zaterdag 2 augustus 2008

Terreurslachtoffer uit Israel op virtuele wereldreis

Asaf hierboven is één van de vele duizenden onschuldige burgers die in de loop der jaren in het conflict aan beide kanten zijn omgekomen. Zijn vader roept vakantiegangers op de foto mee te nemen en zich ermee te fotograferen in het land van bestemming. De resultaten komen op een foto-album op internet.
Dit is geen politieke aktie, maar toch een manier om mensen stil te laten staan bij de slachtoffers van terreur. En voor de familie een manier om hun verlies te verwerken.

YouTube Request from Father of Terror Victim


Asaf's world tour 2008!

On March 5th 2003, a young high school boy named Asaf was on his way home from school. A suicide murderer who blew himself up on Asaf's bus killed him and sixteen other innocent men, women and children.

Asaf was almost seventeen years old when he died, and he is my son.

As every young man does, Asaf would have finished high school and service and would have gone on a trip to see the world: South America, the Far East, India or maybe Australiaand New Zealand. He wanted very much to go surfing at the famous beaches in Hawaii and Australia. Asaf wanted to hike the high peaks of Nepal and the Himalayas.

Now I am sending Asaf on his world tour. Without a passport or a back pack. I am sending you only this picture and his spirit and ask you to help take Asaf wherever you go. India,Thailand, New Zealand or the Chinese wall - even the Olympics. Wherever you go, take out the picture, take a photo of it in the place you are and email it back to me (  ).

If you are not traveling, take the photo in your city or town, at the mall, city stadium, or even your front or back yard.

Asaf will travel to these places through your photos, which will be displayed in Asaf's world tour photo album on the internet. This way Asaf will be at all those wonderful places in the world he wasn't lucky enough to see.

You can print a few copies of the attached picture and leave copies on your way, hang it on a bulletin board at the hotel or the guest house you stay in, leave it along the hiking path, put it in the visitor's book you write your experience in.

Help me get my son around the world and make his world tour go through each country on the globe.

Yossi Zur, Asaf's father

Hamas voert militaire training op tijdens staakt-het-vuren Gaza

Het staakt-het-vuren houdt stand, maar het leidt - zoals te verwachten was - niet tot een soepeler houding van Hamas wat betreft de onderhandelingen over Shalit, en wordt schaamteloos gebruikt om wapens te smokkelen en militaire oefeningen te houden. Daarmee is het lange termijn effect wellicht schadelijker dan het korte termijn voordeel voor beide partijen van de tijdelijke rust.

Hamas, exploiting truce, dramatically increases military training in Gaza
Schalit negotiations still frozen as Hamas talks in Cairo fail
The Jerusalem Post (print edition) - 1 August 2008
Hamas has dramatically increased its training regime in the Gaza Strip since the ceasefire with Israel went into effect there in June, sen­ior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

According to latest intelli­gence information obtained by IDF Military Intelligence, Hamas is using the truce to train its forces openly, and not in secret as it formerly did for fear of Israeli air strikes. Shin Bet (Israel Secu­rity 'Agency) chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset earli­er this week that Hamas was continuing to smuggle weapons and explosives into Gaza and had obtained "new capabilities."

"Hamas doesn't fear Israel and understands that it needs to take advantage of the quiet right now to train its forces ahead of a possible war in the future," a defense official said.

Gazans have also been holding an unprecedented number of weddings. According to numbers pre­sented during a security assessment convened by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i on Thursday evening there have been more than 200 weddings in Beit Lahiya alone in the past few days.

During the meeting, Vil­na'i ordered Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplo­matic-Security Bureau, to meet with the Egyptians next week to discuss another possible increase in the quantity of goods and raw materials transferred by Israel to Gaza.

The increase, officials said, would only be approved if progress was made in the negotiations for the release of kidnapped St.-Sg. Gilad Schalit. The talks between a Hamas delegation and Egyptian officials in Cairo this week did not succeed and the negotiations are still at a standstill, the officials said.

Also on Thursday, the IDF put on hold a plan to consolidate the crossings into the Gaza Strip and to distance the border facilities from the border to make it harder for terrorists to attack, and has instead begun renovating the Kerem Shalom crossing to facilitate the increase in mer­chandise being allowed into the Strip under the cease-fire. There are currently five crossings straddling the Israeli-Gaza border - Kami, Erez, Kerem Shalom, Sufa and the Nahal Oz fuel depot. Work on the plan to con­solidate the crossings and to move them began shortly after April's car bomb attack against the Kerem Shalom crossing in which 11 soldiers were wounded.

According to the plan, some of the crossings would be canceled and others moved slightly east into Israel to create a buffer zone. The project would have entailed moving the cross­ings several kilometers deep­er at a cost of several hundred million shekels.

Interview met zoon Hamasleider die zich tot het christendom bekeerde

Hieronder het volledige interview waarvan we eergisteren al een stukje plaatsten.
De zoon van Hamas leider Sheikh Hassan Yousef bekeerde zich tot het christendom en leeft nu in de VS. Hij spreekt openhartig over de Hamas, de islam en zijn persoonlijke geschiedenis. Als Jaap Hamburger, Anja Meulenbelt, Dries van Agt en Anton van Hooff het niet van mij aan willen nemen, misschien willen ze deze man, die zijn vader jarenlang heeft geholpen bij zijn werk als parlementarieër voor Hamas, dan wel geloven?

"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death. They have to take revenge against anyone who did not agree to accept the Prophet Mohammed, like the Jews who are seen in the Koran as monkeys and the sons of pigs. They speak in terms of historical rights that were taken from them. In the view of Hamas, peace with Israel contradicts sharia and the Koran, and the Jews have no right to remain in Palestine."
"An entire society sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheikhs tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds' and that causes the young people to imitate the suicide bombers, in order to achieve glory. I'll give you an example. I once met a young man named Dia Tawil. He was a quiet boy, an outstanding student. Not a Muslim extremist and not radical in his ideas against the Israelis. I never heard extreme statements from him. He didn't even come from a religious family: His father was a communist and his sister was a journalist who didn't wear a head covering. But Bilal Barghouti [one of the heads of the military arm of Hamas in the West Bank] didn't need more than a few months to convince him to become a suicide terrorist." (Tawil, 19, blew himself up in March 2001 next to a bus at the French Hill junction in Jerusalem; 31 people were wounded.)"

Prodigal son
By Avi Issacharoff - Haaretz (Magazine secion)
Last update - 18:52 31/07/2008

CALIFORNIA - A moment before beginning his dinner, Masab, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, glances at the friend who has accompanied him to the restaurant where we met. They whisper a few words and then say grace, thanking God and Jesus for putting food on their plates.

It takes a few seconds to digest this sight: The son of a Hamas MP who is also the most popular figure in that extremist Islamic organization in the West Bank, a young man who assisted his father for years in his political activities, has become a rank-and-file Christian. A few seconds later, he is savoring his meal, explaining that he hasn't been eating much recently because of financial problems. During the past week he has been living with the friend, a Christian, of course, whom he met at church. "Without him," he says, "I would have become homeless."

The younger Yousef is well aware of the implications of this interview, and how it will likely offend his family, as well as of the slim chance that he will be able to return to Ramallah one day. But apparently he is on a crusade of his own. "I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he'll understand this and that God will give him and my family the patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity. Maybe one day I'll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah together with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God."

"I'm now called Joseph," he says at the outset. A few seconds earlier he had received me with greetings in Arabic: "Ahalan wasahalan. I'm very excited that you're here," he said, switching to a few words in Hebrew: "Shalom, ma nishma [What's up]?" he laughed.

We met for the first time about four years ago, outside the military prison at the Ofer Camp, only about half a kilometer from the family home in the town of Bitunia, near Ramallah. His father, not a member of parliament at the time, was one of the founders of Hamas in the West Bank and one of the prisoners' leaders; he was supposed to be released after several years' imprisonment for membership in the organization. In order to arrange an interview with Sheikh Hassan Yousef (Abu Masab), I had to speak to his eldest son, Masab, who was expected to take an active part in running his father's political affairs in the future. When I saw him in the prison parking lot I was surprised by his unusual appearance, which deviated from the dress code expected of relatives of senior Hamas leaders. Without a beard or even a goatee, he sported a Western haircut, jeans and a motorcyclist's leather jacket. But the media uproar that accompanied his father's appearance made me forget his "improper" appearance.

