This press-release just in from Gush-Shalom – the Israeli ‘Peace Bloc’. It’s a cynical reading of the situation – accusing the politicians of deliberately trading blood for votes – but how else are we supposed to make sense of this fresh outbreak of hostilities? Father Dave
Press Release 11/14/2012
Avnery: Netanyahu and Barak have decided to deliberately violate a cease-fire which had just been stabilized.
At the price of great and ongoing suffering on both sides of the border, the government’s aim had been accomplished: social issues will be removed from the public agenda and the election campaign
“Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have decided – for the second time in a row the State of Israel will conduct general elections under the shadow of war in the Gaza Strip. The cease-fire which already started to stabilize has been broken deliberately and shattered to pieces. The inhabitants of the communities of southern Israel, who just started to breathe freely, are sent right back to air raid alarms and to running to shelters” said former Knesset Member Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom.
“At the price of great suffering on both sides of the border, the government’s aim has been accomplished: the social issues, which threatened to assume prominence in these elections, have been pushed aside and removed from the agenda of the elections campaign. Forgotten, too, is the brave attempt of Mahmoud Abbas to address the Israeli public opinion. In the coming weeks, the headlines will be filled with constant war and death, destruction and bloodshed. When it ends at last, it will be revealed that no goal has been achieved and that the problems remain the same, or perhaps exacerbated. “
Details:Adam Keller, Gush Shalom +972-54-2340749
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.
In defence of UN Palestine rapporteur Richard Falk
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”.
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.
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.
If Chomsky can find a visit to Gaza encouraging then we all have grounds for hope!
source: Israel Hayom
The outspoken intellectual was a guest in the coastal area of Rafah for two days. Speaking after the conference, Chomsky told Reuters he was stirred by how Palestinians continued to conduct themselves.
“[My] main impression is how inspiring it is to see people living under extreme duress but nevertheless remain vibrant, vigorous, active, hopeful, resilient and continuing the struggle,” he said.
Chomsky was denied entry to the West Bank in May 2010 by Israeli immigration officials. His intention was to visit Birzeit University and the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah in the West Bank.
An Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman said immigration officials at the border crossing had misunderstood Chomsky’s intentions, thinking initially he was also due to visit Israel.
Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has frequently and outspokenly criticized Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and has openly slammed U.S. regional policy.
Later on Saturday he visited Gaza port and voiced anger over Israeli naval actions in seizing an international pro-Palestinian activist ship in the Mediterranean Sea to prevent it breaching Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
“I should say that every time Israel stops a boat, that’s another blow to its diminishing legitimacy and another element of support, both to the those who are resisting internally and to those who are opposing the policies outside, and sooner or later the wave will sweep over the barriers,” Chomsky told a news conference, standing in front of posters saying “Freedom Flotilla.”
The ship Estelle was carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement, and goodwill items such as children’s books, a mission spokesman said earlier on Saturday.
Palestinians describe the curbs as collective punishment for the Gaza Strip’s 1.6 million residents, and supporters abroad have mounted several attempts to break the blockade by sea.
Most were stopped by Israel, and in an incident in May 2010, Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turkish activists in clashes aboard their ship after they attacked the Israeli soldiers.
An inquiry into that incident commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon found that Israel’s Gaza blockade was legal but faulted the Israel Navy for using excessive force.
Chomsky last visited Israel and the West Bank in 1997, when he lectured at Ben-Gurion University and also at Birzeit.
This just in from Gush-Shalom:
Press Release Oct. 22, 2012
The Israeli activists detained on board the “Estelle” were released
Elik Elhanan: excessive force was used against us, without any reason
Electric shocks by taser out of vengeful hatred
A Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators
“I am now on my way home, but I keep thinking of my shipmates, my fellow activists from abroad who are still imprisoned under harsh conditions and undergo interrogation by the Shabak Security Service, among them Parliament Members from several countries,” said Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists who had sailed aboard the Gaza-bound Swedish ship “Estelle”. Today, the court ordered his release and that of two other detained Israelis, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor. “At first they tried to charge us with all kinds of very serious felonies, such as ‘aiding the enemy’. The court rejected this out of hand. Today they tried a article on the law books called “Attempted infiltration into a part of the Land of Israel which is not part of the State of Israel” (sic). But the court threw out this charge, too”. The detained activists were represented by Attorney Gaby Lasky and her team, who have considerable experience with Human Rights cases.
The released detainees were cheerfully greeted by peace activists who arrived at the courtroom, among them Elik Elhanan’s parents – Rami Elhanan and Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is the daughter of the late Major General Matti Peled. Smadar Elhanan, Elik’s sister, was killed in a suicide bombing at the center of Jerusalem – a harsh experience which made surviving family members all the more determined to strive for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, so as to prevent further casualties on either side.
“I have gone though difficult days, but I certainly do not regret sailing on that boat. I knew what I was getting into” said Elik Elhanan. “During the voyage I made a special contact with Evangelis, a Member of the Greek Parliament who sailed with us. When the Naval Commandos came aboard and while we were blocking their way to the bridge, Evangelis told me we have generated in him a love for the people of Israel and a hope for a better future in the Middle East. Shortly afterwards they separated us. Yesterday evening, when they put Dror Feiler in our cell, he told us that Evangelis had been beaten by the Shabak interrogators. The Shabak lied shamelessly to the Consuls and representatives of foreign countries, telling them that their citizens and MPs were being treated well.” Dror Feiler, who was born in Israel and whose mother Pnina lives in Kibbutz Yad Hana, gave up his Israeli citizenship after moving to Stockholm, and was therefore separated most of the time from the Israeli detainees.
