October 2012 Archives

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Father Roy writes:   The letter that Christian Leaders wrote to Congress recently (see below) is being “criticized” by Jewish Groups.  This is a serious matter.  Spread the word.  Christians need to be alerted.  The Jewish Council for Public Affairs “rejected” what the Christian Leaders called for in the letter.  The American Jewish Committee was OUTRAGED.  But that’s not the worst of it.  The Rabbinical Assembly called for a “re-evaluation” of the interfaith partnerships, between the assembly and the denominations represented in the letter.  Is that a threat?  Or a promise?  Whichever, this incident needs publicity.  We cannot let it fester.  The highlights in JTA’s report are mine.   Peace, Roy  

Religious leaders call on Congress to reevaulate military aid to Israel

(JTA) — Fifteen leaders of U.S. churches and other faith-based organizations have asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel.

The religious leaders sent a letter to Congress members on Monday, calling for an investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which would make Israel ineligible for U.S. military aid.

“As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel — offered without conditions or accountability — will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories,” the letter, signed by leaders of the Lutheran, Methodist, UCC churches, and the National Council of Churches, said.

“We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.”

“We write to you as Christian leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” the letter said, adding that the organizations have “worked alongside our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers to help build a peaceful and resilient Palestinian civil society.” The signatories said they were writing to Congress “to express our grave concern about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”

“Unfortunately, unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians,” the letter said, citing the 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories.

The letter called on Congress to hold hearings “to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.”

The letter also decried what it called “a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace,” citing Israel’s failure to halt settlement activity despite repeated U.S. government requests.

The letter was criticized by Jewish groups.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs rejected the call to reevaluate foreign aid to Israel. “U.S. aid to Israel is not ‘unconditional,’ as the letter claims. It reflects the shared values of America and Israel and furthers our shared goals for peace and security and is vital to advance the security of both peoples,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the international umbrella organization of Conservative rabbis, called for a reevaluation of the interfaith partnerships between the assembly and the denominations represented in the letter.

“The letter calling for hearings and reassessment was issued without outreach to longtime partners in public advocacy within the Jewish community. It was released on the eve of Shabbat, just before a long weekend of Jewish and American holidays. And it was distributed at a time when Congress is out of session, in the midst of the general election campaign,” the Rabbinical Assembly said in a statement. “We find these tactics to be disrespectful of channels of communication that have been constructed over decades, and an essential declaration of separation from the endeavor of interfaith consultation on matters of deep concern to the Jewish community. Indeed, we find this breach of trust to be so egregious that we wonder if it may not warrant an examination on the part of the Jewish community at large of these partnerships and relationships that we understood ourselves to be working diligently to preserve and protect.”

The American Jewish Committee said it was outraged by the Christian leaders’ call. “When the world currently is focused on the Iranian nuclear threat to the entire Middle East and the world, Christian leaders have chosen to mount another political attack on Israel,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. “When religious liberty and safety of Christians across the Middle East are threatened by the repercussions of the Arab Spring, these Christian leaders have chosen to initiate a polemic against Israel, a country that protects religious freedom and expression for Christians, Muslims and others.”

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Father Roy writes:  The Russell Tribunal is concluding the New York session by calling for “a mobilization of international public opinion“.  What a good idea.  Let’s precipitate an international debate.  Off-line as well as on-line.  The highlights in the article pasted below are mine.  It appears that the Russell Tribunal acquired some media coverage after all.  Watch Al Jazeera (English):  The Stream on the Tribunal.   Peace, Roy

source: Mondoweiss

Russell Tribunal conclusion: U.S. facilitates Israeli immunity and impunity
Oct 09, 2012 07:50 pm | Alex Kane

After two long days of expert testimony, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine wrapped up Sunday night (see Ethan Heitner’s reports and sketches of the days here and here). Then yesterday, the tribunal’s jury presented its findings to a United Nations committee–findings that Israel “has achieved a status of immunity and impunity by [its] complete disregard for the norms and standards of international law facilitated by the US.”

The executive summary of these findings has now been published.

The conclusion was essentially preordained, but its importance lies in the fact that the findings were presented by a jury full of luminaries like Angela Davis and Alice Walker to a United Nations body.

Among the other findings, the Russell Tribunal found that “various well-documented acts committed by Israel constitute violations of several basic rules of international law.” These violations include the right of self-determination and violation of various Security Council resolutions. Other Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights noted by the tribunal include: “the establishment of Israeli settlements”; “the expulsions of Palestinians from their territory”; and “military attacks against civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against Gaza and Palestinian refugees camps.”

