zaterdag 18 juli 2009

Christelijk-conservatieve Republikeinen hebben Joodse steun verloren

Voor de meeste Joden in de VS is Israel niet het beslissende onderwerp wat betreft hun stemgedrag en partijlidmaatschap. Niet alleen stemde ca. 80% van de Amerikaanse Joden de afgelopen verkiezingen op Obama, de republikeinen hebben nog maar één Joods congreslid tegenover 30 bij de democraten.
By 2008, only 3 per cent of Jewish voters felt Israel was the issue they'd most like to hear candidates discuss, according to an American Jewish Committee survey. In another poll, Israel tied for seventh place with illegal immigration on a list of issues important to Jewish voters.
Jewish votes are not attracted by defending torture and waterboarding, opposing gay marriage, banning abortion, cutting taxes for the wealthiest, trying to privatize Social Security and cutting Medicare, blocking universal health insurance and being identified, in the words of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME), as "the party of big business, big oil and the rich."
Ook andere minderheden in de VS zijn niet warm te krijgen voor de conservatief-christelijke politiek van de Republikeinen, die vooral de welgestelden en het platteland vertegenwoordigt.
Washington Watch: The Republicans' Jewish problem
Jul. 15, 2009
Douglas Bloomfield , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Republican Party has a Jewish problem. And a Hispanic problem. And an Asian problem. And a black problem. And a female problem.

This week's hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court illustrated the party's growing minority dilemma. It lost the Hispanic and female vote in last year's election, and GOP senators aren't about to reverse that by harping on the nominee's 2001 statement about the value of a "wise Latina" on the bench. That could be a particular problem for someone like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is running for reelection next year in a state with a large Hispanic population.

That's the same McCain who was supposed to create a "sea change" in Jewish voting patterns last year by drawing a record number of Jewish voters into the Republican column.

As the nation becomes more ethnically and racially diverse, the GOP is becoming more monochromatic - white, rural, Christian, conservative, male and angry. That's not the minority group it needs to take back the Congress or the White House.

Even some of its own members are calling the party powerless, leaderless and rudderless. The most recognizable voices of the party are Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove and Sarah Palin. Even Joe the Plumber quit the GOP.

Of course, the role of the opposition party is to oppose, but it also has to propose. It can't keep saying "No" without offering credible alternatives.

George W. Bush came to office promising to downsize the government and upsize the party, and wound up doing just the opposite. Today, only one in five Americans identifies as a Republican.

WHEN THE last Jewish Republican in the US Senate - Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania - crossed the aisle to join the Democrats, Limbaugh, et. al, cheered, "Good riddance." There is only one Jewish Republican in the 111th Congress, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the minority whip. There are 30 Jewish Democrats in the House and 13 in the Senate, record numbers.

For 20 years or so we've been hearing predictions by Jewish Republicans of a mass migration of Jewish voters from the Democratic party, but the GOP has never recovered from the damage done by George H.W. Bush's questioning the loyalty of American Jews and trying to block loan guarantees to Israel in 1991.

The Jewish vote, which had been between 30 and 39 percent in 1980s, dropped to 11 percent in 1988; 20 years later it was up, but not to previous levels, at 22 percent.

The 1994 Gingrich revolution that gave the GOP control of both chambers for the first time in 40 years, with support for Israel high on the party's agenda, was expected to reverse the decline in Jewish support. But it failed.

The foundation of the new Republican majority was the staunchly conservative Evangelical movement, and its positions on issues like church-state separation, abortion, gay rights, civil liberties and other domestic topics important to the Jewish community overshadowed its enthusiasm for Israel. After years of resistance, Republicans began voting for foreign aid, the pro-Israel community's number one legislative agenda, in large numbers.

It was at about that time that Israel peaked as the most important issue for Jewish voters. If Jews ever were single-issue voters, that was clearly changing in the 1990s. The reason wasn't a lack of interest but a feeling that both parties were good in their support for Israel, which allowed Jewish voters to focus more on other issues. That was bad news for Republicans, who were banking on outspoken support for Israel would overshadow Jewish concerns on their domestic agenda.

By 2008, only 3 per cent of Jewish voters felt Israel was the issue they'd most like to hear candidates discuss, according to an American Jewish Committee survey. In another poll, Israel tied for seventh place with illegal immigration on a list of issues important to Jewish voters.

Jewish votes are not attracted by defending torture and waterboarding, opposing gay marriage, banning abortion, cutting taxes for the wealthiest, trying to privatize Social Security and cutting Medicare, blocking universal health insurance and being identified, in the words of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME), as "the party of big business, big oil and the rich."

WHAT CAN the GOP do about its Jewish problem? I asked a number of activists of various persuasions, and the most frequent answer I got was hope that the anger on the right toward Barack Obama's Mideast policies will spread across the Jewish community and finally give them a bigger chunk of the Jewish vote in 2012. Hoping the opposition fails is not a formula for success.

The Republicans are doing much better when it comes to Jewish money; indeed, some party pragmatists say Jewish campaign dollars, not votes, are what GOP leaders are really after. Jews are disproportionately large contributors to both parties, especially among a number of very large Republican givers, a party operative said. There are fewer Jewish GOP donors, but the size of their donations is larger, he said.

I believe it is in the interest of the Jewish community - in both foreign and domestic policy - to be well represented in both parties, but so long as the Evangelicals and social conservatives set the Republican agenda, Jews will keep voting overwhelmingly Democratic.

Commissie Buitenlandse Zaken VS: Abbas moet vredesbesprekingen met Netanjahoe beginnen

Het is de eerste keer dat ik zo'n duidelijke oproep aan (en kritiek op) president Abbas lees van Amerikaanse zijde. Helaas komt die van de voorzitter van de Commissie Buitenlandse Zaken van het Huis van Afgevaardigden, en niet van president Obama of Hillary Clinton, die wel steeds Israel zo fel hebben bekritiseerd over de bouw in de nederzettingen.

For Immediate Release
July 15, 2009
Contact: Lynne Weil, (202) 225-5021
Berman Calls on Abbas to Accept Netanyahu Proposal for Unconditional Peace Talks

Washington, D.C. - Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today issued this statement regarding proposed unconditional peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian authorities:

"I am deeply disappointed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has consistently rejected Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's call for unconditional talks on the Palestinian issue.

"As everyone familiar with Israeli politics knows, Netanyahu has taken a politically courageous and substantively important step in endorsing the idea of 'two states for two peoples,' and he has also taken significant steps to ease travel and access in the West Bank by dismantling numerous checkpoints and roadblocks. Nevertheless, Abbas is demanding that Netanyahu establish a settlement freeze as a condition for a meeting. This is a condition Abbas never required of Netanyahu's predecessor Ehud Olmert. Moreover, in the context of bilateral talks, Abbas could raise his settlement concerns directly with Netanyahu - concerns which, Abbas knows, are being discussed intensively between U.S. and Israeli officials.

"For the sake of re-establishing an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and helping to create an environment of peace, I call on President Abbas immediately to accept Prime Minister Netanyahu's proposal for unconditional talks on peace."

De stilte doorbreken over Breaking The Silence

Zo gaan die dingen achter de schermen.
Een en ander versterkt de twijfel die ik toch al had over de intentie van Breaking the Silence. Wil men misstanden aan de kaak stellen met het doel dat het leger zaken verbetert of wil men Israel aan de schandpaal nagelen?
Het is jammer dat het artikel in de Jerusalem Post maar op enkele gemelde incidenten een reactie van het leger geeft. Is dat uit ruimtegebrek of omdat het leger op die andere zaken niet een-twee-drie een reactie had?
Breaking the silence on Breaking The Silence

Breaking The Silence, a small group of former Israeli soldiers on Wednesday embarked on an international campaign to show the world what it says are testimonies from soldiers pointing to immoral Israeli actions committed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year.

I'm not going to get into the report itself, which may be totally true, somewhat true, entirely false, who knows. It is undoubtedly an important report that is reverberating globally. Instead, a brief look behind the scenes into the way Breaking The Silence operated on this report.

