Dear Friends,

Of the 6 items in tonight’s message, the first depicts the ethics of 4 soldiers in the ‘most moral army in the world.’  Were this the story of merely these  soldiers and this single Palestinian, we could say, well this is a-typical.  Unfortunately, it is only too typical.  There are hundreds perhaps thousands of such stories.

I recall years ago when Ruhama Marton, founder of the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights, with deep indignation and pain showed us pictures of the bodies of 3 Palestinian high school students, who crossing a field on their way home from school, were run over by a tank, which from the state of the remains, apparently ran over the bodies several times before leaving the scene.  Why?  The tank driver apparently decided to have some fun.  Was anyone punished?  Of course not.  No more than was anyone punished for running over Rachel Corrie with a bulldozer.  And there are many other stories and events of this sort.

You don’t believe me?  Well, read some of the testimonies (as many as you can stomach) in the Breaking the Silence (shovrim shtika) website http://www.shovrimshtika.org/about_e.asp .  I don’t know if any army is moral.  But most armies don’t claim to be.  Israel is exceptional in this.  It preaches but does not practice morality.  Of course its failure to practice has much to do (a) with the fact that almost never are soldiers punished for mistreating a Palestinian and b) with the way soldiers perceive Palestinians: the enemy (even children;  the boy in item 1 was first attacked by soldiers when he was 15 years old).  Certainly many Israelis perceive Palestinians to be sub-human.  These Israelis who would not kick or harm their pet animals are not distressed at Israeli atrocities committed against human beings if they are Palestinians.

Item 2, ‘The Two Sides of a Barbed-Wire Fence,’ likewise relates  inhumane treatment of Palestinians, except here the main villains are colonists rather than soldiers.  They (colonists) also often literally get by with murder.

Item 3 takes on the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who has said that Palestinians can live wherever they want in the city.  Larry Derfner in the Jerusalem Post convincingly disputes this with case histories.

In item 4, Rachel Corrie’s parents explain why Israel can’t be trusted to probe the Gaza flotilla raid.

Items 5 and 6 are happier events.  In 5 a British MP expresses ‘delight’ over activists being cleared of damaging an arms factory in protest against Israeli war crimes.  Notice there are 2 positive events in this report: the MP’s delight, and the fact that the court acquitted 7 activists who argued during the trial “that they had a “lawful excuse” to smash up the factory, because it was manufacturing military equipment for the Israeli military, which was illegally killing Palestinian civilians, including children.”

Item 6 closes the message on a very positive note: the Methodist Church of Great Britain has decided to boycott products from Israeli colonies.

Lots of reading, but this is less than ½ of what I could have distributed but didn’t.  If you wish for more, feel free to check out the contents of the Occupation Magazine daily (sometimes there is an overlap with what I send, but often not) www.kibush.org.co.il

All the best,



1. Haaretz Thursday, July 1, 2010

Twilight Zone / A night in Hebron

Soldiers seized a high-school student, held burning cigarettes to his forehead and hands and cut his cheek with a penknife.


By Gideon Levy

The scars speak for themselves: a scorched hole in the middle of his forehead, like a mark of Cain, two more burn holes on his right hand and one on his left arm. The scratches on his face and arm have already healed. That’s what remains from the night on which soldiers decided to have a little fun with Salah Rajabi, a student in the 12th grade at the Tareq School in Hebron.

It’s not the first time soldiers have beaten him up. There have been no fewer than 12 previous attacks. The most serious of them occurred in 2006, when soldiers broke the boy’s shoulder and he was hospitalized. In December 2008, he was arrested with his two brothers on suspicion of stone throwing and released after 10 days. On another occasion he was arrested and released on bail of NIS 1,000. But this was the scariest attack of all, with the burning cigarettes on his flesh, the penknife that cut into his face and a mysterious pill the soldiers made him swallow by force, which frightened him more than anything else.

Another “Clockwork Orange” night in Hebron, in Israeli-controlled Area H2, which has been almost totally abandoned by the Palestinian residents for fear of the settlers and the Israel Defense Forces. Another display of wildness by soldiers, who thought that undercover of darkness they could do as they pleased. The IDF Spokesman made do this week with an appallingly laconic response: “The complaint that was filed with the police will be transmitted to the office of the military advocate general and after it is examined a decision will be made on how to proceed.” Whatever.

Rajabi, 19, is trying to complete his matriculation exams. He comes from a poor family of 19 children, from two mothers. Every day after school he goes to his sweets stand, peddling cheap baklava in front of his house. He was there on June 14, too. There was no school that day, because of the exams. In the afternoon he went to his stand and by 10 P.M. he had sold all his wares. He then set out to visit his sister, who, like her husband, is deaf and mute.

He is a hefty young man, muscular but shy, his voice soft. His older brother, Kaad, sits next to him, to support him. His sister’s home isn’t far from where he lives. As he walked up the street, which is partially lit and partially dark, an IDF Jeep, coming from the direction of the stonemasons’ industrial zone, suddenly pulled up next to him. The soldier sitting next to the driver opened the door and asked to see his ID card.

