Monday, March 12, 2012

334 Israel allows a greater Range of goods into Gaza, but limits Volume - Juan Cole

Israel allows a greater Range of goods into Gaza, but limits Volume - Juan Cole

(1) U.S. Filmmaker recorded Flotilla Massacre video - Salem-News.Com
(2) Israeli soldiers using debit cards stolen in Flotilla raid - activists
(3) Israel allows a greater Range of goods into Gaza, but limits Volume - Juan Cole
(4) The Scourging of Helen Thomas - Ralph Nader
(5) Israel is denying Palestinians access to water - Amnesty International
(6) Israel revives plan to raze Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem
(7) US condemns Israel's decision to raze 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem
(8) Moshe Arens says Israel should consider a single state

(1) U.S. Filmmaker recorded Flotilla Massacre video - Salem-News.Com

From: Michael <RePorterNoteBook@Gmail.com> Date: 21.06.2010 06:19 PM

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/june132010/flotilla-revelation.php

(2) Israeli soldiers using debit cards stolen in Flotilla raid - activists
From: Kristoffer Larsson <kristoffer.larsson@sobernet.nu> Date: 22.06.2010 06:51 PM

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/18/gaza-convoy-activists-debit-card-fraud

Gaza convoy activists claim Israeli soldiers using debit cards stolen in raid

Boarding party troops in deadly flotilla raid confiscated cards and spent on them, claim campaigners who were on board

Haroon Siddique

guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 June 2010 18.59 BST

Israeli troops have been accused of stealing from activists arrested in the assault on the Gaza flotilla after confiscated debit cards belonging to activists were subsequently used.

In their raid of 31 May, the Israeli army stormed the boats on the flotilla and, as well as money and goods destined for the Palestinian relief effort in Gaza, the bulk of which have yet to be returned, took away most of the personal possessions of the activists when taking them into custody.

Individual soldiers appear to have used confiscated debit cards to buy items such as iPod accessories, while mobile phones seized from activists have also been used for calls.

Ebrahim Musaji, 23, of Gloucester, has a bank statement showing his debit card was used in an Israeli vending machine for a purchase costing him 82p on 9 June.

It was then used on a Dutch website, www.thisipod.com, twice on 10 June: once for amounts equivalent to £42.42 and then for £37.83. And a Californian activist, Kathy Sheetz, has alleged that she has been charged more than $1,000 in transactions from vending machines in Israel since 6 June.

Musaji and Sheetz were on board two separate boats – one the Mavi Marmara, on which nine Turkish activists were killed, the other on the Challenger 1. Both activists only entered Israel when arrested, and were in custody for their entire time on Israeli soil.

"They've obviously taken my card and used it," Musaji told the Guardian.

"When they take things like people's videos and debit cards and use them, and their mobile phones, it becomes a bit of a joke.

"We were held hostage, we were attacked, and now there's been theft. If the police confiscate your goods in the UK, they're not going to use your goods and think they can get away with it."

Musaji cancelled his card on 7 June, the day after he returned to Britain, where he is a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. His bank has agreed to treat the transactions as fraudulent and he will not be charged for them. His mobile phone was also used for two short calls in Israel after it had been confiscated.

Another American activist, David Schermerhorn, 80, from Washington state, claims his iPhone was used, while Manolo Luppichini, an Italian journalist, said his card was debited with the equivalent of ?54 after it was confiscated.

Activists say Israel still has possession of at least £1m of goods and cash, comprising aid and personal possessions, including laptops and cameras.

Some passports, three of them belonging to British citizens, have still not been returned. On Thursday, delegations in 12 countries, including the UK, held meetings with their respective governments to exert pressure on Israeli to return the seized property.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in London advised Musaji to register a formal complaint.

"We regard any misconduct as described in Mr Musaji's allegations to be utterly unacceptable and intolerable, and suggest waiting until this subject matter is clarified," she said. "As had happened previously, an Israeli soldier was found guilty of illegal use of a credit card for which he was indicted and sentenced to seven months' imprisonment."

(3) Israel allows a greater Range of goods into Gaza, but limits Volume - Juan Cole

http://www.juancole.com/2010/06/israel-makes-small-change-to-gaza-blockade-brands-lebanese-womens-aid-mission-hizbullah.html

Israel Makes Small Change to Gaza Blockade
Brands Lebanese Women’s Aid Mission ‘Hizbullah’" 

By Juan Cole

Posted on June 21, 2010

Edmund Sanders of the LAT puts the matter correctly when he says that Israel’s national security government (a subset of key cabinet ministers) took a “small step” Sunday in announcing a further easing of the Israeli blockade of civilian Palestinians in the Gaza strip. The new policy is said to envision the abolition of the list of permitted items in favor of a small list of goods not permitted because they have military uses.

But the Israelis can continue the blockade even with a smaller list of prohibited items by limiting truck traffic through the checkpoints. That traffic is tiny now compared to the period before 2006, and Sunday’s announcement may not increase it that much.

I wrote on Friday, “For one thing, how many items are let in is less important than the volume of each. The Irish Times quotes Robert Serry, the head of the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). During the first week in June, imports declined by a quarter, even though Israel expanded the list of allowed imports by 11 food and health items. OCHA says that the amount of staples and aid going into Gaza is only about 17% of the goods routinely allowed in before the blockade began. So an ‘easing’ would not even restore the status quo ante of pre-2007.”

The USG Open Source Center translated a report from Jerusalem Voice of Israel Network B in Hebrew on Sunday June 20 saying,

‘ “The coordinator of government activities in the territories informed the PA tonight that as of tomorrow morning, the number of trucks crossing through Kerem Shalom will be daily increased by 30%. Our correspondent Karmela Menashe reports that this will allow the daily entry of 140 trucks into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing.’

If the increase is only 30% of the present truck traffic, that would be about 23% of the trucks that routinely traveled into Gaza before the blockade, up from the 17% of the pre-blockade number that has been characteristic in the past year. A “small step” indeed.

This small step was clearly impelled by fear of increased international condemnation by one country after another if the harsher blockade was kept in place. Further, there is a growing danger to Israel of international boycotts over its Apartheid policies. Even in Oakland, Ca., not to mention Stockholm. Since the steps announced Sunday will not in fact allow for a decent life for the Palestinians of Gaza, nor will they address their massive unemployment and poverty, they are unlikely entirely to relieve this pressure from global civil society.

The small change was also impelled by fear of the further 8 aid ships now planned by humanitarian aid workers for Gaza, each of which Israel is pledged to board and divert. That is 8 opportunities for further disasters like that aboard the ill-fated Turkish aid vessel, the Mavi Marmara, where one American and 8 Turks were shot to death by Israeli commandos.

The next confrontation is likely to be with two aid ships from Lebanon, organized by women’s groups, including Christian ones. The Mariam is named for Mother Mary.

On last Thursday, “Dozens of Christian and Muslim women gathered in prayer in a cave near Our Lady of Mantara in the town of Maghdushe, where Mary was said to have waited for Jesus while he was preaching nearby some 2,000 years ago” according to AFP.

Rima Farah told AFP, “The participants are committed to making progress and our only weapons are faith in the Virgin Mary and in humanity.” She also said expressed confidence that their prayers were being answered, in light of Israeli announcements about the easing of the blockade.

Another all-woman aid vessel, the Julia, has received permission from Lebanese Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi to set sail from Tripoli for Cyprus. He says it is none of his business where it goes after that. This procedure is a way of getting around Israeli threats of reprisals against Lebanon if its government lets the aid ships leave directly for Gaza from a Lebanese port. This way, Lebanon can insist that all it did was give the ships permission to leave for Cyprus. (Lebanese law also forbids him to authorize departure for Israeli-controlled ports, or for any ports where they do not have permission to land). If the ships depart Cyprus for Gaza, that step is unlikely to result in an Israeli strike on Nicosia, since Cyprus and Israel are not at war and Greece would rather mind.

