| About time: Britain edges towards boycotting Israel!

Britain edges towards boycotting Israel ~ Redress Information & Analysis.

For the first time, the British government has issued guidelines warning businesses of the risks of trading with Jewish colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, including potential damage to a company’s reputation.


New guidance, published on 3 December by UK Trade & Investment, a government body that works with British businesses in international markets, warns there are “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity”. It says:

The UK has a clear position on Israeli settlements: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. We will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

There are therefore clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to the land, water, mineral or other natural resources which might be the subject of purchase or investment.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals. Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice.

According to the Guardian newspaper, this is

the first time the UK government has explicitly stated its position on settlements… in advice specifically directed at businesses. It is part of a steadily stiffening position by the UK on settlements and their produce, an indication of frustration and anger at Israeli intransigence on its activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.


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Welcoming the guidance as “a step in the right direction”, a spokesman for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, Rafeef Ziadah, said:

The UK government has realized that its condemnations of illegal settlements are falling on deaf ears and has started to address the huge amount of economic support that the illegal settlements receive from UK businesses…

The government should now make it absolutely clear to companies like G4S that it is unacceptable to participate in Israel’s illegal settlements or in Israel’s other human rights abuses…

It isn’t enough to simply warn businesses about the economic and legal risks of doing business with settlements. The UK government and all EU member states have a duty to take a proactive approach to preventing businesses from contributing to Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Until that happens, we, as individuals, all have a duty to boycott Israeli goods whenever we see them.

For more information on how you can contribute to the boycott Israel campaign, visit the BDS Movement website here.


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| Marwan Barghouthi: Imprisoned Palestinian leader mourns Mandela’s death!

Imprisoned Palestinian leader mourns Nelson Mandela’s death ~  Redress Information & Analysis.

Message from Marwan Barghouthi, imprisoned Palestinian resistance leader, following the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s death.

During the long years of my own struggle, I had the occasion to think many times of you, dear Nelson Mandela. Even more since my arrest in 2002. I think of a man who spent 27 years in a prison cell, only to demonstrate that freedom was within him before becoming a reality his people could enjoy. I think of his capacity to defy oppression and apartheid, but also to defy hatred and to choose justice over vengeance.

Marwan Barghouti

Marwan Barghouti – inspired by Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom.

How many times did you doubt the outcome of this struggle? How many times did you ask yourself if justice will prevail? How many times did you wonder why is the world so silent? How many times did you wonder whether your enemy could ever become your partner? At the end, your will proved unbreakable, making your name one of the most shining names of freedom.

You are much more than an inspiration. You must have known, the day you came out of prison, that you were not only writing history, but contributing to the triumph of light over darkness, and yet you remained humble. And you carried a promise far beyond the limits of your country’s borders, a promise that oppression and injustice will be vanquished, paving the way to freedom and peace. In my prison cell, I remind myself daily of this quest, and all sacrifices become bearable by the sole prospect that one day the Palestinian people will also be able to enjoy freedom, return and independence, and this land will finally enjoy peace.

You became an icon to allow your cause to shine and to impose itself on the international stage. Universality to counter isolation. You became a symbol around which all those who believe in the universal values that found your struggle could rally, mobilize and act. Unity is the law of victory for oppressed people. The tiny cell and the hours of forced labour, the solitude and the darkness, did not prevent you from seeing the horizon and sharing your vision. Your country has become a lighthouse and we, as Palestinians, are setting sails to reach its shores.

You said: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” And from within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours. Apartheid did not prevail in South Africa, and apartheid shall not prevail in Palestine. We had the great privilege to welcome in Palestine a few months ago, your comrade and companion in struggle Ahmed Kathrada, who launched, following this visit, the International Campaign for the Freedom of Palestinian Prisoners from your own cell, where an important part of universal history was shaped, demonstrating that the ties between our struggles are everlasting.

Your capacity to be a unifying figure, and to lead from within the prison cell, and to be entrusted with the future of your people while being deprived of your ability to choose your own, are the marks of a great and exceptional leader and of a truly historical figure. I salute the freedom fighter and the peace negotiator and maker, the military commander and the inspirer of peaceful resistance, the relentless militant and the statesman.

You have dedicated your life to ensure freedom and dignity, justice and reconciliation, peace and coexistence can prevail. Many now honour your struggle in their speeches. In Palestine, we promise to pursue the quest for our common values, and to honour your struggle not only through words, but by dedicating our lives to the same goals. Freedom dear Madiba, shall prevail, and you contributed tremendously in making this belief a certainty.

