vrijdag 22 februari 2008

Benny Morris over het Palestijnse vluchtelingenprobleem

Benny Morris is een geliefde bron voor mensen die willen 'bewijzen' dat Israël de Palestijnse vluchtelingen heeft verdreven, dat het talloze slachtingen uitvoerde, en vooral dat dit alles onderdeel zou zijn van een vooropgezet plan van de zionisten om Palestina te zuiveren van de Arabieren. Ten onrechte, zo legt hij uit in een brief aan de Irish Times.

Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008
Subject: IRISH TIMES prints Prof Benny Morris letter  Thu 21 Feb 2008

Letters page Irish Times 21 Feb
Page 17, Cols 3 and 4.




Israel-haters are fond of citing - and more often, mis-citing - my work in support of their arguments. Let me offer some corrections.

The Palestinian Arabs were not responsible "in some bizarre way" ( Senator David Norris, January 31st) for what befell them in 1948. Their responsibility was very direct and simple.

In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29th, 1947 (No. 181), they launched hostilities against the Jewish community in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement of 700,000 of them from their homes.

It is true, as Erskine Childers pointed out long ago, that there were no Arab radio broadcasts urging the Arabs to flee en masse; indeed, there were broadcasts by several Arab radio stations urging them to stay put. But, on the local level, in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa's Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to stay, to no avail.

Most  of Palestine's 700,000 "refugees" fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders). But it is also true that there were several dozen sites, including Lydda and Ramla, from which Arab communities were expelled by Jewish troops.

The displacement of the 700,000 Arabs who became "refugees" - and I put the term in inverted commas, as two-thirds of them were displaced from one part of Palestine to another and not from their country (which is the usual definition of a refugee) - was not a "racist crime" (David Landy, January 24th) but the result of a national conflict and a war, with religious overtones, from the Muslim perspective, launched by the Arabs themselves.

There was no Zionist "plan" or blanket policy of evicting the Arab population, or of "ethnic cleansing".

Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948 (it is open and available for all to read in the IDF Archive and in various publications), was the master plan of the Haganah - the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) - to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state. That's what it explicitly states and that's what it was. And the invasion of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq duly occurred, on May 15th.

It is true that Plan D gave the regional commanders carte blanche to occupy and garrison or expel and destroy the Arab villages along and behind the front lines and the anticipated Arab armies' invasion routes. And it is also true that mid-way in the 1948 war the Israeli leaders decided to bar the return of the "refugees" (those "refugees" who had just assaulted the Jewish community), viewing them as a potential fifth column and threat to the Jewish state's existence. I for one cannot fault their fears or logic.

The demonisation of Israel is largely based on lies - much as the demonisation of the Jews during the past 2,000 years has been based on lies. And there is a connection between the two.

I would recommend that the likes of Norris and Landy read some history books and become acquainted with the facts, not recycle shopworn Arab propaganda. They might then learn, for example, that the "Palestine War" of 1948 (the "War of Independence," as Israelis call it) began in November 1947, not in May 1948. By May 14th close to 2,000 Israelis had died - of the 5,800 dead suffered by Israel in the whole war ( ie almost 1 per cent of the Jewish population of Palestine/Israel, which was about 650,000).

Yours, etc,


Li-On, Israel.

Israël ontkent belofte om Orient House weer te laten openen

Misschien kan Israël opening van het Orient House in het vooruitzicht stellen nadat de Palestijnse Autoriteit een einde heeft gemaakt aan ophitsing tegen Israël in aan haar geliëerde media. Het Orient House was niet zo onschuldig als de Palestijnen het graag doen voorkomen.

The closure has led to a dramatic reduction in anti-Israeli activity in east Jerusalem, and an increase in security in the Old City, according to Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shalom Harari, a former senior adviser on Palestinian affairs at the Defense Ministry.

Israel denies Orient House promise

Israel on Thursday rejected claims by senior PA officials that it has reneged on a promise to allow the reopening of Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem this month.

Two weeks ago, the Interior Ministry renewed a 2001 decree that shut down Orient House, a building north of Jerusalem's Old City that once served as the PLO's local headquarters. The center was ordered closed during the second intifada, along with the Arab Chambers of Commerce.

The decree's renewal was slammed on Thursday by an adviser to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, who said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a commitment to the Palestinians and to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to allow the buildings to reopen. "This is not a good sign for the peace process," the adviser said.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, a senior Israeli official dismissed the allegation, saying that there was "no change in the longstanding policy [to keep the centers shut]."

A Jerusalem Police spokesman told the Post that officers made routine visits to Orient House and other Palestinian centers in order to enforce the decree, adding that no illegal activities were found during the patrols.

"Nothing is happening there," the spokesman said. "Since its closure in 2001, Orient House has remained shut with no one arriving at the site."

The closure has led to a dramatic reduction in anti-Israeli activity in east Jerusalem, and an increase in security in the Old City, according to Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shalom Harari, a former senior adviser on Palestinian affairs at the Defense Ministry.

"Since its closure, the Palestinians have been mourning the loss of Orient House, and say they have lost the center of their revolutionary zeal in Jerusalem," Harari told the Post. Addressing the Palestinian claim that Olmert had vowed to allow the building to reopen, Harari said," I don't know if such a promise was made, but if it was, it was made secretly, because nothing has been made public about such a commitment."

During the Oslo peace process, Orient House acted as "an organizing factor" for riots and demonstrations, Harari said.

"We allowed the PLO to operate in Jerusalem during the 1990s, but not the Palestinian Authority," he said, adding that Orient House was quickly infiltrated by PA elements who turned it into a kind of "extraterritorial embassy."

"It began issuing land rights, settling civil disputes - it became an institution," Harari said. "Police were afraid to enter or search it, and Orient House enjoyed an informal diplomatic immunity status."

"The shutting down of Orient House was the end result of a long effort by right-wing Knesset Members, led by [then-Public Security Minister] Uzi Landau, who said that Orient's use as a PA base was a violation of Oslo. They said an entity within an entity was being created," Harari said.

"After a major suicide bombing, Landau effectively forced the police to close it down," Harari said, adding that police did not at first wish to raid the center due to fears of a violent backlash, which never materialized.

Following the raid, the center's archives were confiscated, and many documents surfaced that vindicated the claims of Knesset members who had sought to close the center down, Harari said.

"I can say that closing down Orient House was one of main acts that caused a reduction in open anti-Israeli activity in Jerusalem," he said.

AP contributed to this report.

Multinationale troepenmacht in Gaza Strook biedt geen oplossing

Aaron Lerner is geen optimist.
In onderstaand commentaar schetst de IMRA-directeur de gevaren en risico's van een internationale troepenmacht in Gaza nadat Israël daar is binnengevallen om een einde te maken aan de raketbeschietingen. Ik denk dat veel zal afhangen van het resultaat van die operatie: lukt het Israël Hamas beslissend te verslaan, dan zal Hamas zich niet snel weer kunnen herstellen, en kan de internationale troepenmacht helpen bij een goede machtsoverdracht aan de Palestijnse Autoriteit. Is Hamas niet verslagen, dan zal die troepenmacht inderdaad Israëls vuile werk niet opknappen en kan Hamas - zoals Hezbollah in Zuid-Libanon - zich opnieuw bewapenen en voorbereiden op een volgende ronde. Heeft men genoeg van de internationale troepenmacht dan wordt die middels een paar aanslagen 'aangemoedigd' naar huis te gaan.
De kans dat het Israël zal lukken - en het genoeg tijd zal krijgen - om Hamas beslissend te verslaan is niet groot, dus Lerner zou weleens gelijk kunnen krijgen....

