zaterdag 12 maart 2011

Een progressieve visie tegen BDS beweging

Een progressieve mening tegen de BDS (boycot, divestment en sancties) beweging:
In addition. I believe that BDS plays into the hands of the "us against them" mentality promoted by the Israeli extreme right and the Diaspora Jewish right, and makes the attacks against Israel the topic of discussion, rather than the occupation or the search for peace. In this way, the BDS movement is not only ineffective but negatively impacts two state activists in Israel and abroad.
Sterker nog, door de BDS beweging en de delegitimering van Israel in het algemeen, hebben veel mensen die zich verbonden voelen met Israel terecht het idee dat ze eerst Israel moeten verdedigen en dan pas kunnen strijden voor een tweestatenoplossing en tegen de bezetting. Zo is de Israelische vredesbeweging gigantisch verzwakt doordat de rest van de wereld wel erg weinig begrip had voor Israels reactie op de tweede intifada en maar op meer concessies bleef aandringen terwijl er bussen en restaurants de lucht in gingen. Hoe meer we hier wel menen te weten wat Israel moet doen om tot vrede te komen, hoe minder Israeli's nog geneigd zijn naar ons te luisteren en ons serieus te nemen. Ook leidt BDS (en alle leugens over Israel en vergelijkingen met de nazi's etc) tot een enorme polarisatie in de discussie over Israel en de Palestijnen in Nederland en andere landen. Dus mensen die werkelijk vrede en een tweestatenoplossing willen en met de bezetting niet eigenlijk heel Israel bedoelen, kunnen zich beter verre houden van de BDS en een genuanceerder geluid laten horen.

No Common Cause with Global BDS Movement

By Kenneth Bob, National President

(Delivered on a panel at the J Street Conference on February 29, 2011)

On National Public Radio there was a project called "in this I believe" in which a variety of well-known and less well-know people described principles which helped guide their lives. In Hebrew, you refer to your "Ani Ma'amin" – I believe or my beliefs. I am going to start with my "in this I believe" to provide context to my brief opening remarks.

• I am a life-long Zionist and I view Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people
• I wrote my first editorial against the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and in favor of a Palestinian State in 1971 in our student newspaper, the Berkeley Jewish Radical
• I want to choose the most effective path to bring a two state solution

With that in mind, I will share my view on the BDS movement and BDS as a tactic.

The global BDS movement is a loose international network whose objective, by their own admission, is not ending the occupation as way of bringing about a two state solution. Instead they support the establishment of one state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. They call for boycotts of Israeli products and Israeli academics, as well as divestment from companies doing business in Israel. They call on dock workers to refuse to unload ships arriving from Israel. This is an easy one for me; I can see no common cause with these people.

You then have those people who support a two state solution and propose using selected BDS tactics as a way of ending the occupation. While I understand the motivation of these activists, I think they are using the wrong tactics and will not help further their objective. Let me explain.

BDS tactics are by their very nature negative and one-sided, ignoring how complicated the situation really is. I will share a couple of examples.

First of all, boycotting of West Bank products.

I just returned from a visit to Israel yesterday, and while there I met with Talal Nasirudden, CEO of BirZeit Pharmaceuticals, and Avi Nudelman of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce. Together, they want to bring more Israeli businesses to the West Bank, not less, to employ Palestinians in production. During our conversation, Talal complained about the remaining restrictions on movement on the West Bank and other Israeli measures that impede economic progress. He also emphasized that without political progress, the economic advances are meaningless. However, he emphasized to me that the economies of Israel and Palestine will be intertwined. A boycott now hurts their efforts to build these economic ties and actually puts Palestinians out of work.

Secondly, I want address the popular campus tactic of calling for divestment from companies which provide military equipment to Israel. The rationale is that the weapons are used to maintain the occupation. The problem with this concept is that the same equipment they want to block is also used to defend Israel against Hezbullah sending some of their current arsenal of 45,000 rockets into Israel. The newer ones can now reach as far as Tel Aviv. I visited the Lebanese border last week, and as Tzippi Livne, Israel's opposition leader, likes to say, Israel lives in a tough neighborhood. I, for one, am not prepared to participate in efforts that are aimed to deprive her of her ability to defend herself.

In addition. I believe that BDS plays into the hands of the "us against them" mentality promoted by the Israeli extreme right and the Diaspora Jewish right, and makes the attacks against Israel the topic of discussion, rather than the occupation or the search for peace. In this way, the BDS movement is not only ineffective but negatively impacts two state activists in Israel and abroad.

In short, it is a distraction from the critical effort of bringing peace.

I am not suggesting that you sit on your hands: there are alternative ways to express opposition to the occupation and support a two state solution. While I don't have time to go into all of the options, here a few ways that we can express our opinion and support those who represent our values.

