Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Israel intercepts aid boat carrying medicine, building supplies and toys

Tell me again there's no siege...

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] - Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY (pictured right before leaving port), abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

"This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip," said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate. "President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey."

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are "trapped in despair." Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier during Israel's December/January massacre are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.

Continue reading at Mondoweiss...

A Jew with a Particular View on Burglary

My home was burgled recently, so I went to the local Police station to report the crime.

Initially the coppers were real helpful and after offering me a nice mug of strong tea took my statement. I was then made to wait for a short while, as the officers skedaddled off, presumably to assign me a case number and inform me about any follow-up. My hopes weren't that high but got dashed completely when the case officer broke the news to me.

In essence, he said, there was nothing the Police could do for me. Stunned, I inquired about this unexpected turn of events and the officer gently broke the news to me: my 'burglary' wasn't considered a real burglary because it didn't meet the 'Threshold Requirements'. 'Threshold Requirements?' I gasped, 'what the Lord does that mean?'

'Your house is really small, isn't it Mr Suchandsuchabody?' asked PC Plod softly.

Truthfully I answered that, yes, it was really on the small side, we were actually looking for somewhere a little roomier but hadn't gotten round to it yet...

'Well, we looked up the dimensions of your dwelling on the National Computer and it's too small. Below a certain size, burglaries are no longer considered illegal...'

I nearly lost my patience there and then and was advised to calm down, unless I wanted to be charged with 'wasting Police time'.

Flabbered, I was escorted out by one of the coppers. Slipping through the revolving doors, he whispered in my ear: 'Listen, I'm not supposed to tell you this but you could always go and burgle someone else's property, provided it doesn't meet the Threshold Requirements, of course'. I muttered a feeble 'Thanks!' and went back on my way to my too small castle...

No, the above never happened, of course. There are no 'Threshold Requirements' on size for a burglary to qualify as such. Not in Britain and nowhere else either...

And yet, if you believe certain Zionists, size should really matter in such cases. Take the blogger A Jew with a View (AJwaV) for instance. His ridiculous 'When Pictures Speak Louder Than Words' post rehashes the old idea that Israel is so small that it can't constitute a land grab.

By and large this little cowpad of a piece consists of pictures designed to convince us just how miniscule tiny Israel really is (and thus below the 'Threshold Requirements'), even if, as AJawV does, you rather deceptively colour everything from Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights in the same cool blue. Thus Israel gets compared to scale with the Arab world, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Great Britain and (please don't tempt me) Lake Michigan:

Lacking really is only a picture of Planet Earth taken from the Moon: on those pictures Israel is practically invisible!

Zionists say the darnest things...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bovine Shields...

By 'The Hasbara Buster'.

Did you know that beef can be used to make bombs and rockets? Neither did I. How else to explain, however, the ban on live cattle imports into Gaza enforced by the Israeli government over the better part of the year to date.

A recent Haaretz story reports the Israeli government's decision to allow 350 heads of cattle into the strip for the first time in nine months. (The Israeli military's "Coordinator of (Israeli) Government Activities in the Territories" (COGAT) has reportedly determined that 300 cows per week are the minimum needed in Gaza in order to avoid malnutrition, and a "humanitarian crisis.") But why was shipment of cattle forbidden in the first place?

Intrigued? Read on here, go on, you know you want to...

Anthony Loewenstein on Occupation and Jewish opinion

From Ha'aretz, via MuzzleWatch.

During this year's AIPAC conference in Washington, Executive Director Howard Kohr warned the 7,000-plus crowd that the global movement to "delegitimize Israel" was gathering steam.

"These voices are laying the predicate for an abandonment," he said. His sentiments were almost apocalyptic: "The stakes in that battle are nothing less than the survival of Israel, linked inexorably to the relationship between Israel and the United States. In this battle we are the firewall, the last rampart."

The age of Barack Obama has unleashed a global wave of Jewish unease over Israel's future and the Diaspora's relationship to the self-described Jewish state. It's a debate that is long overdue.

Zionist organizations in Australia campaigned loudly in May against the allegedly "anti-Semitic" play Seven Jewish Children, a ten-minute think-piece written by an English playwright accusing Jews of complicity in violence against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A Jewish columnist for The New York Times, Roger Cohen, argued in June that the key word among Palestinians now is "humiliation."

"It's not good for the Palestinians, the Israelis or the Jewish soul," he wrote. The Jewish Week editor chastised him for such views - for "the anger, blame and one-sidedness of his argument" - and wondered "whose heart has grown brutal?"

An upcoming academic conference at York University in Toronto exploring the "one-state, bi-national solution" to the conflict was slammed last week by Gerald M. Steinberg, chair of the Department of Political Science at Bar Ilan University, for fueling "the vicious warfare and mass terror" against Israelis and Palestinians.

The decades-old ability of Zionist groups to manage the public narrative of Israeli victimhood is breaking down. Damning critics has therefore become a key method of control.

But, writes Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald, a leading Jewish-American blogger, "whereas these smear tactics once inspired fear in many people, now they just inspire pity. They no longer work."

He may be overly optimistic, but alternative Jewish voices are rising who are less concerned with being accused of "self-hatred" or treachery. They see it as their duty to damn what is wrong and not simply support Israeli government policies.

A thinking, more enlightened Judaism is emerging, a necessity in the face of apartheid realities. The cause is human rights, not Zionist exclusion.

Obama's recent speech in Cairo reflected the new Jewish consciousness. American Jews were certainly an intended audience because if it this group that must challenge their conservative spokespeople to undo years of following Likudnik thinking. As a candidate in 2008, the then Illinois senator said that, "there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."

Many Jews in the Diaspora have never imagined anything else; it's been an imagined Israel in their minds for decades. Lawless behavior in the occupied territories is ignored through willful ignorance. Tellingly, the most reliable information about these truths in the West is found online, through blogs and activist Web sites, and not generally in the mainstream media. The gate-keepers are clinging on to the Exodus myths for dear life.

Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal military occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza.

Jewish-American blogger Phil Weiss, who recently returned from the Strip, quoted a young Gazan saying in dismay: "We are being experimented on."

The Palestinian narrative is routinely ignored or dismissed in the U.S. and beyond. This must change quickly for any chance of peace to break out in the Middle East. However, peace without justice is guaranteed to fail.

After Obama's speech in Cairo, where which he almost acknowledged the Palestinian "Nakba" without mentioning it by name, most major Jewish-American groups reacted with caution.

The Anti-Defamation League said it was "disappointed that the President found the need to balance the suffering of the Jewish people in a genocide to the suffering of the Palestinian people resulting from Arab wars."

This was code for "Nakba"-denial, as pernicious as Holocaust revisionism.

But the liberal J Street lobby, still clinging to the delusion of a viable two-state solution and a "democratic, Jewish homeland," praised Obama's "active diplomacy" and claimed that the "overwhelming majority of American Jews" supported an end to the West Bank colonies.

Consistent polls suggest they are right, but the devil is in the detail. Is there real will to back the necessary steps, namely the removal of hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers in the West Bank?

Co-Author of The Israel Lobby, Stephen Walt, said recently that he couldn't understand why more American Jews didn't realize the cliff Israel was running toward. Did they not see that repression in the occupied territories had defined Israel in the eyes of the world? Perhaps apartheid didn't bother them. Out of sight and out of mind. Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech at Bar-Ilan University suggested he wasn't too fussed, either.

I recently attended the Salute to Israel parade in New York. Picture 100,000 American Jews marching to celebrate the state, waving flags in praise of the IDF. It was a thoroughly depressing affair. Palestinians didn't exist; they were invisible. The world's biggest public display of pro-Israel feeling had no room for 20 percent of the Israeli population (let alone the millions in the West Bank and Gaza.)

These events are actually a sign of desperate projection, not strength. Mainstream Zionism wants to completely shield Jews from the uncomfortable facts of the Israeli occupation and Palestinian self-determination. Jews were a proud people, a clever people and a victimized people. There was no time to indulge in frivolous Arab trivialities.

But facts have an uncomfortable way of seeping back into view. Colonel Itai Virob, an IDF brigade commander in the West Bank, recently told an Israeli court that, "a slap, sometimes a punch to the scruff of the neck or the chest, sometimes a knee jab or strangulation to calm somebody [a Palestinian] down is reasonable."

Where is the Jewish outrage over this?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Viva Refuseniks!

There are some moral people in 'the most moral army in the world' (but quite a few aren't):

A second IDF soldier has refused to continue following orders unless his complaints of violence toward Palestinians are investigated, Haaretz has learned. As with another infantry man from the same brigade - who was sentenced to 30 days in military prison last week after refusing to participate in his unit's operations in the territories - the second soldier, who can only be identified as A., came to his decision following a raid by the brigade's Haruv battalion in the village of Kifl Hares in the West Bank on March 26.

A. told his friends that soldiers from the platoon acted with unusual violence toward the residents of the village. "We were sent to look for firearms, but didn't find any weapons," the soldier said. "So we confiscated kitchen knives. But what I was most shocked about was the looting. One soldier took 20 shekels. Soldiers went into homes and looked for stuff to steal."

A. also told of an assault on a mentally handicapped civilian. "He was just shouting at soldiers but then one soldier decided to attack him, so they beat the hell out of him - riffle butt to the head".


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remember Aya, Mayar and Bessan

From Richard Silverstein:

Shortly after the shells hit their mark, Dr. Abu-Laish called Channel 10 begging for help. His cries, a father’s helpless cries live on the air are enough to rend the flesh and break the heart. For me, the Abu-Laish daughters should’ve been the Neda Aga Soltans of the Gaza war. The fact that they weren’t, but were rather a footnote and bit of collateral damage testifies to the hardened hearts of Israelis innured to 42 years of Palestinian (and Israeli) suffering and Occupation.

Dr. Abu-Laish has always been devoted to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He remains so, despite the bitterness of losing his three innocent children to an Israeli tank shell. Their death should shame every Israeli who does not do enough to oppose the policies that created that war.

A website memorializing Dr. Abu Laish’s children is a magnificent offering to anyone touched, horrified, or heartbroken by this story, as I was when I first saw the video footage of his call to newscaster Shlomi Eldar.

Israel wrestles with settler challenge

Here's the second part of the JTA's special report on radical settlers. First installment here.

TEL AVIV (JTA) -- When two top Israeli army commanders in the West Bank received threatening letters in early June, the suspects weren’t the army’s traditional enemies in the territory.

Instead, Israeli Jews angry about the army’s recent demolition of several illegal settlement outposts appeared to have sent the letters.

One compared the soldiers to Nazis, calling the officers "a gang of Jews with wretched souls, reminiscent of the Judenrat."

Another said, “We know where you live. We will get to both you and your family.”

The threats, along with the violence that has accompanied attempts to evacuate illegal settlement outposts, represent a growing concern for Israeli authorities.

Rampages by settlers against Palestinians, private property and Israeli security forces have brought into stark focus the problem Israel is likely to face as it moves to evacuate more illegal West Bank outposts and confront Jewish extremists. The challenge may become more acute in the months ahead due to new pressure from Washington to freeze Jewish settlement growth.

Though the radical settlers are small in number, cracking down on them has proven a difficult task for successive Israeli governments.

In recent years, the Israel Defense Forces’ demolitions of illegal outposts have been met at times with settler violence. More often than not, settlers have returned to rebuild their illegal outposts.

The conundrum for Israel is how to bring the lawlessness of radical settlers under control and end the cat-and-mouse game with settlers who return almost as soon as they’re evacuated by force.

