November 2012 Archives

0

More words of wisdom from Dr Chandra Muzzaffar – President of the International Movement for a Just World and one of this world’s greats in the movement for justice and peace.

I had the privilege of meeting Dr Muzzaffar back in the 80’s, and despite issues with his health and life-long harassment, he continues to speak out clearly and powerfully on behalf of the oppressed everywhere. As one would expect, he has a special place in his heart for the Palestinian people.

Father Dave

Ricahrd Falk
Richard Falk

RICHARD FALK DOES HIS DUTY

Chandra Muzaffar

Once again, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, has shown tremendous courage and integrity in calling for the boycott of major Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) that have dealings with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem “until they adhere to international rights, standards and practices.”

The call was made in Falk’s report to the UN General Assembly on the 24th of October 2012. In his report, he named companies such as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Motorolla, the Volvo Group and Cemex, among others, as companies that have violated international human rights and humanitarian law by “exploiting Palestinian resources and helping Israel construct illegal settlements and providing security for them.” A boycott of these companies may compel them to pressurize the Israeli regime to change its behaviour towards the Palestinians. It may result in the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the West Bank and in the dismantling of the settlements paving the way for a genuine peace founded upon justice.

As expected, United States and Israeli officials criticised Falk severely for proposing the boycott. The US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, for instance, dismissed it as “irresponsible and unacceptable.” A spokeswoman for the Israeli regime rubbished the proposal as “a distasteful sideshow.”

The Canadian government has gone even further. Its Foreign Minister, John Baird, has not only accused Falk of bias but has also called for his resignation as Special Rapporteur. His call echoes segments of the Western media and Western NGOs.

Rushing to the defence of Israel whenever its policies and actions are criticised has become an addiction for much of the West. It does not matter whether the criticism is legitimate or not. Often, the critic is savaged and vilified. There is no attempt to examine or evaluate the issue at hand in a dispassionate and objective manner. Richard Falk has been victim of this sort of irrational, almost fanatical obsession with Israel’s defence for a number of years now.

Falk’s boycott idea should have been viewed as a sincere attempt by a UN investigator on the plight of Palestinians living under occupation to lessen their pain and suffering by suggesting concrete, peaceful action that could be taken to force the occupier — the Israeli regime — to recognise the rights of the Palestinians and to be accountable to international law. He has proposed a measure which dovetails with a much larger international campaign — the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign— initiated some years ago by a number of NGOs which is now beginning to gain some momentum. Of course, boycotting powerful MNCs — as suggested by Falk— requires a lot of preparatory work and the mobilisation of public opinion which will take time. But it can be done.

By focusing upon boycott, Falk is sending an urgent message to the world. Take concrete action immediately to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Or face decades of violence and turmoil in West Asia and elsewhere. It is significant that he is doing this in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories.

For this is what a UN Rapporteur is supposed to do. Present an honest account of what is happening on the ground. Analyse the underlying causes. Propose tangible solutions.

Professor Richard Falk has done his duty. He has lived up to the ideals of the UN of protecting people from oppression and aggression and respecting the right of self-determination. He has fulfilled his mandate as Special Rapporteur.

The world should applaud him.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

Malaysia. 29 October 2012.

Read articles by Richard Falk on his WordPress Blog

1

It is a common spectacle nowadays – someone highly respected speaks out and confronts the cultural and religious establishment and suddenly they have no friends but are being targeted by all their peers and roundly condemned from all sides (the name ‘Richard Goldstone’ comes to mind)!

What is encouraging is to see Richard Falk standing his ground and receiving some degree of recognition for his courage.

Father Dave

Ricahrd Falk

Richard Falk

source: In defence of UN Palestine rapporteur Richard Falk  

In defence of UN Palestine rapporteur Richard Falk

By Lawrence Davidson

Richard Falk is the present United Nations special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories. His job is to monitor the human rights situation in the territories, with particular reference to international law, and report back to both the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. He is Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and well qualified for his UN post.

