Website policy


We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.
_____________________

BSST

BSST is the leading charity focusing on small-scale grass roots cross community, anti poverty and humanitarian projects in Israel/Palestine
____________________

JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

_____________________

Posts

Worst thing that happened this week: Lady Ashton spoke of tragedy of children dying

Index to 10 articles in this posting
1. Attack on Ashton, Ynet;
2. Ashton disgrace’, Matthew Mainen;
3.  Ashton praises UNWRA  JPost blog;
4. Toulouse remarks distorted UKPA news report
5. Israeli backlash, Haaretz;
6. News analysis Israeli response Financial Times;
7. Her remarks in context Wall Street Journal;
8. EU issues corrected version AFP
9. Why blame Catherine Ashton? Adam Keller;
10. Bibi, Ashton went easy on you +972




FM: Ashton’s Toulouse-Gaza comparison inappropriate


Lieberman blasts EU’s foreign affairs commissioner’s remarks equating attack on Jewish schoolchildren in France to IAF operations in Gaza; says she should ‘worry about Israeli children who live under constant fear of Gaza rockets’

Moran Azulay, Ynet news
20.03.12

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman leveled harsh criticism Tuesday against EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton over her comparison of the terror attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, to the situation in Gaza, calling them “inappropriate.”

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of Palestinian youths in Brussels on Monday, Ashton said: “When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places.”

Lieberman, who is on official visit to China, said he “hopes Ashton will retract her statement.”

“Israel is the most moral country in the world and despite the fact that it has to fight terrorist who operate from within civilian population, the IDF makes every effort possible not to harm that population, despite their defense of the terrorists.

“No army is as ethical as the Israeli army,” he continued. “The IDF risks its soldiers’ lives in order to minimize risk to civilian population. The children Ashton should be worried about are those living in southern Israel, who are in constant fear of Gaza rocket fire.”

Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni (Kadima) echoed Lieberman’s sentiment, calling Ashton’s comments “misguided, wrong and outrageous. The demand that she retracts her statement is right.

“A hate crime or a leader butchering his people cannot be compared to a state’s fight against terror, even if civilians are hurt in that fight.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak vigorously condemned the statements as well, saying:
“The comparison made by Ashton between events in Gaza, Toulouse and Syria is outrageous and disconnected from reality.

“The IDF is operating in Gaza with the utmost care in order to prevent hurting the innocent. I hope the EU foreign affairs commissioner realizes her mistake quickly and retracts her statements,” he said.

The attack on Ozar Hatorah School, which is believed to be the work of neo-Nazis, claimed the lives of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons Gabriel and Arieh and 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of school headmaster Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego.



The Ashton disgrace

Europe’s foreign policy chief shows disturbing pattern of obsessive anti-Israel bias
Matthew Mainen, Ynet Op-Ed
21.03.12

On Monday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton assault on France’s Ozar Hatorah Jewish School to “what is happening in Gaza,” equating tragic collateral damage stemming from Israel’s self-defense with terrorism. Even at a time of such sorrow for the Jewish people, her obsessive bias against Israel shines through. This is part of a pattern, best reflected by her selective attention to hunger strikes.

On February 21 senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike, the longest in Palestinian history. Adnan’s hunger strike was spurned in protest of his indefinite detention by Israel, a controversial but legal mechanism also used by the United States to prevent security threats and sensitive information from leaking out in the trials of enemy combatants.

As is the nature of democratic checks and balances, Adnan’s detention received judicial approval and was waiting imminent hearing by Israel’s Supreme Court when an 11th hour deal brokered by Egypt led to Israel’s agreeing to release Adnan on April 17th baring new evidence. Others in the Middle East haven’t been so lucky.

On February 8 and as Adnan entered the final two weeks of his campaign, the father of the Arabian Gulf’s human rights movement, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, started his own hunger strike in protest of his life sentence and that of others handed down by an absolute monarchy’s military court for involvement in Bahrain’s ongoing struggle for democracy. By this time, Adnan’s case was receiving daily international attention, culminating in a statement of concern by Catherine Ashton.

