Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jeff Halper - A Boat Voyage to "Break the Siege of Gaza"

Jeff Halper is about to embark on a boat voyage to "break the siege of Gaza" organized by the Free Gaza Movement and involving 40 activists from all over the world.

Jeff believes this is a very meaningful means of resistance, highlighting the ongoing Occupation -- and especially the terrible situation in Gaza -- and Israel's responsibility.

He would also appreciate your distributing the statement to your networks, newspapers, etc.

What a courageous advocate for social justice and a just peace!!


In another few days, I will sail on one of the Free Gaza movement boats from Cyprus to Gaza. The mission is to break the Israeli siege, an absolutely illegal siege which has plunged a million and a half Palestinians into wretched conditions: imprisoned in their own homes, exposed to extreme military violence, deprived of the basic necessities of life, stripped of their most fundamental human rights and dignity. The siege violates the most fundamental principle of international law: the inadmissibility of harming civilian populations. Our voyage also exposes Israel’s attempt to absolve itself of responsibility for what is happening in Gaza. Israel’s claim that there is no Occupation, or that the Occupation ended with “disengagement,” is patently false. Occupation is defined in international law as having effective control over a territory. If Israel intercepts our boats, it is clear that it is the Occupying Power exercising effective control over Gaza. Nor has the siege anything to do with “security.” Like other elements of the Occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Israel has also besieged cities, towns, villages and whole regions, the siege on Gaza is fundamentally political. It is intended to isolate the democratically-elected government of Palestine and break its power to resist Israeli attempts to impose an apartheid regime over the entire country.

This is why I, an Israeli Jew, felt compelled to join this voyage to break the siege. As a person who seeks a just peace with the Palestinians, who understands (despite what our politicians tell us) that they are not our enemies but rather people seeking precisely what we sought and fought for – national self-determination I cannot stand idly aside. I can no more passively witness my government’s destruction of another people than I can watch the Occupation destroy the moral fabric of my own country. To do so would violate my commitment to human rights, the very essence of prophetic Jewish religion, culture and morals, without which Israel is no longer Jewish but an empty, if powerful, Sparta.

Israel has, of course, legitimate security concerns, and Palestinian attacks against civilian populations in Sderot and other Israeli communities bordering on Gaza cannot be condoned. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel, as an Occupying Power, has the right to monitor the movement of arms to Gaza as a matter of “immediate military necessity.” As activists committed to resisting the siege non-violently, I have no objection to the Israeli navy boarding our boats and searching for weapons. But only that. Because Israel has no right to besiege a civilian population, it has no legal right to prevent us, private persons sailing solely in international and Palestinian waters, from reaching Gaza – particularly since Israel has declared that it no longer occupies it. Once the Israeli navy is convinced we pose no security threat, then, we thoroughly expect it to permit us to continue our peaceful and lawful journey into Gaza port.

Ordinary people have often played key roles in history, particularly in situations like this where governments shirk their responsibilities. My voyage to Gaza is a statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people in their time of suffering, but it also conveys a message to my fellow citizens.

First, despite what our political leaders say, there is a political solution to the conflict, there are partners for peace. The very fact that I, an Israeli Jew, will be welcomed by Palestinian Gazans makes that very point. My presence in Gaza also affirms that any resolution of the conflict must include all the peoples of the country, Palestinian and Israeli alike. I am therefore using whatever credibility my actions lend me to call on my government to renew genuine peace negotiations based on the Prisoners Document accepted by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas. The release of all political prisoners held by Israel, including Hamas government ministers and parliamentary members, in return for the repatriation of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, would dramatically transform the political landscape by providing the trust and good-will essential to any peace process.

Second, the Palestinians are not our enemies. In fact, I urge my fellow Israeli Jews to disassociate from the dead-end politics of our failed political leaders by declaring, in concert with Israeli and Palestinian peace-makers: We refuse to be enemies. Only that assertion of popular will can signal our government that we are fed up with being manipulated by those profiting from the Occupation.

And third, as the infinitely stronger party in the conflict and the only Occupying Power, we Israelis must accept responsibility for our failed and oppressive policies. Only we can end the conflict.

In the Israeli conception, Zionism was intended to return to the Jews control over their own destiny. Do not let us be held hostage to politicians who endanger the future of our society. Join with us end the siege of Gaza, and with it the Occupation in its entirety. Let us, the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, declare to our leaders: we demand a just and lasting peace in this tortured Holy Land.

(Jeff Halper, the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was a nominee for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He can be reached at jeff@icahd.org.)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Archbishop Desmond Tutu statement on Beit Hanoun May 29, 2008

I have nothing to add and there is nothing I need to add to what Archbishop Desmond Tutu says below.

From Wikipedia

Beit Hanoun is a city on the north-east edge of the Gaza Strip
with a population of 32,000. It is administered by the Palestinian Authority. It is located by the Hanoun stream, just 6 kilometers (4 mi) away from
the Israeli town of Sderot.

This town is also notable for the
Beit Hanoun November 2006 incident where 19 Palestinians were killed by IDF shelling. According to Israeli authorities it
was in response for its use as a base from which Palestinian militant groups
have fired Qassam rockets into the northern Negev towns like Sderot, as well as the former Gush Katif settlements.

In December 2006, the UN appointed a fact-finding commission led by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to investigate the attack. However, Tutu and the other members were not granted permission to travel by Israel and the investigation was cancelled.

Statement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Leader of the High Level Fact-Finding Mission into events at Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006

Press Conference, Gaza, 29 May 2008

We were appointed by the Human Rights Council as a fact-finding mission to investigate the attack on November 8 2006 in Beit Hanoun which left 19 people dead. We have a three point mandate: the assessment of the situation of victims, addressing the needs of survivors and to make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against any further Israeli assaults. The mission returns to Geneva tomorrow and we will be reporting to the Human Rights Council at its session in September, so these are impressions on our part for it is to the Council first that we are obliged to present our report.We have tried three times in 18 months to secure the cooperation of the Israeli Government to no avail, and in the end we were forced to come to Gaza through Egypt.
We want to begin by thanking the Government of Egypt for their facilitation of our mission. We also want to thank all of the United Nations personnel for their logistical support. We want to say thank you also to the UN in Egypt and to the Secretariat of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their efficient and friendly help, as well as to the interpreters who have assisted us. We want to thank all the people we have met here in Gaza, members of NGOs, but especially the survivors and victims of the attack itself. I also want to express my deep appreciation to Professor Christine Chinkin, my co-expert on this mission.
All we had heard about the conditions in Gaza - the deprivation, the sense of despair, the lack of economic activity – had not prepared us for the stark reality we saw. We saw a forlorn, deserted, desolate and eerie place. Hardly any pedestrians as would be the case in a more normal setting.

