September 30, 2012

Director Peter Brook threatened with legal action over his support for BDS

This is all over the net now but here's The Jewish Chronicle:

The Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv is considering legal action for breach of contract against the veteran British theatre director, Peter Brook, after he pulled out of its annual International Festival of Plays in December.
The Paris-based Mr Brook, 87, is director of Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, which was due to perform The Suit, a play set in apartheid South Africa, at the festival.
"set in apartheid South Africa"? The Israelis can certainly do irony.

There's a mention in the article of "pressure from BDS" but see this:

Mr Brook signed a letter to the Cameri which said: “The fact that the Cameri Theatre has accepted to support the brutal action of colonisation by playing in Ariel [in the West Bank] has made us aware that in coming to your theatre we would appear as a support for that brutal action.
“This forces us to decline your invitation to perform in your theatre. The decision is entirely ours, and not to come to you, it is our free choice.
“We know that there are many amongst you and in your country who share our attitude and it is them we wish to support as well as the people of Palestine.”
The front page of the print edition is about how BDS isn't too popular with the UK public but it does seem to be going from strength to strength.


I've never liked that expression but what else do you call Netanyahu in this pose?

See this from The Jewish Chronicle:
Abraham Foxman, Director of the New York-based hate-monitor the Anti Defamation League, told The Daily Caller. “I think it is ugly, disgusting, offensive.”
I think this is the first time I've ever agree with Abe.

UPDATE (30/9/2012 20:24) with thanks to Deir Yassin in the comments:

A lot of commentators on Netanyahu's appearance, speech and general performance at the UN recently assumed that Bibi doesn't know what he's doing. This picture from Deir Yassin suggests he knows exactly what he's doing.

September 29, 2012

Jewish "refugees": Fleeing or flying?

The blogosphere is awash with posts on the efforts of zionists and the State of Israel to trade off the issue of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians against the departure of Jews from Arab states following the establishment of the State of Israel.

Here's an article by Ruth Tenne posted to the Palestine News Network which recalls an earlier post on the same subject on this blog back in 2008.

Fleeing or Flying?