Telling unsettling truths

Professor Falk was appointed in 2008 to a six year term in his present position. That means he has been telling the unsettling truth about Israeli behaviour for four years now, with another two to go. Repeatedly, he has documented Israeli violations of international law and its relentless disregard for Palestinian human rights. For instance:

  • In 2008 he documented the “desperate plight of civilians in Gaza”;
  • In 2009 he described Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip as a “war crime of the greatest magnitude”;
  • In 2010 he documented Israel’s array of apartheid policies;
  • In 2011 he documented Israeli policies in Jerusalem and labelled them “ethnic cleansing”; and
  • In this latest report for the year 2012, he has concentrated on two subjects:

– Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners which, he concludes, is so bad as to warrant investigation by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It should be noted that Israel does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ. However, condemnation by this organization would, within the context of growing awareness of Zionist crimes, help further educate public opinion.

– Falk documents the assistance given to Israel’s expansion of colonies on the Palestinian West Bank by a number of multinational corporations, including Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar Inc. This assistance may be profitable, but it is also manifestly illegal. The chief executives and board members of these companies stand in violation of international laws, including provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Since no nation, nor the UN itself, seems ready to prosecute them, Professor Falk has recommended a boycott of the guilty firms “in an effort to take infractions of international law seriously”.

Reactions

In a sane world this work would make Richard Falk a universally acclaimed defender of justice. But ours is not a sane world. And so you get the following sort of responses from both Israel and its supporters:

Karaen Peretz, the spokeswomen for the Israeli Mission at the United Nations, found Professor Falk’s latest report “grossly biased”. This is a sort of response used by someone who cannot dispute the evidence and so must resort to attacking the character of the one presenting the evidence. Peretz also asserted that “Israel is deeply committed to advancing human rights and firmly believes that this cause will be better served without Falk and his distasteful sideshow. While he spends pages attacking Israel, Falk fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas.”

Actually, this is not true. Back in 2008 Falk requested that his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council be extended to cover infringements of human rights by Palestinian governments just so he would not be seen as partisan. Subsequently, Mahmoud Abbas’s pseudo Palestinian Authority called for Falk’s resignation. In this job, you just can’t win.

In any case, Falk’s documenting of Israel’s crimes puts the lie to Peretz’s claim that Israel is “deeply committed to advancing human rights” and that documentation cannot be dismissed as a “sideshow”. Relative to 64 years of ethnic cleansing, it is the militarily insignificant missiles out of Gaza that are the “sideshow”. And, can we honestly assume that Ms Peretz’s attitude towards Professor Falk would turn for the better if in this report he had mentioned Hamas “even once”?

Then there is United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. She echoed Peretz by describing Falk as being “highly biased”. Well, what sort of attitude is one suppose to have toward overwhelming evidence persisting over many years? Isn’t one supposed to be “biased” in favour of such evidence? To ignore it doesn’t make you balanced or fair. It makes you either corrupt or in a deep state of denial.

Ms Rice goes on to say that “Mr Falk’s recommendations do nothing to further a peaceful settlement … and indeed poison the environment for peace”. These are pretty strong words, but if considered critically they make little sense.

First of all, Falk’s mandate requires him to reveal the facts about human rights violations in the Palestinian territories. It makes no reference to “furthering a peaceful settlement”. That is what the US government claims to be doing. And its record in this regard is pitiful.

Second, just why should conclusively documenting practices that may well be standing in the way of a settlement, be equated with “poisoning the environment for peace”? That doesn’t add up at all.

There are many other spokespeople who have reacted negatively to Falk’s latest report, ranging from the Canada’s foreign affairs minister to representatives of the companies caught on the wrong side of the law. And, remarkably, they all sing the same song: Falk is biased, ad nauseum. They can do no better because they cannot refute the professor”s evidence. Thus, all of these well positioned, well paid representatives of nations and multinational businesses are reduced to sounding like lawyers defending the mafia.

Conclusion

Professor Falk’s experience should serve as a warning to both those who would, on the one hand, make a career out of being a spokespersons for governments or companies, and on the other, those who would dedicate themselves to “speaking truth to power”. Taking on the role of the former is the equivalent of selling your soul to leadership whose sense of right and wrong goes no further than their own local interests. Taking on the role of the latter is to face seemingly endless frustration for, as Noam Chomsky once noted, power already knows the truth and doesn’t care one jot for it.