Since then, the young man has hardly changed. He is 30 years old and has lost several kilos ("because I don't eat much"), his hair is short, he is suntanned and looks like just another young Israeli in California. Most of the interview is conducted in English, mostly so that his friend Ryan will understand.

"As a child I grew up in a very religious family, on the principle of hatred of Israelis. The first time I encountered them was at about the age of 10, when soldiers entered our home and arrested my father. Until then I had never been separated from him. We didn't know anything about the circumstances of his arrest. His membership in Hamas was a secret matter, and we certainly didn't think he was one of its founders. I didn't understand anything about politics or religion. I only knew that the Israeli army had arrested my father repeatedly, and for me he was everything: a good, loving man who would do anything for me. He took care of us, bought us gifts, gave of himself, whereas the soldiers entered our house and took him away from me. In high school I studied sharia, Islamic law. In 1996, when I was only 18, I was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces because I was the head of the Islamic Society in my high school. It's a kind of youth movement of the organization. And my process of awakening began."

What happened?

Masab-Joseph: "Until then I knew Hamas through my father, who lived a very modest and loving life. At first I really admired the organization, mainly because I admired my father so much. But during the 16 months I spent in prison I was exposed to the true face of Hamas. It's a negative organization. As simple as that. A fundamentally bad organization. I sat in Megiddo Prison and suddenly I understood who the real Hamas was. Their leaders in prison received better conditions, such as the best food, as well as more family visits and towels for the shower. These people have no morals, they have no integrity. But they aren't as stupid as Fatah, which steals in broad daylight in front of everyone and is immediately suspected of corruption. [Hamas people] receive money in dishonest ways, invest it in secret places, and outwardly maintain a simple lifestyle. Sooner or later they will use this money and screw the people.

"Nobody knows them and how they operate as well as I do. For example, I remember how the family of Saleh Talahmeh, a member of the military arm of Hamas, who was assassinated by Israel, was forced to beg for financial assistance because they were left with nothing after his death. The Hamas leadership abandoned them as well as the families of other shaheeds [martyrs], while the senior members of the organization abroad wasted tens of thousand of dollars a month only on security for themselves."

For example?

"Even some of the current leaders of Hamas were involved in the past in the 'security arm' in the prisons, so that he is among those responsible for these acts. They were suspicious of prisoners who spent too much time in the bathroom, even if it was only an upset stomach. They suspected that the prisoner was transferring information or alternatively having sexual relations with other men. A homosexual. The gays were immediately suspected of collaboration. Then I understood that not everyone in Hamas is like my father. He's a nice, friendly man. But I discovered how evil his colleagues are. After my release I lost the faith I had in those who ostensibly represented Islam."

Were you tortured?

"No. I enjoyed immunity because of my father's status."

'Jesus loves me'

Masab-Joseph has five brothers and two sisters. He is in regular contact with them and keeps them informed of his situation. However, until recently he refrained from telling his family that he had converted to Christianity, and at the time of this interview his father the sheikh still did not know that his son had converted. And in spite of the secrecy surrounding his conversion, sometimes he seems like a veteran missionary who is trying to get entire communities to change.

"You'll see, this interview will open many people's eyes, it will shake Islam from the roots, and I'm not exaggerating. What other case do you know where a son of a Hamas leader, who was raised on the tenets of extremist Islam, comes out against it? Although I was never a terrorist, I was a part of them, surrounded by them all the time."

How were you exposed to Christianity?

"It began about eight years ago. I was in Jerusalem and I received an invitation to come and hear about Christianity. Out of curiosity I went. I was very enthusiastic about what I heard. I began to read the Bible every day and I continued with religion lessons. I did it in secret, of course. I used to travel to the Ramallah hills, to places like the Al Tira neighborhood, and to sit there quietly with the amazing landscape and read the Bible. A verse like "Love thine enemy" had a great influence on me. At this stage I was still a Muslim and I thought that I would remain one. But every day I saw the terrible things done in the name of religion by those who considered themselves 'great believers.' I studied Islam more thoroughly and found no answers there. I reexamined the Koran and the principals of the faith and found how it is mistaken and misleading. The Muslims borrowed rituals and traditions from all the surrounding religions."

But they all did that.

He doesn't respond to this comment directly. "I feel that Christianity has several aspects. It's not only a religion but a faith. I now see God through Jesus and can tell about him for days on end, whereas the Muslims won't be able to say anything about God. I consider Islam a big lie. The people who supposedly represent the religion admired Mohammed more than God, killed innocent people in the name of Islam, beat their wives and don't have any idea what God is. I have no doubt that they'll go to Hell. I have a message for them: There is only one way to Paradise - the way of Jesus who sacrificed himself on the cross for all of us."

Four years ago, he decided to convert. He says that nobody in his family knew about it. "Only those Christians with whom I met and spent time knew about my decision. For years I helped my father, the Hamas leader, and he didn't know that I had converted, only that I had Christian friends."

I remember how you dressed at the time. How were you accepted in Hamas?

"You have to understand, I was never one of them. Although I helped my father and accompanied him, I was always opposed to the use of terror. Hamas members didn't like me. I didn't come to pray in the mosques, I hung around with strangers. They didn't like my leather jacket or even my jeans. They considered it going astray. But I helped my father and conducted his affairs because he's my father, not because he's a leader in Hamas. I'm not a Hamas activist who converted to Christianity. That's not the story. I wanted to help my father understand that harming innocent people is forbidden and through him perhaps to change other people's thinking."

What is Hamas' attitude toward Christians? What is your father's attitude?

"When I was with my father, I in effect pushed a moderate Hamas leader into making logical decisions, such as stopping the attacks and establishing two states alongside one another. I felt responsible. It was better for me to be there rather than a gang of fools who would poison his mind. I tried to understand those people, their thoughts, in order to change them from inside by means of a strong person like my father, who admitted to me in the past that he does not support suicide attacks. He thinks that harming innocent people gives the organization a bad name. The sheikh once said to me that when he sees an insect outside the house he is careful not to harm it, 'so what can I say about harming civilians?'

"But within Hamas there were other leaders, mainly from the Gaza Strip and Damascus, who thought they had to continue with suicide attacks as an effective means of achieving their aims. The problem was that they were stronger than my father in terms of their status in the organization. What helped stop the attacks in the final analysis was Israel's attacks against the Hamas leaders."

How involved was your father in making decisions in Hamas?

"He had no connection to the military arm, but they always consulted him about strategic decisions. The Hamas leadership did not make decisions only according to the opinion of the organization leaders in Syria or Gaza. However, you have to remember that the Hamas leadership in Damascus was in control of the organization's money. Therefore it had the most influence on organization policy. They were also the only ones who were not restricted in contacting one another, as opposed to the leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza, so that they also served as go-betweens among all the groups in Hamas. And incidentally, although they now claim that the revolution in Gaza was not planned, I can tell you from clear knowledge that a year earlier, in the summer of 2006, they spoke among themselves to the effect that if the tension with Fatah continued, they intended to take control of the Strip."

Regards to Israel

Masab-Joseph listens to singer Eyal Golan in his free time. "I've been listening to his music for 10 years," he says. "I like his voice but don't always understand the words." However, his favorite singer is Leonard Cohen. "He's a Canadian Jew," he explains.

He has a bachelor's degree in geography and history from the Al-Quds Open University in Ramallah, but in the United States he has difficulty finding work. He has plenty of free time, and participates in religion lessons and prayers in the church at least once a week. Every few days he plays football with friends from the church, and surfing is a must. This is California, after all.

When he was working in his father's office, he encountered Hamas leaders as well as members of the Palestinian and Israeli security services and Israeli journalists, who often spoke with the sheikh. He does not conceal the fact that he supported contact with the Israeli media and has almost warm feelings for Israel. "Send regards to Israel, I miss it."

You miss Israel?