The driver recognized him immediately. “Is it you?” he asked. Maybe he’s considered a troublemaker, though he has never been convicted of anything. Two other soldiers, who were sitting in the back seat, got out of the Jeep and moved toward him. They pushed him forcefully into the vehicle. Rajabi says he did not resist. He was frightened. They made him sit on the floor of the Jeep, in the back, but did not tie his hands or blindfold him, which is standard procedure in making an arrest.

The soldiers lit cigarettes: four soldiers and four cigarettes in one military Jeep with a Palestinian detainee on the floor, driving through the streets of Hebron, which overnight turned into Marlboro country. The Jeep kept moving, when suddenly one of the soldiers sitting in the back placed the burning cigarette against Rajabi’s forehead. While Rajabi was trying to recover from the pain and shock, the soldier sitting next to the driver pulled Rajabi’s arm forward and stuck his cigarette twice into the palm of the youth’s right hand. Here are the holes. The soldiers cursed him; he’s ashamed to repeat what they said. Then the other soldier in the back seat grabbed his left arm and jabbed his burning cigarette deep into it. Here is the hole. Only the driver puffed away tranquilly and did nothing.

Like all games, it’s not over till it’s over. Now the soldier in the back who was the first to brand Rajabi with a cigarette took out a penknife, one of those with which soldiers pierce the plastic handcuffs of their prisoners, and held it against Rajabi’s right cheek. Rajabi was deathly afraid. The soldier cut his cheek across its whole length and then worked on his left arm as well. Not a very deep cut, but blood flowed from his face. He wiped it away with his shirt.

Throughout, the Jeep kept going. They reached a dark, empty lot in the Jebel Juhar area. The driver stopped and turned off the engine. The four soldiers got out and ordered their victim to kneel on the ground. He did as they commanded. They grabbed his head and forced his mouth open, Rajabi relates. One soldier took out a pill and stuffed it into Rajabi’s mouth. They held his mouth open until they were certain he had swallowed the bitter pill. Then they threw him to the ground, got into the Jeep and sped off.

Rajabi lay there in the dark, exhausted and in a panic, blood on his face and arm. In a few minutes he pulled himself together, got up and made his way to the home of relatives about 300 meters from the empty lot. It was midnight. He knocked on the door. His shirt was dirty from the ground and stained with his blood. Opening the door in his pajamas, Ahmed Rajabi was appalled to see his distraught relative. He later testified that this was what happened to Musa Abu Hashhash, a fieldworker of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

“What happened to you?” Ahmed asked Salah Rajabi, and he told him how the soldiers had stopped him, burned him with cigarettes, cut him with a knife and forced him to swallow a pill. The two called Kaad, Salah’s brother, who lives close by.

At this stage, Rajabi felt himself losing consciousness. He was certain it was because of the pill. Kaad arrived immediately and took his brother to Aliya Hospital in the city. On the way, he relates, his brother passed out. In the hospital his stomach was flushed, but the physicians told Kaad they did not have the equipment to determine what the pill was. When his brother woke up in the morning, Kaad relates, he began to attack everyone in sight in a fit of rage or fear.

Rajabi was injected with a tranquilizer and sent home. Since then he has not taken any more exams or returned to his baklava stand. Last week he filed a complaint with the Hebron police, complaint no. 230003/2010. The IDF, as we saw, is looking into it.

This story is by Gideon Levy


2. [Thanks to Melinda for calling attention to this]

The Two Sides of a Barbed-Wire Fence


Published: June 30, 2010 NYTimes

Karmel,  West Bank

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

New York Times Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels.

The Two Sides of a Barbed-Wire Fence


Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times

In the foreground, the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir is cut off from electricity. In the background, the Israeli settlement, Karmel, resembles an American suburb.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable and costly to the country’s image. But one more blunt truth must be acknowledged: the occupation is morally repugnant.

On one side of a barbed-wire fence here in the southern Hebron hills is the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, where Palestinians live in ramshackle tents and huts. They aren’t allowed to connect to the electrical grid, and Israel won’t permit them to build homes, barns for their animals or even toilets. When the villagers build permanent structures, the Israeli authorities come and demolish them, according to villagers and Israeli human rights organizations.

On the other side of the barbed wire is the Jewish settlement of Karmel, a lovely green oasis that looks like an American suburb. It has lush gardens, kids riding bikes and air-conditioned homes. It also has a gleaming, electrified poultry barn that it runs as a business.

Elad Orian, an Israeli human rights activist, nodded toward the poultry barn and noted: “Those chickens get more electricity and water than all the Palestinians around here.”

It’s fair to acknowledge that there are double standards in the Middle East, with particular scrutiny on Israeli abuses. After all, the biggest theft of Arab land in the Middle East has nothing to do with Palestinians: It is Morocco’s robbery of the resource-rich Western Sahara from the people who live there.