It promised the exclusive to Haaretz, because it knows the report would have gotten prominence there. What it didn't count on was Haaretz learning its lesson from its huge mistake last time it was given a report into alleged Israel Defense Forces human rights violations in Gaza. Last time Haaretz didn't do its journalistic job and published unsubstantiated hearsay. This time Haaretz military reporter Amos Harel had the presence of mind to send the Breaking The Silence report to the IDF for response.

My military reporter, Yaakov Katz, was in the right place at the right time, and got hold of most of the report himself. Breaking The Silence tried to get Yaakov off the story because it didn't fit into their strategy to have The Jerusalem Post take a critical look at their report. They promised Yaakov they would give him other stories in the future if he dropped this one for now. Katz refused, rightly so, and we published.

Several days before all this, Breaking The Silence gave out their report to a wide array of foreign media, and not to the IDF to probe into itself, with the caveat that they observe the embargo until after Haaretz published the report first. All of which shows their original intent was to get as much uncritical worldwide publicity for their report. Legitimate, sure. Fair? Not so sure.


VS wil bindend tijdschema voor Israelisch-Palestijnse onderhandelingen

Het is begrijpelijk dat de VS ervoor wil zorgen dat er voortgang zit in de onderhandelingen, maar ze lopen wel nogal op de zaken vooruit. Momenteel zijn er nog geen onderhandelingen want Abbas weigert met Israel te praten zolang dat niet geheel stopt met bouwen in de nederzettingen, en wellicht nog andere eisen, en ook de Arabische staten hebben afwijzend op Amerikaanse voorstellen voor goodwill gestures gereageerd. Volgens diplomaten heeft dat laatst Amerika's positie wat betreft de nederzettingen iets milder gemaakt:
The shift in the American position is also the product of the refusal on the part of the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, to make significant normalization gestures toward Israel. In all probability, when the Americans understood that in any event they would not obtain substantial gestures from the Arabs, they decided to reach a compromise with Israel.
Het vreemde is, dat Amerika al maanden de nederzettingenkwestie hoog opspeelt, met als resultaat dat Israel al een heel eind is opgeschoven, maar ook dat Israel publiekelijk veel schade heeft geleden en de regering zo mogelijk nog meer dan al het geval was als anti-vrede wordt gezien, terwijl de VS wat betreft de Arabische concessies veel omzichtiger te werk is gegaan. Het lijkt erop dat men wat dat betreft vooral vrijblijvend heeft geopperd of het misschien een idee is om alvast een symbolisch gebaar te maken naar Israel toe, zodat Israel er vertrouwen in heeft dat de Arabieren ook bereid zijn tot concessies. Het resultaat is een duidelijk 'nee', waarna de VS niet zegt 'we will press this issue', zoals Hillary Clinton zei wat betreft de nederzettingen, maar 'jammer dan, dan proberen we wat anders'. Ondertussen ziet de hele wereld alleen de nederzettingen als obstakel, en de haatpropaganda tegen Joden en Israel in de Arabische media, de Arabische boycot tegen Israel, de steun voor het 'Palestijnse verzet' en de weigering van de Palestijnen om Israel als nationaal thuis van het Joodse volk te erkennen, worden vrijwel genegeerd.

Report: US to set binding timetable for Israel-PA talks

Last update - 09:19 16/07/2009       
Obama to set binding timetable for Israel-PA talks
By Barak Ravid
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce a diplomatic plan soon for renewal of the Middle East peace process.
A central feature of the plan, which will be presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a binding timetable for negotiations on the core issues involved in a final resolution of the conflict.
It may also be precluded by an easing of pressure for a building freeze in the settlements on the part of the Unites States.

A senior Western diplomat closely involved in current contacts involving the U.S., Israel, the PA and moderate Arab states noted that the American administration is currently developing the diplomatic plan but is only interested in pursuing it after the settlement issue and the matter of pro-Israel gestures from the Arab states are resolved.
The American plan will essentially restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians which have been deadlocked for over six months. The plan will not deal with all of the specific details of the negotiations and will not provide parameters for the resolution of core issues. Rather it will provide a framework for negotiations, how they will be conducted, follow-up mechanisms and especially the timetable for negotiations.
The senior diplomat said Obama is interested in bringing talks to a conclusion "on time" as a way of obligating the parties to make progress.
The diplomat also noted that the U.S. is now interested in reaching a compromise with Israel on the settlement issue as a prelude to presentation of the American plan, as the Americans have understood that Israel cannot agree to an absolute freeze in construction in the settlements.
The change in the American view on the issue was the result of the fact that about 2,500 homes in the settlements are in various advanced stages of construction which cannot be halted.
U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell is therefore attempting to find a formula by which Israel will go as far as it can to stop settlement building.
The shift in the American position is also the product of the refusal on the part of the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, to make significant normalization gestures toward Israel. In all probability, when the Americans understood that in any event they would not obtain substantial gestures from the Arabs, they decided to reach a compromise with Israel.
The compromise will also include an agreement on a joint database between Israel and the U.S. which will permit close tracking of settlement construction and verification that it is being kept to a minimum.
The plan, according to the senior diplomat, would also include other Israeli confidence-building measures toward the Palestinians. The diplomatic source cautioned that the Arab world's total lack of trust in Netanyahu remained a major problem.

Nederland en Europese Unie subsidiëren 'Breaking the Silence'

Het is natuurlijk op zichzelf legitiem, maar wel opvallend dat wel heel veel organisaties die met name kritisch zijn naar Israel door de EU worden gefinancierd. Wij zijn er ook niet blij mee wanneer we vernemen dat islamitische of migrantenorganisaties in Nederland door Turkije, Marokko of Saoedi-Arabi� worden gefinancierd. Organisaties kunnen hier subsidie krijgen als ze aan de voorwaarden voldoen, en ze kunnen Nederlandse donors zoeken. Financiering vanuit het buitenland van organisaties die hier actief zijn wordt toch een beetje als een inmenging in onze zaken gezien. Vergelijk wat dit betreft ook de aantijgingen uit antizionistische kringen dat het CIDI door Israel zou worden gefinancierd. Dat is onjuist, maar als het waar zou zijn zou de verontwaardiging erover grote hoogten bereiken, en daar kan ik me, net als bij financiering van organisaties door Marokko of andere moslimlanden, ook wel iets bij voorstellen. Toch moet Israel al jaren aanzien dat tientallen NGO's die in naam voor vrede zijn maar in de praktijk eenzijdig tegen Israel ageren, royaal door de EU en verschillende lidstaten worden gesubsidieerd. En dan blijft men maar roepen dat Nederland, dat ook diverse van deze organisaties financiert, zo kritiekloos pro-Israel is....

The Jerusalem Post / July 17, 2009
Europeans funding 'Breaking the Silence'
Jul. 17, 2009

A day after releasing a damning report on Operation Cast Lead, and amid accusations that it is operating without transparency, the group Breaking the Silence on Thursday presented The Jerusalem Post with its donor list for the year 2008, which included several European governments.

On Wednesday, Breaking the Silence released a report including testimonies from 26 unnamed soldiers who participated in the campaign and which claimed that the IDF used Gazans as human shields, improperly fired incendiary white phosphorous shells over civilian areas and used overwhelming firepower that caused needless deaths and destruction.

On Thursday, military sources and NGO Monitor - a Jerusalem-based research organization - raised suspicions regarding Breaking the Silence's setup as a nonprofit limited company and not an amuta, or nonprofit organization. The difference is that an amuta is required by law to publicly declare the identity of its donors. A limited company is not always required to do so.

"From our work, going through the files of dozens of Israeli nonprofits, we feel that groups like this that are not listed [as an amuta] raises a lot of red flags," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor.

In response to the claims, Breaking the Silence presented the Post with its donor list for 2008. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv gave the organization NIS 226,589; the Dutch Embassy donated �19,999; and the European Union gave Breaking the Silence �43,514.

The NGO also received funding from the New Israel Fund amounting to NIS 229,949.

In 2007, Breaking the Silence received a total of NIS 500,000, and in 2008 it managed to raise NIS 1.5 million.