"I respect Israel and admire it as a country. I'm opposed to a policy of killing civilians, or using them as a means to an end, and I understand that Israel has a right to defend itself. The Palestinians, if they don't have an enemy to fight, will fight each other. In about 20 years from now you'll remember what I'm telling you, the conflict will be among various groups within Hamas. They're already beginning to quarrel over control of the money."

He does not conceal his abhorrence of everything representing the human surroundings in which he grew up: the nation, the religion, the organization.

"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death. They have to take revenge against anyone who did not agree to accept the Prophet Mohammed, like the Jews who are seen in the Koran as monkeys and the sons of pigs. They speak in terms of historical rights that were taken from them. In the view of Hamas, peace with Israel contradicts sharia and the Koran, and the Jews have no right to remain in Palestine."

Is that the justification for the suicide attacks?

"More than that. An entire society sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheikhs tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds' and that causes the young people to imitate the suicide bombers, in order to achieve glory. I'll give you an example. I once met a young man named Dia Tawil. He was a quiet boy, an outstanding student. Not a Muslim extremist and not radical in his ideas against the Israelis. I never heard extreme statements from him. He didn't even come from a religious family: His father was a communist and his sister was a journalist who didn't wear a head covering. But Bilal Barghouti [one of the heads of the military arm of Hamas in the West Bank] didn't need more than a few months to convince him to become a suicide terrorist." (Tawil, 19, blew himself up in March 2001 next to a bus at the French Hill junction in Jerusalem; 31 people were wounded.)

"Do you know that Hamas was the first to use the weapon of suicide bombers against civilian targets?" he continues. "They are blind and ignorant. It's true, there are good and bad people everywhere, but Hamas supporters don't understand that they are led by a wicked and cruel group that brainwashes the children and gets them to believe that if they carry out a suicide attack they'll get to Paradise. But no suicide bomber will find himself there and no virgins are waiting for them after they have carried out an attack. They have to understand that Islam was created by people and not by God."

Were there good people in Hamas?

"In my eyes there were all cruel, ugly inside. But I think that Mahmoud Zahar [one of the leaders of Hamas in Gaza] is one of the worst."

And yet, in spite of the criticism of the place he left, California can't make the longings disappear. "I miss Ramallah," he says. "People with an open mind. I liked to walk around among the buildings, the restaurants, the people, to feel the night life. I have many friends there whom I would like to see and I don't know whether I'll be able to do that at all. I mainly miss my mother, my brothers and sisters, but I know that it will be very difficult for me to return to Ramallah soon."

Cloudy future

In spite of his financial distress, the severance from his family and the loneliness, during the entire interview he sounded determined and sure of himself. "I hope that I'll succeed one day in becoming a writer, in order to write about my personal story and about the Middle East conflict. But at the moment, at least, my ambitions are only to find work, a place to live. I have no money, I have no apartment. I was about to become one of those homeless people, but people from the church are helping me. I'm dependent on them."

Why did you leave? After all, there are other Christians in Ramallah.

"I left behind a great deal of property in Ramallah in order to achieve true freedom. I wanted to get to quiet surroundings that would help me to open the eyes of the Muslims and reveal the truth to them about their religion and about Christianity, to take them out of the darkness and the prison of Islam. In that way they'll have an opportunity to correct their mistakes, to become better people and to bring a chance for peace in the Middle East. I don't give Islam a chance to survive for more than 25 years. In the past they scared people and in that way they prevented anti-religious publicity, but today, in the modern age, they won't be able to hide the truth any longer."

At the moment he doesn't have a partner, but he is relying on help from above on this matter, too. "I hope that someday God will give the opportunity to meet the right one. She will have to be a believing Christian, and if she's a Jew who converted, even better."

There are things that Masab-Joseph is still afraid to talk about. In the middle of the meeting he wanted us to go outside the restaurant in order to make sure that I wasn't carrying listening or recording devices.

"Many people will hate me for this interview, but I'm telling them that I love all of them, even those who hate me. I invite all the people, including the terrorists among them, to open their hearts and believe. Now I'm trying to establish an international organization for young people that will teach about Christianity, love and peace in the territories, too. I would like to teach the young people how to love and forgive, because that's the only way the two nations can overcome the mistakes of the past and live in peace."

Gaza zomerkampen leren kinderen raketten af te vuren

Jong geleerd, oud gedaan. Het volgens velen pragmatisch en gematigd geworden Hamas leert kinderen al vroeg de ware leer en hoe een martelaar te worden in de heilige strijd.


Gaza summer camps teach kids to fire rockets

Palestinian children on annual vacation can choose between Hamas or Islamic Jihad summer camps, both of which boast militia-style training, Koran classes, lessons on political prisoners
Ali Waked - YNET
In the Gaza Strip, as in Israel, children are currently in the midst of summer vacation, and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad's "summer camps" are in full gear. In the past few weeks, the Palestinian groups have been holding camps throughout the strip, some of them proudly displaying rockets and other weaponry.

Hamas alone is currently conducting no less than 300 summer camps for tens of thousands of children, and the focus is on familiarizing kids with the Palestinian towns and cities destroyed in 1948, as well as instilling religious fervor in them. The camps also feature sports and military-type trainings such as crawling under barbed-wire.

Islamic Jihad has also launched its own summer camps, offering some 10,000 children activities similar to those of Hamas. The kids study passages from the Koran and participate in quizzes on religious matters, with emphasis on the required commitment to political prisoners and Palestinian land. They also learn how to hold a Qassam rocket-launcher.

An Islamic Jihad operative told Ynet that the students were not exposed to real rockets but to ones made of plastic. "In the camps we emphasize the need to unite and put an end to the internal struggles. We called them 'unity and principle maintaining camps.'"

The third organization conducting summer camps in the Gaza Strip is United Nations Relief Association (UNRA.) Fatah is abstaining from camp operation for the second year in a row, due to the limitations placed on the movement by Hamas, as well as its meager financial resources as a result of Hamas' takeover.

Knesset buigt zich over Palestijnse vluchtelingen

While the UNRWA's 25,000-strong, almost exclusively Palestinian staff cares for 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, the UNHCR employs a staff of about 6,300 people to help nearly 33 million people in more than 110 countries.
En de UNHCR slaagt erin het merendeel van de vluchtelingen binnen vijf jaar te rehabiliteren, terwijl een deel van de Palestijnse vluchtelingen al 60 jaar in uitzichtloze kampen zit.
Knesset focuses on Palestinian refugees

For the first time in Israel's 60-year history, a cross-party parliamentary caucus dealing with the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees was launched in the Knesset on Tuesday.
Two Palestinian children walk...

Two Palestinian children walk through the Haifa Palestinian refugee camp in Baghdad.
Photo: AP

The move came amid a groundswell of parliamentary activity around the world, including in the US and Canada, to reroute funding from UNRWA - the UN body that deals with Palestinian refugees and their descendants - toward the resettlement of some of the refugees and their descendants in other countries.

The new lobby, which is chaired by MKs Amira Dotan (Kadima) and Benny Elon (NU/NRP), is made up of parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including lawmakers from Labor, the Likud and Shas.

No Arab MKs have joined the caucus so far, although all non-ministerial members of the Knesset were invited to do so.

"I am not trying to change the Palestinian narrative, but to alter the state of mind of the refugees and their descendants," Dotan said at the inaugural meeting of the Caucus for the Rehabilitation of Palestinian Refugees.

"We have to see how we can work with UNRWA - not against UNRWA - on this issue," she said.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians - with estimates ranging from 400,000 to 750,000 - left their homes in 1948 and 1949. They, along with millions of descendants, make up one of the prickliest issues for Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as part of any resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The issue has been largely untouched in Israel for years, due to the Palestinians' demand for the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees to Israel, which the Jewish state rejects.

Recently, however, some Knesset members have begun to openly advocate dealing with the issue of Palestinian refugees.

"This is the first time that the Knesset is formally and openly dealing with the issue of Palestinian refugees not in a reactionary manner or as apologists, but out of Israeli interests," said Elon, who advocates dealing with the issue head-on for humanitarian reasons.

"Without the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees, no peace will come," he said.