Yizhar Beer, director of a watchdog group on extremism called Keshev, says the problem for authorities is that radical settlers use guerrilla tactics, spreading out and exhausting traditional forces.

"Being in many places necessitates facing off with them with a large amount of forces,” he said. “That's very difficult.”

Some blame a lack of political will. Successive Israeli prime ministers have failed to follow through on promises to demolish illegal outposts, and a 2005 government report by former state prosecutor Talia Sasson found that some $18 million in government funds had been directed toward illegal settlement building between 1996 and 2004.

Sasson found that regional councils in the West Bank were able to use funds from the Ministry of Housing and Construction to pave roads, connect water lines and hook up the outposts to local electricity grids by misleadingly earmarking the funds as infrastructure for new neighborhoods within existing settlements.

Sasson held responsible the World Zionist Organization’s settlement division and government bodies, including the Defense Ministry, which has overall responsibility for Israel’s West Bank presence.

A 2006 report by Peace Now found that 40 percent of Jewish settlement territory was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

"When people see there is no enforcement of law,” Sasson said, “they can take land that is not theirs and establish new settlements without government approval and build houses on them, and no one does anything afterward. They can come and hit and shoot Palestinians, and they see no one does anything about it.”

Sasson's report detailed how settlement supporters helped surreptitiously funnel government money into building outposts.

Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said things have changed recently on that issue.

“Today, where we can stop such actions we are doing our best to do so,” he said. “There was a lack of oversight in some places in the past, but in the past three years it has improved.”

Until recently, high-ranking police officials blamed a dearth of resources for the lack of law enforcement. But police now say they are better equipped: Last year the police established a headquarters in the West Bank for the first time, and there are more vehicles and personnel to effect rapid responses.

Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group that focuses on the West Bank, says one major problem of law enforcement is the rarity with which settlers who use violence against Palestinians or Israeli soldiers are prosecuted.

“Failing to stand firm and severely stem the growing stream of Jews and Israelis who have adopted violent modes of operation directed at innocents as a way to achieve political goals morally stains the State of Israel and constitutes a legal violation of the duties incumbent on us,” Michael Sfard, Yesh Din’s attorney, said in a letter sent in early June to the defense minister and top army officials.

Sfard blamed a lack of police resources for investigations.

There’s also a problem of intelligence gathering, say former officials of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency and Defense Ministry officials. Close knit, wary of outsiders and young -- the perpetrators of violence often are teenagers -- the radical settlers are difficult to infiltrate. Sometimes, when radical youths are arrested, they refuse even to give their national identification numbers to authorities.

“Theirs is an insular and inherently suspicious society,” Dror said. “Because they are driven by a fanatic ideology, it’s extremely difficult to convince members to pass on information.”

About 280,000 Jews live in the West Bank, many for reasons of convenience and economics rather than ideology. The largest settlements are filled with commuters to Israel, and the settlements offer the advantages of suburban life at a cost far cheaper than in Israel proper, thanks in large part to government subsidies.

Under international law, all of the settlements are considered illegal because they are built on land Israel captured from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War. Though Israel never annexed the territory, aside from eastern Jerusalem, Israel maintains that settlements authorized by its government are legal.

Israel views the West Bank as unassigned territory left over from the British Mandatory period whose final status has yet to be determined. The outposts, which are built without government authorization, are considered illegal by the government.

Israelis who live in the West Bank are subject to Israeli law. West Bank Palestinians come under Israeli jurisdiction for criminal or security matters, and mostly are under Palestinian jurisdiction for civil matters.

Despite tough talk by Israeli politicians past and present, action against the outposts has been sporadic.

When the government decided to aggressively confront the outposts by enforcing a Supreme Court order to demolish the Amona outpost in February 2006, the confrontation between settlers and police turned violent. Afterward, settlers launched a public campaign decrying police violence, and the Knesset formed a special committee to investigate the event.

Since Amona, no wide-scale evacuation of a larger outpost has taken place.

"We are talking about people who can be violent, so it's the job of the security service and intelligence community to make sure these people are watched closely and that they cannot take law into their own hands," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office.

Regev noted that the police and army presence in the West Bank has been increased and authorities more commonly issue temporary restraining orders barring those deemed dangerous from the West Bank.

"We cannot underestimate the threat posed by vigilante extremism,” Regev said. “We lost a prime minister to a bullet fired by an extremist Jew, and the threat has not subsided."

Most mainstream settler leaders take pains to distance themselves from radicalism. They say young violent settlers, known as hilltop youth, are beyond their control.

Pinchas Wallerstein, director of the Yesha Council settler umbrella group, said settler leaders are trying to be proactive about reining in the extremists by reaching out to young people, holding meetings and trying to draft a set of guidelines for behavior that would be endorsed by settler rabbis.

The message Yesha is trying to convey to youths, Wallerstein said, is that even though Israel carried out the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, “the State of Israel is important and we should try to fix mistakes from the inside and not become outsiders.”

He added, "Even though the state is not always right, breaking the rules is not going to change things."

Critics of Israel's 42-year presence in the West Bank say the occupation has fostered a Wild West, anything-goes approach to the law, with the result apparent in land grabs and physical assaults on Palestinians by both soldiers and civilians. This, they say, makes a crackdown against Israeli lawbreakers in the territories a challenge.

"When a society gets used to lawlessness being the norm, the abnormal becomes the norm,” said Dror Etkes of Yesh Din. “It's very hard to wake up from that and say let's change things now.”

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Likud Party, headed the Knesset's investigative committee on Amona’s evacuation.

"I think we are too liberal and we are ready to suffer what other democratic countries are not ready to tolerate,” he said.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The view from a West Bank hilltop

Special report from JTA.

HAVAT GILAD, West Bank (JTA) -- "The water is out again," Batsie Zar shouts to her husband, Itai, from the kitchen.

