29 January 2014

French Court finds boycotters guilty of lying

From Jewish Press, 28 Jan 2014, Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu:

A SodaStream ad in France, where a BDS-linked group has been found guilty of maligning the company.

A SodaStream ad in France, where a BDS-linked group has been found guilty of maligning the company.

A French court has ordered a Pro-Palestinian Authority group affiliated with the Boycott Israel movement to compensate the company and to stop all activities alleging that SodaStream products are illegally made and sold.
The company, whose Mishor Adumim factory in Israel’s Judean Desert is only one of 20 around the world, sued the Association France Palestine Solidarite (AFPS) in a Paris civil court for activities that the company said included “falsely claiming that the products are ‘illegally sold’ as a result of being manufactured in ‘occupied territories’ while bearing the ‘Made in Israel’ label.”
AFPS lobbied retailers to remove SodaStream products from their shelves and has been actively encouraging a boycott since 2010.
“While SodaStream has succeeded to stop this campaign at the retailer levels, AFPS has persisted with active and sometimes violent demonstrations in store,” the company told The Jewish Press Tuesday.
OPM, SodaStream’s exclusive distributor in France, filed a suit three years ago against AFPS Court for the campaign and for denigrating SodaStream products at French retailers.
The Civil of Court of Paris now has ruled in favor of SodaStream.
The court concluded that a boycott, even if instituted for political or moral considerations, must be “fair” and not abusive, a condition that AFPS violated by defacing a SodaStream advertisement and covering it with an image of blood as part of its smear campaign.
AFPS told retailers and the public that SodaStream products were being sold illegally and, according to the company, “advised French stores that selling SodaStream products constitutes a fraud, and that store managers could be prosecuted for doing so.”
The court said the boycott was unfair because false information was disseminated about SodaStream.
The court ordered AFPS to cease and desists from claiming that SodaStream products are being sold illegally or fraudulently and gave it two weeks to remove such indications from its website and media
The amount of compensation to SodaStream for damages has not been available for publication.
The decision came at the most opportune time for SodaStream. The BDS lobby thought it could take the fizz out of the company’s recent hookup with Scarlett Johansson as its new world ambassador. The actress, who is Jewish, also is starring in SodaStream’s commercial to be aired during the Super Bowl game next week.
But Johansson, after a couple of days of silence, did not crumble under the pressure and instead stood up for SodaStream.

She has done a better job than any Israeli official could ever do to state the view that SodaStream’s employment of several hundred Palestinian Authority Arabs, with the same benefits and conditions as Jews, is the best peace process around.

22 January 2014

False Assertions from PLO's Ashrawi

A Press Release dated 19 January 2014, from the Department of Culture and Information of the PLO Executive Committee contains several false assertions about international law by Hanan Ashrawi:

     1   Article  49  of  the  Fourth  Geneva   Convention  and  Article  43  of  the  Hague  Regulations,  among  other   international  conventions, explicitly state  that  Israel  is  in  direct   violation  of  international  law  with  its  illegal  settlement  activities.”  

In fact, neither the Fourth Geneva Convention nor the Hague Regulations make any explicit or other reference to Israel at all. 
The Hague Regulations date back to 1907, more than 40 years before the State of Israel was established.  The PLO statement is a disingenuous way of making a contentious claim about the legality of the settlements appear to be an incontrovertible truth.

Even among eminent international lawyers, there are numerous, diverse opinions about the legality of the settlements, but there has never been a definitive determination of the issue by a court.  The ICJ Advisory Opinion in 2004 was just that, a non-binding “opinion”, and not legally determinative.

Because the term “settlements” is used loosely to describe a number of different situations (including unauthorised “outposts” which Israel itself characterises as illegal under Israeli law), it is possible that different settlements have a different status in international law (see 2 below).  

Under agreements entered into between Israel and the PLO, the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank will be resolved by the delimitation of a final border in a negotiated agreement. 
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (August 2009), the territory lying between Israel’s security barrier and the pre-1967 "Green Line" accounts for only 8.5% of the total area of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). Approximately 85% of Israeli 'settlers' live within that 8.5% area, and all settlement construction activity, authorized by Israel, takes place there.   In 2008, Israel’s then Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, presented the Palestinians with a comprehensive peace proposal including a map with a proposed border which, including land within pre-1967 Israel, would have granted a Palestinian state land the equivalent of 100% of the West Bank and Gaza.  There has never been a similarly definitive counter-proposal from the Palestinian side.  
It is the Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, as expressly endorsed by the UN partition resolution in 1947 rather than the settlements issue, that is the real obstacle to peace.

     2   all (sic) settlements are illegal

Professor James Crawford, who is one of Australia’s (and the world’s) most eminent international lawyers and is generally critical of Israeli policies, published a legal Opinion in 2012 in which he concluded that some of the settlements, such as the Nahal settlements, are “probably lawful”.

     3  “A United Nations Human Rights Council fact finding mission…

The UN Human Rights Council has forfeited any claim to impartiality and objectivity with regard to Israel.  The Council’s obsessive bias against Israel has been publicly condemned by both Ban Ki Moon and his predecessor as UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

For many years, the UN General Assembly has annually and routinely passed approximately 20 one-sided resolutions condemning Israel for alleged violations of international law in the West Bank.  No other country in the world is singled out in any comparable way.  This shameful process occurs both in the plenary session of the General Assembly and in five of its main committees which are supposed to deal respectively with Disarmament and International Security, Economic and Financial questions,  Social, Humanitarian and Cultural issues, Special Political and Decolonization subjects and Administrative and Budgetary issues.

