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Firedoglake Book Salon Preview: The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah

10:13 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Author Ali Abunimah

Please join us Sunday for Ali Abunimah’s The Battle for Justice in Palestine. I’ll be hosting. Of the FDL book salons on the subject of Palestine-Israel that I have hosted, I’m looking forward to this one the most. Ali has been in this battle for a long time. We will get to witness him explain the book’s bold opening sentence, “The Palestinians are winning.” And much more.

I.  2014 is a year seeing rapid changes in how the world views and reacts to relations between Israel and Israelis, and their co-inhabitants, in the so-called “Land Between the River and the Sea.” Terms used to describe Israeli policies and laws, words such as “racist” or “apartheid,” for instance, are quickly gaining more currency, more acceptance. Pushback against use of such terms by ardent Zionists seems to get less traction in the public at large by the day.

The main reason this is the case is simply grounded in abundant examples of racist and apartheid incidents, rules, policies and actions perpetrated daily in that land. The very recent assignment of blame on the breakdown of the Peace Process™ talks supervised by the U.S. State Department, between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Foreign Office on the Israelis, by Secretary of State John Kerry, lead negotiator Martin Indyk and others is unprecedented.

Every week more organizations become leery of dealing with Israel as if everything is normal there. Pension funds divest. Professional associations pass resolutions to cut ties with their Israeli counterparts. Churches pass resolutions of condemnation or divestment, even an unblushing published study guide labeling Zionism as “false theology.” College student government bodies debate the utility of the Global BDS Movement, and vote to participate in it – or not. The list of professional associations of college faculty boycotting Israeli institutions grows monthly. This trend will only accelerate, as Israel is plummeting over the edge, no longer able to hide the true nature of the country’s vision of Jewish supremacy at the expense of non-Jews. Just this Thursday, Israeli Economic Minister Naftali Bennett proposed, once again, to Prime Minister Netanyahu, to annex Area C, 74% of the West Bank:

Bennett has presented his plan in recent weeks to foreign diplomats stationed in the country. The proposal includes removing IDF roadblocks in the territory left under Palestinian control, Areas A and B, as well as investing in infrastructure there and pursuing massive economic development.

Annexing Area C, Bennett has said, will secure Israel’s vital interests by creating a buffer zone for Gush Dan and Jerusalem. It will also preserve Israel’s “vital” national heritage sites.

According to sources close to the Bayit Yehudi leader, he will push forward with the plan regardless of whether Hamas and Fatah implement their unity agreement, and regardless whether Israeli-Palestinian talks start anew. Bennett, according to sources close to him, believes those talks will ultimately fail.

Europe and the United Nations – which have indicated they view Area C as vital for the viability of a future Palestinian state – have in the last few years increasingly focused on shoring up Palestinian development there, including with financial assistance.

This annexation would result in the remainders of Palestine being something that looks like nothing in the world more than the former Bantustans of South Africa: Read the rest of this entry →

What Do You Think? – Is a Two-State Solution Achievable?

12:18 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Happy West Bank Settlers

Harvard Professor of International Affairs, Stephen M. Walt, observed in an essay today at his Foreign Policy blog niche:

You might read Isabel Kershner’s New York Times piece on the eviction of an Israeli settler family from an illegal outpost in Hebron. The kicker, of course, is that the removal of one settler family was accompanied by an announcement that the Netanyahu government had authorized construction of 800 new homes in Har Homa and Givat Zeev, and intended “to seek the necessary permits to retroactively legalize three other West Bank settler outposts that went up without authorization.” And lest you be confused about the Netanyahu government’s intentions, here’s what Netanyahu himself had to say about it (my emphasis):

The principle that has guided me is to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Today, I instructed that the status of three communities — Bruchim, Sansana, and Rechalim — be provided for. I also asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to see to it that the Ulpana hill in Beit El not be evacuated. This is the principle that has guided us. We are strengthening Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and we are strengthening the Jewish community in Hebron, the City of the Patriarchs. But there is one principle that we uphold. We do everything according to the law and we will continue to do so.”