He quickly gets on his cell phone, trying to get one of the other young men in this isolated hilltop -- one of about 100 illegal settlement outposts across the West Bank -- to turn it back on.

If it's not the water, it's the creaky generator for electricity that fails, Itai Zar cheerfully complains as a pitched wind whistles against the window panes of his compact home in Havat Gilad. In the winter, a fire crackles in the wood stove Zar welded together himself to cook meals for the family.

On a hardscrabble patch of land on the edge of a steep cliff, Zar, whose tongue-in-cheek nickname is the Mukhtar of Havat Gilad -- “mukhtar” is Arabic for village head -- leads a band of radical, anti-state Jewish settlers known in Israel as the hilltop youth.

Several dozen have come to Havat Gilad -- Hebrew for Gilad Farm -- to study at the small yeshiva built here, to farm and take the struggle of their parents to settle the Land of Israel to another level. Critics, including some voices within the mainstream settler movement, say they pose a violent and dangerous threat to the future of Israeli democracy.

"Our youth understands that the state only understands force," Zar said, citing as an example the gains Bedouin Arabs were able to make by clashing with the Israeli army over evacuations from unauthorized villages in the Negev. The clashes have hampered government efforts to force out the Bedouin.

When a rumor spread late last month that Israeli security forces were about to evacuate Havat Gilad, Zar's comrades blocked nearby roads, threw stones at passing Palestinian cars, and reportedly set fire to nearby fields and olive groves owned by Palestinians. They ended up battling a blaze that crept up from the hills below their outpost toward the mobile homes of Havat Gilad -- they said it was set by local Palestinians in revenge.

During a quieter period, Zar walks through the outpost, past chicken coops, grazing horses and young men driving a tractor through a wheat field. He points out the new houses built here in the six years since he and his wife first came, setting up a home in a shipping container.

The army evacuated them once; they promptly returned. The outpost was built as an act of revenge, Zar said, for the shooting death of his brother, Gilad, on a nearby road in May 2001. His brother had been the head of security for Karnei Shomron, a West Bank settlement where the brothers grew up.

There is a rustic, almost Old West feeling to the outpost. Overlooking a Palestinian village, Havat Gilad is accessible only by a dirt path off the main road. At the entrance, a wooden Star of David built into a pair of wooden posts welcomes visitors. One of the posts bears a faded orange ribbon left over from the campaign in 2005 against Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Some of the outpost's scattering of homes are made of wooden siding. One even boasts a front porch. Another has a bright red roof.

The settlers here say they are proud they used Jewish labor to build their homes; most Jewish houses in the West Bank are built by Palestinian laborers. Private donations paid for their generators and water tanks.

Zar says an American Jewish donor provided $30,000 for initial infrastructure costs in Havat Gilad.

If an outpost is close enough to a major settlement, usually it will hook up to the larger settlement’s water lines. Some of Havat Gilad’s infrastructure was built by Amanah, the development company of the settlement movement. Until a few years ago, Amanah was funded by the Israeli government. Now it operates as an association and receives donations.

A 2005 government report on illegal outposts found that many had roads paved and other infrastructure built by government agencies, despite their illegality, usually when local municipalities misrepresented where the government funding was going.

At the Shir LaMelech yeshiva at Havat Gilad, Avi Lezer, 26, pauses from his text study to consider his position on the State of Israel.

"What is there to believe in? The government is a tool and it had great potential, but now it's broken down," said Lezer, his honey-colored hair falling in side curls framing a long, narrow face.

Outside the yeshiva, some younger students speak with resolute voices. They say they stand for a new path, unflinching and messianic.

"Our parents have their heads still in the Galut," said one, a tall, square-framed 20-year-old named Ariel Perelman, referring to a Diaspora mentality. "They agree with us, but they don't have time to make revolutions."

Yediah Shoam, 19, said, "We are in a war for the Land of Israel, and yeah, we'd shoot. I'm both kidding and not kidding. We need to prevent evacuations, and war is war."

During the Gaza evacuation of 2005, Shoam said, he was in the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza -- one of hundreds of West Bank youth that poured in to protest and, they hoped, thwart the evacuation. He said he was shocked that Israeli security forces were able to carry out what he considered unimaginable.

For some of Shoam's comrades, that led to disillusionment not just with the state but with Israeli democracy itself. Many settlers had voted for Ariel Sharon and later, in a Likud Party referendum in 2004, against his withdrawal plan. But the withdrawal from Gaza was carried out anyway.

"We are now a different generation,” Shoam said. “We want the government to be afraid because if they are, maybe there won't be any more evacuations.”

It was after the Gaza evacuation, Zar says, that his outlook hardened. Beforehand he was clean shaven and wore a small, knitted kipah -- standard fare for a young man who grew up in the religious-Zionist settler community. But afterward, and with the arrival of the yeshiva at the outpost, Zar grew a beard and started wearing the large knit kipah that has become the trademark of the more fervent settlers.

His new outfit fit in with the culture of the new yeshiva, which identified with Bratslaver Chasidism.

Zar has a factory at the edge of Havat Gilad where he makes aluminum siding for trailer homes in the West Bank that have become ubiquitous as new settlements have cropped up.

He says he feels connected with Israel’s founders even as he feels alienated from what the Jewish state has become.

"I like to read about the pioneers,” Zar said, referring to the secular Jewish immigrants who settled prestate Palestine and are mythologized in Israel for working the land and forging a new society. “I feel myself to be close to them. Perhaps we are even more of pioneers than they were.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

British Stars Sing For Palestinian Refugee Children

... is the rather clunky title of this LookTotheStars announcement:

Dozens of British celebrities were out in force at the Cafe de Paris in London last night for the annual Hoping’s Got Talent charity karaoke event.

