The week in brief, 5th-11th July – a summary of recent postings

July 11, 2010
Richard Kuper

jfjfpStarting with the occupation: The Israeli state informed the Supreme Court that even under its “new” Gaza policy, there would not be an easing of restrictions on the passage of people to and from Gaza; and a report compiled by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, reveals testimonies of Strip residents who claim soldiers used them as ‘human shields’ during Operation Cast Lead. The IDF denies the allegations; the Military Police are investigating…

A new report from B’tselem explains: “The settlement enterprise has been characterized, since its inception, by an instrumental, cynical, and even criminal approach to international law, local legislation, Israeli military orders, and Israeli law, which has enabled the continuous pilfering of land from Palestinians in the West Bank.”

Order 1650 presents a blank check for the military to deport or forcibly transfer from the west bank anyone they see fit, in accordance with changing policies and political situations. Hamoked – Centre for the Defence of the Individual has discovered that nearly 35,000 individuals must be viewed as being at high risk for such forcible transfer…

Israel is working to expel four Palestinian residents of Jerusalem affiliated with Hamas from the city of their birth. Many people have been denied residency in the past on administrative pretexts; these deportations are overtly political.

Finally, a couple of stories illustrate the banality of this bitter occupation: The Palestinian Minister of Prisoners, Issa Qaraqe, was refused entry to Israel on Tuesday and was stripped of his VIP card allowing him to pass unhindered through checkpoints, in direct contravention of the Oslo accords. Why? Because the soldiers can do it and no one in authority cares. And Hamed and Ahad Jeredath are from the village of Sa’ir near Hebron. Israeli soldiers entered their home and arrested them, tied their hands behind their backs with plastic handcuffs and blindfolded, beat and tortured them. Why? Because the soldiers can do so with impunity, and because there is “a desire to improve the statistical results in a new [computer] program”….

In Israel itself the campus wars are hotting up. It appears that a perfect candidate for a job at Ben Gurion University suffers from “personality problems” – so the committee making the appointment asked one of the senior members of the department to take advantage of his summer sabbatical in the U.S. to speak to Dr Oron and ask whether he’d be willing to restrain his political activism in order to better assimilate into the department…

ACRI Attorney Lila Margalit takes on the ‘security argument’ which is used to justify keeping the public in the dark about arrests and trials and argues passionately that “I can be sure that there are no secret arrests or trials, since such things so acutely threaten the foundations of the rule of law as well as public confidence in the justice system that they are simply not acceptable in a free and democratic society…”

The Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar is pressing for the punishment of academics who back boycotts on any kind. Moshe Shoked, professor emeritus of anthropology at Tel Aviv University, who has long argued abroad against an academic boycott says he can’t be bothered anymore: “In the past year, I have lost the conviction that I can truthfully speak for the current Israeli government’s suicidal behavior…”

Dispossession of Palestinians is not confined to the West Bank and the organization “Tarabut” reminds us of the ongoing dispossession of the Bedouin in the Negev courtesy of the state, the army and the JNF (you remember, those pennies in the blue boxes).

On the brighter side, Yehuda Shaul, 27, one of the founders of Breaking the Silence, which collects and publishes eyewitness accounts of soldiers from the territories, is celebrating a minor victory over the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF spokesman and the wall of silence that Shaul says surrounds the events of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

In the UK EDO protestors were found not guilty of causing material damage at the EDO factory which company suppliescomponents to the Israeli army, including release mechanisms and bomb racks for use in fighter aircraft. Their defence: they had lawful excuse to disarm the factory because EDO are complicit in war crimes.

In the US it seems that Israeli propaganda is not working so well ; despite concerted efforts a majority of deluded Americans still believe there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and fully 43% that people there are starving…

The New York Times has finally reported on a funding network among pro-settler American Jews who abuse U.S. tax law in order to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to Israeli settlements. As Richard Silverstein reports, he and Phil Weiss first covered this issue about three years ago…

Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman write that “With very few exceptions, direct and intentional attacks on aid workers or human rights have mostly been the work of undisciplined militias, ragged armies, criminal gangs and police states.” They ask “with the lethal raid on the Mavi Marmara, is Israel following them?”

And Jeremiah Haber (the Magnes Zionist) always gives good value. His posting on Gilad Shalit and keeping Hamas in its place offers some sound common sense on the question of recognising Hamas, talking to Hamas, releasing Palestinian prisoners and the like as well as, of course, on Gilad Shalit as a pawn in their game. David Grossman, too, writes on the need for Israel to reach a broader understanding with Hamas. As does Uri Avnery

Last, but absolutely by no means least: the discovery by us of Stuart the Jewish Turtle Goes to South Africa and indeed the whole comic oeuvre of Eli Valley, published monthly in the American Jewish daily Forward.  A ray of sunshine and a wicked sense of humour.

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