 by Ruth Tenne
Having witnessed as a child the heady days of the creation of the State of Israel, I wholeheartedly concur with the insightful article of Hanan Ashrawi (7th September 2012) which argues forcefully against Zionist attempts to equate Palestinian refugees of the 1948 Naqba with Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel as result of the Jewish Agency's special mission of transporting Jewish communities from Arab countries to the newly-established Israeli state.
I believe that my submission, which was published on the website of Jews Sans Frontiers ( July 2008) in response to Lyn Julius's letter in the Guardian (25 June 2008), is providing further support to Hanan Ashrawi's truthful and incisive article:
Lyn Julius's account of the alleged ethnic cleansing of Jewish people by Arab countries (Comment is Free , Guardian 25 June ) seems to be a sheer prevarication. As an Israeli born and bred I remember vividly the well-planed operations which aimed to strengthen the size of the Jewish population in the fledgling Israeli state by flying en masse Jewish communities from Arab countries. Needless to say that in Israel those Arab-originated communities suffered from well-documented discrimination in terms of housing ,education, social mobility and access to the the media, the judiciary system and elitist echelons of the Israel society - indeed this form of discrimination continues to the present day (though in a much less overt way).
The Jewish Virtual Library has documented two of the most prominent 1951 operations which were instigated and organised by the Jewish Agency with the full cooperation of the involved Arab governments. Thus, perhaps the so-called "Jewish Nakba" was no more than a well-planned Aliyah operation of ascendance/immigration to Israel - as the documents below proudly acknowledge.
Some 130,000 Jews arrived in Israel in Operation Ezra and Nechemia. Flying the Iraqi Jews to Israel lasted several months, and started after the Iraqi Government passed a special bill permitting their emigration in 1951. The Iraqi Jews were mostly wealthy and the local authorities gave them special privileges. When the Jews learned about the special permit they had been given, thousands arrived in Baghdad and gathered in registration centers where they registered for immigration to Israel.
According to Iraqi law, the Jews had to sell their property and liquidate their businesses before they could leave. Many sold large properties for ridiculous sums in order to win the right to immigrate.
Waiting in Baghdad was a tense and difficult period. Some 50,000 Jews signed up in one month, and two months later there were 90,000 on the list. This mass movement stunned the Iraqi Government, which had not expected the number of immigrants to exceed 8,000, and feared that administrative institutions run by Jews might collapse. At the same time, the Zionist movement issued a manifesto calling on the Jews to sign up for immigration. It started with the following: "O, Zion, flee, daughter of Babylon," and concluded thus: "Jews! Israel is calling you — come out of Babylon!"
The first planes flew to Israel via Cyprus in mid-May 1951. Several months later, a giant airlift operated directly from Baghdad to Lod airport. Operation Ezra and Nechemia ended at the beginning of 1952, leaving only about 6,000 Jews in Iraq. Most of the 2,500-year-old Jewish community immigrated to Israel.
In May 1949, when the Imam of Yemen agreed to let 45,000 of the 46,000 Jews in his country leave, Israeli transport planes flew them "home" in Operation Magic Carpet. The Yemenite Jews, mostly children, were brought to Israel on some 380 flights. This was one of the most wonderful and complex immigration operations the state has ever known. British and American planes airlifted the Jews from Aden, the capital of Yemen, when they reached the city from all over Yemen after extremely dangerous and risky journeys. The operation was secret and was released to the media only several months after its completion.
The year 1949 saw massive waves of immigration to Israel. Some 250,000 Jews who arrived that year alone were placed in military barracks and tent camps, and were later moved to ma'abarot [transit camps]. The state nearly collapsed under the burden. Calculations made that year showed that the state needed some $3,000 for the absorption of each immigrant, which meant that the state required about $700,000 for the whole campaign; the entire state budget was less than that. Yet, despite everything, the young state was more than willing to do all that was necessary to absorb the immigrants, believing that this was the reason for its establishment in the first place.

*Ruth Tenne is an Israeli peace activist living in London. She is a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Iran threatens self-defence, shock!

Here's The Independent today:
Tehran said it will respond with “full force” to any attack on its nuclear facilities after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged global action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Mr Netanyahu warned that the world has less than a year to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, a prediction that will raise fears of a military confrontation.

Iran "is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack," said Eshagh al-Habib, Iran's deputy UN ambassador. He insisted the country's nuclear programme was peaceful.
I was impressed by the first comment below the line from an Ian Watson:
Lets look at the evidence shall we...?
Israel has ignored 150+ UN resolutions, Iran has ignored 4.
Israel has attacked openly every one of its neighbours in its short history. Iran has not attacked any neighbour and only defended itself when the US and UK cajoled Iraq to attack them leaving a million dead.
Israel has refused pointedly to sign the NNPT, has refused to allow the IAEA into its Dimona area whilst Iran has allowed the IAEA to monitor its stockpile, facilities and research programmes.
The IAEA has stated recently that Iran's 20% enriched uranium has reduced on a par with produced medical isotopes, not one ounce of Uranium has gone unaccounted for.
The Intelligence communities of the US STILL agree that Iran finally closed down its last research programme into nuclear weapon design and had in fact stopped all proper research some years earlier.
Netahanyu has "predicted" every year since 1992 that Iran would have a nuclear weapon "very soon".
Iran has fairly withdrawn some facility inspections until the IAEA give it guarantees that its inspection will not be used for military intelligence purposes for Israel and the US, this is a fair option seeing as we would not allow the Chinese or Russians to wander round Aldermastion or Fort Lauderdale would we?
Well over a year ago a friend of mine pointed out to me that when Israel threatens Iran the oil price goes up but when Iran responds to the threat the oil price stands still. It could be that the threat and the response are too close together in time to tell but it does look like the serious money is on an Israeli attack on Iran rather than the other way round.