Yet, for those who would travel down this latter road, Richard Falk is as good a role model as can be found. Having dedicated himself to the role of truth teller he is to be commended for his devotion to justice and sheer durability. He is a hero who, hopefully, will have his praises sung long after Ms Peretz and Ms Rice are deservedly forgotten.

2

Father Roy writes: The following article was published in today’s Jerusalem Post.  Weed thru the hasbara.  Jewish groups in the UK are accusing the Rev’d Stephen Sizer of “anti-Semitism”.  A formal complaint has been filed in the Church.  It’s a familiar scenario.

Make a value judgement for yourselves, Peers.  Take a look at Stephen’s website.  Some of his writings can be found at a website which was built by Christian Evangelicals:  Challenging Christian Zionism and Apocalyptic Rapture Teachings.  Watch a few of Stephen’s videos on YouTube:  stephen sizer – AOL Search Results.  From my humble perspective, honesty is a prerequisite for effective interfaith dialogue.  It’s pushback time.

Jewish Groups in the UK are making a big issue out of Stephen’s case.  From my perspective, it’s the underlying issue that needs publicity.  I’ve written to Sami Joseph asking whether there’s one newspaper in London where a letter-writing campaign can be focused.  A national debate over there would be healthful for all concerned.  Sami has not had time to respond yet.  Meanwhile, letters of support can be addressed to Stephen’s Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Hill: bishop.christopher@cofeguildford.org….  There’s a postscript.

Peace,Roy+

P.S. The Cathedral of the Diocese of Guildford appears to be built on a firm foundation. Please read on

Group says Church of England vicar anti-Semitic

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT

Formal complaint documents Rev. Stephen Sizer’s offensive anti-Semitic statements and “deep hostility to Zionism.” 

LONDON – Britain’s Jewish community representative organization has taken the unprecedented step of lodging a formal complaint to the Church of England, the country’s officially established Christian church, accusing one of its clergyman of anti-Semitism.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has accused Rev. Stephen Sizer, the vicar of Virginia Water Church in Surrey and an ardent anti-Israel campaigner, of making anti-Semitic statements and republishing anti-Semitic material.

The action comes at a time when the relationship between the Jewish community and the Church of England has taken a downward turn, following its decision in July to strengthen ties with an anti-Israel group.

According to the board’s vice-president, Jonathan Arkush, Sizer has made statements that the board and most of the Jewish community find utterly offensive, to the point of crossing the line into anti- Semitism.

The representative organization lodged the complaint under the Church of England’s disciplinary process, an act of parliament known as the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

Submitting the complaint on behalf of the board, Arkush said, “The evidence disclosed indicates that Rev. Sizer spends time trawling dark and extreme corners of the Internet.”

“Rev. Sizer republishes items to support the target of his polemical writing, while at the same time introducing his readers to the racist and anti-Semitic websites from where he draws his material,” he added.

The complaint cites numerous examples over an 11-month period showing a clear and consistent pattern of activity that “can no longer go unchallenged.”

In October 2011, the Church of England minister posted a link to his Facebook page from an anti-Semitic website called “The Ugly Truth: Zionism, Jewish extremism and a few other nasty items making our world uninhabitable today.”

Sizer removed the link three months later only after numerous complaints.

Bishop of Manchester Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch, who is also the chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, said at the time that “the content and delay in removing the link from Mr. Sizer’s Facebook page was disgraceful and unbecoming for a clergyman of the Church of England to promote.”

In March, Sizer linked a picture of US bases surrounding Iran from the “Veterans Today” website, which publishes articles defending Hitler, and promotes Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the anti- Semitic musician Gilad Atzmon.

“Its home page quickly discloses articles displaying hatred of Jews and Israel. Rev. Sizer could not have missed these when searching the site for material to post on his blog,” the board maintained.

In May, four months after removing the controversial link, Sizer acknowledged that the “Ugly Truth” contained offensive material and said that he had “no wish” to be associated with it.

“I have on many occasions condemned all forms of anti-Semitism and will continue so to do because it is abhorrent to me,” Sizer maintained.

However, only a month later, he again linked his blog to another anti-Semitic website. The homepage “Window into Palestine” displays a Nazi flag with a swastika superimposed on a Star of David and carries a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, describing it as an “important tome.”