So Netanyahu’s aim is clear: keeping control of the West Bank forever. And the reference to “doing everything according to the law” is revealing, because “law” here means the law of the occupation, which is the same law that has allowed a half a million Israelis to move onto the territories conquered in 1967 over the past forty years.

International law and international consensus on the Occupied Territories of the West Bank are clear on the subject (Wikipedia footnotes retained):

Since 1979 the United Nations Security Council,[68] the United Nations General Assembly,[69] the United States,[70] the EU,[71] the International Court of Justice,[72] and the International Committee of the Red Cross[73] refer to the West Bank as Palestinian territory occupied by Israel. General Assembly resolution 58/292 (17 May 2004) affirmed that the Palestinian people have the right to sovereignty over the area.[74]

Supporters of the Israeli right[who?] have argued that since the area has never in modern times been an independent state, there is no legitimate claimant to the area other than the present occupier, Israel. This argument however is not accepted by the international community and international lawmaking bodies, virtually all of whom regard Israel’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an occupation that denies the fundamental principle of self-determination found in the Article One of the United Nations Charter, and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsand the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Further, UN Security Council Resolution 242 notes the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” regardless of whether the war in which the territory was acquired was offensive or defensive. Prominent Israeli human rights organizations such as B’tselem also refer to the Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an occupation.[75] John Quigleyhas noted that “…a state that uses force in self-defense may not retain territory it takes while repelling an attack. If Israel had acted in self-defense, that would not justify its retention of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Under the UN Charter there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. The response of other states to Israel’s occupation shows a virtually unanimous opinion that even if Israel’s action were defensive, its retention of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was not.”[76]

International law (Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) prohibits “transfers of the population of an occupying power to occupied territories”, incurring a responsibility on the part of Israel’s government to not settle Israeli citizens in the West Bank.[77]

Some countries, including Brazil,[78] El Salvador,[79] and Argentina,[80] recognize the State of Palestine and consider the West Bank to be territory of that state.

Clearly, the Israeli government intends to continue to support expansion of the illegal settlements.  At the same time, the Israeli military administration consistently pursues destruction and degradation of Palestinian farms, water resources, outlying communities and infrastructure in most parts of the West Bank.  When looked at overall, Israeli policies are solidly in the realm of the definition of apartheid:  ”any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.”

In the USA, AIPAC, J Street and even Norman Finkelstein stand by their belief in the viability of the so-called “two-state solution.”  When asked to define what that might represent in physical terms, J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami, here at a firedoglake Book Salon, uttered the predictable definition or non-definition of what that might be:

The Palestinian people (in Gaza and the West Bank) need their freedom and independence – and the Israeli people within their borders need security. So we believe that Israel should immediately move toward a two-state solution that grants real freedom to the Palestinian people.

I have come to believe a two-state solution is unachievable.  Ever.  I am tired of hearing platitudes and dissimulation, when people attempt to describe what a potential rump Palestinian State, or collections of Bantustans surrounded by hedgehog Judean and Samarian hilltop clusters would be.

When I show up at events hosted by professional Zionists, Israeli consular officials or their like, if I ask to be shown the ultimate map, there is none.

What do you think?

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon Annexes Jordan on Youtube

1:51 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Danny Ayalon annexes Jordan #5

There he is, Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Danny Ayalon, standing next to a map with a huge Star of David plastered over Jordan, with the middle of the unambiguous light blue symbol of a nation, splashed on top of Amman, the capital of the nation of Jordan.  The little cartoon guy, standing in the northeastern Sinai, is Lord Arthur Balfour, who Ayalon seems to think had the capability of delivering Amman to a Zionist state.

Ayalon posted  a YouTube on July 12th at his site, DannyAyalon, a site administered by the Israeli government.  In it, he seems to purport that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a legally binding governmental decision by Great Britain, to deliver all of the post-World War I territory that became known as Mandatory Palestine, and all of the territory which became known as Mandatory Transjordan to some entity which didn’t yet exist, representing Zionist aspirations.  Here is the entire text of  Lord Balfour’s letter to British banker and political activist, Lord Rothschild:

Foreign Office,
November 2nd, 1917.

Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely
Arthur James Balfour Read the rest of this entry →

Is Israel in Violation of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty?

3:58 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The process that resulted in the March 26, 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was long, though not by standards Palestinians, for instance, might seem particularly arduous or epic.  Israel attacked Egypt on June 5, 1967, occupying all of Egyptian Sinai and forcing a long-term closure of the Suez Canal as one of many direct results.  Then, just over six years later, on October 6, 1973, Egypt attacked Israel, seeking to reclaim their occupied territory and restore the Canal to normal use.  Israel considers the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to have been their victory;  Egypt considers it to have been theirs.  People still fight over which side won at the war’s Wikipedia article.

The preamble of the 1979 peace treaty reads, in part:

PREAMBLE

Convinced of the urgent necessity of the establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338

It is interesting that the Israeli Government’s web page devoted to the treaty shows a map of Israel clearly marking all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as part of Israel, without any sort of differentiation between these zones and what is generally regarded to be Israel proper – pre-1967 War Israel.  The Egyptian government’s page devoted to the treaty is currently down.
Security Council Resolution 242 is considered to be the originating document requiring Israel to relinquish its control, occupation and settlement of the West Bank and Gaza, and its original interpretation by everyone on the planet outside of the Israeli and (then) South African (apartheid) governments regarded all of the West Bank lands occupied in 1967 as just that – occupied.  Soon after  the adoption of UN Res. 242, – November 22, 1967, Dean Rusk, who was then U.S. Secretary of State, said:

There was much bickering over whether that resolution should say from “the” territories or from “all” territories. In the French version, which is equally authentic, it says withdrawal de territory, with de meaning “the.” We wanted that to be left a little vague and subject to future negotiation because we thought the Israeli border along the West Bank could be “rationalized”; certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties. We also wanted to leave open demilitarization measures in the Sinai and the Golan Heights and take a fresh look at the old city of Jerusalem. But we never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the June 1967 war. On that point we and the Israelis to this day remain sharply divided. This situation could lead to real trouble in the future. Although every President since Harry Truman has committed the United States to the security and independence of Israel, I’m not aware of any commitment the United States has made to assist Israel in retaining territories seized in the Six-Day War.

Since that time, many U.S. governments have sought to muddy the clarity of what 242 meant and means.  How that reflects upon whether or not Israel is currently in violation of the Israel-Egypt pact has not been addressed by any of the many, many reports in the media about whether or not the incoming regime in Egypt might or might not honor it.  It appears to be a moot point, as Israel is in very obvious violation of one of the most basic tenets of the pact and should therefore be seriously considered as having abandoned it already.  The Palestine Papers clearly reveal that Israel has no leg to stand upon in defending their non-compliance with 242 and the peace pact itself.

As Rusk stated in 1967, regarding adherence to the spirit and letter of 242 and Israeli intransigence and outright deceptions, “[t]his situation could lead to real trouble in the future.”

Mondoweiss Challenges firedoglake – “Sign the Petition – Cut off Netanyahu” – Updated

11:32 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I. On Friday, firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher asked us to sign a petition, requesting that “Congress …  immediately vote to cut off any American aid to the Egyptian government.”  I signed it.  Then I republished Jane’s post at my blog, where more people read about this important issue, and signed the petition.

Jane’s post at firedoglake sported an image of a tear gas canister that had been fired at protesters in Egypt late last week.  The canister (as are the rubber bullets and many other anti-riot implements used in Egypt) was made in the USA.   Combined Technical Systems in Jamestown, PA makes the tear gas projectiles.  In my republication of Jane’s post, I added an image of the place in Pennsylvania where Combined Systems makes and packages some of this stuff.  There, outside the company’s HQ, are a pair of flag poles.  Atop one sits the American flag.  Atop the other one, just as tall, perhaps higher, sits an Israeli flag.