Dodgy definition repatriated to USA

I always thought that the Americans who concocted the bogus EUMC working definition of antisemitism wouldn't dare try to hinder free speech in their own country but it appears I was wrong.  Ben White has an article on Electronic Intifada setting out how zionists in the USA are trying to use the dodgy definition to stamp out Palestine solidarity activism on campus States' side.
Top administrators at the University of California are considering what action to take against speech and activities alleged to be anti-Semitic. As part of their discussions, the university may endorse a seven-year-old document, which — despite not having an official status — is often called the European Union’s “working definition” of anti-Semitism.
Zionists in the UK have had mixed results trying to impose the dodgy definition here. The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) rejected it out of hand and when Ben White participated in a Question Time style debate at Birmingham University the event descended into farce when a questioner in the audience was forbidden from even asking a question that included the word "apartheid" when applied to the State of Israel.  The discussion took place after BU had adopted the dodgy definition and it didn't help the zionists on that particular occasion.

Anyway, we have a few pieces on the bogus definition here at JSF which, if I say so myself, are worth a look at.  A particularly apposite piece was by Gabriel Ash here.  He sets how the dodgy definition probably won't be formally adopted but will insidiously be allowed or caused to pass into the language.

September 28, 2012

Bibi Netanyahu: an apology

I really must apologise to Bibi. He is even more stupid than I gave him credit for. His silly cartoon of an Iranian bomb was indeed stupid enough for ridicule without his own "red line" addition. But look at the pic. The bomb is a graph showing where Iran is at with its uranium enrichment, ie, 70%, where it needs to be to have bomb grade stuff, ie, 90% and therefore where the red line needs to be to stop Iran being a nuclear arms capable power. The problem, as the Daily Beast, points out, is that Bibi was left to his own artistic handiwork to draw the dreaded red line. And, look at the pic, he drew it above the weapons grade mark.


So apologies to Bibi. I had him down as a 70 to 90% dick. It turns out he's a complete and utter dick. Will no one in power in the west say that finally he has crossed the line?

Barcelona FC persists with Gilad Shalit invite

Well this is very sad given Barcelona's own history but the president of Barcelona FC is persisting with an invitation to Gilad Shalit to be guest of honour at the game on 7th October against Real Madrid.

Here's an English translation of a petition from BDS Catalunya doing the rounds:
Dear Mr Rosell, President of Barcelona Football Club
We were both surprised and saddened to learn that the former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is to be invited as a guest of honour of Barcelona Football Club to the clásicoagainst Real Madrid [1] on October 7 at Barcelona football stadium.
We understand that this is a gesture of good will by the Club towards a person who has suffered five long years of captivity in the Gaza Strip and who has made known his admiration for the Barcelona team. However, the former soldier Gilad Shalit is not just an Israeli citizen; he's also Sergeant Major of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), an army that since 1967 has illegally occupied the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza strip and the Syrian territory of the Golan Heights. The IDF plays a crucial part in the strategy of colonisation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing implemented by the Israeli regime in these Palestinian and Syrian territories over the last 45 years. In 2008-2009 during “Operation Cast Lead” more than 1,400 people were killed by this army in the Gaza Strip in just 22 days [2]. This action was widely condemned by the international community.
Since April, Gilad Shalit is no longer officially part of the Israeli army [3]. However, in the eyes of the Catalan people and the world as a whole he still symbolically represents the IDF.
We are also surprised to see your Club express so much friendship and sympathy towards the only Israeli soldier to be imprisoned in recent years as a result of this conflict while, at the same time, maintaining absolute silence about the 4,660 Palestinian prisoners now confined in Israeli prisons. These include 210 minors, 6 women, 20 members of the Palestinian parliament and 250 people under administrative detention (without charges or trial) [4]. One of the institutions that has denounced the predicament of the imprisoned Palestinian minors and demanded their immediate release is UNICEF [5], the United Nations agency that receives funding from the Club you preside and whose name appears on the players’ shirts. Furthermore, inviting this former soldier to Barcelona stadium as an honoured guest constitutes an exaltation of militarism that is contrary to the values promoted by Barcelona Football Club and UNICEF all over the world.
Barcelona football club should know that among the Palestine prisoners there are also many sportsmen. The case of Mahmoud Sarsak is especially revealing of the way the Israeli regime mistreats the Palestinian people and in particular their sportsmen. Sarsak, who comes from the Gaza strip, is a football player who has played in the Palestinian national team. He was arrested by the Israeli army on July 22 2009 and spent 3 years of his life in prison under administrative detention, that is to say without charges or trial. Sarsak achieved freedom on 10 July 2012, after 3 months of hunger strike, which forced the Israeli authorities to recognise that he was being detained illegally. During his hunger strike, in which he came close to death, he received the support of Eric Cantona, Frédéric Kanouté, the President of the UEFA Michel Platini, the President of the FIFA Sepp Blatter [6] and FIFPro (a worldwide professional football players' association).
On July 9 2005, more than 170 organisations from Palestinian civil society followed the example of the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa and called on the international community to impose boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) on the State of Israel until it complies with International Law and respects universal principles of Human Rights [7].
In response to this call from Palestinian civil society we urge you to withdraw the invitation to the former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. As people who are concerned about peace, freedom and justice, many of whom are Barcelona supporters, we cannot accept that the representatives of the Club you preside share the presidential box with a person who symbolically represents a military institution that systematically violates international law and the most elementary human rights of an occupied people: the Palestinians.

