March 2013 Archives


Father Roy writes:  

AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington is scheduled for 3-5 March.  The conference schedule will emphasize "the Iranian threat":  Netanyahu : Only military sanctions will stop Iran.  Let’s bear in mind that Iran has never threatened to attack anybody, only to defend itself if attacked.  The highlights in the following article are mine.  

Peace, Roy


No Obama or Netanyahu, but AIPAC conference still looking to make noise

For the first time in at least seven years, neither the U.S. president nor the Israeli prime minister will attend. In addition, for the second year in a row, no mention of the Palestinians, negative or positive, appears on the conference’s legislative agenda. 

WASHINGTON – Next week’s annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington may be as notable for what — and who — is missing as what is planned.

For the first time in at least seven years, neither the U.S. president nor the Israeli prime minister will attend. In addition, for the second year in a row, no mention of the Palestinians, negative or positive, appears on the conference’s legislative agenda.

Instead, the agenda will focus on the Congress enacting legislation that would designate Israel a “major strategic ally” of the United States — a relationship not enjoyed by any other nation — and on facilitating a U.S. green light should Israel decide to strike Iran. Should the measures being considered by the Senate and the House of Representatives pass, it would constitute the most explicit congressional sanction for military action against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

An official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who spoke on condition of anonymity said the thinking behind this year’s theme is the twin urgencies of what appears to be an accelerated Iranian nuclear program and turbulence in Syria and Egypt, both Israel’s neighbors. The official also said AIPAC remains as committed as ever to advancing the two-state solution and noted that the peace process did not feature on the legislative agenda of last year’s conference, either.

Both emphases dovetail with recent signals from the Israeli government that talks with the Palestinians are not going anywhere soon, and that Iran is the largest looming threat in the region.

The absence of both President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be due to external circumstances more than anything else.

Obama will be visiting Israel just two weeks after the conference — his first visit to the Jewish state as president — obviating the need for the president to deliver another Israel policy speech at AIPAC. In his stead, the administration is sending Vice President Joe Biden, who will address the conference on Monday morning. Obama has been at four of the last six AIPAC conferences.

For his part, Netanyahu is still trying to cobble together a coalition government following Israel’s Jan. 22 elections, in which the prime minister’s Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu faction was weakened. Netanyahu will deliver a video message to AIPAC; Ehud Barak, Israel’s outgoing defense minister, will address the conference in person.

Democratic and Republican leaders in both houses of Congress also will address AIPAC.

Despite the absences, AIPAC expects 13,000 activists, including 2,000 students, to attend the conference — a number commensurate with last year’s record-breaker. AIPAC officials say the number is more remarkable in 2013 because it’s not an election year.

The AIPAC official interviewed by JTA said that part of what motivates the push to name Israel a major strategic ally is an appeal to maintain defense assistance funding, averaging more than $3 billion annually, at a time when both parties are seeking ways to drastically cut spending.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrote congressional appropriators last week to warn that across-the-board “sequestration” cuts due to kick in Friday — unless the White House and Congress achieve a compromise — will hit Israel funding, among other things.

“This is no time to cut aid to an ally,” the AIPAC official said. Conferring major strategic ally upon Israel “would mean that the United States and Israel would work together on a cooperative basis on missile defense, homeland security, energy independence, medical research and innovation and military technology,” the official said.

The push to name Israel a major strategic ally comports with a longstanding preference among some leading Republicans to tweak apart assistance for Israel from other foreign aid, which the conservative wing of the party advocates slashing.

The overriding consideration in such a designation, however, was Israel’s increasingly close security ties with the United States, in the Middle East and across the globe, where the two nations have collaborated on cyber-security issues, the AIPAC official said. The major strategic ally legislation will be introduced in the House and Senate in the coming days.

Separately, a nonbinding resolution that would call on the president to support Israel “if it is compelled to act against the Iranian nuclear threat” will be introduced in the Senate. The House will consider legislation that would authorize the president to sanction any entity that trades with Iran.

