29 November 2010

Embarrassing Wikileaks Revelations Concerning U.S.-Israel Relations

Tikun Olam | by Richard Silverstein | November 29th, 2010


When the U.S. government began serially apologizing to various nations around the world, including Israel, about what was to come from the Wikileaks dump, I knew something juicy was in the offing.  And the materials don't disappoint.  I'd say though, rather than providing lightning flash revelations, they merely deepen our understanding of how the relationship works and what these guys say behind closed doors.

Here are some fascinating memos.  This one dated October 31, 2008, in particular is a bit of a jaw-dropper.  Usually, diplomats maintain a strict separation between their professional work and spying.  The CIA does the latter and diplomats concentrate on foreign policy matters.  Apparently, no longer.  A memo from the Rice-era State Department, which euphemistically notes that its contents call for assisting in compiling "biographical information" on Palestinians, calls for U.S. personnel to report credit card, frequent flier account numbers, and work schedule to their superiors in Washington:

2. (S/NF) State biographic reporting - including on
Palestinians:

A. (S/NF) The intelligence community relies on State
reporting officers for much of the biographical information
collected worldwide. Informal biographic reporting via email
and other means is vital to the community"s collection
efforts and can be sent to the INR/B (Biographic) office for
dissemination to the IC. State reporting officers are
encouraged to report on noteworthy Palestinians as
information becomes available.

B. (S/NF) When it is available, reporting officers should
include as much of the following information as possible:
office and organizational titles; names, position titles and
other information on business cards; numbers of telephones,
cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact
information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc
or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings;
internet and intranet "handles", internet e-mail addresses,
web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers;
frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules
, and other
relevant biographical information.

It also calls for reporting:

--Details of travel plans such as routes and vehicles used by
Palestinian Authority leaders and HAMAS members.

It's also rather shocking to find the U.S. concerned with, and seeking intelligence about this:

--Information on illegal weapons transactions with Israelis.

And it's no wonder that during the paranoid reign of Dick Cheney, the U.S. administration told its Middle East diplomats to watch out for this:

--Indications of interest by Palestinian terrorist groups in
the acquisition or use of chemical, biological, or nuclear
weapons...

The U.S. government appears greatly concerned about Israel's capabilities to beg, borrow or steal top-secret U.S. technology.  It asks diplomats to report on:

--Plans and efforts to acquire US export-controlled
telecommunications equipment and technology.
--Plans and efforts to export or transfer state-of-the art
telecommunications equipment and technology.
--Details about information repositories associated with
radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled systems used

This February 26, 2009 account of a meeting between Congress member Benjamin Cardin and Bibi Netanyahu after national elections but before he became prime minister, reveals the latter's grandiosity concerning the "Iranian threat:"

Netanyahu described a nuclear Iran as the greatest threat facing Israel, and urged...a viable military option
to confront a problem that he said threatened the region and
could prove a "tipping point" in world history...
According to Netanyahu, if Iran develops a nuclear weapon
capability it will "topple the peace process" and "change the
history of the world
."
Netanyahu complained that Iran"s "tentacles" were choking Israel, and
that a new one grew back whenever one was cut off. Netanyahu
charged that Iran was developing nuclear weapons with the
express purpose of wiping out Israel...

Interesting too is this passage, in which Bibi confuses Christian evangelical millenialism with Persian Muslim theology about which he clearly knows nothing:

Netanyahu described the Iranian regime as crazy, retrograde,
and fanatical, with a Messianic desire to speed up a violent
"end of days
."

In the following passage, Bibi reveals his disdain for the concept, widely accepted in the international community, of a return to 1967 borders in exchange for peace.  Those who claim the Israeli PM accepts a two state solution should reconcile that belief with this:

...According to Netanyahu - withdrawing to the 1967 borders...would "get terror, not peace"

Here is more about the sham peace that Bibi envisions offering the Palestinians:

Once the Palestinian Authority develops into a real partner it will be possible to negotiate an agreement over territory,
settlements and "refined" Palestinian sovereignty without an
army or control over air space and borders
.

What he's describing isn't a country, but a Bantustan.

Netanyahu, in this portion of the memo, reveals that there is indirect trade between Israel and Iraq facilitated through Jordan.  Considering that Iraq supposedly has an ironclad ban on trade with Israel in place, if true, this claim is fascinating:

Pointing to what he described as strong
but unpublicized trade between Haifa port and Iraq via
Jordan, he suggested assembly points could be set up in the
West Bank for some goods, which would create thousands of
jobs.

It should also be noted that Israel had imported Iranian oil until recently despite Israel's supposedly ironclad ban on such commerce.  All of this indicates the level of hypocrisy that accompanies solemn ideological pronouncements by leaders, whether in Tel Aviv or Baghdad.

A November 16, 2009 memo concerning a high level meeting between U.S. diplomats and senior Israeli military-intelligence confirms that the IDF repeats the same nonsense in such private sessions as it does publicly:

Israeli officials explained that they were
going through an unprecedented period of calm due to the
deterrent effect of Operation CAST LEAD...

And more nonsense from the defense ministry chief of military intelligence analysis (keep in mind we are now precisely one year from the date of this meeting):

General Baidatz argued that it would take
Iran one year to obtain a nuclear weapon
and two and a half
years to build an arsenal of three weapons.

Amos Gilad, in this passage, shows the proper level of disingenuousness by actually claiming that Middle Eastern countries will clamor for their own nuclear weapons if Iran gets one, rather than from fear of Israel having one:

Amos Gilad explained his view of the repercussions of an Iranian nuclear
capability stating that it would give Iran a free hand in
supporting "HAMAStan" in Gaza and "Hezbollahstan" in Lebanon.
Gilad also argued that Saudi Arabia would definitely react
to a nuclear Iran by obtaining a weapon (with Pakistani
assistance) and Egypt would almost certainly follow.

Someone will have to explain to me how Iran having a nuclear weapon will embolden its policies regarding Hezbollah and Hamas.  Would it threaten to use its bomb to support its proxies in these countries?  It just doesn't make sense.

In this passage, the Israeli military brass argue that despite the undermining of the PA security apparatus that occurs when the IDF conducts anti-terror incursions in the West Bank, it must continue to do so…for the sake of Jordan!!  I kid you not:

...They [the Israelis] stated that if Israel allowed a weak and untrained security
force to take over in the West Bank in the short term, the
result will be deterioration of the Israel-Jordan
relationship
over the long term. The prospect of poor
Israeli-Jordanian relations, according to Amos Gilad, is
unacceptable, and would result in the loss of "strategic
depth" for Israel.

How ending Israeli disruption of Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank would disrupt Israel's relations with Jordan is a mystery beyond me.  The fact that a senior Israeli general would pose this nonsense in a meeting with high level American officials shows both Israel's delusions and its disrespect for the intelligence of their U.S. interlocutors.


The following exchange shows that the Americans and Israeli are talking past each other, the former with naiveté and the latter with utter cynicism:

He [assistant U.S. defense secretary] asked if Israel had made any headway in tems of an
information operations campaign to better communicate with
the people of Gaza. Israeli officials offered very little in
the way of a communications strategy or long-term vision for
the territories, but reinforced Israel"s core belief that
HAMAS has only sinister motives, and that any attempt Fatah
might make to improve its standing in Gaza would only be met
with HAMAS opposition...Ambassador
Vershbow sought further clarification on this point, querying
Israeli officials over the level of public support for HAMAS.
Specifically, the ASD asked if there was any way to
undermine support for HAMAS vis-a-vis the peace process.
Amos Gilad responded simply by saying that one of Israel"s
biggest concerns is the atmosphere created by disjointed
peace talks. Specifically, Gilad stated that political
promises of peace, unification, and reconciliation --
concepts that are never realized -- are only resulting in a
climate of uncertainty that is unhealthy. On this matter,
Gilad mentioned that Egypt"s role in pushing reconciliation
is not helpful and often counterproductive

The U.S. projects a pragmatic interest in combatting Hamas through a public diplomacy campaign, to which the Israelis say: why waste your time?  Israel clearly argues for continued Palestinian fragmentation and divisiveness as a policy goal, a losing long-term proposition if ever there was one.

In this exchange on the Goldstone Report, the Israeli MOD's director general sells the Yanks a bill of goods.  Not sure how making 300,000 calls to Palestinians warning them to get out of Dodge constitutes an "extraordinary step to mitigate civilian casualties," when inhabitants had either already abandoned their homes or could not do so due to the fact that the IDF shot virtually anything that moved on the streets:

In bringing up the Goldstone Report, DG Buchris
emphasized that the Government of Israel took extraordinary
steps to mitigate civilian casualties
, despite HAMAS"s
deliberate use of civilians as human shields
. He stated that
the IDF made over 300,000 phone calls to alert civilians
before bombing legitimate military targets. He also compared
Israeli operations in Gaza to U.S. operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan and stated that Israel would do whatever was
necessary to protect its population. In response, ASD
Vershbow recalled U.S. support for Israel in handling of the
Goldstone report, and offered to share U.S. experience in
investigating incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan as the GOI
considered whether to conduct an additional investigation.