Apart from the rank hypocrisy of the situation in which gross human rights offenders such as Sudan, North Korea, Iran and Syria lead the charge in castigating the open and democratic State of Israel for alleged human rights violations, there is a very real problem with the one-sidedness of the resolutions themselves, and their failure to demand reciprocity from the Palestinians and their leaders.

The terms of the resolutions in question have barely altered from year to year and Australia's objections to them, as recorded in previous years, remain valid.  The one-sided and non-reciprocal nature of the resolutions in effect rewards and encourages the Palestinians' non-compliance with the various agreements to which they have subscribed.  It also encourages elements within the UN and EU which are openly hostile to Israel to continue their one-sided, out-of-context criticisms of the Israeli government.  These resolutions therefore also make it more difficult to secure public support among Israelis and Palestinians for the painful concessions that peace will ultimately require from both sides.

These resolutions ostensibly seek to promote the international rule of law but because their terms are unmistakeably polemical and one-sided, the effect is the opposite.  As Australian representatives have observed in providing the government’s Explanations of Vote at previous Committee sessions, these resolutions pre-empt, and thus impede the achievement of, a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, and thus do nothing to advance or enhance the prospects of a just and lasting peace.

    4   Australia’s wilful defiance of international consensus”. 

There is no such consensus.  A majority is not a consensus, especially if it is an automatic, unthinking majority that includes the 56 states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and other States which are dependent on them for oil or financially.  
The UN Human Rights Council’s  annual ritual of passing anti-Israel resolutions is so repellent that each resolution attracts ‘no’ votes from several democratic countries each year.  Australia is a sovereign nation with a democratically elected government that makes its own decisions according to its own assessment of Australia’s national interests.  

Ashrawi’s attempt to bully Australia with the spectre of a non-existent “international consensus” can and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

19 January 2014

The cowardice of politically correct antisemitism

From the Washington Times, 15 Jan 2014, by Victor Davis Hanson*:

Since when is criticizing Jews and Israel cool and, even better, safe?

An obscure academic organization called the American Studies Association not long ago voted to endorse a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli universities. The self-appointed moralists were purportedly outraged over the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians.
Given academia’s past obsessions with the Jewish state, the targeting of Israel is not new. Yet why do the professors focus on Israel and not Saudi Arabia, which denies women the right to drive and only recently granted them the right to vote? Why not Russia, which has been accused of suppressing free speech, or India, which has passed retrograde anti-homosexual legislation?
The hip poet Amiri Baraka (aka Everett LeRoi Jones) recently died. He was once poet laureate of New Jersey, held prestigious university posts and was canonized with awards — despite being a hateful anti-Semite.
After Sept. 11, 2001, Baraka wrote a poem that suggested Israel knew about the plan to attack the World Trade Center. One of his poems from the ‘60s included this unabashedly anti-Semitic passage: “Smile, jew. Dance, jew. Tell me you love me, jew … I got the extermination blues, jewboys. I got the hitler syndrome figured.” Yet that did not preclude The New York Times and National Public Radio from praising him after his death.
Trendy multicultural French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is known for his anti-Semitic provocations and for making a gesture that has been described as an inverted Nazi salute. He recently quipped of a Jewish journalist: “When I hear him talk, you see … I say to myself, gas chambers … a pity.” Auschwitz is now a joke?
Loudmouth multimillionaire hip-hop artist Kanye West recently suggested in an interview that President Obama’s approval ratings have waned because “[b]lack people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people.” In the mind of Mr. West, Mr. Obama’s current unpopularity has nothing to do with the Internal Revenue Service, Benghazi, The Associated Press and National Security Agency scandals, or with the Obamacare disaster.
In politics, Israel often finds itself at the wrong end of a troubling double standard.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry seems to be camped out in Israel these days. The Obama administration hopes to pressure Israeli leaders to offer concessions that will lead to an elusive Middle East peace. Yet even if Israel gave this administration what it wanted, how would the United States guarantee reciprocal commitments from the notoriously corrupt Palestinian Authority, which has no democratic legitimacy among those in the West Bank? Terrorist-affiliated Hamas wants no part of any such settlement.
It is hardly anti-Semitic to focus on problems between Israel and the Palestinians, or even to pressure the Israelis. It becomes so, however, when problems elsewhere are simply ignored, and Israel alone is singled out to be chastised.
Is the United Nations focused on the 13 million Germans who were ethnically cleansed from Eastern Europe about the same time that thousands of Palestinians left what became Israel? Would the American Studies Association boycott Chinese universities over the absorption of Tibet?
Is the world really troubled about divided capitals such as Jerusalem? If so, why not an international conference on the Turkish occupation of a divided Nicosia on Cyprus?
Can’t Mr. Kerry use shuttle diplomacy to settle who owns all those disputed rocky islands that have led China and Japan to the brink of war?
Nazis and racists used to spearhead Jewish hatred, based on ancient crackpot defamations that date back to the Jewish Diaspora into Europe after the Roman destruction of Judea.
But lately, antisemitism has become more a left-wing pathology. It is driven by the cheap multicultural trashing of the West. Jewish people here and abroad have become convenient targets for those angry with supposedly undeserved Western success and privilege.
Aside from the old envy, and racial and religious hatred, I think cowardice explains the new selective antisemitism. Mr. West would not dare slander radical Muslims, given the violence and threats against European cartoonists and filmmakers who have dared to create work perceived as insulting to Islam. The American Studies Association would not call for a boycott of Russia despite its endemic persecution of homosexuals. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin is as unpredictable as Israeli politicians are forbearing.
Mr. Kerry is not rushing into Damascus to stop the bloodletting that has claimed far more lives than all the Palestinians lost in 70 years of conflict with Israel. Syrian President Bashar Assad, Shiite terrorists and al Qaeda would not listen politely to Mr. Kerry’s pontificating sermons.
The sort of antisemitism we see from buffoons such as Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is appalling, but the double standard to which Israel is held in matters of foreign policy by those who should know better is in many ways even more galling.

*Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

17 January 2014

Australian leaders from both sides of politics point out the real obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace

From AIJAC, 17 Jan 2014, by Sharyn Mittelman:

This week both Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard made strong and perceptive statements in support of Israel and of a genuine negotiated two-state peace with the Palestinians.

Bishop travelled to Israel to attend the funeral of Israel's former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and while she was there gave an interview to the Times of Israel in which she suggested that settlements should not be considered "illegal" under international law. Bishop commented in the interview:
"Our interest is in a negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and we believe that every opportunity should be given to those negotiations to proceed to its solution... I don't think it's helpful to prejudge the settlement issue if you're trying to get a negotiated solution. And by deeming the activity as a war crime, it's unlikely to engender a negotiated solution."
Asked about Australia's decision to change its vote from "in favour" to "abstain" on UN resolutions regarding settlements and the Geneva Convention, Bishop said:
"I considered each one [of these votes] on its merit and looked at the totality of the resolutions on similar matters across the UN and I decided and asked the [Foreign Affairs and Trade] Department to take on my instructions accordingly that we would consider each resolution and ensure that what we're doing was balanced... The Australian government is confident that the position it has adopted is balanced. It's not one-sided."
Meanwhile, on January 15 Gillard's speech at the Emirates Centre For Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi, delivered a strong message about what a genuine two-state solution must entail - especially in terms of recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland.

According to a transcript by the Emirates Centre For Strategic Studies and Research , Gillard said:
"My message to you this evening is the same as I delivered to an audience in Melbourne in November: I support a Palestinian State for the Palestinian people. I want to see the dawn of Palestine Independence Day. I want the Palestinian people to enjoy and pursue their destiny in full, and to have a prosperous and successful country of their own - a nation they call home at long last. But I also want to see Israel continue to pursue its destiny as it was conceived - as a Jewish State and as a democracy.
Everyone talks about a ‘two-State solution.' I did consistently as Prime Minister. That is my view today. There is - there can be - no other course. Everyone understands a State for Palestine. But not everyone says there should be a State of Israel. Indeed, some countries, some leaders, still want a world without Israel. Those are the words that come out of the lips of the leaders in Tehran, and Gaza, and Southern Lebanon. I am convinced that the key to peace for Israelis and Palestinians is a simple declarative statement by Palestinian leaders - that they accept Israel as a Jewish State. Once that is stipulated, then virtually everything can be successfully negotiated -- because Israel's existential identity is successfully secured.
Once that is stipulated, two great peoples can finally begin working together to build themselves up as an economic powerhouse in the region, as a wellspring of science and innovation, as leaders in agriculture, water conservation, solar power and renewable energy. Indeed the list of potential shared areas of achievement is without end. This is an objective specifically endorsed by Secretary of State John Kerry in his marathon negotiations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas."
As Gillard said, she made similar comments in a speech delivered to the Jewish community in Australia in November. It says much about Gillard's integrity and genuine support for Israel that she is willing to tell an Arab audience the same message she tells a Jewish audience - especially with regard to her point that the failure to recognise Israel as a Jewish state is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the same speech, Gillard also had some pointed and sensible words to say about Iran, which some of Australia's commentators on the subject could benefit from hearing:
"The P5+1 interim agreement - whose implementation is just being finalized this week - is a first step but to make this sacrifice worth it. It is now imperative that Iran follow through in both the letter and the spirit of putting a halt to its nuclear programs. So I want to propose a corollary to President Reagan's famous dictum in reaching arms control agreements with the Soviets: ‘Trust but verify,' he said. But we can't trust the Iranians - yet. Compliance with the interim agreement and all the enforcement provisions will test whether there can be trust. And so for now I say: ‘Hope, but verify.' There is no doubt that Iran's nuclear ambitions pose an existential threat to Israel. But they also pose the same threat to Muslim nations on this side of the Gulf." 

Sharon is unfairly cast in bad light

From Canberra Times Letters, 16 Janb 2014, by Bill Arnold:

Ian Birrell judges Ariel Sharon harshly for Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, (''The death of Israeli ideals'', Times2, January 14, p4) but it is important to remember the context.

The south of Lebanon had in effect become a mini-state of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, at the time a heavily armed terrorist organisation bent on destroying Israel.

It had carried out many terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from its base there.

In relation to the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Sharon was only guilty of allowing the Christian militia that carried out the atrocity into the camps.

He did not know about the massacre until after it happened.

It says a lot about the coverage of the Middle East that Sharon's link to the massacre is repeatedly raised, but so little is known about the actual perpetrators. Birrell bemoans the ''endless expansion of settlements'' but their boundaries haven't expanded since 2003. He alleges ''dreadful cruelty towards Palestinians'', but Israel has only done what it has needed to do to prevent terrorist attacks.
Had the Palestinians responded positively to Israel's various peace initiatives, including Sharon's Gaza withdrawal, they could have had their state by now.

Bill Arnold, Chifley

15 January 2014

Australia FM: Don’t call settlements illegal under international law

From Times of Israel, 15 January, 2014, by Raphael Ahren: 
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, with FM Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem, January 13, 2014 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, with FM Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem, January 13, 2014 
(photo credit: Yossi Zamir)

In candid interview, Julie Bishop [Australia’s foreign minister
  • expresses skepticism about the peace process, 
  • says boycott Israel activists are ‘anti-Semitic’... 
  • has said that the international community should refrain from calling settlements illegal under international law, without waiting for their status to be determined in a deal with the Palestinians.
In an exclusive interview with The Times of Israel, Julie Bishop suggested that, contrary to conventional diplomatic wisdom, the settlements may not be illegal under international law. She refrained from condemning Israeli initiatives to build additional housing units beyond the Green Line or from calling on Israel to freeze such plans, merely saying the fact that settlements were being expanded showed the need for the sides to quickly reach a peace agreement.
“I don’t want to prejudge the fundamental issues in the peace negotiations,” Bishop said. “The issue of settlements is absolutely and utterly fundamental to the negotiations that are under way and I think it’s appropriate that we give those negotiations every chance of succeeding.”
Asked whether she agrees or disagrees with the...view that Israeli settlements anywhere beyond the 1967 lines are illegal under international law, she replied: “I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal.”