The conference schedule heavily emphasizes the Iranian threat, Middle East turmoil and the perceived need to intensify further the U.S.-Israel security alliance. There are a few sessions dealing with the Palestinian issue — some with a pronounced skeptical tone when it comes to the peace process.

“Why, despite persistent efforts and an acknowledgment of the general outline for such an agreement, have the parties failed to attain a negotiated peace?” reads the promotional material for one session.

This year’s “AIPAC action principles,” to be considered by the array of American Jewish groups that makes up AIPAC’s executive committee, mention the Palestinians only in the context of keeping them from advancing toward statehood outside the confines of negotiations but do not explicitly endorse the two-state solution. Most of the principles address the security relationship, as they did last year.

Missing also, however, from the AIPAC legislative agenda is any effort to limit U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority. AIPAC had pushed such efforts in December, after the U.N. General Assembly vote in which the Palestinians gained boosted recognition as a non-member state, but they fell by the wayside in part because of mixed signals from the Israeli government.

The conference runs March 3-5, ending with the annual AIPAC lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill next Tuesday.


The answer to this rhetorical question of course is ‘NO’!

The following article that appeared in ‘The Times of Israel‘ is as ludicrous as it is unfounded. The US is not going to attack Iran as it would be suicidal – economically as well as militarily! 

If Iran is attacked, the Straits of Hormuz are closed and the US starts losing valuable petro-dollars. The only option it then has it to send in a ground force and create another terrible quagmire like Iraq and Afghanistan, except that the Iranian resistance to invasion will likely be stronger than both of these other countries put together.

The US is not going to attack Iran, and if she was considering such an insane move it would be for the sake of her own strategic interests and not Israel’s. Enough said.

Father Dave


Obama to tell Netanyahu US gearing up for Iran strike

During upcoming visit, president will convey message that window for American military operation opens in June, TV report says

When he visits Israel next month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.

Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike, the report said, citing unnamed officials.

In London Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said an Iran with nuclear weapons was “simply unacceptable” and warned the time limit for a diplomatic solution was running out.

“As we have repeatedly made clear, the window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot remain open forever,” said Kerry, on his first international tour as America’s top diplomat. “But it is open today. It is open now and there is still time, but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to negotiate in good faith.

“We are prepared to negotiate in good faith, in mutual respect, in an effort to avoid whatever terrible consequences could follow failure, and so the choice really is in the hands of the Iranians. And we hope they will make the right choice,” Kerry added.

A fresh round of high-level diplomatic talks were set to begin Tuesday in Kazakhstan — the first since last June’s meeting in Moscow failed to convince Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level close to that used for nuclear warheads.

You can read the rest of this article here:…


This story from China’s ‘Global Times‘ seems to encapsulate everything that is wrong in Israel/Palestine!

Non-violent protests are erupting across the West Bank for all the most understandable of reasons: Israel continues its settlement expansion, the arrests of Palestinians without charge or trial continue unabated, and most recently a young father of two – Arafat Jaradat- seems to have been tortured to death in an Israeli prison! But the Israeli government seems to see none of this, or at least takes none of it into account when it points the finger at the Palestinian authority for failing to quell the unrest!

What will it take for the Netanyahu government to see that the real problem here is not the hunger-strikes or the protest marches but the acts of violence, robbery and intimidation that inspire them? A strong push from the US might awaken Mr Netanyahu, but none is likely to come.

Father Dave

Protesters crowd the streets after the death of Arafat Jaradat

Protesters crowd the streets of Seir after the death of Arafat Jaradat (pic – Palestinian Solidarity Project)


Israel demands Palestine reduce tensions

Israel said on Sunday it sent “an unequivocal demand” to Palestinian leaders to quell unrest, as thousands of detainees staged hunger strikes in Israeli prisons and their supporters clashed with security forces in the occupied West Bank.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the same time ordered the transfer of January arrears of tax revenues that Israel collects on the behalf of the Palestinians but has been withholding, the government said in a statement.”Israel passed an unequivocal demand to the Palestinian Authority to calm down the territory,” the statement said.”In order that the non-payment of taxes that Israel collects for the Palestinians should not serve as an excuse for the Palestinian Authority not to calm the territory, Netanyahu instructed the money for January to be transferred,” it added.