When it comes to hunger strikes, such statements of concern from the EU’s highest foreign policy office have been exceedingly rare. The plight of Cuban human rights activists is a prime example. Catherine Ashton held off on commenting until after Cuban dissident and winner of the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Guillermo Farinas ended his 135-day hunger strike, despite the fact that the European parliament passed a resolution calling for Ashton to take action.

The resolution also mentioned Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on the 85th day of his hunger strike. Another Cuban dissident, Wilmar Villar Mendoza, died on his 56th day. Only after their deaths did Ashton respectively address their individual struggles.

More recently and in Iran, activist Mehdi Khazali reached his 71st day of hunger strike without word from Ashton. There are rumors of his release, but certainly not thanks to public scrutiny from the EU’s highest foreign policy office.

Press EU to replace Ashton

Not surprisingly, the first month and-a-half of al-Khawaja’s hunger strike passed without Ashton’s notice, and time is running out. Unlike Adnan, al-Khawaja was underweight when he began his hunger strike, and already doctors cannot find a vein sufficient for an IV. He was also been the victim of severe torture, resulting in head trauma and a shattered jaw bone requiring intensive surgery.

These injuries have resulted in lifelong health complications. He barely escaped rape by four prison guards by repeatedly banging his already injured head against the concrete floor, making his captors risk the repercussions resulting from a critical injury. There have been no repercussions, and especially no European scrutiny, just blanket statements to the plight of all Bahrainis.

Apparently, Palestinian terrorists are worthy of individual support; one of the most renowned Arab human rights activists isn’t.

Ashton’s continued silence demonstrates her characteristic and persistent use of a double standard against Israel, which hasn’t been so blatantly exposed since she criticized Israel’s making domestic calls for boycott a civil offense despite the fact that Europe’s own court of human rights has upheld stricter legislation in France.

Even Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which have disproportionately focused on Israel using flawed methodologies and interpretations of international law, have actively advocated on behalf of al-Khawaja. If largely discredited organizations can come equally to the defense of a terrorist and human rights activist, there is no reason that Ashton cannot do so as well.

Of course, al-Khawaja is worthy of exponentially more support than Adnan. He is an internationally recognized human rights activist and served as the director of Irish human rights organization Frontline’s Middle East division. Khader Adnan is a leading member of a terrorist organization. Al-Khawaja has led a textbook campaign of non-violent civil disobedience against the oppression of Bahrain’s Shia majority. Adnan’s Islamic Jihad has deliberately killed and maimed hundreds of Israeli civilians.

Catherine Ashton has shown once again that that she is not a fair arbitrator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is instead party to the international campaign to isolate Israel via disproportionate attacks.

While Israel’s leaders are unlikely to directly challenge the EU, iconoclasts like Avigdor Lieberman and Danny Dannon can name and shame. Organizations like Im Tirtzu can also play a role by organizing protests when Ashton visits Israel. Behind the scenes, supportive EU states like Poland and Greece can be lobbied to push for Ashton’s ouster. Whatever course of action Israel and its supporters take, one thing is clear: they must pressure the EU to start considering a more balanced alternative to Ashton.

The writer is a policy analyst at the Institute for Gulf Affairs



Ashton praises the Palestinian sense of identity fostered by UNRWA

Petra Marquardt-Bigman, The Warped Mirror blog, JPost
22.03.12
The widespread criticism of a recent speech by the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was perhaps not entirely deserved, because the impression that she was drawing a parallel between the deadly shooting attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse and IDF operations in Gaza was at least partly due to a faulty transcript of her speech, which left out her mention of Sderot – the city that is most affected by the rockets from Gaza.

