israel and palestine

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The following letter was written by American Catholic Bishop, Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and was addressed to US Secretary of State, John Kerry. Bishop Pates is the chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Forthright statements like these are an indication that the tide is turning. I don’t expect that the US government will pay much attention to Bishop Pates, but as the trickle of protest from the church gradually builds into a torrent they will find it increasingly hard to resist being caught in the current.

Father Dave

Most Reverend Richard E. Pates

Bishop Richard E. Pates

source: : www.us…

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C St NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

As Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I wrote you last May regarding the injustice being perpetrated in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Earlier this month, I made a solidarity visit to the Cremisan Valley together with brother bishops from Europe, Canada and South Africa. Enclosed you will find a statement that summarizes our reflections on the sad state of affairs.

As I stood amidst the beauty of this agricultural valley and heard the testimony of the Christian families whose lands, livelihoods, and centuries-old family traditions are threatened, I was simply astounded by the injustice of it all.

On the eve of the Supreme Court of Israel taking up this case, I ask you once again to urge the Government of Israel to cease and desist in its efforts to unnecessarily confiscate Palestinian lands in the Occupied West Bank. As I said earlier, the Cremisan Valley is a microcosm of a protracted pattern that has serious implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and your commendable efforts to achieve a peace agreement.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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This latest scandal concerns some comments allegedly made by former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, as reported by former Knesset member Einat Wilf. Personally, I find Wilf’s comments more astonishing than those attributed to Straw!

According to Wilf, during a debate in British Parliament, Straw cited two major obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace:

  1. The “unlimited” funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US
  2. Germany’s “obsession” with defending Israel.

Wilf’s astonished response was ““I nearly fell off my rickety British chair” and “I thought British diplomats, including former ones, were still capable of a measure of rational thought.”

It’s not clear whether Wilf considers both of the statements attributed to Straw to be equally crazy. Or perhaps it’s not criticism of AIPAC or Germany as such that she considers self-evidently baseless but simply the idea that Israel could be responsible for the impasse?

Certainly Wilf seems to think that her explanation for the conflict – “Arab and Palestinian unwillingness to accept the Jewish people’s legitimate right to a state of their own” – should be accepted without the need for further discussion!

Father Dave

Jack Straw

Jack Straw

source: www.timesofisrael.com…

Ex-UK FM: ‘Unlimited’ Jewish funds control US policy, block Mideast peace

Jack Straw unleashes anti-Semitic diatribe at forum held in House of Commons, according to former MK Einat Wilf

Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reportedly said during a debate in the British parliament that “unlimited” funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US are used to control American policy in the Middle East.

The comments were made last week during the Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum in the British House of Commons, according to former Knesset member Einat Wilf.

Wilf was participating in the debate and posted what she said were Straw’s comments on herFacebook page.

Straw said, according to Wilf, that the greatest obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians and her Arab neighbors are the “unlimited” funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US, as well as Germany’s “obsession” with defending Israel.

Wrote Wilf: “I nearly fell off my rickety British chair today when former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw spoke at the Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum in the British House of Commons. Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said ‘unlimited’ funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US are used to control and divert American policy in the region and that Germany’s ‘obsession’ with defending Israel were the problem.

“I guess he neglected to mention Jewish control of the media….”

Wilf told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Sunday that “It was appalling to listen to Britain’s former foreign secretary. His remarks reflect prejudice of the worst kind.” She added: “We’re used to hearing groundless accusations from Palestinian envoys but I thought British diplomats, including former ones, were still capable of a measure of rational thought.”

Wilf, a member of Knesset from 2010 to 2013 (Labor, and then the breakaway Independence party), said she repeatedly stressed in the debate that the root of the conflict lay in the Palestinian and Arab refusal to accept Israel’s sovereign legitimacy as a Jewish state. “Throughout the debate I reiterated that the origin of the conflict was the Arab and Palestinian unwillingness to accept the Jewish people’s legitimate right to a state of their own, and that as long as that willingness is absent there will be no true solution.”

read the rest of this article here

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Noam Chomsky has to be one of the most brilliant minds of this generation, and his commitment to justice for the Palestinian people is beyond question. Even so, I must confess that I find his pessimism debilitating at times!