I'm not clear whether Vershbow's "offer" in the last sentence is one to help Israel avoid serious investigation of Cast Lead abuses (since U.S. investigations of our own abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed miserably); or whether this constitutes what he believes is a serious offer to help Israel do the right thing.  If the latter, it's a woefully naïve offer.

In this passage, Amos Gilad seems to be conjuring a total fiction:

Gilad also noted that Turkey wanted to improve its relationships with
Iran and asserted that it had made some very aggressive plans
recently to support HAMAS
.

To give you a sense of how almost eager Israel appears to be to engage in a pre-emptive srike that would surely spark a war among Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, read this warning levelled by the Israeli MOD's chief intelligence analyst:

Israeli officials have major concerns over
developments within Hezbollah -- specifically, its
relationship with Syria and Iran. General Baidatz spoke of
this relationship and drew attention to the existing supply
of Fateh-110 long-range missile that Iran sent to Syria.
Israeli officials believe these missiles are destined for
Hezbollah. According to Baidatz and others, if the delivery
were to occur, this would significantly alter Israel"s
calculus. Under such a scenario, the looming question for
Israeli policymakers then becomes: "to strike or not to
strike
."

In other words, a top Israeli intelligence analyst is warning the Americans that if Syria supplies a particular rocket to Hezbollah the IDF would pre-emptively attack Hezbollah and in doing so likely spark major hostilities.

In a different meeting of the same individuals as above, Amos Gilad again makes a claim I've never heard before:

He noted that rockets from Lebanon can now cover the entire territory of Israel

I'd like to know on what basis he makes this claim.  And even if true, you'd think it might make Israel MORE eager to negotiate a settlement with Syria, Hezbollah's sponsor.  This appears not to be the case as Israel prefers to complain to the Americans about the military threats it faces from its enemies while doing nothing to resolve the disputes themselves.

This colloquy reveals that high-level Israeli officials are not above lying outright to their American interlocutors:

[U.S. diplomat Tom] Goldberger…questioned whether more commercial and humanitarian goods could be allowed through the Gaza border crossings. Gilad strongly stated that there were no limits on commercial goods through the border crossings.

This is such a bald-faced lie that one wonders whether the notetaker at the meeting misunderstood something.  Can Gilad really believe anyone would fall for such bulls(&t?

In this memo dated November 18, 2009, IDF officers (including Amos Gilad) and ministry of defense senior officials (including the director general of the ministry) ask for a waiver that would allow Israelis with dual-citizenship to have the same access to sensitive U.S. military technology that a U.S. citizen would have.  As you read this, think of Jonathan Pollard, Ben Ami Kadish and any number of other Israeli spies who had/ve dual citizenship:

Dual Citizenship Issues
-----------------------

9. (S) The GOI raised the issue of dual citizenship within
the context of access to sensitive technology. U.S.
participants acknowledged Israeli concerns, noting that the
issue is being worked at the highest levels of the USG to
reach consensus on how to proceed. The GOI recommended
obtaining a waiver similar to the relationship from which
Canada or Australia benefit
.

No telling what sorts of mischief this waiver would allow.  What's most chutzpadik is the notion that Israel should be treated to the same waiver that Canadian and Australian dual-citizens receive, as if Israel has as close and friendly relations with the U.S. as those countries.  Don't forget that the U.S. Justice Department ranks Israel third among foreign nations in terms of the intensity of its espionage operations in the U.S.

Regarding worsening relations between Israel and Turkey, six months before the Mavi Marmara fiasco Israel was noticing Turkey wasn't returning the love:

Turkey
------

10. (S) The GOI raised the current direction the Government
of Turkey has taken toward Syria and Iran -- and away from
Israel. Israeli participants argued that Turkey has been
supportive of Hamas in Gaza while pursuing a more "Islamic"
direction with the goal of becoming a regional superpower.
The GOI argued that the Turkish military is losing its
ability to influence government decisions and strategic
direction. After this past year, GOI participants said they
have a "bad feeling" about Turkey. The GOI noted that the
Israel Air Force (IAF) Commander in the past wanted to speak
to the Turkish Air Force Commander, but his Turkish
counterpart declined.

One wonders, given Israel's awareness of the deterioration of relations ("they have a ‘bad feeling'") why it didn't act more cautiously in its attack on the Mavi Marmara.  Did it, by then, not give a crap about relations with Turkey believing they were a lost cause anyway?  Or did someone in the Israeli navy f&*k up big-time and not realize what a disaster was in store given the means they chose to subdue the relief ship?

As noted above, the Israeli are not above dissimulation in their attempts to blow smoke up the U.S.' read end.  A mere two months (the memo is dated July 26, 2007) before Israel attacked Syria's alleged nuclear reactor (an act of aggression which the Syrian's did not respond to), Dagan lies directly to the face of a Bush's Homeland Security advisor in this meeting:

Dagan echoed other reports that Syria expects an
Israeli attack this summer, and has raised its level of
readiness. Despite the fact that Israel has no intention of
attacking
, said Dagan, the Syrians are likely to retaliate
over even the smallest incident
, which could lead to quick
escalation.

Related posts:

EU police court abusers in Colombia and Israel

David Cronin | November 22, 2010


Every once in a while I listen to Computer World, the 1981 album by Kraftwerk, Düsseldorf’s pioneers of electronic music. As the record’s trance-inducing title track opens, I am always struck by the prophetic nature of its lyrics. “Interpol and Deutsche Bank, FBI and Scotland Yard,” a vocoder deadpans, kicking off three infectiously repetitive verses which capture how much modern technology has been shaped by a paranoid nexus of security and commerce.

From early next year, The Hague is scheduled to host a new “hub for criminal information”, according to a document I have had the misfortune of reading. Europol, the EU’s police cooperation body, will move into a stylish headquarters, with glass walls and exhibits of contemporary art. This supposed temple of transparency has been designed to motivate all who enter to fight such scourges as cybercime and credit card fraud, the aforementioned document intimates.

It would be comforting if we could sleep knowing that the police act in the best interests of humanity. But Europol’s brief history is crammed with instances where human rights are disregarded so that its staff can concentrate on narrowly-defined threats.

Originally limited to the illicit drug trade, Europol has adroitly exploited George W Bush’s “war on terror” to carve out a bigger mandate for itself and greater uses for its vast databases. One of the more unsavoury consequences of its growing responsibilities is that it has struck up alliances with repugnant regimes.

In September, Europol signed an agreement to deepen its cooperation with Colombia. Under it, personal data on “known and suspected criminals” may be exchanged with the Bogota authorities, to ensure that there is “solidarity and common purpose in the fight against all kinds of terrorist activity,” Europol’s director Rob Wainwright said.

Colombia, it should be noted, interprets the category “suspected criminal” liberally. Alvaro Uribe, who stepped down as the country’s president in August, has accused human rights activists of being “rent-a-mobs at terrorism’s service”. Throughout his eight years in power, he allowed a culture of impunity to flourish, where trade unionists could be intimidated and murdered without anyone being brought to justice. Investigators of extrajudicial executions by state forces documented over 3,000 such killings – frequently of peasants - between 2002 and 2009, with officers reportedly rewarded with money or promotion. Yet while Uribe took disciplinary action in some cases, he was generally dismissive of the evidence gathered.

Abuses by the Colombian state have not only been targeted at the country’s own nationals. Papers obtained by the Colombian public prosecutor have shown how its secret service, the DAS, has been spying on political campaigners and devised a strategy for “neutralising” a number of individuals and institutions critical of Bogota’s record of repression. Among those mentioned were French and German citizens and the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights.

The 1995 convention regulating Europol’s activities forbids it from processing data that has been obtained through human rights abuses. If this clause was respected Europol would not have signed a cooperation pact with Colombia. Nor would it be negotiating a similar agreement with Israel, Colombia’s best friend in the Middle East. (Israel is the top supplier of weaponry to Colombia).

Europol was given the go-ahead to open cooperation talks with Israel by the EU’s governments in 2005. Although these have not yet led to a formal cooperation accord being finalised, there are strong indications that one could be endorsed by both sides in the near future.

As part of a broader EU policy of mollycoddling Israel, Europol appears willing to overlook the routine use of torture against Palestinian detainees. Although Israel has ratified the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture, the Israeli high court ruled in 1999 that members of the security forces could not be prosecuted if they used coercive methods in “ticking bomb” situations. That loophole has been perceived as a gaping one by Israel’s attorney general who has happily given the army ample legal cover to avail of it, research by Human Rights Watch has concluded.