Rest in Peace, and may God bless your unconquerable soul.

Marwan Barghouthi
Hadarim prison
Cell No.28



| Putin reaches out to America: A Plea for Caution From Russia!

A Plea for Caution From Russia ~ VLADIMIR V. PUTIN, New York Times.

What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria.

MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy inSyria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.

If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia.


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| Wag the dog: How the pro-Israel right will attack Samantha Power: Like they did in 2008!

How the Pro-Israel Right Will Attack Samantha Power: Like They Did in 2008 ~ , Open Zion.

The nomination of Samantha Power to take up Susan Rice’s seat as the U.S. ambassador the U.N. will surely raise hackles among some of the right-wing pro-Israel community. You see, Power is, according to a few right-wingers, an “anti-Israel intellectual.” The former journalist and Harvard academic already faced attack after attack in 2008 during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Power was then a close Obama adviser (until she resigned for harsh criticisms of Obama’s then-rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton), and the pro-Israel right was trying to paint the presidential candidate as an enemy of the Jewish state.

Samantha Power
Samantha Power exits the West Wing of the White House in Washington D.C. on Oct. 12, 2010. (Charles Dharapak/AP )

But what did Power do to incur the scorn? As her critics have it, she believes that “special interests” (read: pro-Israel lobby groups) can distort U.S. interests and strategy; said that inking Arab-Israeli peace deals is essential to peace in the Middle East (which seems obvious); wondering why alleged war crimes by Israel didn’t make the headline of a 2003 New York Times article noting a rights group’s dismissal of charges that Israel committed a massacre; and a quote from a 2003 interview where Power suggested the U.S. may need to impose a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The last attack is already gaining traction in the right-wing blogosphere and in the Israeli press. In the 2003 interview, Power said, “What we need there is actually a willingness to put something on the line in terms of actually helping the situation,” she said. This might “might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” she added, in a nod to the influential pro-Israel lobby. Power goes on to say that there are “major human rights abuses” in Israel and that a solution might need to be imposed on the parties. None of these perspectives seem totally unreasonable, but Power nonetheless repudiated her stated views in a 2008 interview, and then again in 2011 when she invited the right-leaning Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to her office.

Noah Pollak, then at Commentary, led the charge against Power. Even in these early days, Pollak displayed the sort of dishonesty he’s more recently becomefamous for as the director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. At the time of the original attacks, Matt Duss found one such example of Pollak deliberately omitting context from a Power quote, and another Pollak post cherry-picked parts of a her interview with Salon.

Even an honest look at Power’s record, though, will probably not satiate some pro-Israel hawks, while others will find her strong interventionism palatable. In 2008, as his then-Commentary colleague Pollak was launching attacks, Max Boot rushed to Power’s defense. Today, he strongly backed her nomination in an interview with Foreign Policy, along with hawkish pro-Israel liberal, Alan Dershowitz.

Will re-hashing these 2008 attacks squash Power’s nomination? Probably not. But will those segments of the pro-Israel right that attacked her in 2008 have at it again in 2013? Most definitely. And if the first salvos are any indication, they’ll use the exact same playbook they did five years ago. Like Chuck Hagel’s embattled nomination as Defense Secretary, Power will survive. But she’ll take some shots and come out hesitant to say ‘boo” about Israel.

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Ali Gharib is a Senior Editor for Open Zion, where he writes about the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. Before joining the Daily Beast, he reported for ThinkProgress, Inter Press Service and other outlets.


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| Why a ‘right of return’ is necessary!

Why a ‘right of return’ is necessary ~ Sari Hanafi, director of the Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center.

The right of return of Palestinian refugees to their place of origin is enshrined in four separate bodies of international law: humanitarian law, human rights law, the law of nationality as applied to state succession, and refugee law.

Beyond these bodies of laws, which apply to all refugees in the world, the UN General Assembly specified the Palestinian case in Resolution 194, paragraph 11, which sets forth a framework for a solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees, including the possibility of return: “The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible.”