Perhaps Chomsky is just a realist and it is me who lives in unrealistic hope for a Palestinian state. Certainly, as he points out in this article, there is nothing going on at present that would suggest that any viable ‘two-state solution’ is around the corner. Even so, I am a man of faith, and believe, to quote Martin Luther King Jr., that while the arc of history is long, “it bends towards justice!”

Father Dave

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

source: www.info…

Israel’s West Bank Plans Will Leave Palestinians Very Little

By Noam Chomsky

August 17, 2013 “Information Clearing House –   The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks beginning in Jerusalem proceed within a framework of assumptions that merit careful thought.

One prevailing assumption is that there are two options: either a two-state settlement will be reached, or there will be a “shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality — a state ‘from the sea to the river’,” an outcome posing “an immediate existential threat of the erasure of the identity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” because of what is termed “the demographic problem,” a future Palestinian majority in the single state.

This particular formulation is by former Israeli Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin, but the basic assumptions are near universal in political commentary and scholarship. They are, however, crucially incomplete. There is a third option, the most realistic one: Israel will carry forward its current policies with full U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support, sprinkled with some mild phrases of disapproval.

The policies are quite clear. Their roots go back to the 1967 war and they have been pursued with particular dedication since the Oslo Accords of September 1993.

The Accords determined that Gaza and the West Bank are an indivisible territorial entity. Israel and the U.S. moved at once to separate them, which means that any autonomy Palestinians might gain in the West Bank will have no direct access to the outside world.

A second step was to carry forward the creation of a vastly expanded Greater Jerusalem, incorporating it within Israel, as its capital. This is in direct violation of Security Council orders and is a serious blow to any hope for a viable Palestinian entity. A corridor to the east of the new Greater Jerusalem incorporates the settler town of Ma’aleh Adumim, established in the 1970s but built primarily after the Oslo Accords, virtually bisecting the West Bank.

Corridors to the north including other settler towns divide what is to remain under some degree of Palestinian control — “Bantustans,” as they were called by one of the main architects of the policy, Ariel Sharon, in a reference to the territory set aside for black South Africans during the apartheid era.

Meanwhile Israel is incorporating the territory on the Israeli side of the “separation wall” cutting through the West Bank, taking arable land and water resources and Palestinian villages.

Included are the settlement blocs that “will remain part of Israel in any possible future peace agreement,” as stated by Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev as the current negotiations were announced.

The International Court of Justice ruled that all of this is illegal, and the Security Council had already ruled that all of the settlements are illegal. The U.S. joined the world in accepting that conclusion in the early years of the occupation. But under Ronald Reagan, the position was changed to “harmful to peace,” and Barack Obama has weakened it further to “not helpful to peace.”

Israel has also been clearing the Jordan Valley of Palestinians while establishing Jewish settlements, sinking wells, and otherwise preparing for eventual integration of the region within Israel.

That will complete the isolation of any West Bank Palestinian entity. Meanwhile huge infrastructure projects throughout the West Bank, from which Palestinians are barred, carry forward the integration to Israel, and presumably eventual annexation.

The areas that Israel is taking over will be virtually free of Arabs. There will be no new “demographic problem” or civil rights or anti-apartheid struggle, contrary to what many advocates of Palestinian rights anticipate in a single state.

There remain open questions. Notably, pre-Obama, U.S. presidents have prevented Israel from building settlements on the E1 site — a controversial area in the West Bank that Israel hopes to develop — which would complete the separation of Greater Jerusalem from Palestinian-controlled area. What will happen here is uncertain.

As the negotiations opened, Israel made its intentions clear by announcing new construction in East Jerusalem and scattered settlements, while also extending its “national priority list” of settlements that receive special subsidies to encourage building and inducements for Jewish settlers.

Obama made his intentions clear by appointing as chief negotiator Martin Indyk, whose background is in the Israeli lobby, a close associate of negotiator and presidential adviser Dennis Ross, whose guiding principle has been that Israel has “needs,” which plainly overcome mere Palestinian wants.