• You can support organizations involved with the Israeli peace camp, influencing public opinion both in Israel and here.
• You can publicize and support the activities of the demonstrators at Sheik Jarrah you heard about Saturday night as well as other grassroot activists.
• You can learn about TULIP – Trade Unions United for Israel and Palestine – and connect labor unions to their efforts. TULIP supports the efforts of Israel's Histadrut and the PGTU, the Palestinian General Trade Union, to find points of cooperation, like improving cross-border trucking coordination. BTW, this is why the PGTU is uncomfortable with the BDS movement; it negatively impacts the lives of the Palestinian workers.
• Israel is a democracy and there is a direct way to impact the decision making process. Americans can donate to Israeli political campaigns!
• And of course, you can impact the U.S. gov't through J Street.

As I mentioned in my opening, I am personally marking 40 years in my efforts to end the occupation. For this reason, I am laser focused on this task and I support all constructive efforts to achieve that goal. I just don't think BDS are among them.

Thank you.


Israel Apartheid Week, maar Arabische Apartheid laat wereld koud

Last year alone, some 180,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip entered Israel to receive medical treatment. Many were treated despite the fact that they did not have enough money to cover the bill. In Israel, even a suicide bomber who is -- only! -- wounded while trying to kill Jews is entitled to the finest medical treatment. And there have been many instances where Palestinians who were injured in attacks on Israel later ended up in some of Israel's best hospitals.
Verwacht hier geen artikelen over in onze kranten, of het nou de NRC is of de Telegraaf, want die zijn veel te druk met Israel bashen en het blijven herhalen, herkauwen en opdienen van dezelfde oude cliches, halve waarheden en hele leugens. Verwacht ook niet dat Dries van Agt aandacht heeft voor enig positief nieuws over Israel, of zich het lot aantrekt van de vele Palestijnen die door de Arabische staten worden onderdrukt en gediscrimineerd.

Mohammed Nabil Taha, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, died this week at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment.

The tragic case of Taha highlights the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in impoverished refugee camps in Lebanon and who are the victims of an Apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care.

Ironically, the boy's death at the entrance to the hospital coincided with Israel Apartheid Week, a festival of hatred and incitement organized by anti-Israel activists on university campuses in the US, Canada and other countries.

It is highly unlikely that the folks behind the festival have heard about the case of Taha. Judging from past experiences, it is also highly unlikely that they would publicize the case after they heard about it.

Why should anyone care about a Palestinian boy who is denied medical treatment by an Arab hospital? This is a story that does not have an anti-Israel angle to it.

Can anyone imagine what would have happened if an Israeli hospital had abandoned a boy to die in its parking lot because his father did not have $1,500 to pay for his treatment?

The UN Security Council would hold an emergency session and Israel would be strongly condemned and held responsible for the death of the boy.

All this is happening at a time when tens of thousands of Palestinian patients continue to benefit from treatments in Israeli hospitals.

Last year alone, some 180,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip entered Israel to receive medical treatment. Many were treated despite the fact that they did not have enough money to cover the bill. In Israel, even a suicide bomber who is -- only! -- wounded while trying to kill Jews is entitled to the finest medical treatment. And there have been many instances where Palestinians who were injured in attacks on Israel later ended up in some of Israel's best hospitals.

Lebanon, by the way, is not the only Arab country that officially applies Apartheid laws against Palestinians, denying them the right to receive proper medical treatment and own property.

Just last week it was announced that a medical center in Jordan has decided to stop treating Palestinian cancer patients because the Palestinian Authority has failed to pay its debts to the center.

Other Arab countries have also been giving the Palestinians a very hard time when it comes to receiving medical treatment.

It is disgraceful that while Israel admits Palestinian patients to its hospitals, Arab hospitals are denying them medical treatment for various reasons, including money. But then one is reminded that Arab dictators do not care about their own people, so why should they pay attention to an 11-year-old boy who is dying at the entrance to a hospital because his father was not carrying $1,500?

But as the death took place in an Arab country and as the victim is an Arab why should anyone care about him? Where is the outcry against Arab Apartheid?

maandag 7 maart 2011

Joa, veer kinne!

Als u dezer dagen weinig berichten van ons ziet, dat heeft dat een goede reden...

Schuift Netanjahoe op naar het midden?

Misschien is de wens de vader van de gedachte van Aluf Benn, dat Bibi Netanjahoe bezig is op te schuiven naar het midden, maar hij noemt enkele duidelijke recente signalen dat dit het geval zou zijn. Lastig lijkt me dat Netanjahoe op geen enkel niveau in de voetstappen van Ariel Sharon past, en dat Obama lang niet zo makkelijk tevreden te stellen is als Bush.

Netanyahu may be breaking away from the far-right to the center

PM must choose between the ideology he was raised on and the duties of the leader of a small country entirely dependent on international support.