None of that changes the ugly truth that our ally, Israel, is using American military support to maintain an occupation that is both oppressive and unjust. Israel has eased checkpoints this year — a real improvement in quality of life — but the system is intrinsically malignant.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that I’ve long admired, took me to the southern Hebron hills to see the particularly serious inequities Palestinians face here. Apparently because it covets this area for settlement expansion, Israel has concocted a series of feeble excuses to drive out Palestinians from villages here or make their lives so wretched that they leave on their own.

“It’s an ongoing attempt by the authorities to push people out,” said Sarit Michaeli, a B’Tselem spokeswoman.

In the village of Tuba, some Palestinian farmers live in caves off the grid because permanent structures are destroyed for want of building permits that are never granted. The farmers seethe as they struggle to collect rainwater while a nearby settlement, Maon, luxuriates in water piped in by the Israeli authorities.

“They plant trees and gardens and have plenty of water,” complained Ibrahim Jundiya, who raises sheep and camels in Tuba. “And we don’t even have enough to drink. Even though we were here before them.”

Mr. Jundiya said that when rainwater runs out, his family must buy tankers of water at a price of $11 per cubic meter. That’s at least four times what many Israelis and settlers pay.

Violent clashes with Israeli settlers add to the burden. In Tuba, Palestinian children walking to elementary school have sometimes been attacked by Israeli settlers. To protect the children, foreign volunteers from Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove began escorting the children in the 2004-05 school year — and then settlers beat the volunteers with chains and clubs, according to human rights reports and a news account from the time.

Attacks on foreign volunteers get more attention than attacks on Palestinians, so the Israeli Army then began to escort the Palestinian children of Tuba to and from elementary school. But the soldiers don’t always show up, the children say, and then the kids take an hour and a half roundabout path to school to avoid going near the settlers.

For their part, settlers complain about violence by Palestinians, and it’s true that there were several incidents in this area between 1998 and 2002 in which settlers were killed. Partly because of rock-throwing clashes between Arabs and Israelis, the Israeli Army often keeps Palestinians well away from Israeli settlements — even if Palestinian farmers then cannot farm their own land.

Meanwhile, the settlements continue to grow, seemingly inexorably — and that may be the most odious aspect of the occupation.

In other respects, some progress is evident. Mr. Orian’s Israeli aid group — Community, Energy and Technology in the Middle East — has installed windmills and solar panels to provide a bit of electricity for Palestinians kept off the grid. And attacks from settlers have dropped significantly, in part because B’Tselem has equipped many Palestinian families with video cameras to document and deter assaults.

Still, a pregnant 19-year-old Palestinian woman in the village of At-Tuwani was hospitalized this month after an attack by settlers.

Israel has a point when it argues that relinquishing the West Bank would raise real security concerns. But we must not lose sight of the most basic fact about the occupation: It’s wrong.

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter


3. Jerusalem Post Friday, July 2, 2010

An open city?



Arabs can’t buy land anywhere in Jerusalem.

Driving down the block where he lives with his wife and children in Pisgat Ze’ev, one of the giant Jewish neighborhoods built over the Green Line in east Jerusalem after the Six Day War, Ibrahim points out one house after another. “An Arab doctor from Galilee lives there… A wealthy Arab family from Galilee lives there… Every third or fourth house in this section was bought by an Arab.”

A businessman who became one of Pisgat Ze’ev’s first Arab homeowners six years ago, Ibrahim says he knows many Arabs who’ve bought homes in other east-side Jewish neighborhoods – Neveh Ya’acov, French Hill, Gilo, Ramot and Armon Hanatziv. He even knows a few who’ve bought in the old west-side Jewish neighborhoods of Kiryat Hayovel, Kiryat Moshe, Patt, Ein Kerem and Rehavia.

“I moved to Pisgat Ze’ev because of the lack of services and infrastructure in [Arab] east Jerusalem, where I was living before. I didn’t come here to make a political statement, I came here for quality of life,” he says.

“I wanted to live on a street that had a street sign, where they picked up the garbage. I wanted to drive on a street that had lights. I wanted to live in a place where I know that if somebody has a heart attack, I don’t have to wait a half-hour until the ambulance can get a Border Police escort. Once I bought a TV on the west side and when I asked them to deliver it to my home, they told me they wouldn’t do it for 10 times the money. We couldn’t even get cable TV installed. Here it’s great – we can call up Domino’s anytime we want and they bring pizza to our door.”

Whenever the world objects to Israeli plans to build new neighborhoods for Jews in east Jerusalem – such as happened when plans for the Silwan neighborhood resurfaced last week – the official response here is that Jerusalem is an “open city.” The proof offered is that Arabs not only buy and rent in the capital’s Arab neighborhoods, but in its Jewish neighborhoods as well.