To understand the importance of the refugee issue to Palestinians, we must understand that the Palestinian nation and Palestinian nationalism as it exists today was born following the expulsion of over half the Palestinian population from their land in 1948, and that one of the fundamental aspects of Palestinian identity is “refugeehood.” Such an understanding obliges us to address the problem of the Palestinian refugees as fundamental to any solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

There are five reasons for this: First, as long as the Israelis do not take into consideration what happened to the Palestinians in 1948 and the expulsion of the indigenous population from 78 percent of the land of historic Palestine, they will keep bargaining about the remaining 22 percent (the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). There is no solution to the land issue without coupling it with the refugee issue. This may be the reason why the Oslo Accords failed.

Second, resolving the refugee issue is not just a technical matter of absorption, nor is it a matter of reciting international law like reciting the Koran. Rather, it involves deconstructing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to its very premises, to understand how its causes led to a certain kind of colonial practice, and to recognize the need for a debate not just to understand, but also to acknowledge and accept, historic responsibility. This is the very precondition for true reconciliation and mutual forgiveness, as suggested by the late Edward Said.

Third, irrespective of whether the final resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict takes the form of a two-state or a binational state solution, the refugee issue cannot be considered secondary. The current intifada has revealed the importance of the refugees; they are the social and political actors most unable to bear the impasse in the Oslo process.

Fourth, beyond the moral and symbolic value of achieving a right of return, the right is useful in creating a framework for providing refugees with a choice between remaining in their host countries, returning to their places of origin or coming to a future Palestinian state (or third countries). The right of choice is a necessity for those who have, for half a century, been forced to live as aliens without basic rights in miserable camps and in states that have not always embraced them with open arms.

Finally, if the right of return and the right of choice is accepted, it will open many possibilities for the refugees to choose from. The movement of refugees depends on many factors related to their social, economic, cultural and identities. The return of refugees does not mean that the whole refugee community will move back to Israel. In almost all cases, the experience of refugees across the world shows that the number of those who return is less than those who choose other solutions. The Israeli phobia of a return is unjustified.

Hannah Arendt, in her study of totalitarianism, reminded us of “the decision of statesmen to solve the problem of statelessness by ignoring it.” She insisted on the necessity of examining displacement through the prism of often xenophobic nation-states, and she traced the political and symbolic logic that had the effect of “pathologizing” and even criminalizing refugees. The contemporary linkage that has been forged between Palestinian return and a disturbance of the regional order, especially in Israel, attests to the continuing relevance of Arendt’s point.


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| Film-maker captures Israeli spy chiefs’ doubts over covert killing operations!

Film-maker captures Israeli spy chiefs’ doubts over covert killing operations ~  in Jerusalem, The Observer.

Director rejects charge that Oscar-nominated secret services documentary is one-sided.

The Gatekeepers

Avraham Shalom, Ami Ayalon, Yaakov Peri, Yuval Diskin, Avi Dichter and Carmi Gillon in The Gatekeepers. Photograph: Sony Pictures/Allstar Picture Library

By the time Dror Moreh had finished filming more than 70 hours of interviews with six former chiefs of Israel‘s shadowy Shin Bet secret service agency, the director knew he had “dynamite in my hands”.

The result, The Gatekeepers, a 97-minute documentary which has just opened in the UK, is indeed explosive. The Oscar-nominated film has played to packed audiences in Israel, many of whom emerged stunned at what they had seen and heard.

“I thought if I could manage to get all [six] to speak openly about their experience in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will create a shockwave,” Moreh told the Observer. “I was right – it created a huge storm.”

The recollections and reflections of the former chiefs weave a riveting narrative of Shin Bet’s activities throughout Israel’s 46-year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. But the punch comes from their conclusions. “We are making lives unbearable,” says Carmi Gillon; “We have become cruel,” says Avraham Shalom; “You can’t make peace using military means,” says Avi Dichter; “We win every battle, but we lose the war,” says Ami Ayalon.

“I was surprised at the extent to which they think in this way,” said Moreh. “They are all saying: enough of occupation. They are not saying it’s easy to reach a solution, but they all say it’s in the best interests of Israel to pursue that.”

It is the first time the six men, who ran Israel’s intelligence operations in thePalestinian territories for almost 30 years, have given in-depth interviews. Much of the film’s potency comes from their cumulative testimonies; “the power of six is more than the power of one,” as Moreh put it.

The film opens with footage, presumably filmed from an Israeli military aircraft or unmanned drone, of a targeted assassination. A Palestinian vehicle is tracked before being destroyed in a blast. The urgent question, says Yuval Diskin, is to “do it or not do it. ‘Don’t do it’ seems easier, but it’s often harder.”