We were struck particularly by the absence of the sounds of children shrieking and playing. Usually, when there is a convoy in a normal situation, children will rush out to wave, to be funny and to laugh. We saw none of this. There was no hustle and bustle as in a normal urban setting. There are hardly any vehicles on the road because of the scarcity of fuel. We saw more donkey and horse-drawn carts.
We are in a state of shock, exacerbated by what we subsequently heard from the victims and survivors of the Beit Hanoun massacre. For us, the entire situation is abominable. We believe that ordinary Israeli citizens would not support this blockade, this siege if they knew what it meant for ordinary people like themselves. No, they would not support a policy which limits fuel supplies or automatically cuts off the electricity supply. They would not support a policy which jeopardizes the lives of ordinary men and women in hospital, that cuts off water and food from hospitals jeopardizing the lives of babies. No, they would not support a policy that results in what happened in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006, when a mother scooped up the brains of her baby lying with its skull cracked open by an Israeli shell, the same mother rushing out into the street to find her son staring at his bowels hanging out and then seeing him scoop them up and shove them back into his abdomen. No, they would not.
As a matter of principle, Profesor Chinkin and I wanted to go to Israel to hear directly from the Israeli authorities their version of the events. We wanted to meet any other interested parties and NGOs. But we also wanted to go to Sderot to meet with victims and survivors of the Qassam rockets. We care about all people. That is why we told Mr Haniyeh that the firing of those rockets is a gross violation of human rights, and asked for them to stop the firing.
We are the descendents of Abraham: Jews, Christians and Muslims. We revere the teaching of scripture. And so we call on Israel to end the siege, the blockade.
First, because it is a gross violation of human rights. In terms of the scripture that Jews and Christians alike invoke, the blockade is contrary to the teaching of those scriptures. Those scriptures speak about a God: a God of the Exodus, a God notoriously biased in favour of the weak, of the oppressed, of the suffering, of the orphan, of the widow, of the alien. And this God will not be mocked! The God who sided with the slaves against the Pharaoh, the God who sided with Naboth against King Ahab, who sided with Bathsheba's husband against King David. The God who came down to deliver the Israelites from their bondage, who was not deaf to their cries, not blind to their plight, who knew their suffering, is the same yesterday, today and forever!
The siege is contrary to the Jewish tradition of siding with the oppressed. In South Africa, the most outstanding stalwarts in our fight against apartheid were often Jews. People like Helen Suzman, people like Joe Slovo. Almost instinctively, Jews must be on the side of freedom, justice and peace.
The siege must stop because it is not in the interests of Israelis. There can be no justice, no peace, no stability, not for Israel, not for the Palestinians, without accountability for human rights violations. This includes accountability for the human rights violations which occured in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006. Israel has admitted that it made a mistake, but this falls far short of accountability and due redress for victims and their families. Accountability applies also to those firing rockets into civilian areas of Israel. The culture of impunity on both sides must end!
True security and peace will not come from the barrel of a gun. It will come through negotiation: negotiation not with your friends. Peace can come only when enemies sit down and talk. It happened in South Africa. It happened more recently in Northern Ireland. It will happen here too.
Please, please, Israelis and Palestinians: for the sake of your children, for the sake of your future, for your sake , for God's sake, for all our sakes. Please, please end the injustice and sit down and talk to one another. It is possible for Israelis and Palestinians to live amicably side by side in two sovereign, viable states.
There can be no peace, there can be no security, there can be no freedom in isolation. Israelis and Palestinians will be free, will be secure, will prosper only together.
My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity – especially on the situation in Gaza - shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma.
Gaza needs the engagement of the outside world, especially of its peacemakers.

Finally, to you our brothers and sisters in Gaza: you will be free. Your isolation and loneliness will end. We want you to know that we are with you, and we will come back to celebrate with you your freedom!

Friday, June 6, 2008


Here is a message I received from Richard Colbath-Hess.

I would like to encourage you to visit http://www.itisapartheid.org/ , the website home we have created for an anti-apartheid campaign. We hope to heighten awareness of, and eventually end, the current apartheid existing in the Israeli Occupied Territories.

To give you some context for this campaign, the Sabeel Conference on "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel: Issues of Justice and Equality” was held in Boston last fall. The keynote speaker was Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an internationally acclaimed Nobel Peace prize laureate.

You can read some comments and thoughts about this conference elsewhere in this blog including the following:

“But saying that it is similar to South Africa misses an important point - the Government of Israel's form of Apartheid is WORSE than what the white Africaaners imposed on the blacks; i.e., in South Africa there were no collective punishments (like destroying a power plant), there were no separation barriers (walls, fences), no destruction of land, no destruction of trees (olive or others), there were no closures and roadblocks, there was freedom of movement, there were no separate roads, no separate license plates, the Africaaners hired the blacks to work for them allowing them to earn a living whereas the Government of Israel uses laborers who are brought in from other countries, and there was a benign condescending attitude of the ruling class for the oppressed and no concerted effort to work towards their eventual removal from the land.”

The conference was an amazing success – it sold out with over 900 attending. You think there would have been extensive coverage from the press (there was a small article buried in the Globe). The fact is, if the media covers anyone who speaks out about the Israeli government’s human rights abuses, they are attacked as anti-Semitic. The Nation Magazine recently wrote an article on how this stifling of dissent is tantamount to the new McCarthyism.

"When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa." Jimmy Carter 2006
It is in this context that http://www.itisapartheid.org/ campaign was created. The purpose of the ITISAPARTHEID.ORG web site is to use the tools of the internet and ingenuity of its readers to spread the word about Apartheid in the Israeli Occupied Territories. Web savvy people sometimes refer to this as Viral Marketing or a Guerrilla Marketing campaign. Since the media by and large ignore or are afraid to print the truth, the job of the web site is to get the word out in other ways. You can help by putting ITISAPARTHEID.ORG everywhere you can think of.

“Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime . ..is reminiscent of .. .the apartheid regime in South Africa.” Israeli Human Rights Group B’tselem, 2002

I hope you are impressed with the web site. The facts on the web site are meticulously researched. The site is based on getting good info out to the public. When the conservatives (in the US) started to label the media as “liberal”, it stuck because they said the lie enough. So by putting the truth -- www.Itisapartheid.org everywhere we can think of -- it will make the truth as available as the air we breathe. I really encourage you to check out the site and join the campaign.

“Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.”Nelson Mandela 2001

Thank you for your anticipated interest and support. If you would like any further information, I invite you to contact me.

Richard Colbath-Hess, LICSW

79 Amory Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 354 6471

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is the Government of Israel Engaging in Appeasement too, Mr. Bush

President George W. Bush said this in the Knesset.
So we applaud the courageous choices Israel's leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction. …. Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Here is an excerpt from an article in this morning’s Boston Globe

Israelis, Syrians in peace talks
Seen as effort to halt growing clout of Iran
By Ethan Bronner, New York Times News Service May 22,
JERUSALEM - Israel and Syria announced yesterday that they were engaged in negotiations for a comprehensive peace treaty through Turkish mediators, a sign that Israel is hoping to halt the growing influence of Iran, Syria's most important ally, which sponsors the anti-Israel groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
Senior Israeli officials from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office and their Syrian counterparts were in Istanbul, where both groups had been staying separately, at undisclosed locations, since Monday. The mediators shuttled between the two. Syria and Israel have not negotiated this seriously in eight years.
Syria's motives are clear: It wants to regain the Golan Heights captured by Israel in the 1967 war and to reestablish a relationship with the United States, something it figures it can do through talks with Jerusalem. For Israel - which has watched the Palestinian group Hamas take over Gaza and gain ground in the West Bank, and the Lebanese group Hezbollah display raw power in Beirut in recent weeks - an effort to pull Syria away from Iran could produce enormous benefits. An announcement yesterday of a peace deal that gives Hezbollah the upper hand in Lebanon's government probably added to Israel's sense of urgency on the issue.
The American government opposed Israeli-Syrian negotiations because they feared that such talks would reward Syria at a time when the United States is seeking to isolate it for its backing of Hezbollah and its meddling in Lebanon, Bush administration and Israeli officials said. The United States yielded when it became clear that Israel was determined to go ahead, they said.
The talks come less than a week after President Bush, speaking to the Israeli parliament, created a stir by criticizing those who would negotiate with "terrorists and radicals." Bush's remarks have become an issue in the American presidential campaign because they were widely perceived as a rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

To repeat, here is what President George W. Bush said in the Knesset.

So we applaud the courageous choices Israel's leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction. …. Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Here is a summary of the Bush foreign policy. Recognize that the other side is wrong, has no justification for its actions, is the epitome of absolute evil and should never be talked to. Never negotiate. Soon it will show its true nature and kill one of our citizens or soldiers at which time we will retaliate massively with all the military might available.