Weekly Commentary: Multinational Force In Gaza Strip Not The Answer

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 21 February, 2008

Would it really serve Israel's interests rely on the deployment of a collection of foreign forces in the Gaza Strip to facilitate an Israeli exit after the conclusion of a major operation there?


Proponents see the mandate of such a multinational group as an anti-Palestinian terror force, but the members of the force wouldn't come from Mars. They would be from nations with their own international (and for that matter domestic) interests and concerns. As such, this force would be careful to avoid the "Israel's Policeman" label.

Deployment of such a force would be predicated on significant, substantial and immediate Israeli concessions that contributing countries could point to in order to justify their participation to the Arab world.

By the same token, the force would take great care to avoid either embarrassing or ostensibly offending the "moderate" Palestinian leadership they are helping to pick up the pieces after the operation.

+ Security and inspection arrangements at passages and the Gaza seaports and airport would sacrifice effectiveness for Palestinian "pride".

+ Operations against terrorists would be effectively restricted in sensitive locations such as schools, hospitals, mosques, etc.

+ Operations against terrorists aligned with the ruling authorities and official Palestinian locations. Historically, many terrorist operations are carried out by forces associated with the ruling Palestinian factions. In fact, many of these gunmen also serve within the Palestinian security forces as their day job while they moonlight as terrorists. Illegal weapons have also been stored in official PA armories (for example the rockets and other equipment that Hamas seized when it took control in Gaza). Multinational force ground commanders would weigh operations against these terrorists against the repercussions, in terms of its impact on relations with both their Palestinian interlocutors and third parties.

+ The political need for encouraging - if not glowing - progress reports would take priority over accurate and realistic assessments of the situation on the ground.

+ Paradoxically, the presence of the force - seeking quick and dirty "progress" - would ultimately lead to the build up of a larger and more dangerously armed Palestinian army in the Gaza Strip than there would be in the absence of a multinational force.

Deploying a multinational force in the Gaza Strip means stripping Israel of the ability to act to protect itself from terror attacks.

At best the operational goals of the commanders on the ground would be to try to prevent the launching of terror attacks during their tour of duty while avoiding casualties (and bad press) to their own forces, an approach that lends itself, at best, to the "hudna" concept that it is acceptable for the terrorists to gain strength as long as they don't use it. Yet.

It might be appealing to suggest that someone else bear Israel's security burden - but it won't work.

It would only put the Jewish State in a situation that it faces an even more dangerous enemy that skillfully exploits the human shields a multi-national force would become.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Israël onder toenemende internationale druk om Gaza beleid te veranderen

Welch, who joined the criticism of Israel's conduct in the Gaza Strip, said the United States was not comfortable with Israel's approach to Gaza, and presented the American goals regarding the Israelis and Palestinians. "First we must not allow the suicide bombing in Dimona and shooting on Sderot to affect the negotiations," he said.
Misschien moet het feit dat Hamas de baas is in Gaza, en Hamas nog steeds voor de 'bevrijding' van geheel Palestina is, ook geen rol spelen in de onderhandelingen?
Als Welsch en Serry en Otte en al die anderen die zich zo'n zorgen maken, de druk op Hamas verhoogden in plaats van slechts de druk op Israël op te voeren, was er nog een kans op succes. Dit soort zaken speelt uiteraard slechts Hamas in de kaart, dat zich na de propaganda overwinningen in januari toch al gesterkt voelt. Als we met z'n allen roepen dat we niet om Hamas heen kunnen en Hamas zo'n belangrijke speler is worden ze inderdaad steeds machtiger.
Als de media hun propaganda voor zoete koek slikken met uitgebreide foto collages en filmbeelden van demonstraties en vergaderingen bij kaarslicht (met de neonlichten op de achtergrond en gordijnen waarachter daglicht schuilgaat), als de kranten allemaal schrijven dat de Palestijnen spontaan de grens hebben opengebroken om brood en ander voedsel te kunnen kopen, en onvermeld laten dat Hamas de bakkers in Gaza opdroeg te sluiten, de opening van de grens maanden was voorbereid, en de electriciteitscentrale nog weken stroom had kunnen leveren, wordt Hamas inderdaad steeds machtiger.
Het is me een raadsel waarom Europa zo haar best doet om het vredesproces te torpederen door Hamas op alle mogelijke manieren te bevestigen en aan te moedigen.   

Israel faces growing international pressure to change Gaza Strip policy
By Barak Ravid 

Ran Koriel, Israel's European Union ambassador, recently warned the Foreign Ministry of a change in EU policy on Hamas, amid mounting international pressure on Israel over its handling of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

The government has recently been getting strong signals that both the U.S. and Europe are deeply frustrated by lack of progress in negotiations with the Palestinians.

Envoys of the Quartet on the Middle East convened in Berlin on February 11 to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip and the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). David Welch, top Middle East aide to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Mark Otte, the European Union peace envoy; UN Middle East envoy Robery Serry; and Russian envoy to the Middle East Sergei Yakovlev took part in the meeting.

In the last week, a number of Israeli ambassadors in European capitals sent classified telegrams about the meeting's contents, some of which reached Haaretz.

Serry criticized Israel at the outset of the meeting. "We are deeply concerned over the situation in Gaza, especially from the humanitarian perspective," he said. "We must find a fast solution to this situation."

He said that due to Israel's siege, "even the UN's teams have difficulty entering and leaving Gaza to give aid."

Welch, who joined the criticism of Israel's conduct in the Gaza Strip, said the United States was not comfortable with Israel's approach to Gaza, and presented the American goals regarding the Israelis and Palestinians. "First we must not allow the suicide bombing in Dimona and shooting on Sderot to affect the negotiations," he said.

"It is also important to us that neither the Palestinians in Gaza nor the Israelis in Sderot are hurt. Also, we must continue to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad."

Welch added that the Quartet must demand that Israel open the border passes with the Gaza Strip.

Otte was even more blunt. "Not only is nothing improving on the ground, but Israel's behavior is getting worse, and it's failing to carry out its obligations on the road map," he said.

"There seem to be no significant progress in the peace process," he said.

He noted that Israel had decided to extend by six months the order to shut down PA institutions in East Jerusalem. "We must consider a change of policy in everything regarding Gaza," he said.

Yakovlev said that Russia believes the Palestinians must once again set up a national unity government, which Israel strongly objects to. Without a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, "the Gaza Strip will be a time bomb that will kill the Annapolis process," he said.

Israel had been expecting a demarche from the EU making clear Brussels' disapproval of its actions in the Gaza Strip. A concentrated diplomatic offensive by Israel's ambassadors in Europe managed to stall the initiative for the moment. "However," said a source in Jerusalem, "Israel is living on borrowed time regarding international legitimacy for what is going on in Gaza."

Israel and the United States recently managed to thwart Switzerland's initiative for an international gathering to propose a plan to open the border passes to the Gaza Strip. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner demanded of Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the past two weeks to open the border passes in the Strip.

Barak was forced to give in and allow a partial opening of the passes so that cement could be brought into Gaza. Barak heard similar demands during his visit to Turkey about a week ago. He agreed to Turkey's request to enable Turkish humanitarian aid to be brought into Gaza on a one-time basis.

In addition to these troubling reports, Ran Koriel sent a sharp telegram to the Foreign Ministry warning of an overall European policy change toward Israel and the PA, which could even lead to a recognition of Hamas.

"Despite the suspension [of the demarche], note the growing discomfort in Europe over the situation in the Gaza Strip," wrote Koriel.