But there was arguably a reason why many Israeli politicians and commentators reacted so angrily – and why one Hamas official rushed to Ashton’s defense, arguing that she “deserves thanks, appreciation, and support in the face of Zionist attempts to terrorize and pressure her.”

As a report in the EU Observer points out:

“The Ashton controversy comes at a difficult time in EU-Israeli relations. A series of recently leaked internal EU reports has depicted Israel as stealing Palestinian land and water, trampling on the rights of Arab-Israeli citizens and giving settlers free rein to assault Palestinian farmers. […]

An EU diplomat earlier told this website that Ashton’s visit to Gaza in 2010, where she saw first-hand the squalid living conditions and fear of Israeli air strikes, was ‘a life-changing experience’ for the British politician.”

Indeed, Ashton’s recent speech confirms that she is very sympathetic to the Palestinian point of view. Consider her lengthy praise for UNRWA, the UN organization exclusively devoted to Palestinian refugees and their descendants:

“Let me just say a little bit too about what the European Union believes is so important about UNRWA […] It’s not a coincidence that the European Union is the biggest and the most loyal donor. Our donor activity started in 1971 and in the last 11 years we provided over € 1.3 billion in support of UNRWA’s work – along with contributions from EU Member States, the EU overall contributions in 2010 and 2011 accounted for almost 40% of the total support. It is a big effort in difficult financial circumstances.

And I believe it is because it matters so much. I am not giving you figures so that you feel a sense of success from the EU, but so you would feel a sense of commitment from the European Union. Our support goes to where it matters most: health, schools, humanitarian needs, and shelter. The ultimate goal however is for Palestinians to be masters of their own fate, in their own state.

Our goal, consistently spelt out over time, is supporting the creation of a Palestinian state that will not need to depend on donor support, will stand in its own right and will exist in peace and security side by side with all its neighbours. […] we leave no stone unturned and we will do everything possible to try and meet circumstances for the completion of the Middle East Peace Process. We know too that the Palestinian refugees face additional challenges; they leave [sic!] in countries which even after so many years they cannot consider home. This is why UNRWA’s work is so special: it has gone beyond the provision of universal needs and helped them establish a sense of identity that otherwise is lost to the world, an identity which people here are absolutely proud of  [author’s emphasis]. And that comes about through many things that UNRWA does.”

The highlighted sentence in this quoted passage is truly remarkable, because the EU’s foreign policy chief basically agrees here with the preposterous Arab notion of “positive discrimination,” which is simply a euphemism for the cynical policies of the Arab states that claim they are doing the Palestinians a favor by barring them from integrating into the countries they live in and forcing them to artificially preserve a distinct identity that focuses on the unrealistic demand of a “right of return”. (See e.g. “No refuge: Palestinians in Lebanon.” Working Papers Series No. 64, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, June 2010; pdf)

To be sure, Ashton is in a way quite right, because UNRWA is indeed “special”: while the many millions of other refugees from the late 1940s were expected to adjust themselves pragmatically to changed political realities, UNRWA enabled the Arab states that had failed in their efforts to undo Israel’s establishment to keep the Palestinian refugees as political pawns who would pass on their refugee status for generations in order to keep their grievances alive and politically potent.

The problematic role of UNRWA has often been criticized, most recently by the Palestinian writer and academic Mudar Zahran, who passionately argued that “UNRWA’s persistence in keeping the Palestinians refugees in abysmal, overcrowded slums is harming the Palestinians” and suggested that it might be time to conclude that UNRWA has become “an obstacle to peace in the Middle East.”

Zahran also points out that “UNRWA is now the UN’s largest entity with over 30,000 employees. It is such a boondoggle of a jobs program, it almost cannot let the Palestinian refugee problem be solved: if it did, 30,000 people would be out of work.”

Europe’s diplomat-in-chief Baroness Ashton seems oblivious of this criticism of UNRWA’s part in the cynical perpetuation of a refugee-status for Palestinians living in Arab countries – and scandalously, Palestinian “refugees” living in Hamas-ruled Gaza or the PA-ruled parts of the West Bank don’t fare much better, because even there, the “refugee camps” continue to exist.