Yours sincerely,
BDS Catalunya
And here's an open letter from various "Palestinian footballers, athletes and sporting organizations and officials":
Dear President Sandro Rossell
We, Palestinian footballers, athletes and sporting organizations and officials, are dismayed to learn the great team of Barcelona will host Gilad Shalit to the Classico, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, on October 7th ,while more than 5000 Palestinian political prisoners remain rotting, many in isolation, many with no visits, many on hunger strike with no attention or care for them to be released.
The arbitrary arrest of thousands of Palestinians, including Gazan Palestinian National Team football star Mahmoud Kamel As-Sarsak, who was held without trial or indeed public explanation for the arrest, is a routine tool of Israeli occupation. Mahmoud was only released after a 95 day hunger strike. Many others are in Israeli prison on hunger strike as we write, some close to death. Mahmoud Sarsek lost 3 years of his football career and nearly died while protesting with the only means possible to him. He deserves to be hosted!

Joseph S. Blatter, President of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), has expressed “grave concern” towards Israeli practices and its restrictions on Palestinian players, especially those incarcerated in Israeli prisons, or banned from assembling for the national team. And Michele Platini said, “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.”

The Israeli illegal military occupation of Palestine and the five- year siege on Gaza has suffocated the aspirations of Palestinian sports men, women and youth for decades. So where are the consequences? Political support for Israel’s practices by hosting one of the Israel Occupation Force soldiers from one of the world’s greatest clubs?!

More Palestinians in Gaza support Barcelona than any other club, especially among children who make up the majority of the population. We, in Gaza, have all been through so much under a hermetic siege, regular bombardments, and frequent incursions. The use of overwhelming force in Operation Cast Lead in winter 2008-09 was responsible for levelling large swathes of Gaza including the Rafah National football Stadium, and killing football players Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshate, as well as over 1,400 other Gazans. National team goalkeeper, Omar Abu Rwayyis, was arrested by Israeli police in 2012 on “terrorism charges,” a label used for people whose life was football, not politics. Many times the Palestinian team could not assemble, train or participate in tournaments because of Israeli illegal restrictions on player movement.

Our footballers are continually deprived entry or exit from what many main-stream Human Rights Organizations call the world’s largest open-air prison. .You must be aware of the example last year when Israel refused to allow six members of the Palestinian national team to travel from Gaza to a match against Mauritania. Like everyone stranded in Gaza, Israeli spokesmen said the players were denied access for “security reasons”, claiming they did not have the correct permit, reminiscent of the notorious racist “pass law” in Apartheid South Africa. This is a continuous systematic policy for all of us that has decimated our involvement in international sport. The uncertainties from refused permissions to leave and enter the Strip and the changing severity of the Israeli Siege and Occupation are a major impediment and as a result the West Asian Union Federation does not always schedule games involving our teams.