"We have nothing to hide," said Yehuda Shaul, one of the heads of Breaking the Silence. "We are open to complete transparency and are prepared to share this information with the public."

The 110-page report, which included videotaped testimonies in which soldiers' faces were blurred out, did not represent a cross-section of the army. Rather, they were troops who had approached the group or were reached through acquaintances of NGO members. Two were junior officers and the rest were enlisted personnel.

Many questioned the overwhelming use of force. One soldier said the army used weapons such as mortars and white phosphorous "to show off its strength."

Another soldier said white phosphorus artillery shells were used to ignite a house suspected of housing munitions. "The house went up in flames," he said.

In response to the IDF Spokesman's assertion that Breaking the Silence did not submit the report prior to its publication, Shaul said he sent the report to the IDF via e-mail 24 hours before it was published.

A senior IDF officer responded that even if the report was sent 24 hours before publication that would not have been enough time to properly investigate the findings.

"It appears to us that the organization's real motive was to slander the IDF and not to initiate a thorough investigation," the officer said. "If it had wanted to allow for a real investigation it would have given us the identities of the soldiers, the location where the alleged crimes took place and other identifying parameters."

Shaul rejected this assertion as well and said the report included unit names as well as most of the locations.

One senior security official noted the Breaking the Silence report came fast on the heels of highly critical reports issued earlier this month by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross, giving the impression that the groups were coordinating the timing of their reports to "magnify their impact."

The Breaking the Silence report was for the most part based on hearsay and rumor, and not facts, the senior security official said.

Meanwhile, reports that Human Rights Watch used its work against Israel, and its withstanding "pro-Israel pressure groups" as a selling point to solicit funds in Saudi Arabia, are creating waves in the blogosphere, with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic monthly asking HRW's executive director Ken Roth in an e-mail exchange if this was indeed what the group did in Riyadh in May.

"Did your staff person attempt to raise funds in Saudi Arabia by advertising your organization's opposition to the pro-Israel lobby?" Goldberg asked Roth, in the exchange that he posted on his blog Wednesday.

"That's certainly part of the story," Roth responded. "We report on Israel.

"Its supporters fight back with lies and deception. It wasn't a pitch against the Israel lobby per se. Our standard shpiel is to describe our work in the region. Telling the Israel story - part of that pitch - is in part telling about the lies and obfuscation that are inevitably thrown our way."

According to an article that appeared in May in the Saudi English-language newspaper The Arab News, a delegation of senior members of HRW were in Saudi Arabia and were commended at a dinner attended by prominent members of Saudi society, human rights activists and dignitaries, for work on Gaza and the Middle East as a whole.

According to the newspaper, HRW presented a documentary and spoke on the report it had compiled "on Israel violating human rights and international law" during the Gaza operation.

"Human Rights Watch provided the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets. Pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations have strongly resisted the report and tried to discredit it," Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, was quoted in the Saudi paper as saying.

Roth admitted to Goldberg that the dinner included people connected to the government, including "a guy from the national human rights commission," which is a government body, and "someone from the Shura Council."

The Shura Council is Saudi Arabia's state-appointed religious leadership, a council which, as Goldberg pointed out, oversees, on behalf of the monarchy, the imposition in the kingdom of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said in response that "Human Rights Watch has admitted conducting a fund-raiser in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi elite, with representatives of different branches of the Saudi government in the room. They also admitted that they have used their criticism of Israel as a fund-raising tool in dealing with Arab audiences.

"Surely this fundamentally undermines the objectivity and the credibility that all too many in the past have attached to their reports."

Regev's comments come two days after the Prime Minister's Office said Jerusalem would begin waging a more aggressive battle against NGOs it deems biased against Israel.

Betere veiligheid en economie zijn tekenen van hoop op Westoever

Het gaat beter op de Westelijke Jordaanoever. Voor het eerst sinds een lange tijd groeit de Palestijnse economie weer, en het IMF heeft voor volgend jaar een groei van maar liefst 7% voorspeld. Dat ligt met name aan de toegenomen veiligheid, bewegingsvrijheid en betere handhaving van de wet door de Palestijnse politie. Dat (nog) niet iedereen tevreden is, is niet meer dan logisch, en er is nog veel dat beide partijen, Israel en de Palestijnen, kunnen doen om de situatie verder te verbeteren.

New York Times / July 16, 2009
Signs of Hope Emerge in the West Bank
Published: July 16, 2009

NABLUS, West Bank — The first movie theater to operate in this Palestinian city in two decades opened its doors in late June. Palestinian policemen standing beneath new traffic lights are checking cars for seat belt violations. One-month-old parking meters are filling with the coins of shoppers. Music stores are blasting love songs into the street, and no nationalist or Islamist scold is forcing them to stop.

"You don't appreciate the value of law and order until you lose it," Rashid al-Sakhel, the owner of a carpet store, said as he stood in his doorway surveying the small wonder of bustling streets on a sunny morning. "For the past eight years, a 10-year-old boy could order a strike and we would all close. Now nobody can threaten us."

For the first time since the second Palestinian uprising broke out in late 2000, leading to terrorist bombings and fierce Israeli countermeasures, a sense of personal security and economic potential is spreading across the West Bank as the Palestinian Authority's security forces enter their second year of consolidating order.

The International Monetary Fund is about to issue its first upbeat report in years for the West Bank, forecasting a 7 percent growth rate for 2009. Car sales in 2008 were double those of 2007. Construction on the first new Palestinian town in decades, for 40,000, will begin early next year north of Ramallah. In Jenin, a seven-story store called Herbawi Home Furnishings has opened, containing the latest espresso machines. Two weeks ago, the Israeli military shut its obtrusive nine-year-old checkpoint at the entrance to this city, part of a series of reductions in security measures.

Whether all this can last and lead to the consolidation of political power for the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah, as the Obama administration hopes, remains unclear. But a recent opinion poll in the West Bank and Gaza by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, a Palestinian news agency, found that Fatah was seen as far more trustworthy than Hamas — 35 percent versus 19 percent — a significant shift from the organization's poll in January, when Hamas appeared to be at least as trustworthy.

"Two years ago I couldn't have even gone to Nablus," said Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who serves as international envoy to the Palestinians, after a smooth visit this week. "Security is greatly improved, and the economy is doing much better. Now we need to move to the next stage: politics."

The aim of American and European policy is to stitch Palestinian politics back together by strengthening the Palestinian Authority under the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, which favors a two-state solution with Israel, while weakening the Islamists of Hamas, who rule in Gaza. Fatah says it will hold its first general congress in 20 years in early August to build on its successes, but it remains unclear if the meeting will take place.

The Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it shares the goal of helping Mr. Abbas, which is why it is seeking to improve West Bank economic conditions as a platform for moving to a political discussion. The Palestinians worry that the political discussion will never arrive and say the Israelis are doing far too little to ease the occupation. Still, they point with pride to the many changes in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the Israeli-led economic siege of Gaza continues, letting in only humanitarian goods. That sets the desired contrast between the territories into sharp relief but causes enormous suffering and anger.

Asked to explain why the West Bank's fortunes were shifting, a top Israeli general began his narrative with a chart showing 410 Israelis killed by Palestinians in 2002, and 4 in 2008.

"We destroyed the terrorist groups through three things — intelligence, the barrier and freedom of action by our men," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with military rules. "We sent our troops into every marketplace and every house, staying tightly focused on getting the bad guys."

But he added that the 2006 legislative electoral victory by Hamas, followed by its violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, led Mr. Abbas to fight Hamas. Palestinian troops have been training in Jordan under American sponsorship.

There are now several thousand men trained in that way, and their skills, along with those of the European-trained police force here, have made a huge difference.

An important element in making the Palestinian force effective, American and Israeli officials say, was taking young Palestinian men out of the ancestral grips of their villages and tribal clans and training them abroad, turning them into soldiers loyal to units and commanders.

The Israeli general said that in the past year and a half, Israeli and Palestinian forces had shot at each other only twice, and in each case there was a meeting to restore trust.