He said that in recent weeks he received reports that the French government was reexamining its attitude toward Hamas. Senior EU officials had been heard denouncing Israel's actions in Gaza, and a number of decisions on the issue had been passed in various European parliaments.

"This activity is in keeping with the European culture espousing concern for humanitarian issues," Koriel wrote. "It is even graver in view of the feeling in Europe that Israel and the Palestinians are not succeeding in changing the situation on the ground and not progressing in the peace talks."

donderdag 21 februari 2008

75% Arabisch-Israëlische jongeren voorstander van civiele dienst

Een vrijwillige civiele dienst is een goede maatregel om integratie en gelijkheid te bevorderen, lijkt mij, al ligt het erg aan de manier waarop dit wordt ingevuld. De dienst in de eigen Arabische dorpjes vervullen leidt nauwelijks tot een brede horizon of meer integratie in Israël, en in Joodse steden is het gevaar dat de Arabische jongeren vooral als goedkope hulpjes worden gebruikt.
Ultra-orthodoxe Joden doen deze vrijwillige dienst vooral in hun eigen gemeenschappen, waardoor het nauwelijks bijdraagt aan hun integratie in Israël.
Zeker zal het vervullen van deze nationale dienst voordelen moeten opleveren zoals die nu voor ex-militairen ook gelden, met name voorrang bij huisvesting en studies.

Press Release
Communication and Media Relations
University of Haifa

February 20, 2008

75% of Arab-Israeli youth in favor of civic service

"The high level of support reveals a measure of pragmatism among young Arabs," explains Prof. Sammy Smooha of the University of Haifa who conducted the survey

75% of Arab youths between the ages of 16-22 support volunteer civic service, revealed an attitude survey conducted by Prof. Sammy Smooha, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Haifa. "While Arab society on the whole exhibits a pragmatic, moderate stance, the Arab leadership which is not associated with the establishment is more critical, in some cases even radical, and this leadership is conducting a campaign against civic service in the Arab community. This campaign will deter some of the youth, but it is important to note that the State will wage a counter-campaign, which will stress the benefits of service," explains Prof. Smooha. The full results of the survey will be presented at a conference which will take place at the University of Haifa tomorrow, on Thursday February 21, on the subject of civic service for Arabs in Israel.

The study, which was conducted towards the end of 2007, included 910 respondents who were divided into three groups: 500 men and women over age 23; 204 parents of 12-22 year-olds; 206 youth between the ages of 16-22. In addition, 78 members of the Israeli-Arab leadership were surveyed, including Knesset members, heads of local governments, office holders in political movements, journalists and others. This group was divided into public figures affiliated with the Jewish establishment and those unaffiliated with the Jewish establishment.

The results of the survey revealed that most of the Arab community is not familiar with civic service: 77.4 % of the total respondents reported a lack of familiarity with the program and 79.6% of the youths themselves reported knowing very little about the service which is actually meant for them. It seems that despite the aggressive campaign being waged by heads of the Arab community against civic service and recruitment activities conducted by the civic service administration, the community still has limited information about the initiative.

As the survey participants learned more details about the goals of the program and its benefits, their support increased considerably. Not only do the youth support voluntary civic service, but 71.9% of the men surveyed and 83.8% of the women support the concept. According to Prof. Smooha, the widespread support for civic service among women, mothers of young women and young women themselves indicates a strong aspiration to improve the status of Arab women. Most of the volunteers are young Arab women who see the service as an opportunity to be part of a meaningful project and for personal development. Support for civic service was also found to be high among supporters of Hadash (62.9%), Balad (77.6%) and other political parties that have voiced opposition to the service.

27.1% of the youth would volunteer even knowing that their family opposed the idea. 35% would volunteer despite opposition of local religious or non-religious leadership and 42% would still volunteer if the national Arab leadership in Israel expressed opposition.

68.1% of the Arab population justifies their support of civic service because volunteering contributes to the state and Israeli society and 89.7% support it because volunteering will promote equality between Arabs and Jews. Youths are less concerned with contributing to society - 50.6% reported this as the reason for their support - but advancing equality is almost as important as in the general population - 86.5%.

 85.8% of the general Arab population and 76.5% of the youth responded that the fact that, in their opinion, civic service will not bring about true equality is reason to oppose the service. 74.5% of the general Arab population and the youth fear that voluntary service will eventually become obligatory military service and 52.9% responded that the fact that the State organizes the program is reason to oppose it.

"It's hard to believe that the opposition of the leadership which is not affiliated with the Jewish establishment will cause the project to collapse.
If the civil service administration succeeds in reaching an understanding with the Arab leaders by including them in its operation, the project could achieve impressive results," summarized Prof. Smoocha.

A conference entitled: "Civic Service among the Arab-Palestinian Community in Israel" will take place on Thursday (21.2.08) at the University of Haifa. Participants include Dr. Reuven Gal, head of the civil service administration in the Prime Minister's office, academics and public officials from the Jewish and Arab Israeli communities.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Achmadinejad's verbale aanvallen op Israël

De Iraanse president, de minister van buitenlandse zaken en de leider van de revolutionaire garde zijn zich afgelopen week alledrie te buiten gegaan aan scheldkanonnades tegen Israël. Het zou mooi zijn als Westerse landen  (zoals Nederland) hun ambassadeurs terug zouden roepen voor overleg. Het wordt tijd dat Iran een toontje lager gaat zingen.

UN Chief: Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks on Israel intolerable
By Haaretz Service
Last update - 23:47 20/02/2008

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon promised Wednesday to respond "firmly" to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's verbal attacks on Israel, which he called "intolerable."

Ban made the promise in a meeting with Israel's Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman, who requested the meeting with the UN chief following the Iranian president's Wednesday attack calling Israel a "filthy germ."

Ahmadinejad's remarks were broadcast on Iranian television on Wednesday, in which he called Israel a "filthy germ" and "savage beast" established by Western states in their bid to dominate Middle East nations.

The comments came just days after a top commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard called Israel a "cancerous germ" which would be wiped out by Hezbollah, Army Radio reported.

Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted by the Fars News Agency on Monday as saying: "In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the cancerous germ of Israel by the powerful and competent hands of the Hezbollah combatants."

Jafari made the comment in a letter to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, offering condolences after the killing of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah, which Iran has blamed on Israel.

The Foreign Ministry sent a letter of protest to the United Nations over Jafari's remarks, Army Radio reported earlier this week.

Also this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that even after 60 years, Israel still has neither legitimacy nor any role in the Middle East, the ISNA news agency reported. "The West has tried to impose a fabricated regime on the Middle East but even after 60 years, the Zionist regime [Israel] has neither gained any legitimacy nor played any role in this region," Mottaki was quoted as saying.

Calling United States policies in the Middle East a failure, Mottaki predicted the collapse of Israel.

"The era of imposing policies on other states by military threats is over. The nations in the region will no longer surrender to any threats," he said.

Iran urges Security Council to condemn Israeli threats

Iran meanwhile urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to condemn Israel and demand that it immediately stop threatening to use military force against the country's nuclear program.

In a letter to the council, Iran's UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazee referred to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's warning on Jan. 14 that all options are on the table when it comes to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Khazee insisted in the letter that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and called Israel's threats unacceptable and unjustifiable. He said the threats are also a flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter, which calls on countries to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state

"Undoubtedly, the inaction of the Security Council in dealing with the criminal policies and practices of the Israeli regime, and the impunity with which this regime has been allowed to carry out its crimes thus far, have emboldened it in its irresponsible behavior," Khazee said.