Later the movie dissects the killing of Yahya Ayyash, the Hamas bomb-maker known as the Engineer, who was behind numerous suicide attacks in the early 1990s, by remotely detonated explosives concealed in a mobile phone as the militant spoke to his elderly father. The security chiefs also discuss dilemmas over approving operations that may result in the deaths of innocent family members or passersby.

Sometimes, says Diskin, “it’s a super-clean operation. No one was hurt except the terrorists. Even then, later, life stops – at night, in the day, when you’re shaving, we all have our moments, on vacation. You say: ‘OK, I made a decision, and X number of people were killed. They were definitely about to launch a big attack, no one near them was hurt, it was as sterile as possible.’ Yet you still say: ‘There’s something unnatural about it.’ What’s unnatural is the power you have … to take their lives in an instant.”

Over original footage and computer-generated sequences, the former spy chiefs describe methods of controlling the Palestinian population, intelligence-gathering, interrogation techniques and Jewish extremism. The assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish gunman opposed to the peace process is recalled as a major crisis for the Shin Bet. Gillon, the head of the security service at the time, describes coming to terms with the agency’s failure to protect the country’s political leader. He offered his resignation after consulting his wife. She, he says, just “tries to keep me alive”.

Another crisis, the hijacking of “Bus 300” in 1984, ended with two Palestinian militants being beaten to death in the custody of the Shin Bet. Shalom, who was in charge at the time, is initially reluctant to discuss it, saying he does not remember the details of the episode which eventually forced his resignation.

Then, chillingly, he says: “They were almost dead. So I said: ‘Hit them again and finish it.’ I think he took a rock and smashed their heads in.” It was, he admits, “a lynching”, but adds: “In the war against terror, forget about morality.”

Asked how he persuaded the six men to participate in the film, Moreh said he did not tell them in advance what the message would be “because I didn’t know what the message would be. I just said I wanted to tell the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the point of view of the people who have experience of the decision-making. No one could say they do not understand what they are speaking about. And I think they understood why their position, as heads of Shin Bet, will matter.”

There is no narration in the film, just the voices of the six men with occasional questioning from Moreh. “I came to hear them, I was very interested in what they had to tell me. It was very important for me to listen, and just to navigate these long conversations.”

There were many interviews, lasting four to five hours and mostly conducted in their homes – “in their environment, in the places where they feel most secure, to make them feel comfortable and allow them to open”. They were not ingenues, says Moreh. “They understand the power of the tongue, the power of language, because they used that all their lives.”

After the film opened in Israel, Moreh was accused of selectively editing his material. Moshe Ya’alon, now Israel’s defence minister, told Army Radio: “What was presented there was presented in a really one-sided manner, and therefore the film is slanted. [Moreh] took parts of long interviews and presented the clips that served his narrative.”

Moreh, who described his personal political viewpoint as centre-left “but more centre than left”, rejected the allegation. “One of the most important things was not to take their words out of context, not to distort what they had to say on such delicate matters. And since the first screening of the movie, not one of the six has said it twisted what he had to say. For some, it was very tough. But all six stand firmly behind the message of the movie.”

But should they have raised their voices earlier, when still in a position to influence policy? “They are professionals, they have a duty to protect Israel. They are not elected politicians, but appointed officials. As such they cannot criticise political [decisions] in a democratic society. Those who are public servants, if they don’t feel they should do something, they should resign. This is what they answered when I asked them why didn’t you say then what you are saying now.”

Since retiring from their posts, three of the six have entered politics as members of the Israeli parliament. Ami Ayalon represented the Labour party from 2006 until 2009, Avi Dichter the centre-right Kadima party from 2006 until 2012. Yaakov Peri was elected in January’s election to represent the centrist Yesh Atid party and is the current science and technology minister.

Towards the end of The Gatekeepers, Peri speaks over footage of a Shin Bet raid on a Palestinian home. He describes operations in which suspected militants are dragged from their terrified and sobbing families in the dead of night. Even when you know the details of what people have done, you have some doubts, he suggests. And then, “when you leave the service”, he adds haltingly, “you become a bit of a leftist”.

To Diskin, the most recent incumbent of the post, Moreh quotes the words of the late Israeli intellectual Yeshayahu Leibowitz, written soon after the start of the occupation. Ruling over the Palestinians, said Leibowitz, would effectively turn Israel into a police state, “with all that this implies for education, freedom of speech and thought, and democracy”.