Speaking of the seriousness of the Palestinians, he added, "Twice in recent months we have been amazed." The first time was during Israel's military invasion of Gaza when Palestinian police officers kept the West Bank calm during protests. The second was in June when the security forces clashed twice with Hamas men in the city of Qalqilya, fighting to the death.

The Israelis have pulled their forces to the outskirts of four cities, greatly reduced the number of permanent checkpoints and promised to help industry develop. They say the Palestinians now need courts, prisons and trained judges.

Mr. Blair agreed but said there was much more Israel should do, like ending the growth of settlements and taking away dirt mounds and other barriers. In addition, he said, Israel should allow greater Palestinian development in the 60 percent of the West Bank it fully controls.

Palestinian business leaders are incensed at the Israeli limitations. Paltel, which operates the only Palestinian cellphone company, says Israel will not permit it to place its towers on the land it controls. That forces Palestinian customers to pay roaming charges for many calls, and allows Israeli cellphone companies to offer lower rates.

For more than a year, Israel has promised to free a second frequency so that a competitor to Paltel can provide cellphone service, but it has not yet done so. This leaves the Palestinians skeptical.

"I fail to see any indications that Israel wants to help the Palestinian economy," Abdel-Malik al-Jaber, vice chairman of Paltel, said.

Still, his company has invested millions in the past year in call centers and customer service because of the increased security and disposable income.

As Nader Elawy, manager of Cinema City, the new movie theater here, put it: "We now have law and order. You can really feel the change."

IDF officier ontkent gebruik Palestijnen als menselijk schild in Gaza

Volgens een hoge officier uit het leger zijn de claims van Breaking the Silence overdreven en uit hun context gehaald, waardoor ze extremer lijken dan ze zijn. Hij geeft het voorbeeld waar een Palestijn zelf vroeg een huis eerst binnen te mogen gaan, om zo de schade te beperken. Hij wijst erop dat in onderzoek binnen zijn eigen brigade niks van dergelijke misstanden is gevonden. Het is natuurlijk lastig van buitenaf uit te maken wie gelijk heeft, maar het spreekt niet in het voordeel van Breaking the Silence dat zoveel getuigenissen anoniem zijn en bovendien uit derde hand komen: de soldaten hebben het niet zelf meegemaakt, maar zelf weer van een ander gehoord. Ook is het vreemd dat men de resultaten niet aan het leger heeft voorgelegd en om een reactie heeft gevraagd. Wanneer duidelijk is om welke soldaten, eenheden, plaatsen en data het gaat, kan de zaak worden onderzocht, en kunnen mensenrechtengroeperingen bijvoorbeeld aandringen op bestraffing van de betreffende soldaten of officieren.
Last update - 11:33 16/07/2009       
IDF officer: Troops did not use Gazans as human shields
By Amos Harel and Haaretz Service
A top-ranking Israel Defense Forces officer has hit back at claims by a combat soldier that IDF troops unlawfully used Palestinians as human shields to search for militants inside Gaza homes during Israel's recent offensive in the coastal strip.
The officer told Haaretz that soldiers' claims of having employed such practice were exaggerated and unfounded, and that a probe of the Golani Brigade's conduct during the war found that no such incidences occurred.
A staff sergeant from the Golani Brigade recently testified that a number of units, including his own, sent Palestinians into their neighbors' homes during fighting in eastern Gaza City to determine if there were any militants hiding inside.
The soldier was referring to the so-called "neighbor procedure" ? outlawed by the High Court of Justice in 2005 - when it raided homes in search of Palestinian militants.
The soldier said that while he had not actually witnessed the use of human shields, one of his commanding officers had informed him that procedure had been carried out.
"The practice was not to call it 'the neighbor procedure.' Instead it was called 'Johnny,'" the soldier said, using IDF slang for Palestinian civilians.
The soldier said that at every home where militants were thought to be hiding, troops besieged the building with the goal of removing the suspects alive. The soldier said he witnessed several such operations firsthand.
He testified that his commander had told him of a number of incidents where Palestinians were also used directly as human shields. One on such occasion, he said, attack helicopters were brought in as back-up for the arrest of three armed militants.
The soldier said he had heard of other instances in which Palestinian civilians were used as human shields. He cited a case in which a Palestinian was placed in front of an IDF force with a gun pointed at him from behind, but said he had not seen this for himself.
The soldier's testimony appeared in a collection of accounts being published earlier this week by Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects IDF soldiers' testimony on human rights abuses by the military. The Golani soldier gave similar testimony in a meeting with a Haaretz reporter.
In rejecting the claims, the officer told Haaretz that the soldier's account of troops pointing guns at a Palestinian acting as a human shield were exaggerated, and that a probe conducted in the brigade found no indication that such an episode took place.
The officer also said that while a Palestinian may have hammered through a wall of his home to assist soldiers, he did so on his own initiative and not as a result of orders from the troops.
'"The owner of the house in which the three gunmen had barricaded saw that the soldiers were trying to break in from a side wall. He claimed that they were causing too much damage to the house and asked to do it himself. That's why the soldiers gave him the hammer," said the officer.
While the officer confirmed that Palestinians were indeed used to sweep houses in search of militants, he claimed that the soldier had described the incidents out of context, and that the local residents had offered to enter homes first.
"The prevention of civilian casualties and the implementation of selective house searches, while avoiding massive use of gunfire, were especially upheld in the sector in which the unit operated," he said.
"People within the unit risked their own lives to avoid harming the innocent," he added. ?The simplest solution as far as the unit was concerned was to order two tank shells be fired into every suspicious house. But in reality, we used a completely different method."
"Two Palestinians, one of them the clan leader, appealed to the commanders and offered to enter first so as to prevent damage to the houses," said the officer. "On several occasions, we would find whole families huddled in a tiny room upon entering the home, and we thought that it was a good solution. It's far from a human shield. We didn't hide behind anyone. The whole idea was to prevent innocent people from being harmed by taking the risks upon ourselves."
When asked if he was aware of the High Court ruling forbidding all forms of the "neighbor procedure," the officer said that the commanders believed they were acting within the limits of the law. He said the sole purpose of their actions was the prevention of civilian casualties and "unnecessary collateral damage."
IDF: We expect every soldier to report violations
The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement that upon initial consideration, a few of the allegations appeared similar to claims reported by Haaretz
several months ago.
"Now, too," the spokesman said, "a considerable portion of the testimony is based on rumors and secondhand accounts. Most of the incidents relate to anonymous testimony lacking in identifying details, and accordingly it is not possible to check the allegations on an individual basis in a way that would enable an investigation, confirmation or refutation."
The spokesman said the Breaking the Silence report suggested that the organization may not be interested in a comprehensive examination of the allegations, "and to our regret this is not the first time the organization has taken this course of action. The IDF is obligated to examine every well-founded complaint it receives."
The spokesman also noted that allegations by Breaking the Silence that touch on specific incidents will be investigated.
"The IDF expects every soldier and commander who has witnessed a violation of orders or procedures, and especially with respect to violations causing injury to noncombatants, to bring the details to the attention of the relevant parties," the spokesman said.
"The IDF regrets the fact that a human rights organization would again present to the country and the world a report containing anonymous, generalized testimony without checking the details or their reliability, and without giving the IDF, as a matter of minimal fairness, the opportunity to check the matters and respond to them before publication."


Neturei Karta ontmoet Haniyeh in Gaza

Naturei Karta mensen - een ultra-ortodoxe antizionistische sekte - waren te gast op Achmadinejads holocaust onkennings conferentie een paar jaar geleden, waar ook racisten als David Duke rondliepen. Wat deze mensen voorstaan heeft niks met vrede te maken, maar sluit naadloos aan bij het programma en de doelen van Hamas.


Neturei Karta meet with Haniyeh in Gaza,7340,L-3747700,00.html

Four followers of ultra-Orthodox stream that doesn't recognize State of Israel travel to Gaza Strip by boat with international activists.
Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh welcomes them, says Jews, Arabs not enemies.
Next ship scheduled to dock in Gaza to carry Venezuela's Chavez.

