Issam is not his brother’s keeper (Israeli security officials apparently are, at least at the moment), nor is Ameer responsible for Issam’s activities.  Surely a “Jewish and democratic state” like Israel would never arrest an Arab political activist and hold him without charges—no discussion in the media allowed!—on account of something his brother had done?  Like pinching Israel’s nuclear nerve again and again, and watching its politicians squirm…?
When the Israelis break the silence surrounding Ameer’s arrest, perhaps we’ll learn that these speculations are totally off base and the dots don’t connect at all. Even so, Issam’s writing on the Israeli nuclear issue–past and present– makes for some interesting and timely reading.
Updates: May 10, 8:30 am
The Israeli military censor’s gag order on any discussion of Ameer Makhoul’s arrest has now been lifted.   Haaretz reports that Makhoul and Omar Said have been detained by the Shin Bet on suspicion of spying for Hezbollah:

Unofficial sources say Makhoul was in contact with a number of foreign activists, some with links to groups classified by the government as terror organizations. These include a Lebanese citizen, Hassan Geagea, who is married to the daughter of Palestinian writer and historian Akram Zaitar.
Hussein Abu Hasin, a lawyer who has handled several cases of spying charges, told Haaretz that espionage laws in Israel were so wide-ranging that an internet chat or telephone conversation with anyone in an ‘enemy state’ could lead to prosecution.

In another Haaretz article, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak insists that there is “No Threat to Israel’s Policy of Nuclear Ambiguity“:

Despite recent international pressure pressure on the Netanyahu government to  answer claims it holds atomic weapons, there is no real threat to Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday.
“I do not think there is a real or significant danger to Israel’s traditional stance of nuclear ambiguity,” Barak told the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied having nuclear arms. But the country is widely believed  to have begun a weapons program in the 1950s and analysts estimate that Israel now has as many as 200 atomic warheads.

This post originally appeared on Lobelog.

BDS activists target Israeli pharma at Italy expo 
Posted: 10 May 2010 09:00 AM PDT

On Saturday, May 8 a protest organized by the “Rome Palestinian Solidarity Network”(comprised of numerous associations and committees who stand with the Palestinian struggle for freedom) was held at the entrance to Rome’s exhibition center during COSMOFARMA, a pharmaceuticals expo attended by thousands of health professionals. The Rome Palestinian Solidarity Network, which endorses the international campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the Israeli economy, aimed at raising awareness of the BDS campaign, calling on physicians, pharmacists and health workers not to purchase or prescribe products from the Israeli pharmaceutical company TEVA, the leading global manufacturer of generic drugs, or from L’Oréal, which through its substantial investments in Israel is helping to strengthen the Israeli war economy.
It is this economy, as denounced by the activists present at the Expo with Palestinian flags, banners and flyers, which continues to enrich itself through the occupation policies of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, through policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing that continue to oppress the Palestinian people, through land confiscation, military violence and the illegal siege of the Gaza Strip. All taking place with the complicit silence of international community. While the protest was taking place outside, activists entered Hall 11 of the Expo to distribute leaflets at the TEVA stand, informing and engaging attendees on the reasoning and objectives of the Boycott Campaign. For more than 15 minutes, activists of the Rome Palestinian Solidarity Network attracted the attention of thousands of visitors through chants, conversations and leafleting while waving the Palestinian flag. The protest was cut short as the police arrived, taking five activists to the police office within the fairgrounds, where they were detained for over two hours in custody, and then charged with “unauthorized demonstration.” The police confiscated a megaphone, a Palestinian flag, the t-shirts worn by the activists reading “Free Palestine” and “Boycott Israel” and the video camera used to film the action.
The BDS campaign is expanding and intensifying throughout the world, and continues to have an impact on the image of a country, Israel, which despite the occupation of Palestine and the policies of apartheid still refers to itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.
A country that uses opportunities such as that offered by COSMOFARMA to show its more “attractive” side. The effectiveness of the BDS campaign is in its ability to unmask this unacceptable hypocrisy, and just as activists standing with the Palestinian liberation struggle were present for COSMOFARMA on Saturday, tomorrow we will continue to exert political pressure through the BDS campaign, which is beginning to produce significant results.



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