Photographs posted on Facebook during the summer, meanwhile, depicted a female Israeli soldier posing cheekily beside blindfolded Palestinians. Even if these offered a chilling reminder of how US soldiers in Iraq behaved in the Abu Ghraib scandal, anti-torture watchdogs have made clear that they are the tip of the iceberg. Each year Israel locks up an average of 700 Palestinian children. A recent investigation by Defence for Children International found that out of a sample of 100 such children, 69% were beaten and kicked and 12% threatened with rape or another form of sexual assault in 2009.

Europol’s eagerness to do business with the Israeli police is all the more troubling given how that force has its national HQ in East Jerusalem. In the past few weeks Catherine Ashton, the Union’s foreign policy chief, has criticised the construction of new Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, describing them as illegal under international law. Allowing Europol to work closely with an Israeli police force that is actively seeking to uproot Palestinians from their homes would amount to effectively conferring approval on Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem. It would be a dereliction of the duty of non-recognition, a core legal principle under which governments must not give their blessing to illegal activities.

Surely, it’s time Europol realised that law enforcers are not above international law.

First published by New Europe (www.neurope.eu), 21-27 November 2010

Volvo enables torture of Palestinians

David Cronin | November 26, 2010


Volvo prides itself on being a byword for sturdiness, safety and reliability. After a careful examination of the vehicle-maker's investment in Israel, perhaps it should also become synonymous with enabling torture.

The Swedish company has a direct shareholding of 26.5 percent in the Israeli company Merkavim, manufacturer of the Mars Prisoner Bus. This bus has been specifically designed for use by the Israeli Prison Authority to transport Palestinians apprehended in the occupied West Bank and Gaza to facilities within Israel's internationally-recognized borders. The remainder of Merkavim is owned by Mayer's Cars and Trucks, which doubles up as the exclusive representative of Volvo in Israel.

Evidence amassed by human rights monitors indicates that torture is widespread within Israeli detention centers. Although the country's high court ruled in 1999 that some interrogation methods should be outlawed, Israel continues to approve torture in cases where it is deemed "necessary," Amnesty International has found. An important loophole in the court's ruling indicated that torture is permissible in cases where Israeli security forces face an imminent threat. Israel's attorney general has been all-too-willing to invoke that loophole in order to approve the use of torture, despite how Israel has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Each year Israel locks up an average of 700 Palestinian children, often for offenses no more serious than throwing stones. The organization Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-PS) says that ill-treatment is common while detainees are being transported to prison. "All are subjected to verbal threats and insults," Rifat Kassis, director of DCI-PS's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said. "Some are beaten up, kicked, made to sit in an uncomfortable way. We have children who are handcuffed and blindfolded as well. All of these are methods of restraining children in a painful way."

During September, three children were reportedly given electric shocks by Israeli interrogators in the Jewish-only settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. One of the children was only 14 years of age. A recent investigation by DCI-PS and other anti-torture groups found that out of a sample of 100 children arrested by Israeli forces last year, 69 percent were beaten and kicked and 12 percent threatened with rape or another form of sexual assault.

Kassis also said that by bringing detainees from the occupied West Bank into Israel, the Merkavim buses are facilitating violations of international humanitarian law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, persons convicted for offenses in an occupied territory may only be jailed within that territory.

A representative of Merkavim told me that the company does "not wish to speak to journalists." According to its website, the Mars Prisoner Bus is "the perfect solution for conveying prisoners under guard." Containing six separate compartments, the bus allows for "full surveillance during the sensitive, high-risk drive from one secured facility to another." Among its features are wide windows "fitted with armored glass to prevent breakouts" and "an advanced intercom system and closed-circuit TV."

Per-Martin Johansson, a spokesman for Volvo Buses, said that the Swedish corporation "can't control" what affiliated companies do. "Vehicles to transport prisoners can be found in every country all over the world," he added. "These buses are not special for Israel. They need them in every country to make sure prisoners are not escaping."

Johansson's statement contrasts with the high ethical standards to which Volvo is nominally committed. In 2003 Volvo's board of directors rubber-stamped a "code of conduct" for the company. It says that the company supports "internationally proclaimed human rights and ensures that it is not complicit in human rights abuses."

Despite that code, Volvo has faced numerous accusations that its products are being used as tools of Israeli oppression. In April this year Israeli forces were photographed operating Volvo bulldozers in the Palestinian village of al-Walaja. The forces were carrying out work related to the massive wall that Israel has continued to build on occupied land in the West Bank, despite a 2004 opinion issued by the International Court of Justice declaring the project illegal. The use of Volvo bulldozers in the destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and in the wider West Bank has similarly been documented, with the work of Adri Nieuwhof, a contributor to The Electronic Intifada, proving valuable in highlighting how Volvo profits from the occupation.

Along with its prisoner bus, Merkavim also produces the Mars Defender Bus. The Israeli public transport company Egged runs a fleet of the latter vehicles in the services it provides to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Like the prisoner bus, the Mars Defender contains a Volvo-made chassis.

Mauricio Lazala, a researcher with the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in London, said that major companies like Volvo should study the impact of their corporate activities. "This is especially important in conflict areas," he added. "In conflict areas, abuses can have very ugly manifestations. Therefore, companies should be doubly careful."

At a session held in London this month, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine -- an investigative body inspired by the late British intellectual and anti-war campaigner Bertrand Russell -- concluded that a number of private corporations "play a very decisive role" in enabling Israel to commit crimes against humanity.

Although Volvo was not one of the companies identified by the tribunal, it is facilitating some of the offenses deemed "reprehensible" by this body. These included the provision of services to Israeli settlements and assistance to the construction of the "apartheid wall" in the West Bank. A statement issued by the tribunal noted that corporations complicit in Israeli violations of human rights have placed themselves "on the wrong side of international opinion, morality and law." As a result, they are "undermining the very integrity and credibility of international law and the institutions that underpin it," added the statement, which was endorsed by former South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils, veteran French diplomat Stephane Hassel, Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire and ex-US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Frank Barat, the tribunal's coordinator, said that while it can be legally difficult to prosecute such companies, public campaigns can pressure them into changing their behavior. "What people can do is push their governments to divest from those companies," he said. "If a company is helping to build the wall [in the West Bank] it is helping an illegal act, so it should be sanctioned."

Volvo's attempts to justify its investments in Israel are disingenuous. The corporation cannot claim that the activities of a subsidiary have nothing to do with its headquarters in Gothenburg or that Merkavim's buses are no different from other prison buses found around the world. It is abundantly clear that these vehicles are tailored especially to meet the sadistic "needs" of the Israeli occupation; indeed, that is their selling point.

Supplying Israel’s prison services is not analogous to aiding the prison services of any other country. Israel deliberately uses mass imprisonment and torture to deny Palestinians the right to resist their occupation. Addameer, a prisoner’s support group, has documented how 650,000 Palestinians – one-fifth of the population living in the occupied territories – have been incarcerated since 1967.

Whatever Volvo may say, the truth is that it has become a subcontractor for the Israeli occupation. Drivers in Europe and America might feel secure as they slide into the well-upholstered seat of a car made by Volvo. In Palestine, the same company is facilitating the torture of children.

28 November 2010

Nederzettingenproducten



Gea en Piet Wastenecker willen het Joodse volk en hun land helpen door als consulent producten uit Israel te verkopen en ieder jaar reizen naar Israël te organiseren om zo het volk te bemoedigen. (locomedia)

Israël gaat deportatiekamp bouwen voor Afrikaanse illegalen

"Goyim [niet-joden] zijn alleen geboren om ons te dienen. Los daarvan, hebben zij geen plaats in deze wereld; alleen om het volk van Israël te dienen." --Rabbijn Ovadia Yosef, de geestelijk leider van de Shas partij (11 zetels), 11 oktober 2010 2010

Israël gaat een groot deportatiekamp bouwen in de Negev-woestijn voor duizenden Afrikaanse illegalen die het wil uitzetten. Maar niet voor de duizenden Thaise, Chinese en Filippijnse illegalen, die al jarenlang worden uitgebuit door Israëlische boeren. Waarom zou dat zijn? Vanwege de huidskleur? Misschien willen de Afrikanen geen methamfetamine gebruiken om harder en langer te kunnen werken?

De NRC is de enige Nederlandse krant die erover bericht - maar het woord "kamp", en dat het gaat om Afrikanen, wordt in tegenstelling tot de buitenlandse mainstream pers verzwegen. NRC meldt dat "duizenden illegale migranten ... zullen worden gehuisvest in de zuidelijke Negev-woestijn." Gehuisvest?

» Thaise gastarbeiders in Israël systematisch uitgebuit

» Exploited Thais in no man's land
As Israeli rockets whizzed overhead bombarding Gaza, migrant labourers were ordered to work on while their employer took his dogs to safety.

» Netanyahu: Illegal African immigrants - a threat to Israel's Jewish character


A group of children of foreign workers that could be deported from Israel by a decision of the Israeli governament. People took the streets of Tel Aviv to protest against this possibility. August 14 2010

Israel to expel 400 migrant workers’ kids
Monday, August 2, 2010 LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM — Israel moved Sunday to deport the offspring of hundreds of migrant workers, mostly small children who were born in Israel, speak Hebrew and have never seen their parents’ native countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the new policy was intended to stem a flood of illegal aliens, whose children receive state-funded education and health care benefits, and to defend Israel’s Jewish identity.