Ali Waked - Ynet
Published:  07.16.09, 14:24

While ultra-Orthodox, including Neturei Karta protest in Jerusalem against the arrest of the mother suspected of starving her son, a delegation of the religious stream that opposes the State of Israel arrived in Gaza on Thursday, where they met with Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Four Neturei Karta members arrived in the Gaza Strip on the "Lifeline 2" boat along with dozens of international activists trying to break the siege on the Strip.

Hanyieh told his ultra-Orthodox guests that the Jews are not the enemies of the Arabs or Muslims. "Our problem is with the occupation, that stems from the Zionist ideology and its desire to disperse all the Palestinians."

Haniyeh praised his four Neturei Karta guests: "Those religious figures that express their objection to the siege, the aggression and the crimes – we can't help but respect them and for their beliefs and their culture."
The Hamas prime minister added, "This ship is proof that the American people is not entire a people of occupation and is not entirely on the side of the criminal Zionist regime.

"We view you as heroes, you are opening the eyes of the world to the siege in the Strip.

Officials in the Strip are now awaiting a third ship that is meant to arrive carrying Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

De dubbele standaarden van Groot-Brittannië

Dit soort dubbele standaarden worden voortdurend toegepast. Sri Lanka's offensief tegen de Tamil Tijgers en Pakistans offensief tegen de Taliban kregen weliswaar ook aandacht in de media, ook de gevolgen voor de burgerbevolking, maar dat was het dan. Bij Israel volgt altijd de vraag wat men eraan kan doen, en dan vooral, wat men tegen Israel kan doen: de kamer van reces terugroepen, sancties instellen, demonstraties, Israelische producten boycotten, etc. Bij andere landen legt men een dergelijke daadkracht niet aan de dag, ondanks het feit dat het daar vaak om veel grootschaligere mensenrechtenschendingen gaat. Bij het offensief van Sri Lanka zouden tussen 8.000 en 20.000 burgers zijn gedood, en de gevechten in de Swat Vallei hebben tot 200.000 vluchtelingen opgeleverd.

The Jerusalem Post
Jul 15, 2009 20:24 | Updated Jul 15, 2009 21:21
Britain's breathtaking double standard

The decision made this week by the British Foreign Office to cancel export licenses for Israeli warship parts is not the first time Her Majesty's Government has embargoed arms to Israel. In 1969, Harold Wilson's Labour government reneged on its promise to supply Israel with the advanced Chieftain tank, a project which Israel had helped develop. So the fact that the Foreign Office, notorious for its unbalanced approach to affairs in the Middle East, has once again decided to embargo Israel should not come as much of a surprise. But the UK's concern for how its military equipment will be put to use by the IDF rings rather hollow when considering the list of other countries to whom the UK has recently supplied arms; countries which have not fallen foul of Westminster's new "ethical" standards for weapons exports.

In 2008, while the civil war in Sri Lanka was raging, Britain sold $22 million worth of armored vehicles, machine gun parts and semi-automatic pistols to the government in Colombo. During the course of the Sri Lankan army's assault on the last Tamil Tiger strongholds from January to May this year, approximately 20,000 civilians were killed.

The Foreign Office said of the cancelled Israeli contracts "We do not grant export licenses where there is a clear risk that arms will be used for external aggression or internal repression." The Sri Lankan army appears to have killed more than 40 times the number of civilians in its campaign against the Tamil Tigers than were killed in the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year, but we have yet to hear of any restrictions on British arms exports to Sri Lanka.

And the story doesn't end there. In recent years, the UK has sold arms to Algeria during the civil war there between 1991 and 1999. Components for air-to-air missiles were sold to Pakistan during the period of Musharraf's undemocratic rule. Recent British arms exports to China include components for military navigation equipment and naval radar, military aero-engines and technology for the production of combat aircraft. And the Foreign Office approved the sale of shotguns and sniper rifles to Saudi Arabia, as well as signing a contract with the Kingdom to supply it with 72 Typhoon fighter jets.

The double standard which the British Foreign Office has applied in defining which countries are suitable customers for British arms is quite breathtaking. China threatens Taiwan, occupies Tibet and brutally oppresses its own people. Relations between Pakistan and India in the earlier part of this decade were extremely volatile and the countries even teetered on the edge of nuclear conflict in 2001-2002. And the atrocious record of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses is well documented. Yet, oddly, none of this has prompted London to embargo weapons to any of these governments, despite its declared parameters precluding the export of British arms to countries which might use them for external aggression or internal repression.

BUT THE HYPOCRISY of the recent announcement is not perhaps the most concerning aspect of this affair. What is more alarming is the specific focus of the embargo, namely Israel's actions during Operation Cast Lead. The cancellation of the export licenses would seem to imply that Britain views Cast Lead as Israeli "external aggression".

It is extremely wearisome to continually repeat the same facts and arguments, but after Israel absorbed 10,000 rocket and mortar attacks over eight years into its sovereign territory, defining the IDF's operation in Gaza as aggression is quite an Orwellian turn of phrase. If Cornish separatists were to shell Plymouth or Welsh separatists would shell Liverpool, how long would it take the British government to send in the Royal Marines? Not very long, one imagines.

What this embargo says is that the UK denies Israel the right to self-defence. This was already made clear during Cast Lead when British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, just two days after the operation began, issued a call for an immediate cease-fire. Miliband ostensibly did not want Israel to destroy Hamas' rocket arsenal, did not want Israel to destroy Hamas' smuggling tunnels and did not want the extremist, rejectionist, Islamist terrorist group that is Hamas to be defeated. Civilian casualties are always sustained in war as the UK knows from its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this does not mean that wars are therefore automatically illegitimate, much less defensive wars undertaken after the utmost provocation.

Britain's decision to cancel the export licenses is perfectly in keeping with its generally supine foreign policy, which, with regard to the Middle East, seems to be dictated largely by domestic political concerns. From Miliband's meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus last November to the recent meeting between the British Ambassador to Lebanon and a senior Hizbullah official, the UK's stance seems to be avowedly on the side of belligerent and reactionary forces in the region. Golda Meir said that the British decision to cancel the Chieftain contract was like "a bomb exploding above Israel's head". The most recent cancellation is far less serious, but it throws into sharp relief the fickle and self-serving nature of Israel's so-called friends.
The writer is a researcher and writer based in Jerusalem. He has worked at a number of Israeli think tanks and served in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

vrijdag 17 juli 2009

Charedische Joden in Jeruzalem op tilt na arrestatie zieke vrouw die kind mishandelde

In de Spits stond van de week een kort berichtje over deze moeder die haar kind verwaarloosde om aandacht te trekken, in de rubriek 'curieuze verhalen', zonder melding van de rellen, maar die zijn misschien pas daarna begonnen.
Het doet mij vooral denken aan wat Wafa Sultan zei tegen een Algerijnse imam:
"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations," Dr. Sultan said. "It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality."

Deze Haredi relschoppers, die niet terugdeinzen voor vernielingen, bedreigingen en mishandelingen, staan duidelijk niet aan de kant van de rationaliteit.
En voordat de Zionisten weer de schuld krijgen:
"The extremist anti-Zionist Eda Haredit umbrella organization, which is championing the woman's innocence, ..."

The Jerusalem Post
Jul 16, 2009 10:05 | Updated Jul 17, 2009 9:39
Haredim escalate riots over 'blood libel,' as police chief fumes that 'the Bible doesn't permit this'

Haredi protests on the streets of Jerusalem over the arrest of a pregnant woman suspected of abusing her three-year-old son escalated throughout Thursday, culminating in late-night riots in which hundreds clashed with police on Jerusalem's main north-south Road One. 
Dozens were arrested and seven policemen were injured - some of them with head wounds from rocks. Police used water cannons to disperse rioters who tried to block the road.
The escalation saw several hundred haredim pelt police with stones at the end of a prayer vigil in Mea She'arim, police said. At the vigil, one of the rabbinical leaders of the radical anti-Zionist Toldot Aharon hassidic sect to which the mother belongs, Rabbi Yitzhak Kershenbaum, reportedly declared that his followers would "fight to the last drop of our blood" to secure the mother's release and clear her name of what the community has charged is a blood libel.
Jerusalem's police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco castigated the instigators of the protests, saying "I have not found a single place in the Bible where it is written that these actions are permissible." He also said officers have "concrete" evidence against the mother in the case.
Franco wondered aloud why rabbinical and political leaders had not spoken out against the violence that has shaken Jerusalem for three successive days.
"We are talking about a city which is the capital, and not enough has been done on the national level to ease tensions," he said.