The right-wing MK has proposed dismantling UNRWA and resettling the Palestinian refugees in countries outside of Israel, in keeping with long-standing government policy that an influx of refugees would demographically damage Israel's character as a Jewish state.

Labor MK Colette Avital said at the Tuesday meeting that getting rid of UNRWA now would be "throwing out the baby with the bath water," noting the agency's humanitarian work.

Despite the divergent views voiced at the meeting, all the MKs pointed to the vast differences between UNRWA and UNHCR, the main UN body that handles all other refugees throughout the world.

While the UNRWA's 25,000-strong, almost exclusively Palestinian staff cares for 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, the UNHCR employs a staff of about 6,300 people to help nearly 33 million people in more than 110 countries.

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said Tuesday the issue of Palestinian refugees had to be resolved within the context of a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, a much-anticipated visit by UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Abu Zayd to the Knesset for a committee meeting on the issue is now slated to take place this fall, after Abu Zayd postponed an earlier visit due to scheduling issues, Dotan said.


'Shooting back' van links en rechts

Niet alleen Palestijnen gebruiken de camera tegen het Israëlische leger, ook rechtse activisten doen dat. En Israëlische soldaten misdragen zich blijkbaar niet alleen tegenover de Palestijnen en linkse actievoerders, maar ook tegen rechtse activisten. Waar na een incident tegen de Palestijnen of linkse activisten de Arabische partijen en Meretz hun afkeuring uitspreken, is nu de Nationale Unie/Nationale Religieuze partij boos.
Misschien moeten we afspreken dat wat de Nationale Unie gerechtvaardigd acht tegen de Palestijnen en linkse activisten, ook geoorloofd is tegenover de fanatieke kolonisten, en omgekeerd dat wat de Arabische partijen en Meretz geoorloofd vinden tegenover de kolonisten, ook geoorloofd is tegenover de Palestijnen en hun sympathisanten?
Senior Border Guard officer faces damages suit for attacking photographer at Homesh

Yesha Council pursues legal action against Brig.-Gen. Shlomi Even-Paz for allegedly attacking photographer during incident at former settlement of Homesh. Suit filed after police decide to subject officer to mere disciplinary action
Efrat Weiss - YNET

The Yesha Council's human rights' branch filed a damages suit against Brigadier-General Shlomi Even-Paz, who heads the Border Guard Command in Judea and Samaria, earlier in the week.

According to the suit, filed with the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, Even-Paz attacked a photographer who was documenting the interaction between Border Guard forces and right-wing activists who were trying to re-settle the West Bank settlement of Homesh; ordered his soldiers to capture the camera and proceeded to destroy the camera's memory card.

The suit further details that Even-Paz was caught on tape yelling to his troops to "break their (the settlers) arms and legs."

The photographer called the Yesha Council's human rights' branch while at the scene and the latter then filed an official complaint with the Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB).

The camera's owner, Limor Har-Melech Sun, also filed a compliant against the officer, citing that the memory card he destroyed had priceless photographs of her newborn son - the namesake of her first husband, who was murdered in a terror attack - on it.

Some six months after the incident, the IAB announced it would take disciplinary action against Brigadier-General Even-Paz, for conduct unbecoming an officer. The Yesha Council's human rights' branch subsequently announced they would appeal the decision, offering into evidence a copy of the IAB report, in which they claim Even-Paz admitted the assault.

"How can the case be dismissed for 'lack of evidence,' when there is a clear admission of guilt noted in the case-file?" wrote attorney Haim Cohen, the Yesha Council's legal counsel in his appeal to IAB. The latter then decided to refer the case to the State Prosecutor's Office Appeal Division.

The Yesha Council then decided to pursue legal recourse and filed a damages suit with the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court; demanding Even-Paz pay restitution to those affected by his actions.

The said restitution, said the suit, "should express the superior value of one's right to his person, dignity and property."

The Border Guard Command offered the following comment: "Brigadier-General Even-Paz is currently occupied with the ongoing riots in the town of Naalin (near the West Bank city of Ramallah) and will respond to all the accusation in court of law."

Meanwhile, MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) called on Attorney General Menachem Mazuz not to grant Even-Paz a state-funded legal defense.

Eldad cited that Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, had already stipulated that police officers have no right to take cameras or memory cards from photographers, in order to prevent future use of footage which documents police violence.

MK Uri Ariel (National Union-National Religious Party) added that "the police must purge itself from corrupt officers the links of Even-Paz," adding he too will demand that Mazuz deny the officer any state-funded defense.

First Published: 08.01.08, 08:18

Hamas regering Gaza klaagt Ma' an News aan wegens eenzijdigheid

Als een krant iets schrijft wat je niet aanstaat dan eis je rectificatie, en wordt de 'fout' nog eens gemaakt dan arresteer je de hoofdredacteur en verhinder je verspreiding van de krant. Zo gaat het althans in Gaza, waar het volgens velen zo pragmatisch geworden Hamas aan de macht is. Ook buitenlandse journalisten zijn hieraan onderworpen. 
Zou het kunnen dat een dergelijk repressief klimaat ook de berichtgeving vanuit Gaza beinvloedt? Je kunt immers de machthebbers beter een beetje te vriend houden in dergelijke omstandigheden. Het is in ieder geval opvallend hoe mild er door de meeste media over het Hamas bestuur in Gaza wordt geschreven, en hoe makkelijk men meegaat in de trend om Israël van alle problemen en ellende de schuld te geven.

De facto government to sue several media outlets for biased coverage
Date: 01 / 08 / 2008  Time:  17:03

Gaza - Ma'an - De facto government in Gaza will file a suit against Ma'an News Agency for what they describe as "mistakes" that the agency made when reporting on crimes committed by security forces in Gaza.

Dr Hassan Abu Hasheesh, head of the media office of the de facto government said on Friday that where Ma'an dealt "with the violations and crimes committed by the security forces in the West Bank as a campaign to restore order, it deals with the performance of the security forces in the Gaza Strip as clear violations of law."

During Abu Hasheesh elaborated on his complaints during a meeting of media representatives, saying that the de facto government's media office has "addressed Ma'an Agency more than once" regarding biased coverage. He said that "the agency expressed its apology and took out the fabricated news report or article [when asked] But repeated has the same mistakes" several times since. This, he said, is why the de facto government moved the whole issue to court. "There is no other way to intervene," he concluded.

The forum of Palestinian media representatives met with an official delegation representing the de facto government in Gaza to discuss a cessation of arrests of journalists after the bombing of the car of a Hamas representative on the beach in Gaza. The incident killed five Al-Qassam activists from the armed wing of Hamas, and one young girl.

Head of the media forum I'mad Al-Ifranji demanded the de facto government clarify the reasons behind the arrest of German TV photojournalist Sawwah Abu Sief, for breaking into the offices of the headquarter of WAFA News agency and for summoning Imad E'id, a journalist and head of Ma'an's Gaza office, to the general attorney for interrogation.

Al- Ifranji condemned the violations of freedom of speech that occurred over the past week, and encouraged the de facto government to abide by the rule of law.

Abu Hasheesh for the de facto government said that Abu Seif's arrest was unrelated to his work as a journalist, but noted that he had demanded the man's release from the de facto ministry of the interior. The ministry said that it would examine the issue, and in fact released Abu Seif on Friday.

Samir Hamtu, member of the media forum, demanded the de facto government stop barring deliveries of the three major newspapers, Al-Quds, Al- Ayam and Al- Haya, to the area. Friday was the third day that papers were not allowed into the area.

Abu Hasheesh said that the demands of the forum were legal but the government. He explained to the group that the government had found itself in a situation after the beach bombings where legal and security procedures were at loggerheads. He said that the government had to tackle the security issues first, and deal with legal boundaries second.

He stated in his speech that the de facto media office has been dealing with media organizations in a clear and positive way since the June 2007 Hamas take over in Gaza. He said that this should be commended since they have acted fairly despite pressures on the government in political and security realms, and the biased terms used by many media outlets.

He said that the media office has thus far refused to deal with media outlets as political or security issues, and preferred to deal with media infractions and abuses, such as "fabricated and untrue reports" through legal channels.

Abu Hasheesh gave a number of examples of the de facto government dealing with the media through legal channels, including WAFA's coverage of the 25 July bombing, two lawsuits that are currently underway against Al-Ayam and Hayat Al-Jadeedah, both Palestinian Arabic daily newspapers, in response to their biased coverage of the same incident.

He noted that the decisions to bar entry to the newspapers to close WAFA were issued by the de facto ministry of the interior. Abu Hasheesh said that these actions were justified by the reaction to the untrue stories, and their effect on the social fabric of Gaza. If the media outlets will not take responsibility for their actions, said Abu Hasheesh, than we must rein them in ourselves.

vrijdag 1 augustus 2008

Ford Foundation financiert nog steeds radikale anti-Israël groepen

De stank van de anti-racisme conferentie in Durban in 2001 hangt menigeen nog in de neus, en men houdt zijn hart vast voor de vervolgconferentie in 2009.
Liefdadigheidsinstellingen zoals de Amerikaanse Ford Foundation blijken nog steeds radikale anti-Israël groepen te subsidiëren ondanks eerder gedane beloften.

Ford Foundation still funding anti-Israel groups
NEW YORK (JTA) -- In August 2001, Israel became a punching bag for several thousand human rights activists from throughout the world who were gathered for a U.N anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa.

But while the Jewish state may have been the target, the Ford Foundation also ultimately suffered a serious black eye after it emerged that many of the anti-Israel activists in Durban were egged on by Ford-backed, pro-Palestinian groups.

Hoping to head off a similar debacle, Ford says it will not pay for any organization to participate in the first follow-up conference to Durban, slated for April in Geneva.

This announcement comes nearly five years after Ford, America's second-largest philanthropic institution, adopted what experts describe as the most stringent guidelines on grantees.

Yet despite such steps and the foundation's public criticisms of what transpired seven years ago, Ford today is funding several organizations that engage in the "Durban strategy" -- a two-pronged tactic launched at the '01 conference to paint Israel as a "racist, apartheid" state and isolate the Jewish nation through boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

The Ford slice of funds to anti-Israel nongovernmental organizations may pale compared to that provided by Europe and its myriad governmental agencies. But the Ford funding enables the groups to wage low-key, diplomatic and economic warfare against Israel, dragging the Palestinian conflict from the battlefield into international forums, media, the Internet and college campuses.

These revelations are the result of a months-long JTA investigation into Ford funding after the highly influential foundation revised its guidelines under pressure from the U.S. Congress.

The pressure followed an October 2003 JTA expose, "Funding Hate", which found that Ford funneled millions of dollars to pro-Palestinian NGOs, enabling them to promote their vitriolic agenda against Israel in Durban. The NGO Forum, which accompanied the official gathering of countries, issued a lengthy document, including passages containing some of the most provocative attacks on Israel ever produced under the umbrella of the United Nations.

Despite the revised guidelines, Ford appears unable -- or unwilling -- to prevent some of its grantees from lending support to the movement that was launched in Durban.

The new JTA investigation, which examined a large cross-section of Ford grantees that speak out on the Middle East conflict, finds that several signed a major 2005 boycott and divestment petition against "Apartheid Israel."

Signatories agreed they were "inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression."

As Ford was announcing its decision not to support the 2009 anti-racism forum, its Web site touted a 2008-09 grant for $305,000 to the Arab NGO Network for Development, which features a map on its Web site that fails to note the existence of Israel. One of the two Palestinian members on its coordination committee is the pro-boycott Palestinian NGO Network, or PNGO, a key organizer at Durban.

Although PNGO is no longer receiving grants from Ford, which has assets above $13 billion and gives away more than $500 million annually, the network works closely with at least three Ford grantee organizations.

Ford does not support groups that solely advocate boycotts, but signing onto a boycott or divestment effort is not itself a deal breaker for foundation funding, according to Ford's vice president of communications, Marta Tellado.

Tellado said there are no concrete red lines.

"We don't have a glossary of terms that are not allowed," she said. "It's not about the specific use of a word, but we look at the totality of that organization, if their activities as a whole still reflect our values and mission."

Tellado said the foundation never supported the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa, but it recognizes that "historically, boycott is seen as a legitimate, nonviolent means of expression."

"We don't think the idea of a boycott can be generalized to mean it's aimed at the destruction of a country," Tellado said. "But we understand that it's a flashpoint" in the conflict today.

Ford says it monitors its grantees, but would not provide any details of the groups it has cut off or how many.

With preparations under way for the follow-up U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Geneva, there are strong indications that Israel again will be singled out for opprobrium.

Tellado said the Ford Foundation, which was endowed with funds donated by Henry and Edsel Ford but no longer maintains any ties to the Ford Motor Co., wants no part of it.

"Experience totally informs our decision," she said. "This reflects our concern for the meeting's ability to be constructive."

This and other steps -- like severing relations with several zealous NGOs -- garner Ford praise from even its toughest critics.

After JTA revealed the Ford-Durban link in 2003, Ford issued its new guidelines for grantees.

Experts say the revisions were the most extensive seen in philanthropic circles. They elicited howls of free-speech infringement from the American Civil Liberties Union and a slew of top U.S. universities.

Under the guidelines, Ford grantees must agree not to "carry on propaganda" or "promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any State, nor will it make subgrants to any entity that engages in these activities."

Although no Ford grantee was linked to terrorism per se, some appeared to condone violence and terror. Ford has since stopped directly funding those groups.

Yet JTA has uncovered several grantees that engage in the twin "Israel is apartheid" and "boycott and divest" campaigns.

"That is the essence of the Durban strategy: demonize and delegitimize Israel to the degree that it gains no external support and eventually is unable to function," said Gerald Steinberg, the executive director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.

"I wouldn't say this is a strong, consistent pattern, but it's more than minor leakage. Ford should take a more proactive approach so its monies are not abused."

Beneficiaries of Ford funds include:

* Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights ; Muwatin: Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy; The Palestinian Center for Human Rights; and Miftah: The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy. All these groups signed onto boycott and divestment petitions against "Apartheid Israel."

Miftah has an online archive with dozens of articles painting Israel as an "apartheid" regime. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights' online archive provides dozens of opinions and documents that paint Israel as an apartheid regime, topped by its own "Fact Sheet: Settlements and Apartheid in the OPT" that describes Jewish settlements as "the cornerstone of a system of de facto Apartheid." In its "How to Help" section, the center urges readers to join the "Palestine Solidarity Campaign," a global network that pushes the boycott and divestment campaign, and to "invest ethically," citing as a model the Methodist Church's efforts to push for divestment from companies that do business with Israel.

* Al Haq: Law in the Service of Man. The West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva in the "Goals and Objectives" section of its Web page cites "participation in civil society discourse and activities regarding divestment, boycott, and sanctions." Last July it urged the U.N. General Assembly to recall the "political, economic, military and cultural isolation of South Africa" as "such measures must be considered in relation to Israel."

* The Arab NGO Network for Development. Its Web site ( prominently features a section called "Eye on Gaza" with links to 10 related documents. Among them are an article titled "The Israeli Recipe for 2008: Genocide in Gaza" and a March news release of the Euro-Mediterranean NGO Platform -- another Ford grantee -- accusing Israel of "massacres," "war crimes" and "genocide."

Observers say that the activities of some Ford grantees point to the challenge that any huge, decentralized organization faces in monitoring its partners. Ford boasts 4,000 grantees around the world.

The issue may boil down to Ford's interpretation of what terms such as "promote" or "bigotry" or "propaganda" mean, as stated in their guidelines.

The guidelines also appear to offer some latitude: "Because we appreciate the important work that our grantees do around the world, some in extremely difficult environments, we strive to fulfill our oversight responsibilities without creating undue burdens for them or being unduly intrusive into their affairs."

It's not a loophole that allows for propaganda, said Tellado, adding that Ford is "troubled" by the rhetoric of some NGOs. Ford officials, however, declined to specify which rhetoric in particular concerned them.

"We're not in the business of censorship because that flies in the face of our values," she said. "Having said that, you really do need to monitor because words do matter. We realize there is a lot of hyperbole bandied about and not backed up by fact."