CIDI-leugens en hypocrisie voor Rosenthal

Eergisteren stuurde het CIDI een brief aan aan minister Uri Rosenthal met het verzoek zich krachtig uit te spreken tegen de Iraanse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Manouchehr Mottaki, die deelneemt aan de 14th Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in Den Haag. Israël is daar vreemd genoeg - toevallig samen met een andere schurkenstaat, Myanmar (Birma) - aanwezig als "observer". In tegenstelling tot Iran heeft Israël het verdrag om chemische wapens uit te bannen wel getekend maar weigert het te ratificeren. Tijdens de laatste grote aanval op Gaza is weer gebleken waarom: Israël gebruikte o.a. (witte) fosforbommen op dichtbevolkte gebieden - een oorlogsmisdaad die het CIDI net zo prima in orde vond als dat Israël dat deed.

"gedreigd"
Volgens het CIDI heeft Mottaki twee jaar geleden gedreigd "dat het zionistische regime gedoemd is vernietigd te worden". Dat is 100% uit de duim gezogen. Mottaki herhaalde twee jaar geleden een uitspraak van Khomeini: "Als elke moslim een emmer water over Israël zou gooien, zou het wegspoelen." Wow. En dat "het zionistische regime" van binnenuit zou desintegreren. Maar zelfs wanneer Mottaki zou hebben gesteld dat Israël 'tot iets gedoemd' zou zijn is er in wezen geen enkele sprake van een bedreiging. Daarnaast heeft Iran nog nooit een ander land aangevallen. In tegenstelling tot Israël.
De hypocrisie van het CIDI in deze is natuurlijk dat Israël, nota bene de enige (en illegale) kernwapenmacht in het Midden-Oosten, de laatste jaren Iran doorlopend bedreigt met bombardementen. Nog nooit heeft het CIDI dat veroordeeld.

"ontkenning van de holocaust"
Waar zou het CIDI zijn zonder de Tweede Wereldoorlog om de misdaden van Israël te verdedigen en te promoten? Het gaat hier dus weer om "de ontkenning van de Holocaust", in deze van Mottaki. Specifieker gaat het om de twijfel van president Ahmedinejad over de juiste getallen zoals gehanteerd voor de holocaust, en Mottaki heeft in 2006 op een Iraanse 'holocaust-conferentie' verdedigd dat Iran de holocaust niet ontkent, maar er iedereen, in tegenstelling tot in Europa, wel een mening over gunt. En dat is exact dezelfde opstelling als die van de VS (maar bijvoorbeeld ook die van Groot-Brittannië), die Artikel 1 van hun Grondwet trouw wil blijven. In de VS zijn neonazi-groeperingen dan ook legaal, en worden hun manifestaties door de overheid beschermd. Hier dus ook weer hypocrisie van het CIDI, die de VS hier nimmer over heeft bekritiseerd.

"de ontwikkeling van het kernwapen"
Ontwikkelt Iran "het" kernwapen? Nee. Bestaat "de ontwikkeling van het Iraanse atoomwapen", aldus het CIDI? Nee. Heeft Iran het recht om kernenergie te ontwikkelen? Ja. Heeft Iran het anti-proliferatieverdrag ondertekend? Ja. En Israël? Nee. Heeft Israël kernwapens? Ja. Heeft het CIDI dat wel eens bekritiseerd? Nee.


Gaza 2008

"Herhaaldelijk is Iran ervan beschuldigd voorraden van chemische wapens te hebben die blaren veroorzaken en bloed vergiftigen. Mogelijk zijn er ook zenuwgassen in het land opgeslagen."
Heeft Iran chemische wapens? Nooit bewezen. Het CIDI beroept zich op een rapport van de VS in opgesteld in 2003, waarin het stelde dat Iran "likely has already stockpiled blister, blood choking, and probably nerve agents." In de jaren daarna volgde Amerikaanse rapporten die stelden dat de betreffende chemicaliën uitsluitend werden gebruikt voor burgerlijke en commerciële doeleinden, die het CIDI blijkbaar negeert.
Heeft Israël chemische wapens? Bewezen, aangezien Israël ze ook daadwerkelijk gebruikt. Hier meer informatie. Maar het CIDI meldt geenzins dat Israël daarom 'niet thuishoort' op de betreffende conferentie in Den Haag.

Last but not least: "Mottaki heeft jarenlang mede vorm gegeven aan grove schendingen van de mensenrechten"
Weet het CIDI niet meer hoeveel en hoe vaak Israël de mensenrechten schendt? Feit is: elke dag, elk uur, elke minuut en elke seconde, decennialang, en op grote schaal. Israël schendt daarnaast meer VN-resoluties dan alle landen van de wereld bij elkaar. En nog geen week geleden nodigde het CIDI een mensenrechtenschender uit in Nederland, de "burgemeester" Avi Naim van de illegale nederzetting Beit Aryeh-Ofrim op de Westelijke Jordaanover. Dit nadat de Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten (VNG) terecht had besloten om geen criminelen, in deze de "burgemeesters" van nederzettingen op de Westoever en de Golanhoogten, te fêteren.

27 November 2010

CIDI Steun voor Terreur

Stan van Houcke | 27 november 2010


Ik kreeg van een joodse vredesactiviste deze vraag opgestuurd

Kunnen we als particulieren een aanklacht tegen die meneer indienen in het kader van universele jurisdictie?
En tegen Directeur CIDI wegens aiding and abetting? We zouden dit weekend actie willen ondernemen.


Een goede vraag, want in 2004 bepaalde het Internationaal Gerechtshof in Den Haag, het hoogste rechtscollege ter wereld dat de Joodse nederzettingen op de Westbank illegaal waren
en onmiddellijk ontruimd dienden te worden, waarbij werd aangetekend dat:

159. Given the character and the importance of the rights and obligations involved, the Court is of the view that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They are also under an obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction. It is also for all States, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wall, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self determination is brought to an end. In addition, all the States parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 are under an obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.

Met andere woorden: de Nederlandse staat dient op te treden tegen een Nederlandse propaganda-organisatie die hier Joods-Israeli's een platform geeft om de terreur van de bezetting en diefstal van Palestijns land te rechtvaardigen. Men zou een kort geding kunnen aanspannen tegen de Nederlandse vanwege het niet voldoen aan 'an obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction.' Of dit het gewenste resultaat tot gevolg heeft is een tweede, in elk geval zal het de broodnodige publiciteit opleveren.
Abu Pessoptimist stel het zo:

Het CIDI laat ook het laatste progressieve vijgenblaadje definitief zakken

Abu Pessoptimist | 26 november 2010



Demonstratie van het CIDI voor Israel. Links op de foto CIDI-directeur Ronny Naftaniel.

Ach, het CIDI. Ooit opgericht na de Yom Kippur oorlog en de Arabische olieboycot van de VS en Nederland om een beetje begrip te kweken voor Israel in een tijd dat het ze daar in Jeruzalem wat tegen zat. Ooit een beetje progressief, voor een twee-statenoplossing toen de rechtse Israeli's daar mordicus tegen waren, en tegen de nederzettingen toen de rechtse Israeli's daar juist erg voor waren.
Maar dat was toen. In een tijd waarin rechts in Israel het voor het zeggen heeft, waarin zelfs Netayahu zegt voor een twee-statenoplossing te zijn, en waarin het CIDI moet opkomen voor een Israel waarvan bijna een tiende van de bevolking woont in nederzettingen in Oost-Jeruzalem of op de Westoever, heeft het CIDI niets progressiefs meer. Eén van zijn medewerkers, Wim Kortenoeven, kon zelfs moeiteloos met zijn anti-Islamitische en anti-Palestijnse standpunten overstappen van de CIDI-burelen in de bankjes van de PVV_fractie in de Tweede Kamer. CIDI steunt het Israelische afknijpbeleid van Gaza, spreekt zich niet uit tegen de hardhandige judaïsering van Jeruzalem, neemt geen stelling tegen het pakket ultra-nationalistische wetten dat nu op behandeling wacht in de Knesset en omhelst intussen ook het nederzettingebeleid.
Nou ja, probeert het nederzettingenbeleid salonfähig te maken. Maar dat komt wel ongeveer op hetzelfde neer. Lees wat het CIDI schrijft op zijn site:

'Onlangs weigerde de Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten (VNG) om een dertigtal Israelische collega's te ontvangen in Nederland, omdat daar ook enkele burgemeesters van steden op de Westelijke Jordaanoever bij zaten. In de delegatie waren zowel Joodse als Arabische burgemeesters vertegenwoordigd. Omdat CIDI meent dat de contacten tussen de Nederlandse en Israelische lokale overheden nuttig en inspirerend kunnen zijn, hebben we enkele leden van de aanvankelijke delegatie uitgenodigd alsnog ons land te bezoeken.'

Let op de woordkeus: er zaten ook enkele burgemeesters van steden op de Westelijke Jordaanoever bij. Die steden heten in de wandeling nederzettingen.

Het CIDI weer:

'Tussen 28 en 30 november komen drie Israelische burgemeesters op uitnodiging van het CIDI naar Nederland. Het programma bestaat ondermeer uit ontmoetingen met Tweede Kamerleden, een gesprek met een vertegenwoordiger van de VNG en een bezoek aan enkele gemeenten en burgemeesters . Op maandagavond 29 november om 20.00 uur worden ze bij het CIDI in Den Haag ontvangen. Vrienden van het CIDI kunnen zich nog aanmelden om deze bijeenkomst bij te wonen.
De delegatie bestaat uit de volgende personen: Dhr. Pini Badash, voormalig Knesset-lid en burgemeester van Omer gelegen in de Negev woestijn. Dhr. Samir Darwish, burgemeester van Zemer, een samenvoeging van verschillende Arabische gemeenten in Noord-Israel en Avi Naim, burgemeester van Beit Arye-Ofarim, een plaatsje op de Westelijke Jordaanoever 13 km ten oosten van vliegveld Ben Gurion.'

En weer die woordkeus: Beit Arye-Ofarim, een plaatsje op de Westelijke Jordaanoever.

Voor wie het niet weet hier wat bijzonderheden over Beit Aryeh. Beit Aryeh, een nederzetting van de rechtse (Herut)- jeugdbeweging Betar, en Ofarim zijn twee nederzettingen die enkele jaren geleden tot één nederzetting van ruim 3000 mensen werden samengevoegd. Ze zijn grotendeels gebouwd op land dat is afgenomen van het enkele duizenden jaren oude christelijke, Palestijnse dorp Aboud, waarschijnlijk een van de oudste dorpen in Palestina. Dit schrijft de Britse christelijke organisatie Leicester Holy Land Appeal erover:

In 1980 the illegal Israeli settlement Beit Arye was built on 80 Hectares confiscated from Aboud. In 1982 a further 70 Hectares were taken for construction of the illegal settlement Ofarim. The neighbouring villages such as Al-Lubban and Rantis also lost land with construction of the settlements. In December 2000 settlers burnt or uprooted 4000 Aboud Olive Trees. Raids by settlers continue. On 7th October 2005 they uprooted 500 grape vines in Aboud.

Dat is echter niet alles. Beit Aryeh en Ofarim zijn ook via een extra bocht van het zogenoemde 'Veiligheidshek' (ook wel De Muur) bij de Israelische kant getrokken om het zo te zeggen. Op het kaartje hieronder is te zien dat de Muur Aboud isoleert van de omliggend dorpen en van zijn land.


De Rode lijn is het tracé van de Muur, de roze en groene lijnen geven aan waar gebied ten behoeve van de Muur geannexeerd is.

The Leicester Holy Land Appeal zegt erover dat de Muur de inwoners van Aboud isoleert van een verdere 3887 Dunums(10 Dunums= One Hectare, 4 Dunums= One Acre) oftewel 26% van hun land, van een groot deel van hun olijf- en fruitbomen en van een belangrijk deel van de water aquifer (20% van de Westbank watervoorraad) waarop hun dorp is gevestigd. Ook snijdt de Muur het dorp af van Rantis en andere dorpen in het noordwesten.

Ik weet niet met welke Kamerleden deze bezoekende burgemeesters gaan praten, maar als het Kamerleden van het CDA, de ChristenUnie of de SGP zijn, is het wellicht interessant voor hen om te weten dat burgemeester Avi Naim van Beit Aryeh land heeft ingepikt, niet alleen van één van de alleroudste dorpen, maar ook van een van de alleroudste christelijke dorpen in Palestina. Volgens de eigen overlevering is het dorp 3000 jaar oud en was het nog Christus zelf die hen heeft bekeerd. (Wellicht is de informatie ook interessant voor Christenen voor Israel. Zij zijn onlangs nog langs geweest om Beit Aryeh, net als een aantal andere illegale nederzettingen, te verblijden met een hoeveelheid bloembollen).


Man in Aboud met kruisbeeld.

Nogmaals de Leicester Holy Land Appeal:

Local tradition states that three millennia old Aboud received the faith of Christ from Christ himself. Ruins of the ancient Messiah Church mark the location where Jesus is said to have preached. Close to the village is the Roman Road that Jesus and the Holy Family would have used when travelling between the Galilee and Jerusalem. The Orthodox church in Aboud, was built in the 4th century days of the Roman emperor Constantine. The Byzantine capitals of its columns bear the image of cross and palm branches. In the southern wall of the church there is a plaque in Aramaic the language of Jesus.

There are remains of nine ancient churches in and around the village

Nog een kleine bijzonderheid die ook voor anderen die Avi Naim gaan ontmoeten de moeite waard is: Deze burgemeester werd in december 2009 korte tijd gearresteerd omdat hij de aanstichter was van het gewelddadig tegenhouden van inspecteurs die de toen afgekondigde bouwstop van tien maanden moesten controleren in zijn dorp.



Bij deze demonstratie van de oprechte vredeswil van de inwoners van de nederzetting, raakte een inspecteur gewond.

Om kort te gaan en terug te keren naar het begin: Het CIDI verzette zich ertegen dat de Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten onlangs een uitnodiging aan een dertigtal burgemeesters uit Israel introk, omdat er een aantal burgemeesters bijzat van nederzettingen op de Westoever (en daaronder een paar van de ergste diehards om niet te zeggen misdadigers). Het CIDI gaf daarmee al te kennen dat het de nederzettingenpolitiek wellicht nog met de mond afkeurt, maar in feite probeert goed te praten door de taboes te doorbreken op de omgang met vertegenwoordigers van deze gemeenten die in strijd met het internationaal recht zijn opgericht in bezet Palestijns gebied. Nu gaat de organisatie van Naftaniel nog een stapje verder door zelf, actief, zo'n illegale kolonistenvoorman hier naar toe te halen, voor te stellen aan de VNG, Tweede Kamerleden en de eigen CIDI-achterban. De conclusie moet duidelijk zijn, lijkt me. Het CIDI heeft zijn bezwaren tegen de nederzettingen laten varen en definitief ook laatste progressieve vijgenblaadje waar het nog meende staat op te kunnen maken, laten zakken. Als het nu nog probeert de indruk te wekken een eigen kijk op de situatie in Israel/Palestina te hebben, los van die van de regering in Jeruzalem, dan is dat hypocriete kletskoek - niets anders.

25 November 2010

CIDI moet en zal een crimineel in Nederland fêteren

Het CIDI zegt tegen nederzettingen te zijn, dus is het opmerkelijk dat het de nederzetting Beit Arye-Ofarim een "een plaatsje" noemt. Desalniettemin nodigt het een crimineel (illegale bezetter, mensenrechtenschender, dief, etc.) uit om te fêteren in politiek Nederland, met als doel de bezetting van de Westelijke Jordaanoever te legitimeren.

"Omdat CIDI meent dat de contacten tussen de Nederlandse en Israelische lokale overheden nuttig en inspirerend kunnen zijn, hebben we enkele leden van de aanvankelijke delegatie uitgenodigd alsnog ons land te bezoeken."

Dat het CIDI meent dat de Nederlandse overheid zich moet laten inspireren door een crimineel die mensenrechten schendt is ronduit verwerpelijk.

Wat het CIDI natuurlijk niet meldt is dat de betreffende 'burgemeester' Avi Naim een leiderfiguur is in de ultranationalistische en militante kolonistenbeweging, bekend van hun aanvallen op Palestijnse burgers en het platbranden van hun boomgaarden. Nadat hij vorig jaar een inspecteur verwondde tijdens een actie van kolonisten tegen de 'bouwstop' werd hij gearresteerd (zie video).


8 november 2005: 'burgemeester' Avi Naim van de illegale nederzetting Beit Aryeh (Beit Arieh) legt Ariel 'De Slager' Sharon uit waar hij het 'veiligheidshek' wil laten lopen. Omdat hij iets te enthousiast was geweest in het stelen van Palestijns land ordonneerde het Israëlische Hooggerechtshof dat hij zijn 'hek' een beetje moest verleggen.


Palestinian Hamdi walks on the rubble of his father's house in the West Bank village of Lubban al-Gharbi on July 21, 2010 after Israeli forces demolished two houses and four shops that were built without the army's permit near a road leading to the nearby Jewish settlement of Beit Arieh.


Palestinians run for cover during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Lubban al-Gharbi on July 21, 2010 after Israeli forces demolished two houses and four shops that were built without the army's permit near a road leading to the nearby Jewish settlement of Beit Arieh.

Ook de nederzetting Beit Arye-Ofarim, genoemd naar een joodse terrorist van de Irgun, wordt door Dexia gefinancierd.

Nederzettingen: inspirerend? Voor onze media blijkbaar wel, die het persbericht van het CIDI onverkort overnemen. Dus lezen we o.a. over "Arabische gemeenten" en "een plaatsje op de Westelijke Jordaanoever".

Israeli police blasted for abusing Jerusalem children

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli police were accused of "flagrant violations" of the law Thursday over their harsh and at times violent treatment of Palestinian children suspected of stone-throwing in east Jerusalem.

The allegations were detailed in a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a group of 60 Israeli professionals, among them experts in medicine, psychology, education, social work and law -- all of whom work with children.

The letter expresses concern about the growing number of testimonies submitted by Palestinian minors who have been arrested by police in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, notably in the flashpoint neighbourhood of Silwan.

"We are writing ... to express our deep concerns about the physical and emotional welfare and proper development of children and young people in east Jerusalem in the light of police behaviour during the investigation and arrest of minors in this area," it said.

"Over the last few months, there has been a growing number of testimonies of minors and their families which point to flagrant violations of the rights of detained minors, and of the use of violence during the investigation of children and young people who are suspected of throwing stones in Silwan."


Masked Israeli policemen arrest two Palestinians during clashes near Damascus
Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City February 9, 2007. [MaanImages/Magnus Johansson]

Youngsters have testified how they were dragged out of bed in the dead of the night, cuffed and taken for investigation without being accompanied by their parents -- and sometimes without their family even being informed, it said.

During the investigation, "they suffered threats and humiliation at the hand of the investigators .. which sometimes involved substantial physical violence," it said, noting with concern that even children under the age of 12 were being detained.

The crumbling neighbourhood of Silwan, which lies just south of Jerusalem's Old City, is the focal point of regular clashes between locals and hardline Jewish settlers, with police frequently arresting youngsters on charges of stone-throwing.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state and oppose any attempts to extend Israel's control over the part of the city that was captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its "eternal and indivisible" capital, a status not recognised by the international community.

(Ma'an News, 25/11/2010)

Publish It Not

The Link - Volume 43, Issue 5 | by Jonathan Cook | Nov-Dec 2010


In the mid-1990s, I arrived in Jerusalem for the first time–then as a tourist–with the potent Western myth at the front of my consciousness: that of Israel as “a light unto the nations,” the plucky underdog facing a menacing Arab world. A series of later professional shocks as a freelance journalist reporting on Israel would shatter those assumptions.

These disillusioning experiences came in the early stages of the second intifada, the Palestinian uprising that began in late 2000. At the time I was often writing for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, first as a staff member based in the foreign department at its head office in London, then later as a freelance journalist in Nazareth. The Guardian has earned an international reputation—including in Israel—as the Western newspaper most critical of Israel’s actions. That may be true, but I quickly found that there were still very clear, and highly unusual, limitations on what could be written about Israel.

Particularly problematic for the Guardian—as with other news media —was anything that questioned Israel’s claim to being a democracy or highlighted the contradictions between that claim and Israel’s Jewish self-definition. The Guardian’s most famous editor, C P Scott, was a high-profile lobbyist for Jewish rights in what was then Palestine. He was also instrumental in bringing about the Balfour Declaration—the British government’s commitment to the Zionist movement in 1917 to create a “national home” in Palestine for Jews.

Thus, I was not entirely surprised that an account I submitted based on my investigations of an apparent shoot-to-kill policy by the Israeli police against its own Palestinian citizens at the start of the second intifada was sat on for months by the paper. After I made repeated queries, the features editor informed me that he could not run it because it was no longer “fresh.”

Another report about the suspected use by Israel of an experimental type of tear gas against schoolchildren near Bethlehem—and earlier in Gaza— was rejected. Eyewitness testimony I had collected from respected French doctors working in local hospitals who believed the gas was causing the children nerve damage—a suspicion shared by a leading international human rights organization—was dismissed as “inadequate.” The foreign editor told me he was concerned that no other journalists had reported the story—leading me to wonder for the first time in my career whether newspapers were actually interested in exclusives.

I also remember arguing with the foreign desk about another story I offered on a new section of the wall Israel was starting to build in Jerusalem, on the sensitive site of the Mount of Olives, in time for Easter 2004. It would block a famous procession that had been held for hundreds of years by Christian pilgrims every Palm Sunday, following the route Jesus took on a donkey from the Biblical town of Bethany into Jerusalem. I was flabbergasted when an editor told me it was of no interest. “Readers are tired of stories about the wall,” she said, apparently ignoring the fact that the story also raised troubling concerns about the protection of religious freedoms and Christian tradition in the Holy Land.

The most disturbing moment professionally, however, followed my investigation into the death of a United Nations worker, and British citizen, Iain Hook, in Jenin refugee camp at the hands of an Israeli sniper in 2002. As the only journalist to have actually gone to the U.N. compound in Jenin in the immediate aftermath of his death, I was able to piece together what had happened, speak to Palestinian witnesses and later get access to details of a suppressed U.N. report into the killing.

Israel claimed that the sniper who shot Hook in the back believed the U.N. official was really a Palestinian militant holding a grenade, rather than a mobile phone, and that he was about to throw it at Israeli troops. My investigation showed that the sniper’s account had to be a lie. From his position on the top floor of a small apartment block overlooking the compound, the sniper could not have misidentified through his telescopic sights either the distinctive red-haired Hook or the phone. In any case, Hook would not have been able to throw anything from out of the compound because it was surrounded by a high concrete wall and a chainmail fence right up to the metal awning that covered the entire site. If Hook had thrown a grenade, it would have bounced right back at him - as the sniper, who had been positioned in the apartment for several hours, must have known.

When I offered this investigation to the Guardian’s foreign editor, he sounded worried. Again I was told, as if in admonition, that no other media had covered the story. But it seemed to me that this time even the foreign editor realized he was offering excuses rather than reasons for not publishing. As I argued my case, he agreed to publish a small article looking at the diplomatic fall-out from Hook’s killing, and the mounting pressure on the U.N. He had bought me off.

Shortly afterwards I recruited Chris McGreal, the Guardian’s recently appointed Jerusalem bureau chief, to my struggle to get Hook’s story told. McGreal, the paper’s distinguished South Africa correspondent who covered the apartheid era, had quickly brought a much keener critical edge to the Guardian’s coverage of Israel—and, from what I saw, had battled hard for the privilege. He lobbied for the paper to print my article and personally took the project under his wing.

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Who is “right-wing” and what is “pro-Israel”?

Labels attached to news pieces frame stories in the readers’ minds and ultimately, shape political views. Haaretz as a case study

+972 Magazine | by Mairav Zonszein | Nov 25 2010


In Haaretz’s recent expose “How the state helped right-wing groups settle East Jerusalem,” the use of the term “right-wing” is both superfluous and disingenuous. Whether one sees the agenda of settler organizations, like Elad and Ateret Cohanim, as left or right, it is being implemented through illegal, crooked means. This is the central aspect of the story and, while saturated in politics, should speak for itself.

So why did Haaretz feel compelled to qualify the settler groups as “right-wing” and Dror Etkes, the “activist” who initiated legal proceedings against them, as “leftist?” The use of political labels is a common journalistic tool for identifying a group or individual on the political spectrum; a way to help orient the reader. But in many cases such labels may actually obscure the real story. Here, the familiar left-right distinction detracts from the fact that the upper echelons of the state and its authorities are in contempt of law and encourages the reader to deduce, from the headline itself, whose “side” he should be on.

This report is just one example of the misuse of labels in news stories, but it is a strong one precisely because it is not a piece about two competing political visions, as is the issue surrounding the cultural center in Ariel, one could argue.

“Left” and “right” are not the only labels being used extraneously in the paper. Last spring, around Israel Independence Day, Elie Wiesel published an ad in three major American newspapers stating: “For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics.” Haaretz then published a story about American reactions to the ad, taking the liberty to call it the “‘pro-Israel’ Jerusalem ad.” (Barak Ravid. “U.S. Officials Slam Pro-Israel Jerusalem Ad.Haaretz. April 21, 2010).


What prompted Haaretz to classify the ad as “pro-Israel”? At first glance it seems that the paper is weighing in on the matter by equating the insistence that Jerusalem is beyond political discourse with a “pro-Israel” stance. However, anyone familiar with Haaretz’s journalistic style who has also read the ad must conclude that the paper’s insertion of the adjective “pro-Israel” could only mean one of two things: Either it was an error committed by the copyeditor when formulating the headline, or, more likely, Haaretz intended to communicate that since Wiesel’s ad expresses unmistakable support for the Israeli government line (which currently is, in fact, that Jerusalem is not up for discussion), it therefore qualifies as “pro-Israel.”