MAYOR NIR Barkat declined to be interviewed for this article, but when challenged over the controversial expansion of Ramat Shlomo and other east-side Jewish neighborhoods in a March 22 interview with Sky News, he acknowledged that the “open city” policy comes with a few caveats.

Barkat started out by saying: “People can live wherever they want in the city of Jerusalem, Jews and non-Jews alike. It’s illegal everywhere in the world, including in London, to try to discriminate building by race.”

But the Sky News interviewer noted that under Israeli law, the only way a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem can buy an apartment in a Jewish neighborhood is if he becomes an Israeli citizen. “They have to give up their roots, their nationality, just to build?” he asked.

“Well,” replied Barkat, “in practically [all] other places in the world, it’s practically the same.”

The interviewer prodded: “If you want to build in London, it doesn’t matter which country you come from. [The requirement of Israeli] citizenship – it seems that it’s not equal.”

“Well,” replied Barkat, “it’s as equal as one can get.”

Orly Noy, spokeswoman of Ir Amim, an NGO that promotes Jewish-Arab equality in the capital, says the idea of Jerusalem being an open city “is a deception, basically. There is a fundamental lack of desire on the part of the Jewish and Arab populations to mix with each other. In those cases that they do, it’s either because of extremist ideology, like the Jewish settlers [moving into Sheikh Jarrah and other east-side Arab neighborhoods], or because of a lack of choice, which is the case with most east Jerusalem Palestinians.”

Hillel Cohen, a leading authority on Jerusalem Arabs at Hebrew University and the Jerusalem Center for Israel Studies, concurs. “Most Jerusalem Palestinians would prefer to live in the city’s Arab neighborhoods, but there’s no place there for them to live. There’s hardly any available housing, and the little that’s available is very, very expensive.”

Says Ibrahim: “People in Pisgat Ze’ev ask me why I moved here. I tell them: Let Arabs build in east Jerusalem and I won’t have to move here.”

The Interior Ministry does not give out statistics on the number of Arabs living in the capital’s Jewish neighborhoods, but in the three with the largest Arab populations – Pisgat Ze’ev, French Hill and Neveh Ya’acov – the Jerusalem Center for Israel Studies’ latest estimate (in 2007) was 3,000, out of a total population of about 70,000.

The great majority of these Arab residents are renters, many of them students at the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University or nurses at the Mount Scopus branch of Hadassah-University Medical Center. (Mount Scopus is part of French Hill and stands a short distance from Pisgat Ze’ev and Neveh Ya’acov on the city’s northeast side.)

The number of Arabs who’ve actually purchased homes in the Jewish neighborhoods runs only in the hundreds, according to various estimates. Most are Israeli, usually from the North, while only a few are Palestinians from east Jerusalem. This is partly because Israeli Arabs, unlike all but a tiny minority of Jerusalem Palestinians, are citizens and thus legally entitled to purchase a home on state-owned land (which the east-side Jewish neighborhoods were built on). But another reason is that Israeli Arabs, unlike Jerusalem Palestinians, tend to be familiar with Jewish society, says Ibrahim.

“We went to university with Jews, we work with Jews, so living with them doesn’t seem so far-fetched. For the average Palestinian in east Jerusalem, it would be unimaginable,” he says.

Bennie Loval, long-time manager of the Jerusalem offices of Anglo-Saxon Realty, describes Arabs who buy homes in Jewish neighborhoods as “the elite. They’re doctors, lawyers, professors, senior civil servants.”

Nevertheless, he says, it’s not easy for them to buy a home from a Jewish owner.

“Even if the owner is willing to sell, even if they’ve reached an agreement, the owner may back out at the end because his neighbors don’t want him to sell to an Arab. I’ve seen this happen more than once or twice,” he says.

Out of 10 Jewish homeowners in Jerusalem, I ask Loval, how many would sell to an Arab? “Three or four,” he replies.

Told of this estimate, Ibrahim says it sounds high. “In Pisgat Ze’ev, it’s down to zero.” He notes that when he bought his house, he told the agent his name was “Avi,” and only revealed his true name and ethnicity once the contract was being drawn up and ID papers were needed.

“The agent seemed a little worried for a while, but in the end he told me the owner, a religious Jew, asked his rabbi if he could sell to an Arab and the rabbi agreed,” Ibrahim recalls, laughing at the absurdity of it. “The truth is that the owner was very eager to sell and I had the money.”

A LITTLE background: Before the Six Day War, Jerusalem was divided by a border with Jordan. The west side was the all-Jewish capital of Israel, the east side was all-Arab. After the war, Israel drew a security-minded line around a vast amount of Arab-populated territory it had conquered on the east side of the old border – which came to be called the “Green Line” – and declared it the capital’s new municipal boundary [the so-called green line is the 1949 Armistice line. D] The Palestinians there were offered the right to become Israeli citizens, but very few took that route because it was considered treason.