Earlier, thousands of haredim gathered at Kikar Shabbat in Mea She'arim. Some lit garbage bins on fire and threw rocks.
Franco said there "has been a marked escalation" in the riots over the past day, with the level of violence rising, "both toward municipal workers and toward public infrastructure."
"They've dismantled traffic lights, and without traffic lights deadly accidents could take place. They've disconnected systems in electricity poles and people could be electrocuted," he said.
He noted that the haredi violence began last month with the opening of a parking lot near the Jaffa Gate on Saturdays, and then escalated this week with the arrest of the mother from the radical Toldot Aharon hasidic sect who is suspected of nearly starving her toddler to death.
As attempts to broker an end to the violence continued late last night, police were bracing for renewed riots at the weekend over both the woman's arrest and the opening of the parking lot.
"I have not heard any condemnation from rabbis or senior leaders to stop the riots," Franco said. "No moderate authority in the haredi community is getting up and speaking out against this phenomenon."
Someone needed to "wake up" before people were seriously hurt, he said.
The woman, who is five months pregnant, is suspected of severely abusing her child for two years, until he weighed only 7 kilograms. She is not cooperating with police investigators, and apparently suffers from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, a psychiatric disorder wherein those affected abuse someone else, typically a child, to draw attention or sympathy to themselves.
The boy was in and out of Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospitals seven times over the last two years before staffers finally determined that the mother was abusing her child after surveillance cameras caught her disconnecting her son's feeding tubes.
The extremist anti-Zionist Eda Haredit umbrella organization, which is championing the woman's innocence, alleged that the hospital had treated the child with chemotherapy for nearly a year after misdiagnosing him with cancer.
Hadassah University Hospital spokeswoman Yael Bossem-Levy dismissed the allegations as outrageous and stressed the child did not have cancer. A small group of haredi men demonstrated Thursday afternoon near the hospital, police said.
The chief police investigator in the child abuse case said the mother's associates were behaving like mafioso.
"We are talking about actions that would not embarrass criminal organizations: threats against doctors and social workers, damage to property of welfare offices and rioting," Jerusalem police investigator Eli Cohen said at a briefing. Officers were concerned that the suspect might flee the country if released from detention, he said, adding that police would ask a Jerusalem court to extend the woman's custody at a hearing on Friday.
Cohen said that security had been stepped up at the hospital where the three-year-old is being treated to ensure he is not abducted.
The investigator noted that authorities had still been unable to question the woman's other children to determine if any of them suffered abuse, even though their father - who has proclaimed his wife's innocence - has agreed to that as a condition of his release from police questioning.
The woman, who is exercising her right to remain silent, has refused to cooperate with police or undergo a psychiatric evaluation, officers said.
In a sign of possible compromise, Franci said Thursday night that the refusal, through the woman's lawyer, to undergo such an examination was holding up her release from detention.
The court was to decide Friday on a possible compromise agreement which would see the woman released on bail and undergo the psychiatric test.
The Jerusalem Municipality said the rioters had caused more than NIS 550,000 in damage to city property, including vandalizing traffic lights and setting hundreds of neighborhood garbage bins on fire.
Protesters threw stones at police and motorists, as well as at the Education Ministry building in Jerusalem on Thursday morning. Several dozen haredim were also forcibly prevented from converging on nearby Jaffa Road. The garbage-strewn streets of Mea She'arim reeked of smoke, fire and refuse in the summer heat.
Meanwhile, Welfare and Social Services Minister of Isaac Herzog (Labor) lashed out at the "lies" being propagated on the haredi street by "publicists" and "uninvolved figures" as to the circumstances behind the mother's arrest.
"We all understand that what happened here was that a child was saved from the brink of death," Herzog told Israel Radio.
"It would be right for community leaders to ease the tensions and realize that in the end, they're hurting their sector," he added.

The Jerusalem Municipality has temporarily suspended welfare services to haredi neighborhoods after its offices came under repeated attack. The rare move was to be lifted as soon as the violence ceased.
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel on Thursday urged Mayor Nir Barkat to restore the services, calling the move collective punishment.
The city said the offices would reopen as soon as workers were no longer facing "life-threatening" danger, and expressed regret over the inconvenience caused to residents not involved in the violence.

Zwitserse diplomaten ontvangen Hamas leider

Zwitserland was altijd al graag neutraal, ofwel vriendjes en vooral handelspartner van iedereen zodat ze maximaal kunnen profiteren. De politieke gevolgen zijn bijzaak. Door dit soort bezoeken eroderen de officiële eisen van het Kwartet en de internationale gemeenschap verder en weet Hamas zich gesterkt in zijn weigering om ook maar een duimbreed toe te geven.

Israel furious over Hamas leader's trip to Switzerland
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 05:37 15/07/2009

The Foreign Ministry is furious over news that Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official based in the Gaza Strip, recently headed a Hamas delegation to Switzerland for talks with Swiss diplomats.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said the visit will further destabilize already shaky relations between Jerusalem and Bern, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Switzerland in April for the "Durban 2" United Nations anti-racism conference.

China's news agency broke the story of Zahar's visit nearly two weeks ago.

Officials at the Israeli Embassy in Bern were surprised by the report, since they knew nothing about the June visit.

The embassy has requested clarifications from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, but Israeli officials say the responses have not been satisfactory.

One Jerusalem officials said it was many days before the Swiss confirmed the Hamas visit to the embassy.

Swiss officials told Israel's ambassador in Bern, Ilan Elgar, that the Hamas delegation was invited to Geneva by a nongovernmental research institute.

The Foreign Ministry source, however, noted that Swiss diplomats, including the Swiss envoy to the Middle East, met with the delegation during a conference at the institute.

When Elgar requested official clarification regarding the visa issued to the delegation, he was told by the Swiss foreign ministry, "In Switzerland, Hamas is not considered a terrorist organization."

Tensions between Jerusalem and Bern began to build about a year and a half ago, when the Swiss foreign minister went to Iran to sign a major gas purchase contract.

In May, in the wake of Ahmadinejad's visit to Geneva and the official working meeting with him held by Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz, Israel recalled Elgar to Jerusalem for consultations in protest.

Qassam raket komt neer in zuid Israel

Dit is volgens mij voor het eerst sinds weken. Volgens velen in Israel is dit aan het Gaza offensief te danken, zowel vanwege afschrikking als omdat Hamas nu eerst zijn wapenvoorraden weer op peil moet krijgen. Wat voor redenen men verder kan hebben blijft natuurlijk speculeren: verandering van strategie, orders uit Iran of Syrië, druk van Egypte of zelfs druk van de VS? Hoopt men zo internationaal makkelijker geaccepteerd te worden?

Qassam rocket explodes in open area Thursday evening, no injuries reported in attack
Shmulik Hadad - YNET
Rockets are back? Palestinian terrorists fired a Qassam rocket from the northern Gaza Strip Thursday evening. The rocket landed in an open area in southern Israel.

No injuries or damages were reported in the attack.

Southern residents reported hearing a loud explosion a short while after the Color Red alert system was activated.

Earlier this week, Hamas security forces detained members of Islamic Jihad's military wing on suspicion of firing mortar shells at IDF troops near the Gaza border fence.

On Wednesday, members of the Kfar Aza Kibbutz in the south met with President Shimon Peres. During the meeting, residents expressed their fear over the possibility of renewed rocket attacks.

Regional Council Head Alon Shuster said that "the fear of rocket attacks is present all the time, as we know there is no control over all (Palestinian) organizations."