The United Nations was also singled out for opprobrium. The UN “cannot simply denounce and condemn Israel’s violations of international law. Since these oft-repeated condemnations have not resulted in the cessation of Israel’s internationally wrongful acts, it follows that the UN must do more,” the Russell Tribunal notes. The executive summary continues:

In conclusion, the UN’s failure to take action proportionate to the duration and severity of Israel’s violations of international law (war crimes, crimes against humanity, crime of Apartheid, genocide), and by not exhausting all peaceful means of pressure available to it, the UN does not comply with the obligations that States have conferred on the UN

The focus on the U.S. enabling of Israel concluded with equally harsh findings.  “The Tribunal finds that Israel’s ongoing colonial settlement expansion, its racial separatist policies, as well as its violent militarism would not be possible without the US’s economic, military, and diplomatic support,” the executive summary states.

This echoes what many of the speakers at the tribunal said. Most notably, Diana Buttu, former adviser to Palestinian negotiators, gave a presentation on the U.S.’s record of shielding Israel from any accountability for its violations of international law. Buttu, as usual, was lucid and concise. 

What the US has attempted to do in Palestine is “make what is unjust, just, and what is illegal, legal,” said Buttu. As an example, Buttu pointed to the 83 vetoes the U.S. has exercised as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Of those, half of them were for the benefit of Israel. The most recent example was the Obama administration’s February 2011 veto of a UN resolution that labeled Israeli settlements as “illegal.” 

The conclusions of the executive summary include a call for the “mobilization of international public opinion, especially in the US and Israel, towards a just society based on equality before the law.” The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement was included as a “manifestation of civic society” toward the end of a just society.

Meanwhile, the Russell Tribunal has garnered some media coverage. Watch Al Jazeera English’s The Stream on the tribunal here:

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Father Roy writes: There’s an interesting article from Ha’aretz pasted below.  Let’s take a closer look at Hezbollah.  Have you noticed?  There’s something about Muslim Militant Groups that’s refreshingly honest.  Muslim Militant Groups tend to take responsibility for their militant activities.  Not so with the CIA.  Not so with the Mossad.  Muslim Militants generally don’t engage in covert activities such as false flag operations.  I’m not making an unpatriotic statement here.  I’m merely suggesting that all of us should consider the speck and the mote before we presume to pass judgement on our neighbors.  Because hypocrisy does not facilitate the peace process.

Israeli aircraft penetrate Lebanon’s air space all the time: israeli planes lebanon airspace – AOL Search Results.  It was Hezbollah … in the year 2000 … that ended Israel’s 18-year occupation of the southern 1/10th. of Lebanon.  Hezbollah is an integral part of Lebanon’s government now.  Israel still occupies Sheeba Farms.  Bibi wants the EU to put Hezbollah on their list of terrorist organizations as the US has done.  The EU has resisted doing that … so far.

Is everybody on the mailing list aware that Hezbollah maintains a vast social services network?  hezbollah social services network – AOL Search Results.   Please read on … about the drone.

Peace,Roy

Hezbollah chief claims responsibility for drone that entered Israeli airspace

Nasrallah says drone aircraft flew over ‘sensitive installations’ and was shot down near the Dimona nuclear reactor.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday claimed responsibility for a drone that was shot down by Israel after it had entered its airspace last week.

Israeli officials had previously hinted that the drone might have been the work of the Shiite movement, which is believed to have advanced Iranian weapons and has sent drones over Israel in the past.

Nasrallah said on Thursday the drone aircraft which his group sent into Israel was shot down near the Dimona nuclear reactor.

“The drone flew over sensitive installations inside southern Palestine,” he said in a televised speech.

“The Resistance in Lebanon (Hezbollah) sent a sophisticated reconnaissance drone from Lebanon toward the [Mediterranean] Sea … before it entered [Israeli airspace] and hovered over many important locations before it was discovered by the Israeli air force,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on the movement’s al-Manar television.

He said the unarmed drone was not Russian made, but Iranian and was assembled in Lebanon

“The drone managed to arrive in an area close to the Dimona plant,” Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah chief said that the main achievement of the drone was to fly that far in an area secured by U.S.-Israeli air defense systems.

“We will leave it for the Israelis to sit down and discover the drone’s abilities … We are only revealing part of our capabilities and concealing many others,” Nasrallah added.

The United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon denied earlier this week that the drone had come from Lebanon.

Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hezbollah of sending the drone.

In a statement from his office, Netanyahu said during a tour of the southern frontier with Egypt that Israel would “act with determination to defend its borders”, just as “we thwarted over the weekend Hezbollah’s attempt” to penetrate Israeli airspace.

Under surveillance by Israeli fighter jets, it was shot down on Saturday over a forest near the West Bank.

On Saturday, the Israeli Air Force shot down an unidentified aerial vehicle that penetrated Israel’s airspace.

The IDF said Saturday that the drone arrived in Israel from the west after flying over the Mediterranean and the Gaza Strip.

After the drone traveled east some 35 miles (56 km) across Israel’s southern Negev desert, the drone was shot down above a forest in an unpopulated area near the border with the West Bank, the IDF spokesperson said.

On at least one previous occasion, Hezbollah has launched a drone into Israel across its northern border with Lebanon.

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Father Roy writes:   Political “experts” and the results of a recent Ha’aretz poll lead to the conclusion that Netanyahu will be re-elected.  Bibi is generally regarded as more suitable than the others to lead Israel into the future.  Attitudes can change, of course.  Regimes can change, as well.  Laura Friedman writes:  No More Excuses for Bibi.    I’ve done some highlighting in the article pasted below.   Peace, Roy

Poll: Netanyahu beats all comers

Tzipi Livni is best positioned against the prime minister in the race for the premiership.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no serious challenger in the next election, political experts said after he launched the campaign for the 19th Knesset on Tuesday. A poll carried out for Haaretz on Wednesday appears to confirm this.

The poll, conducted by Dialog under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, shows that Netanyahu easily defeats all his possible rivals from the center-left bloc. As far as the public is concerned, Netanyahu is deemed much more suitable for post of prime minister than any of his potential rivals.

At the same time, the Likud-right wing-ultra-Orthodox bloc has increased its strength to 68 Knesset seats, while the center-left bloc has gone down to 52, compared to the blocs’ respective strength in the outgoing Knesset and the previous poll.

The candidate with the highest support after Netanyahu is Tzipi Livni, who has retired from political life. However, Livni, who is considering a return to political life, fails to muster more than half of the support attributed to Netanyahu (57 percent – 28 percent ).

Ironically, Livni, who failed as Kadima’s leader in the opposition, lost to Shaul Mofaz in the party primaries and was ousted from the political arena by her party members, is the leading opposition candidate.

Kadima members may regret voting for Mofaz as their party leader in March. No wonder many of them are hoping that she or Ehud Olmert will return. Or even both of them.

Support for the remaining potential candidates – former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who hasn’t decided yet whether he’s throwing his hat in the ring, Atzmaut leader Ehud Barak, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich – is not impressive.

The poll results lead to the conclusion that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister.

The poll, conducted by Dialog, under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, shows that support for Netanyahu is even stronger than it was in the previous poll some two weeks ago. Asked about their satisfaction with Netanyahu’s performance as prime minister, 45 percent of the interviewees were satisfied and 45 percent were dissatisfied, marking a 15 percent improvement from the last poll, in which only 38 were satisfied compared to 53 who were not.

The improvement in Netanayhu’s position likely results from his presentation at the UN and perhaps from his announcement of early elections.

While the Likud receives a few more Knesset seats and Labor a few less, Yair Lapid is considerably stronger, according to this poll. Ehud Barak’s Atzmaut Party does not obtain the minimum required votes to enter the Knesset.

Future polls are expected to examine the repercussions of a party led by Olmert on the political map. However, in view of the right wing bloc’s strength, it is hard to imagine Olmert, with or without Livni, attracting enough cross-over votes from the right.

If Olmert joins the campaign, he will no doubt affect the power balance in the center-left bloc dramatically. Yacimovich will weaken, Lapid will weaken even more. Mofaz will probably have to renounce his place as Kadima leader. It is not clear, however, whether this will change the outcome for Netanyahu.

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Father Roy writes:   Peers, if I had my way … which I seldom do … this development would be discussed in depth and at length by Christians in every local congregation in the country …  and prior to the November elections.  Peace, Roy 

ADL quits interfaith dialogue following churches’ letter on Israel aid

The Anti-Defamation League withdrew from participating in a national Jewish-Christian interfaith dialogue after church leaders asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel.

The ADL in a statement called the request “a serious breach of trust by mainline Protestant Church leaders” participating in the annual interfaith meeting, which will be held on Oct. 22.

The religious leaders from the Lutheran, Methodist and United Church of Christ churches, and the National Council of Churches sent a letter to Congress members on Oct. 8 calling for an investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. The violations would make Israel ineligible for U.S. military aid.

The letter also decried what it called “a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace,” citing Israel’s failure to halt settlement activity despite repeated U.S. government requests.

“In light of the failure of any of the church leaders to reach out to us, we have decided not to attend this interfaith meeting,” saidAbraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. “The blatant lack of sensitivity by the Protestant dialogue partners we had been planning to meet with has seriously damaged the foundation for mutual respect, which is essential for meaningful interfaith dialogue.

“It is outrageous that mere days after the Iranian president repeated his call for Israel’s elimination, these American Protestant leaders would launch a biased attack against the Jewish state by calling on Congress to investigate Israel’s use of foreign aid. In its clear bias against Israel, it is striking that their letter fails to also call for an investigation of Palestinian use of U.S. foreign aid, thus once again placing the blame entirely on Israel.”

Foxman called on other Jewish organizations to “understand the level of disrespect the American Jewish community is being shown here” and to also withdraw from the conference.