In 2007 the national team was prevented from travelling to play a World Cup Qualifier in Singapore and eliminated, and in May 2008 for the AFC Challenge Cup denying them qualification for the 2011 Asia Cup. The Olympic players from Gaza have been barred from entry to the West Bank and the youth teams have frequently been denied exit and re-entry.

During Israel’s criminal attacks on Gaza in 2009 our national stadium was targeted and destroyed, as was the Palestinian Football Association building. A new stadium planned to be built in Gaza, Beit Lahiya, was ceased because of the continuing Israeli siege, which still bars concrete from entering the Gaza Strip along with other sports equipment. And theonly grass pitch in Gaza had previously been blown up by an Israeli missile forcing the national team to play matches in a virtually empty stadium in Qatar.

Just as the effective boycott of sports teams from the South African apartheid regime showed, sporting and political life cannot be separated. We ask you to not show solidarity with the army that oppresses, imprisons and kills Palestinian sportsmen and women in Palestine, and instead reach out to those Palestinian footballers with destroyed dreams and broken opportunities due entirely to the Israeli regime’s apartheid policies against them.

In the words of Mahmoud Sarsek:
            As a released prisoner, Palestinian national team footballer and big fan of FC Barcelona, I strongly condemn the club’s decision  to invite the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to one of their matches and I call on them to cancel this decision. There are almost 5000 political prisoners held captive in Israeli jails, suffering daily the horrifying Israeli prison practices that violate international humanitarian law and international agreements. Our prisoners, many of whom are footballers and other athletes, are facing some of the most brutal methods and practices of psychological and physical torture. Only former captives like myself know the full story of such oppression and humiliation which will haunt us for many years to come. I call on FC Barca to boycott participation with Israeli sports teams and call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until it allows Palestinians their fundamental rights, including the right to participate freely in sport and sports competitions. Do not invite the Israel Occupation Forces soldier Gilad Shalit when so many Palestinians rot in Israeli prisons for the crime of being Palestinians who wish to play football and other sports.

Hosting Gilad Shalit is like parading a SADF soldier during the 1980s at a European soccer match. Would you have done that, F.C Barcelona?

Signed by
FC Barcelona Fans Association in Gaza
Alwehda (unity) Club-Rafah                                                
Alasteqlal (independence) Club-Rafah                                
Jamaa'i Rafah Club                                                                 
Alnuseirat Services Club                                                        
Deir Elbalah Services Club                                                    
Deir Elbalah Union Club                                              
Alsalah Charity Club
Alwehda Club- Jabalia
Jabalia Youths Club
Beit Hanoun Civil Club
Beit Lahyia Club
Albureij Services Club
Alaqsa Club-Alnuseirat
Almaghazi Services Club
Alnuseirat Sefrvices Club
Alzawaida Youth Club
Jabalia Union Club
Ansaar Jabalia Club
Alkarama Club
Gaza Sporting Club
RafahYouths Club
ALtarabot Club- Deir Albalah
Albureij Civil Club
Alredwan Club
Hetteen Club
Alta3awn (Cooperation) Club
Alwefaq Club
Aljazeera Club
Alyarmouk Club
Alrayaan Club
Albureij Youths Club
Alrebaat Club
Alzawaida Union Club
Almaghazi Youths Club
Alqarara Club
Alataa' Althahabi Club
Alshaf3' Club
Alshareqa Club
Canada Club
Alqadessia Club
Tel Alsoultaan Club
Shatti Services Club
Islamic Assembly Club
Khan Younus Union Club
Rafah Youth Club
Sports College—Al-Aqsa University
Players and coaches:
Mahmoud Sarsak (Palestine Soccer National Team Player)
Ghassan Balaawi (Palestine Soccer National Team Ex-coach)
Khaled Quake (Under 20 Palestine soccer Team coach)
Naim Salameh ( Coach)
Naif Abdul Hadi (Coach)
Jamal El Houli (Coach)
Abdul Hai Abu Shammaleh (Coach and Commentator)
I hope and expect that there will be demonstrations against this open siding with racist war criminals.

Bibi's bombshell blows up in his face

I thought this was a joke when I first saw it but apparently Netanyahu was serious when he unfurled what purported to be Iran's blueprint for the bomb.  Seeing the pic on Times of Israel didn't help me believe it was serious but it is for real after all.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows an illustration as he describes his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions during his address to the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. (photo credit: Richard Drew/AP)

As ToI points out,

Even some supporters of Israel, such as American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, bemoaned Netanyahu’s use of the cartoon.
Jeffrey Goldberg
Okay, it's official: #Netanyahu has no idea what he's doing. He has just turned a serious issue into a joke.
+972 Mag has the responses of various Israeli artists.   Here's my fave:

(Noa Angel)

Elsewhere, The Guardian contained just a hint of the ridicule directed at Bibi:
European officials were sceptical about Netanyahu's argument, comparing it to the infamous illustrated presentation about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction made in 2003 by the then US secretary of state, Colin Powell. "It was like Powell and WMD, but much lower quality graphics," one European diplomat said.
Searching "Netanyahu UN" in Google news, it appears that most of the main players in the US media have done Bibi the favour of ignoring him.  Certainly the LA Times and Fox News have withheld the pic which makes Bibi look so ridiculous.

Avoid this!

Apologies for being so late with this.

September 23, 2012

This year Barcelona...

Here's a bit of a coincidence. I think what has happened here is that Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. was invited to an event at Barcelona FC and an outcry led to the invite being cancelled. Here's Yael Kahn in the comments to the previous post:

There is already some good news from Barcelona -
FC Barcelona President replied that Barca is not inviting Gilad Shalit, though the media that had claimed he is has failed to report he is NOT invited.
 If Barca would have hosted Shalit it is quite likely we would have witnessed even stronger BDS protests during the classic on October 7

So, this year Barcelona after all. I'm glad we didn't have to wait.

Next year Barcelona?

Or maybe Barcelona has already held similar protests against Israel to the one reported on the Alternative Information Centre site:

PHOTOS: Protest at Athletic Bilbao-Hapoel football match


A strong demonstration for Palestinian rights was conducted during the football match between Athletic Bilbao (Basque country) and Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona (Israel), conducted on 20 September 2012. The demonstration is particularly impressive given reported attempts by Athletic Bilbao authorities to frighten supporters with the possibility of fines and a ban from UEFA. Two supporters' clubs of Athletic Bilbao were actively involved in organising the protest. 
The presence of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the game could not be ignored (Photo: BDS Bizkaia) 

Demonstrators gathered outside the stadium prior to the game (Photo: BDS Bizkaia) 

Hapoel players prior to the match (Photo: BDS Bizkaia) 

Protesters were strategically located throughout the stadium (Photo: BDS Bizkaia) 
Who knows where these protests will pop up next?

September 22, 2012

Mainstreaming the one state solution

Here's another call for the one state solution from, to my mind anyway, an unexpected source.  Simon Hughes of the UK's Liberal Democrats has described himself before now as "unequivocally a lover of Israel".   George Galloway picked up on it back in 2004 when he said it and so did I.

Well now he's calling for the one state solution on the grounds that Israel has made the two state solution impossible.  Here he is in The Jewish Chronicle:

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has said that the opportunity for a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine dispute is now “near to the end” and the international community should consider a “one state solution”.
Speaking on the eve of his party conference, the veteran Lib Dem politician said he believed a single federated state in which Muslims, Jews and Christians had separate constitutional rights may now be the best option.
Mr Hughes’s controversial words are a departure from Liberal Democrat and government policy.
The Lib Dem deputy leader said: “We are near to the end of the opportunity of being able to get a peaceful two-state solution because of the extent of the settlements.” The separation of Gaza from the West Bank and the increasing encroachment of the settlements meant that an alternative to the two-state model must be explored: “We need to be honest and realistic about having a Plan B and a Plan C as well as a Plan A, as an international community.”

It gets a bit weird when he suggests that Jews in the UK should try and persuade Israel of his "new" idea:
 Mr Hughes said that the UK Jewish community should press the Israeli government to honour international law. “I call on Jewish friends who are moderate and internationalist and careful about these things to use all their influence to make sure that international law is honoured and particularly that forced removals of people don’t go ahead where possible.

“On the minority rights issue, the human rights issue, the international law issue, the United Nations issue: these are things that just stack up against Israel as unnecessary steps that don’t enhance its reputation. That’s a government of Israel point, it’s not an anti-Jewish point.”
Not sure why he thinks Jews in the UK would be influential there but when I posted about him back in 2004 I titled the post, "I love ethnic cleansing and apartheid laws": Simon Hughes. Funny then that he specifically mentions the ethnic cleansing though not by name. He appears not to be ready to describe Israel's laws as "apartheid" laws just yet.  I'm suggesting that this member of the UK Jewish community has influenced Simon Hughes. It's just curious that he has gone from being a supporter of the State of Israel to flirting with the idea of abolishing it altogether.

September 21, 2012

Free speech in France?

France has banned all demonstrations against the Mohamed cartoons published in the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.  Here's Reuters:

By Brian Love

PARIS, Sept 21 (Reuters) - France confirmed on Friday it would allow no street protests against cartoons denigrating Islam's Prophet Mohammad that were published by a French magazine this week.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects throughout the country had orders to prohibit any protest over the issue and to crack down if the ban was challenged.

"There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up," he told a news conference in the southern port city of Marseille.
This is a bizarre and hypocritical response given the free speech arguments used by defenders of Charlie Hebdo.

September 17, 2012

Golda Meir said what?

Deborah Maccoby posted the link to this Independent article by Sir Terence English some time ago but I've only just read it.  It's am interesting take on the state of the so-called peace process setting out three scenarios for the future:

I am no politician but it seems that there are only three options with respect to a resolution of the present untenable state of affairs.
The option most commonly promoted is that of a two-state solution, in which a Palestinian state would be formed from Gaza and from what is left of the West Bank after withdrawal of the Israeli occupation. This, however, has been seriously compromised as a result of the remorseless increase in Israeli settlements since 1967. As a result of this there are now approximately 500,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, most of whom would strenuously resist being resettled within Israel’s internationally recognised borders. Another serious problem with the two-state solution is the future of Jerusalem. That the whole city should become the capital of Israel has been regarded as “non-negotiable” by the Israelis, whereas Palestinians see East Jerusalem as their capital of a future Palestinian State.
A second option and one favoured by many Zionists, is that Israel should eventually incorporate the whole land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. This implies that Palestinians living in the West Bank would either have to be displaced to neighbouring Arab countries such as Jordan, or accept living in a Jewish state as second class citizens. The injustice of such an outcome hardly bears scrutiny and I cannot believe the international community would ever allow this to happen.
The third option and one that I think should be given more serious consideration than it is receiving is that of a single democratic, pluralistic, bi-national state. The concept of one state shared equally by the two peoples might seem unacceptable if not impossible to most Israelis and Palestinians living in the region. However, as the two-state solution becomes progressively more problematic and impractical there is a need to look critically at a bolder and potentially more lasting solution.
There then comes the inevitable South Africa comparison:
Growing up in South Africa I had difficulty in imagining how transformation to a post-apartheid democratic state could ever be achieved without bloodshed. However the country was then blessed with two great leaders in Mandela and de Klerk, who managed to persuade their respective constituencies that this was the only way forward. It is similar leadership that is now so desperately needed in Israel and Palestine.
Now look what comes next:
Leaders who, from the Israeli side, can recognise and put an end to the injustices of the present situation and reiterate sentiments once expressed by Golda Meir in a speech to the Knesset in May 1970 when she declared, “We did not come to dispossess the Arabs of the land but to work together with them in peace and prosperity, for the good of all”.
She said that?  Sheesh! I don't think the word hasbara was used to describe that kind of thing back then but who knows? It could have been.  It should have been.