Judged by Kate Moss and X Factor’s Louis Walsh, the event raised money for the Hoping Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to showing Palestinian refugee children that their struggle to transform their lives is encouraged and supported by people in Britain and throughout the rest of the world.

The evening attracted a plethora of British entertainers, including Lily Allen, Guy Ritchie, David Walliams, Jeremy Clarkson, Sienna Miller, Jemima Khan, Will Young, Tracey Emin, Shane MacGowan and socialite Kimberly Stewart. Lost’s Matthew Fox also made an appearance.

Last year’s event raised £319,000 for the charity, and featured Gwyneth Paltrow2007’s event featured Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and Bryan Adams. singing “Killing Me Softly”.

The Hoping Foundation provides grants to community projects working with children in Palestinian refugee camps

Yep, it's all good...

H/T Mondoweiss (with a tad more background info).

Some Jewish settlers turning against Israel

JTA Special Report.

YITZHAR, West Bank (JTA) -- The Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in this Jewish settlement looks more like a well-fortified auto repair shop than a house of learning.

Located in an industrial neighborhood, the yeshiva has a drab aluminum exterior and tin roof, and it’s surrounded by a metal gate. A small guard house sits out front, and teenage boys wearing oversized, thick-knit kipot walk in and out of the gate and past a lonely basketball hoop.

Appearances notwithstanding, these students and their teachers have become the face of radical Jewish nationalism in Israel.

They are a key part of a movement of settler youth, rabbis, leaders and supporters determined to hold onto the West Bank at any cost. Located mostly in isolated corners of the West Bank like Yitzhar, radicals represent a small but vocal and increasingly violent constituency of the Jewish settler movement.

Radical settlers rampage against Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, sometimes hiding their faces behind black ski masks or scarves. Confident they are following the word of God, they call for a Torah-based theocracy that they say will one day triumph over the State of Israel.

Unlike most settlers, these youths mostly eschew serving in the Israel Defense Forces, which they consider criminal for its evacuation of Jews from Gaza in 2005. Mostly second-generation settlers whose fathers had considered IDF service an automatic rite of passage, these radicals have largely turned against a state they view as having betrayed its core principles.

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, a teacher at Od Yosef Chai, says Israel has lost its way with its willingness to cede parts of the Land of Israel, the Jews’ biblical birthright.

“To put faith in the state is not the right way to go,” he said.

Ariel is a disciple of the charismatic St. Louis-born head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg. Considered a spiritual heir to the late Meir Kahane, Ginzburg gained notoriety -- and some jail time -- in 1994 after penning an article praising Baruch Goldstein's killing of 29 Muslim worshipers in Hebron.

Ginzburg preaches a messianic brand of Judaism that views Jews as superior beings and violent revenge attacks on Arabs as justified by the Torah. He is one of a small group of rabbis who provides the theological and ideological underpinnings for radical settlers.

The foot soldiers in the movement are youths who grow up or study in places like Yitzhar. Some go on to seize and establish illegal outposts on lone West Bank hilltops.

Like its predecessors, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has taken limited steps to dismantle the illegal outposts -- notably in the weeks since Netanyahu’s meeting with President Obama in May -- but the youths return almost as soon as they are forcibly evacuated. Officially, at least, the government has committed to dismantling all such outposts.

Radicals often are dismissed as rogue, fringe elements by the mainstream settler movement, and their precise number is unknown. But radical settlers’ acts of vigilante violence against Palestinians and, increasingly, against Israeli security forces, have fueled debate inside Israel about the settler movement as a whole and about the threat radical settlers pose to the state -- in part because the mainstream settler leadership has not come out forcefully against them.

Roy Sharon, a journalist for Israel’s daily Ma’ariv who covers the settlers, says the division within the settler movement about how to deal with the radicals is not about principle -- all believe in the unalienable right of settling the Land of Israel -- but about practice: how exactly to achieve that aim.

“The Yesha Council” -- the main settler umbrella body -- “thinks that it is not the right time to build and settle on all of the Land of Israel, but the radicals think there is no such thing as the ‘right’ timing and there is no need to take into account politics and policies," Sharon said.

Dror Etkes, who works for an Israeli group called Yesh Din that promotes Palestinian rights in the West Bank, estimated that there are up to 1,000 active radicals. Posters hung in recent days at bus stops across the West Bank calling on supporters to "defend" against evacuation of West Bank outposts say there are 2,000 people living in 26 outposts. The West Bank has about 280,000 Jewish settlers in all, not including those who live in eastern Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

"I feel the state has separated itself from me and is no longer going according to God's will," said Moshe Fumberg, 16, who studies at a yeshiva at an illegal outpost near Yitzhar.

Fumberg’s friends boast that they represent a new, bolder generation of Jewish settlers ready to use violence to keep West Bank Jews in their homes.

"We want them to be afraid of us because maybe then there won't be any more evacuations," one of Fumberg's friends said of Israeli security forces charged with evacuating illegal outposts.

Geographically isolated, the youths consume alternative media, including newspapers, Web sites, radio stations and synagogue pamphlets, that feed into their sense of alienation and betrayal. In their synagogues, rabbis rail against cooperating with a government that supports West Bank withdrawals.
"If the State of Israel is criminal and a sinner, then the role of true believers is to correct its ways,” explains Motti Inbari, author of the upcoming book “Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount.” “This is pushing people into radicalization and into the idea of a post-Zionist state.”

Over the last year and a half, radical settlers seem to have upped the ante. They have defaced Muslim tombstones, set fire to Palestinian olive groves, assaulted Palestinians, slashed tires of IDF vehicles and thrown acid at Israeli soldiers.

It’s all part of a strategy the radicals call “price tag,” which aims to greet every move by the government against illegal settlements with mayhem and violence. Radical youth, encouraged by a small number of veteran settler leaders, are at the forefront of this effort.

Via text messages and with special phone lists, they spread plans for specific activities. Sometimes the message is as simple as three words: "Price tag now." Settler violence quickly follows.