For their part, the Ford-funded NGOs say branding Israel "apartheid" is one way to "raise awareness" globally.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights received a two-year, $370,000 Ford grant for 2005-07 "for a program of legal advocacy and defense of human rights and the rule of law and promotion of democratic processes in Gaza."

Even Steinberg of NGO Monitor praises the rights group for being one of the rare Palestinian organizations to condemn various abuses committed by the Palestinian authorities and police.

But in November 2006, the center also issued an "action alert" in which it joined with the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign -- a network devoted to the boycott movement -- in calling on the world to hold "Apartheid Israel" accountable for its "war crimes."

Jaber Wishah, the Palestinian Center's deputy director, told JTA that by employing the term apartheid, "we are trying to raise awareness of the illegal and brutal behavior of the Israeli occupying force and the very discriminatory policies that the Israeli judicial system provides cover for."

"The strategy of boycotts and divestment should be adopted to put an end to the Israeli policy of discrimination," he said in a phone interview from Gaza City.

Joharah Baker, an editorial writer for Miftah, another Ford grantee, concedes that equating Israel with South Africa is not quite accurate, as "no two situations are exactly the same." But many comparisons can be drawn, she said -- the separation between the two peoples, and also separating Palestinians from Palestinians.

"I think the goal behind drawing these comparisons is that while everyone knew about apartheid South Africa and condemned it, this is where the Palestinians are at a disadvantage: Israel claims to be a democracy and refuses to admit that it's an illegal occupation," Baker said, speaking from her office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"Once there's such a well-known comparison, people can draw those parallels and it becomes much more tangible in their mind," she said. "It's not that we're misusing the term or that Palestinians misuse the term. I'm saying it's very apartheid-like because of the nature of the conflict."

The Ford-Durban link

The Ford Foundation, with its mission to "strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement," through its Cairo office has provided more than $200 million over the past half-century to some 350 NGOs in the Middle East.

So perhaps it was natural that Ford would support so many groups attending the landmark Durban meeting.

Most of the media attention went to the accompanying NGO Forum in Durban, which attracted thousands of activists from around the world, aimed the harshest rhetoric at Israel alone and inspired several incidents of anti-Jewish epithets and the distribution of anti-Semitic literature.

The extremism sparked a walkout by the American and Israeli delegations.

But the real story, in retrospect, was the launch of the current "Israel is apartheid" movement.

In that Durban NGO document -- mostly rejected by U.N. member-states during their official conference that followed -- plotters unveiled a game plan: "Complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state, as was done in the case of South Africa … sanctions, embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, and military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel," coupled with "condemnation of those states supporting, aiding, and abetting the Israeli apartheid state, and its perpetration of racist crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide."

Ford's vital funding of the Durban ringleaders helped re-inject terms like "apartheid," "boycott" and "divestment" into mainstream discourse about Israel.

The foundation's then-president, Susan Berresford, apologized for Ford's role in Durban in a Nov. 17, 2003 letter to U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on the heels of the four-part JTA investigation "Funding Hate."

"We now recognize that we did not have a clear picture of the activities, organizations and people involved," Berresford wrote. "We deeply regret that Foundation grantees may have taken part in unacceptable behavior in Durban."

In 2003, Ford initially denied to JTA that any anti-Israel agitation or anti-Semitic activities took place in Durban. But as Nadler and 20 other U.S. lawmakers pressed for an investigation, and groups including the American Jewish Congress threatened a lawsuit, Ford reversed itself.

Berresford's letter to Nadler stated that Ford officials were "disgusted by the vicious anti-Semitic activity seen at Durban," and vowed, "If the Foundation finds allegations of bigotry and incitement of hatred by particular grantees to be true … we will cease funding."

Ford's revised guidelines, produced in November 2003 with input from Nadler's office and Jewish groups, altered a longstanding hands-off policy for its grantees and annual allocations worldwide.

"The fact they were making much clearer what was acceptable and not acceptable was unusual in the world of philanthropy," said Stacy Palmer, the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. "Grant-makers usually give for a project -- 'that's what I'd like to see' -- and those are the only restrictions on grantees."

Not surprisingly, the altered guidelines generated grumbling not only from certain grantees but also from some former Ford employees and critics on the left.

The Nation in a May 2006 piece "Target Ford" swiped at the "vague, sweeping language" and cited the concerns of Ford-supported universities -- Harvard, Columbia and Stanford -- that it could quash "protected speech" on their campus, even in their classrooms.

Scott Sherman, the author, quoted "a former high-ranking Ford employee" who "noted with dismay" -- and somewhat conspiratorially -- that Berresford "is very tough and principled, so they must have really twisted her arm to get her to put in that new grant language."

Ford denies anything was imposed. Rather, according to foundation officials, the guidelines simply "reflect Ford values."

"We took what had been our implicit values and made them explicit because apparently, they weren't fully understood," Ford spokesman Alfred Ironside told JTA during a recent interview at the foundation's Manhattan offices.

Nadler said the Ford policy has become a "benchmark" for the philanthropic and human-rights world.

"In the face of that substantial pressure, Ford had stood strong, re-articulated their values and forcefully asserted their rights to deny funding to those organizations that violate their essential principles," Nadler told JTA. "They should be lauded for that."

Nevertheless, the perception lingers that Ford "buckled" under pressure from Jewish lawmakers and activists, with Berresford's denial "a bit disingenuous," said Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at Georgetown's Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership.

After Ford's role in the Durban conference was highlighted and the foundation tightened its grantee guidelines, it also doled out millions to assorted Jewish organizations. (See sidebar.)

These grants fulfilled a prediction made to JTA in January 2004 by Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

"At the end of the day," he said, "I assume they will fund some project submitted to them by a mainstream Jewish organization."

ADL received $1.1 million soon after.

Ford had been criticized for funding very few Jewish projects. Eisenberg said this burst of generosity was at least partly aimed to placate.

"Clearly, Ford bent over backwards to fund some Jewish groups it had not previously supported after the brouhaha," he said.

Foxman said that Ford dollars wouldn't discourage him from chastising, if necessary.

"One criticism of Ford was that they neglected the Jewish community," he said. "So now they're going to be criticized of what, buying the Jewish community? You can't have it both ways."

Ford also earned kudos for its decision in February 2006 to withdraw support for an American Association of University Professors conference in Italy after The New York Sun revealed that some one-third of expected participants had publicly supported boycotts of Israeli universities.

Then came this most recent move to distance itself from the 2009 follow-up to Durban, which instead will be held in Geneva on U.N. grounds, where security and protocol can be more effectively controlled.

Yet a re-examination of that initial Berresford letter along with recent interviews with current Ford officials suggest that Ford's rejection of groups that incite terror and anti-Semitism does not extend to the boycott and divestment movement.

Ford and some of its current grantees have hardly shied away from controversial topics.

PNGO was one of the more notorious Durban ringleaders and continues to circle within the Ford orbit. Its relations with several current Ford grantees raises questions about whether some funds Ford gives to groups associated with the Palestinian NGO Network might end up supporting PNGO in some way.

PNGO, according to JTA's 2003 series, had received $1.4 million from Ford over the years.

Ford's online grant database is transparent, with all awards since 2004 easily accessible. What is not clear is when or why a particular group that once was funded no longer is.

Ford officials declined to cite specifics, but they did say that overall their number of grantees has declined.

PNGO, meanwhile, is heavily involved with two of the prime campaigns associated with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movements, known as BDS: the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. The latter recently won U.N. accreditation to attend the 2009 anti-racism forum.

These two groups, along with PNGO, headlined a Nov. 22 conference on boycott and divestment strategy held in Ramallah.

PNGO's advice to participants at the conference on how to publicly describe their objectives is on its Web site.

This advice is also revealing in light of Ford's revised guidelines: "Emphasize that the BDS campaign does not only target Israel's economy, but challenges Israel's legitimacy, being a colonial and apartheid state, as part of the international community. Therefore, efforts are needed not only to promote wide consumer boycotts, but also boycotts in the fields of academia, culture and sports."

PNGO, in turn, is tight with at least three current Ford grantees. It is a coordinating committee member of the Arab NGO Network for Development; an executive board member of the Euro-Mediterranean NGO Platform (the Arab NGO Network is also a member); and is associated with Muwatin, which it thanked online for lending a hand with the November strategy conference in Ramallah.