These developments bring to the fore a second common assumption: that Palestinians have been hindering the peace process by imposing preconditions. In reality, the U.S. and Israel impose crucial preconditions. One is that the process must be in the hands of the United States, which is an active participant in the conflict on Israel’s side, not an “honest broker.” A second is that the illegal Israel settlement activities must be allowed to continue.

There is an overwhelming international consensus in support of a two-state settlement on the internationally recognized border, perhaps with “minor and mutual adjustments” of this 1949 cease-fire line, in the wording of much earlier U.S. policy. The consensus includes the Arab states and the Organization of Islamic States (including Iran). It has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel since 1976, when the U.S. vetoed a resolution to this effect brought by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

The rejectionist record continues to the present. Washington’s most recent veto of a Security Council resolution on Palestinian territory was in February 2011, a resolution calling for implementation of official U.S. policy — an end to expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements. And the rejectionist record goes far beyond the Security Council.

Also misleading is the question whether the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would accept a “Palestinian state.” In fact, his administration was the first to countenance this possibility when it came into office in 1996, following Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, who rejected this outcome. Netanyahu’s associate David bar-Illan explained that some areas would be left to Palestinians, and if they wanted to call them “a state,” Israel would not object — or they could call them “fried chicken.”

His response reflects the operative attitude of the U.S.-Israel coalition to Palestinian rights.

In the region, there is great skepticism about Washington’s current revival of the “peace process.” It is not hard to see why.

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Secretary Kerry’s determination to get the Palestinian-Israeli issues finally resolved seems to be making Netanyahu increasingly nervous.  President Obama has sent General Martin Dempsey’s to Israel because there are concerns that Israel might be planning a strike on Iran’s nuclear program. General Dempsey is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a post once held by Colin Powell.  What will Dempsey and Bibi be talking about today? 

US Senator John McCain has called General Dempsey’s warning against attack on Syria ‘disingenuous’.  (AIPAC, CUFI, Lindsey Graham and the NEOCONs stand in agreement with Senator McCain.)  The general public’s attention is solidly fixated on the sexual shenanigans of three American Jews (Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Bob Filner) whose stories are much more titillating than Dempsey’s.  Nevertheless, please read the following news report carefully.  The highlights are mine. 

President Obama needs the support of America’s peacemakers now more than ever before.  Contact the White House.   

Peace, Roy  

Father Roy

Father Roy

source: www.timesofisrael.com…

Top US general visiting Israel amid Iran, Syria worries

Martin Dempsey to meet Israeli leaders from Sunday evening; Netanyahu warns that new Iranian president won’t change policy

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey will be the guest of Israel’s chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, and will also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Dempsey’s visit, first reported on by Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth, comes amid concerns that Israel might be planning a strike on Iran’s nuclear program. On Sunday, Iran was inaugurating new president Hasan Rouhani, touted by some as a relative moderate who may attempt to open a window to the West. Netanyahu, however, told his cabinet Sunday morning that the new leader would continue the policies of his hardline predecessor.

With at least some Hezbollah forces tied down in the fighting in Syria, and the organization experiencing political blowback in Lebanon for its support of the Assad regime, the US may be concerned that Israeli leaders believe the cost of an Iran strike — especially in terms of rocket strikes on Israeli cities from across the border — has dropped significantly, according to the report.

In July, Netanyahu told NBC’s “Face the Nation” that Iran was getting “closer and closer to the bomb,” and that “they’re edging up to the red line.”

Netanyahu said, “They haven’t crossed it yet. They’re also building faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate — that is, within a few weeks.”

“I won’t wait until it’s too late,” Netanyahu vowed at the time.

A report by the US-based Institute for Science and International Security last week said that Iran could break out to a nuclear bomb by mid-2014 if it went ahead with a plan to install thousands of new centrifuges. Tehran maintains its program is peaceful.

Last August, Dempsey demonstrated the gap between the Israeli and American sense of urgency over the Iranian nuclear program when he told a press conference in London that an Israeli strike would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program. I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.”