There is no apparent centralized leadership in the radical settler movement, which by its nature is somewhat anarchic. Among its most outspoken proponents, however, are figures such as Daniella Weiss, the former head of the Kedumim settlement, Hebron’s Baruch Marzel and Nadia Matar, head of Women in Green.

Both Matar and Weiss head groups that signed onto the posters calling on settlers to defend the outposts. Matar, who says she is against violence, said she understands why the youth have decided to “fight back.”

“They have seen the adults capitulate -- their rabbis and teachers and parents who tell them to turn the other cheek,” she said. “There is rebellion of youth who are sick and tired of seeing the adults caving in and letting the government trample us. The more adults show real leadership and stick to our principles, the less they will feel a need to rebel.”

Then there are the rabbis like Ginzburg and their followers.

Neriah Ofan, 36, counts himself as a Ginzburg disciple. Ofan, who lives in a house surrounded by cypress trees with his wife and six children in a small outpost near Yitzhar, has caught the eye of Israeli security.

Two separate court orders barred him from being in the West Bank for several months. Part of a committee that called on soldiers to defy evacuation orders, he spent time in administrative detention during the Gaza withdrawal. He also leads a group that holds marches around the walls of Jerusalem's Old City every month, according to an ancient tradition.

Ofan cuts a stark figure, with jet black beard contrasting with a pair of bright blue eyes that seem to flash when he speaks of his hopes for a Jewish kingdom.

"I think the state of today is mostly of the past. Only a miracle could save it for the future," he says in his dining room. "It's heading into oblivion because it has not connected with the Jewish people."
Stepping outside, he peers at the view behind his house, a steep drop overlooking the terraced hillsides beyond. In the distance, there is another outpost that, like his, was erected illegally.
Ofan says he’s not too concerned about being evacuated.

With the afternoon sun shining on his face, Ofan admires the view.

"I think God chose a good and beautiful land for us,” he says.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jackie Rowland on Jerusalem Settlers

UK: lift the control order on Mahmoud Abu Rideh immediately

Last night on Press TV's 'Remember the Children of Palestine', the excellent Lauren Booth (sister-in-law of Tony Blair, of all people) dedicated the first part of the segment to the plight of Mahmoud Abu Rideh, a plight that's been taken up by Amnesty International UK.

Amnesty International - take direct action:

Lawyers for Mahmoud Abu Rideh, a Palestinian refugee who is subject to an indefinite 'control order' imposed by the UK authorities, have told Amnesty that there is a real risk he will commit suicide if the control order is not lifted or if he is not provided with travel documentation to leave the UK.

His mental and physical health have been severely damaged by years of persecution at the hands of the UK authorities and he is often unable to move without using a wheelchair.

Mahmoud Abu Rideh has been charged with several alleged breaches of his control order, but with no substantive terrorism-related offences.

He has not been able to see or challenge much of the material on which the government alleges that he is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity. He remains on bail, as his prosecution for any alleged breaches of the control order relies on a forthcoming decision on legal issues around the control order regime itself.

Sara MacNeice, Amnesty's Campaign Manager for Terrorism, Security and Human Rights, spent some time talking to Mahmoud Abu Rideh. Listen to a full interview here

Find out more and sign a letter or email to the Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP - Home Secretary, Secretary of State for the Home Department

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If I had been Binyamin Netanyahu…

... is the title of Alex Stein's latest Falsedi post. If you're heavily into the Two Sate solution (personally I'm seriously in two minds about that, but the decision to accept partitioning ultimately lies with the Palestinians), this should really be your ticket. As far as a speech made by a living Israeli PM would go, this would have been more groundbreaking than both Obama's Turkey and Cairo speeches combined. It's rather a pleasure to read and quite compelling in terms of arguments, at least from a Two Stater perspective. Do read it.

Alex also had the piece crossposted at
Harry's Place, under the auspices of contributor 'Your View'. And this is where the hilarity/tragedy starts: in the comment section.

Previous 'centrist Zionist' pieces of Alex posted at HP didn't exactly get that friendly a reaction either but this one appears to have taken the biscuit in terms of virulently opposing views. I don't even really know where to start, considering the Ziopotters this time really did exceed themselves in throwing up bile.

A mixture of Naqba denial, 'the Palis don't really exist', plain old ad hominem insults and virtually not a shred of support for Alex' words (with the exception of commenter Gabriel) is the only way to describe the Potters' reaction to this alternative speech.

I hate to say this (to Alex) but if these commenters are the face of modern Zionism then the movement is in trouble. More centrist (for want of a better term) Zionists may dispute how representative the Ziopotters are of the entire movement but much of these comments chime in with ultra-Zio comments made on Ha'aretz (for instance), IMHO.

In another one of David T.'s posts on I-P I brought up From Time Immemorial and got laughed at. Funny that, Mrs Peters' spirit seems alive and well among some of these people...

One priceless bit from IsraeliNurse (who also posts at Mad Mel Phlips - The Spectator):

"I hope so Alex -not for political reasons, but because the secret to successful absorption into Israeli society -which is what I wish you - is to be able to gradually cast off what one was before and to begin to think not like an Englishman living in Israel, but like an Israeli."

You haven't been indoctrinated enough Alex, that's your problem! Lower your Londini resistance and successful absorption into New Israel will be your reward. You'll be talking like the next Benjamin Yahoo in no time! No more silly speeches anymore, just plain old Iron Wall!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oh no! Fox Noise does an honest day's worth of reporting!

And on an anti-Zionist issue! But it did involve some semi-nudity, always a boon for the puritans of Fox (a clever ploy by the protesters? - we report, you decide...)

Bikini-Clad Activists Crash Tel Aviv Beach Party

Bikini-clad activists from the women's group CODEPINK covered themselves in mud and stood outside the Israeli Ministry of Tourism's Tel Aviv Beach party in Central Park on Sunday.

