The main story of the week was undoubtedly the Goldstone Report, or rather Richard Goldstone’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post which appeared under the title “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes”. Neither what exactly he revised nor why he did so is simple, nor indeed why he should treat a report written by four eminent co-authors as his personal property. In The Goldstone gefuffle – an easy guide we have provided links to a range of relevant articles and evaluations.
In response to the publication in the Washinton Post, the Israeli government immediately called for the UN to retract the Goldstone Report (a move which prompted Goldstone to issue a further statement that he was not calling for any such thing). Amnesty International issued a statement arguing that such calls are a “a cynical attempt to avoid accountability for war crimes and deny both Palestinian and Israeli victims of the 2008-2009 conflict the justice and reparations they deserve”.
The second story of the week was the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis, Israeli actor and founder of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin. It is a tragedy for his family and friends and for the people of Jenin in particular and Palestinians in general. And for all working for a solution in which Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace in the Middle East. Many of us have worked with Juliano and with the Freedom Theatre in one way or another and we receive this news with a sense of profound loss. We added links to a selection of appreciations of Juliano as they appeared during the week.
On more mundane matters:
A new report from Who profits? Forbidden Fruit: The Israeli Wine Industry and the Occupation demonstrates that ALL of the major Israeli wineries use grapes from occupied territory in their wines. It also provides a comprehensive account of the incentives of the Israeli wine industry to cultivate grapes and to develop wineries in occupied territory.
The Jewish Chronicle reported that the UK branch of Israeli cosmetics store, Ahava, is moving from its central London shop in Covent Gardens after years of demonstrations highlighting its role in supporting the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.
The Coalition of Women for Peace has produced the first in a series of video clips as part of its campaign against the Prohibition of Boycott Bill, which is currently promoted in the Knesset. They’ve asked their supporters to circulate it widely
In a JNews blog contribution, Lia Tarachansky traces the history of Canada’s long-term record of regularly aiding/supporting dictatorships, in concert with the USA. “And while most Canadians view their country as a peacekeeping nation, Canada’s arms trade, military assistance, and intelligence cooperation with Israel paint a different picture.” And Israel is delighted with their Canadians allies
The International Crisis Group followed up its earlier report on developments in Gaza (see our posting Violence escalates between Israel and Gaza on 28 March) with one on Radical Islam in Gaza , examining the impact of Salafi-Jihadi groups operating there. As progress toward normalising life, engaging the world or achieving a prisoner exchange stalls, the uncompromising outlook of the Salafi-Jihadis becomes more appealing to militants. “The policy of isolating Gaza and ignoring Hamas has only exacerbated the problem”, said Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director.
An Early Day Motion on the JNF has been tabled in the House of Commons: “That this House welcomes the Stop the Jewish National Fund Campaign launched on 30 March 2011. The JNF is a UK registered charity whose patrons include high profile figures such as Prime Minister David Cameron. Palestinian civil society organisations say that from its establishment “the JNF has been a chief partner in the Zionist colonial drive to dispossess indigenous Palestinians of their land…””
Last, but not least, JfJfP is holding a Third Seder on 21st April and calls on anyone interested in coming to get in touch: “Why is this year different from all other years? Because this year, at Passover, we celebrate the struggles of all those intent on achieving liberation from the yoke of authoritarian rule. While some remain oppressed, there is still work for all of us to do…