The charge sheet questions the sincerity of Sizer’s condemnation of anti-Semitism.

“Any visitor to ‘Window into Palestine’ would see immediately that it is racist and anti-Semitic. Rev. Sizer posted a link to this website exactly one month after telling the Council of Christians and Jews that he condemned all forms of anti-Semitism.

Arkush said that Sizer displays an obsession with Israel and opposes its identity as a Jewish state.

“Rev. Sizer displays a deep hostility to Zionism, which he writes about as if it was a term of abuse. It is not difficult to come across his views, as he is an enthusiastic self-publicist who proclaims his preoccupation with Israel on his website, blog and Facebook and Flickr pages.”

He also said that Sizer has few qualms about the company he keeps.

“He has shared a platform with and quoted from Holocaust-deniers; goes on trips to Iran as the guest of the NEDA Institute, which contributes to global efforts to deny the Holocaust and gave an interview with Quds News Agency, a Holocaust- denying website. Sizer is also a speaker at the provocatively named Christ at the Checkpoint conference, which features a theology called supersessionism which has anti-Semitic overtones.”

Writing in March 2011, Sizer said that Saif Gaddafi made a surprise visit to Israel to buy more weapons for his father, the late ruler of Libya.

“He goes to Israel regularly because, according to a senior Middle East Ecclesiastical source, both his mother and aunt are Jewish and live in Israel.

“Blood is indeed thicker than water. Perhaps this is why the US is reluctant to impose a ‘no-fly’ zone over Libya,” Sizer said.

It emerged that Sizer subsequently modified his post and removed the last line.

In June 2011, Sizer gave an interview to a Malaysian television program in which he claimed that “the Zionists” and the Far- Right in Britain were forming an alliance.

“It’s ironic that the very people who favored the work of Hitler are now working with the Zionists against the Muslims because they view them as a threat,” he said.

The complaint will now be considered by Bishop Christopher Hill, the bishop of Guildford, which is the jurisdictional area under which Sizer’s church falls.

0

The following article is written by Adam Keller and appeared on his blog today.

I only knew the man through his involvement in Gush Shalom – as the man behind so many press releases – but a little research has shown me that Mr Keller is a powerful activist in his own right.

Imprisoned on numerous occasions for refusing to serve in the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories, Keller has a proud history of activism on behalf of the oppressed. Certainly his hopes and fears for Obama’s second term echo my own.

Father Dave

Adam Keller

Adam Keller

source: Adam Keller’s ‘Crazy Country’ blog

A Night of Hope

A few hours and many cups of coffee after a night which seemed like an eternity. The CNN non-stop on the screen and experts arguing  and maps with red and blue spots. Swing states and swing counties in the swing states. Instant lessons in the physical and human geography of Virginia and Florida and Ohio. Here the countryside always votes Republican and the big city there is a Democrat bastion and here live many Blacks and there the number of Hispanics increased in the past decade and in this location Bush won in 2004 but Obama did in 2008 and there might develop a big surprise. And in Florida it was 50% against 49% when a quarter of the votes were counted, and the same when half were counted and when it was three quarters, and suddenly the gap narrows and then widens again, and would Obama’s advantage be maintained and when at last would the count be finished in the counties south of Miami, and how long can one stand this tension?

And in the end there was no need to wait for Florida because the die  was already cast in other places and the crowds were celebrating in the dark streets of Chicago while here in Holon in the State of Israel the light of the quiet early morning was already streaming through the window and this decision which was taken overseas will affect our destiny here, no less and perhaps more than in our own Israeli elections come January. And on the screen Mitt Romney made a respectable speech and how good to spare him a moment of a generous victor’s sympathy, and in another year we will hardly remember who he was. And how wonderful that Sheldon Adelson’s hundreds of millions have all gone down the drain and that the Jewish pensioners in Central Florida were not really impressed with the special elections broadcasts recorded by Binyamin Netanyahu.

In a way the achievement of Barack Hussein Obama last night was greater than his achievement four years ago. Than, he was widely regarded as a savior, almost a Messiah, and was swept to power on enormous  waves of enthusiasm. Since then, he has many times disappointed those who voted for him and those who looked up to him. By now, everybody  knows he is no Messiah nor does he posses any magic wand, and that he certainly does not succeed in everything he tries. Yet at the crucial moment  the Blacks came out, and the Hispanics and the Jews and the women and the Ohio auto workers, and also quite a few of the maligned White Men, and they all gave him a chance to achieve in four more years, what he didn’t so far.