"The Security Council should react to these threats by unambiguously condemning them and calling on the said regime to cease and desist immediately from the threat of using force against members of the United Nations," he said.

Gillerman called the letter, which was also sent to Ban, "disgusting and dangerous."

"For a country whose leader describes a member state of the United Nations as a dirty microbe and a savage animal, to complain about others' statements is the height of hypocrisy," he said.

"And coming from a country which is the world's major sponsor and exporter of terror, it is a letter which the recipients, be it the Security Council or the secretary-general, should not even honor by acknowledging," Gillerman said.

Barack Obama en het ware geloof

Is Barack Obama goed of slecht voor Israël? Na verschillende valse geruchten over zijn zogenaamd extremistisch-islamitische verleden en dat hij bij de 'pledge of allegiance' op de Koran in plaats van de Bijbel zou hebben gezworen, hebben de meeste Joodse organisaties hem omarmd en schijnt hij ook hun harten te hebben gewonnen. Op een bijeenkomst van AIPAC zei hij mooie dingen over de band van de VS met Israël, maar er zijn wel degelijk een paar zaken om je zorgen over te maken: hij is lid van de United Church of Christ, een kerk die kritisch staat tegenover Israël, en zijn eigen pastoor waarmee hij goed bevriend is, is een paar jaar geleden naar Libië gereisd met de moslim extremist Louis Farakhan, bekend van antisemitische uitspraken als: "You say I hate Jews. I don't hate the Jewish people, I never have. But there [are] some things I don't like. 'What is it you don't like, Farrakhan?' I don't like the way you leech on us. See a leech is somebody that sucks your blood, takes from you and don't give you a damn thing. See, I don't like that kind of arrangement."
Farakhan schrijft geregeld voor het lokale blaadje van de kerk. Obama heeft zich van hem gedistiantiëerd, maar pas nadat dit soort zaken naar buiten waren gebracht en hem dus mogelijk schade konden berokkenen.
Bovendien heeft Obama twee adviseurs die te denken geven: Robert Malley en Zbigniew Brzezinski. Malley verdedigde de tweede intifada en Arafats weigering om Barak's en Clinton's voorstellen te accepteren. Zowel hij als zijn vader zijn altijd sympathisanten van de PLO geweest, zijn vader was persoonlijk bevriend met Arafat. Brzezeinski sprak publiekelijk zijn waardering uit voor Mearsheimer en Walts boek The Israel Lobby, waarin werd beweerd dat de Lobby de buitenlandse politiek van de VN bepaalt en de VS ertoe zet tegen haar eigen belang in te handelen. En passant wordt de Israëllobby ook voor de oorlog in Irak verantwoordelijk gehouden. Het boek is widely bekritiseerd, niet alleen vanwege de inhoud maar ook vanwege het onderzoek en talloze grotere en kleinere feitelijke onjuistheden. Brzezinski, adviseur van oud-president Jimmy Carter, wordt op antizionistische sites instemmend geciteerd.
In onderstaand artikel gaat Ami Isseroff uitgebreid in op deze zaken en op het vele gedraai en gespin van journalisten en bloggers wat dit betreft.
Dit alles neemt niet weg dat Obama op andere punten een goede president zou kunnen zijn, die de VS nieuwe hoop, energie en spirit kan geven na acht lange jaren onder George W. Bush.

Barack Obama is a phenomenon of popular culture as egregious and overpowering as the Beatles. I wrote previously that I was surprised by the unquestioning and naive allegiance that some pro-Israel commentators offer Obama. I am no longer surprised. I understand. Obama is not an ordinary politician. He is a unique personality with a special gift.

Barack Obama is in the politician business, and he is very good at what he does. That is an understatement. People faint at Obama rallies. He is more than a superstar. He is a megastar. He has even entranced relatively staid Israeli commentators like Shmuel Rosner and Yossi Sarid. It would not be surprising, indeed, if there were not soon rumors that he cures lepers by laying on of hands. We may hear that at a support dinner, he fed a multitude from a single tuna sandwich when the caterers failed to show up.

Who can withstand this overpowering presence? Who is so tone deaf to human emotion, who is such a pedantic nerd, that they would quibble with one who is inspired, who is, in Biblical language, possessed of the Holy Ghost? If only we believe, then "Yes We Can!"

To deny the wonders of Obama is to risk hellfire and damnation on earth. Among Jews, this has been reinforced by the spate of attacks on Barack Obama by the wrong sort of Jews. A man is known by his enemies. People who are pure of heart do not doubt Obama. Barack Obama's enemies, some of whom I described previously, include a flock of neoconservative and paleoconservative bloggers who put up a picture of Obama with his hand on the shoulder of demagogue Al Sharpton, and implied falsely that Obama was involved in the Tawana Brawley riots.

But when I last wrote about Obama, there were serious charges to be considered, and they had not been answered. Ed Lasky and others had charged that Obama has two advisers: Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Malley, both of whom are inimical to Israel. Their records are fairly clear. Malley may not be everything that Lasky charges, but he is certainly not a friend of Israel, and he and his father have been consistent friends of the PLO. The first answer to these charges was given by Martin Peretz in the New Republic:

There are all kinds of spooky rumors that a man named Robert Malley is one of Obama's advisers, specifically his Middle East adviser. His name comes up mysteriously and intrusively on the web, like the ads for Viagra. Malley, who has written several deceitful articles in The New York Review of Books, is a rabid hater of Israel. No question about it. But Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama.

Zbigniew Brzezinski endorsed Mearsheimer and Walt's Israel Lobby book and is featured favorably on anti-"Zionist" Web sites of the same level as Stormfront. Brzezinski, we are told, like Obama, is not an adviser on Middle East policy.

Shmuel Rosner, in Ha'aretz, spins a bit more, and spins the whole show into trouble. Ha'aretz or Rosner headlined the story, The row over Obama's stance on Israel is a dispute between Jews. And Rosner writes, "This specific showdon [sic] over Obama's candidacy is a dispute between Jews."

It is not a dispute between Jews. The religion or ethnic origin of the disputants is not relevant. It is a dispute about facts. Is Malley an adviser of Obama, is Brzezinski? Yes or No. It is a matter of truth. Did Malley write malicious fiction about Israel and the peace negotiations in the New York Review of Books? Did Malley write a book glorifying "national liberation movements"? Yes or No. (Lasky, for some reason, cited a relatively harmless article by Malley in the New York Times, rather than the New York Review of Books articles).

Rosner spins and spins and spins until we are all dizzy, and have forgotten what it is all about hopefully. Yes, Malley is an Obama adviser about Israel, he tells us, but Obama isn't listening to Malley. OK, but he IS an adviser. One fact in the dispute between Jews is decided apparently. Why take on an adviser, whose only field of expertise is the Middle East, if you aren't going to listen to him??

Not surprisingly, Obama is not listening to Malley in the campaign. He does want the Jewish vote. But he will obviously be listening to him if elected, otherwise, why is he an adviser? Rosner notes that ex-Clinton aides say Lasky was "unfair" to Malley. Why unfair? Malley's views are a matter of record. Does he stand by those views? There is no indication that he has changed them. He didn't worry about being "fair' when he wrote articles falsifying history and justifying the murder of Israelis and of the peace process, so who really cares if Lasky aimed his shots a bit broadly? As for Brzezinski, Rosner spins away merrily on both sides, revealing in the process that it is not just a dispute between Jews.