It is remarkable how rarely this issue is addressed given the plentiful media coverage of all things Palestinian. One of the few recent reports was published in January 2011 in the German magazine Cicero under the title “Palestine: Refugees of their own choice;” an English translation under the perhaps even more fitting title “Refugees from reality” is available at the blog of Elder of Ziyon.

The author of the article, Ingo Way, first describes his meeting with a young Palestinian woman by the name of Khouloud Al Ajarma who, after studying in Britain, works at the community center of the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem. Summing up his impressions, Way writes:

“What I find so frightening about Khouloud Al Ajarma is not so much her complete lack of self-criticism. It’s not so much her radicalism […] What really frightened me is this: No representative of the UN, who built the schools and community centers in Aida, nor the EU, who gives the refugee camps such as this financial support, nor the employees of all the Western aid agencies and NGOs that are active here- none of them would tell Khouloud straight out that her demands are not only inhuman – because of course they count on the expulsion and disenfranchisement of Jews in Israel, and this is still the most favorable interpretation – but also unrealistic. Not one says, ‘You will not get your demands. Work instead towards a peaceful compromise with the Israelis, advocate for a two-state solution and waive your threatening right to return. Finally take over responsibility for yourself and your own people, build an infrastructure and tear down the refugee camps. Stop getting nannied by the UN and the EU, get a grip on things yourselves.’ No one tells them this because no one thinks that way. No one is bothered by the graffiti, which is found on every house, showing an undivided Palestine and reaffirming the explicit Palestinian claim even over Greater Tel Aviv.”

With her recent speech, EU foreign policy chief Ashton has of course encouraged just the opposite of what Ingo Way rightly described as the only reasonable and realistic approach to promote peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian state. But for Ashton, “UNRWA’s work is so special” precisely because it allows Palestinians to hold on to their decades-old rejectionism by helping them to “establish a sense of identity that otherwise is lost to the world, an identity which people here are absolutely proud of.” The “sense of identity” Ashton finds so praiseworthy is of course exactly the sense of an aggrieved refugee identity that Khouloud Al Ajarma advocates when she says: “We want no normalization… We want to remain refugees to exercise our right of return one day.”

In view of Ashton’s problematic praise for the Palestinian sense of identity fostered by UNRWA, there is reason to wonder if it reflects just her own ambivalence to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. It is arguably noteworthy in this context that, while her speech included a reference to the EU’s commitment to a Palestinian state that “will exist in peace and security side by side with all its neighbours,” she avoided mentioning Israel.

Some may feel that this is making a mountain out of a molehill, but speeches by diplomats are often scrutinized for nuances – and the nuances conveyed in this speech by Europe’s diplomat-in-chief don’t necessarily inspire confidence in Europe’s commitment to the formula of two states for two peoples.



Ashton: Toulouse remarks distorted

UKPA
21.03.12

Europe’s foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton has tried to defuse a growing row with Israel over remarks interpreted as linking the killings of school children in France with deaths in Gaza.

Baroness Ashton highlighted various tragedies taking the lives of children when she addressed a Palestinian refugee youth conference in Brussels.

After being urged to resign as EU High Representative by Israel’s defence minister, she told MEPs her words had been distorted.

She prefaced a scheduled address on foreign policy to a European Parliament committee by declaring: “I want to begin by saying something that is very, very important to me because I am really saddened by the distortion of my remarks yesterday at the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) event.”

She went on: “I condemn unreservedly the terrible murders at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse yesterday and extend my sympathy to the families and friends of the victims, to the people of France and to the Jewish community.
“At yesterday’s event I drew no parallel whatsoever between this tragedy and events elsewhere in the Middle East.”