So he made that comment in the Knesset which has for the last year been negotiating with Syria (and Hamas also?).

I am truly at a loss as I try to understand why he would make such a statement where he made it? I really do not think he is stupid (although I have thought for years that those in the Bush administration have so little self-confidence they are terrified to negotiate with an adversary so they come out shooting). I really do not think he is a fool. Who would have written this? Could it be a John Hagee follower – someone hoping to speed up the days of the "Rapture”? Why would he read such inane comments?

Will a member of the media ask President George W. Bush today if he believes that the Government of Israel is engaging in the false comfort of appeasement?

The end of the Bush administration cannot come soon enough!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Razzle Dazzle 'em Part 3 - John McCormack and Bernard Law

Razzle Dazzle ‘em –Part 3 – John McCormack and Bernard Law

And today on the treadmill of the Jewish Community Center I read the obituary of the courageous Sister Cathering Mulkerrin and again the words and the melody of Razzle Dazzle ‘em resounded in my head. Last November I applied it to the Government of Israel, yesterday to President George W. Bush and today to two of the past heads of the Catholic Church in Boston.

What a universal ecumenical message!! You can Razzle Dazzle ‘em whether you are Jewish, Protestant or Catholic.

Reprinted below are excerpts from the obituary not, however, in the same order as printed.

Sister Catherine Mulkerrin, who repeatedly pressed Roman Catholic church leaders in Boston to warn parishioners about priests who had been accused of exually abusing children, has died. She was 73. Sister Catherine died Saturday at Bethany Health Care Center in Framingham after a 24-year battle with cancer, said Sister Joanne Gallagher, spokeswoman for their religious order, the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston. Sister Catherine received allegations of clergy abuse and dealt directly with victims while working as assistant director of the Boston Archdiocesan Office for Victims of Abuse from 1992 to 1994. She said she received allegations against more than 100 priests in that period. Many of her memos to her supervisors later were released as part of lawsuits filed against the archdiocese by alleged victims.

"She really confronted the Archdiocese of Boston six years before the sexual abuse scandal broke out . . . I think that she was incredibly brave to do that," said Sheila Boyle, 60, of Malden, an editor and author who received a settlement from the church after she was abused by a now-defrocked priest. Boyle said the nun's sensitive and compassionate handling of sexual abuse victims avoided subjecting them to additional psychological trauma.

Again, if you do not know the song, watch this clip from the movie:

(This is not a spoiler but keep in mind that Roxie murdered her lover in cold blood and here she is on trial for that crime.)

BILLY Roxie, you got nothing to worry about.
It's all a circus, kid.
A three ring circus.

These trials- the whole world- all show business.
But kid, you're working with a star, the biggest!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em

Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate.

Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they’ll never catch wise!

"I know I sound like a broken record," according to one memo from Sister Catherine that was released in 2002, "but we need to put in church bulletins 'It has come to our attention a priest stationed here between 19XX and 19XX may have molested children - please contact . . . ' "

She said in a deposition that archdiocese leaders ignored her repeated concerns that priests accused of sexual abuse were allowed to return to parish work without the kind of supervision she had recommended.

Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em

Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous
Row after row will crow vociferous

Give 'em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture 'em
How can they hear the truth above the roar?

Throw 'em a fake and a finagle
They'll never know you're just a bagel,

"I expressed concern, consternation. What are we thinking of? What are you thinking of?" Sister Catherine said in a deposition released April 8, 2003, about her conversations with Bishop John McCormack, her boss who handled sexual abuse complaints involving priests as an aide to Cardinal Bernard Law, then head of the archdiocese.

She said in the deposition McCormack told her he was trying to address her concerns. He later said through a spokesman he was following policy, but acknowledged he made mistakes during his time in Boston.

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll beg you for more!

Give 'em the old double whammy
Daze and dizzy 'em

Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler

Give 'em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance

Though you are stiffer than a girder
They'll let you get away with murder

Razzle dazzle 'em
And you've got a romance

Give 'em the oldRazzle Dazzle
Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em

Show 'em the first rate sorceror you are
Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you've got no talent

Razzle Dazzle 'em
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Razzle Dazzle 'em
And they'll make you a star!

Law resigned in 2003 (Blogger’s Note - to take a position as archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and eventually to become a member of eight Vatican departments).

McCormack became bishop of New Hampshire in 1998.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Razzle Dazzle 'em - President George W. Bush speaks to the Knesset

Razzle Dazzle ‘em With apologies to the late great lyricist, Fred Ebb, whose song from Chicago, Razzle Dazzle, was playing as I drove into the parking lot at Puleo’s Restaurant yesterday. This song continues to strike me as applicable to the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Last November I used it on my blog to reflect the approach of the Government of Israel to the peace process. While listening to the lyrics yesterday, I immediately thought of President George W. Bush’s speech to the Knesset on May 15, 2008.

I found the text on the Wall Street Journal on-line and have taken excerpts in the order in which they were delivered connected by what seem to be the relevant lyrics also in order.

I suggest that if you do not know the song, listen first to this recording of it from the movie

Then read the lyrics below along with the excerpts from the Bush speech to the Knesset.

Finally, to show that there is nothing new under the sun, view what else I found when I searched for a recorded version of Razzle Dazzle ‘em (this from 2006).

(This is not a spoiler but keep in mind that Roxie murdered her lover in cold blood and here she is on trial for that crime.)

ROXIE Oh Billy, I'm scared. BILLY Roxie, you got nothing to worry about. It's all a circus, kid. A three ring circus.
These trials- the whole world- all show business. But kid, you're working with a star, the biggest!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em

My only regret is that one of Israel's greatest leaders is not here to share the moment. He is a warrior for the ages, a man of peace, and a dear friend. The prayers of all Americans are with Ariel Sharon.

Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate.

The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of battle, a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land. You have welcomed immigrants from the four corners of the Earth. You have forged a free and modern society based on a love of liberty, a passion for justice, and a respect for human dignity. You have worked tirelessly for peace. And you have fought valiantly for freedom.

Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

Earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: "Masada shall never fall again." Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will always stand with you.

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?

We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation. We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they’ll never catch wise!

So we applaud the courageous choices Israel's leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.

Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em

We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve. The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous
Row after row will crow vociferous

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is the ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

Give 'em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture 'em
How can they hear the truth above the roar?

That is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the "elimination" of Israel. That is why the followers of Hezbollah chant "Death to Israel, Death to America!" That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties." And that is why the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Throw 'em a fake and a finagle
They'll never know you're just a bagel,

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll beg you for more!

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. And America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Give 'em the old double whammy
Daze and dizzy 'em

Ultimately, to prevail in this struggle, we must offer an alternative to the ideology of the extremists by extending our vision of justice and tolerance, freedom and hope. These values are the self-evident right of all people, of all religions, in all of the world because they are a gift from Almighty God. Securing these rights is also the surest way to secure peace. They will be partners for peace.

Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler

Leaders who are accountable to their people will not pursue endless confrontation and bloodshed. Young people with a place in their society and a voice in their future are less likely to search for meaning in radicalism. And societies where citizens can express their conscience and worship their God will not export violence

Give 'em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance

This fundamental insight, that freedom yields peace, is the great lesson of the 20th century. Now our task is to apply it in the 21st. Nowhere is this work more urgent than here in the Middle East. We must stand with the reformers working to break the old patterns of tyranny and despair. We must give voice to the millions of ordinary people who dream of a better life in freedom.