However, the ad did not convey that Jerusalem’s future should be determined unequivocally by Israel’s government, but that Jerusalem is beyond the bounds of political negotiation altogether. Wiesel is not interested in Jerusalem’s status as a segregated, conflict-ridden city administered by the State of Israel, but rather with his own personal conception of historical and primordial entitlement to the city as a Jew (not an Israeli). The newspaper’s choice to label this as “pro-Israel” is therefore misinformed at best and biased at worst. But more importantly, it shows how the use of such dichotomous labels in the news can obscure, rather than elucidate, a story.

After all, the term “pro-Israel” has become a highly contested concept, specifically among American Jews, as exemplified most plainly by the fact that there are now three rival Israel lobbies in the US – AIPAC, J Street and the Emergency Committee for Israel –that all identify as “pro-Israel.”

Whereas for the first 20 years of Israel’s existence, being “pro-Israel” in the American Jewish community largely meant unconditional support for the Israeli government line, since the 1977 shift from Labor to Likud rule and the subsequent war in Lebanon, engaged American Jews increasingly define “pro-Israelism” in relation to what they deem to be in Israel’s best interests – and there are many different notions of what those interests are and how they should be implemented.

When a group of Israelis and Americans interrupted Netanyahu’s speech at the General Assembly of North American Jewish Federations earlier this month, Haaretz had an item on its ticker in Hebrew that labeled them as “anti-Israel protestors.” In the report in Hebrew that appeared later on, this label disappeared, and instead they were called “leftwing activists.” (The article in English chose the term “hecklers.”) In this case the ticker was clearly an embarrassing faux pas, since Haaretz does not endorse the notion that criticizing the occupation is an “anti-Israel” stance, and should not be making such judgments one way or another.

These cases call into question the newspaper’s use of political demarcations as descriptive, when in fact they primarily function as prescriptive and normative. Journalists are obviously not objective or apolitical, but they are supposed to tell a story or present an analysis. They should not perpetuate slogans and broad political designations, especially when they do not serve to illuminate any aspect of the story. Although the intention behind using popular markers may be to level with the reader, often the effect is that the terms guide the content, instead of the content guiding the terms.

Mairav Zonszein is an Israeli-American freelance journalist based in Jerusalem whose work focuses on contemporary Jewish identity politics. She is active with the direct-action group Ta’ayush.

Geen nieuws in Nederland: Dutch government secures limited exports for Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli officials approved the export of strawberries and carnations from Gaza for the second year in a row under a continuing Dutch government program to support farmers in the coastal enclave, officials confirmed Thursday, but said that approval for the export of a limited number of vegetables remained pending.

Palestinian crossings liaison official Raed Fattouh said Wednesday that Israel had agreed to some limited exports, with two truckloads of strawberries set to leave the Strip on Sunday as a trial run for the season.

Director of the Dutch initiative in Gaza Yousef Shaath said the strawberry export season was expected to last from 28 November to 24 February, with a total of 700 tons of the fruit set to pass out of the coastal enclave.

Carnation export, the official said, was expected to begin on 5 December and last until 10 May, with 30 million stems scheduled for delivery to flower auction houses in Amsterdam.

Israeli delays in the start of the export season for 2009 saw less than half of the scheduled 40 million stems reach their destination, with some 25 million flowers fed to livestock after perishing due to the wait.

Cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers

The still devastated Gaza economy and the success of the Dutch government program for 2009 lead to a limited expansion of the project for 2010, with a $2.6 million grant from the Netherlands supporting the planting of 50 dunums of cherry tomatoes and 50 dunums of sweet peppers in addition to the more than 700 dunums of strawberries and carnations.

"Dutch officials met with Israeli government personnel on Wednesday to push the issue," Shaath said, adding that "until now we do not have a commitment for the export of the vegetables."

The products, Shaath explained, were planted specifically for export, "these are cash crops, selling them on the local market would not even make back the total cost of planting and harvesting," saying organizers hoped to receive approval for the export in the coming days.

Gaza's only exports

With Israel's siege on the Gaza Strip continuing to prohibit all other exports, the farming products sold under the auspices of the Dutch government initiative remains the only trade commerce program in the area.

In 2009, carnations from Gaza sold at an average auction price of €0.12, earning an estimated €1.8 million for farmers.

"The income goes directly to the farmers," Shaath said, "the Dutch program gives grants to producers," covering much of the basic costs involved in the growing and harvesting process, then secures passage for the products.

"We are starting small with the vegetables this year since we do not know if they will be accepted for export," Shaath said, "but the margins for the cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers are better for the farmers."

If the export proposal is not accepted, the goods will likely be sold locally for below cost.

(Ma'an News 25.11.2010)

Martin Bosma (2)

"Ik ben vierkant pro-Israël ('extreem-rechtse kolonistenleiders' - zoals de krant hen noemt - zijn voor mij mensen bij wie ik graag over de vloer kom)." (NRC 24.11.10) (update: NRC heeft het verwijderd, hier nog wel te lezen)

» Short History of Israeli Right Wing Terrorism

» UN report: Israeli settler violence



» How To Kill Goyim And Influence People: Leading Israeli Rabbis Defend Manual for For Killing Non-Jews

» IDF West Bank commander: Rightist violence encouraged by settler leaders



» Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

» Yaakov (Jack) Teitel - Terror against all

» Jewish religious terrorism



» Zeev Sternhell: Jewish terrorism threatens Israel

» The Public Face Of Settlers



» Report 2010: Settlers kill 3 Palestinian children and wound scores of others over a 2 year period

» The US cash behind extremist settlers

» Extremist West Bank settlers help stir Acre violence

» Hebron Rioters Inspired by Radical Settler Leaders



And when it’s all over,
my dear, dear reader,
on which benches will we have to sit,
those of us who shouted “Death to the Arabs!”
and those who claimed they “didn’t know”?


-- Nostalgia (2002), by Aharon Shabtai

How to Kill Goyim and Influence People: Israeli Rabbis Defend Book's Shocking Religious Defense of Killing Non-Jews (with Video)

A rabbinical guidebook for killing non-Jews has sparked an uproar in Israel and exposed the power a bunch of genocidal theocrats wield over the government.

AlterNet | By Max Blumenthal | August 30, 2010


When I went into the Jewish religious book emporium, Pomeranz, in central Jerusalem to inquire about the availability of a book called Torat Ha'Melech, or the King's Torah, a commotion immediately ensued. "Are you sure you want it?" the owner, M. Pomeranz, asked me half-jokingly. "The Shabak [Israel's internal security service] is going to want a word with you if you do." As customers stopped browsing and began to stare in my direction, Pomeranz pointed to a security camera affixed to a wall. "See that?" he told me. "It goes straight to the Shabak!"

Jewish settlements targeted in divestment campaign

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — There is a budding movement by foreign investors and activists to join a Palestinian campaign against companies doing business in the West Bank — aimed at hitting them in their pockets.

Pension funds in Norway and Sweden have divested themselves of holdings in some firms involved in building in settlements or helping to erect Israel's contentious West Bank separation barrier.

European activists are cranking up pressure on companies by exposing the West Bank ties and picketing stores that sell settlement goods. And some major U.S. churches are questioning companies as a precursor to possible divestment.

The economic impact is still negligible. Jewish groups are pushing back and key institutions, including U.S. universities, have rejected calls to divest. But in business, where image is all-important, it's tough to shrug off potentially negative publicity.

Israel accuses boycott advocates of trying to delegitimize the Jewish state. It also argues that plenty of companies with ties to states with horrendous human rights records are not similarly targeted.

The focus on corporate involvement comes against the backdrop of a wider Palestinian movement of divestment and boycott, inspired by the economic assault on apartheid-era South Africa.

The Palestinians hope such pressure will achieve what years of negotiations have not — end Israel's occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, lands they want for a state. Israel withdrew all forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip, the other territory claimed by the Palestinians, in 2005.

While the Palestinians seek a blanket boycott of Israel, many foreign supporters do not.

"This is not divestment from Israel. It's divestment from companies supporting the occupation," said William Aldrich, head of the divestment task force at the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Divestment is meant to make a moral statement, said Aldrich, whose group recommends that Methodists sell stock in 29 foreign and Israeli companies, though that call has not been adopted by his church at the national level.

"The big success is that is has become an issue," added Merav Amir of the Tel Aviv-based Coalition of Women for Peace, whose database of companies has become a resource for investors and activists.

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister who supports a West Bank pullout, said Israel should be concerned.

"There is a trend of ideological consumerism in some of the world's countries, in addition to a delegitimization campaign against the state of Israel," she told a business conference Wednesday. "I believe we have to light a few warning lights."

Foreign and Israeli companies operating in the West Bank have benefited over the years from cheap land, tax incentives and low-cost Palestinian labor. A growing settler population — 500,000 in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — has made it increasingly worthwhile for Israeli banks, supermarket chains and others to set up branches on war-won land.

With scrutiny intensifying, foreign companies and investments could be more vulnerable to pressure.

Results are still modest.