In addition to giving $305,000 to the Arab NGO Network, Ford awarded $45,000 in 2005-07 to the Euro-Mediterranean network. The group, which is fiercely critical of Israel, received the funds not specifically to oppose Israel but "to translate its reports, news bulletins and meeting documents into Arabic for dissemination in the Middle East and North Africa," according to the Ford grant database.

It also received $150,000 for 2007-08 "to strengthen the role of civil society in protecting and promoting the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers in North Africa and the Middle East."

As for Muwatin, which signed a key May 2005 boycott petition, it landed $180,000 from Ford for 2006-07 "for policy studies and research to inform debate on issues of democracy, Islamism and secularism and for public education on the performance of the Palestinian Legislative Council," the Palestinian parliament.

It also received $200,000 for 2006-08 "for policy research to inform public debate on democracy, Islamism and secularism and for a training and awards program for young social science researchers."

Even if money is not given specifically to bash Israel, NGO workers often speak of "fungibility" -- that money given from one donor, for one specific purpose, frees up money for NGOs to use for another purpose.

With all the intertwined relationships among Palestinian NGOs, it's unclear if any of the Ford money that helps keep these three grantees afloat in some way also helps sustain the PNGO network.

Ironside, the Ford spokesman, said the lines were clear.

"Ford grants are made for specific purposes, and we require a strict accounting of how funds are applied to grant-specific work," he said.

Meanwhile, the words and actions of some direct beneficiaries continue to catch the eye of watchdogs like Steinberg, whose NGO Monitor was established after Durban by the conservative think tank Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

In a Mideast conflict that also battles for the hearts and minds of interested observers around the world, some of these NGOs -- while focused mostly on human rights and other activities -- also bang a steady drumbeat of extreme accusations against Israel.

In many cases, the litany of charges are boilerplate, as if lifted from talking points: collective punishment and disproportionate use of force, ethnic cleansing and breach of international law.

Additionally, there are the accusations of "apartheid" or endorsement of boycotts. For some NGOs it's not mentioned often -- just enough to indicate where their values lie.

Steinberg says that for activists, journalists or news junkies who click on these Web sites, such words are likely to incite strong feelings -- even hatred or bigotry -- toward the Jewish state.

Consider the college student learning more about the conflict but not yet inclined to weigh two sides of a story.

"These are not insignificant activities because you create a public image by repeating the same claims over and over again, where Israel is always being accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity," said Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University, itself a target of academic boycotts for its "complicity" in Israeli policies against Palestinians.

"It's propaganda," he said, "and it's a branding of Israel in a very negative way."

Steinberg himself is often accused by Ford and New Israel Fund defenders of being ideologically motivated to "cherry-pick" and exaggerate the evidence to discredit pro-Palestinian NGOs -- and stifle any criticism of Israeli actions.

"It is true that the Ford Foundation and NIF fund many constructive NGOs that do not promote a radical political or anti-Israel agenda," he said. "But the very major impact of the destructive NGOs" -- in submissions to the United Nations, news releases, reports, etc. -- "is not offset or balanced in any way by the activities of the constructive NGOs."

Monitoring grantees

To monitor its grantees, Ford says it conducts random Web site checks and responds to specific complaints from peers in the field, lawmakers and other respected figures.

The next step is internal discussion of a case, said Tellado, the Ford vice president. The discussion is placed within the broader context of the NGO's goals and activities, and if the case distracts from the central mission Ford has funded.

This may be followed by a "conversation" with the grantee, she said: "You signed the letter, you're aware of our values, are you sure you want this on your Web site?"

If Ford deems it necessary, Tellado said, the foundation will sever, freeze or even recover funding.

"These tools are available to us, and we have used them all," she said.

Ford officials declined to name grantees they have punished this way, nor will the foundation say how many NGOs the foundation has cut loose since revising its guidelines.

While Ford willingly explains the details of how its grantee monitoring works, it refused to provide JTA any concrete evidence of actual investigations, even with grantee names blacked out.

Anything that comes close to revealing a name, said Ironside, "could create a de facto blacklist or be defaming." That, he added, could lead to legal action.

Ford moved quickly in late 2003 to jettison one of the prime Durban instigators – the Palestinian Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, also known as LAW. But that public announcement was made easier when the group's serious financial improprieties also came to light.

Among the others no longer funded, it seems, are the Habitat International Coalition and 2005 boycott signatory Ittijah: The Union of Arab Community Based Associations in Haifa.

Ittijah, according to NGO Monitor, "joined a number of Palestinian NGOs in rejecting anti-terror clauses in funding agreements" with Ford and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Another signer of the 2005 petition, Shaml: The Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center, was at the time a Ford grantee. It received $90,000 "for a program of research and advocacy on the rights and status of Palestinian refugees." It is no longer a grantee.

Ford officials, meanwhile, say that while they recognize that boycotts are sometimes seen as a legitimate political tool, the foundation would not support a group devoted exclusively to boycotts.

"Our position against boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaigns is clear: We do not fund them," Ironside said.

Many organizations around the world nonetheless look on boycotts as a constructive and nonviolent means to bring about policy change.

"We do not expect to share every position taken by each organization we support, and indeed we do not," Ironside said. "What we do expect of every grantee is to share and live by the values embedded in our mission: the inherent worth and dignity of all people; social justice and equality; the search for knowledge, understanding and cooperation; and respect for civil society and democratic values."

While NGO Monitor keeps the heat on, other Ford critics from 2003 express less concern while noting they have moved on to other issues and don't follow Ford money so closely now.

"I'm confident that Ford is taking this issue seriously and acting in good faith," Foxman said. "I know there are pressures on them from all sides. There may be some aberrations, some perversions, and some of it is a judgment call. It's not an exact science."

Monitoring so many grantees is no simple process, said Nadler, even when looking at the narrower sphere of Ford funding from its Cairo office. With a "violation" open to interpretation, Ford is indeed the sole arbiter.

Nadler acknowledges "gray areas" in the implementation of Ford's guidelines and process, and doesn't agree with every organization the foundation chooses to fund.

"But will I say with certainty that Ford's actions have been sincere and highly commendable? Yes," the congressman said.

"And have their guidelines become an effective high-water mark that has both set an important tone and significantly lessened anti-Semitic and Israel-threatening activities that had been going on in the NGO world for years? Absolutely."

With Berresford's retirement last year, some on the left expressed hope that Ford's incoming president, Luis Ubinas, would reverse the guidelines policy.

Sherman, the Nation writer, penned an op-ed last October in The Los Angeles Times under the headline "Fixing Ford," in which he called on Ubinas to "move quickly to rectify the mistakes of his predecessor and realign Ford's day-to-day grant-making with the lofty principles that have guided the foundation."

The new president, however, says there's no chance.

"Susan put a lot of thought into creating this policy," Ubinas recently told JTA, "and I have no intention of changing it."



donderdag 31 juli 2008

Henryk Broder over antisemitisme zonder antisemieten in Duitsland

Een toespraak van Henryk Broder aan een Duitse parlementscommissie die zich bezig houdt met antisemitisme. Antisemitisme is veranderd, maar daarmee niet minder gevaarlijk, aldus Broder.




 by Henryk Broder. English Translation by John Rosenthal

July 19, 2008. This appeared on Pajama Media.

Henryk Broder delivered this statement to the Bundestag's Domestic Affairs Committee. He is the author of numerous books on contemporary German political culture and anti-Semitism, including Hurrah, Wir Kapitulieren! [Hurray! We Give Up] and Der ewige Antisemit [The Eternal Anti-Semite]. He is a regular contributor to many leading German-language news publications and one of the principal co-authors of the popular German blog Die Achse des Gutens


Earlier this month, the Domestic Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag held public hearings on anti-Semitism in Germany. Many of the speakers chose to focus on the "classical" anti-Semitism to be found in what in Germany are euphemistically called "right-wing extremist" milieus, i.e., among skinheads and self-avowed neo-Nazis. The journalist Henryk Broder, however, located the problem elsewhere: namely, in the mainstream "anti-Zionist anti-Semitism" to be found, for instance, among academics ... and Bundestag members.