Lees verder: Barack Obama and the true faith

Rabbo: Als onderhandelingen mislukken, Palestijnse onafhankelijkheid uitroepen

De Palestijnse Autoriteit laat zich inspireren door Kosovo's onafhankelijkheidsverklaring.

Verder stelt Israël voor om ook 'culture of peace' onderhandelingen te houden, waarin de ophitsing en anti-Israël en antisemitische propaganda in Palestijnse media en schoolboeken ter sprake zal komen. Wat mij betreft is dat een van de kernpunten, waar het altijd onterecht buiten is gehouden.

PA official: If talks fail, we should declare independence
By Barak Ravid , Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters
Last update - 09:30 20/02/2008

A top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday the Palestinians should consider declaring an independent state unilaterally if peace talks with Israel continue to falter.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team with the Israelis, told Reuters that if they could not reach a deal with Israel, the Palestinians could consider declaring independence like Kosovo did on Sunday.

"If things are not going in the direction of actually halting settlement activities, if things are not going in the direction of continuous and serious negotiations, then we should take the step and announce our independence unilaterally," he said.

Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Sa'eb Erekat said late Tuesday that despite Israeli claims, Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did in fact discuss the topic of Jerusalem during their meeting earlier that evening.

A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said after the talks: "The issue of Jerusalem did not come up in the discussion. I'm not aware of changes in the Israeli position."

But Erekat disputed the claim, saying the leaders had discussed "all the core issues."

Israel, PA talks to venture outside three 'core issues'

Meanwhile, Abbas and Olmert agreed on Wednesday to expand their negotiations to topics beyond the "core issues" of borders, Jerusalem and the refugees: Within two weeks, teams will be set up to discuss at least seven other issues.

The two assigned the heads of the negotiating teams on the core issues - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia - the job of deciding exactly which issues the new task forces should begin discussing, and Livni hopes to reach an agreement with Qureia on this matter soon.

While the foreign minister would prefer the talks on the core issues to take place in maximum secrecy, the talks on the new issues will be conducted with far greater openness, which she hopes will attract media attention and thereby create a feeling of momentum in the negotiations.

One of the most important new issues on which Israel hopes to begin talks is the development of a "culture of peace," with an emphasis on ending incitement to terrorism.

Israel would like to reach agreements with the PA on preventing media incitement, encouraging people-to-people activities and changing parts of the Palestinian school curriculum, which Israel says negates its right to exist.

On Sunday, Livni held discussions with representatives of several other government ministries to formulate Israel's positions on these issues.

The other topics on which Israel proposes starting negotiations are as follows:

+ State-to-state issues, such as an exchange of ambassadors and Palestinian membership in international organizations.

+ Water. Most of the work on this issue was completed at the Camp David talks in 2000, but a few details remain to be settled.

+ Internal security - primarily, future cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian police forces on issues such as crime fighting and road safety.

+ Civil security issues, such as entry permits into Israel, border crossings and Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.

+ Economic issues. The goal is to define the nature of the economic relationship between the two states, on issues such as customs duties, tax collection, free trade zones, etc.

+ Environment. The focus will be on issues such as waste management, sewage and treatment of hazardous materials.

The Abbas-Olmert meeting had been widely expected to focus in part on the contradictory statements the two leaders have made about Jerusalem in recent days: Olmert has claimed that Abbas agreed to postpone this issue until the end of the talks, while Abbas denies this.

However, a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said that while he could not say what was discussed when the two leaders met privately, "the issue of Jerusalem did not arise at all" in the portion of the talks where their staffs were present.

Olmert's office also said that both leaders expressed satisfaction with the pace of the talks and the progress to date.

The two men also discussed several more immediate issues, including Abbas' request that Olmert reopen Israel's border with Gaza.

However, Olmert declined to make any promises on this issue beyond pledging that "Israel will not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop in Gaza."

Abbas also demanded the removal of numerous roadblocks and other measures to ease freedom of movement in the West Bank, and complained that construction in West Bank settlements was continuing despite Olmert's pledge to halt it.

Duitse intellectuelen: "Israëls stichting maakte Palestijnen slachtoffers van Holocaust"

Volgens een groep Duitse intellectuelen is de Holocaust de oorzaak van de creatie van Israel en het al 60 jaar durende lijden van de Palestijnen, en hebben de Duitsers dus net zo goed een verantwoordelijkheid naar de Palestijnen als naar de Joden. En passent wordt ook de oorlog met Libanon erbij gehaald:

"without the Holocaust of the Jews, Israeli policy would not see itself as entitled - or forced to ride over the human rights of the Palestinians and the inhabitants of Lebanon."

Het is - excuseer - baarlijke nonsens, en ook gevaarlijke nonsens. Zonder de Holocaust was Israël wellicht later gesticht, maar hadden er meer Joden gewoond en was het dus sterker geweest. Voor de Holocaust leefden er in Palestina al meer dan 400.000 Joden die een gehele eigen infrastructuiur aan instituties hadden opgericht, en van hun belastinginkomsten financierden de Britten het mandaat. De Yishoev, de Joodse gemeenschap in Palestina, functioneerde in de jaren '30 in feite als een staat-in-een-staat.

Niet de Holocaust is de oorzaak van de Palestijnse nakba, maar hun afwijzing van het VN delingsplan in 1947, nadat men tien jaar eerder een Palestijnse staat op circa 80% van het Mandaatgebied Palestina had afgewezen. Bovendien waren door de vele Arabische opstanden, opgezet door de Moefti Haj Amin-Al Husseini, Joden en Arabieren in Palestina steeds meer tegenover elkaar komen te staan, en richtten de Joden in reactie de Haganah op, dat in 1948 als Joods ondergronds leger functioneerde en in de zomer met de Palmach, Irgun, en Lehi opging in de IDF tijdens de Israëlische Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog. In 1948 verklaarde de Moefti, een nazi-collaborateur, dat men de Joden in Palestina wilde vernietigen in navolging van wat Hitler met de Joden in Europa had gedaan.

Dit soort geschiedvervalsing dreigt steeds meer mainstream te worden. Het draagt uiteraard niet bij aan een oplossing van het conflict, omdat de Palestijnen in hun slachtofferrol worden bevestigd en het vertrouwen tussen Israël en Europa wordt ondermijnd.
Het is volgens sommigen wellicht hip, progressief en avantgardistisch om met de Palestijnen te koketteren en bepaalde 'taboes' met betrekking tot Israël te doorbreken. Het levert je in ieder geval een hoop media aandacht op en als je een beetje een naam hebt, blijkbaar ook een trip naar Israël op uitnodiging van een gerenommeerd instituut. Het is niet de eerste keer dat Duitsers de geschiedenis vervalsen.


Last update - 10:43 19/02/2008

German intellectuals: Israel's creation made Palestinians victims of Holocaust
A group of visiting German intellectuals called on Berlin on Monday to change what they termed its Holocaust-rooted blind support of Israel, saying the creation of the State of Israel turned Palestinians into victims of the Nazi Holocaust as well.

The four, Dr. Reiner Steinweg, Prof. Gert Krell, Prof. Georg Meggle, and Jorg Becker, took part in a debate Monday evening at the Netanya Academic College on the future of German-Israeli relations. They were among 25 signatories to a petition on the issue that was circulated in the German media following the Second Lebanon War.

According to the manifesto, German responsibility toward the Palestinians is "one side of the consequences of the Holocaust which receives far too little attention." The paper goes on to argue that it was the Holocaust which Germany perpetrated that brought about "the suffering that has persisted [in the Middle East] for the last six decades and has at present become unbearable."