Over the years, Israel expropriated great expanses of Palestinian-owned land on the east side, most of which had been under Jordanian army control before the war. Israeli offers of compensation were usually turned down by Palestinian landowners because accepting them was also considered treason. Israel built several large Jewish neighborhoods on this land.

Beginning in the 1980s, Jewish settler groups began purchasing Arab apartments by disputed means in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, later in east-side Arab neighborhoods such as Silwan, Ras el-Amud and, most recently, Sheikh Jarrah. At the same time, Arabs began trickling into Jewish neighborhoods – most of them, as noted, students and nurses renting apartments for convenience. Many of the earliest Arab homeowners in Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods were Palestinian collaborators, relocated there from the West Bank by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) after Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority took over.

But the big influx of Arabs to Jewish neighborhoods began in the middle of this decade as the West Bank security wall went up around Jerusalem’s east-side boundary. Suddenly Palestinian Jerusalemites who had moved beyond the municipal boundaries to West Bank villages, but who were still commuting to Jerusalem, faced the prospect of interminable delays at the wall’s checkpoints on their way to and from jobs, classes and other routines. Worse, from their perspective, the Interior Ministry began working at an unprecedented pace to revoke the legal right of residency in Jerusalem – the all-important “blue ID” – of local Palestinians who’d lived outside the municipal boundaries for long periods of time.

Between 2006 and 2008, the ministry revoked the blue IDs of some 6,500 Jerusalem Palestinians – roughly equal to the total number of revocations made from 1967 to 2006, said the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in a May report.

At the same time, says Ir Amim’s Noy: “Tens of thousands of local Palestinians who’d moved to Abu Dis, A-Ram, Eizariya and other West Bank suburbs came rushing back into the city. They didn’t want to be left on the other side of the wall.”

Their intensive demand for housing in Arab east Jerusalem all but depleted the supply, while driving rents and purchase prices through the roof. “Now,” says Noy, “an apartment in a so-so [Arab] neighborhood in east Jerusalem can easily cost more than one in a good neighborhood in west Jerusalem.”

Asked Barkat’s position on the revocation of thousands of Jerusalem Palestinians’ right to live in the city, mayoral spokesman Stephan Miller said in an e-mail response: “Residency and citizenship status is decided by the Interior Ministry, with no connection to the Municipality of Jerusalem or mayor of Jerusalem.”

ANOTHER MAJOR reason for the housing shortage in the Arab neighborhoods goes back to 1967. “Despite the fact that the Arab population of east Jerusalem has increased 450 percent since the annexation of east Jerusalem, the possibility of issuing legal building permits for new construction in east Jerusalem has been practically nonexistent for decades on end,” said the ACRI report.

The situation hasn’t changed, says Cohen, author of the 2007 book The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem. “Barkat says he gives many permits for Arab construction, but it’s not true,” the researcher/author maintains.

To this, Miller responds: “It’s a nice narrative, but doesn’t fit the facts. Mayor Barkat is moving forward with a master plan for Jerusalem that calls for an additional 50,000 new housing units over the next 20 years to fit the needs of the growing population. Arab residents are approximately one-third of the population of Jerusalem, and as such, we expect a third of those new housing units to be for Arab residents in their neighborhoods. In addition, this week’s Municipal Planning and Construction Committee has 41 items on the agenda for approval, 18 of which are plans by Arab residents of Jerusalem for new apartments and construction in Arab neighborhoods.”

Asked, however, about Barkat’s record to date – how many local Arab building plans he’s approved since taking office in December 2008 – Miller says the municipality doesn’t keep such statistics.

ON A WALL overlooking a main Pisgat Ze’ev street are two posters – one of Moshe Ben-Zikri, captioned “Local hero,” and another of Neria Ofen, captioned, “Daughters of Israel belong to the people of Israel.”

Ben-Zikri and Ofen are the most extreme voices in the neighborhood calling for Arabs to be kept out. In late May, following the torching of local Arab-owned cars, Ofen, who came here from the militant settlement Yitzhar, was ordered by the IDF Homefront Command to stay out of Pisgat Ze’ev and Neveh Ya’acov for three months.

A block down from the posters, Ayman Abu Shusha, sitting in the back of his furniture showroom, recalls the protest march on this street last Shavuot. “There were about 20 people shouting, ‘Arabs out!’ and ‘Stinking Arabs!’ Can you imagine what would happen if in France people were chanting ‘Jews out!’ and ‘Stinking Jews!’ outside Jewish shops?” he insists, noting that anti-Arab marches in Pisgat Ze’ev have become an annual event.

His son, Fathi, 18, who helps out at the shop, says he and his friends can expect to be stopped and questioned by police whenever they go to the Pisgat Ze’ev mall at night. “Once a friend and I were in the mall,” he says, “and a Jewish guy and his girlfriend were walking by, and the Jewish guy looks at me and says, ‘What are you looking at her for?’ He calls the security guard, who comes over and says, ‘You carrying drugs?’ and tells us to empty our pockets. We didn’t say anything, and they finally left us alone.”