The same company that makes these canisters being used as I write against the Egyptian people, makes many, many more, that are used every week against courageous Palestinian and Israeli people, who fight against policies of the apartheid regime in Tel Aviv.  American college student Emily Henochowicz lost an eye to an American-made product on May 31st, as she demonstrated at Kalandi crossing near Ramallah, against the murders of eight young Turks and another American college student, Furkan Doğan, by Israeli “commandos” brandishing more American made products in their arsenal.  American Tristan Anderson was severely injured by a Combined Technical Systems product  near Ni’in in the West Bank, on March 13, 2009.

American-made white phosphorus products killed scores, perhaps hundreds of Palestinians, including many kids, during Operation Cast Lead.  If you haven’t seen the images of these ruined kids, you should.

On Friday, I commented at Jane’s petition post, asking:

Where’s the petition to cut off the similar aid package to Israel, Jane? Essentially, they’re part of the same overall package and mindset, even if the Israelis have a very different U.S. constituency than that of the Egyptians.

A few commenters agreed.  After one commenter engaged further in my question, Jane answered:

Petitions are a tool we use to identify people who are interested in a particular issue. Once we identify them we can ask them to take actions of increasing sophistication and complexity in consort such that maximum pressure is exerted on identifiable weak spots within a system.

Thank you for your concern. When it comes to the influence of money in a political system you might be surprised what we understand.

II. Today, the blog Mondoweiss, in an essay penned by their founder, Philip Weiss, all but challenges firedoglake to put up a similar petition regarding U.S. aid to Israel.  Here’s the relevant excerpt:

In his bumbling press briefing two days ago, Robert Gibbs put the U.S. “assistance posture” toward the Egyptians on the table, warning the gov’t not to crack down on the protesters or there goes our money. People are listening. Firedoglake has called for ending aid to Egypt, citing the teargas canisters we produce being used against demonstrators.

Let me remind you, the Israelis killed nearly 400 children in Gaza by dropping white phosphorus on them over 22 days of hellish attacks on a population of 1.5 million two years ago, and the U.S. said nothing. The siege of Gaza is collective punishment, a war crime. And pro-democracy demonstrations in the West Bank, where the people have no rights, are routinely suppressed by Israel. A worldwide movement has called for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Will Firedoglake and Robert Gibbs see the writing on the wall?

It is a worthy challenge.  I’ve been commenting at fdl since 2005, writing here since 2008.  I’ve been commenting at Mondoweiss since 2008, and Weiss has asked me to begin submitting articles there (I will, when the Rachel Corrie civil suit concludes in Haifa).

Weiss’ blog (he’s now working closely with Adam Horowitz and The Nation Institute, and featuring many dynamic writers) is dedicated to “The War of Ideas in the Middle East” and to Jewish identity. firedoglake is perhaps the most formidable progressive public forum in the United States on a wide array of issues, only one of which is Palestinian rights.  But with Weiss’ challenge, there appears to be a cognitive dissonance that, through resolution, might bring about some positive results.

Update – Three Issues:

1). My Header should have read “Mondoweiss Challenges firedoglake – Please Post “Sign the Petition – “Cut Off Netanyahu.” Mondoweiss has not posted a petition similar to that posted by fdl Friday.  Nor has fdl posted one requesting funding similar to that given to Egypt be withheld from Israel.  I shouldn’t change the title, as people have already responded to the one posted.

2). I don’t know how to post such petitions as the one posted here Friday, or proposed by Mondoweiss.  I leave that up to others for now.

3). Among comments to this diary, some warrant addressing in this update:

a). firedoglake is not a “neo-lib” blog.  Please.  I stand by my statement in the diary – fdl is quite progressive, the range of progressive issues brought up by front-pagers and Myfdl diarists is enormous.

b). Even though fdl does not often front-page diaries about Palestinian rights, it does.  And when important breaking news has happened – the assault and murders on the MV Mavi Marmara being a good, fairly recent example, fdl led the world in covering the crimes as they occurred.

c). CTuttle questioned whether this post might start “another” flame war between Mondoweiss and fdl.  There is no way it should.  A good start might be for somebody here – Siun comes to mind – to post a petition to congress, requesting military aid that goes to Israel, which funds the implementation of illegal repression of Palestinian rights in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself, be terminated.  I believe that can be done here.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have written this diary.