This, according to the manifesto titled "Friendship and Criticism," is because "without the Holocaust of the Jews, Israeli policy would not see itself as entitled - or forced to ride over the human rights of the Palestinians and the inhabitants of Lebanon."

Without the Holocaust, the document adds, Israel would not have enjoyed the same material and political support from the U.S. The researchers told Haaretz this also applies to support from Germany.

"So it is not only Israel which can lay claim to special consideration on the part of Germany. As Germans we share not only a responsibility toward Israel's existence, but also for the living conditions of the Palestinian People," the scholars concluded.

The four cosignatories attended the debate at the invitation of former deputy Knesset speaker, Dov Ben-Meir, who organized the event. In December 2006, Ben-Meir wrote what he titled "a friendly response" to the manifesto, which he in turn circulated in the media.

In his response, Ben-Meir said the original manifesto reflected a "simplistic" approach. One of the main reasons for the conflict and the current state of Arabs and Palestinians, Ben-Meir said, was intransigence on their part and their reliance on violence instead of dialogue.

Conceding that Germany's attitude to Israel is part of a Holocaust-based "special relationship," Ben-Meir said at the debate that this relationship - which included huge reparations payments that Germany made to Israel in the 1950s - was primarily a German interest, more than an Israeli one.

"By agreeing to put Germany's Nazi past aside, the Jewish nation has granted Germany an entrance pass into the family of nations after Germany was considered a pariah nation because of its Nazi past," he said.

The debate, which drew a crowd of some 150 people, took place in the framework of a panel discussion. Representing the German scholars were Professor Meggle, who specializes in philosophical anthropology at the University of Leipzig, and Dr. Steinweg, a researcher at the Linz branch of the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Steinweg said the group came to clear up misunderstandings about the manifesto, which according to him has been misconstrued as a call to end Germany's longstanding friendship with Israel.

Local panelists included former Israeli ambassador to Germany Shimon Stein, correspondent for Die Zeit, Gisela Dachs and Professor Moshe Zimmermann, Director of the Koebner Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Zimmermann said the issue of the Holocaust was currently subject to political manipulation both by Israel and in Germany. "The Israelis try to use this issue to paint people who criticize Israel as anti-Semites. At the same time, this manifesto is an attempt to manipulate German feelings of guilt vis-à-vis the Holocaust, by projecting them onto the Palestinians," he argued.

"If the Germans want to feel guilt about the Holocaust, they better stick to the Poles, the Dutch and the Jews. There is no need to go as far as to feel guilty for what happened to the Palestinians," he added.

Commenting on the heated discussion that ensued, Herman Bunz from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung - the private non-profit German organization which funded the visit by the German scholars - told the panelists, "This is the perfect chance to misunderstand each other, but I would advise you to do the opposite."

"They are a minority, but they educate young German minds and we cannot afford to brush their criticism aside as anti-Semitic. We must confront it," said Ben-Meir.

Organisaties bezorgd na opblazen YMCA bibliotheek in Gaza

Onlangs werd een christelijke bibliotheek - de grootste in Gaza - opgeblazen. Christenen en hun instellingen, maar ook sport centra en sociale en culturele instellingen, zijn de afgelopen tijd het doelwit geweest van extremisten. Hiervoor zijn nooit mensen vervolgd en opgepakt, ondanks het feit dat het politiebureau op 200 meter van de christelijke bibiliotheek zit.


Attack on Christian library in Gaza prompts heightened security fears
Date: 20 / 02 / 2008  Time:  16:32
www .maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=27896

Jerusalem/Gaza - (IRIN) - A recent attack on a Christian library in the Gaza Strip has caused concern among civil society organisations that such violence might escalate unless police arrest the perpetrators.

There is talk of "security chaos" in the Strip, and apprehension about a further decline in personal security.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes condemned the attack while speaking to reporters during his recent trip to the region, and noted that he had held positive talks with civil society groups during his visit.

The attack on the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) library in the early hours of 15 February caused severe damage to the building and to most of its 10,000 books - used mainly by students in high schools and universities. It was seen as an invaluable and unique education resource in Gaza.

"The explosion blew up the whole library. We have been working for two days to salvage what we can from the wreckage before the rains come," Issa Saba from the YMCA told IRIN.

With current restrictions on imports into the enclave, it would be hard to replace the library quickly, though Saba said it was still too early to make plans for the future.

A second explosive found in the building's main auditorium was dismantled by police.

"I hope the people behind it won't get away with it, but it seems it will be like the previous cases" when no one was caught, said Khalil Shahin, from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza.

Residents in Gaza noted that a main police station is just 200 metres from the YMCA. "How did the militants manage to blow it up and get away, with all the police right nearby?" asked one man. The police have so far declined comment.

Other incidents

There have been other such attacks in Gaza in recent months - on the American School, social and cultural clubs, and sports centres. Many blame militant Islamic splinter groups.

Some observers have noted that the library belonged to a Christian institution, and that in October a Christian bookseller was killed after his bookshop had been bombed six months earlier. There are about 3,000 Christians among Gaza's mostly Muslim 1.5 million residents.

In the vast majority, if not all, of these cases no one was caught - whether by the regular Palestinian Authority security forces, or, since the June 2007 takeover, by Hamas' police force in Gaza.

"This is not easy for us. We've been working in Gaza for 55 years, and we never expected something like this," said Saba, but added that the group had already returned work.

***This item comes to you from IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The information in this article is not compiled by Ma'an reporters

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website: www.imra.org.il

dinsdag 19 februari 2008

Anti-Zionisme als een vorm van racisme (Bradley Burston)

Burston schrijft:
It has been a staple of public discourse for decades, that those who criticize Israel specifically because they love the country and believe in the more lofty and challenging and just of its ideals, are routinely pilloried for it, berated by rightists as self-haters and anti-Semites and destroyers of Zionism.

Dat is waar en niet goed te praten, maar anderzijds zijn er - vooral de laatste tijd - ook erg veel mensen die zich voordoen als vriend van Israël en ondertussen een ware hetze tegen het land voeren en zelfs oproepen tot sancties zoals opschorten van het associatieverdrag met Israël. Volgens Burston is de lijn tussen legitieme kritiek en antizionisme helder, maar in de praktijk is dat niet altijd het geval. Legitieme kritiek op Israël wordt bovendien vaak door antizionisten misbruikt (en soms ontstaat er een situatie waarin mensen gewoon even genoeg hebben van alle kritiek op Israël.)

Now meet a refreshing new phenomenon - bashing and negation of those same critics of Israel, but this time, the attacks are coming from Palestinians, other Arabs and Muslims, and their allies on the European ultra-left.

Helaas is dit fenomeen niet zo 'refreshing new' meer, en zijn er al jaren allerlei soorten van zogenaamde solidariteitsacties met de Palestijnen waarin voor Joodse rechten in Israël geen plaats is, en zij maar weer moeten 'terugkeren naar waar ze vandaan komen'. Wat wel nieuw is, is de toegenomen aandacht hiervoor en het feit dat een aantal van de argumenten en slogans van de antizionisten mainstream zijn geworden. Mensen als Dries van Agt, de 'historicus' Ilan Pappe en leider van de vluchtelingenlobby Abu Sitta worden tegenwoordig op universiteiten uitgenodigd om hun anti-Israëlische propaganda te verkondigen, zonder debat met iemand van de andere kant. Kranten publiceren artikelen en op TV worden ze geinterviewd of figureren in documentaires.

Voor de rest is dit Burston op zijn best.