“I agree with every word,” says the former Shin Bet chief.


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| Exposing Truth: The Holy Land Gets Skunked — An Analysis!

The Holy Land Gets Skunked — An Analysis ~  To the point analyses, Lawrence Davidson.

Part I – Something Is Rotten in the State of Israel


It is said that the devil has about him the smell of fire and brimstone (sulphur). Evil deeds are often described as “most foul.” On the other hand, people who appear, accurately or not, as always innocent are described as “smelling like roses.” There seems, then, to be a long standing, if improbable, association between behavior and smells.


The Israeli army has recently dedicated itself to demonstrating this association. Back on 6 March 2013 the Middle East Monitor reported that


Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with Skunk as punishment for organizing weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied land. Human rights watchdog B’Tselem  published a video showing Israel’s armored tanker trucks fitted with “water canons” [spraying] the foul fluid. 


 Skunk is a fluid so offensive smelling that people automatically retreat from anywhere or anyone doused with it.


This is not the first time the Israelis have used such noxious tactics. Zionist settlers are fond of diverting the sewage from their illegal settlements, which are usually placed on high ground,  into the fields and towns of Palestinians living in the valleys below. This is apparently done with the knowledge and approval of the Israeli state.


I doubt if many of the Israelis involved in these maneuvers have ever read Dante’s Inferno. In that epic poem, Hell is a place steeped in sewage and rot, and Israeli actions seem intent on reproducing this scenario.  Are the Israelis then trying to turn the Holy Land into Hell?  Well, yes, for the Palestinians. To  this end the settlers and soldiers mimic Dante’s demons.


Part II – Selective Smelling


How far does the bad smell of Israeli actions reach? We can be sure that it reaches as far as London, where MP David Ward of the Liberal Democratic Party recently wrote in a Holocaust Memorial book that,


having visited Auschwitz twice . . . I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.


Ward’s reference to “the Jews” have been qualified, because not all Jews support Zionism or Israel’s claim to “Judea and Samaria,” much less the pogrom-like way the Israelis are going about ethnically cleansing the areas under their control. In fact, an increasing number of American Jews are, if you will,washing their hands of Israel in general. Yet Ward was correct when it comes to the “Jewish state’s” behavior. Perhaps Mr. Ward’s confusion was a product of Israel’s constant insistence that it represents all the world’s Jews.


Not everyone seems to smell the odor emanating from Israel. Mr. Ward’s Liberal Democratic Party called him to account for daring to draw attention to the fact that foul acts continue to be committed against the Palestinians by the self-proclaimed representative of the Jews. A quiet word to Ward about avoiding generalizations would probably have sufficed but, using a process similar to those carried out by totalitarian regimes, Ward’s party ordered him “to meet with the party’s ‘Friends of Israel’ chapter to ‘identify and agree on language that will be proportionate and precise when he speaks out again on the Israeli-Palestine conflict.” He did so and issued the required apology. This    smells like censorship to me.



Part III – Foul Is Fair


It’s one thing to punish someone for calling attention to Israel’s rank behavior. It is something else to insist that foul is actually fair–-to say the sewage smells like roses. Who would be reckless enough to imply such a nauseating thing and do so with a straight face before cameras with the whole world watching? How about the President of the United States? He lives in Washington D.C., where denial of Israel’s malodorous nature is almost unanimous.


President Obama had an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV station on 15 March 2013, just before he left to visit that country. In the interview he stated that he admires Israel’s “core values.” The Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who has an honest nose for these things, editorially asked Obama,


which values he was talking about? The dehumanization of the Palestinians? The attitude toward African migrants? The arrogance, racism and nationalism? Is this what he admires? Don’t separate buses for Palestinians remind him of something? Doesn’t two communities living on the same land, one with full rights and the other with no rights, ring a bell . . . ?


To admire “core values” while knowing we’re talking about one of the most racist countries there is, with a separation wall and apartheid-like policies, means betraying the core values of the American civil rights movement that made the Obama miracle possible.


Nonetheless, upon arriving in Israel, President Obama said that U.S. support for the very same Israel Levy describes will “be forever.” It might be added that, at the same time, the president insisted that the Palestinians cease demanding a halt to the building of settlements, with their targeted open- sewer policies, before any further “peace” negotiations with the Israelis.