He said that intelligence was inconclusive when it came to Iran’s intentions. An American-led international sanctions regime “could be undone if [Iran] was attacked prematurely,” he added.

Just hours ahead of Dempsey’s visit, Netanyahu upped his rhetoric against Iran’s nuclear program, citing Rouhani’s anti-Israel oratory as proof of his hawkish views.

“Two days ago, the president of Iran said that ‘Israel is a wound in the Muslim body.’ The president of Iran might have changed, but the regime’s intentions did not,” Netanyahu told the cabinet. “Iran intends to develop nuclear capabilities and nuclear weapons in order to annihilate the State of Israel, and that’s a danger not only for us or the Middle East, but for the whole world. We are all responsible for preventing it.”

Netanyahu’s statement appeared to be reiterating his previously withdrawn criticism of an inaccurate translation of a Friday speech by Rouhani.

According to Iran’s semi-official ISNA and Mehr news agencies and Western wire services, Rouhani had said, “The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed.”

Netanyahu’s original response said that Rouhani had “revealed his true face sooner than expected.” It added, “This statement should awaken the world from the illusion some have taken to entertaining since the elections in Iran. The president was replaced but the goal of the regime remained obtaining nuclear weapons to threaten Israel, the Middle East and the safety of the world. A country which threatens to destroy Israel must not have weapons of mass destruction.”

But other sources quoted Rouhani differently, and ISNA retracted its original report. “In any case, in our region, a sore has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world for many years, in the shadow of the occupation of the Holy Land of Palestine and the dear Quds. This day is in fact a reminder of the fact that Muslim people will not forgot their historic right and will continue to stand against aggression and tyranny,” Rouhani said, according to a New York Times translation.

Late Friday, Netanyahu’s office removed tweets criticizing Rouhani’s statement, and told the BBC that the prime minister had been responding to “a Reuters report with an erroneous translation.”

Netanyahu has consistently warned that the new Iranian president was merely putting on a “more hospitable face,” and that he has no power or intention to change the Iranian regime’s nuclear policy. Last month, he called Rouhani a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Last Sunday, Netanyahu charged that Iran was going ahead with its nuclear program: “A month has passed since the elections in Iran, and Iran is going full steam ahead on developing nuclear weapons. Now, more than ever, given Iran’s progress, it’s crucial to strengthen economic sanctions against Iran and to provide a credible military option.”

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It is a great encouragement to see Uncle Noam still out there on the front lines, taking his stand alongside so many voiceless Palestinians! He gains nothing but ire and accusations for his tireless work of exposing hypocrisy in high places.

Chomsky is a Jew, of course, which adds to the sting of his critique so far as the Zionist establishment is concerned. Moreover, he is an American Jew, whose harshest criticisms are generally reserved for the leaders of his own country.

At 84 years old one has to wonder how much longer the great man can maintain his global prophetic role. Certainly we will all be a great deal poorer when he leaves the world stage.

Father Dave

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

source: www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/07/27/315745/us-not-a-neutral-party-in-mideast-talks/…

US not a neutral party in Mideast talks: Noam Chomsky

Renowned American academician Noam Chomsky says the United States cannot act as a mediator in the talks between Israel and Palestine because it is not neutral.

He told reporters Friday in Geneva the US-brokered resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians likely will not amount to much, but Europe could change that if it were willing to break from American policies supporting Israel.

Preliminary talks are scheduled to begin in Washington on July 30.

“It’s hard to be optimistic, but Europe could play a role,” said Chomsky. “By and large, Europe has not developed an independent Middle East policy.”

Europe “consistently follows the US stand,” which punishes Palestinians whose land is settled by Israelis, and “there’s no reason why Europe should support illegal settlements,” he noted.

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts made to establish peace in the Middle East.

A report released in May revealed that the Israeli regime confiscated 1,977 acres of the Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank for its settlement activity during 2012.

The settlements, which cover an area roughly equal to 1,035 soccer fields and twice as big as New York’s Central Park, were approved by “military order,” according to the report by the Israeli daily Haaretz on May 27.

The report said most of the new settlements were located deep in the Palestinian-inhabited West Bank.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the war of 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.