Anti-Zionism as a form of racism 
By Bradley Burston, Haaretz Correspondent
A Special Place in Hell - Haaretz 18/02/2008

It has been a staple of public discourse for decades, that those who criticize Israel specifically because they love the country and believe in the more lofty and challenging and just of its ideals, are routinely pilloried for it, berated by rightists as self-haters and anti-Semites and destroyers of Zionism.

Now meet a refreshing new phenomenon - bashing and negation of those same critics of Israel, but this time, the attacks are coming from Palestinians, other Arabs and Muslims, and their allies on the European ultra-left.

The message is: We don't care what you think, we don't care what causes you care about and advance, we don't even care if you think just like we do - You're Israelis, and that's good enough for us - in fact, bad enough for us - reason enough, in short, to boycott you.

We've seen it in the serial boycott obsession of elements of the British intelligentsia, who essentially seek to penalize and punish Israeli colleagues for little more than the original sin of being Israeli. It matters not at all to the boycott-bent if many of their targets are on-site leaders in the struggle for Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation.

Yes, we've come a long way from UN resolution 3379, adopted in late 1975, the declaration which determined that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."

Now we have Anti-Zionism as a form of racism.

Actually, the clue to understanding the phenomenon may lie in the wording of the resolution itself, which included an explicit endorsement of the "elimination" of Zionism alongside "recognition of the dignity of peoples and their right to self-determination."

The bottom line, of course, is that the very idea of a movement to found and foster a Jewish state is illegitimate, and, by very short extension, such a state in the Holy Land - or anywhere, for that matter - has by definition no right to exist.

Though the resolution died a formal death when it was revoked in 1991, some of its spirit lives on. The most obvious and most widespread form is the rise of Islamist ideology, which in its most radical forms explicitly views the Jewish people in the Holy Land - and even in places like Buenos Aires - as a cancerous presence and a preferred target.

In its more subtle forms, the resolution lives on in such phenomena as the recent response to a decision by the organizers of the Turin International Book Fair to declare Israel as its guest of honor.

In an initial salvo, The New York Times reported, a local pro-Palestinian group "stormed the book fair offices in Turin, demanding that the invitation to Israel be rescinded."

They distributed leaflets reading "We are appalled to see the world of culture take the side of those who methodically operate to annihilate Palestine and the Palestinians."

It mattered not at all that among the authors to be most prominently featured at the fair are David Grossman, Amos Oz, and A. B. Yehoshua, writers closely identified with the search for peace with the Palestinians and for an Israel more closely committed to equality, democracy and human rights.

In a further move to underscore the idea that the only good Israeli is an absent Israeli, Swiss Muslim academic and activist Tariq Ramadan and British-Pakistani author Tariq Ali, along with Italian ultra-leftists are calling for a boycott of the entire event, slated to coincide with May commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

Perhaps most remarkable in the Book Fair controversy - and the most direct recognition of the inherent racism on the part of the boycott proponents - has been the response of a group of more than 30 Italian intellectuals and artists. In an open letter, they called on Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to preside over the opening of the fair, and to speak out "against any discrimination and blind intolerance towards the citizens and culture of Israel."

Where does the line fall between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies on the one hand, and a racist anti-Zionism on the other? There is, in fact, such a line.

It is racist to suggest that all peoples have a right to self-determination in the land of their ancestors, with the exception of the Jews.

It is racist to maintain that Muslim historic and religious claims to Jerusalem and the Holy Land are absolute and date to antiquity, and at the same time to negate and dismiss Jewish historic and religious claims, to call Jews interlopers and usurpers and carpetbaggers in the land of their Bible, which is a sacred reference for Muslims as well.

It is racist to declare Zionism as an evil before which all other evils in the world pale, and to argue that any act of violence against non-combatants is justified in the service of defeating Zionism.

It is racist to take Israel and only Israel to task for its shortcomings in the areas of civil equality, sharing of resources, and the search for peace, while keeping silent or even taking pains to legitimize the same failures on the part of the countries and peoples one happens, as blindly as a pre-pubescent football fan, to support.

To seek to silence and boycott Israelis as Israelis is to violate human rights and acts, in the process, to undermine the cause of the Palestinians.

Fighting fire with fire is a tactic which, despite its dangers, often succeeds. Fighting racism with racism is a tactic which, despite its allure to the hothead, never does.

80 Jaar Kibboetz leven

Bovenstaande fotoserie over het Kibboetz leven is alvast voor Israëls 60ste verjaardag !!
(Het lukt me helaas niet om ze hieronder geplaatst te krijgen, tussen de bijschriften waar ze natuurlijk eigenlijk thuishoren!)

80 years of kibbutz life
Monday, February 18, 2008 - By: Israel e News
Photography exhibit marking 80th anniversary of pioneering settlement organization "Hashomer Hatzair and The Kibbutz Artzi" to be launched next week in the Knesset.
Here are some photos to be displayed at exhibition, commemorating moments of desperation and grief alongside hope and vision In 1927, during the Passover holiday, members of four kibbutzim – Ma'abarot, Merhavia, Mishmar Haemek and Ein Shemer – met in a shed at the kibbutzim camp in Bat Galim, at the foot of Mount Carmel, and decided to found a pioneering settlement organization named "Hashomer Hatzair and The Kibbutz Artzi".
One of the organization's duties was to unite efforts and resources in order to settle the land with the pioneering members' great faith in an equal, socialistic society, despite the shortage and poverty of those years.

Eight years have passed since that day. Amidst moments of desperation and grief, hope and vision, 85 kibbutzim were founded across the country and on its borders.

On the occasion of the 80th anniversary, a photography exhibit will be launched at the Knesset next Tuesday, including photographs by members of the Kibbutz Artzi.
Two months later, ahead of the State of Israel's 60th anniversary celebration, the exhibition will be transferred to the Yad Yaari Center for Research and Documentation of Hashomer Hatzair Movement and of the Kibbutz Artzi Federation in Givat Haviva.

In this article we present a number of photographs from this exhibition, which have been collected and stored at the Hashomer Hatzair archive in Givat Haviva.

An exhibition of the works of late photographer David Perlmuter of Kibbutz Kfar Menachem was opened at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv on February 7. Several of Perlmuter's photographs are presented here.

1. "And the seeding will be a sign of alliance between us and this land." Photo: David Perlmuter, Kfar Menachem

2. Building in Kibbutz Hazorea, 1930s. Photo: Asher Benari

3. Working in vegetable garden on backdrop of Homa Umigdal (overnight settling in Mandatory Palestine)

4. Photo: Tuvia Rivner, Merhavia

5. Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, during visit to Mishmar Haemek in the 1930s. Photo: Yoel Lotan

6. Mapam leader Meir Yaari at Kibbutz Barkai. Photo: Riva Segal 
7. Children with flags, Kibbutz Hazorea. Photo: Asher Benari

8. Tu B'Shvat, Kibbutz Hazorea. Photo: Asher Benari

9. Holiday. Photo: Asher Benari 
10. May 1 march 

11. Generation discussion. Photo: Dragner, Kibbutz Sarid 
12. Fruit picking in Kibbutz Sarid. Photo: Dragner 

13. Volunteers at Kibbutz Sarid. Photo: Dragner 

14. Tug-of-war. Photo: David Perlmuter 

15. Volleyball. Photo: Shmuel Beeri 
16. Photo: David Perlmuter, Kfar Menachem 

17. Field meal. Photo: Zvi Marcus, Mizra 
18. Grandma Rosenkrantz at the yard of the Merhavia cooperative. Photo: Tuvia Rivner

For all Trips to the Past – click here

The opinions and views articulated by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel e News.