"We think the government needs to deal with the economic rehabilitation of Sderot and the Gaza region. A new government has been in power for several months now, and it needs to address it," he said.

Also on Wednesday, the defense establishment and the Rafael Armament Development Authority reported successful tests of the Iron Dome rocket defense system over the past few days. The system succeeded in intercepting and destroying targets.

The Iron Dome system was developed by Rafael in order to defend Israel from rocket and missile attacks.

donderdag 16 juli 2009

Israelische reactie op Gaza rapport "Breaking the Silence"

Vandaag kwam de organisatie Breaking the Silence met het zoveelste rapport over wangedrag door Israelische soadaten. 26 Soldaten deden anoniem hun verhaal over onder andere 'op alles schieten wat beweegt', onverschilligheid voor burgerslachtoffers en gebruik van burgers als menselijk schild. Het is, net als eerdere geuigenissen van Israelische soldaten, eigenlijk vooral nuttig voor interne consumptie, en om het leger te verbeteren. Het feit dat BTS ermee naar buiten treedt, en het in het Engels is opgesteld, roept dan ook vraagtekens op wat betreft hun motivatie. Is die om zaken in Israel te verbeteren of om Israel internationaal te beschadigen en in de beklaagdenbank te plaatsen?
Het leger heeft natuurlijk gelijk dat de betreffende soldaten hun klachten daar moeten melden, met concrete gegevens zodat het leger het kan onderzoeken. Dat klinkt echter gemakkelijker dan het waarschijnlijk is, en zoals in ieder bedrijf en instantie zijn er in theorie allerlei mechanismen om wangedrag aan de kaak te stellen en te voorkomen, maar in de praktijk wordt het de melders van dergelijke zaken niet altijd in dank afgenomen.
Omdat Israels reactie in de media weer nauwelijks en onfair werd gegeven, volgt zij hieronder.
MFA - Government Communiques
Reaction to "Breaking the Silence" human rights report

The IDF Spokesperson Unit regrets the fact that yet another human rights organization is presenting to Israel and the world a report based on anonymous and general testimonies, without investigating their details or credibility.  Furthermore, this organization denied the IDF the minimal decency of presenting the report to the IDF and allowing it to investigate the testimonies prior to the report's publication. This was done while defaming and slandering the IDF and its commanders.

In order to ensure that the claims made in these testimonies are dealt with in an appropriate manner, the organization "Breaking the Silence" should urge those who made these claims to really 'break their silence,' and to present specific complaints to the IDF, and not hide behind general and anonymous statements.

Some of the testimonies in the report were brought to the attention of the IDF by the media, and these were reviewed in a preliminary fashion by the Military Advocate General.  As with the testimonies made at the Rabin Military Academy several months ago, a considerable number of the testimonies in this report are also based on hearsay and word of mouth.  Most of the testimonies are anonymous and lack any identifying details that would allow the IDF to investigate, confirm, or refute them.

The IDF engaged in Operation Cast Lead after eight years of continuous rocket fire on Israel's southern communities, heavily affecting daily life.  During the operation, the IDF succeeded in targeting the Hamas terror organization, increasing Israel's deterrence and restoring security to the area.

The decision of the organization "Breaking the Silence" to present such testimonies raises doubts about whether the organization really wishes for a credible and thorough investigation regarding the claims to be carried out, as is the norm in the IDF.  We regret that this is not the first time the organization has acted in this manner.

The IDF is committed to investigating any claim, supported by facts, that is brought to its attention, as was done immediately following Operation Cast Lead.  By order of the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, five investigations headed by specialists in the field examined various aspects of the operation, including specific incidents.  In addition, the IDF is currently investigating other incidents which relate to individual claims.  As has previously been published, in several of these cases the IDF Military Police Investigations Unit has opened an investigation. 

The IDF expects every soldier and commander who feels that they have witnessed a violation of the IDF commands and regulations to turn to the appropriate authorities with all of the facts regarding the incident, in accord with their legal and moral obligations.  This duty is even more important where the suspected violations have caused harm to noncombatants.

This level of professionalism and integrity should be expected of any agency, organization, or association.  The IDF is committed to thoroughly investigating any claims presented, where there is sufficient information to do so. 

The IDF operates on the foundation of uncompromising ethical values. These will continue to guide the IDF in every mission, including in complex and difficult conditions.  Prior to and during Operation Cast Lead, IDF forces were given stringent briefings on the commands and orders that they should adhere to, as well as the international laws of war.  From testimonies which have been published, including those in this report, and from the investigations conducted by the IDF into the operation, it is clear that IDF soldiers operated in accord with international law and the orders they received, despite the complex and difficult fighting.


 The IDF Spokesperson Unit requests that attention be given by the media to several methodological and ethical issues regarding this report:

1.      The report, as given to the IDF less than 24 hours prior to its publication, is based on testimonies that lack critical identifying features:

a.      No identification whatsoever was used for those who gave their testimonies, not even a first initial, as is customary throughout the media when a quote is given in anonymity.

b.      There is no mention of rank or position at the time of the claimed incidents.

c.       There is no mention of unit or unit type (regular or reserves).

2.      The report makes no mention of the way in which the testimonies were gathered - it is not clear whether they were gathered directly via interview or indirectly via mail or e-mail.  It is unclear whether there is one interviewer or more, or whether those who gave their testimonies were interviewed individually or in groups.

3.      There is no mention of how the credibility of the testimonies was checked:

a.      There is no way of knowing whether the testimony was given by a soldier or someone claiming to be a soldier.

b.      There is no mention of time period (date and time) or specific location with regards to the incidents described in the testimonies.

It is clear to the IDF, and from reading parts of the testimonies that were gathered by "Breaking the Silence", that there were isolated incidences in which unintentional harm was caused to noncombatants as the result of operational errors. These types of error are likely to occur in complex fighting such as that in the Gaza Strip.  One can also find within the testimonies statements that illustrate the self-restraint shown by the IDF and its commanders during Operation Cast Lead, as well as the steps taken to limit the harm to non-combatants and civilian property, even where this was done at the expense of the IDF's operational objectives. The testimonies also show that IDF forces adapted their behavior on the basis of the lessons learned during the fighting, as the IDF investigations after the operation have shown.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also reacted to publication of the report:

"Any criticism of the IDF from this or that organization is misplaced and misdirected. If someone has a criticism, or information or conclusions about IDF actions, they should bring them to me, as Minister of Defense of the State of Israel, and to the Israeli government that instructed the IDF to restore quiet to the communities in the South." He added, "The IDF is the most moral army in the world and it operates according to the highest ethical code."

2008 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs - The State of Israel. All rights reserved.

woensdag 15 juli 2009

Hakenkruisen en 'jood' in auto's gekrast

Vroeger had je nog wel eens milieuaktivisten (niet ik!) die auto's vernielden, maar dit is het werk van dom leeghoofdig tuig of neo-nazi's (wat is het verschil?). Een vriendin van mij met een groen hart had na haar vijfstigste alsnog haar rijbewijs gehaald en een autootje gekocht omdat het voor sommige zaken toch wel erg handig is. Binnen een week was hij bekrast met nog een reeks auto's in de straat. Daar zat bij mijn weten geen hakenkruis bij, gelukkig. In Oud-Zuid lijkt het wel antisemitisch te zijn gericht.

Hakenkruis in auto's gekrast

Gepubliceerd: 13 juli 2009 13:34 | Gewijzigd: 13 juli 2009 13:34
Door een onzer redacteuren
Rotterdam, 13 juli. In het Amsterdamse stadsdeel Oud-Zuid zijn in de nacht van zaterdag op zondag zo'n honderd auto's vernield. Bij twintig ervan was een hakenkruis of het woord 'jood' ingekrast.

De andere auto's hadden deuken en afgebroken spiegels, aldus de politie. Ze neemt de zaak hoog op wegens het antisemitische karakter. Er zijn nog geen aanwijzingen naar de dader(s).