Norway's $500 billion oil fund, Europe's largest institutional investor, and Swedish pension funds managing more than $100 billion in assets have dropped the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems Ltd., which provides surveillance equipment for the separation barrier.

The funds say Elbit violated ethical norms because of its involvement in the barrier, ruled illegal in a nonbinding decision by the International Court of Justice. Israel says it built the barrier to keep out Palestinian militants, but it swerves through the West Bank to incorporate Jewish settlements on the "Israeli" side.

Norway's investment in Elbit was $6 million, negligible for a company valued at $2 billion. Elbit won't discuss the divestments. The Norwegian fund also sold its $1.2 million in shares in Africa Israel Investments, which has a real estate holding that builds in settlements.

The Brussels-based bank Dexia, targeted by Belgian activists for lending to settlements, said its Israeli subsidiary is phasing out the settlement business. Assa Abloy, a Swedish lock maker, said it would move its Israeli factory from a settlement industrial park to Israel proper within a year.

SodaStream, a maker of home carbonating systems, said some of the $109 million raised in a public offering in November is to be used to build a new factory outside the West Bank, though it won't say whether it would eventually close an existing settlement facility.

Some major Christian denominations also are wrestling with the divestment issue.

The World Council of Churches, which represents 560 million Christians, has called for responsible investment and a boycott of settlement products.

The Presbyterians are trying to persuade several multinationals to cut West Bank ties and leave open the possibility of future divestment. The United Methodists, who have called on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian-claimed territories, failed to pass a divestment bill at a 2008 convention, though activists said such efforts would continue.

For now, boycott and divestment don't affect the Israeli economy or the businesses, said Israela Many, chief economist at the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce. "The problem is, it creates a negative image," she said.

Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, alleged that "boycotters show very selective indignation" and ignore egregious human rights abuses elsewhere, including in Libya, Syria and Iran.

The Scandinavian pension funds deny singling out Israel.

"There is no country perspective on this," said Annika Anderson of the Ethical Council that advises four Swedish pension funds. She noted that the funds have dropped nine other companies from around the world since 2007.

The Norwegian fund, which invests in more than 8,000 firms, has dropped 49 companies worldwide, including those making cluster bombs and cigarettes. The list includes Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Wal-Mart.

The fund's decisions are closely watched by other investors in Scandinavia.

Being excluded by the oil fund can cause "massive damage to a company's reputation" in those countries, said Caroline Liinanki, editor of the Nordic Region Pensions and Investment News at the Financial Times. "You don't want to end up on the black list."

(AP)

Breaking News: Bomaanslag in Israel

Niet gericht tegen Israëli's, maar uitgevoerd door Israeli's tegen Palestijnen. En het leven van Palestijnen is volgens de dames en heren journalisten van onze zelfbenoemde kwaliteitspers zo onbelangrijk, dat het niet eens nieuws is. Was het omgekeerde het geval, dan las je dagenlang vette koppen in de krant.

Bomb Thrown At Hadarim Prison

After unknown persons hurled a bomb at the Hadarim Israeli prison, Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe’, held, on Wednesday, the Israeli government responsible for what he described as an attempt to kill Palestinian leaders and political detainees.

Qaraqe’ stated that this incident is an attempted collective murder of Palestinian detainees sentenced to high terms by Israel, and accused the Israeli government of failing to protect the detainees.

There are nearly 800 Palestinian political detainees imprisoned at the Israel's Hadarim prison.

The Palestinian Minister demanded that the United Nations form an investigation committee into the attack adding that Palestinian political figure Marwan Barghouthi, and several other political leaders are imprisoned in Hadarim.

The Israeli police declared, on Tuesday, at night that the bomb was hurled by a person driving his motorcycle near the compound; no injuries were reported in the attack.

The police added that several policemen chased a number of suspects but did not announce any arrests.

(IMEMC)

BDS update: Anti-apartheid Hagues

Despite the stranglehold Israel lobbies have on Euro-parliaments and politicians, there have been some surprisingly plucky official moves to protest illegal Israeli settlements recently, notes Eric Walberg

Israeli mayoral visits to Spain and the Netherlands were nixed in September because the delegation included leaders of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The visit of thirty Israeli mayors to the Netherlands was organised by the Israeli branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) after the Spanish municipal organisation cancelled a proposed visit in light of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

The Dutch conference was to be hosted by the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), located in The Hague. The aim of the trip was purportedly to learn more about the Dutch system of local, regional and national authorities, though such official visits are really an Israeli ploy to provide de facto recognition of illegal settlements.

The JDC and the Union of Local Authorities in Israel tried to arrange the tour through the embassy of the Netherlands in Tel Aviv, including mayors of West Bank settlements Beit Aryeh, Har Adar, Kiryat Arba, Oranit, Beit El, Efrat and Elkana, but when informed, VNG refused to host the delegation as long as the occupation mayors were part of it. "When they asked for the list we realised we had run aground," said head of the Council of Efrat Oded Revivi, though the JDC has facilitated similar trips to Denmark, France and China.

The Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee emphasised that there are more than 150 settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, housing 475,000 settlers on more than forty per cent of the West Bank. After VNG’s decision to call off the visit, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen came under fire from Dutch right-wing parliamentarians. Geert Wilders, leader of Party for Freedom, demanded that Verhagen force VNG to proceed with the planned visit. Pro-Israeli Verhagen surprised parliament by supporting VNG, admitting that Israeli settlements are in violation of international law.

VNG did the same in the 1990s, urging Dutch cities to support the South African anti-apartheid movement when the national government was reluctant to. Amsterdam declared itself an "anti-apartheid city", boycotting South Africa and hosting the ANC representative for the Netherlands. The VNG’s principled position today is once again paving the way for otherwise timid politicians like Verhagen to stand up to Israeli apartheid.

***

Israel’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in May was a coup for the country, in face of its 2008 invasion of Gaza and continued settlement activity. This entry in the European Union via the backdoor was quickly used by Israel to try to try to secure de facto recognition of Jerusalem its new capital by hosting an OECD tourism conference in West Jerusalem in October.

However, this backfired as 11 countries boycotted the High Level Roundtable rather than provide the long-sought recognition, including Norway, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Iceland, Turkey and South Africa. Other countries sent only low-level delegations: Greece a Tel-Aviv staffer from the Greek information office and Denmark a statistician. The Czech Republic was the only EU country to send a political representation. The Swedish delegation to the OECD indicated that their boycott of the conference was in conformity to EU policy on the status of Jerusalem.

The tipping point was when Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov boasted to the press that the meeting -- the first OECD meeting hosted by Israel since it became a member -- was proof that OECD members recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. In a strongly worded letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, OECD General Secretary Angel Gurria called the comments "factually incorrect and quite unacceptable".

Even the drivers at the ill-fated Roundtable, hired to shepherd delegates around the Holy Sites, raised a furor, as they turned out to be from the extremist Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, which has built and has jurisdiction over 42 West Bank settlements.

Critics of Israeli membership in the OECD assert that Israel does not meet the required economic and human rights standards for membership, and that OECD members who allowed Israel to join did so in violation of their own commitments to the Geneva Conventions. Israeli economic data submitted to the OECD brazenly includes information relating to illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory, amounting to an implicit OECD endorsement of the Israeli occupation.

The BDS National Committee described the Roundtable boycott as "clear condemnation of Israel’s continued ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem". BDS coordinator Hind Awwad said, "That countries like Canada and the UK, which are traditionally staunch defenders of Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation, have refused to attend the conference is a significant development."

The scandal confirms that it is impossible to deal with Israel without abetting its occupation of Palestinian territories and its daily violations of human rights and international law, forcing even the most pro-Israel countries in the West to join the BDS campaign, despite their official condemnation of it.

***

It is not just the Israeli government that is guilty, but all Israeli organisations, especially universities, which collaborate with the occupation through research. This prompted 200 academics from 14 South African universities last month to support University of Johannesburg’s decision to end collaboration with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "As academics we acknowledge that all of our scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts -- particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of 'purely scholarly’ or 'scientific’ work."

South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, in a response to an investigation commissioned by the South African government in 2009, issued a report confirming that the everyday structural racism and oppression imposed by Israel constitutes a regime of apartheid and settler colonialism similar to the one that shaped lives in South Africa.

***

Despite the strong Friends of Israel lobby in all three British political parties and the fragile UK coalition government, on 3 November, another Hague caught Europe off-guard, this time British Foreign William Hague, who defied official Israel and met with Palestinian and Israeli anti-Wall activists in Bitunia south of Ramallah, overlooking Ofer prison, where many activists are in jail.

"When negotiations seem like an eternally unfulfilled promise due to Israel’s unwillingness to reach a fair solution, popular resistance to the Occupation is the sole remaining possible alternative for the Palestinians to achieve their rights and avoid armed struggle," Hague encouraged the activists, promising them the support of the British government in their struggle.

***

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/

)bron: Uruknet)