When it comes to Israel, President Obama, and most of the Congress as well, can’t tell the difference between fair and foul. That is because they live in a peculiar professional world whose parameters, in reference to Israel and Palestine, are defined by a Zionist lobby with Orwellian powers. In this special world, double-think abounds. Racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and the tactical use of Skunk and raw sewage disappear and are replaced by imaginary “core values” that smell like roses.


Part IV – Conclusion


The president can privately smell garbage and call it roses all he wants. But when he tries to sell the rest of us on this connection, the credibility of his language sinks into the gutter. Remember what George Orwell tells us about the potential for harm in the misuse of political language. Misused, such language offers a “defense of the indefensible” and is “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” That is what most politicians’ language has sunk to when it comes to Israel/Palestine.


That this should go on “forever,” as the president claims, is just hyperbole. Consider the fact that a recent CIA report calls into question the Zionist state’s ability to last for more than another twenty years. No, the bad smell coming from Israel denotes internal socio-political rot, as well as rotten tactics toward non-Jewish inhabitants. Sooner or later everyone possessing a humane conscience, to say nothing of a functioning honest nose, will refuse to have anything to do with this “apartheid-like” state.




| Sellout: Why is Obama letting the Oppression of Palestinians continue?

Will Obama Let the Oppression of Palestinians Continue? ~ RASHID KHALIDI, nyt.

Is Any Hope Left for Mideast Peace?

WHAT should Barack Obama, who is to visit Israel next Wednesday for the first time in his presidency, do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Anthony Russo


First, he must abandon the stale conventional wisdom offered by the New York-Washington foreign-policy establishment, which clings to the crumbling remnants of a so-called peace process that, in the 34 years since the Camp David accords, has actually helped make peace less attainable than ever.

When the most recent iteration of this process began with high hopes at the Madrid peace conference in 1991, which led to the Oslo accords two years later, there were 200,000 Israelis illegally settled in the occupied Palestinian territories: today, there are more than twice as many.

During this time, under four successive presidents, the United States, purportedly acting as an honest broker, did nothing to prevent Israel from gradually gobbling up the very land the two-state solution was to be based on.

Until 1991 most Palestinians, although under Israeli military occupation, could nonetheless travel freely. Today, an entire generation of Palestinians has never been allowed to visit Jerusalem, enter Israel or cross between the West Bank and Gaza. This ghettoization of the Palestinians, along with the unrest of the second intifada of 2000-5 and the construction of seemingly permanent settlements and of an apartheid-style wall, are the tragic fruits of the so-called peace process the United States has led.

The “peace process” has consisted of indulging Israeli intransigence over Palestine in exchange for foreign-policy goals unrelated to the advancement of peace and Palestinian freedom. In the late 1970s this involved the strategic cold war prize of moving Egypt from the Soviet column to the American column.

The Camp David accord between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar el-Sadat essentially set aside the “Palestinian question.” These constraints shaped the Oslo process, in which Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized each other, while all fundamental issues like borders, refugees, water, Israeli settlements and the status of Jerusalem were deferred.

Toward the end of his first term, Mr. Obama essentially abandoned his already modest peacemaking agenda in exchange for a lull in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign for war with Iran. Palestine was again sacrificed, this time to bribe a belligerent Israel for temporary good behavior.

The American-led “process” has ultimately strengthened the Israeli far right and made Palestinian self-determination more unattainable than ever. Continuing with the Orwellian grotesquerie that is the “peace process” is contrary to any enlightened definition of American self-interest. It has burnished the image of the United States as Israel’s uncritical defender and enabler. Furthermore, it insults the intelligence of the Palestinian people. Despite the complicity of some of their leaders in a process that has left them stateless while the unending colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues, they deserve to be more than prisoners in their own land.

If Mr. Obama decided to devote energy toward resolving the conflict — a big if — it would not be easy. The Palestinians are deeply divided between supporters of Mahmoud Abbas’sFatah faction, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. An even bigger obstacle is Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing government, hellbent on territorial expansion.

In short, if the objectives of the entire peace process are not ending the occupation, removing the settlements and providing for real Palestinian self-determination, then what is the purpose of pretending to restart it?

There are two facts Mr. Obama would do well to keep in mind.

The overwhelming dominance of Israel over the Palestinians means that the conflict is not one that demands reciprocal concessions from two equal parties. In addition, peace has to be made between Palestinians and Israelis, not between Mr. Obama and his critics in the Republican Party, the Israel lobby and Israel’s right-wing parties.