“They used a completely disproportional amount of force against us” continues Elhanan. “When the Navy arrived to take us over, Yonatan Shapira counted no less than fifteen vessels surrounding us on all sides. Large and small ships and boats, a ship carrying a helicopter, as well as the Zodiacs of the Naval Commandos. Fifteen armed naval vessels against one small civilian boat carrying games for the children of Gaza. We must have disturbed very much the Navy and those who give orders to the Navy.
When they came aboard and we blocked their way, the soldiers knew exactly who I was. They shouted in Hebrew: ‘Elhanan, you will pay for your Leftism!’ and used the taser to give me electric shocks. Even after they completed their takeover of the boat, they continued to use the taser and administer more shocks. But if they think they could deter me and those who sailed with me, they are mistaken. The siege of Gaza is an ongoing crime and it must be ended. We will continue the struggle”.
Elik Elhanan +972-2-5700112 or via Nurit Peled-Elhanan +972-547-578703
Adv. Gaby Lasky +972-54-4418988
Father Roy writes: According to the article pasted below, an anonymous Palestinian faction fired two rockets into Israel last evening “despite” Israel’s earlier warning that Israel might re-occupy Gaza. One might say that the rockets were fired “because” of Israel’s neverending threats. Notice in the article that the faction has claimed responsibility for the two rockets. Have you noticed? Arab Freedom Fighters generally do claim responsibility for their violent resistance. Which is not the case with the CIA or the Mossad or other groups who involve themselves in false flag operations. Israel could stop the bombings altogether if Israel would quit the Siege of Gaza. And end the occupation of Palestinian territories. And stop all the thunderous threats and boasting. And comply with International Law. And learn to share Jerusalem, for starters.
One wonders whether Israel can be convinced that peace would be beneficial for Israel’s economy. What better incentive can there be? Here’s a possible peace dividend: Valley of Peace (03:41). We’ve got the technology to make it happen. Cooperative efforts would be required, of course.
I’ve done a bit of highlighting in the article pasted below. You’ll notice that Hamas still does not trust Israel’s government. I added a postscript at the very, very bottom.
Rockets fired into southern Israel despite Israeli threat to re-occupy Gaza
On the night of Sept. 9, an anonymous Palestinian faction from Gaza Strip fired two Grad rockets into Israel, damaging two buildings in city of Netivot and causing light injuries to thirteen Israelis, including four people who suffered from shock.
According to Jerusalem Post, one of the Grad rockets hit a home in the city of Netivot while the second struck the city of Beersheba, exploded in an open area of the city.
The attack came despite the latest Israeli threats, such as most recent Israeli defense minister’s statement of readiness to re-occupy Gaza. Indeed, it seems that there are factions actually aiming at dragging Israel to a military operation or a war in Gaza, regardless of the consequences it would have on Gaza residents, who are already suffering due to the conflict and are often being forced to leave their homeland and immigrate.
The new attack came hours after Salafist militants named ” the Mujahedeen Shura Council” claimed rockets fired into Israel is in response to the killing of six people in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza last week. In addition, the rocket fire is said to be in repsonse to Israeli policies towards Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Beersheba mosque, where Israel held a wine festival this week.
“We claim responsibility for firing two rockets, on Saturday morning, against the region of Sdot Negev,” said the statement signed by the hardline Islamist splinter group, called the Mujahedeen Shura Council.
The group also said that, the Hamas government is cracking down on its members in an attempt to halt rocket fire into Israel.
“Security forces confiscated homemade projectiles and light weapons belonging to Salafi militants, and detained 20 fighters,” the group added.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said, a rocket hit Israel’s Eshkol region early Saturday, without causing injuries or damage, and another missile alert had sounded.
Another red color alert, the official warning of a rocket, was issued in the area this morning, but it was not immediately clear if the rocket had hit Israel, she added.
It is worth mentioning that, Salafist groups accuse the Hamas government in Gaza of showing weakness against Israel and its failure to impose Islamic law.
However, Israeli forces killed six Palestinians, in separate attacks, on Wednesday and Thursday, claiming they targeted militants firing rockets into the Negev and planting bombs near the border. According to Palestinian media, all of the dead were civilians.
Moreover, according to Alresalah news, Hamas’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said in an interview with Al-Aqsa TV of Hamas that his government has been honest and maintained its political positions as it will never recognize Israel and will not give up a single inch of Palestinian land.
Haniyeh stressed that the resistance in Gaza has all elements of force and can protect Gaza Strip from any attack or aggression by the Israeli occupation army.
“We emphasized resistance option in order to liberate the land. We now live in a stage that gathers reconstruction and liberation and resistance,” Haniyeh added.
(Peers…. Please review this article which comes from Hamas: Pause for Peace – New York Times. It’s not the least bit out-of-date. R)