Though you are stiffer than a girder
They'll let you get away with murder

We must confront the moral relativism that views all forms of government as equally acceptable and thereby consigns whole societies to slavery. Above all, we must have faith in our values and ourselves and confidently pursue the expansion of liberty as the path to a peaceful future.

Razzle dazzle 'em
And you've got a romance

Israel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary as one of the world's great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved – a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights, and rejects terror. …. And al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause.

Give 'em the oldRazzle Dazzle
Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em

Yet each one of these transformations took place. And a future of transformation is possible in the Middle East too, so long as a new generation of leaders has the courage to defeat the enemies of freedom, make the hard choices necessary for peace, and stand firm on the solid rock of universal values.

Show 'em the first rate sorceror you are
Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you've got no talent

Over the past six decades, …..(y)ou have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on America to stand at its side. May God bless Israel.

Razzle Dazzle 'em
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Razzle Dazzle 'em
And they'll make you a star!

President George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He is believed by many to be the worst president in the history of this country

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Human Rights Crime against the Palestinians in Gaza - Jimmy Carter

As you know, for quite a while I have refrained from simply posting material written by others. I am making an exception, however, for this article by Jimmy Carter in today's edition of the Guardian. While it contains nothing new - the Government of Israel continues to kill innocent women and children, the Government of Israel is commiting war crimes in Gaza, theGovernment of Israel has rejected offers of a truce by Hamas, the Goverment of Israel continues to build housing in Jewish settlements - he presents a comprehensive picture of the cruel and horrendous treatment of the Palestinians by the Government of Israel and an urgent plea for international support for bring an end to this human rights tragedy.

A Human Rights Crime

The world must stop standing idle while the people of Gaza are treated with such cruelty

Jimmy Carter
The Guardian,
Thursday May 8 2008

The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world. An entire population is being brutally punished.

This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers.

Israel and the US refused to accept the right of Palestinians to form a unity government with Hamas and Fatah and now, after internal strife, Hamas alone controls Gaza. Forty-one of the 43 victorious Hamas candidates who lived in the West Bank have been imprisoned by Israel, plus an additional 10 who assumed positions in the short-lived coalition cabinet.

Regardless of one's choice in the partisan struggle between Fatah and Hamas within occupied Palestine, we must remember that economic sanctions and restrictions on the supply of water, food, electricity and fuel are causing extreme hardship among the innocent people in Gaza, about one million of whom are refugees.

Israeli bombs and missiles periodically strike the area, causing high casualties among both militants and innocent women and children. Prior to the highly publicised killing of a woman and her four children last week, this pattern had been illustrated by a report from B'Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights organisation, which stated that 106 Palestinians were killed between February 27 and March 3. Fifty-four of them were civilians, and 25 were under 18 years of age.
On a recent trip through the Middle East, I attempted to gain a better understanding of the crisis. One of my visits was to Sderot, a community of about 20,000 in southern Israel that is frequently struck by rockets fired from nearby Gaza. I condemned these attacks as abominable acts of terrorism, since most of the 13 victims during the past seven years have been non-combatants.

Subsequently, I met with leaders of Hamas - a delegation from Gaza and the top officials in Damascus. I made the same condemnation to them, and urged that they declare a unilateral ceasefire or orchestrate with Israel a mutual agreement to terminate all military action in and around Gaza for an extended period.

They responded that such action by them in the past had not been reciprocated, and they reminded me that Hamas had previously insisted on a ceasefire throughout Palestine, including Gaza and the West Bank, which Israel had refused. Hamas then made a public proposal of a mutual ceasefire restricted to Gaza, which the Israelis also rejected.

There are fervent arguments heard on both sides concerning blame for a lack of peace in the Holy Land. Israel has occupied and colonised the Palestinian West Bank, which is approximately a quarter the size of the nation of Israel as recognised by the international community. Some Israeli religious factions claim a right to the land on both sides of the Jordan river, others that their 205 settlements of some 500,000 people are necessary for "security".

All Arab nations have agreed to recognise Israel fully if it will comply with key United Nations resolutions. Hamas has agreed to accept any negotiated peace settlement between the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, provided it is approved in a referendum of the Palestinian people.

This holds promise of progress, but despite the brief fanfare and positive statements at the peace conference last November in Annapolis, the process has gone backwards. Nine thousand new Israeli housing units have been announced in Palestine; the number of roadblocks within the West Bank has increased; and the stranglehold on Gaza has been tightened.

It is one thing for other leaders to defer to the US in the crucial peace negotiations, but the world must not stand idle while innocent people are treated cruelly. It is time for strong voices in Europe, the US, Israel and elsewhere to speak out and condemn the human rights tragedy that has befallen the Palestinian people.

Jimmy Carter, a former president of the United States, is founder of The Carter Center

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dershowitz's Despicable Smear of Jimmy Carter

I cannot even begin to figure out how best to express my outrage as I read the article below, “Jimmy Carter for Sale” by Alan Dershowitz.

Alan Dershowitz is, by all accounts, a brilliant lawyer and an extraordinarily effective advocate for many individuals, organizations and causes – one of them being the Government of Israel.

Here is his conclusion about Jimmy Carter, “He is no better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become lobbyists for despicable causes.”

“Anti-semite”, “dirty money”, “honor Nazi academics”, “complicit in evil”, “anti-Israel”, “evil influence of Zionism”, “Holocaust was a fable”, “deception bordering on corruption”, “integrity … extraordinarily low.” Has Alan Dershowitz missed smearing Jimmy Carter with any of the words and phrases traditionally applied to someone who is a critic of the Government of Israel?

What has Jimmy Carter done to merit the venom, hate and vilification contained in this detailed “swiftboating”?

What would justify Alan Dershowitz devoting such time and effort to personally attaching Jimmy Carter?

What “despicable cause” has Jimmy Carter been lobbying for?

Not his work in “Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to negotiate with the Communist dictator Mengistou Haile Mariam, to Liberia to induce warlord Charles Taylor to let democratic elections be held, and to Pyongyang, North Korea, to convince Kim Il Sung to give up his nuclear program” … to Haiti to induce General Raoul Cedras to leave the country and permit the elected president to return … to Havana so that I could speak directly to the Cuban people about democracy and human rights. The Center has monitored almost seventy elections, often at the invitation of such people as Manuel Noriega, the Sandinistas, and Hugo Chavez.” Page 250, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”

I cannot imagine Alan Dershowitz unleashing this nuclear attack on Jimmy Carter for his speaking to the Cuban people about human rights.

Here’s a clue “Three of the most honest, fair and peaceful of our elections have been in Palestine.” Page 250

Here is what he has done to incur the wrath of Alan Dershowitz:

Jimmy Carter has become the most respected prominent individual openly critical of the policies of the Government of Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians;

He has put in decades working for a “just” peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians;

He has even been talking to everyone about “the terrible plight of the Palestinians” Page 251;

He talks about three options available to the Government of Israel – one of them being “A system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed.” Page 215; and

Recently, he has been talking to representatives of Hamas, the group that was elected by the Palestinians in one of those honest, fair and peaceful elections – the results of which were immediately effectively nullified by the Governments of Israel and the United States – Hamas, the organization which a few days ago proposed a six-month truce which was immediately rejected by the Government of Israel.

Alan Dershowitz is a symbol of those who support peace, justice, love, fairness, human rights, and dignity and equality for all unless they are Palestinians. Here’s a few values of Judaism embodied by the work of Jimmy Carter and opposed by Alan Dershowitz when the subject is the Palestinians:

Exodus 22:20-21 - You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Rabbi Akiva - “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’(Leviticus 19:18) - this is the major principle of the Torah.”

Deuteronomy XVI, 18:20 – “Justice, Justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” And the footnote in the Hertz edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.”

Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do well – seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” and 1:27 “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.”

HILLEL “If I am not for myself, who will be for me, and if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” and his definition of Judaism “What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor”

Someone just sent me an “Eyewitness Letter from the Gaza Strip” by Kashi Halford in Occupation Magazine http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=26557. In it Halford notes:

1.5 million people live in the Gaza strip, over a million of these are refugees. Over 80% live below the poverty line, with 1.2 million people in Gaza are dependent on food handouts. Only 41% of Gaza’s food import needs are currently being met. The Palestinian Health Ministry says there are no stocks left of 85 essential medicines, including chemotherapy drugs, strong antibiotics and several psychiatric drugs. For a further 138 drugs there are only stocks for three months at most. Supplies of nitrous oxide for surgical anaesthesia will run out in two weeks. 17.5% of patients who have requested access to East Jerusalem, Israel or abroad for emergency or chronic medical treatment have been denied permits since June 2007. In October 2007, the public provider of water and sanitation services received 50% of the amount of fuel it need to operate its wells, pumping stations and treatment plants. As a result 210,000 people are able to access drinking water supplies for only 1-2 hours a day.

Do I know if all of this is accurate? No

Then again, do I know if all that Alan Dershowitz has written is correct? No

But I do think that his article is symbolic of what is happening in what is fortunately an increasing smaller segment of the Jewish community - those who agree with any action taken by the Government of Israel. As more and more people in this country and around the world become aware of the injustices and human rights violations being carried out by that government, these tribal nationalistic oriented individuals and their organizations are likely to ramp up the volume and intensity of their personal attacks on, and verbal persecution of, those who criticize the Government of Israel.

Alan Dershowitz hopes that we will read what he says and not read about what is happening to the Palestinians in the occupied territories. He also hopes to divert our attention from any recommendations Jimmy Carter proposes that might bring appropriate pressure on the Government of Israel to negotiate in good faith for a “just” peace.

Here are my two conclusions:

First, this article by Alan Dershowitz is a gross misrepresentation and an incredibly biased attempt to discredit a good person, Jimmy Carter, and the good works that he has done since leaving the White House and establishing the Carter Center.

Second, while Alan Dershowitz is not a public official who, after leaving public life, sold himself to the highest bidder, he is, in my opinion, actually the one who is a “lobbyist for a despicable cause” – support for the Government of Israel as it continues the occupation and deprives millions of Palestinians of their basic rights and freedoms.


Jimmy Carter for Sale by Alan M. Dershowitz

Jimmy Carter is making more money selling integrity than peanuts. I have known Jimmy Carter for more than 30 years. I first met him in the spring of 1976 when, as a relatively unknown candidate for president,he sent me a handwritten letter asking for my help in his campaign on issues of crime and justice.

I had just published an article in The New York Times Magazine on sentencing reform, and he expressed interest in my ideas and asked me to come up with additional ones for his campaign.

Shortly thereafter, my former student Stuart Eisenstadt, brought Carter to Harvard to meet with some faculty members. I immediately liked Jimmy Carter and saw him as a man of integrity and principle. I signed on to his campaign and worked very hard for his election.

When Newsweek magazine asked his campaign for the names of people on whom Carter relied for advice, my name was among those given out. I continued to work for Carter over the years, most recently I met him in Jerusalem a year ago, and we briefly discussed the Mid-East.

Though I disagreed with some of his points, I continued to believe he was making them out of a deep commitment to principle and to human rights.

Recent disclosures of Carter's extensive financial connections to Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia, has deeply shaken my belief in his integrity. When I was first told that he received a monetary reward in the name of Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, and kept the money, even after Harvard returned money from the same source because of its anti-Semitic history, I simply did not believe it. How could a man of such apparent integrity associate himself with dirty money from so dirty a source?And let there be no mistake about how dirty the Zayed Foundation is. I know because I was involved, in a small way, in helping to persuade Harvard University to return more than $2 million that the financially strapped Divinity School received from this source.

Initially I was reluctant to put pressure on Harvard to turn back money for the Divinity School, but then a student at the Divinity School -Rachael Lea Fish -- showed me the facts.They were staggering. I was amazed that in the 21st century there were still foundations that espoused these views. The Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up - a think-tank funded by the Shiekh and run by his son - hosted speakers who called Jews "the enemies of all nations," attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel, and the 9/11 attacks to the United States' own military, and stated that the Holocaust was a "fable." (They also hosted a speech by Jimmy Carter.) To its credit, Harvard turned the money back. To his total discredit, Carter did not.

Jimmy Carter was, of course, aware of Harvard's decision, since it was highly publicized. Yet he kept the money. Indeed, this is what he said in accepting the funds: "This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan." Carter's personal friend, it turns out, was an unredeemable anti-Semite as well as a Christian hating bigot.

In reading Carter's statements, I was reminded of the misguided Harvard of the 1930s, which continued to honor Nazi academics after the anti-Semitic policies of Hitler's government became clear. Harvard of the 1930s was complicit in evil. I sadly concluded that Jimmy Carter of the 21st century has become complicit in evil. The extent of Carter's financial support from, and even dependence on, dirty money is still not fully known.

What we do know is deeply troubling. Carter and his Center have accepted millions of dollars from suspect sources, beginning with the bail-out of the Carter family peanut business in the late 1970s by BCCI, a now-defunct and virulently anti-Israeli bank indirectly controlled by the Saudi Royal family, and among whose principal investors is Carter's friend, Sheikh Zayed. Agha Hasan Abedi, the founder of the bank, gave Carter "$500,000 to help the former president establish his center...[and] more than $10 million to Mr. Carter's different projects."Carter gladly accepted the money, though Abedi had called his bank the source of his funding and "the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists."BCC isn't the only source: Saudi King Fahd contributed millions to the Carter Center- "in 1993 alone...$7.6 million" as have other members of the Saudi Royal Family. Carter also received a million dollar pledge from the Saudi-based bin Laden family, as well as a personal $500,000 environmental award named for Sheikh Zayed, and paid for by the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

It's worth noting that, despite the influx of Saudi money funding the Carter Center, and despite the Saudi Arabian government's myriad human rights abuses, the Carter Center's Human Rights program has no activity whatever in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have apparently bought his silence for a steep price.The bought quality of the Center's activities becomes even more clear when reviewing the Center's human rights activities in other countries: essentially no human rights activities in China or in North Korea, or in Iran, Iraq, the Sudan or Syria, but activity regarding Israel and its alleged abuses, according to the Center's website.The Carter Center's mission statement claims that "The Center is nonpartisan and acts as a neutral party in dispute resolution activities." How can that be, given that its coffers are full of Arab money, and that its focus is away from significant Arab abuses and on Israel's far less serious ones?

No reasonable person can dispute therefore that Jimmy Carter has been and remains dependent on Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia.

Does this mean that Carter has necessarily been influenced in his thinking about the Middle East by receipt of such enormous amounts of money? Ask Carter. The entire premise of his criticism of Jewish influence on American foreign policy is that money talks.

It is Carter-not me-who has made the point that if politicians receive money from Jewish sources, then they are not free to decide issues regarding the Middle East for themselves.It is Carter, not me, who has argued that distinguished reporters cannot honestly report on the Middle East because they are being paid by Jewish money. So, by Carter's own standards, it would be almost economically "suicidal" for Carter "to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine."By Carter's own standards, therefore, his views on the Middle East must be discounted. It is certainly possible that he now believes them. Money, particularly large amounts of money, has a way of persuading people to a particular position.It would not surprise me if Carter, having received so much Arab money, is now honestly committed to their cause.

But his failure to disclose the extent of his financial dependence on Arab money, and the absence of any self reflection on whether the receipt of this money has unduly influenced his views, is a form of deception bordering on corruption.

I have met cigarette lobbyists, who are supported by the cigarette industry, and who have come to believe honestly that cigarettes are merely a safe form of adult recreation, that cigarettes are not addicting and that the cigarette industry is really trying to persuade children not to smoke. These people are fooling themselves (or fooling us into believing that they are fooling themselves) just as Jimmy Carter is fooling himself (or persuading us to believe that he is fooling himself).

If money determines political and public views-as Carter insists "Jewish money" does-then Carter's views on the Middle East must be deemed to have been influenced by the vast sums of Arab money he has received. If he who pays the piper calls the tune, then Carter's off-key tunes have been called by his Saudi Arabian paymasters. It pains me to say this, but I now believe that there is no person in American public life today who has a lower ratio of real [integrity] to apparent integrity than Jimmy Carter.

The public perception of his integrity is extraordinarily high. His real integrity, it now turns out, is extraordinarily low. He is no better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become lobbyists for despicable causes.

That is now Jimmy Carter's sad legacy.

Author Biography: Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School and author of The Case for Israel.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Palestinians Support Ending Negotiations with the Government of Israel

An article in today's Boston Globe.

As I wrote to a friend,
"Quelle shocque!! What could possibly have caused them to feel that way?"

What do you think? I do not think that the Government of Israel has for many years engaged in good faith negotiations. I believe that the Government of Israel's definition of peace is not a "just peace" but one in which the Palestinians stop complaining at the least and, at best, leave. If you believe that the Palestinians should continue the negotiations with the Government of Israel, please post a comment here.

Poll says most Palestinians favor violence over talks
By Ethan Bronner, New York Times News Service March 19, 2008

RAMALLAH, West Bank - A new poll says that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the attack this month on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem that killed eight young men, most of them teenagers, an indication of the alarming level of Israeli-Palestinian tension in recent weeks.

The survey also indicates unprecedented support for the shooting of rockets on Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip and for the end of the peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

The pollster, Khalil Shikaki, said he was shocked because the survey indicated greater support for violence than any other he had conducted over the past 15 years in the Palestinian areas. Never before, he said, had a majority favored an end to negotiations or the shooting of rockets at Israel.

"There is real reason to be concerned," Shikaki said in an interview at his West Bank office. His Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which conducts a survey every three months, is widely viewed as among the few independent and reliable gauges of Palestinian public opinion.

His explanation for the shift, one widely reflected in the Palestinian media, is that recent actions by Israel, especially attacks on Gaza that killed nearly 130 people, an undercover operation in Bethlehem that killed four militants, and the announced expansion of several West Bank settlements, have led to despair and rage among average Palestinians who thirst for revenge.
Shikaki's poll also suggested that the militant Islamist group Hamas, which Israel and the United States have been trying to isolate, is gaining popularity in the West Bank while its American-backed rival, the more secular Fatah, is losing ground. Asked for whom they would vote for president, 46 percent chose Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, the current president, while 47 percent chose Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

Three months ago, Abbas was ahead 56 percent to 37 percent. After Hamas forces pushed Fatah forces out of Gaza last summer, Shikaki's polls suggested that the Palestinian public was disillusioned with Hamas, and in the subsequent months many argued that Abbas, with the support of Washington and Israel, had an opportunity to win public support by easing living conditions and advancing in negotiations. That has not happened.

According to the poll, conducted last week with 1,270 Palestinians in face-to-face interviews, 84 percent supported the March 6 attack on the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, one of Israel's most prominent centers of religious Zionism and ideological wellspring of the settler movement in the West Bank. Shikaki said this is the single highest support for an act of violence in his 15 years of polling here. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

On negotiations between Ehud Olmert, prime minister of Israel, and Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, 75 percent said they were without benefit and should be terminated. Regarding the thousands of rockets that have been launched on Israeli towns like Sderot and Ashkelon, 64 percent support it.

The poll did indicate support for a two-state solution with 66 percent favoring normalized relations with Israel if it returned all land won in 1967 and a Palestinian state was established.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Al-Jazeera's "Slanted Coverage"

What a way to start the day!! Another story about the Government of Israel.

"Israel imposes sanctions on Al-Jazeera

By Matti Friedman, Associated Press
March 13, 2008

JERUSALEM - Israel said yesterday that it would impose sanctions on the influential Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, accusing it of slanted coverage favoring the violent Hamas movement.

Majalli Whbee, Israel's deputy foreign minister, said the government would deny visas to the Qatar-based station's employees and Israeli officials would no longer agree to be interviewed by the network. He did not say Israel would strip foreign Al-Jazeera employees currently in Israel of their visas.

"We have seen that Al-Jazeera has become part of Hamas . . . taking sides and cooperating with people who are enemies of the state of Israel," said Whbee, a Druse Arab. "The moment a station like Al-Jazeera gives unreliable reports, represents only one side, and doesn't present the positions of the other side, why should we cooperate?"

Israel was especially incensed by the network's coverage of the most recent round of intense violence in Hamas-ruled Gaza, saying it rarely showed Israeli casualties or
Palestinian rocket fire.

Three Israelis and more than 120 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of civilians, before the fighting subsided earlier this month."

The focus of the outrage of the Israeli Government Officials and its proof of Al-Jazeera bias was the publication by the Arab satellite network of only 3 obituaries of dead Israelis while day after day and week after week for over a month it prejudicially published 120 obituaries of dead Palestinians. Israeli Government Officials protested this is the strongest terms saying that the Al-Jazeera should have provided balance in its coverage by once a month publishing all 123 obituaries on the same day in the same column or, in the alternative, by including in the names of 117 Jewish Israelis who had passed away during that month.

Obviously the previous paragraph is something I made up. But the point is that the difference between slanted coverage and accurate objective reporting sometimes, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

I'll bet that Eliot Spitzer believes that the media is offering "slanted coverage". How can it ignore all the good works that he did?

How about the President of the United States? All the time headlines about Torture? Illegal wiretaps? Firings of US Attorneys!! Unjustified invasion of Iraq? Hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers and civilians? Where are all the stories about his great moves and trades when he was involved with the Texas Rangers? Talk about slanted coverage!!

And what about the Catholic priests found guilty of sexually abusing children in spite of doing so much good for so many others in their flocks. Another example of slanted coverage by the media.

Forty years - nearly FIFTEEN THOUSAND (15,000) days and nights of an illegal and immoral occupation and oppression of the Palestinians by the Government of Israel and the Government of Israel accuses Al-Jazeera of slanted coverage and wants to punish it.

What twisted logic? What Chutzpah? What arrogance? How conniving?

What comes to mind as I try to describe this action of the Government of Israel is the phrase Eliot Spitzer used when referring to himself: a f------ steamroller.


PS: Speaking of steamrollers, in a previous message, I mentioned that Joan and I are going to see My Name is Rachel Corrie this Sunday, March 16, at the New Repertory Theater. I just received a message from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation noting that that date is the 5th Anniversary of her being killed by an Israeli army Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer (note the slanted coverage) in Rafah in Gaza. Three days later the US illegally and immorally (note the slanted coverage) attacked Iraq. The US Campaign suggests various ways to take action on that day. Coincidentally and fortunately, we will have the opportunity on that day to honor her memory and her dedication to peace by listening to her words.

Monday, January 14, 2008

An Abomination - the 800 Jewish Settlers of Hebron - Part 2

Today is Day 14,520 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) West Bank Settlements and more than 40 years since the start of the immoral (and illegal) occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Micah.6:8 “He has told you, O man, Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God

Within the borders of Hebron, one of the biggest Arab cities in the West Bank, are 120,000 Palestinians. In the old city of Hebron, there are 800 Jewish Israeli squatters and 30,000 Palestinians while around Kiryat Arba the squatterment founded by Rabbi Levinger near Hebron, there are an additional 9,200 squatters.

On another discussion board, one of the posters was trying to justify the activities of the Jewish settlers of Hebron and made the following comment:

“War is ugly. Conflict is ugly. Either we have a right to the land or we don’t. I believe we do - which necessitates some ugly actions. I don’t condone unnecessary violence; but it isn’t ugly to fight back to protect your rights.”

My response was as follows:

What makes you believe that this is a war? It seems to me to be an occupation in which one body, the Government of Israel, has won a war in 1967 and reigns supreme over another body, the Palestinians, with overwhelming superior military force.

Just “who” is the “we” that has a right to the land? Is it anyone who is Jewish? Do I and my family have a right to the land? What laws do you cite as authority for who you believe owns the land?

“Ugly actions” – for sure!!! – Stealing land, beating and killing children, women and men, cutting down olive trees, preventing the harvesting of olives and cutting down olive trees, harassment to force the closing of commercial establishments, destroying property, pouring filth.

“..it isn’t ugly to fight back to protect your rights”. Assuming that the Jewish settlers own the land, what laws guide them on how to take the land back. In Massachusetts, we have a legal process that dictates the steps in court that a landlord must take in order to evict someone on his or her land. What laws are the settlers relying on when they do what they do? What they do is not only ugly but contrary to what we expect from those who live in civilized society.

Ugly, ugly, ugly……

Isaiah 1:17,27 “Learn to do well – seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow .. Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.”

Here is an article published over this past weekend about life as a Palestinian in Hebron.

The Sword is Mightier by Seth Freedman / The Guardian [UK] / Jan 12, 2008

"An unarmed civilian observer mission can’t offer balanced policing to Palestinians in Hebron, a city where the IDF runs the show.

It’s easy to claim that the pen is mightier than the sword from the safety of a university lecture hall, or a middle class soiree in a suburban dining room. However, in the bandit country that is Hebron, the adage rings somewhat hollow, as I found after spending a day out on patrol with Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron TIPH. What I saw during my six-hour shadowing of the dedicated yet ultimately toothless members of the TIPH team made me question the wisdom of their presence in the troubled city.

Established in the wake of Baruch Goldstein’s shooting spree in a local mosque, TIPH’s raison d’etre is to “monitor the situation in Hebron and record breaches of international law.” In essence, they are stationed in the city to bear witness to the almost daily violent incidents that erupt between the Jewish settlers of Hebron and their Palestinian neighbours.

So it was on Wednesday, as I set out with Sibyll and Mortens, respectively Swiss and Danish TIPH workers, who are old hands at dealing with the explosive situation using the limited tools at their disposal. Our first incident was fairly mundane by comparison with what we’d see later - a youth protesting to the pair that every time Palestinian Authority workmen came to try and fix a sewage blockage in the souk, Israeli soldiers ordered them to leave the area without allowing them to carry out their repairs.

“This is the third time we’ve heard this story in four days,” said Sibyll, as she noted down the boy’s complaint in her notebook. “All we can do is to try and get our liaison officers to try to intervene with the army and the PA, and attempt to get permits for them to complete their work [unimpeded].” Mortens concurred with her plan of action: “It won’t happen overnight, though - we have to write a report, contact the DCO, and hope that they can achieve results.” And in the meantime, the stench of raw sewage hangs over the market and adds to the sense of discomfort that the shopkeepers are forced to endure.

There had been reports that it was the settlers who had blocked up the sewage system, causing the problem, although that was hard for the team to verify. However, the next incident they were called to appeared far more clear cut. In a busy street underneath a barred window of one of the settlement buildings, a couple of tin cans with unidentifiable viscous liquid oozing from them lay on the edge of the pavement. “They tried to light it before hurling it at us,” declared a middle-aged Palestinian man breathlessly, pointing up in the direction of the offenders’ homes.

“They were 16 or 17,” he continued, “not small kids at all.” Hanging from the bars of the windows were sandbags filled with stones, which Sibyll said, “are prepared by the children, who then throw the rocks down at the Palestinians. The IDF come, but always deny that anything has happened.” All that TIPH can do in such circumstances is pull out their notebooks, log a record of the incident, and then file the report with the DCO, which does little to placate the injured parties or to reassure them that anything tangible is being done to protect them.

“There’s a feeling of real frustration amongst us,” said Ghassan, a Swedish member of TIPH. “We can’t intervene in a situation; all we can do is turn up and take photos.” He explained that this causes inevitable resentment on the part of the Palestinians, while others on the Palestinian side “don’t like us because they’re convinced we work for the Israelis.”

As we continued along the route of the patrol, we came across a gaggle of teenagers surrounding a dishevelled-looking man sitting askew in a wheelchair. His T-shirt badly ripped from shoulder to shoulder and covered in bloodstains, he shook as he turned plaintively to Mortens and Sibyll and pleaded for their help. “The army did this,” he began. “They beat me, and there are 15 of them still in my house now - you’ve got to go and do something.”

After taking photos of his injuries to use as evidence, we hurried off in the direction of his house in the company of one of the boys who was acting as guide. However, our way was obstructed by a shaven-headed Russian IDF soldier who ordered us to take a far longer, circuitous route, since the Palestinian boy was banned from walking past the Cave of Machpela. When we eventually got to the raided house, the operation was still in full flow, with heavily-armed soldiers milling around on every floor of the building as the children of the house nervously looked on.

Thanks to the terms of their mandate, TIPH members are unimpeded in their monitoring work, thus the soldiers had to let them photograph the ongoing search and interview the commander once he’d declared the building safe. “There were rocks being thrown from the roof,” he stated flatly when questioned. “I didn’t see anyone in a wheelchair,” he went on, looking to his charges for confirmation, “and if there had been, I promise you he’d still be here with us.”

“It’s a bit fishy that he managed to get out of the house and all the way down the road in a wheelchair in the middle of a raid.” He proposed that the man’s injuries might instead be a result of him jumping off the roof and trying to escape arrest, implying that the wheelchair was merely a prop used to garner sympathy from the TIPH team. Once the soldiers had left, we entered the house and interviewed the wounded man’s children, who assured us that he had been beaten by the troops.

However, they also admitted that their younger brother had been throwing rocks at the army, and refused to stop when his older siblings and father remonstrated with him. At the same time, they couldn’t give a convincing explanation for how their apparently wheelchair-bound father had made it up the impossibly narrow stairs onto the roof to chastise their brother. This prompted Sibyll to complain that the hardest part of her job was trying to decide who was being honest and who just wanted to apportion all the blame to the other side.

The commander’s parting words to us had been “We were just doing our job - no one should have rocks thrown at them, should they?” While entirely right, his concern seemed pretty ironic given the complete ambivalence the army showed earlier when Mortens and Sibyll tried to report the missile attacks on the Palestinians. That the IDF runs the whole show in the city, and TIPH can do little more than meekly complain from the sidelines is the heart of the problem when it comes to policing the area fairly.

Of course, Israel is hardly likely to agree to arm the likes of TIPH, just as they have all but repealed the authority’s mandate to be in charge of keeping order in the Palestinian half of the city. However, given that a large part of TIPH’s purpose is to try and afford the same level of protection and security to the Palestinians that the settlers enjoy, it is clear that there is no balance whatsoever at present.

Well-meaning but ultimately impotent foreigners wielding notebooks and pens are no match for M16-toting soldiers when it comes to delivering justice to the city’s residents. Therefore it is no surprise that, despite what TIPH was set up to deliver, the Palestinians feel no better looked after now than they did before 1994. And that is no more likely to assuage their frustration and fears than any other half-hearted internationally-led initiative - meaning that their ongoing feeling of abandonment is entirely understandable while the best they’ve got is TIPH.

Deuteronomy 16:20 – “Justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which God gave you” and the footnote in the 1980 Hertz Edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

An Abomination - the 800 Jewish Settlers of Hebron

Today is Day 14,515 of the Maintenance of the immoral (and illegal) West Bank Settlements and more than 40 years since the start of the immoral (and illegal) occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Micah.6:8 “He has told you,..., Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God

A few weeks ago I received the latest report from B’Tselem entitled “Ghost Town: Israel’s Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinians from the Center of Hebron”, May 2007.

This report sits on top of the file of to-be-read material but I just cannot overcome the nausea that overwhelms me as I contemplate reading 107 pages about the abomination that is the 800 Jewish residents of Hebron. I did read the first sentence of the Conclusions:

"The constant and grave harm to Palestinians living in the center of Hebron is one of the most extreme manifestations of human rights violations committed by the State of Israel."

Hebron Area H2

This morning I received this message:

SOURCE http://jewschool.com/
Hebron, Area H2 (guest post)
by BZ - http://www.jewschool.com/ - Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
This post is by guest contributor Shira Levine.

Below is a reflection I wrote after traveling last Friday to area H2 of Hebron, the twenty percent of the city that is under direct Israeli control. I toured with Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israelis who served as soldiers in Hebron and are aiming to educate the public on the reality of the situation.

The most frightening part of the area of Hebron that is under Israeli control is the totality of the tragedy – the complete emptiness which serves as evidence that you can erase a presence with enough guns and padlocks. But there are still Palestinians there.

On the few streets that Palestinians are allowed to walk on, they walk with trepidation – brief encounters with a soldier who asks you on the street to open your jacket and show that you’re not wearing a bomb belt must happen countless time a day for the few residents who stayed in this part of the city. The soldier gestures and it’s clear to the pedestrian what he wants. And in the space between the houses that have not been abandoned, or where residents have not been driven out, you see a young women step out to empty trash. She’s wearing a bed sheet as a headscarf. It’s surprising to see her here. It’s surprising that anyone is left.

Palestinians in Hebron seem to live with a low profile, clinging to their houses. Many of the houses are empty. And all are surrounded by trash. Much of it is the trash thrown by Jewish settlers onto the houses of Palestinians, with the clear intention of driving out their neighbors.

Every Palestinian window is covered with chicken wire to prevent rocks being thrown in from the settlers. Since windows have still been bashed in, some Palestinians have enclosed their homes with metal shutters. How dark is it inside those houses?

The darkness. The day was sunny, but the barrenness cast a deep shadow. Row upon row upon row of locked up shop fronts. Like in abandoned American inner-cities. Only these shops weren’t left voluntarily – different streets have different levels of what our guide described as sterilization. After the Baruch Goldstein massacre in 1994 of Palestinian worshippers, there was a legitimate fear of Palestinian retaliation.

As a result, Palestinians were closed in their homes and allowed out only every few days for provisions. Beginning with the meat market, areas of the city began to be emptied and shut. Shop owners there continued paying the rent that, under the complex property laws in Hebron, maintained their right to the land. They were paying rent for stores that were locked up on roads that they still aren’t allowed to walk on. A few settlers have started building in the empty storefronts.

There are no cars, no stores, and even walking is forbidden on the sterilized roads in what used to be a bustling Palestinian city. The former soldiers who give the tours tell horrible confessional stories of the violence and harm that the army did in its efforts to make Hebron a place where 800 Jewish settlers can live.

800 people who don’t want to live with their neighbors. People who send their children to attack Palestinian students returning from school. Videos, filmed by residents with hand held camcorders from the Israeli human rights group Betselem, show pure hatred in fifteen year old settler girls who push down adult Palestinian women teachers.

The settlers’ goal is clear. The Palestinians should leave.

The encroaching emptiness has succeeded. Is it possible to stand in the ruins and imagine a restored market place? Is it possible to imagine that children could bring back milk without walking through empty streets and army check points?

When you’re there, it feels like the end. 15 years ago, if we’d stood in the market and you’d told me that the army and the settlers together would clear out this section of the city of its Palestinian residents, I couldn’t have believed you. I couldn’t have imagined how strikingly different the place would become.

It’s hard to imagine that it still can.

Sadly, George W. Bush, the President of the United States, who is visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, is not likely to visit Hebron Area H2 and be made aware of the story of the 800 Jewish settlers living there.

Leviticus, Chapter 19

On New Year’s Eve, for perhaps the twentieth year, my wife and I and another couple, our good friends, enjoyed First Night in Boston. One of the four performances we attended was at the Universalist-Unitarian Church. The sounds of the talented guitar player from Mexico reminded me of music of Andre Segovia played by my roommate Bill in college now over 50 years ago. I took out the prayer book in the pew in front of me and read an excerpt from “The Heart of the Torah” Leviticus Chapter 19. Today, I took a look at the entire Chapter. Here is what struck me.

"1. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
2. Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.
9. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not fully reap the corner of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
10. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you collect the [fallen] individual grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord, your God.
11. You shall not steal. You shall not deny falsely. You shall not lie, one man to his
13. You shall not oppress your fellow. You shall not rob. The hired worker's wage shall not remain with you overnight until morning.
14. You shall not curse a deaf person. You shall not place a stumbling block before a
blind person, and you shall fear your God. I am the Lord.
15. You shall commit no injustice in judgment; you shall not favor a poor person or respect a great man; you shall judge your fellow with righteousness.
16. You shall not go around as a gossipmonger amidst your people. You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow's blood. I am the Lord.
17. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account.
18. You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
23. When you come to the Land and you plant any food tree, you shall surely block its fruit [from use]; it shall be blocked from you [from use] for three years, not to be
24. And in the fourth year, all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord.
25. And in the fifth year, you may eat its fruit; [do this, in order] to increase its produce for you. I am the Lord, your God.
32. You shall rise before a venerable person and you shall respect the elderly, and you shall fear your God. I am the Lord.
33. When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him.
34. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.
35. You shall not commit a perversion of justice with measures, weights, or liquid
36. You shall have true scales, true weights, a true ephah, and a true hin. I am the Lord, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
37. You shall observe all My statutes and all My ordinances, and fulfill them. I am the Lord."

The 800 Jewish settlers in Hebron

The American Jewish Committee just released its 2007 survey of American Jewry. I wonder what percentage of American Jews know the story of the 800 Jewish Settlers in Hebron. I wonder what percentage of American Jews are familiar with the above passages from Leviticus 19. I wonder what percentage of American Jews who are familiar with the story and the above passages would condemn the actions of the settlers and the Government of Israel for supporting the settlers.

I wonder what percentage of American Rabbis know the story of the 800 Jewish Settlers in Hebron. I am quite certain that American Rabbis are familiar with these passages. I wonder what percentage of American Rabbis who know the story and are familiar with the passages would condemn the actions of the settlers and the Government of Israel for supporting the settlers.

The Jewish settlers in Hebron are one of the primary reasons I regret that the Great Sanhedrin (the supreme court of the Jewish people) was dissolved about 1700 years ago. One of my fondest dreams is for a Great Sanhedrin to be reinstituted so that the Jewish settlers could be indicted for its violation of Leviticus 19. What might be appropriate would be to frame the accusation as attempted murder of Judaism – the thrusting of a knife into the heart of the Torah.

Elsewhere in the Torah is another piece of the Heart of the Torah- Deuteronomy XVI, 18:20 – “Justice, Justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Another question to ask is "Where is God?" We would not need to reestablish the Great Sanhedrin if God was observing the Hebron settlers. She would likely disinherit all the 800 and evict them.