If Mr. Obama cannot face those realities, it would be far better for him to just be honest: the United States supports this intolerable reality and is willing to bear the resulting international opprobrium. People the world over realize that America for many decades has helped produce a situation where, pious invocations of support for a Palestinian state notwithstanding, there is, and for the foreseeable future will be, only one true sovereign authority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River: the state of Israel.

Only Israeli Jews are full citizens of that land, while 5 million Palestinians live in a state of subjugation or exile and 1.2 million Palestinian Arabs live in Israel as second-class citizens. A “one-state solution” based on enduring discrimination and oppression is ultimately unsustainable. Its only remaining external support comes from the United States and Europe, whose citizens are increasingly aware that such a structure is deeply at odds with their own values, as apartheid South Africa was.

For Mr. Obama, a decision is in order. He can reconcile the United States to continuing to uphold and bankroll an unjust status quo that it helped produce. Or he can begin to chart a new course based on recognition that the United States must forthrightly oppose the occupation and the settlements and support an inalienable Palestinian right to freedom, equality and statehood. There is no middle way.

Rashid Khalidi, a professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, is the author, most recently, of “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.”


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| Enough Madness: If not Two States, then One!

If Not Two States, Then One ~ SAREE MAKDISI, NYT.

Ariel Schalit/Associated Press

ISRAEL did not wait long to reveal its first response to the United Nations General Assembly’s overwhelming recognition of Palestine as a non-member state, almost immediately announcing its intention to push forward with plans to build housing for Jewish settlers in E1, an area of the West Bank just to the east of Jerusalem.

Although it is sometimes misleadingly referred to as “disputed” or “controversial,” settlement construction in E1 is no more and no less of a contravention of international law than settlement construction elsewhere in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. What makes this development significant is E1’s location, sealing tight the gap between East Jerusalem and Israel’s largest settlement, Maale Adumim, further to the east.

That gap is the last remaining link for Palestinians between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank; it also occupies the interface among and between the Palestinian communities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem — which, apart from being the cultural, religious, social and economic focal point of Palestinian life, is also one day supposed to be the capital of Palestine.

In moving forward with long-threatened plans to develop E1, Israel will be breaking the back of the West Bank and isolating the capital of the prospective Palestinian state from its hinterland. In so doing, it will be terminating once and for all the very prospect of that state — and with it, by definition, any lingering possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Oddly enough, the Palestine recognized by the United Nation is only an abstraction; the one that Israel is now about to throttle is much more real, at least insofar as the throttling will materially affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in a way that mere recognition does not.

However heavy the blow to Palestinian aspirations, an equally heavy political price for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s E1 plan will be paid by Israelis. For by terminating the prospect of a two-state solution, Netanyahu will also be sealing the fate of an exclusively Jewish state.

As cannier Israeli politicians (Ehud Olmert among them) have long warned, maintaining the existence of Israel as a Jewish state fundamentally requires perpetuating at least the idea of a Palestinian state, even if only as a deferred fiction kept alive through endless negotiations.

Once the fiction of a separate Palestinian state is revealed to have no more substance than the Wizard of Oz — which the E1 plan will all but guarantee — those Palestinians who have not already done so will commit themselves to the only viable alternative: a one-state solution, in which the idea of an exclusively Jewish state and an exclusively Palestinian one will yield to what was really all along the preferable alternative, a single democratic and secular state in all of historical Palestine that both peoples will have to share as equal citizens.

A campaign for rights and equality in a single state is a project toward which the Palestinians will now be able to turn with the formidable international support they have already developed at both the diplomatic and the grassroots levels, including a global boycott and sanctions movement whose bite Israel has already felt.

For Palestinians, in any case, one state is infinitely preferable to two, for the simple reason that no version of the two-state solution that has ever been proposed has meaningfully sought to address the rights of more than the minority of Palestinians who actually live in the territory on which that state is supposed to exist.

The majority of Palestinians live either in the exile to which they were driven from their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948, or as second-class citizens of Israel, where they face formidable obstacles as non-Jews in a state that reserves a full spectrum of rights only for Jews.

For Palestinians, the right to return home and the right to live in dignity and equality in their own land are not any less important than the right to live free of military occupation. A separate state addressed only the latter, but there can never be a just and lasting peace that does not address all those rights, even if it means relinquishing the prospect of an independent Palestinian state.