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave no indication the Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, would issue any call for calm, and blamed Israel for the spike in unrest.

Protests in the West Bank have been mounting, both in support of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, 11 of whom are on open-ended hunger strike, and against settlement expansion.

An official said almost all Palestinians in Israeli prisons were on a one-day hunger strike Sunday in protest at the sudden death of an inmate due to what authorities said appeared to have been cardiac arrest.

“It’s 4,500, nearly everyone in fact,” Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP.

Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two, from Sair near Hebron in the southern West Bank, died on Saturday in an Israeli jail from what prison authorities said appeared to have been cardiac arrest.

Protesters in his village and around Hebron city on Sunday stoned Israeli security forces who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Palestinian witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

“In Hebron there are 100 Palestinians hurling rocks and rolling burning tyres at security forces,” an Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP, adding that a smaller group clashed with Israeli forces in the Halhul area, on the city’s outskirts.

She said the army responded with “riot disposal means,” without elaborating.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip marched in solidarity.

Israeli media link the unrest and Israel’s concerns about possible escalation to next month’s visit by US President Barack Obama to the Jewish state and to the Palestinians.

“Officials in Jerusalem will begin to look for all kinds of ways to appease the Palestinians and to cool tempers on the ground,” the Yediot Aharonot newspaper said on Sunday.


Uri Avnery raises the question that’s on everybody’s lips.  Will the current turmoil in the West Bank continue to escalate? Is Netanyahu trying to foment that escalation? Is it all timed to strategically coincide with the Obama visit? These questions are difficult to answer, but, as Avnery points out, on one point we can be clear: while the Palestinian resistance is currently non-violent it cannot remain so for ever.

The First Intifada began non-violently. This is often forgotten. Ongoing imprisonments and aggression from the IDF eventually provoked a violent reaction from the Palestinians and hence the whole event is remembered as a virtual war. At the moment the Palestinian resistance is again largely made up of non-violent protests, hunger-strikes, and the world-wide BDS campaign. But continued provocations will eventually take their toll, after which the spin doctors will depict the uprising as an unprovoked explosion of Arab aggression!

Will Obama be able to leverage any positive influence in this process? It is doubtful, but while the influence of the US recedes into the background, the partisan support from the surrounding Arab nations and from the rest of the world is on the increase!

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

The Third Intifada?

by Uri Avnery

IS THIS the third intifada? This question was raised this week by a number of Israeli security experts. And not only by them – their Palestinian colleagues were almost as perplexed.

All over the West Bank, Palestinian youth threw stones at Israeli soldiers. All the 3500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons took part in a three-day hunger strike.

The immediate reason was the death of a young Palestinian man during interrogation by the Shin Bet. The autopsy showed no reason for the death. It was no heart attack, as first (and automatically) claimed by Israeli officials and their stooges, the so-called “military correspondents”. So was it torture, as practically all Palestinians believe?

Then there were the four prisoners on a hunger strike which has already lasted 150 days (mitigated by infusions). Since almost every Palestinian family has now – or had in the past – at least one member in prison, this generates much excitement.

So is this IT?

THE UNCERTAINTY of security officials stems from the fact that both the first and the second intifada broke out in an unexpected way. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships were taken by surprise.

The Israeli surprise was especially – well,  surprising. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were, and still are, full of Israeli informers. Decades of occupation have allowed the Security Service to recruit thousands of them by bribery or blackmail. So how did they fail to know?

The Palestinian leadership, then in Tunis, was equally in the dark. It took Yasser Arafat several days to realize what was happening and laud the “Stone Children”.

The reason for the surprise was that both intifadas were completely spontaneous. No one planned them. Because of this, no informer could warn his handlers.

The trigger for the first one was a road accident. In December 1987, an Israeli driver killed several Palestinian workers near Gaza. All hell broke loose. The second was triggered by a deliberate Israeli provocation after the failure of the 2000 Camp David conference.

The Israeli army was quite unprepared for the First Intifada. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin famously exclaimed “Break their bones!” which some commanders took literally and carried out faithfully. A lot of arms and legs were broken with rifle butts.

Though the second intifada was also unexpected, this time the army was prepared for any event. Troops were trained in advance. No bones were broken this time. Instead, sharpshooters were placed near unit commanding officers. When a non-violent demonstration approached, the officer pointed out the ringleader, and the sharpshooter killed him. Very soon the non-violent uprising turned into a very violent one.

I don’t know what the army plans for the third intifada. But one can be certain that even if it starts as a non-violent mass protest, it will not stay so for long.

TWO WEEKS ago, the Israeli Channel 10 showed a documentary about Ariel Sharon’s manipulation of the Second Intifada.

It started when Prime Minister Ehud Barak allowed Opposition Chief Sharon to visit the Temple Mount, accompanied by hundreds of policemen. Since Sharon was a pork-eating atheist, there was no religious motive for the visit. It was a provocation, pure and simple.

When Sharon approached the Muslim shrines, he was greeted with stones. The police killed the stone-throwers with live ammunition. And lo and behold, the Second Intifada was on the way.

Arafat in far-away Tunis had nothing to do with it. But once the intifada had started, he embraced it. The local Fatah cadres took command.

Soon after, Sharon came to power. He did everything possible to stoke the fires. In the documentary, his closest assistants were interviewed at length and disclosed that Sharon did this quite deliberately.

His aim was to cause a general uprising, in order to give him a legitimate reason for re-conquering the West Bank, after parts of it were turned over to the Palestinian authority in the Oslo agreements. And indeed, a large number of suicide attacks and other outrages provided the necessary national and international legitimization for Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israeli troops re-entered all West Bank towns and spread death and destruction. In particular, the Palestinian Authority’s offices were systematically ransacked, including the Education and Social Services ministries. Arafat was surrounded and isolated in the Ramallah Mukata’ah (“Compound”), and kept a virtual prisoners for years, till his murder.

In the film, the advisors readily admitted that Sharon did not even contemplate a political initiative to end the intifada – his sole aim was to vanquish the Palestinian resistance by brute force.  During this intifada 4944 Palestinians were killed, as against 1011 Israelis. (In the preceding intifada, 1593 Palestinians and 84 Israelis found their death.)

Israelis believe that Sharon’s brutal methods were a great success. The Second Intifada sputtered out.

WILL THERE be a Third Intifada? If so, when? Has it already begun or were the recent events only a kind of general rehearsal?

No one knows, least of all our security forces. There is no reliable information from the agents. Again, everything is spontaneous.

One thing is certain: Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s heir, is very much afraid of it. He waited for a few days, and then, once he was sure that this was not a general uprising, he ordered his American-trained police forces to intervene and put an end to the demonstrations.

More than that, he publicly condemned the outbreaks and accused Binyamin Netanyahu of deliberately fomenting them.

One of the causes for this suspicion was that on Friday the Israeli police did not prevent young Palestinians from reaching the Temple Mount (“Haram al-Sharif”), as they do frequently when there is the slightest suspicion of coming unrest.

I put the question to a circle of friends: Assuming for a moment that Abbas is right, what might have been Netanyahu’s motive?

One answered: He is afraid that Barak Obama will, in his upcoming visit to Jerusalem, demand the resumption of the “peace process”. Netanyahu will tell him that, in view of the new intifada, that is impossible.

Another volunteered: Netanyahu will tell the President that Abbas has lost his authority and therefore is not a viable partner.

Yet another: Netanyahu will tell the Israeli public that we have an emergency at hand, so we need to set up a Government of National Unity at once. All Zionist parties must be pushed by their voters to join.

And so forth.

BE THAT as it may, the pertinent question is whether a spontaneous outbreak is in the offing.

Frankly, I don’t know. I doubt if anyone does.

The absence of any genuine peace initiative makes another intifada probable at some point. How long can the harsh occupation continue without a serious challenge?

On the other hand, it does not appear that the great mass of the Palestinian people is mentally prepared for a fight. In the occupied territories, a new bourgeoisie has come to life, which has a lot to lose. Under the auspices of the US, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has succeeded in stimulating some sort of economy, in which quite a number flourish.

The prospect of another round of violence does not appeal to these people, nor does it attract poor people, who are already fully occupied with their daily survival. To get these people to rise up, you need an extremely provocative event. This can happen tomorrow morning, or within weeks or months, or not at all.

Abbas accuses Hamas of fomenting unrest in the West Bank, which is governed by Fatah, while Hamas itself, at the same time, is keeping the cease-fire in its own dominion, the Gaza Strip. Actually, both regimes, each in its own part of Palestine, are interested in quiet while accusing the other of collaborating with the occupation.

(A century and a half ago, Karl Marx denounced the efforts of his socialist adversary, Ferdinand Lassalle, to set up workers’ cooperatives. Marx asserted that once the workers had something to lose, they would not rise up anymore. If you want a revolution, Lenin is supposed to have said, “The worse things are, the better”.)

THE MORE people on both sides talk about the Third Intifada, the less it is likely to happen. As the Germans used to say, Revolutions foretold are not going to happen.

But if there is no end to the occupation in sight, the Third Intifada will break out one day, quite suddenly, when nobody has been talking about it, when everybody on both sides was thinking about other things. 

read more wisdom from Uri Avnery on the Gush Shalom website


Father Roy writes: Please see my highlights in the article pasted below.  Note the concluding paragraph in particular.  This incident was not reported in the US media.  It was, however, reported by an Israeli daily newspaper.   Peace, Roy


Palestinian woman subject of another Jewish hate crime in Jerusalem

On Monday, February 25 a Palestinian woman was attacked by a mob of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women in broad daylight at the light rail station in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian woman was punched by one passing Jewish woman in an unprovoked attack, before the Jewish woman’s friends joined in, managing to tear off the Palestinian’s headscarf off as they rained blows on her body.

The Israeli daily newspaper Maariv reported that the light rail security guard, in addition to around 100 religious Jewish men, stood by at the Kiryat Moshe rail station watching the beating and doing nothing.

Dorit Yardan Dotan, an eyewitness who captured the assult with her camera phone, told Maariv that she was horrified by the violence and that the security guard was even smiling.

There were more than 100 Orthodox Jews including Yeshiva students who watched an Arab woman being beaten," Dotan said. "She was escorted by an elderly man before a heated argument erupted and people shouted. I couldn’t understand the motive behind that, and all of a sudden they all attacked the Arab woman beating her severely."

Hate crimes are not uncommon for Palestinians living in Jerusalem or in the ’48 territories. Ynet reported that on February 24, a Palestinian man in his 40’s who works for the Tel Aviv Municipality as a street cleaner was assaulted by 20 Jewish youth, who targeted his head.

As a result, Hassan Usruf had to undergo surgery on his jaw while suffering injuries made to his eye socket, but no arrests were made and his attackers remain unpunished.

In August 2012, dozens of Jewish teenagers beat up three Palestinian youth in Zion Square, West Jerusalem. The mob relentlessly kicked and punched the Palestinians, and shouted racist slurs and chants such as "Death to Arabs!" over and over again as more than 100 bystanders stood by watching the lynching without interfering.

One of the Palestinian youth, 17 year old Jamal Julani, was beaten unconsciousness and had to be resuscitated on site after the mob ran away. Julani had to be hospitalized, and has no recollection of the incident.

In the aftermath of the lynching, Israeli police arrested several Jewish teenagers, the youngest being 13 year old. One of the suspects, a 15 year old, defiantly told the court, "For my part he [Julani] can die. He’s an Arab."

Nimrod Aloni, the head of one of Tel Aviv’s colleges for the Institute for Educational Thought said of the mob attack, "This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban, and K.K.K. This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like."