Earlier Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak insisted: “The comparison made by Ashton between what is happening in Gaza to what happened in Toulouse, and what is going on in Syria every day, is outrageous and has absolutely no grounding in reality.”

In her remarks on Monday Baroness Ashton mentioned a range of tragic events involving children, from last week’s Swiss coach crash in which 22 Belgian schoolchildren died, to the Norwegian massacre by a lone gunmen last year.
She said: “We remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world, we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

The issue raised immediate Israeli sensitivities because of the recent death of at least one Palestinian child in renewed conflict between Israeli forces and Gaza Strip militant groups, bringing to 13 the estimated tally of under-18s in Gaza said to have been killed by Israel forces.



EU’s Ashton: I did not parallel Toulouse attack to Gaza deaths

Statement by High Representative for Foreign Affairs comes following criticism by top Israeli officials, who called Ashton’s earlier remarks ‘inappropriate’ and ‘infuriating.’

By Barak Ravid, Jonathan Lis and Revital Hovel, Ha’aretz
20.03.12

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton denied Tuesday that she intended to parallel Monday’s attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, saying that her comments were “grossly distorted.”

Ashton’s remarks came amid backlash to comments she had made at a conference titled “Palestine Refugees in the changing Middle East” following the deadly shooting attack in the south of France.

Speaking at the event, the EU’s foreign minister said all should remember the young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

Ashton’s comments, perceived as linking the attack in Toulouse and civilian deaths in Gaza, drew strong condemnation from Israeli officials.

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized the EU FM’s comments, saying they were “inappropriate and I hope that Ashton reexamines and retracts them.”

“Israel is the most moral country in the world, despite having to fight terrorists operating from within a civilian population. The IDF is doing everything it can to not hurt that population even though it is defending terrorists,” Lieberman said.

The FM added that the “children Ashton needs to focus on are the children of south Israel, who live in constant fear of Gaza rocket attacks.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the Technion Institute of Technology, called the Toulouse shooting the “cruel and tragic. To slaughter and eight-year-old girl and to make sure she died is inhuman savagery.”
The premier also criticized Ashton’s comments in the wake of the attack, saying that “what I was especially upset about was the comparison between the intentional slaughter of children and the IDF’s surgical defensive strikes meant to hit terrorists who use children as a shield.”

“There’s no comparison between the two, and I’m sure you all felt the same,” Netanyahu added.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also criticized Ashton’s remarks Tuesday, saying that the comparison she made was “infuriating and far from reality.”

In a statement released later Tuesday, Ashton’s office said she “strongly condemns the killings at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse yesterday and extends her sympathies to the families and friends of the victims and to the people of France and the Jewish community.”

“We want to make this clear, because her words yesterday at the UNRWA event were grossly distorted by one of the wires,” the statement added, saying Ashton “referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza.”

Ashton’s remarks were also discussed during a special session of the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, where Likued MK Danny Danon urged a French Jewish leader to have French President Nikola Sarkozy comment on “such an anti-Semitic comment from such a senior EU official.”
Atzmaut MK Einat Wilf also referred to Ashton’s comment, saying that it important to “clarify that who ever says such things isn’t worthy of representing the European Union.



Ashton slammed for Toulouse-Gaza link
By Tobias Buck in Jerusalem, ft.com
21.03.12

Israeli leaders have hit out at Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, over a speech in which she appeared to compare Monday’s shooting attack on a Jewish school in France to the suffering of children in the Gaza Strip.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said: “The comparison made by Ashton between what is happening in Gaza to what happened in Toulouse, and what is going on in Syria every day, is outrageous and has absolutely no grounding in reality.”