Notorious Body Part Snatcher Dr. Hiss Autopsied Rachel Corrie – Parts Still Missing

8:23 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Sometimes, reading an article about war, I want to puke. Recovering from Max Blumenthal’s latest bombshell from Haifa, that was my first impulse. Eventually, though, I merely cried:

[Dr. Yehuda Hiss] also conceded to taking “samples” from Corrie’s body for “histological testing” without informing her family. Just which parts of Corrie’s body Hiss took remains unclear; despite Hiss’s claim that he “buried” the samples, her family has not confirmed the whereabouts of her missing body parts.

Dr.Hiss came to attention because of this:

The chief pathologist of Israel for a decade and a half, Hiss was implicated by a 2001 investigation by the Israeli Health Ministry of stealing body parts ranging from legs to testicles to ovaries from bodies without permission from family members then selling them to research institutes. Bodies plundered by Hiss included those of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. He was finally removed from his post in 2004 when the body of a teenage boy killed in a traffic accident was discovered to have been thoroughly gnawed on by a rat in Hiss’s laboratory. In an interview with researcher Nancy Schepper-Hughes, Hiss admitted that he harvested organs if he was confident relatives would not discover that they were missing. He added that he often used glue to close eyelids to hide missing corneas.

While Dr. Hiss’ testimony was part of the opening, back in March of the civil suit by the Corrie family against the Israeli Defense Forces and Defense Ministry, no writer wrote back then so compellingly as Blumenthal has now done, in his article posted today on the testimony and depositions given Sunday and Monday in the opening portion of the second half of the trail.

Also catching us up on details of this week’s proceedings is Nora Barrows-Friedman, writing for Al Jazeera. In her article, Barrows-Friedman writes about the statement of Col. "Yossi" from the IDF, about whom I wrote on Tuesday:

"During war there are no civilians," that’s what “Yossi,” an Israeli military (IDF) training unit leader simply stated during a round of questioning on day two of the Rachel Corrie trials, held in Haifa’s District Court earlier this week. “When you write a [protocol] manual, that manual is for war,” he added.

For the human rights activists and friends and family of Rachel Corrie sitting in the courtroom, this open admission of an Israeli policy of indiscrimination towards civilians — Palestinian or foreign — created an audible gasp.

Yet, put into context, this policy comes as no surprise. The Israeli military’s track record of insouciance towards the killings of Palestinians, from the 1948 massacre of Deir Yassin in Jerusalem to the 2008-2009 attacks on Gaza that killed upwards of 1400 men, women and children, has illustrated that not only is this an entrenched operational framework but rarely has it been challenged until recently.

The blog Mondoweiss has reprinted Max Blumenthal’s article in entirety. They often partner with Max. Earlier in the week, there were a few articles at that Israel/Palestine-centric blog about whether or not the four civilians recently gunned down near Hebron on illegally seized land on the West Bank, were legitimate targets. The consensus there was that the militant settlers were not "legitimate targets." Commenting there, I sided with that view, but observed that Col "Yossi’s" testimony at the Corrie suit hearing this week, weakens the argument of those who condemn the recent settler shootings unequivocally. If all of Gaza, or large parts of Gaza are war zones in which there are no civilians, how does that differ conceptually from lands on the West Bank, illegally wrested from the rightful Palestinian owners by armed Israeli thugs?

In the midst of these moral dilemmas, what does one do? Blumenthal relates, in today’s article, the common sense of Craig Corrie:

Among the most disturbing aspects of Corrie’s case is the abuse of her body by Israeli authorities after she was killed. Craig Corrie recalled to me a panicked phone conversation he had with Will Hewitt, a friend and former classmate of Rachel Corrie who had just witnessed her killing.

“It’s getting dark over here and there are no refrigeration units for her body in Gaza,” Hewitt told Craig Corrie.

“Just leave it until tomorrow,” Craig replied. “We don’t want you or anyone else to get killed.

“But her body is starting to smell,” Hewitt pleaded.

Another family exhibiting common sense, even in the weird environment of what is done with these poor bodies of Israelis, Palestinians and Americans killed in such senseless violence, is the Salhout family in East Jerusalem, as told in this story:

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – On 27 August, a Palestinian four-year-old, Abdul-Hayy Salhout, fell from a balcony at his family’s home in the Jabal Al-Mukabbir village in occupied East Jerusalem.

Doctors at the Hadassah Medical Center spent eight hours trying to revive the toddler in the intensive care unit, where he died six days later. Abdul-Hayy’s parents decided at the time to donate his organs.

According to the Israeli news site Ynet, the boy’s liver has since been successfully transplanted to a critically ill seven-year-old Israeli boy. A kidney was given to an eight-year-old girl, also Israeli, whose body has accepted it. The other kidney went to a 55-year-old Israeli man, and he is in good condition too despite concerns of rejection due to the age difference.

"My son arrived at the hospital in very serious condition, and it was impossible to save his life. But we’re so happy to see him alive inside other people," Abdul-Hayy’s father told Ynet. "It makes no difference to us whether the recipients speak Arabic or Hebrew, because saving a human life is the same."

(emphases added)

Emily Henochowicz, Gave an Eye for Justice. Now She Gives Us a Song

10:48 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Emily Henochowicz, the talented young Cooper Union college art student, who lost an eye in a May 31st demonstration at the Qalandiya checkpoint (her offense – holding a Turkish flag), has written a song. It is a plea for justice for Palestinians.

Emily was shot, almost point-blank, in the eye by an Israeli soldier. She’s lucky she wasn’t killed. In her recovery, Emily has shown remarkable courage, durability and restraint toward those who robbed her of half of what a visual artist needs most – eyesight.

She continues to produce new images, posted at her web site, Thirsty Pixels. Yesterday, Emily posted a song there, and on YouTube. Just below the song, Emily makes an appeal:

Also, if someone could remix this or re-sing this with piano, that would be brilliant.

Hopefully, one of the many talented musicians who inhabit the world of firedoglake, can come up with Emily’s request. Here’s her song:

Susie Kneedler and Phil Weiss have transcribed part of Emily’s lyrics:

In Palestine, oh I miss you Palestine.

And you know I think back to the memory of my grandparents in Poland

And I think of what they suffered through in Europe. It makes me sad

I think they would be sad how all those Jews who died in the Holocaust would be so very sad

If they knew that this is how their memory was being used

Oh-oh, in Palestine

It’s fascist what they’re doing

It is ethnic cleansing what they’re doing

It is just as bad as what had happened to them

Don’t they see?

Don’t they see?

If they don’t want people to be anti-Semitic, then they better act like good Jews!

They can’t say that they are moral when this is what they do!

In Palestine

UK Methodists Support Boycott of Israeli Goods from the West Bank as UK Court Makes Incredible Ruling

12:51 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Two groundbreaking events occurred in the UK this week:

1. "The Methodist Church of Britain voted on Wednesday to boycott Israeli-produced goods and services from the West Bank because of Israel’s ‘illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.’”

2. "Five activists who caused £180,000 damage to an arms factory were acquitted after they argued they were seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes."

The move by the UK Methodists has caused concern by interfaith groups there, particularly the Council of Christians and Jews:

David Gifford, the chief executive of the Council of Christians and Jews, said he was disappointed that the Israeli narrative was not heard during the debate.

“I was very disappointed at the emotive nature of the debate which again did not hear fairly also the pain and cry of the Israeli,” Gifford said. “It was right to hear the pain of the Palestinian but in the end the vote of the Methodist Conference was to boycott goods and services that originate from the West Bank. We shall have to see how this will affect future relationships of the Methodist Church with other churches, the CCJ [Council of Christians and Jews] and with the British Jewish community.”

But the UK Methodists’ decision is in line with the view of the World Council of Churches:

“The Methodist Conference notes the call of the World Council of Churches in 2009 for an international boycott of settlement produce and services and the support given for such a boycott by Christian leaders in Palestine in the Kairos document, Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Jewish organizations both inside Israel and worldwide and calls on the Methodist people to support and engage with this boycott of Israeli goods emanating from illegal settlements,” the church said.