This charge that young Arab men are “starting up with,” “harassing” and even “kidnapping” Jewish women is the red meat of the campaign to keep Arabs out of Pisgat Ze’ev. Asked about these claims, a Jerusalem police spokesman says, “Starting up with girls isn’t against the law, and we don’t keep separate statistics on Arabs and Jews for sexual harassment and kidnapping.”

Ibrahim says the kidnapping scare is “bullshit. The Israel Police control all of Jerusalem – no Arab guy here can hold a Jewish girl against her will. I can think of only one marriage between a Jew and an Arab in the Jerusalem area – a Jewish girl from Ma’aleh Adumim married an Arab and went to live with him, but from what I hear she wanted to, she’s happy. If a Jewish girl goes to live with an Arab, it’s a terrible embarrassment for the Jewish family, so they call it kidnapping.”

As for Arabs “starting up” with Jewish girls or “harassing” them, he says: “You’ve got Jewish girls, usually poor, a lot of times Russian, and they see some Arab guy who works at a restaurant and lives at home and he’s got money to spend, and a nice used car, and they go out with him. The Arabs are looking for fun and sex and they can’t find it with girls from their villages, so they come here. It happens, but not regularly. It’s not an ‘epidemic’ like these fascists make out.”

There have been street fights between Arabs and Jews, and arrests on both sides, says the police spokesman. By far the worst violence came on the night of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2008, when several dozen Jewish youths, some armed with knives, bats and sticks, gathered outside the Pisgat Ze’ev mall and fell upon two Arab teenagers from nearby Shuafat. One victim was stabbed in the back, the other was “jumped on, kicked and stepped on by everyone,” according to one of the accused. A shocking video of the attack was widely seen, and 11 local Jewish assailants, eight of them minors, were indicted.

ON IBRAHIM’S street, Arab families don’t put their names on signs in front of their cottages like many Jewish families do. Ibrahim’s intercom has been shattered twice and he suspects it was “nationalistically motivated,” to use police terminology.

“I’m ashamed to let my children see the neighborhood weekly papers – there are articles openly inciting against Arabs,” he says. “I’ve stopped smiling and saying good morning to my neighbors because they usually turned away. When friends come over on the weekend and we’re sitting in the backyard, I tell them to keep their voices down because the neighbors will get upset if they hear loud talking in Arabic.”

He says the tension has gotten worse in the last couple of years, which he puts down to the mood in the country at large. “The irony,” he notes, “is that since I moved here, the threat of terror has gone way, way down, the wall has been built and Israelis have a much greater feeling of personal safety.”

I ask Ibrahim, an extremely well-connected man about town, if Arabs in French Hill, Neveh Ya’acov and other Jewish neighborhoods live in such an antagonistic atmosphere. “No,” he replies. “Only here. And I don’t know why.”

Cohen suggests it’s because Pisgat Ze’ev has the largest number of Arab residents – an estimated 1,300 – of any Jewish neighborhood in the city, and also because of the panoramic view. “Pisgat Ze’ev is surrounded by Arab neighborhoods – Beit Hanina, Shuafat, A-Ram, Hizma. Evidently, some of the Jewish residents there look around and feel besieged,” he says.

South of Pisgat Ze’ev, in French Hill, the mood seems very different. A young black man and a couple of young white men walk by laughing. With the Hebrew University, Hadassah and the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the neighborhood, French Hill, with 7,000 residents, has the feeling of a little crossroads of the world.

Ofer Levy, who lives here and runs the local minimarket his father opened 30 years ago, has Arabs for neighbors and customers. “They’re very nice people. Jews and Arabs get along fine here and always have. You hear more noise in the media lately about tensions, which may be because of the general situation – but tachlis, there’s nothing really to talk about.”

In fact, there has been some talk about young HU women in the French Hill dormitory being verbally hassled by young Arab men when they go out at night. Levy says he’s heard about Arab guys “making provocative remarks,” but stresses, “They don’t live here, they come from outside.”

The old Arab homes near the Hyatt Regency show that not all the Arab residents in French Hill are newcomers. “My family has been living on this land since 1936,” says Abdallah Abu Liel, sitting in front of his popular felafel stand across from the dorm. Inside, the counterman and the customers are talking in Arabic and Hebrew. A Border Police van is parked in front as one of the troops waits for his food order.

Asked about Jewish-Arab relations in the neighborhood, Abu Liel replies, “Thank God, everyone gets along.” Pointing, he adds, “A few years ago they built 25 houses over there, and 15 were bought by Arabs, the others by Jews.” Suddenly he calls out, “Kif halak! [How are you!]” and trots across the street to talk to a friend.