He added: “The IDF [Israeli army] operates in Gaza with great care and precision in order to protect the lives of innocents. I hope that Catherine Ashton quickly realises her mistake and rethinks her comments.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, also weighed into the controversy later on Tuesday, saying he was “especially upset about the comparison between the intentional slaughter of children and the IDF’s surgical defensive strikes meant to hit terrorists who use children as a shield. There’s no comparison between the two.”
Almost 24 hours after the speech was given, Lady Ashton’s staff corrected the transcript of the speech on her website to show that in addition to citing Gaza among her list of sites where children have been killed, she also mentioned Sderot, the Israeli town near the Gaza Strip which has been the target of rocket attacks fired by Palestinian militias. Although EU officials removed a video of the speech from an EU website, people who watched it said Lady Ashton had indeed referred to “what is happening in Gaza and Sderot”.

Earlier on Tuesday a spokesman for Lady Ashton insisted that her remarks had been “grossly distorted” and that she condemned the attack in Toulouse.

“In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza,” the spokesman said.
Speaking to a group of Palestinian children in Brussels on Monday, Lady Ashton mentioned a series of deadly incidents in which children were victims, including the shooting attack in Norway last year as well as that day’s killing of three children and one teacher in Toulouse.

According to the original text of the speech published on her website, Lady Ashton said: “When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

At least one Palestinian child was killed and 17 others injured this month in the latest escalation between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip. According to B’tselem, the Israeli human rights group, at least 13 Gaza minors below the age of 18 were killed by Israeli fire in the past year.

Mr Barak’s criticism was echoed by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, who called Lady Ashton’s comments “inappropriate” and urged the EU’s chief diplomat to retract her statement. Mr Lieberman added: “Israel is the most moral country in the world, despite having to fight terrorists operating from within a civilian population. The IDF is doing everything it can to not hurt that population even though it is defending terrorists.”

It is rare for senior Israeli leaders to voice such harsh criticism of a European official. The assault on Lady Ashton comes as a particular surprise – there has been no noticeable tension between her and the Israeli government in recent years, and she rarely makes overt criticism of Israeli policies.

European officials voiced surprise at the response in Israel, pointing out that Lady Ashton had made a general statement about the suffering of children, and that she had had no intention of comparing the specific circumstances of Toulouse, Syria and the Gaza Strip. One described the Israel uproar as “ludicrous”.

Additional reporting by Peter Spiegel



EU Foreign Chief Clarifies Remarks Over Shooting

By Laurence  Norman, Wall Street Journal
20.03.12

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Tuesday said she “unreservedly” condemned the murders at a French Jewish school and insisted she drew no parallel between the shooting in Toulouse and the situation in Gaza.

At an event in Brussels on Monday organized for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, Ms. Ashton paid tribute to children around the world, including the fatal coach crash in Switzerland which killed more than 20 Belgian children, the Syrian conflict, the Toulouse shooting and “what’s happened in Gaza.”

Ms. Ashton said Monday: “And in days when we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances, the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy… when we remember what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened when I was in Norway last week a year ago, when we know what’s happening in Syria, when we see what’s happened in Gaza and Sredot. In different parts of the world, we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Tuesday condemned Ms. Ashton’s remarks.

He said Ms. Ashton’s comments were “not appropriate and he expressed the hope that she would re-examine and reverse them,” a statement from Mr. Lieberman’s office said.

In a statement at the start of remarks Tuesday to the European Parliament, Ms. Ashton said the comments she made had been taken out of context.

“I condemn unreservedly the terrible murders” in Toulouse, she said.

“I extend my sympathies to the families and friends of the victims, to the people of France and to the Jewish community. At yesterday’s event I drew no parallel whatsoever between this tragedy and events elsewhere in the Middle East.”

Ms. Ashton was expected to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Tuesday, said a person familiar with the situation.

Ms. Ashton received backing from several European parliamentarians who said her comments had been taken out of context.

She said she was grateful for this.

“It has been a deeply distressing few hours for me,” Ms. Ashton said.



EU corrects Ashton speech transcript after Israeli anger
AFP
20.03.12

BRUSSELS — The European Union issued Tuesday a corrected version of a speech by its foreign policy chief which had angered Israel because it appeared to link a French school shooting and Gaza.

The new transcript of Catherine Ashton’s remarks mentions the situation of children in both Gaza and the southern Israeli town of Sderot after the first version only mentioned the Palestinian territory.

A video of her speech Monday showed she indeed mentioned Sderot, a town often hit by Palestinian rocket attacks.

After a day filled with criticism from Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ashton denied that she ever compared the shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse and the situation in the Middle East.

“I am really saddened by the distortion of my remarks,” she told the EU parliament’s foreign affairs committee. “I drew no parallel whatsoever between this tragedy and events elsewhere in the Middle East.

“I condemn unreservedly the terrible murders at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse yesterday and extend my sympathies to the families and friends of the victims, to the people of France and the Jewish community.”

In her speech at a youth event, Ashton paid tribute to children killed in “terrible circumstances” and listed a number of tragedies including unrest in Syria, last year’s Norway massacre and the Toulouse shooting.

“When we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot, in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

The phrase “and Sderot” had been missing from the first transcript of the speech given at the event in Brussels organised by the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA).

The new text was released after a day of damage control, with her spokesman Michael Mann insisting her remarks were “grossly distorted,” although he had not indicated at the time that she had talked about Sderot too.

Mann added that Ashton was making a “general remark” about violence against children around the world.

“She wanted to draw attention to the unfortunate fate of children around the world who lose their lives. Any indication or suggestion that there is a comparison or a parallel is incorrect,” he told reporters.

EU officials contacted Israeli counterparts to clarify Ashton’s remarks, an EU diplomat said.

Before the new transcript was released, Netanyahu, his defence minister and his foreign minister all criticised the remarks.

“What especially outrages me is the comparison between a targeted massacre of children and the surgical defensive actions of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces), intended to strike at terrorists using children as human shields,” Netanyahu said.



“They’re murdering Blacks and Jews and Arabs, here”

By Adam Keller, blog
20.03.12

“They’re murdering Blacks and Jews and Arabs, here” read a huge banner carried in the protest march on the streets of Paris last night. Twenty thousand people were there – there were Blacks, and Jews and Arabs, but most of them were neither – just people who heard of racist murders being perpetrated in their country and went into the streets to express indignation and protest.

It was not the first time that such a terrible thing, a serial killing, took place in a school – but this school was chosen because it was Jewish.Rabbi Jonathan Sandler was killed, and his two children Gabriel and Arieh, and the girl child Myriam Monsonego. And the same killer is assumed to have also killed three soldiers, the Black Carribean Abel Chennouf and the North Africans Imad Ibn Ziaten and Mohammed Legouad. All killed by the same murderer.

But who is really to blame?

To most citizens of France- and to most of the politicians there, too – all this is pretty clear. To Israel’s Prime Minister and his ministers it is probably a bit less obvious. In a first and immediate response, when it was still unclear exactly who was responsible, Netanyahu has already marked his target and pointed an accusing finger at Hamas and the UN. And by the next morning, the real culprit was unmasked – none other than Catherine Ashton.

Yes, Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, has come under a concerted barrage of vituperation from virtually everybody: Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Lieberman, (on the phone from distant China) and also the Leader of the “Opposition” Tzipi Livni. Today, Catherine Ashton hosted in Brussels, a group of Palestinian children from Gaza who came to visit. She talked about her appreciation of the young Arabs who led the Arab Spring revolution, and for the young Palestinians who maintain themselves in difficult situations, of young people and children killed and murdered around the world. Of the Belgian children killed in the overturning of a bus in Switzerland, and the Jewish children murdered in Toulouse, and the Norwegian children murdered by a racist in Oslo last year, and the Syrian children victims of the incessant carnage, and the Israeli children in Sderot and… [yes, also] the Palestinian children in Gaza.

