We all know about the importance of context in understanding and judging the actions of others. If the person who stole a loaf of bread was starving, and trying to feed her starving child, we judge the theft differently from the way we judge an equivalent theft carried out by some opportunistically looting hooligans. So what would you think of someone who told you about the horrifying details of a wife’s premeditated murder of her husband, but completely omitted to mention the fact that he’d been abusing her terribly, physically and mentally, for 20 years? What would you think of someone who told you of the appalling punishment of ‘necklacing’ carried out by some members of the ANC in the 1980s and early 1990s in South Africa, without ever mentioning the brutalising facts of apartheid in that country at that time? What would you think of someone who described black American criminality without ever so much as mentioning racism or slavery? You might, at the very least, raise an eyebrow and murmur the word ‘context’. Even though each of these cases involve wrongful, sometimes horribly wrongful, actions, you might think that the context is important in judging those who carried out the actions. (And of course context is just as important in judging rightful action too). You might also think that the people who so ignored the context in these cases had rather poor and blinkered moral and political judgment. And if you wanted to explain this lack of judgement, these blinkers, you might in some cases make reference to the persistence of longstanding prejudices against women or Africans or American people of colour.
Now considerthis article in openDemocracy, about ‘the Israel Lobby’. The article walks us through the development of Zionist sympathies among British Jews and others in the UK.
UK cosmologist Prof Stephen Hawking has withdrawn from a high-profile Israeli conference, apparently in support of an academic boycott of the country.Prof Hawking was lobbied by pro-Palestinian groups
The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine said Prof Hawking had taken advice and acted based on “his knowledge of Palestine”.
A University of Cambridge spokesman told the BBC the renowned scientist had approved the BRICUP statement.
Event organisers criticised the move as contrary to Prof Hawking’s values.
The June conference will celebrate the 90th birthday of Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Ten years after Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer while nonviolently protesting Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes, the building of Israeli suburbs (let’s cut the “settlement” crap) on occupied land continues unabated and US taxpayers still pay for the Caterpillar bulldozers to do it.
Her death was mocked, jeered and celebrated by right wingers, including on this website (called a “useful idiot” by Charles Johnson before her body was cold) and in comments that still exist to this day (“thankfully, the tractor was not mock,” “she did deserve to die,” “rest in pieces,” etc.) In Gaza she is still remembered and memorialized, and some say her legacy continues, but the anniversary of her death is passing mostly unnoticed in the media while the president is visiting Israel.
One Friday evening last November, Mahmoud Abbas made a rare appearance on the popular Israeli TV station, Channel 2. In his boxy suit and tie, the Palestinian president looked every bit his 77 years, his olive skin tinged with gray, his voice soft and whispery. He shifted in his seat with every answer. But when the interviewer, Udi Segal, asked him about his vision for the future of his people, Abbas offered a reminder of why this man was once, and perhaps remains, the great hope of the two-state solution.
“Palestine for me is ‘67 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said. “This is now and forever.” Abbas had been born in the town of Safed, which his family fled during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 and which is now a part of Israel. Segal asked, did he wish to visit? Abbas raised his eyebrows. “I want to see Safed,” he replied quietly. “It’s my right to see it, but not to live there.”
Every Israeli viewer would have immediately grasped the significance of that statement. For years, one of the top obstacles to a peace deal has been the “right of return”—the Palestinian demand that some five million refugees and descendants be allowed to go back to their former homes. In Israel, whose population of eight million already includes 1.5 million Arab citizens, the phrase signals nothing less than the demographic destruction of the Jewish state. Among Palestinians, the right of return is sacrosanct. And yet, here was Abbas waving away the idea altogether. With Israeli elections only a couple of months away, it seemed that the Palestinian president had just eliminated one of the longest-standing impediments to a peace deal.
UNRWA cancels the Third Gaza Marathon
March 5, 2013 | Jerusalem
UNRWA regrets to anounce that it has had to cancel the third UNRWA marathon which was to be held on 10 April. This disappointing decision follows discussions with the authorities in Gaza who have insisted that no women should participate.
Registered participants who still wish to come to Gaza are welcome. UNRWA is working on a programme of other events, which will be forwarded to those interested as soon as possible. UNRWA sincerely regrets the inconvenience this causes those who planned to participate in the marathon.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency’s General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at USD 66 million.
— UNRWA (@UNRWA) March 5, 2013
Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel, Breaking Cease-Fire
By JODI RUDOREN
Published: February 26, 2013
JERUSALEM — For the first time in more than three months, at least one rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel early on Tuesday morning, according to Israeli authorities, breaking a cease-fire that had been in place after eight days of intense violence between Israel and Gaza last fall.Members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
The Israeli police and military reported that a single Grad rocket landed in a road outside the city of Ashkelon, causing damage but no injuries.
A subgroup of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of the Palestinians’ Fatah faction, said in an e-mailed statement that it had fired the rocket in “an initial natural response to the assassination of prisoner Arafat Jaradat,” a 30-year-old Palestinian who died in an Israeli jail on Saturday. The statement also said that Palestinians “should resist their enemy with all available means.”
About the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades:
The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (Arabic: كتائب شهداء الأقصى Katā’ib Shuhadā’ al-‘Aqṣā) is a coalition of Palestinian nationalist militias in the West Bank. The group’s name refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The organization has been designated as a terrorist group by the governments of Israel, the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade comprises an unknown number of small cells of Fatah-affiliated activists that emerged at the outset of the second Palestinian uprising, or al-Aqsa Intifadah, in September 2000.
Al-Aqsa’s goal is to drive the Israeli military and settlers from the West Bank and establish a Palestinian state loyal to the secular nationalist Fatah ideology. Al-Aqsa employed primarily small-arms attacks against Israeli military personnel and settlers as the uprising spread in 2000, but by 2002 it turned increasingly to suicide bombings against Israeli civilians inside Israel. In January 2002, the group claimed responsibility for the first female suicide bombing inside Israel. After a deadly al-Aqsa bombing in March 2002, the United States designated the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Al-Aqsa members are operationally more active in the Gaza Strip but also plan and conduct attacks inside Israel and the West Bank. The group has killed US citizens, most of them dual US-Israeli citizens, in its attacks. It has members in refugee camps in southern Lebanon and overseas but has not demonstrated the capability or intent to conduct transnational terrorist attacks.
Al-Aqsa cells operate with autonomy.
There are multiple splinter factions, though they remained ideologically loyal to Palestinian Authority (PA) President ‘Arafat until his death in 2004. Many al-Aqsa cells suspended anti-Israeli attacks as part of the broader unilateral Palestinian cease-fire agreement during 2005. Others did not, however, highlighting the absence of central leadership or control.
After the June 2007 HAMAS takeover of the Gaza Strip, al-Aqsa Martyrs cells in the territory stepped up rocket attacks against Israel. However, the group’s attacks have largely diminished since the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in January 2009 because of HAMAS’s efforts to enforce a cease-fire. Media reports claim Iran provides support to various al-Aqsa cells in an effort to sustain anti-Israeli attacks.
In 2007 and 2008, more than 200 West Bank al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade elements participated in an Israeli-Palestinian Authority amnesty program in which they promised to cease anti-Israeli violence and surrender their weapons. By August 2009, however, the program remained fragile and threatened to lose credibility with participants because of Israeli incursions in the West Bank that targeted al-Aqsa members, and Israel’s significant bureaucratic delays in processing amnesty requests.
The Islamic Jihad terror group has called on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Essam al-Erian to resign from his role as advisor to President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt Independent reported Friday, after he called on Egyptian Jews to leave Israel to pave the way for Palestinian independence.
“We shall fight them vigorously if they return, especially the Egyptian-Israeli Jews,” said Islamic Jihad leader Mohamed Abou Samra.
“Islamic Sharia says they deserve to be killed.”
“We will continue fighting the Jews,” Abou Samra concluded, until “the liberation of Palestine or Doomsday.”
Two-state principles presented to respondents include Israel for Jews and Palestine for Palestinians, with Palestinian refugees having the right to return only to their new country.
Two opinion surveys conducted by different Israeli pollsters in December show that most Likud-Beiteinu and the further-right Habayit Hayehudi voters would support a peace agreement establishing a demilitarized Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, Israel’s retention of major settlement blocs and a division of Jerusalem. The two polls also revealed that two thirds of all Israelis support such an agreement.
The polls were commissioned by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington D.C. Abraham, who made his fortune with Slim-Fast diet products, is considered a major contributor and close to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is also known to be close to President Shimon Peres and to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. However, Abraham has met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on almost every visit to Israel over the past four years.
The Abraham Center is headed by former Congressman Robert Wexler, who is close to President Barack Obama and was very active in the latter’s recent presidential campaign. According to one assessment, Wexler may be appointed to a senior position in the Obama administration in the coming months.
The Abraham Center commissioned parallel polls from Mina Tzemach’s Dahaf and from pollster Rafi Smith on the Israeli public’s views about peace with the Palestinians. The firms were aware of each other’s polls. Each poll asked one question: If the government of Israel presented a public referendum on a peace agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be implemented only after the Palestinians held up all the obligations at their end, especially the war on terror, and the United States approved of the agreement, would you support it or not?
The principles of the agreement as presented to respondents were for two states - Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians, with Palestinian refugees having the right to return only to their new country. The Palestinian state would be demilitarized and its boundaries would be based on the 1967 lines with exchanges of equal-sized territory. Those exchanges would take into consideration Israel’s security needs and would retain the large settlement blocs in Israeli hands.
Another principle presented by the pollsters was that Jewish Jerusalem would be under Israeli sovereignty and the Arab neighborhoods would be under Palestinian sovereignty. The Old City would be under neither side’s sovereignty, but rather would be administered jointly by Israel, the Palestinians and the United States. [Why the U.S.? U.N. would make more sense.] The holy places would remain under religious sovereignty as they are now.
We have a few hard cases here who keep insisting that “right-wing Jews” all want “Greater Israel” and mass genocide. I don’t know where these “right-wing Jews” are hiding.
Why do I call my Prime Minister ‘Our Dear Leader’?
Not long after the Tories won their first minority government Canada’s leading news magazine, which was jerking sharply to the Right, ran an article on Stephen Harper. It was straight out of North Korean propaganda in my opinion. “Our Dear Leader will lead us to a bright future. He is to be worshiped and adored by those of us who are unworthy of his love and leadership. Here’s a picture of Our Dear Leader looking seriously at a modern production line created under his brilliant leadership which was inspired by the most perfect political and economic system that has ever existed.”
I nearly barfed.
As you can tell I don’t think much of Our Dear Leader, and crackhead Pammy’s support just lowered it even more.
Britain and the US have warned that Israel’s plans to build new housing settlements in the West Bank would damage the prospect of creating a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians.
British foreign secretary, William Hague expressed “extreme concern” at the plan to create 3,000 new homes in the key strategic area of Palestinian territory would seriously undermine the Middle East peace process, and corrode Israel’s international reputation.
The Israeli announcement on Friday came a day after the UN recognised Palestine as a non-member observer state. Palestinians say that the proposed development would break the West Bank in two, thereby preventing any hope of a contiguous Palestinian state.
“I am extremely concerned by reports that the Israeli cabinet plans to approve the building of 3,000 new housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” Hague said. “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties. If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve.