January 2013 Archives

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It seems that a new movie – “The Gatekeepers” – has done the impossible! It has exposed one of the tightest security networks in the world – the Shin Bet (Israeli National Security Agency)!

Of course it’s not the secrets that are exposed but rather the men who were responsible for hiding them. The documentary movie interviews each of the men who have led the Shin Bet since 1967 and finds them to be men of deeply troubled consciences who made many decisions that they now regret.

I’ve taken an excerpt from a long review featured on al-monitor.com… below.

Father Dave

‘The Gatekeepers’ Unmasks Israeli Security Apparatus

By: Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse

The film “The Gatekeepers” was over. The credits started running down the screen in Tel Aviv’s Cinemateque to the sound of soft music, and a tense silence filled the theater. The audience was glued to their seats, a look of disbelief spread across its faces. The atmosphere was heavy and tense. Even the lights took their time to go back on, as if they wanted to leave the audience in the dark for just a little longer. When they did go on in the end, the real faces of those very people after whom this film was named — the six former heads of the Shin Bet [Israel National Security Agency] — could be seen seated in the hall. These were the men who appeared on screen for the past 95 minutes, exposing the almost human side of Israel’s political and security apparatus. They had once achieved the rank of public heroes. Now that the film was over, even they seemed stunned.

“The Gatekeepers” is a film about our story, Israel’s story, from the Six Day War until today, as told from a security perspective. Each of the film’s six protagonists — Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon, Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin — served successively as the head of Shin Bet from 1980 to 2012. Director Dror Moreh seated them in front of a camera so that they could each describe the main events that marked their tenures. They did so with chilling simplicity, and they had lots to describe: the bus 300 affair, the First and Second Intifadas, the Jewish Underground [militant organization], suicide attacks, targeted assassinations, Rabin’s assassination, etc. And that is just a very partial list.

One of the first images appearing on screen was one of many clips collected from the archives of Israel’s state television channel. It showed the first wave of arrests of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Terrified men and boys were made to sit on the pavement, facing a stone wall, in footage we’ve all seen hundreds of times. Still, there was something unique about this scene. We saw the faces of Israeli soldiers too, and they seemed no less terrified, embarrassed and confused. They didn’t know what they were supposed to do, or to what degree they were supposed to do it. How much force should they use? Against whom? For the first time they were forced to confront, not some army in uniform, but a civilian population.

As this film clearly shows, we’ve mastered the job since then. In fact, we’ve become quite the professionals.

It seemed as even if the audience had kept its eyes shut tightly until now, this film pried them wide open. If until now we all thought, or at least we wanted to think, that there was some responsible adult in charge and that momentous decisions about Israel’s future were being made in the wisest of manners, after deep thought and careful consideration, we suddenly discovered — and from the heads of the security apparatus themselves — that the thought process wasn’t always that deep and that the most dramatic decisions weren’t always made after careful consideration, with a long-term strategy in mind. And we’re not talking about one single government either. The same was true for all of Israel’s governments since 1967.

It really was a rude awakening. The film was over and the audience was still trying to absorb what it had just seen, when suddenly someone turned to Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet (2000–2005), and raged: “How could you collaborate on this ‘thing,’ on this film? How could you do a thing like that? It’s disgraceful. People all over the world will see it. Shame on you! Shame on you, Dichter!”

Read the entire review here: www.al-monitor.com…

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From my humble (yet prayerful) perspective, Iran’s six-point plan for peace in Syria deserves international attention.  Notice how all the problems in the region are interconnected with the issue of Palestine.  

Peace, Roy 

source: www.almanar.com……

Vatican Envoy Praises Iran Plan for Syria

Vatican’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Bishop Gabriel Caccia on Tuesday hailed Iran’s initiative to restore peace and tranquility to Syria, stressing that arming the militant groups in Syria is unacceptable anymore.

In a meeting with Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi, Caccia expressed beliefs that dialogue and diplomacy together constitute the only option to put an end to the Syrian crisis.

For his part, Roknabadi reiterated Iran’s stances on the latest developments in the region and Lebanon, as well as Iran’s six-point plan on resolving crisis in Syria.

Highlighting Iran’s significant and constructive role in the region, the Vatican ambassador underlined the need for coordinated action among all local, regional and international parties to resolve the issue.

He said the Pope calls for promotion of dialogue and peace, adding that the international community never agrees to shipment of arms and financial support to the Syrian opposition groups.

“It is the Syrian people that should decide their fate through democratic means,” he said.

Referring to Zionists’ unpleasant situation, he pointed out that all problems in the region are interconnected with the issue of Palestine.

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According to the article from gulfnews.com… featured below, a proposal for Israel to officially annex all of Gaza and the West Bank is back on the agenda!

It seems that only last Tuesday various political candidates, including members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, publicly debated the issue before an audience dominated by settlers!

What sort of a bubble do these people live in? They would do well to heed the words of their 8th Century prophet, Hosea: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7)

Father Dave

source: gulfnews.com…

Serious talk in Israel about annexing Palestine

Occupied Jerusalem: Three Israeli right-wing parties, including two that are expected to be part of the next government after elections this month, are talking seriously about annexing all or part of the occupied West Bank.

Seized by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, the West Bank is now home to hundreds of thousands of Israeli colonists, as well as about 1.7 million Palestinians.

Talk of annexing the territory, as Israel did with Occupied east Jerusalem — in a move never recognised by the international community — is not new.

But as rightwing parties battle for the colonist vote ahead of the January 22 elections, the idea is being discussed increasingly seriously by mainstream parties.

On Tuesday, candidates from three factions, including the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, debated the issue before an audience dominated by colonists.

“We must begin to talk about it because this question will, I hope, be the order of the day for the next government,” Netanyahu’s information minister Yuli Edelstein told AFP.

Annexation of the entire West Bank is not part of the Likud party platform, but Edelstein’s views are shared by a number of the party’s electoral list, which skews to the right wing of the party.

“Our historic right to this region should be cemented by the application of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” Likud deputy Yariv Levin said.

Annexation has never been a Likud policy, but is now increasingly mentioned by its representatives, as well as those from the rival national religious Jewish Home party.

“No one has talked about it for five years and now it could be a subject of debate in the next parliamentary session,” said Yehuda Glick, a rightwing activist who helped organise the Tuesday discussion.

For Jewish Home, the decision to adopt the annexation policy is directly linked to its new leader, Naftali Bennett, who is being credited with the formerly tiny faction’s meteoric rise in the polls.

He is the author of the Bennett Plan, which he promoted before joining Jewish Home, a road-map for the annexation of the 60 per cent of the West Bank designated as Area C, where Israel has administrative and security control.

The area includes Israeli colonies, but is also home to around 150,000 Palestinians.

The extreme right-wing Otzma LeyIsrael (Strength to Israel) party advocates the annexation of the entire West Bank.

“We will present a project for a proposed law to annex all of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley in the next Knesset,” said Aryeh Eldad, who heads the party’s list.

Edelstein is more cautious, and warns “there are many necessary steps before the annexation, because doing it won’t solve the problem of the territories.”

“We have to create an atmosphere in the international community to be able carry out this annexation bit-by-bit,” he said.

The organisers of the debate estimate that 73 per cent of those voting for Likud, Jewish Home or Otzma LeyIsrael favour annexing the West Bank, either in full or in part.

Many of those are colonists, whose votes are up-for-grabs and the subject of a fierce battle between Likud and Jewish Home.

Bennett’s faction estimates they will win the majority of the settler vote, which in 2009 went strongly for Likud.

The battle has prompted some members of Likud to push Netanyahu to adopt the conclusions of the Levy Report, issued last year, which recommended that the government legalise unauthorised colony outposts.

It also deemed Israeli colony construction in the West Bank legal, despite the opinion of the vast majority of the international community to the contrary.

The report has been criticised by the international community, but won support among Israel’s right-wing.

“Adopting this text is the best way to show the world our right to this land,” Bennett said.

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Father Roy writes:  

Pasted below is an article from the Jerusalem Post which reports a controversy that’s dividing Germany and German Jewry.  I’ve highlighted the cause of the furor. 

A similar development is evolving in the UK.  An Anglican Priest has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism.  The Rev’d Dr. Stephen Sizer is under attack by organized Jewish groups because he challenges Christian Zionism.

Controversy in the Church of England is growing, albeit quietly. Click here for updates. A ruling from Stephen’s Bishop may come later this month. Read on to learn about the controversy in Germany. Notice that the dynamics in the two cases are virtually the same.

Peace, Roy

source: www.jpost.com…

ADL slams German Spiegel author for anti-Semitism

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT

Anti-Defamation League tells ‘Post:’ Augustein’s statement “crosses the line into anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking.”

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BERLIN — The deputy national director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League on Friday weighed in on the raging German dispute over the alleged anti-Semitism of Der Spiegel Columnist Jakob Augstein and his attacks on Jews and Israel. Augstein’s statement about Jewish control of US foreign policy “crosses the line into anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking,“ Ken Jacobson, the ADL‘s deputy National Director, told the Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center included Jakob Augstein in its list of last year’s (2012) top-ten anti-Semites. Jacobson, a leading expert on contemporary anti-Semitism, cited one of Augstein‘s quotes in the Wiesenthal list as being contaminated with conspiratorial anti-Semitism . The quote from Augstein’s Spiegel column reads,“With backing from the US, where the president must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups, and in Germany, where coping with history, in the meantime, has a military component, the Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant.”

The ADL, like the Wiesenthal Center, carries great weight with its assessment of modern anti-Semitism in Europe in general and Germany in particular.

Though Jacobson said the assertion about US Jews controlling foreign policy is anti-Semitic, he added “I don’t know enough about him [Augstein] to say he is an anti-Semite.“

Jacobson also added that Augstein’s quote, in which he equated Haredi with Islamic fundamental terrorists, “crosses the line into steroetypes of Jews.”

Jacobson qualified his remarks as a general matter “anti-Israel criticism is not necessarily anti-Semitic.”

The Augstein controversy has divided Germany’s Jews. German media reported that the vice president of Germany’s Central Council Jews Salomon Korn said Augstein’s writings are anti-Semitic. Korn argued that the Wiesenthal Center should not have included Augstein in its list because the organization “does not know German relations.”

Though the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Dieter Graumann did not completely agree with the Wiesenthal ranking list in connection with Augstein, he, however, said Augstein’s Israel texts are “dreadful and not nuanced.”

Graumann added that Augstein apparently has an “Israel obsession and “spreads “anti-Jewish resentments. “ His Spiegel columns contribute to an “anti-Israel atmosphere” in the Federal Republic, noted Graumann, whose comments were reported in the main German Jewish newspaper, die Jüdische Allgemeine.

Dr. Alexander Brenner, the former head of Germany’s largest Jewish community in Berlin, told the Post on Friday that he agrees with Wiesenthal Center’s designation of Augstein as their number 9 anti-Semitic and anti-Israel person of the year.

Brenner, who has a seat in the directorate of the Central Council, and in the representation board of the Berlin community, sharply criticized Solomon Korn as an “alibi Jew.” The phrase “alibi Jew” is frequently used by German Jews to describe a small group of fringe Jews who serve to protect anti-Semites and anti-Israel critics from rebuke in the public sphere. Brenner, a popular Jewish leader in Berlin, called on the Central Council to stand behind the Wiesenthal Center and Henryk Broder.

Broder was the first German journalist to term Augstein’s articles anti-Semitic and has labeled the Spiegel author a “flawless ant-Semite” because of his writings. Brenner said Korn’s behavior makes one want “to throw up.” He said Augstein is, “without question an anti-Semite.”

Augstein has told the German media that he does not know what prompted him to be placed on the Wiesenthal list and said the inclusion of him on the list only hurts “critical journalism” because it will be stigmatized as anti-Semitic or racist.

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Father Roy writes:

The essay pasted below will give us food for thought. "The narrative of the Palestinians is the least told story….."   Have you noticed?  Some essays simply skim the surface of a matter and others don’t.  Some essays get right down to the nitty-gritty. 

You’ll learn who Ramzy Baroud is (the author) at the conclusion of his essay.  Click on the link and you’ll notice that the essay is getting circulation in Iran (PressTV).  It’s a small world.  Let’s try to find ways to rejoice and be glad in it. 

Peace, Roy

source: www.presstv.com……

West media distorts Palestinian discourse, consolidates Israeli narrative

By Ramzy Baroud

The conflict with Israel has lasted this long only because the Palestinians are unwilling to accept injustice and refuse to submit to oppression. Israel’s lethal weapons might have changed the landscape of Gaza and Palestine, but the will of Gazans and Palestinians is what has shaped the landscape of Palestine’s history."

What does a Palestinian farmer who is living in a village tucked in between the secluded West Bank hills, a prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail and a Palestinian refugee roaming the Middle East for shelter all have in common?

They are all characters in one single, authentic, solid and cohesive narrative. The problem however, is that western media and academia barely reflect that reality or intentionally distort it, disarticulate it and when necessary, defame its characters.

An authentic Palestinian narrative – one that is positioned within an original Palestinian history and articulated through Palestinian thought – is mostly absent from western media and to a lesser degree, academia. If such consideration is ever provided, everything Palestinian suddenly falls into either a side note of a larger Israeli discourse, or at best, juxtaposed to a pro-Israeli plot that is often concealed with hostility. Palestinian news stories are often disconnected, disjoined news items with seemingly no relation to other news items. They are all marred with negative connotation. In this narrative, a farmer, a prisoner and a refugee barely overlap. Due to this deliberate disconnect, Palestine becomes pieces, ideas, notions, perceptions, but nothing complete or never whole.

On the other hand, an Israeli narrative is almost always positioned within a cohesive plot, depending on the nature of the intellectual, political, academic or religious contexts. Even those who dare to criticize Israel within a mainstream western platform, do so ever prudently, gently and cautiously. The outcome of this typical exercise is that Israel’s sanctified image remains largely intact. In the meantime, Palestinians constantly jockey for validation, representation and space in a well-shielded pro-Israeli narrative.

To counter these misrepresentations, the pieces must be connected to form a collective that would truly epitomize the Palestinian experience – the story and the history behind it. Once that has been attained, there are chances for greater clarity regarding the roots of the conflict, its present manifestations and future prospects. That can only happen if we return to the basics of a protracted tragedy that is draped with the names and stories of individuals. Doing so would ultimately articulate a consistent, generational discourse that deserves to stand on its own, without belittling juxtapositions or belligerent comparisons.

All tragic stories of the greater Palestinian narrative – of those enduring the ongoing ethnic cleansing, those who are fighting for freedom and those who are seeking their right of return have the same a beginning – the Catastrophe, or Nakba. But no end is yet to be written. The storyline is neither simple nor linear. The refugee is fighting for the same freedom sought by the prisoner or the son of an old farmer, part of whose family are refugees in one place or another. It is convoluted and multilayered. It requires serious considerations of all of its aspects and characters.

Perhaps, no other place unites all of these ongoing tragedies like Gaza. Yet as powerful as the Gaza narrative is in its own right, it has been deliberately cut off from urgently related narratives. This is the case whether it is in the rest of the occupied territories or the historical landscape starting with the Nakba. To truly appreciate the situation in Gaza and its story, it must be placed within its proper context like all narratives concerning Palestine. It is essentially a Palestinian story of historical and political dimensions that surpass the current geographic and political boundaries that are demarcated by mainstream media and official narrators. The common failure to truly understand Gaza within an appropriate context whether it is the suffering, the siege, the repeated wars, the struggle, or the steadfastness and the resistance being presented, is largely based on who is telling the story, how it is told, what is included and what is omitted.

Most narratives concerning Palestinians in Western discourses are misleading or deliberately classified into simplified language that carries little resemble to reality..=20 History however, cannot be classified by good vs. bad, heroes vs. villains, moderates vs. extremists. No matter how wicked, bloody or despicable, history also tends to follow rational patterns and predictable courses.

By understanding the reasoning behind historical dialectics, one can achieve more than a simple understanding of what took place in the past. It also becomes possible to chart a fairly reasonable understanding of what lies ahead. Perhaps one of the worst aspects of today’s detached and alienating media is its reproduction of the past and mischaracterization of the present as it is based on simplified terminology. This gives the illusion of being informative, but actually manages to contribute very little to our understanding of the world at large. Such oversimplifications are dangerous because they produce an erroneous understanding of the world, which in turn compels misguided actions.

For these reasons, we are compelled to discover alternative meanings and readings of history. To start, we could try offering historical perspectives which attempt to see the world from the viewpoint of the oppressed – the refugees and the fellahin who have been denied the right to tell their own story amongst many other rights.

This view is not a sentimental one. Far from it. An elitist historical narrative maybe the dominant one, but it is not always the privileged who influence the course of history. History is also shaped by collective movements, actions and popular struggles. By denying this fact, one denies the ability of the collective to affect change. In the case of Palestinians, they are often presented as hapless multitudes or passive victims without a will of their own. This is of course a mistaken perception; the conflict with Israel has lasted this long only because the Palestinians are unwilling to accept injustice and refuse to submit to oppression. Israel’s lethal weapons might have changed the landscape of Gaza and Palestine, but the will of Gazans and Palestinians is what has shaped the landscape of Palestine’s history. This composition of farmers, prisoners, refugees and numerous other manifestations and characters of the oppressed are resilient individuals. It is essential that we understand the complexity of the past and the present to evolve in our understanding of the conflict, not merely to appreciate its involvement, but also to contribute positively to its resolution.

The Palestinian narrative has long either denied any meaningful access to the media or tainted through the very circles that propped up and sanctified Israel’s image as an oasis of democracy and a pivot of civilization. In recent years however, things began to change thanks to developments such as the internet and various global civil society movements. Although it has yet to reach a critical mass or affect a major paradigm shift in public opinion, these voices have been able to impose a long-neglected story that has been seen mostly through Israeli eyes.

A narrative that is centered on the stories reflecting history, reality and aspirations of ordinary people will allow for a genuine understanding of the real dynamics that drive the conflict. These stories that define whole generations of Palestinians are powerful enough to challenge the ongoing partiality and polarization.

The fact is Palestinians are neither potential "martyrs" nor potential "terrorists". They are people who are being denied basic human rights, who have been dispossessed from their lands and are grievously mistreated. They have resisted for over six decades and they will continue to resist until they acquire their fundamental human rights. This is the core of the Palestinian narrative, yet it is the least told story. A true understanding would require a greater exposure of the extraordinary, collective narrative of the "ordinary people."

RB/HMV

Ramzy Baroud is a widely published and translated author. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com…. He has authored several books and contributed to many books, anthologies and academic journals. His books include Searching Jenin, Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion, and The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle.. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). Visit his website: ramzybaroud.net…. More articles by Ramzy Baroud: www.presstv.ir/Contributors/229899.html…