El Al Israel Airlines turned the bandshell into Israel's mediterranean beach to celebrate Tel Aviv's 100th Anniversary and the first day of summer.

The beach was complete with games, tanning spots, and a rock concert.

The protest grabbed attention as they chanted, "Tel Aviv - you can't hide, we can see your dirty side!" CODEPINK states the mud they covered themselves in was to represent the "dirty policies Irsrael holds towards Palestine."

Holding pink umbrellas outside the artificial Tel Aviv Beach, the women held signs that read, "Say no to Israel's war crimes."

The Tel Aviv Beach Party was sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in New York, Israel Ministry of Tourism, Israel Government Tourist Office in New York, and the Tel Aviv-Yafo Centennial Administration.

Israel selling off private Palestinian property

Last night's Al Jazeera on Israel selling off "Palestinian absentees" [cough!] property...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

On the Occasion of World Refugee Day

Displacement from Ramle, 1948.

Statistics released by UN agencies on the occasion of the 2009 World Refugee Day testify to the fact that Palestinian refugees are the largest and longest standing refugee population world wide. They lack access to just solutions and reparations, including return, because Israel and western governments continue to deny or belittle the scope of the problem and make no effort to respect and implement relevant international law and best practice.

According to a forthcoming Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons for the years 2007-2008 produced by Badil, at least 7.6 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced since 1948 as a consequence of Israel's systematic policies and practices of colonization, occupation and apartheid. That figure represents 71 percent of the entire worldwide population of 10.6 million Palestinians. Only 28.7 percent of all Palestinians have never been displaced from their homes. (click here for information pdf)

The great majority of the displaced (6.2 million people - 81.5 percent) are Palestinian refugees of 1948 (the Nakba), who were ethnically cleansed in order to make space for the state of Israel and their descendants. This figure includes 4.7 million Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations (UNRWA) at the end of 2008. The second major group (940,000 – 12.5%) are Palestinian refugees of 1967, who were displaced during the 1967 Arab-Israel war and their descendants.

More attention and concern should be given to the phenomenon of forced displacement of Palestinians because it is ongoing.

Steadily growing populations of internally displaced Palestinians (IDPs) are the result of ongoing forced displacement in Israel (approximately 335,000 IDPs since 1948) and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967 (approximately 120,000 IDPs since 1967). Badil's Survey identifies a set of distinct, systematic and widespread Israeli policies and practices which induce ongoing forced displacement among the indigenous Palestinian population, including deportation and revocation of residency rights, house demolition, land confiscation, construction and expansion of Jewish-only settlements, closure and segregation, as well as threats to life and physical safety as a result of military operations and harassment by racist Jewish non-state actors. Israeli governments implement these policies and practices in order to change the demographic composition of certain areas (“Judaization”) and the entire country for the purpose of colonization.

Data about the scope of ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians is illustrative and indicative, because there is no singular institution or agency mandated and resourced to ensure systematic and sustained monitoring and documentation. The total number of persons displaced in 2007 – 2008 is unknown. UN agencies, however, confirm that 100,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes in the occupied Gaza Strip at during Israel's military operation at the end of the year; that 198 communities in the OPT currently face forced displacement; and that 60,000 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are at risk of having their home demolished by Israel.

The Palestinian refugee question has remained unresolved and forced displacement continues, because Western governments and international organizations have been complicit in Israel's illegal policy and practice of population transfer and have failed to protect the Palestinian people. Indicators of the severe gaps existing in the protection of Palestinian refugees and IDPs are seen in the recent crises in Iraq - where thousands of Palestinian refugees became stranded on the Jordanian/Syrian and Iraqi borders, Lebanon - where 27,000 Palestinians refugees of the Naher al-Bared camp are still waiting to return to their 2007 destroyed camp, and Gaza - where over 1,400 Palestinians were killed and 100,000 displaced, most of them 1948 refugees).

On this World Refugees Day, Badil calls upon all those concerned with justice, human rights and peace to:

Challenge Israel's racist notion of the “Jewish state” and immediately halt its practices of displacement, dispossession and colonization;

Strengthen the global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in order to ensure that Israel other states become accountable to international law and respect their obligations;

Improve the mechanism of international protection so that all Palestinians receive effective protection from, during and after forced displacement, including the right to return as part of durable solutions and reparation;

Ensure that the Palestinian refugee question is treated in accordance with international law and UN resolutions in future peace negotiations, including return and reparation.

Source: Umkahlil.

Friday, June 19, 2009

YouTube bans 'Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem'

H/T Richard Silverstein

Blumenthal's YouTube 'Feeling the Hate In Jerusalem' has apparently been taken down and Max has now moved it to Vimeo:

Feeling The Hate In Jerusalem -- The Censored Video from Max Blumenthal on Vimeo.

And now, coincidence or not, I'm getting a 404 on Blumenthal's post on the matter...

Jewish Voice for Peace is organising a petition asking to reinstate the video. Send your email here.

VIDEO: Border Police upload footage of their abuse of Palestinians to YouTube


Border Policemen have filmed themselves abusing and humiliating Palestinians in videos they have posted on YouTube over the past year.

In one clip uploaded to the video sharing website an Arab youth is shown in arid terrain, slapping himself, while a voice is heard instructing him to say "I love you, Border Police," and "I will f**k you, Palestine," in Arabic. The victim is forced to respond to everything he is ordered to do, to the raucous laughter of the cameraman and his friends, all Border Policemen.

In another video, a Palestinian is seen sitting inside a vehicle reciting the words "One Hummus and one ful [cooked broad beans], I love you Border Police" (which rhymes in Hebrew), while applause and shouting is heard in the background.

In most of the videos the faces of Border Policemen are not shown and the locations of where they were filmed is unclear.