The government and the mass media are united in anger and wrath and unrestrained and uncontrollable fury at this comparison, the horrific and terrible insult hurled at the most moral army in the world. Everybody demands of her an apology, apology, apology, APOLOGY, nothing less than an apology. How could you make such a comparison, how could you? After all, we never kill children on purpose, it always always happens only and solely by an unfortunate accident for which we are very sorry.

For example, this child which our air force killed in Gaza a week ago. A very sad case, what was this child’s name? Well, the Israeli media did not publish his name, an anonymous child, but we’re sorry do you hear; it was an accident. Also the three hundred children killed during Cast Lead, none of them we killed on purpose. Three hundred cases of regrettable accidents, which happened despite the very careful surgical procedures which we undertook. (Well, even with surgeons in the operating room it sometimes happens that a hand is slipping, even the speakers of the Syrian Army are already talking about surgical procedures taken against insurgents in Damascus.).

In short, we are the most moral army in the world as our Foreign Minister Lieberman has said himself. So we demand Ashton’s immediate apology.



Catherine Ashton had it right: The death of a child is terrible, period.

The EU’s Baroness Catherine Ashton was reprimanded by Israel for daring to compare the murder in France to deaths of children in other parts of the world. But she was right.
Ami Kaufman, +972
22.03.12

Like most people, particularly Europeans, I’m not extremely fond of Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. I certainly never thought I’d ever feel the urge to defend or support anything she said, but here goes.

For those who aren’t in the loop, after the disgusting murder of three Jewish children and an adult in Toulouse this week, Ashton made some remarks that infuriated quite a few:
Speaking at the event, the EU’s foreign minister said all should remember the young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu led the way with the revenge:
Netanyahu said that one cannot compare “intentional massacre of children and an execution-style killing of an 8-year-old with the IDF’s defensive and surgical actions meant to harm terrorists who use children as human shields.”

Apparently, the EU said the statement was missing a word that Ashton said. “Sderot” was somehow omitted after the word “Gaza.” Everybody was totally distorting her words, the EU and Ashton said.

Well, Ashton’s right. She was distorted. She mentioned children around the world dying in horrible circumstances. I think that’s relevant, and legitimate.

But God forbid anyone dare compare an anti-Semitic murder to any other murder. No, killing Jewish children is so much worse than killing a Palestinian child. How dare Ashton compare that sick, disgusting, vile murderer to us? How dare she say “Jew” and “Palestinian” in the same breath?!?! And certainly children who die because they were – or believed to be by military “intelligence” – human shields are of a lower species.

Well let me tell you something, Bibi. There are kids dying in Gaza, and there have been dozens and hundreds – if not thousands – of kids who have died over 45 years of occupation. In fact, quite a few of them have died thanks to those “surgical actions” you mentioned.

I can’t help but remember a particular “surgical action” I’m particularly fond of. The one where Israel decided to kill that Salah Shehade, the Hamas mega-terrorist, who was one of those despicable guys using children as human shields. You see, what Israel said back then, was basically: “Fuck the kids.” And then, in the middle of the night of July 22, 2002, Israel dropped a bomb that weighed one ton on his house.
Israel got Shehade, alright. But it also got his wife and nine kids.

That’s murder. Not “ugly war,” not “collateral damage.” Cold, sick murder.
Oh, and how can we forget what Air Force Chief Dan Halutz said in an interview when asked what he thinks a pilot feels when he drops a bomb like that:
No. That is not a legitimate question and it is not asked. But if you nevertheless want to know what I feel when I release a bomb, I will tell you: I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb’s release. A second later it’s gone, and that’s all. That is what I feel.

So let me tell you something, Bibi. Ashton went easy on you. Real easy.
Because that murderer in Toulouse was a seriously sick person.
But to do some of the things the IDF does, you have to be pretty sick, too.
In fact, I would have used different words than Ashton. Instead of “terrible” circumstances, “sick” would have been more appropriate.

Print Friendly

1 comment to Worst thing that happened this week: Lady Ashton spoke of tragedy of children dying