Hakenkruisen vaak gebruikt

De vernielingen vonden plaats in de omgeving van de Jacob Obrechtstraat, waar een synagoge staat. Volgens het Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israël (CIDI) wonen er veel als jood herkenbare mensen in de wijk. Scheldpartijen komen vaak voor, maar geweld bijna nooit. Elise Friedmann, die bij het CIDI gevallen van antisemitisme registreert, wil daarom nog geen conclusies uit het incident trekken. „Hakenkruisen worden zo vaak gebruikt, in veel gevallen zijn ze niet eens tegen joden gericht." Ook bij de Liberaal Joodse Gemeente Amsterdam is niets bekend over antisemitisme in Oud-Zuid.

In Limburg vond in de dezelfde nacht een gelijksoortig incident plaats. In de Lavendelstraat in Sittard werden diverse auto's vernield, waarbij in enkele ook een hakenkruis is gekrast. Bij de politie was vanmorgen viermaal aangifte voor vernieling gedaan. In drie gevallen was een hakenkruis op de auto gekrast.

Volgens een woordvoerder van de politie in Sittard is het de tweede keer in twee weken dat er melding is gedaan van het krassen van een hakenkruis in auto's.


Libanon schendt VN Resolutie 1701

Het is natuurlijk een publiek geheim dat Hezbollah ten zuiden van de Litani rivier actief is, en wapens heeft opgeslagen in civiel gebied, maar het kan geen kwaad er nog eens op te wijzen naar aanleiding van deze explosie. UNIFIL zou dit uitermate serieus moeten nemen, maar UNIFIL is afhankelijk van medewerking van het Libanese leger dat niks kan en wil ondernemen tegen Hezbollah.
Israel accuses Lebanon of violating UN Resolution 1701
Israel accused Lebanon of violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 on Tuesday after a Hizbullah arms cache hidden inside a southern Lebanese town accidentally exploded.

The blast occurred inside the village of Hirbet Selm, some 20 kilometers north of the Israeli-Lebanese border, south of the Litani River and within the area which falls under the mandate of the UNIFIL multi-national force.

According to Israeli defense officials, the cache was hidden in a storehouse inside the village and contained dozens of 122-millimeter Katyusha rockets as well as high-powered machine guns. Some of the rockets reportedly flew into the sky.

Contrary to Lebanese media reports which claimed that the cache was hidden in the village before the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the Israeli defense officials said that the weaponry was recently placed inside the storehouse.

"This is a major violation of resolution 1701," one official said. "The weaponry was stored inside a village and is proof of our longstanding claim that Hizbullah uses civilian infrastructure to hide its weaponry."

According to Lebanese media reports, the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL sealed off the area surrounding the storehouse. The two reportedly announced plans to launch an investigation into the incident.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the fragile relationship between Israel and Lebanon was threatened by allegations of Israeli spy cells operating in Lebanon, by Israeli concerns that Lebanese "militias" were operating outside of state control and that Hizbullah had been deployed to southern Lebanon.

Palestijnse Autoriteit sluit Al-Jazeera kantoor op Westoever

Stel je voor dat Israel het kantoor van de BBC, dat geregeld eenzijdige of misleidende informatie verspreidt over Israel, zou sluiten en de volgende verklaring zou uitgeven:
"We expect all media outlets operating in Israel to go about their work in a way that does not contradict the Israeli national interest and rule of law".
Uiteraard zou de wereld te klein zijn, en iedereen zou overlopen van verontwaardiging. Maar voor de Palestijnen ligt dat natuurlijk geheel anders.
PA shuts down Al-Jazeera's West Bank offices
Published yesterday (updated) 15/07/2009 21:52
Ramallah - Ma'an - The Palestinian Authority will go ahead with a suit against the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television after they shut down their West Bank offices on charges of "incitement and false information."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Wednesday night that he commissioned Attorney General Ahmed Al-Mughni to take the legal procedures necessary to prosecute Al-Jazeera. Analysts say the Tuesday report with comments by senior Fatah member Farouq Qaddoumi, who accused President Abbas of involvement in an alleged plot to kill Yasser Arafat was the final impetus for the suit.

In a statement Fayyad said his government would continue to ensure freedom of the press in Palestine but would at the same time take action "against anything that may cause discrimination among factions" and deepen the national division.

Qaddoumi, a Fatah member, will not likely be able to participate in the historic Sixth Fatah Conference, which will take place in the West Bank in August. The decision to hold the conference, the first since the 1980s, in the West Bank was a controversial one, as many members will have difficulty entering the area, whose borders are controlled by Israel. Qaddoumi's comments were seen by some as an attempt to jostle for political power.

Responding to the decision, the Palestinian Media Forum (PMF) called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reverse the decision describing it as restricting freedom of press.

"The Palestinian information ministry should honor Al-Jazeera teams for their efforts in exposing Israeli crimes in the Palestinian territories rather than shutting down its offices just as Israel did before," a statement by the PMF said.

The statement pointed out that Al-Jazeera was the only station to expose "the false democracy which some Arab countries claim."

The closure of Al-Jazeera offices, the PMF asserted, was a political decision which has nothing to do with the professional performance of Al-Jazeera teams.

For his part, Fayyad said Al-Jazeera TV would not be permitted to work in Palestine under Law 9, passed in 1995.

Article 14 of chapter two of the Basic Law (1995) states:
Every person shall have right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression and publication of his opinion either orally, in writing or in the form of art or through any other form of expression, subject to observance of restrictions imposed by law for the respect of the rights or reputations of others, the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or morals.

The Palestinian Information Ministry said in a statement responding to the incident, that, "Al-Jazeera has always dedicated a wide portion of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. Despite repeated requests to be impartial in its coverage of Palestinian affairs, the station continued to incite against the PLO and the PA. The latest false news was aired yesterday."

At the same time, the PA stated commitment to freedom of the press in Palestine. "We expect all media outlets operating in Palestine to go about their work in a way that does not contradict the Palestinian national interest and rule of law," the statement read.

Staat Israel krijgt van hooggerechtshof nog 4 maanden voor ontruimingsplan buitenpost

Ongelooflijk hoelang de Israelische regering het slopen van illegale woningen in een buitenpost voor zich uit schuift. In 2005 was al een sloopvergunning afgegeven, dus het mag duidelijk zijn dat de kolonisten - die ook weten dat ze daar illegaal zitten - niet goedschiks wensen te vertrekken.


The Jerusalem Post
Jul 13, 2009 12:06 | Updated Jul 13, 2009 12:18
'State has 4 months to establish illegal outposts removal plan'

The state will have four months to come up with a planned schedule for the evacuation of 18 structures in West Bank settlements, a Supreme Court panel headed by Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch ruled Monday morning.

In their decision, justice Beinisch as well as justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Yoram Danziger, wrote that "under these circumstances…the state should have carried out the warrants [ordering the buildings' destruction], or at the very least produce an abiding timetable, as part of its basic duty to uphold the law."

The justices wrote they contemplated issuing a binding warrant, but in the end decided to allot the state four more months during which discussions will be held with tenants facing evacuation.

The petition regarding the buildings was submitted by the Peace Now movement four years ago. It protested six buildings in the illegal outpost of Haresha and a dozen buildings erected in Yuval, another illegal settlement.

The state claimed that demolition warrants were issued and awaited implementation after a work-plan would be drafted. In a later discussion, the state claimed it was mapping the new construction site and was intending to produce a time-line for enforcing the law.

Last year, the state detailed its planned course of action regarding the settlements. The justices wrote that the state's preference to avoid forceful evacuation was "understandable" and also showed understanding for the "many different measures needed to prevent [those building illegally in the West Bank] from breaking the law."

"However," the justices wrote, "more than four years have passed since the petition was submitted; the state's consistent stand from early on in the discussion of the petition has been that the buildings were built illegally, some on private land. A demolition warrant regarding the buildings was issued back in 2005."

The court decided not to issue an immediate demolition warrant, because "the tenants have their own arguments and it is undeniable that hearings including all parties involved should be held prior to demolition." The court therefore gave the state an additional four months in order to hold all necessary hearings "before we give a final ruling on the petition."

The court will reconvene in four months to discuss further measures regarding the Peace Now petition.