Commenters at the Jerusalem Post article on the UK decision show rage:

The problem is that we have not made our case clear about the rights of the Jewish People to live in all parts of the Land of Israel, regardless of any political situation. Let’s here a call from Jewish organizations in Britain and elsewhere to buy products from Israel – especially from Judea and Samaria

.

and:

Sure blame Israelis for the hatred that exists in Israel. The CHURCH has never done anything to help the Jewish people. My bible says "to the Jew first",and that’s in ALL things. Christians are commanded to support them with finances, military,and prayers. I’ve witnessed the hatred the Arabs have for the Jewish people. Since you "methodist" don’t read the same Bible I do, go ahead and boycot it will come back and slap you in the face.

and:

So the Methodist Church is going to Boycott Israel. Wow,what a shame. Oh by the way, Methodist is no longer a church. Any ‘church’ that permits lesbian priests or whatever they call them is not a Bible believing, God fearing church. So in a way, Israel can consider their boycott to be a compliment.

The Jewish Chronicle, London’s oldest Jewish newspaper, reports:

Delegates at the conference in Portsmouth overwhelmingly passed every recommendation of the report, which also included a call to review whether Zionism was compatible with Methodist beliefs.

The Reverend Graham Carter, who chaired the working party that produced the report, said that while some people had wanted a boycott of all Israeli goods, “we did not feel that was the right thing to bring to conference”.

The Presbyterian Conference begins in the USA this month, and they will be taking up this same issue.

Meanwhile, a court in Brighton in the UK has cleared five of seven activists who destroyed armaments bound for Israel during the early 2009 IDF attack on Gaza:

The five were jubilant after a jury found them not guilty of conspiring to cause criminal damage to the factory on the outskirts of Brighton.

The five admitted they had broken in and sabotaged the factory, but argued they were legally justified in doing so.

They believed that EDO MBM, the firm that owns the factory, was breaking export regulations by manufacturing and selling to the Israelis military equipment which would be used in the occupied territories. They wanted to slow down the manufacture of these components, and impede what they believed were war crimes being committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

After being acquitted, one of them, Robert Nicholls, told the Guardian: "I’m joyful really, at being a free man. The action was impulsive really, we just wanted to do something that would make a real difference to the people of Palestine."

Another, Ornella Saibene, said: "I’ve felt very peaceful all the way through the trial because I’m proud of what I’ve done. It was the right thing to do."

These are both remarkable events. They point toward increasing awareness among Christian organizations and among jurors of the gulf between Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank and the world’s understanding of what this means in the context of so called "Judeo-Christian" values, or in understanding of what constitutes lawful action to prevent illegal war and war crimes.

Meanwhile, on the cultural front:

World’s Leading Intellectual – Noam Chomsky – Denied Entry into Israel

10:57 am in Foreign Policy, Politics by EdwardTeller

YNet - and now Haaretz are reporting that MIT professor emeritus, groundbreaking linguist and passionate spokesman for human rights, Noam Chomsky, has been refused entry into Israel this morning, at the Allenby Bridge:

Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky, one of the prominent speakers against the Israeli policy, was stopped Sunday while trying to enter Israel through the Allenby Bridge, sources in the Birzeit University in Ramallah told Ynet.

According to the officials, Chomsky was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the university and was detained at the border crossing for more than four hours. A human rights activists who was with Chomsky at the crossing confirmed that the 81-year-old linguist was not allowed to enter Israel.

Haaretz is reporting that:

When he asked an Israeli inspector why he had not received permission, he was told that an explanation would be sent in writing to the American embassy.

Chomsky arrived at the Allenby Bridge at around 1:30 in the afternoon and was taken for questioning, before being released back to Amman at 4:30 P.M.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said Chomsky was turned away for various reasons but declined to elaborate. The ministry was looking into allowing him to enter only the West Bank, said Haddad.

In a telephone interview with Channel 10, Chomsky said the interrogators had told him he had written things that the Israeli government did not like.

"I suggested [the interrogator try to] find any government in the world that likes anything I say," he said [emphasis added]

.