September 15, 2012

Jewish "refugees" and hasbara

Apparently, now most witnesses are dead or elderly, Israel is using Jews from Arab countries in a new hasbara effort.  Here's an article by Ben White from al Jazeera:

A propaganda initiative by the Israeli government is taking direct aim at the core issue of Palestinian refugees through a manipulation of the stories of Jews who left Arab countries in the years after 1948.
The main instigator of this ‘Justice for Jewish refugees from Arab countries’ campaign - the name of a recent conference in Jerusalem - is Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, whose previous efforts have included laughing in the face of international law over dinner jazz.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Ayalon "called for the recognition of the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries… to counter the ‘Arab narrative’ of the Israeli- Arab conflict". Ynet called it a "new hasbara campaign".
But while some Israeli officials clearly have high hopes for this approach, talking up Jewish refugees as a way of ‘balancing out’ or neutralising Palestinian claims is a strategy long criticised by many Zionists.
Back in April, former director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Alon Liel criticised the new focus, saying that "to define [Jews from Arab countries] as refugees is exaggerated". Iraqi-Israeli former Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillelhas stated: "I do not regard the departure of Jews from Arab lands as that of refugees. They came here because they wanted to, as Zionists."
Another former Knesset speaker, Yisrael Yeshayahu, expressed similar sentiments: "We are not refugees. [Some of us] came to this country before the state was born. We had messianic aspirations." Former-MK Ran Cohen, who emigrated from Iraq, once commented: "I came at the behest of Zionism, due to the pull that this land exerts, and due to the idea of redemption. Nobody is going to define me as a refugee."  
As well as encouraging a narrative contested by many Israelis, the attempt to link the two population movements is also illogical. The expulsion of Palestinians and destruction of hundreds of villages in 1948 was a catastrophe (Nakba) for an entire society, while in the case of Jews from the Middle East, their arrival in Israel was in line with the state’s Zionist raison d’être.
In the words of Israeli professor Yehouda Shenhav, "any reasonable person" must acknowledge the analogy to be "unfounded" :
Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine...Those who left did not do so of their own volition. In contrast, Jews from Arab lands came to this country under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some came of their own free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression.
There are other problems. Australian professor (and supporter of Israel) Dr Philip Mendes has written how "the Jewish exodus from Iraq and other Arab countries took place over many decades, before and after the Palestinian exodus" and "there is no evidence that the Israeli leadership anticipated a so-called population exchange when they made their arguably harsh decision to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees". In other words: "the two exoduses…should be considered separately". 
Furthermore, one person’s rights are not ‘cancelled out’ by another’s: the rights of Jews to recognition of and compensation for lost properties across the Arab world are legitimate, and entirely separate from the Palestinian refugees’ rights. Yet revealingly, ask Danny Ayalon and Israel advocacy groups if they support full rights for all refugees, Jewish and Palestinian, and you will get prevarication or silence.
In the hands of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, this is yet another cynical propaganda ploy that seeks to counter growing awareness of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine with rhetoric of "the other Nakba". As the co-founder of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) put it in 2007:
Most of the people advocating campus hasbara, or to general audiences, bring good talking points, but neglect the fact that we have a good balancing narrative, namely that more Jews were made refugees than Palestinians.
In June 1948, with hundreds of Palestinian villages already ‘cleansed’, senior Jewish National Fund official Yosef Weitz met with Israel’s first Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to discuss recommendations made by the so-called "Transfer Committee".
The five specific proposals were to destroy villages, prevent Palestinians cultivating their land, settle Jews in some of the empty communities, pass relevant legislation, and employ propaganda against a return. According to Weitz,     Ben-Gurion "agreed to the whole line".                                                                        
This, to borrow a phrase, colonial present, is what Danny Ayalon’s pet project is trying to conceal, and it is particularly ironic coming from a man who unashamedly promotes the continuation of ‘Judaisation’ policies in Israel today. Perhaps he should stick to YouTube.
 We've been here before.