Hezbollah zal binnenkort Israël vernietigen, volgens chef Iraanse Revolutionaire Garde

"In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the cancerous germ of Israel by the powerful and competent hands of the Hezbollah combatants,"

Aldus Ali Jafari, de leider van de Iraanse Revolutionaire Garde. Het is geen geheim dat Iran Hezbollah heeft opgericht als wapen tegen Israël, en de militie via Syrië voorziet van modern wapentuig.

Iran Revolutionary Guard chief: Hezbollah will soon destroy Israel

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Monday Israel would soon be destroyed by the "hands of Hezbollah", the Lebanese guerilla group backed by the Islamic Republic, Fars News Agency reported.

Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari made the comment in a letter to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, to offer condolences after the killing of senior guerrilla commander Imad Mughniyah in a car bomb last week in Damascus.

"In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the cancerous germ of Israel by the powerful and competent hands of the Hezbollah combatants," Jafari was quoted as saying.

Iran does not recognize Israel's right to exist, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has often predicted the imminent demise of Israel.

Western analysts say the Revolutionary Guards, an ideological wing of Iran's armed forces, has given military support to Hezbollah. Tehran denies this, saying it only provides moral backing to the Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim group.

"Undoubtedly the martyrdom of this sincere fighter [Imad Mughniyah] will strengthen the determination of all revolutionary and combatant Muslims, particularly his co-combatants in confrontation with the Zionist regime," Jafari added in his letter.

The Guards were set up after the 1979 revolution in Iran to protect Iran's Islamic system. They have land, sea and air units with a separate command structure to the regular military. They have an expanding economic role, including in Iran's oil industry.

On Sunday, the Hezbollah head of the southern Lebanon region Sheikh Nabil Kauk said "It won't be long before the conceited Zionists realize that Imad Mughniyah's blood is extremely costly, and it makes history and brings about a new victory."

Kauk, who spoke at a memorial service for the slain terrorist in Mughniyah's home village, Tayr Debba, in south Lebanon, added that Israel was "standing on one leg of fear and trepidation, having become the hostage of its own act of stupidity."

Kauk spoke at a ceremony attended by the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Hezbollah senior officials and representatives from the Amal terrorist group, Fatah and representatives from the Lebanese army.

'No worthy replacement'

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also said Sunday that he anticipated Hezbollah would try to retaliate for the assassination, possibly with help from Syria and Iran. But he added that "it will take a long time before a worthy replacement is found to take Mughinyah's place."

Meanwhile, foreign media published details about the attack. The Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai reported that the hit was perpetrated by security personnel of "an Arab state that shares a border with Syria," using American technology.

The report said Mughniyah was killed by a blast from an explosive charge that contained 3,000 metal fragments, as he was passing near the car that carried the bomb.

The report added he was coming back from a meeting with a Palestinian official.

Gulf funding

The funding for the assassination, according to Al-Rai, came from one of the Gulf states. The final decision to carry out the attack came from Jerusalem, the paper claimed. Israel's Channel 2 said the assassination involved interested parties from Lebanon.

According to "informed Israel sources" cited by London's Sunday Times, it was Israel's Mossad spy agency that carried out the car bombing that killed Mughniyah.

The fatal explosion, the paper said, came from an explosive charge that had been planted in the headrest of the car Mughniyah was driving. The sources told the newspaper that Mughniyah had been cooperating with the Syrians in planning a major terrorist attack against Israel, in retaliation for a September 2007 Israeli air strike against a suspected nuclear facility deep inside Syria.

Geen bewijs voor betrokkenheid Israël bij explosie die Fayed doodde

Hoewel een aantal kranten, waaronder NRC Handelsblad en het AD, schreven dat Israël de Islamitische Jihad activist Ayman Atallah Ahmad Fayed en zijn familie doodde met een raket, heeft zelfs Hamas gezegd dat de oorzaken van de explosie onduidelijk waren. Ook Palestijnse mensenrechtenorganisaties zeggen dat er geen bewijs is dat Israël er achter zit en roepen op tot een onderzoek.
Israël zelf heeft iedere betrokkenheid ontkend. Hoe het komt dat een krant als de NRC Palestijnser dan de Palestijnen meent te moeten zijn en de Israëlische ontkenning niet eens de moeite van het opschrijven waard vond, is een andere vraag en misschien ook een onafhankelijk onderzoek waard.

PCHR & Al-Mezan Call for Investigating the Explosion in El-Bureij Refugee Camp

Date: 18 February 2008

PCHR & Al-Mezan Call for Investigating the Explosion in El-Bureij Refugee Camp
PCHR and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights call for an investigation into the explosion that destroyed a house in El-Bureij refugee camp, resulting in the death of 8 people, including 5 children, and injury of dozens. The Centre calls for publicizing the results of the investigation.

At approximately 20:50 on Friday, 15 February, a huge explosion rocked El-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The explosion occurred in the house of Ayman Atallah Ahmad Fayed (41), an activist in Al-Quds Battalions, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. The explosion destroyed the ground-floor concrete house completely, killing the activist, his wife Marwa Azzam Fayed (39), and three of his children: Basma (12), Ali (17), and Ayyoub (5). A fourth son, Adam (15) was seriously injured. In addition, three of Fayed's neighbors were killed: Zakaria Nabil El-Kefafi (17) who was in Fayed's house at the time, Talal Salah Sa'id Abu El-Oun (16), and Atallah Samir Mohammad Ismail (24). Approximately 60 people were injured, including 23 women and 20 children. Among the injured are 14 people suffering serious injuries. The explosion destroyed 6 nearby houses completely, and caused extensive destruction in 10 other houses. Dozens of  houses suffered damages.

Over the past three days, PCHR and Al-Mezan have conducted a preliminary investigation in this tragedy. The Center's fieldworkers and lawyer gathered field information and eyewitness testimonies from the scene of the tragedy.

The preliminary findings point to the following:
-         There is no evidence to confirm that the explosion was caused by rocket or aerial bombardment by Israeli occupation forces (IOF), as mentioned in some media outlets. It is more likely that it was an internal explosion the circumstances of which are unclear as of yet. Eyewitnesses confirmed seeing smoke and fire issue from Fayed's house seconds before the explosion. According to similar incidents in the past, this indicates that it may have been an internal explosion.
-         The cause of the explosion is not clear. It is unknown if it was triggered by a mistake if the preparation and/or storage of a large explosive device; or if IOF are involving through planting a booby-trapped explosive device inside the house.
-         PCHR holds documentation of previous incidents in both directions:
+       IOF have been involved in several assassinations of Palestinian activists using booby-trapped explosive devices that caused casualties and destruction on a large scale. Furthermore, the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated recently that his forces are engaged in secret operations in the Gaza Strip without specifying the nature of these operations.
+       Internal explosions have occurred in residential houses in heavily-populated houses due to errors in the manufacture or storage of explosives, which killed a large number of civilians and destroyed several houses.

In light of these developments, PCHR and Al-Mezan:
-         Reiterate the call for a thorough investigation into the explosion, and for publishing the results of this investigation.
-         Affirm that the biggest losers in this tragedy are the Palestinian civilians who were killed, injured, terrorized, and suffered the destruction of their property.
-         Regardless of the cause of this explosion, both organizations point to the danger of storage of explosives in residential areas by Palestinian resistance groups, which threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians in violation of human rights and International Humanitarian Law.

This erroneous practice must stop! And its threat becomes more serious in of the continuous IOF threats.

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis