April 2012 Archives

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Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is attracting new supporters all the time and will go on until Palestine is free. Hassan

 

Emma Thompson backs Israel boycott for Shakespeare festival

By Jennifer Lipman, April 2, 2012

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Emma Thompson

British Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson has added her name to a list of high-profile figures in the arts world calling on the Globe Theatre to cancel its invitation to an Israeli company to next month’s Cultural Olympiad event.

Israel’s national theatre company, Habima, was invited to stage one of 37 Shakespeare plays in foreign languages as part of the Globe to Globe festival.

Habima will perform The Merchant of Venice, while during the six-week festival the Ramallah-based Ashtar Theatre will put on an Arabic version of Richard II.

The invitation to the Israeli company had already raised concerns of disruption in the manner of the anti-Israel protests during the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Proms performance last year. In January activists from Boycott From Within, formed by Israelis who back the boycott movement, urged Globe directors to stop the performance. The Globe said "active exclusion was a profoundly problematic stance to take".

Now 37 people have signed a letter calling for Israel to be removed from the roster, including the prominent Jewish anti-Israel activists Miriam Margolyes, David Aukin, Jonathan Miller and Mike Leigh. Also on the list is the star of the play Jerusalem, Mark Rylance.

Writing that Habima should be boycotted because it had performed in Israeli settlements, the signatories said: "By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law."

The signatories said they had no problem with the Globe including a Hebrew – language performance. "But by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company," they said. "We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land."

The writers added that "Inclusiveness" is a core value of arts policy in Britain, and we support it."

Earlier this year the Globe said Habima was "the most well-known and respected Hebrew-language theatre company in the world" and so "a natural choice to any programmer wishing to host a dramatic production in Hebrew".

"They are committed, publicly, to providing an ongoing arena for sensible dialogue between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians."

The letter provoked a response from Professor Geoffrey Alderman, who said: "The activities of the Habima theatre company in connection with the Israeli communities that live in these areas is therefore entirely legitimate."

Speaking to the JC last year, Rut Tonn of the Habima Theatre said it was a blessing that Israelis and Palestinians could take part. "We are always looking for collaborations which will help with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Originally published in The Jerusalem Chronicle

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I thank God for Jimmy Carter – a voice of sanity and compassion, and a man who understands the complexities of any peace process for Israel/Palestine. Dave

Don’t Give Up on Mideast Peace 

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By JIMMY CARTER 

April 12, 2012 

The current focus of leaders in Washington and Jerusalem on Iran has obscured the near- death of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and the inevitable catastrophe toward which Israel is now moving. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been establishing more and more settlements in Palestine on confiscated land. While they profess their support for a "two-state solution," their actions all aim to create a "Greater Israel," from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. Washington has voiced opposition to these steps, but has not made any strong efforts to prevent them. 

Since 1967, the consensus in the international community and among the majority of Israelis has been that there would be two political entities, with Israelis returning to their pre-1967 borders except for some small land swaps along the border. The Camp David Accords of 1978, accepted by Israel, called for the withdrawal of political and military forces from the occupied territories, and President George W. Bush specifically endorsed a Palestinian nation in this area. As late as May 2009, President Obama accepted this concept as the basis for peace. This strategy has been abandoned as Israel tightens its control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem, now populated by more than 2.5 million Palestinian Muslims and Christians. 

There is a profound difference between "two-states" and "one-state." The former contemplates two nations with citizens living side by side in peace under terms to be negotiated between leaders of the two principal parties. Other world leaders have almost universally acknowledged that strong help and influence of the United States will be necessary, and all the Arab nations have offered to support such an agreement. 

In the case of the "one-state" outcome, if granted the full rights of citizenship, Palestinians would play a major role in the new nation with a possible majority in the future. If deprived of these rights as inferior and second-class dwellers on the land, this will be a system of apartheid that will not be accepted by the international community. 

As former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said in 1999, "Every attempt to keep hold of this area as one political entity leads, necessarily, to either a nondemocratic or a non-Jewish state. Because if the Palestinians vote, then it is a binational state, and if they don’t vote it is an apartheid state." Eight years later, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that if the two-state solution collapsed, Israel would "face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished." 

During my last conversation with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before his stroke, he discussed with approval the "small land swaps" along the 1967 border. His proposal was that Israeli settlers living near Jerusalem should remain, with Palestinians given a land corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza, on which a highway and railroad could be established. He had earlier said that the "occupation" of Palestinian territories was "a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians and can’t continue endlessly." 

Shaul Mofaz, the new leader of Israel’s Kadima party, said recently, "The greatest threat to the state of Israel is not nuclear Iran," but that Israel might one day cease to be a Jewish state, because Palestinians could outvote Jews. "So it is in Israel’s interest that a Palestinian state be created." 

The people are already greatly mixed. About 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Palestinians, although living under severe restrictions. The number of Israeli settlers in Palestinian territories has grown from about 5,000 when I left office in 1981 to about 525,000. 

However, the overall region is changing. Past efforts by Egypt, the Carter Center and others to bring about reconciliation among Palestinian factions, leading to another democratic election, have been frustrated by differences among them, exacerbated by opposition from Israel and the United States and acquiescence from former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The newly elected leaders in Egypt are determined to use their influence to reconcile Fatah and Hamas and press for a final status agreement including peace with Israel. With international support, such an agreement is entirely possible. 

It is heartening to realize that ‘peace in the Middle East," based on the two-state solution, is still feasible — but not for much longer. 

As published in the New York Times

Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States, is founder of the Carter Center, which works to advance peace and health worldwide.

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The following article is by Rick Steves.  He does travel books and a KPBS travel program Saturday nights at 5:00 p.m.  He also did a beautiful program on Iran.  Hopefully his information will get some major media coverage.

Reflections on Israel and Palestine

Posted: 04/ 5/2012 1:50 pm

I’ve been duped.

Do you know the frustration you feel when you believed in something strongly and then you realize that the information that made you believe was from a source with an agenda to deceive?

I just watched a powerful and courageous documentary called Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land. It certainly has its own agenda and doesn’t present balanced coverage. Still, it showed me how my understanding of the struggles in the Middle East has been skewed by most of our mainstream media. I saw how coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is brilliantly controlled and shaped. I pride myself in understanding how the media works… and I find I’ve been bamboozled.

Invest 75 minutes in watching this, because most of the time we only hear one viewpoint when it comes to the interminable struggle in the Holy Land. While this documentary would never be shown on commercial TV in the USA, it can be viewed online (Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land). In my view, many Palestinians live under inhumane conditions, and U.S. taxpayers help to make it happen. Please, watch this and then share your impressions.

Criticism of Israel’s policies is not automatically anti-Semitic (see J-Street for an example of a pro-Israel, pro-peace group). In fact, the irony is that for Israel’s hard-liners, their clever PR strategy could be their own worst enemy. While Israel certainly deserves security on its land, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (in Gaza and the West Bank) degrades Israel and drives Palestinians to desperation. The question of whether Israel is conducting a brutal military occupation or a reasonable defense against terrorism gets no real airtime. If we care about the long-term security of Israel, we have a responsibility to understand what our government is funding and supporting.

I believe that watching this documentary is a painful first step to finding a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. If you are a friend of Israel, you must watch Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land.

Follow Rick Steves on Twitter: www.twitter.com…

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It is hard to believe that one woman’s objections can overturn the vote of the entire congress. Moreover, it is hard to understand why cases like this don’t prompt an investigation into who is really calling the shots!  

Palestinians Surprised by GOP Congresswoman 

By Daoud Kuttab, Palestinian journalist 

Posted: 04/13/2012 6:26 pm 

Easter is celebrated in Jerusalem and surrounding Palestinians cities both religiously and culturally. Children wave beautifully weaved palm leaves on Palm Sunday, Boy Scout-led marches celebrate Sabt el Noor (Holy Fire), when the light comes out of the Church of the Holy Seplechure and is welcomed with marching bands in towns with Palestinian Christian populations such as Ramallah, Bethlehem Zababdeh, Abood and Nablus. 

Christian Palestinians are a dwindling population. Decades of occupation and hopelessness coupled with opportunities to emigrate have resulted in many more Palestinian Christians living outside Palestine than inside. 

Tourism and Christian pilgrimage constitute perhaps the one source of economic survivor for many Christian families. Many things can be taken away, but holy places and archeological sites remain, and if they are in good shape can attract visiting tourists. But most Christian locations outside the major Jerusalem metropolitan area are in shambles. An opportunity to improve some of these sites gave many hope that things would slightly improve for this dwindling population. But alas this hope was shattered by a single U.S. politician. 

Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, conditioned the lifting of the hold with the understanding that the money not be used for assistance in Gaza. She also prohibited the use of USAID funds for road projects in the West Bank, except if directly related to security. 

Finally, and bizarrely, she denied use of funds for trade facilitation, tourism promotion, scholarships for Palestinian students and other aid for Palestinian Authority agencies and ministries. 

It is hard to understand why a U.S. congressperson would put such conditions over and above the recommendations of USAID officials. The USAID money for the reconstruction of Gaza was pledged by Secretary Clinton and does not go to the Hamas-led government, but to the people of Gaza who suffered tremendous hardships during the Israeli war of 2008-09. 

Road construction and trade facilitating projects in the West Bank fit perfectly within the two-state solution, which the entire world, including Israel’s prime minister, supports. By opposing such projects, the Republican congresswoman goes against U.S. and international policies. 

But perhaps the most perplexing decision by the Florida congresswoman is her opposition to promoting Christian tourism to the Holy Land. According to a request for proposals (RFP294- 2011-204) published by USAID last year, the American government was looking for contractors able to help rebuild a number of Christian sites in the occupied West Bank: 

* Burqeen church near Jenin, a Christian sanctuary dating to the early Byzantine era. The current structure dates to the 12th century. 

* Sabastia/Samria. The biblical capital of the Northern Kingdom of (Ancient) Israel, the current ruins date from the Roman period. 

* Tell Balata Archaeological Park in Nablus, which is listed as an archeological biblical site. It’s the site of the Canaanite and biblical city of Shechem. 

* Jacob’s well, reputed to be the site of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. The site is also associated with the biblical patriarchs. 

* Shepherd’s field in Beit Sahour, which is a Christian site near Bethlehem 

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s actions put her outside the positions of Catholic and Protestant leaders, who have made numerous public declarations in support of the Christian Palestinian community. Promoting tourism and pilgrims’ visits to Christian sites in the Holy Land is something most Americans surely support. 

A hint of that might be found in reviewing the politician’s donor base. Campaign finance records show that her top campaign contributor is Irving Moskowitz, the retired Florida businessman who is developing a controversial apartment project — intended exclusively and discriminatory for Jews — in occupied East Jerusalem’s Shepherd Hotel. 

In the U.S., as in most democratic countries, foreign policy is made by the executive branch. It is irrational that a Republican congresswoman, supported by a radical donor, can single-handedly oppose the will of the American people represented by the full plenary of congress and the executive branch of the U.S. government. 

The full Congress voted last summer on the entire aid package to the Palestinians. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is the sticking point, and her restriction on the aid bill is damaging U.S. policy. Worse, she has taken a position that harms Christian Palestinians as well as American Christians who might want to visit the sites to which she is denying reconstruction funds. 

www.huffingtonpost.com…  

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Israeli activists will arrive tomorrow at Tel Aviv Airport to welcome international activists

April 14, 2012

As citizens of Israel, we feel great respect and appreciation for our international who come to visit the West Bank and express solidarity with the Palestinian residents, living under occupation and apartheid. Certainly, we will there to greet them at the airport terminal, maintaining a presence there between the hours of 12.00 noon till 8.00 pm. We will greet them with open arms, in a feeling of deep appreciation and a personal friendship with some of them. We will hold ‘Welcome’ signs, balloons, flowers, chocolates, and copies of the drawings of Palestinian children from Bethlehem. We welcome them in the harsh reality where Palestinians are excluded from meeting their invited guests and escorting them from the airport – not to mention, of course, being excluded from themselves flying from this airport.

25 Palestinian organizations proudly announce the forthcoming arrival of hundreds of visitors as part of the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign. The visit’s program will include the launching of a new school, getting into personal contact with Palestinians, exchange of cultural knowledge and study tours. Many Palestinian activists join every day in the effort to provide the most effective program possible for the visitors.

We continue our preparations, though a number of volunteers were harassed by Israeli security forces. In one case an activist suffered a later-night search of his home at two am, having his personal computer and the confiscated. Other activists were detained for long hours of interrogation upon entering or or leaving the country.

Dozens of our volunteers were actually encouraged by this very harassment campaign, as the State of Israel itself exposed the policy of siege and isolation which is being imposed on the West Bank.


Last July, hundreds of internationals bought tickets to board the flights to Palestine. The State of Israel sent out a "black list" containing the names of 342 people aged 9 to 83, preventing them from getting on the flights. This provoked demonstrations at airports across Europe, while Israeli security forces turned the Tel-Aviv Airport into a military zone.

127 men and woman were arrested at the airport and detained for several days, solely due to their insistence upon visiting  the Palestinian families and organizations which invited them. The campaign waged in the aftermath had many positive implications, Under judicial pressure, many airlines compensated the blocked passengers and fully refunded the ticket prices fully; trade unions at airports have joined in our call for preserving the Freedom of Movement. The Workers’ Union of the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris recently published a clear message of support for the "Welcome to Palestine" Campaign.

The publicity also exposed Israel’s attempts to prevent citizens of foreign countries from offering humanitarian support to millions of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. What the State of Israel can not tolerate, it seems, is the fact that women and men who come to visit here between 15 and 21 April are not going to lie or hide. They refuse to pretend that Palestine or the Palestinians do not exist.

State of Israel may call it "de-legitimation" and spread various lies about those who are coming to visit here these days. We, on the other hand, are appreciative and grateful to all those visitors, who are striving the same things to which we aspire – peace, humanism, mutual help and honesty.

The International Community recognizes the fundamental right of the Palestinians to receive visitors from abroad, as well as the right of the citizens of all countries to visit the Palestinians without hindrance. Where the State of that Israel tries to silence and isolate us, we call upon others to join us, openly and unafraid. ut fear. At this time of Passover, known as the Feast of Libert, we will strive with the many others – locally and internationally – and strive to achieve the goals of freedom and equal rights for all, the same basic values ​​we all share as human beings.

For more information:

Israeli activists:

Tally – 0524246519
Leahy – 0504880969
Offer – 0544740825
Ronnie – 0523535225
welcome2palestine48@gmail.com…
Facebook – on.fb.me/welcome2palestine…