...“Our interest is in a negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and we believe that every opportunity should be given to those negotiations to proceed to its solution,” said Bishop, who came to Israel on Monday to attend the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. “I don’t think it’s helpful to prejudge the settlement issue if you’re trying to get a negotiated solution. And by deeming the activity as a war crime, it’s unlikely to engender a negotiated solution.”

The issue of Israeli settlements should be determined in the course of the current US-brokered peace talks, she added.

... since September, when the center-right Liberal Party of Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to power in Canberra, Australia has been going to great lengths to demonstrate staunch support for Jerusalem’s policy on the international stage. 
Julie Bishop changed Australia's voting patterns at the UN in favor of Israel

Under Bishop’s stewardship, Australia has changed its voting patterns at the UN in favor of Israel. While under her predecessor, Bob Carr, Canberra often supported anti-Israel resolutions at the UN General Assembly, she has had Australia oppose or abstain from several such measures.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr speaks during a news conference at the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, in Perth, Australia. (photo credit: AP/Matt Rourke)
Former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr often supported anti-Israel resolutions at the UN 
(photo credit: AP/Matt Rourke)

In November, Australia was one of only eight countries to abstain in a vote on a resolution demanding that Israel cease “all Israeli settlement activities in all of the occupied territories.” Nearly 160 nations supported the resolution. In December, Australia was one of 13 countries that did not vote in favor of a resolution calling on Israel to “comply scrupulously” with the Geneva Convention (169 countries voted yes).

“I considered each one [of these votes] on its merit and looked at the totality of the resolutions on similar matters across the UN and I decided and asked the [Foreign Affairs and Trade] Department to take on my instructions accordingly that we would consider each resolution and ensure that what we’re doing was balanced,” Bishop told The Times of Israel in the interview. “The Australian government is confident that the position it has adopted is balanced. It’s not one-sided.”

The current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks “should be given any chance of succeeding,” the minister said, yet she sounded pessimistic when asked how realistic were the prospects of a final-status deal.

Citing regional turmoil, Bishop appeared to echo her Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, who often argues that it is foolish to seek to lay the foundation for a new building amid an earthquake.

“I wonder whether the timing will work against us, given the instability in the region, with Syria and Lebanon and Jordan and Egypt and Iraq,” she said. “The peace process is a challenge in and of itself. But in these current times, in this current context, I expect it will be even more challenging.”

Australian FM Julie Bishop after she placed a wreath at the fresh grave of Ariel Sharon, January 13. 2013 (screen capture: YouTube)
Australian FM Julie Bishop after she placed a wreath at the fresh grave of Ariel Sharon, January 13. 2013 
(screen capture: YouTube)

Bishop also condemned what she said was excessive pressure exerted on Israel by Western states and civil society, including the threat of boycotts.
“Israel has to be ever vigilant against such tendencies on the part of the international community,” the minister said. ...any Australian body that received state funding should be barred from calling for boycotts, she continued.She also strongly condemned the global anti-Israel BDS movement: “It’s anti-Semitic. It identifies Israel out of all other nations as being worthy of a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign? Hypocritical beyond belief.” 

SYDNEY University is again under fire over staff conduct

From The Australian, 16/1/14, by Christian Kerr:

SYDNEY University is again under fire over staff conduct, in the wake of a meeting between emeritus professor Stuart Rees and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha last month.
Stuart Rees

...[Stuart] Rees is director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, the group behind the Sydney Peace Prize, part of the university's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and a prominent supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. He wrote about "an informal conversation" with Mr Meshaal at a conference on Palestine on the website of the Doha-based Al Jazeera news network last week.

Mr Meshaal is the political leader of Hamas and has been based in Qatar since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria. He has said his organisation will not renounce violence, arguing it is legally resisting an occupation. Hamas does not recognise the state of Israel and the destruction of the Jewish state is within its charter.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne yesterday voiced concern about the meeting.
"This matter, along with the matters raised involving Tim Anderson and Jake Lynch, are issues to which the vice-chancellor should turn his attention on his return in order to satisfy himself that the academic standing of Sydney University and its international reputation is unharmed," he said.

Jake Lynch

Sydney University political economy professor Tim Anderson met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad last month and academic Jake Lynch, also at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, is defending a racial discrimination charge over his decision to turn back an Israeli academic who sought his help with a fellowship application.

Michael Danby, the parliamentary secretary to Bill Shorten, said he could not understand why the university continued to support the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic, a former UN military observer in the Middle East, also called for action from the university.
"This is not a question about academic freedom," he said. "It is about brand protection."
...Hamas's Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is listed as a terrorist organisation under Australian law but contact with the broader movement is not illegal.

...Sydney University acting vice-chancellor Stephen Garton defended Professor Rees.

"While we do not agree with his views, he has not broken the law or infringed our policies," he said.

13 January 2014

Mandela legislator, MP Kenneth Meshoe: Arabs misappropriate "apartheid" to slander Israel.

Published on 6 Dec 2013 (http://DemocracyBroadcasting.TV):

South African Christian Democrat party leader, Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, denounces the exploitation of "apartheid" by enemies of Israel as inaccurate and weakening its meaning.

12 January 2014

Apartheid in Israel? Hardly.

From LA Times, January 12, 2014, by Seth M. Siegel*:

Those who call for a boycott of Israeli universities should take this little quiz

...1. The valedictorian of the most recent graduating class at the medical school at Israel's MIT, Technion, was:
a) A West Bank settler
b) An Orthodox Jewish man
c) A wounded veteran
d) A Muslim woman

2. The only country on the following list in which the Christian population isn't falling precipitously is:
a) Iraq
b) Syria
c) Egypt
d) Israel

3. Which of the following is true of Israel's Arab Christians?
a) They make up about a third of Israel's pharmacists
b) They are among the winners of the Israel Prize, the country's highest civilian honor
c) Their high school students have a higher rate of success on their graduation exams than Israeli Jewish students
d) All of the above

4. Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, the number of rockets fired from there into Israel is:
a) 8
b) 80
c) 800
d) 8,000

5. Which of the following is not true:
a) Arabs from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza have access to Israeli hospitals
b) Arab doctors and nurses treat Jewish and Arab patients in Israeli hospitals
c) Hundreds of wounded civilians and fighters in the Syrian civil war have been treated in Israeli hospitals
d) By law, Israeli Jews may refuse to be treated by an Arab doctor

6. When West Bank Palestinians have a claim that their rights have been abrogated by an Israeli action, they can file a lawsuit with:
a) A West Bank military court
b) A special court for Palestinians
c) No one
d) The Israeli Supreme Court acting as a court of primary jurisdiction

7. The number of Israeli Arabs currently elected to serve in the Knesset, Israel's 120-person parliament, is:
a) None
b) 1
c) 3
d) 12

8. The Golani Brigade, an elite Israeli army unit, recently made news when it:
a) Blew up a Hezbollah arms depot
b) Stopped a suicide attack on a city bus
c) Disbanded because Israel faces few military threats
d) Appointed Col. Rassan Alian, a Druze, as its commander

9. Salim Joubran is:
a) An Israeli Arab serving a five-year sentence for insulting Israel's president
b) A human rights organization fighting for Palestinian rights
c) An Israeli restaurant shut down because it doesn't serve kosher food
d) An Israeli Arab who serves on Israel's Supreme Court

10. Israel's 2013 Miss Israel beauty queen was:
a) Bar Refaeli, a fashion model
b) Agam Rodberg, an actress
c) Sandra Ringler, a fashion stylist
d) Yityish Aynaw, a black Ethiopian immigrant to Israel


 — D is the correct answer to each question
— whatever Israel is, it isn't an apartheid state...

*Seth M. Siegel, co-founder of the marketing agency Beanstalk and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, is writing a book on water resources in Israel.

The "great strides" of Arik Sharon, according to Tanya Plibersek


On behalf of the [Australian] Federal Opposition, today we remember former Israeli Prime Minister and general, Ariel Sharon who passed away this weekend.
Ariel Sharon embodied fearless leadership through trying times and spent his life serving Israel and its people.
In his final years as Prime Minister, Sharon made great strides in the Israel-Palestine peace process, representing a courageous shift in his politics in favour of a two-state solution.  
Sharon will be remembered as a giant in the history of Israel and the Israeli people will deeply feel his loss.

[my emphasis added - SL]

I wonder which "great strides" Ms Plibersek considers to represent "a courageous shift in his politics in favour of a two-state solution"?

09 January 2014

Open Letter to John Kerry

Dear Mr. Secretary,
Over the next week or so, you will be unveiling a US proposal for a “framework agreement” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a prelude to a final status arrangement.
Before you do so, I encourage you to realistically consider the issues that gravely concern most Israelis, and to believe wholeheartedly that Israelis genuinely yearn for peace and will overwhelmingly endorse a plan that separates them from the Palestinians, provided their security is ensured.
Unfortunately, Mr. Secretary, you and the administration you represent are operating on premises that are misguided or false. President Obama has deluded himself into believing that this conflict is essentially about real estate, an idea that has been disproved many times, most clearly when Palestinian Presidents Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rebuffed Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert’s offers to relinquish 95% of the territories formerly occupied by Jordan.
... fact is that our “peace partner” is a corrupt authoritarian regime that brutally suppresses dissent. Over the years, the Palestinians’ corrupt officials have diverted a substantial portion of billions of dollars of international aid to private, offshore accounts. This corrupt entity could collapse at any time, and the constitutional term of office of its President has long expired.
Our “peace partner” is indisputably committed to the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region. That is why Palestinian leaders so adamantly refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. President Abbas even denies that the Jewish people have a biblical or historical link to the land.
Our “peace partner” continuously assures its adherents that Israel’s destruction is inevitable. President Abbas has learned that he can better work toward this goal by exerting duplicitous diplomatic pressure on Israel than by engaging in terrorism. Through this deceitful diplomacy, he is attempting to dismantle Israel in stages, a strategy the majority in his government openly supports. Indeed, in the unlikely event that President Abbas finalizes an agreement that waives additional claims and pronounces the end of the dispute, there is little doubt that he will be assassinated.
I urge you, Mr. Secretary, to face the harsh reality that by American and Western standards, through intense propaganda, the Palestinians have engineered what can only be defined as a criminal society
All sectors of Palestinian society—the government, religious networks, the media, the educational system-–engage in brainwashing the Palestinian people, from kindergarten-age up, into regarding Israelis as  demonic monsters and sanctifying fanatic Islamic suicide bombers and terrorists as martyrs. 
Just last week, your colleague, the official Palestinian spokesman, Saeb Erekat, whipped up fervor by accusing Israel of having murdered Yasser Arafat and speculating that we would kill President Abbas.
Mr. Secretary, can you imagine an American government making peace with a neighboring government that provides salaries from humanitarian funds for incarcerated murderers of American citizens, and pensions to their families? Would Americans approve their government negotiating with a neighbor whose leader personally embraced and hailed as national heroes those convicted of barbarically murdering American civilians? Would Americans contemplate making peace with a neighbor who imposes the death penalty on citizens who sell land to Americans?
Bear in mind, Mr. Secretary, that nearly half of Palestine is comprised of “Hamastan,” the genocidal, Islamic fundamentalist entity that occupies the Gaza strip and from which missiles against our cities are still being launched. Were it not for an Israeli military presence in the area, Hamas already would have wrested control of other areas currently under Palestinian Authority control. 
Hamas remains dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and sanctions the murder of Jews everywhere. Hamas’ Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Zahar, recently proclaimed that “any deal inked between the Palestinian Authority and Israel would be non-binding for the Palestinian people.
Mr. Secretary, you have put pressure on us to make outrageous concessions under absurd conditions. You have forced our hand in releasing mass murderers in order to “induce” a hostile neighbor to agree to commence negotiations. Can you morally justify freeing terrorists convicted of killing women and children? Could you visualize the response of Americans to an outside party who pressured their government to act in this manner?
Mr. Secretary, during your numerous visits to the region, you have insisted that you would never be party to a policy that undermines Israel’s long-term security. But this is precisely what you are proposing.
You do not take any account of the unpleasant reality that our “partner”, the corrupt PA could collapse or be taken over by Hamas any time should the IDF totally withdraw from the area.
But setting that aside Mr. Secretary, you are now suggesting that more sophisticated technology combined with an international, possibly American force, replace the IDF in sensitive areas.
Israel has never asked America or any other country to fight on its behalf. We are profoundly conscious of the fact that we can rely only upon ourselves in the event of military attack. It is inconceivable for us to contemplate sub-contracting any aspect of our security to a third party, including the US.
Nor can technological advances alone protect our borders. While UN Resolution 242 implicitly provides for secure, defensible borders, adherence to the1949 armistice lines, which give Israel a mere nine- to fifteen-mile wide waistline, will place future generations at peril. And it is imperative that we retain depth and an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley. These border issues are absolutely fundamental to Israel’s security.
In addition, Mr. Secretary, I find it difficult to comprehend your knee-jerk responses to housing construction for Israeli citizens in Israel’s capital and areas over the Green Line that will always remain part of Israel. This issue appears to weigh more heavily on your mind than the carnage and sectarian violence taking place throughout the Mideast region with hundreds of thousands of people brutally killed in within Syria which borders us.
The Oslo Accords never precluded settlement construction. And whilst Israelis are divided over construction in isolated settlements in disputed areas, they are pained that our American ally contributes to the global hysteria around this issue – even when the construction in question is taking place in Jerusalem’s Jewish suburbs.
Many long-standing friends of the US currently believe that the Obama administration has contributed to our regional chaos. Many of your staunchest Arab allies have lost faith in you. We pray that we may be wrong, but to us and many others, the US gamble with Iran appears an impending disaster.
I respectfully suggest, Mr. Secretary, that you pause before advising Israel on what is in her best interest. (Imagine where we would be today had Israel shared your optimism about Syrian President Bashar Assad and taken your advice to cede the Golan Heights.)
Israel’s relationship and friendship with the US is profound and based on genuine shared values. We are also deeply reliant on American military and diplomatic support, and greatly appreciate that the military aid provided by the Obama administration has exceeded that of its predecessors.
But we believe that the American people understand that Israel cannot afford to continue to make unilateral concessions, to accept the Palestinians’ stubborn refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, to accede to their unrelenting demand for the right of return, or to compromise on long-term security issues.
Mr. Secretary, please do not attempt to score an unattainable foreign policy achievement. In the absence of Palestinian concessions on critical issues, a solution simply is not possible and should your initiatives undermine Israeli security, you will leave a legacy as the US Secretary of State who abandoned the one and only genuine democracy and US ally in the Middle East.
We hope that you will concentrate on seeking interim solutions, encouraging mutual economic projects to improve Palestinian living standards and maintaining the channels for dialogue so that progress can be achieved should a more accommodating Palestinian leadership emerge.
I urge you to set aside conventional political correctness to appreciate that our concerns are for the lives of our children and grandchildren, the future of our nation. I pray that you will contribute to our realization of the biblical vision of Prophet Isaiah, and enable Israelis and Palestinians to set aside their weapons, and work together for the social and economic betterment of all inhabitants of the region.

08 January 2014

Uni defends audience with Assad as "an exercise in academic freedom"

From The Australian, January 09, 2014, by Christian Kerr:

The University of Sydney has defended as an exercise in academic freedom the visit of senior lecturer Tim Anderson to Syria as part of a delegation that met dictator Bashar al-Assad.

But the comments have not satisfied Education Minister Christopher Pyne or a group of federal MPs who wrote to the university earlier this week expressing concerns that the visit, exploited by Syrian state media, will damage the standing of the university.

... there is concern among the university’s top governing body, the senate, that Dr Anderson’s visit will compound concerns caused by the boycott of Israeli institutions and academics by its Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

"The most important university value in this context is academic freedom and it is this value that the university must defend if Australia is to sustain an international reputation as a robust and open democracy," acting vice chancellor Stephen Garton wrote in a reply to Bass Liberal Andrew Nikolic. the MP who co-ordinated the letter...

Mr Pyne questioned the response from Professor Garton.
"Academic freedom should be a watchword for universities but the question Sydney University needs to answer is: are they elevating academic freedom ahead of the academic standing of the university?" ...
Mr Nikolic, who served as a UN military observer in Syria, South Lebanon and Israel in the early 1990s and through the first Gulf War, warned that Dr Anderson’s actions were in direct conflict with UN resolutions and Australian diplomacy.
"I believe Sydney University must consider if Dr Anderson’s actions are consistent with their code of conduct, which encompasses not only professional but also personal behaviour..."
"To date they have not adequately addressed this issue."
Mr Nikolic, who was a brigadier in the army, said he had asked Professor Garton to clarify the issue. But Mr Nikolic said he had noted the acting vice-chancellor’s comments that 
"many Australians, including many academics at the University of Sydney, would consider (Dr) Anderson’s views misguided, even repugnant".

This barrier stops fascists: A response to Bethlehem unwrapped

 From Times of Israel, January 8, 2014, by Alan Johnson:

St. James’s Church in London hosted the controversial Bethlehem Unwrapped Festival from 23 December 2013 to 5 January 2014. The centrepiece was an eight metre high replica of Israel’s security barrier built in the Church courtyard. On 4 January 2014 a panel event, ‘Both sides of the Barrier’, took place. The following is an edited version of the speech I gave that evening.
I want to talk about three security barriers tonight. 
First, the pretend barrier outside the Church here in London. 
Second, the real barrier in Israel and the West Bank. 
Third, what I will call the intellectual separation barrier, on one side of which is a ludicrously simplistic, and frankly counter-productive, ‘activism’ on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and on the other side of which is, well, the actual Israeli-Palestinian conflict in all of its historical depth and political complexity.
The constructive pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace approach we need must be open to the full force of the sheer bloody complexity of the conflict, and be willing to wrestle with that complexity, not evade it; be fully aware of the determining contexts of the conflict, among which is security; and refuse to demonise either side, working with both parties, seeking co-existence, compromise, mutual recognition and peace.
The pretend barrier outside this church – however well intentioned – does the opposite. It is reductive, ignoring the political complexities of the conflict; it is decontextualised, marginalizing at best, discounting at worst, the security case for the barrier; and because it is reductive and decontextualising, it is also, ultimately, demonising, framing the barrier as a pure violation of human rights by cruel Israelis, a motiveless imprisonment of underlings by overlords, quite possibly by racists of an apartheid type.
Let me dramatise the gulf between the real barrier and the pretend barrier. Two things happened just before Christmas. On December 22. A bomb exploded on a bus from Tel Aviv to Bat Yam. The perpetrators come from Bethlehem and they crossed into Israel with their 2 kilogram bomb, and its nails and bolts, through a breach in the security fence. On December 23rd, here in the parallel universe of activist London, at the public launch of the pretend barrier, one of my fellow panelists, Jeff Halper, said ‘This is not a wall built for security … It doesn’t protect Israelis in any way.’
He was cheered for saying that. Jeff Halper is a purveyor of the intellectual separation barrier.
The fact is, the barrier was built to stop suicide bombers who were killing Israelis. 
Let’s remember just one. Simona Rodin does not feature in your pretend wall. Not one of the victims does. Well, by God she is going to tonight. She was 17 when she died, on June 1, 2001. She went to the Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv. So did Said Khutari, who travelled from the West Bank town of Kalkilia; walked right over, with the intent of causing mass destruction. Strapped to his chest was a deadly mix of powerful explosives and hundreds of steel ball bearings. In the Disco, at 11:26 p.m. he blew himself up, murdering Simona and 20 other youngsters, and injuring 132.
At the Camp David negotiations in 2000, Ehud Barak the Israeli PM offered a Palestinian state in over 90 per cent of the West Bank. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said no, walked away without making a counter offer, and launched the Second Intifada – a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks on Israel. By 2002, a fatal suicide bombing was carried out in Israel nearly every two weeks on average. In just three years, over 900 Israeli civilians were killed and 6000 injured by terrorism coming from West Bank. And more than a dozen fatal terrorist attacks came from the Bethlehem area, by the way.
And you know what? The barrier works. It’s not the only factor, but it was important in achieving a fall of more than 90 per cent in the number of attacks and 70 per cent in the number of Israelis murdered. That’s not a ‘the government position’. Those are real lives, saved. And those lives must be allowed to enter into your moral calculus.
Some of you may be thinking, well, the Israelis would say the barrier works wouldn’t they? OK, so what do the Palestinian terrorists say? They should know. Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah said 
‘[The Israelis] built a separation fence in the West Bank. We do not deny that it limits the ability of the resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations] to arrive deep within [Israeli territory] to carry out suicide bombing attacks …’ (23 March, 2008).’
Why not project that admission onto your pretend barrier?
Demonising Israel and Israelis by being reductive and decontextualising about the conflict – that is how the intellectual separation barrier works. That’s how it cuts off so many well-meaning European folk from playing a constructive role in promoting peace. It fosters a style of ‘activism’ that turns global civil society into a force that hampers the quest for peace.
You have been inviting people to write graffiti on the pretend wall. I’d take my cue from the great US radical, folk singer, and Dylan precursor, Woody Guthrie. He had a big sticker on his guitar: ‘this machine kills fascists.’ 
I’d amend that and stick it on your wall – ‘this barrier stops fascists’.

A church of hate?


1819 riots in Frankfurt, from a contemporary engraving by Johann Michael Voltz. On the left, two peasant women are assaulting a Jew with pitchfork and broom. On the right, a man wearing tails and a six-button waistcoat,

Dear Archbishop,
I read with interest your Christmas Day sermon, in which you said:
‘The Christian meaning of Christmas is unconditional love received, love overflowing into a frequently love-lost world.’
I wonder how you reconcile this with the fact that one of your churches, St James’s Piccadilly, chose Christmas to turn itself into a church of hate?
As I am sure you know only too well, this church spent eight months preparing its Christmas stunt, the erection of an 8 metre-tall, 30 metre-long replica of the Israeli ‘wall’ that it claims surrounds Bethlehem and imposes ‘desperate hardship’ on the town’s inhabitants.
Although the church acknowledges in passing that the original purpose of this ‘wall’ was ‘to protect Israeli citizens from terrorism’, it suggests instead that its only result has been to oppress and harass innocent Palestinians. The inevitable effect of this wholly mendacious and malevolent travesty will be to incite hatred against Israel and all who support its defence against the war of extermination being perpetrated against it.  
St James’s has put out a pious statement that it
‘… opposes all forms of racism including antisemitism and supports the right of the State of Israel to exist with secure internationally recognised borders’.
I’m afraid this really is the most nauseating cant.
If this church were really concerned to stop antisemitism and allow Israel to live in peace with its neighbours, it would have acknowledged that Palestinian children are being routinely taught to hate and murder Israelis (see this or this for example). 
If this church really supported Israel’s right to exist within secure borders, it would have acknowledged the refusal by Mahmoud Abbas (leave aside Hamas) ever to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state; or the repeated Palestinian attempts to attack and murder Israelis, too many of which have been all too successful.
But the church made no mention of any of this. Instead, its ‘wall’ stunt is based on an eye-watering collection of the most vicious and blatant lies and distortions. Here are some truths it has omitted:
·      The ‘wall’ does not surround Bethlehem.
·      For most of its length it is not a wall at all but a simple chain link fence.
·      It has been constructed not to oppress Palestinians but solely to prevent Israelis from being murdered by Arabs.
·      This security barrier has had to be built as a wall alongside one area of Bethlehem because a fence here – cheek by jowl with Jerusalem ­– would be insufficient to prevent the very real threat of some of its inhabitants murdering large numbers of Israelis.
·      The undoubted hardships caused by this barrier are solely the result of the ever-continuing attempts by some of those living behind it to murder yet more Israelis.
·      Since this security barrier was constructed, the number of Israelis murdered in terrorist attacks has decreased by some 70 per cent – while the number of attempted attacks remains high. 
Those like St James’s Church who want the barrier to be demolished thus inescapably imply that they are indifferent to the murder of Israelis. Is this what you meant, Archbishop, by
‘unconditional love received, love overflowing into a frequently love-lost world’?
There are other glaring omissions and distortions. The church makes no mention of the fact that, as shown here, Rachel’s Tomb, one of Judaism’s holiest sites which is very near Bethlehem and where many attacks have taken place against Jewish worshippers, really has been walled off and turned into a kind of fortress – to protect Jews from further attacks by Arabs.
It unaccountably makes no mention of the fact that, while the Christians of the Middle East are – as you said in your sermon and as Michael Curtis details here – being persecuted and murdered, the only country in the region where Christians are thriving and increasing, in a society that allows them total freedom of worship, is Israel.
It unaccountably makes no mention of the fate of the Christians of Bethlehem and other areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, detailed here in The Commentator by Steve Apfel
‘One of the few Arab Christians who has dared to break the silence is Pastor Reverend Naim Khoury of the Bethlehem Baptist Church. At the risk of his life he notes that animosity towards the Christian minority in areas controlled by the PA has worsened and that, “people are always telling Christians, convert to Islam.” Khoury may have lived to tell the tale, but he moved Palestinian leaders to close down his Bethlehem church.'
St James’s makes no mention of any of this. Instead, from tomorrow it will host a hate-fest of anti-Israel activists and personalities, whose contribution to the store of love and truth in the world is described by Richard Millett here
Israel is currently the victim of a mind-bending campaign of demonisation and delegitimisation based on falsehoods, libels and gross distortions. Your church, Archbishop, has now become part of this sinister and wicked attempt to exterminate a country by reversing truth and lies in the minds of decent people.
You surely do not need me to tell you that this anti-Israel bigotry in your church – going far beyond St James’s, Piccadilly – is infused by a revival of the ancient Christian calumny that the Jews have forfeited God’s love and all the promises he made to them on account of their refusal to believe in Jesus, as a result of which they were to be considered in league with the devil.
This terrible doctrine of ‘supersessionism’ [or 'replacement theology'], which was responsible for centuries of Christian persecution and mass murder of the Jews, has become resurgent in recent years through the influence of Palestinian Christians who have attempted to rewrite the Bible as a lexicon of hate to further the cause of Palestinianism. To that end, they have attempted to airbrush the Jews out of their own history, while seeking to appropriate the Christian story itself by depicting Palestinians as suffering the torments of Jesus. Cashing in on this trend, Mahmoud Abbas ludicrously referred in his own Christmas message to Jesus – the Jew from Judea ­– as a Palestinian.
The influence upon your Church, Archbishop, of this virulent cocktail of ancient theological bigotry and exterminatory Palestinianism cannot be exaggerated.
In a climate in which every Jewish communal or religious event, every Jewish school and institution in Britain has to be guarded against attack, and in which there is a direct correlation between the emotive lies told about Israel and attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, for one of your churches to lend itself to such incitement is simply obscene.
The ‘wall’ is of course a stunt. But the damage it has done to the Church of England is immense. Because what it does is put the Church on the side of lies and hatred against truth and justice. It has put the Church of England on the side of evil.
The only purpose of Israel’s security barrier is to save life and prevent mass murder. The only purpose of the St James’s Church ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’ stunt is to stir up hatred.
To stay silent is to make the rest of the Church an accessory to this obscenity. I therefore trust that you will take all necessary steps to counter the calumny promulgated by St James’s and prevent the stain upon the wider Church from now spreading.
Yours in hope,
Melanie Phillips