And also we here in Israel, who had no vote in these elections, we shared in the dashed hopes. The impressive speech in Cairo and the high-profile clashes with Netanyahu which somehow always ended indecisively, while the settlement freeze dissolved. And the grand confrontation in the summer of 2011, when Obama proposed negotiations based on the 1967 borders and Mahmoud Abbas agreed immediately and Netanyahu burst out in a furious attack in  Congress and got a standing ovation and Obama shelved all the ideas and plans until after the election. After the elections is today.

Yesterday “Yediot Ahronot” had a large headline: “Netanyahu fearful of an Obama victory”. Below it was written: “Tension in Israel towards the US  elections. Due to Netanyahu’s support for Romney, the PM’s aides are apprehensive that Obama, if re-elected, might take vengeful steps. To the contrary, a Romney victory would put the wind in the Prime Minister’s sails.   (…) Officials believe that Obama’s anger against Netanyahu is so great that Obama would try – indirectly and perhaps also directly – to sabotage  Netanyahu’s elections campaign in Israel. There is concern that during the [Israeli] campaign, Obama would voice public criticism of Netanyahu and embarrass him. In addition it is feared that Obama would stop providing automatic backing to Israel in international forums dealing with Israeli policy in the Territories. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a private conversation that in her opinion, after the Israeli elections there would  appear an opportunity to revive the talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and that the Obama Administration will be deeply involved if the President wins a second term.

At noon today, Netanyahu sent Obama a letter of congratulations (what else could he have done?)

Last week I expressed the hope that it might be the American voters would make for the State of Israel the decision which our political system is evading for forty-five years already.  Not everyone who read it was enthusiastic about this passage. Some argued that I was spreading false hopes and that President Obama and his party would never seriously confront Netanyahu, neither in his first term nor in the second one.

It is quite possible such criticism would prove justified; that also this time, Obama would disappoint those who still cherish hopes, Israelis and Palestinians and others of good will who care about the future of this country and this region. It is quite possible. But it is also possible that he would surprise and astonish the sceptics, as yesterday he surprised and astonished the US Republicans and their Israeli supporters and the learned commentators who prematurely wrote him off.

At least, now we will get to check all this empirically.

0

Father Roy writes:   An international conference will be held in Helsinki next month.  The date is yet to be announced.  The conference will have a definite goal and a specific purpose.  Will the conference receive media attention?  Will the deliberations at the conference be accurately reported?   Peace, Roy

Click here: Iran to take part in nuclear-fre… JPost 

Iran to take part in nuclear-free Middle East talks

Ambassador to the IAEA says Iran “decided to participate” in international conference in Finland on creating nuclear-free zone.

BRUSSELS – Iran, accused by the West of seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability, said on Tuesday it would take part in a proposed international conference in December on creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran now finally has decided to participate at the conference in Finland, in Helsinki, in December on a Middle East (nuclear) free zone,” Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters in Brussels.

No date has yet been set for the meeting in the Finnish capital later this year on establishing a zone without nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction in the volatile region and there are questions over whether it will take place.

Israel, which has drawn frequent Arab and Iranian condemnation over its presumed nuclear arsenal, has not yet said whether it will attend the proposed Helsinki conference.

Soltanieh was in Brussels to attend in an invitation-only seminar, organized by think-tanks, to promote efforts to hold the conference.

Several Israelis were also present at the seminar, according to Mark Fitzpatrick, an expert on nuclear non-proliferation from Britain’s International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank, who was involved in organizing the event.

Iran has held years of on-off negotiations with Western powers over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes but which the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Israel, the only regional state not to belong to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has said it would sign the NPT and renounce nuclear arms only as part of a broader Middle East peace deal with Arab states and Iran that guaranteed its security.

Israel has never confirmed or denied having nuclear arms under a policy of ambiguity aimed at deterrence, has made clear it believes the Middle East is not yet ready for the creation of a zone free of such weapons.