By Aluf Benn
Published 01:07 04.03.11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached the point where he needs to make a decision, something he has avoided doing for two years: choosing between the ideology he was raised on and which is part of his internal belief system, and the duties of the leader of a small country entirely dependent on international support.

Like all of his predecessors, Netanyahu too has surrendered to external pressure and embarked on a political initiative that will break through the stifling isolation in which Israel finds itself.

Two parallel developments brought him to this breaking point. U.S. President Barack Obama's veto against the condemnation of West Bank settlements at the UN Security Council brought home to Netanyahu that Israel has no more friends in the international community. It was only the flick of Obama's finger that prevented a huge diplomatic defeat for the prime minister, and the White House went out of its way to make it clear that it does in fact support the condemnation and was voting against it only for domestic political considerations. Now the time has come to cash in, and Obama will demand a price for his veto.

Domestically, Netanyahu has taken a dive in public opinion polls and is unable to reach the popularity he enjoyed at the start of his tenure. His big rivals, Kadima head Tzipi Livni and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, are only becoming stronger and have signaled their cooperation in a future coalition that would rise on the ruins of Likud.

Criticism of the prime minister stems from a sense of standstill, along with his lack of leadership in the recent chief of staff appointment and inability to manage his own office. A daring act, one of leadership, is now required for Netanyahu to overturn the way things are moving.

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon found himself in the same position in the fall of 2003. The public was tired of his leadership, the Americans were fed up with the political impasse and his popularity was falling. The international community began signaling it would impose a solution, in line with the Geneva Initiative, and the elders of the defense establishment warned that Sharon was leading to disaster. Sharon broke, and announced that he would evacuate the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza.

From that moment on, his luck turned, his popularity reached new heights and the world embraced him.

Following in Sharon's footsteps

Signs have become plentiful in recent days that Netanyahu is following in Sharon's footsteps and breaking away from the extreme right to the center. It began with his address to the Knesset last week, in which he hinted at an interim settlement with the Palestinians that will keep the Jordan Valley in Israeli control, and also dropped the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people. He continued with the razing of the Havat Gilad outpost, a clear sign to the extreme right.

On Monday, Netanyahu told Likud − like Sharon before him − that he will not continue along the same line in view of the tremendous amount of international pressure.

Now he is saying in closed meetings that "a binational state would be disastrous for Israel" and suddenly Netanyahu sounds like former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who in an interview with Haaretz at the Annapolis Conference declared: Two states or Israel is finished. And this is the same Netanyahu who has always denied the demographic threat, regarding it as a scarecrow in the service of the left.

It is clear that the prime minister is looking to the right, and using the tried and tested trick of picking a fight with the settlers. They will block roads, making drivers angry and causing them to hate the extreme right-wing. Netanyahu will appear as someone who cares about the interests of the state and will not sell out those interests for the sake of excitable hilltop youth.

Netanyahu's problem is that the leaders of the world do not believe him. Contrary to Olmert and Sharon, who both had close ties with President George Bush, Netanyahu has a poor relationship with Obama. He will now focus his efforts on convincing the American president to give him a chance. He will try to convince Obama to let him dictate his own punishment by promising to make further pullbacks in the West Bank and pave the way for a Palestinian state. Only thus will it be possible to foil the unilateral declaration of independence the Palestinians are planning.

zondag 6 maart 2011

Hamas (en Fatah) wil Holocaust onderwijs in UNRWA scholen dwarsbomen

De Holocaust was niet de reden waarom Israel werd gesticht, zoals nog wel eens gedacht wordt, maar ze speelde wel een cruciale rol in de ontwikkelingen die tot de oprichting en erkenning van de Joodse staat leidden. Alleen al daarom lijkt mij van belang dat Palestijnse schoolkinderen deze geschiedenis leren, zoals Israelische schoolkinderen zouden moeten leren dat er Arabieren in het land woonden lang voordat Israel werd gesticht, en onder welke omstandigheden die vertrokken/gevlucht/verdreven zijn. Wederzijds begrip van elkaars geschiedenis zal helpen om compromissen te sluiten en tot verzoening te komen.
Hamas vows to foil Holocaust lessons in UNRWA schools

Fatah officials also express opposition to teaching "enemy's false claims and lies"; Hamas says UNRWA plan would be a "cultural crime."
Hamas and Fatah have vowed to foil any attempt to teach the Holocaust in UNRWA-run schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The two parties said Tuesday that teaching about the Holocaust was a "provocative act."
The Hamas government said that the UN group's intention to include the Holocaust in school text books was a "challenge to the feelings of the Palestinians." It accused UNRWA of carrying out a political agenda that did not serve the interests of the Palestinians and "violates their culture and unchangeable values."

Hamas said it was also opposed to the move because it would pave the way for normalization with Israel.

"This is an attempt to impose on us the culture of normalization with the occupation," said a statement issued by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Culture in the Gaza Strip. "They want us to accept the tales and lies to win sympathy."

The ministry described the Holocaust as a lie, saying it had been exaggerated to garner sympathy for the "usurping entity" at the expense of the rights and interests of the Palestinians.

The Hamas ministry warned UNRWA against teaching the Holocaust in its schools as part of lessons on human rights, declaring, "This is a flagrant intervention in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and a violation of regulations that have existed since the establishment of UNRWA."

Hamas also urged Palestinians to confront the "suspicious scheme," which it condemned as a "cultural crime." It said schools should instead dedicate classes to talking about the "occupation's terror and racism."

Zakariya al-Agha, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip and head of the PLO "refugee department," said he was also opposed to teaching the Holocaust in Palestinian schools.

Salah al-Wadiyeh, a Fatah representative in the West Bank, said that the Holocaust was a "big lie." The Palestinians, he said, "know more than any other people the history of their enemies and their false claims and lies."

He, too, lashed out at UNRWA for reportedly agreeing to educate Palestinian school children about the Holocaust.

Hamas berooft bank in Gaza

De Israelische blokkade van de Gazastrook is blijkbaar nog redelijk effectief, daar Hamas zich ertoe verlaagd om particuliere banken in de strook geld afhandig te maken.

Gaza banks close because of Hamas robberies
From Ma'an:
The Palestinian Monetary Authority announced Thursday that all banks in Gaza would close on Thursday, following the perpetration of a robbery by unknown gunmen who stole cash from the Palestine Investment Bank in Gaza City.

PMA officials did not report the amount of cash taken from the bank, but said the financial institutions would remain closed until the funds were returned.

A statement from the body condemned the robbery, saying the use of weapons against the people of Gaza was unacceptable. The PMA "resents, denounces and condemns the attack," the statement said.
While it is unclear who robbed the bank, it seems strange that the banks would close from an ordinary armed robbery. More likely the bank suspects that the robbers were none other than Hamas, as Ma'an explains has happened before:
[Last summer] the Palestine Islamic Bank in Gaza City reported three incidents of cash being "withdrawn by force" by Gaza government officials, and in June suspended operations in protest over the actions.
Palestine Press Agency adds that Hamas has also taken over the Palestinian Investment Fund's offices and cash, and that other tenants of the same building were forced to leave. The Fund was meant to be an independent institution to help out businesses in Gaza.

This is only the latest takeover by Hamas of previously private Gaza institutions. These takeovers are one major reason why a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah are increasingly unlikely, as Hamas' control of Gaza is cemented.

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post via Reuters fills in the blanks, and Ma'an is shown once again to dance around the truth so as not to upset Hamas (h/t T34):
Banks in Gaza closed on Thursday in protest against Hamas's seizure of $250,000 in cash in a dispute with the Palestinian Authority.

A banking official said Hamas police went to the Palestine Investment Bank on Wednesday and demanded the money from the account of the PA-backed Palestine Investment Fund, which Hamas alleged had been illegally transferring money out of Gaza.

"(Hamas police) said unless they were given the money, they would take it by force," the official told Reuters. He said the police left with bags of cash filled with Israeli shekels worth $250,000 after several hours of discussion.

"All banks closed their doors today to protest against Hamas's assault on the Palestine Investment Bank," said the official, who declined to be identified.

A West Bank official for the Palestinian Monetary Authority, which oversees banking in Gaza and the West Bank, said the Hamas police had committed "armed robbery." In a statement, the monetary authority demanded the return of the cash.

More details on Hamas' armed robbery of a Gaza bank
Yesterday, Ma'an did everything it could to avoid mentioning that Hamas had robbed a bank in Gaza. But now that others have made the accusations, Ma'an feels it can report on the story.

And it is a doozy.
The Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are at loggerheads again after the Palestinian Monetary Authority accused security forces in Gaza of robbing a bank.

The PMA announced Thursday that all banks in the Gaza Strip would close following a robbery at the Palestine Investment Bank in Gaza City.

Authority deputy Muhammad Manasreh told Ma'an that Gaza government officials stole $340,000 from the bank over two days.

On Tuesday, an official from the Hamas-led Ministry of Interior seized $90,000 from the bank by force after bank employees refused to honor a check due to insufficient funds in the account, Manasreh said.

The following day, the same official tried to cash a check for $250,000. Again, bank staff refused to honor the check due to insufficient funds. An argument erupted and cashiers called senior Hamas officials who failed to resolve the dispute, the PMA official added.

He said the bank was later raided by armed government security forces who seized $250,000.
Can you believe that Israel is so intransigent as to refuse to negotiate with this wonderful, pragmatic, respected political group?