Forcing Palestinians to sing is a common occurrence and is perceived by Border Policeman as quite humorous, it has emerged from recent Haaretz interviews with Border policemen.

Mad Mel Phlips' stroke must now be imminent. And the YouTube video has been taken down. Quelle surprise.

Update: new version available from Blip TV

In other news: Viva Brazil! Brazilian soccer teams won't play in Israel...

We DON’T NEED the Love


The emphasis wasn't mine, BTW. But wow! Now who would write such a thing? A resident of the former Palestinian village of Sderot? Palestinians of Gaza or some refugee camp in Lebabon?

No, this is how Iranian blogger Pedestrian from the rather delectably looking SideWalkLyrics blog concluded one of her last posts on, well, whatever is actually going on in the Islamic Republic of Iran... (I found the blog previously on the blog roll of my resident Zionist Emmanuel Schiff - Breaking News: world finds use for Zionism!)

A few things this blogger doesn't like:


The baseless gossip twirling around on Twitter, facebook and the main stream media.

Of course, if the state-sponsored radio and television in Iran had an OUNCE of integrity, none of these outlets would have been at all relevant to begin with.

Last night, both Reza Aslan (on CNN) and NIAC (on their own blog) declared via their own VERY questionable “sources” that “Some of my sources in Iran have told me that Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who is the head of the Assembly of Experts — the eighty-six member clerical body that decides who will be the next Supreme Leader, and is, by the way, the only group that is empowered to remove the Supreme Leader from power — that they have issued an emergency meeting in Qom. ”

My cousins in Iran have told me the same thing, so I’m not sure what sort of sources Aslan is quoting here.

These extremely baseless rumors have been going around the internet for days now, but to have a self-proclaimed “scholar” on CNN regurgitate this bullshit is the last straw. Since he uttered those statements, that bit of rumor has not left the Huffintong Post headlines or my facebook newsfeed.

In my facebook, there are also numerous obscure and vague photos of blood and gore. I am not talking about the CONFIRMED atrocities! But just to give you an example, one photo album that was being spread around, I was able to identify as one I’d seen six years ago after the earthquake in Bam.

English Banners, References to Color-Coded Revolutions
Why are people in Iran holding so many English banners? I know why! They do that all the time, even in annual pro-government demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the revolution. The same reason all stores, from Tehran to my hometown of Dezful, have English banners instead of Persian ones. But we’ve never noticed it. Now, it is just too reminiscent of other color-coded revolutions.

And lastly, THE LUURRRVE:

Where she praises the outstanding Glen Greenwald (his Salon post is a must-read, IMHO), fisks Robert Fisk and slaps Brian Williams and Seumas Milne. Obviously he couldn't have watched Mr Pomp, Martin - I don't know fuck all either but they pay me to blather on so here goes - Amis, on last night's This Week (BBC 1). Oh, and The Economist gets a good roasting too...

Having by now read a trillion syllables on the Iran (vote rigging/popular revolt/revolutionette/swing towards Americanism/battle between the Towelheads/'reformist' Mousavi/'dictator' Ahmadinejad/George "the scab" Galloway/Islamic Nazis - delete according to irrelevant Western perspective) situation it's hard to escape the impression that Iran is a black box onto which each Westerner projects his own deeply rooted prejudices, according to their own perspectives (Left, Right, Eustonite, Zio, American, Islamophobic etc). Meanwhile in the black box, stuff and information goes in one end, stuff and information comes out the other end and we just don't know what happens inside of it...

Oh, and will they now? Will they what? Shut the fuck up? Nah, will they fuck...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Galloway bashing by Harry's Place

Harry's Place's favourite pass time is bashing George Galloway. That's mainly if not only because Galloway is a staunch anti-Zionist, capable of organising convoys of aid to Gaza, like the recent Viva Palestina UK convoy and the planned equivalents from the US, Venezuela and Russia - whereas the Potters couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery.

So this time its Lucy Lips' (in all likelihood a pseudonym for David Toube, HP's Big Smurf) turn with a ludicrous piecette on Ahmadinejad's suit. Galloway, almost entirely correctly, apparently has exclaimed:

[Ahmadinejad] lives like them, looks like them - he’s never worn a suit since becoming president

And boy, does David T. bang Georgeous George to rights! He's found a photie, a photie of Ahmadinejad wearing a SUIT!

In David's words: "So we’ve established the accuracy of that assertion."

He's right, isn't he? Galloway: liar, liar, pants on fire, matey boy!


David T. then gets slightly nastier but a whole lot lazier. George also said:

I’ve said many times that Ahmadinejad’s comments about the Holocaust are a disgrace.

David T. then questions the 'many times' part of George's rightful claim by means of a google search for 'holocaust disgrace' which turns up nothing vis-à-vis Galloway. NOTHING, I tell thee!

Well, as commenter John Houghton (steady on John, they don't like dissent at Potters Hill) put it nicely:


Galloway on a number of occasions on his radio show has said that he is not a supporter of the Iranian regime, and deplores Ahmadinejads views on the Holocaust.

Implying that because you can't find it on Google that it hasn't happened is just silly. And lazy.

Now let me put you out of your misery, David T., I watch Press TV's Galloway segments Comment and The Real Deal frequently (in fact whenever I can) and would testify under oath that George makes such comments about Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial more than just frequently, in fact almost always when the subject matter turns to Ahmadinejad. There isn't the slightest shred of doubt about Galloway's disgust for Mr A.'s position on that point. Got it?

And whilst I'm at it, since as you and your band of spineless Ziotrolls also believe Galloway's an anti-Semite, his Comment show does unfortunately attract the occasional anti-Semite, live shows tend to have that kind of disadvantage. But rarely will you see Galloway so worked up than when he deals with these ignoramuses. How often? Frequently and whenever one of them shows up.

Or are you gonna call me a liar too, David?

Truth and Liberty at Harry's Place? My arse...