So it seems that along with the bad blood in Pisgat Ze’ev, there are signs of an “open city” atmosphere here and there in Jerusalem. But even underneath the smoother surfaces lies “the taboo, the social pressure on Jews not to sell their homes to Arabs,” says Cohen, seconded by Anglo-Saxon’s Loval. And then, underneath the taboo, there is the law.

By law, only Israeli citizens and foreign residents eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return – i.e. foreign Jews – are entitled to buy state-controlled land. Ir Amim estimates that 80% of the land in Jerusalem available for housing is state-controlled – an estimate the municipality doesn’t challenge – with much of the remaining, privately owned land being taken up by old haredi neighborhoods that Arabs aren’t about to try moving into.

This means that while foreign Jews can and do buy land anywhere in Jerusalem from whoever will sell it to them, foreign gentiles, including Arabs, can buy in only limited, privately owned parts of the city, says Cohen. And now that additional state land is due to be sold off, the Knesset has given preliminary approval to a bill granting the housing minister veto power over any such sale if he deems the buyer to be “hostile” to the state.

Regarding the home-buying rights of Palestinians living in east Jerusalem, Barkat told Sky News they all have a “path” to legal equality with Jews: “Any resident in the city of Jerusalem can become a citizen and live anywhere he wants,” he noted.

There are 303,000 Palestinians living in east Jerusalem. Some 12,000 have taken out Israeli citizenship, according to the Jerusalem Center for Israel Studies. The remaining 291,000 have not.

So does Barkat encourage these 291,000 Palestinians in east Jerusalem to take out Israeli citizenship so they, too, will become legally entitled to buy, build and live in any neighborhood of the city?

Replies mayoral spokesman Miller: “It’s a personal decision for the residents to make themselves.”


4. Haaretz Saturday, July 03, 2010

Israel can’t be trusted to probe Gaza flotilla raid, say Rachel Corrie’s parents

Corrie, a U.S. citizen, was struck and killed in 2003 by a bulldozer as she and other activists tried to prevent the razing of Gaza homes.


By Natasha Mozgovaya

Israel cannot be trusted to conduct a reliable investigation of its raid of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, the family of Rachel Corrie, an American human rights activist who was killed in Gaza, wrote to U.S. United Nations envoy Susan Rice earlier this month.

Corrie, a U.S. citizen, was 24 when she was struck and killed in 2003 by a bulldozer as she and other activists tried to stop Israel razing homes in Rafah by using their bodies as human shields.

The driver said he didn’t see her, and the Israel Defense Forces has ruled her death an accident – a version her parents reject.

In the letter obtained by Haaretz, Cindy and Craig Corrie referred to the May 31 raid of the Gaza flotilla which resulted in the deaths of 9 activists, saying they wished to express their “continuing sorrow and outrage over the recent killings and injuries aboard the Mavi Marmara and other vessels that sailed with the Freedom Flotilla to break the siege of Gaza.”

“We write also to inform you,” the Corrie family added, “of the longstanding, U. S. government position that Israel has failed to conduct a thorough, credible and transparent investigation into our daughter’s killing and that after repeated attempts at the highest levels, U.S. officials have been unable to secure such an investigation.”

Rachel Corrie’s parents’ then said they believed it was “important that Israel’s raid on the flotilla be investigated independently,” adding that “while the Israeli Government has a responsibility to conduct its own internal investigation, our experience leads us to believe that Israel cannot be counted upon to reliably investigate itself.”

According to the letter, an Israeli court found what it called “serious grounds for suspicion that the cause of death … was the result of a crime,” but that instead of following through with the case, the court instead “closed Rachel’s file with no further action and without the required report of the autopsy results or any other report of evidence or inquiry from the Military Police or other investigators.”

“Our personal experience has made it all too painfully clear that the Israeli government is unable or unwilling to adequately investigate itself and that the U.S. does not, apparently, have the ability or will to compel such an investigation,” the Corries said.

The letter to UN representative Rice concluded with Cindy and Craig Corrie urging the U.S. to support a “truly independent investigation into the raid on the Mavi Marmara, one that is complete, impartial, and trustworthy.”

“We add our voice to those calling upon the United States and the international community to insist that an independent investigation be conducted,” they added.

This story is by:

Natasha Mozgovaya


5.   The Guardian Friday, July 2, 2010

MP declares support for acquitted Gaza campaigners Green Party’s Caroline Lucas ‘delighted’ over activists cleared of damaging arms factory in protest against Israeli war crimes


Bibi van der Zee and Rob Evans

Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA

Britain’s Green MP today declared her support for seven acquitted campaigners who caused £180,000 damage to an arms factory, backing their direct action.

Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion, said she was “absolutely delighted” that the activists had been cleared, after successfully arguing they were seeking to stop Israeli war crimes.

The three-week trial at Hove crown court ended today when the final two activists, accused of causing the damage to the Brighton factory, were acquitted. The jury had found the other five not guilty on Wednesday.

The seven, who called themselves “decommissioners”, had argued during the trial that they had a “lawful excuse” to smash up the factory, because it was manufacturing military equipment for the Israeli military, which was illegally killing Palestinian civilians, including children.

