GENEVA (29 November 2010)– The Special Rapporteur Richard Falk urged the United Nations and the international community to draft a new protocol of international humanitarian law to address the situation of prolonged occupation and refugee status imposed upon the Palestinian people for over 43 years of Israeli occupation.
A new report, “Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade” has just been published by an impressive international coalition of development, human-rights and peace-building organisations. It consists of Amnesty International UK, Broederlijk Delen, Cafod, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Christian Aid, Church of Sweden, Cordaid, Diakonia, Europe-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EUHRN), Handicap International, ICCO, IKV Pax Christi, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Medico International, Merlin, MS Action Aid Denmark, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Quaker Council for European Affairs, Oxfam International, Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT ), Redd Barna, Save the Children UK, Trocaire and UCP. We reproduce its conclusions here.
A report from the Palestinian General Delegation on recent assaults and attacks on Palestinians under occupation. The latest incidents include a seven-year old being brutally beaten; a Jordan valley village bulldozed; destruction of agricultural facilities, of a mosque, of family housing, of a road. And much more…
The occupation continues marked on a daily basis by the petty vindictiveness of so many in its police and armed forces; Jonathan Cook, drawing on more than a decade of reporting experience takes a long, critical look at how and why the media so frequently fails to represent the conflict accurately, and how Israel intervenes to control the message; former Prime Minister Rabin’s son Yuval tries to launch a new Israeli Peace initiative; Uri Avnery looks at the development of religious Orthodoxy and the national-religious sector in Israel over the decades – and doesn’t like what he sees; Bradley Burston reports on the emotional divestment of American Jews from Israel; the cat is fluttering among the pigeons in Britain, following Mick Davis of the UJIA saying it was not just OK, but necessary, to debate Israel openly within the Jewish community; all this and much else besides in this week’s postings. Click on the heading above for a detailed summary.
Uri Avnery writes about how Zionism was, “among other things, a secular nationalist rebellion against the Jewish religion”. But the failure to separate religion and state, Ben-Gurion’s cooption of the “national-religious” camp with the establishment of its own separate educational system, and the emergence of Gush Emunim (the Bloc of the Faithful) following the occupation, has changed all that. Today we have a virtual fusion of the Orthodox and the national-religious into one bloc bearing little resemblance to the Orthodox or the Reform models of the diaspora. “It must be said: the Jewish religion in Israel is a mutation of Judaism, a tribal, racist, extreme nationalist and anti-democratic creed”…
Jonathan Cook provides a lengthy account, based on personal experience, of how the ‘story’ coming out of Israel has been controlled over time by a mixture of censorship and veiled threat running right through to the common reality where journalists have lost sight of, or have no awareness of, the fact that they are purveying one-sided and distorted accounts of reality, not balanced interpretation. The article is long, but important. It should be widely circulated and discussed.
Yuval Rabin and Koby Huberman produce an Israeli Peace Initiative (IPI) response to the Arab Peace Initiative (API) proposals of 2002: “The IPI should articulate Israel’s own long-term vision, to be achieved after successful and gradual implementation of all permanent status agreements. Publishing such an IPI would demonstrate a transformational shift in Israel’s strategy, realizing that only by ending the regional Arab-Israel conflict will Israel achieve its fundamental interests, attain its security goals and eliminate existential threats. Such a vision should also demonstrate that these long-term fundamental interests (such as security, identity and acceptance in the region) are achievable in accordance with the API core concepts, with bridgeable gaps…”
For once it’s worth reading the Jewish Chronicle!
Last week we reported on Mick Davis’s call for critical debate in the Jewish community, under the title “A dam has burst…” This week it’s all Lord Kalms’s fingers to the dyke! “Mick Davis’s recent comments show a startling lack of leadership and sense. Everybody is entitled to their opinion but can anybody really hold a straight face and say the UK Jewish community is unwilling to criticise Israel?”
But Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Lord Janner and others are much more receptive…
Ameinu, a supposedly liberal Jewish organisation in the United States, regards Jewish Voice for Peace as beyond the pale. Jeremiah Haber questions Ameinu’s liberal credentials…
An Early Day Motion from Richard Burden draws attention to the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and calls on the government to “remind Israel that the continuation of trade and other preferences under the EU-Israeli Association Agreement is dependent on it implementing its own obligations to respect the human rights of Palestinians and to uphold international law”.
Expert and witness presentations for the London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine on the question of Corporate Complicty, are now available online.
On 18 October 2010, boy from Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, was grabbed by three men in civilian clothes, tied up and taken to al-Mascobiyya interrogation centre for questioning. He was 10-years old. The accusation – throwing stones – wasn’t even true…
Israel is strangling Palestinian football, refusing to allow players to leave Gaza to join the national team and refusing the national team permission to travel to its fixtures. Sporting and other clubs and societies in Gaza write to Michel Platini, head of Uefa, reminding him of his recent critical words: “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.” They call on him and Uefa to suspend Israel’s participation in European football until its racist policies are ended and it abides by international law.
Bradley Burston, in the States on a tour for J Street writes: “This is what I was to see in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Marin County, Portland and Seattle. It’s not that they’re getting involved in significant numbers in the divestment movement. It’s that American Jews are divesting emotionally. They are quietly – but in terms of impact, dramatically – withdrawing altogether.
Not just Jews. Americans..”
And Burston concludes, in Part 2, now added to this posting: “BDS is a symptom. Flotillas are a symptom. Emotional divestment from Israel is a symptom. Occupation is the disease.”
The Elders are an independent group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace- building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu (Chair). Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are honorary Elders.
The US is attempting to bribe Netanyahu to remain at the negotiating table by offering an extra $3 billion of arms and security incentives and a guarantee to veto criticism of Israel in the security Council – in return for a measly 90-day extension of the settlement freeze (excluding East Jerusalem); meanwhile the Palestinian economy is dying; Peace Now is providing a fig-leaf for Liebermann; the Britain Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group visited Gaza and didn’t like what it saw; the Museum of “Tolerance” is set to go ahead on the foundations of an ancient Muslim cemetery; Israel rates low on any scale of religious tolerance; sections of UK Jewry’s Zionist establishment finally seem to have had enough and call for criticism of Israel to be voiced freely throughout the community… For links to these stories and more, click on the heading above.
In October Archbishop Desmond Tutu appealed to the Cape Town’s renowned opera troupe to cancel a performance of Porty and Bess in Israel in November. The opera company refused and the performance went ahead – with a highly creative flashmob protest in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, in South Africa the Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein wrote an Open letter to Tutu saying there was ‘no apartheid in Israel’. Allan Boesak & Farid Esack responded.
Kieron Monks provides a strong critique of aid to Palestine which he characterises as ‘not sustainable development [but...] a permanent life-support system’, a critique he applies both to UNWRA support and widespread foreign aid more generally which is presiding over – and contributing to – a devastating collapse of the Palestinian economy.
Industrial free trade zones similar to those in Egypt and Jordan are planned for the West Bank as part of the peace process nominally underway between Israel and the Palestinians. The zones will bring jobs and economic development to the Palestinians, the logic goes, soothing the economic grievances that might otherwise stand in the way of a comprehensive deal.
Sam Bahour argues that, to the contrary, these “Economic Prison Zones” will reinforce Palestinian economic dependence on Israel while diverting labor and resources from more promising development venues.
Uri Avnery inveighs against those liberal Zionists, like Shlomo Avineri who sees no fascist tendencies in Israel and the leaders of Peace Now who act, he argues, as fig leaves legitimising Lieberman and the Netanyahu administration.