What must be added here is that if a one-state solution offers the last remaining key to a just and lasting peace, Israeli Jews will pay what will turn out to be only a short-term price in exchange for many long-term gains. Like Palestinians, they will lose the dream and the prospect of a state exclusively their own. But — also like Palestinians — what they will gain in turn is the right to live in peace.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California, Los Angeles and the author of “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.”

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 6, 2012, in The International Herald Tribune.



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| Global opposition to drones + disappointment with Obama on climate change + Middle East!

The Day After: Obama Triumph Sobered by Unmet Global Expectations ~ Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Senior Researcher, Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Much of the world cheered the November 6 re-election of U.S. president Barack Obama. But the president’s honeymoon may be short lived. Disappointment with Obama’s first term foreign policy may challenge both his popularity and his ability to present a positive image of the United States around the globe.

Prior to the election, overwhelming majorities in Western Europe, Japan and Brazil supported Obama’s reelection. But they were upset with signature elements of his foreign policy. In particular, a surveyconducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project earlier this year found widespread opposition to drone strikes, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy, and many believe the president hasn’t sought international approval before using military force, as they expected he would when he first took office. In addition, publics around the globe say Obama failed to meet their expectations that he would tackle climate change and take an even-handed approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Four years ago, Obama came to office with the world behind him, reversing a decade-long trend of negative opinions of the U.S.  Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of Germans, French, Spanish and Indonesians expressing positive views of the U.S. increased by at least 25 percentage points, and double-digit increases were also evident in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, India and Nigeria.  Even in some Muslim countries, where Obama has never enjoyed broad popularity, the image of the U.S. saw modest improvements in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon when Obama was first elected.

But clouds loom on the horizon, as overall approval of Obama’s international policies and confidence in the American president have declined around the globe since 2009. Among Obama’s biggest problems is his administration’s drone campaign against extremist leaders and organizations.  Majorities in virtually every country surveyed in 2012 oppose this policy, which is a key component of American anti-terrorism efforts.  Opposition is especially prevalent in Muslim countries – at least eight-in-ten in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are against drone strikes – but about three-quarters in Spain, Japan, Mexico and Brazil are also against drones, as are 63% in France and 59% in Germany.

Obama is now confronted with a sense of disappointment over unmet expectations during his first term, especially when it comes to his handling of global climate change, and especially in Western Europe.  In 2009, large majorities in France, Germany, Britain and Spain believed Obama would take significant measures to control climate change. By Spring 2012, however, fewer than three-in-ten in these countries said Obama had, in fact, done this.  Significant gaps between expectations and evaluations of Obama’s performance on climate change were also evident in Poland, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, China, Japan, and Mexico.

In Western Europe, Obama also failed to meet expectations on his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although 61% in Germany, 57% in France, and nearly half in Britain still believed Obama had been fair in dealing with both sides in the Spring 2012, as many as 79% in each of these three countries said they expected Obama to be even-handed on this issue at the beginning of this first term.

In most of the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, where expectations that Obama would be fair in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were already low in 2009, even fewer said the American president had handled the conflict fairly. For example, after Obama took office, about a quarter of Egyptians believed he would be fair, compared with 11% who said Obama had been fair in 2012. Double-digit gaps between expectations and evaluations were also evident in Turkey and Pakistan.

More generally, many publics around the globe are disappointed with Obama’s approach to foreign affairs. Shortly after Obama took office, majorities in Britain, France and Germany, and at least four-in-ten in Spain, Poland, Russia, Japan and Mexico, expected Obama to act multilaterally when making international policy decisions. In the Spring 2012 survey, the percentage in these countries that said the president had, in fact, done this had dropped by 14 percentage points or more.

Similarly, in most countries, fewer said Obama had sought international approval before using military force than said they expected him to do so in 2009. Disillusionment with the president on this issue is especially common in Spain, Germany, Egypt and Japan, where the gap between expectations and evaluations is larger than 20 percentage points.

But despite some disappointment with Obama and a decline in the president’s popularity in some parts of the world, large majorities in Western Europe, Japan and Brazil continued to express confidence in the American president to do the right thing in world affairs in the Spring 2012 survey. And America’s image, which had declined dramatically during the Bush presidency, remained largely positive three years into Obama’s tenure.

A reelection is a time for renewal. And Obama has much support from the global community to build upon. Whether he continues to enjoy that good will, however, may hinge on how he approaches issues like drone strikes, climate change and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the extent to which he reaches out to the rest of the world in his second term.