There is an ongoing crackdown in Israel on peace activists, human rights NGOs and – especially – outspoken Israeli citizens who are not Jewish. Not much of this is making the U.S. papers. Chomsky’s refused entry is too recent to have gotten much U.S. attention yet – this happened on an early Sunday afternoon in Israel or, to be more accurate, East Jerusalem, which is part of Palestine, though Israeli police control the well-known border crossing point.

This may be a difficult story for U.S. media to spin in favor of the Israeli action. Some will try, though.

In Rare Show of Bold Diplomacy, Israeli PM Netanyahu Publicly Kicks U.S. VP Biden “In the Balls”

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Not my words. Andrew Sullivan’s. He also claims today, "Joe Biden was kicked in the balls as he came to Israel, with a simultaneous "fuck you" by the Israeli government announcing new settlements – 1600 houses – in East Jerusalem."

No sooner did Biden boldly make Netanyahu wait 90 minutes for Biden to show up for dinner, than Biden totally accommodated the Israelis by delivering a message designed to show our properly deferential role to Israel in dealing with those pesky Palestinians:

United States Vice President Joe Biden warned Israelis in a direct address from Tel Aviv on Thursday that the status quo in the Middle East was not sustainable, and vowed that the United States would do everything in its power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He also urged both Israelis and the Palestinians look toward direct negotiations to end the long-standing conflict.

"The demographic realities make it difficult for Israel to be a Jewish homeland and a democratic country," said Biden in his speech to foreign dignitaries, Israeli officials and students at Tel Aviv University. "The status quo is not sustainable."

"To end this historic conflict, both sides must be historically bold," he said.

That’s pretty bold, eh? The Israelis’ answer to Biden’s challenge to be "bold"? This announcement, made early today:

Some 50,000 new housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line are in various stages of planning and approval, planning officials told Haaretz. They said Jerusalem’s construction plans for the next few years, even decades, are expected to focus on East Jerusalem.

Most of the housing units will be built in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, while a smaller number of them will be built in Arab neighborhoods. The plans for some 20,000 of the apartments are already in advanced stages of approval and implementation, while plans for the remainder have yet to be submitted to the planning committees.

The planned construction includes the 1,600 homes in the ultra-Orthodox East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo that were approved Tuesday. Saying the decision undermines peace talks, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has publicly condemned the move, which the Interior Ministry announced during his visit to Israel.

Sullivan goes on to write:

I cannot read Netanyahu’s mind. But I can observe Israel’s actions. They intend to occupy and colonize the entire West Bank for ever. [emphasis added] They may allow some parceled enclaves for Palestinians, but they will maintain a big military presence on the Eastern border of West Bank, and they will sustain this with raw military power and force. I certainly cannot see any other rationale for their actions these past few years that makes any sense at all. Many Israeli politicians now use the term "apartheid" for this future.

The Israelis’ bold move may be intended to do more than just kick the Vice President of the United States in the nuts.

Biden mentions "bold." The Israelis accommodate him. But the Palestinians are quite limited in the range of ways they can show "boldness."

It may well be a provocation designed to not only make it impossible for the Palestinian Authority to negotiate at all with the Israelis, but also to force the level of demonstrations in the West Bank to escalate beyond their current relative peacefulness, to levels where the IDF can claim it has to perform a Cast Lead type operation in the regions where the expansionism is already going ahead full bore.

The Israeli government is mounting an intense campaign in the United States to keep Americans from being allowed to stop militant expansionist Zionism. Without even attempting to hide the direct links between the Israeli government and the campaign’s enablers, militant Zionist expansion organizations have pretty much taken over the anti-BDS campaign, with a lot of Israeli (and American) money.

This article at mondoweiss, links to a paper being disseminated now by something called the "BDS Working Group." The pamphlet is called "Delegitimization of Israel: “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions,” and is credited to Co-Chairs: Dr. Mitchell Bard and Professor Gil Troy.

Go to mondoweiss and read the document. If you teach college, are involved in union activism, or will be participating at upcoming Democratic Party caucuses, you may begin to see the products of the "BDS Working Group" real soon. Mixed in with more rhetoric about bombing Iran.

And just so it is clear, I am not in favor of the BDS campaign as it is now configured.