We join Gideon Levy in paying tribute to veteran Gush Shalom peace campaigner Uri Avnery on his 87th birthday. And we reproduce a long biographical note from Avnery’s own website describing his remarkable career.
The occupation continues – what else is new? B’tselem looks once more at Gaza where almost 95% of the water is unfit for drinking. The water and wastewater-treatment systems there are in desperate need of repair – yet Israel prohibits entry of materials needed for this vital work. But then Israel’s official goals with regard to the Gaza strip have been laid bare in a slideshow to the Turkel committee of inquiry into the flotilla disaster: they include separating the West Bank from Gaza, in breach of the Oslo agreement which recognised the territorial integrity of the occupied Palestinian territory.
Elsewhere the Israeli authorities collude to “Judaise” East Jerusalem. ACRI’s report “Unsafe Space: The Israeli Authorities’ Failure to Protect Human Rights amid Settlements in East Jerusalem” draws attention to this and the way in which Palestinian residents of the city are increasingly subject to hostility and violence, and their rights and needs disregarded and violated.
Having been obstructed by the Israelis’ opaque investigation and largely betrayed by their own government, Rachel Corrie’s family has been forced to take matters into its own hands, filing suit against the Israeli government for criminal negligence. Max Blumenthal reports on the hearings in Haifa’s District Court. And Time magazine also carries a sympathetic report by Karl Vick.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has made known its concern over a draft Israeli bill that forces domestic NGOs to regularly disclose funding received from foreign governments…
On the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) front we reproduce the Jewish Peace News debates BDS – an exchange of strongly differing views among editors (and a guest-editor). And we carry a report from the Open Shuhada group that has been campaigning against Ahava in South Africa. It now finds itself vilified by the South African Zionist Federation to whom it responds in an open letter, asking “Why are you supporting occupation, settlement and oppression?”
Jeffrey Goldberg provides a long insider analysis of US and Israeli attitudes to Iran. It makes depressing, but essential reading. Soon after it’s publication Goldberg was invited by Fidel Castro to discuss its contents and spent three days in Cuba with Castro. His criticism of Ahmedinejad with regard to his holocaust denial is astonishingly strong and upfront. Goldberg writes: “He criticized Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust and explained why the Iranian government would better serve the cause of peace by acknowledging the “unique” history of anti-Semitism and trying to understand why Israelis fear for their existence.” Hugo Chavez, too, has apparently changed tack, with the Atlantic Monthly reporting that Chavez’s new rhetoric and willingness to meet with Jewish leaders is “a direct result of Fidel’s statement.”
Finally we include Zochrot’s Position Paper on Posting Signs at the Sites of Demolished Palestinian Villages. It’s is not new; but as ‘celebrating’ or mourning the nakba becomes a criminal offence in Israel it is worth reminding ourselves of Zochrot (’Remembering’) and its work “to commemorate, witness, acknowledge, and repair”.