Outside the courthouse, Lucas said :”I am absolutely delighted the jury has recognised that the actions of the decommissioners were a legitimate response to the atrocities being committed in Gaza. I do not advocate non-violent direct action lightly. However, in this situation it is clear the decommissioners had exhausted all democratic avenues and, crucially, that their actions were driven by the responsibility to prevent further suffering in Gaza.”

She added: “I do think that there is a time when [non-violent direct action] is legitimate and I think that this was such a time.”

The seven had admitted breaking in and destroying parts of the factory in January last year, in response to the Israeli military offensive against Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, but claimed they had a lawful excuse.

Chris Osmond, 30, from Brighton and Elijah Smith, 42, from Bristol, were acquitted of conspiracy to cause criminal damage on the directions of Judge George Bathurst-Norman.

Osmond said: “During Operation Cast Lead 1,400 people were killed, 350 of which were children. The international community appeared to be completely helpless. The UN could not even protect its own compounds. The only light at the end of the tunnel for the people of Palestine is if ordinary people like us take direct action on their behalf.”

Lydia Dagostino, the defendants’ lawyer, said: “This result shows the jury agreed with the defendants that in this situation there was really no other course but direct action.”

The others acquitted are Simon Levin, 35, of Brighton, Tom Woodhead, 25, Ornella Saibene, 50, Bob Nicholls, 52, and Harvey Tadman, 44, all of Bristol.

Other peace and climate change activists have deployed the “lawful excuse” defence to get acquitted after using direct action against the targets of their campaigns.

Activists have been campaigning to close down the factory, owned by the EDO MBM arms firm, for six years.

Sussex police said that, while they respected the decision of the court, 20 people had been convicted following four demonstrations against the US-owned firm over the past two years.

Chief superintendent Graham Bartlett, Brighton and Hove city commander, said: “Sussex police want to facilitate peaceful protests to ensure the safety of both participants and members of the community and to minimise disruption to the city.”

The activists had broken into the factory in the middle of the night, after recording video statements justifying their actions and distributing them to the public.


6.  The Guardian Friday 2 July 2010

Methodists vote for settlements boycott

The Methodist conference [i.e., the Methodist Church of Great Britain.  D]

has voted for a boycott on good produced in illegal Israeli settlements


Karen Burke BST

The Methodist Church voted on Wednesday to boycott products from Israeli settlements recognised as illegal under international law at its annual Conference in Portsmouth. It took the decision following a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a number of Jewish organisations, both within Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches.

In December, the Department for Environment food and Rural Affairs introduced new advice on food labelling, recommending that the packaging of products imported from the West Bank should distinguish between Palestinian areas and Israeli settlements. The former President of the Methodist Church, Revd David Gamble, wrote to major supermarket chains earlier this year to ask how they labelled their food. Many of the responses he received explained that processes were already in place to label products accurately or that processes were being put in place. The European Court of Justice has ruled that imports from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank should not benefit from a trade agreement between Israel and the European Union.

Methodists in favour of boycotting Israeli goods from what the General Assembly of the United Nations voted were “illegal settlements” in 2004 believe that disinvestment from those settlements is one measure among many that will help to highlight injustice suffered in the region and, by highlighting it, take a step towards a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

It is a decision that has caused pain. Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships at the Methodist Church, addressed the Conference to express the distress felt by senior representatives of the British Jewish community whom she met once the Methodist report became a public document. One of their profound concerns was with the historical account of Israel and Palestine presented in the report that was written to resource yesterday’s debate. The Revd Graham Carter, chair of the working party that compiled the report, acknowledged the history was not complete and that, given the time constraints for the compilation of the report, the working group had to present what it believed was a fair selection from a variety of narratives. The report’s historical account is not Methodist Church doctrine.

The conflict in Israel and Palestine is not a one-sided conflict. The Israeli settlements internationally recognised as illegal are not the only barrier to peace. Arab terrorist organisations and states intent on destroying Israel are also a barrier to peace. Any debate genuine about peace in the region should take as its starting point Israel’s right to exist and its right to defend itself. Israel should not be singled out above all other countries for opprobrium and international sanction.

The report received by the Methodist Conference stated in its introduction: “We continue to affirm the right of the State of Israel to exist and that all the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine are entitled to their full human rights, including the right to live in peace and security and without the threat of violence.” The Methodist Church has a long history of interfaith relationships; it greatly values the relationship it shares with its Jewish brothers and sisters and hopes that that relationship will continue to flourish.

The Methodist Conference also passed a resolution commending all people of the region to the loving care of Almighty God and urged the Methodist people to engage in regular, informed prayer for the needs of the Land of the Holy One. The President of Conference, Revd Alison Tomlin, asked Conference to pass this particular resolution as a standing vote and, from where I was watching, everyone on the floor rose to their feet.

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