I thank you for the invitation to this hearing. It is an honor for me to be able to speak to you. I know that there has been some unhappiness on account of my participation. But I am sure that by the end of my statement you will not regret having invited me.

This is not the first hearing on the issue of anti-Semitism and it will not be the last. Ever since the writer and self-avowed Jew-hater Wilhelm Marr published his "The Triumph of Germandom [Deutschtum] over Jewry" in 1879, thus becoming the leader of political anti-Semitism in imperial Germany, there have been numerous attempts made to define, explain, and neutralize anti-Semitism. They have all failed. If this was not the case, we would not be here today.

Every discussion of anti-Semitism starts with a definition of the concept. And many get no further than that, such that after all the efforts to get a grasp on the phenomenon one is left merely with the finding that anti-Semitism is, as the old joke goes, "when one can't stand Jews even more than is normal."

I would like, therefore, to concentrate on two points: two arguments to which one has to pay special attention if one does not want to conduct a merely virtual debate. Firstly, anti-Semitism is not a matter of a prejudice, but rather of a sort of resentment. In and of themselves, prejudices –– literally "pre-judgments" [Vorurteile] –– are harmless. I have prejudices, you have prejudices: everyone does. It is only negative prejudices that bother us.

If I say to you that Germans are hardworking, disciplined, and show their guests great hospitality, you will happily agree with me. If, however, I say that Germans are cheap, infantile, and lack a sense of humor, you will presumably get upset. That's an unacceptable generalization, you will say. It is the same with Jews. We gladly hear positive prejudices expressed –– on the "people of the book" or Jewish humor –– but negative prejudices, which thematize our worse tendencies, we take as an insult.

The distinction between a prejudice and a resentment is as follows: a prejudice concerns a person's behavior; a resentment concerns that person's very existence. Anti-Semitism is a resentment. The anti-Semite does not begrudge the Jew how he is or what he does, but that he is at all. The anti-Semite takes offense as much at the Jew's attempts to assimilate as at his self-marginalization. Rich Jews are exploiters; poor Jews are freeloaders. Smart Jews are arrogant and dumb Jews –– and, yes, there are also dumb Jews –– are a disgrace to Jewry.

The anti-Semite blames Jews in principle for everything and its opposite. That is why there is no point in trying to debate anti-Semites or in wanting to convince them of the absurdity of their views. One has to marginalize anti-Semites: to isolate them in a sort of social quarantine. Society must make clear that it disdains both anti-Semitism and anti-Semites: just as it disdains parents beating their children and rape –– including spousal rape –– even though it well knows that it cannot monitor everything that transpires behind closed doors.

Secondly, if you want to come to terms with anti-Semitism, you must realize that it is not a fixed quantity like the meter prototype in Paris or the definition of the volt, watt, or ampere. Like all social phenomena, anti-Semitism is susceptible to transformation. Even poverty is no longer today what it once was at the time of Oliver Twist. The anti-Semitism that we are most readily inclined to discuss is an artifact of the last century and the century before that. It is the anti-Semitism of fools, who are still chasing chimeras. [In the late 19th century, the German Social Democrat August Bebel famously described anti-Semitism as the "socialism of fools." –– Translator's Note]

The common anti-Semite has no real idea about the object of his obsessions, but only a diffuse feeling. He lets off steam by painting swastikas on aluminum siding and scribbling Juda verrecke ["Jews go croak!"] on gravestones. He is a case for the police and the local courts, but nothing more than that. Nobody is going to feel sympathy for thugs who raise their arms to give the Hitler salute and shout Juden raus! ["Jews out!"]. This sort of anti-Semitism is ugly, but politically irrelevant: it is its own death notice.

The modern anti-Semite looks entirely different. He does not have a shaved head. He has good manners and often an academic title as well. He mourns for the Jews who died in the Holocaust. But at the same time he wonders why the survivors and their descendants have learned nothing from history and today treat another people as badly as they were once treated themselves.

The modern anti-Semite does not believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But instead he fantasizes about an "Israel lobby" that is supposed to control American foreign policy like a tail that wags the dog. For the modern anti-Semite, it goes without saying that every year on January 27 he will commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz. But at the same time he militates for the right of Iran to have atomic weapons. For "how can one deny Iran what one has permitted Israel or Pakistan?" as Norman Paech [the foreign policy spokesperson of the German Left Party] has put it. Or he inverts the causal relationship and claims that it is Israel that is threatening Iran and not vice-versa –– as [German Middle East scholar] Dr. Udo Steinbach did in a recent radio interview.

The modern anti-Semite finds ordinary anti-Semitism disgraceful. He has no problem, however, embracing anti-Zionism and is grateful for the opportunity to express his resentment in a politically correct form. For anti-Zionism is a sort of resentment just like classical anti-Semitism was. The anti-Zionist has the same attitude toward Israel as the anti-Semite has to Jews. He is not bothered by what Israel does or does not do, but rather by the fact that Israel exists. That is why he participates so passionately in debates about the solution to the Palestinian question –– which could well mean a final solution for Israel.

On the other hand, he is left indifferent by conditions in Darfur or Zimbabwe or Congo or Cambodia, because there are no Jews involved in those places. Ask the foreign policy spokesperson of the Left Party, for instance, how many statements he has issued about "Palestine" and how many about Tibet. Earlier –– let' s say at the time of classical anti-Semites like Wilhelm Marr, Karl Lueger, and Adolf Stoecker –– everything was plain and simple. There were Jews, there were anti-Semites, and there was anti-Semitism.

After 1945, for the well-known reasons, we then had in Germany an anti-Semitism without Jews. And now today we are again confronted by a new phenomenon: an anti-Semitism without anti-Semites. Another new phenomenon is the professional profile of what might be called the "leisure time anti-Semite" who does his regular job during the day, perhaps even in a federal government office, and then in his spare time writes "critical" texts on Israel that appear on obscure anti-Zionist websites. [The reference is to Ludwig Watzal, an official of Germany's Federal Office for Civic Education (BpB), many of whose articles have been reprinted on the site See [1] here on Watzal. The BpB has resisted calls for Watzal's dismissal, arguing that the writings in question are not connected to his professional activity. –– Translator's Note] Nobody wants to be an anti-Semite, but the "anti-Zionist" hall of shame is getting increasingly crowded.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are two sides of the same coin. If the anti-Semite was convinced that it is not him, the anti-Semite, who is to blame for anti-Semitism, but rather the Jew himself who is to blame, so too is the anti-Zionist convinced that Israel is responsible not only for the suffering of the Palestinians, but also for the hardship it suffers itself. The older persons among you will perhaps remember what a Green Party politician, who is still a member of the Bundestag, said about the Iraqi rockets that were fired at Israel at the time of the first Gulf War in 1991:

"The Iraqi rocket attacks are the logical, nearly unavoidable consequence of Israeli policy." [The author of the quote is Green Party Member of Parliament Hans-Christian Ströbele – Translator's Note] At the time, the same Green Party politician also opposed the delivery of defensive weapons like Patriot rockets to Israel, because this would, he claimed, lead to an escalation in the hostilities.

Today, some 17 years later, we hear similar remarks about rocket attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon or the Gaza Strip: namely, that they are the logical, nearly unavoidable result of Israeli occupation and that Israel would do well not to react in order to avoid escalating hostilities.

The modern anti-Semite pays tribute to Jews who have been dead for 60 years, but he resents it when living Jews take measures to defend themselves. He screams "Beware of the Beginnings!" when a handful of weekend Nazis hold a demonstration in Cottbus, but he justifies the policies of the current Iranian president and defends the continuation of German business with Iran.

Ladies and gentleman, we will not solve the problem of anti-Semitism: not at this hearing nor at the next. But the mere fact that you are discussing the issue –– when there are also other and more pressing problems that need attention –– is a good sign.

If I may in all modesty make a suggestion: leave the good old anti-Semitism to the archaeologists and antiquarians and historians. Devote your attention to the modern anti-Semitism that wears the disguise of anti-Zionism and to its representatives.

You will find some of the latter among your own ranks.