Al-Hayat [Life], reporting in Arabic, says that Israeli radio carried assertions from sources in the Israeli foreign ministry that these two ships are actually backed by the Lebanese Shiite fundamentalist party-militia, Hizbullah. They said that the party forbade singer Haifa Wahbi to board the ships, on the grounds that her steamy music videos would overshadow the mission and give the wrong impression of it. But this ridiculous charge is just a piece of gossip picked up from the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Siyasah, which is rather distant from the scene. In fact, Haifa herself expressed bewilderment at the report, saying she had never registered to be a passenger on the Mariam, and Hizbullah if anything was even more astonished. I’ll let you decide if this looks to you like someone who pays attention to Hizbullah. That the Israeli foreign ministry is taking ridiculous gossip seriously as a basis for making foreign and possibly military policy is a sign of serious derangement. And if Israel attacks these ships on the assumption that they are Hizbullah, it will not go well for the Netanyahu government.

At some level, at least the few Labor Party members of the cabinet know this, and they, including Industry, Labor, and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, appear to be the ones who behind the scenes pushed hardest for the ‘easing’ of the blockade on Gaza.

In fact, these female Lebanese aid ships are not affiliated to Hizbullah, which declines even verbally to support them, saying that it disapproves of the risk they are taking, of a confrontation that could harm the innocent civilians involved. There is, on the contrary, a strong Catholic overtone to the missions. About 15% of Palestinians are Christian, and the Catholic Church is among the few Western institutions that protests the horrible way the Palestinians have been treated. About 22% of Lebanese are Maronite Catholics, a uniate church that recognized the Pope in the early modern period but retains a Syriac liturgy.

(4) The Scourging of Helen Thomas - Ralph Nader
From: IHR News <news@ihr.org> Date: 22.06.2010 10:00 AM

http://www.counterpunch.org/nader06162010.html

June 16, 2010

A Deep Regard for People's Right to Know

The Scourging of Helen Thomas

By RALPH NADER

The termination of Helen Thomas’ 62-year long career as a pioneering, no-nonsense newswoman was swift and intriguingly merciless.

The event leading to her termination began when she was sitting on a White House bench under oppressive summer heat. The 89-year old hero of honest journalism and women’s rights, the scourge of dissembling presidents and White House press secretaries, answered a passing visitor’s question about Israel with a snappish comment worded in a way she didn’t mean; she promptly apologized in writing. Recorded without permission on a hand video, the brief exchange, that included a defense of dispossessed Palestinians, went internet viral on Friday, June 7.

By Monday, Helen Thomas was considered finished, even though she embodied a steadfast belief, in the praiseworthy words of Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, “that anybody standing on that podium [in the White House] should be regarded with skepticism.”

Over the weekend, her lecture agent dropped her. Her column syndicator, the Hearst company, pressed her to quit “effective immediately,” and, it was believed that the White House Correspondents Association, of which she was the first female president, was about to take away her coveted front row seat in the White House press room.

Then, Helen Thomas announced her retirement on Monday, June 10. No doubt she’s had her fill of ethnic, sexist and ageist epithets hurled her way over the years – the very decades she was broadly challenging racism, sexism and, more recently, ageism.

Although the behind the scenes story has yet to come out, the evisceration was launched by two pro-Israeli war hawks, Ari Fleischer and Lanny Davis. Fleischer was George W. Bush’s press secretary who bridled under Helen Thomas’ questioning regarding the horrors of the Bush-Cheney war crimes and illegal torture. His job was not to answer this uppity woman but to deflect, avoid and cover up for his bosses.

Davis was the designated defender whenever Clinton got into hot water. As journalist Paul Jay pointed out, he is now a Washington lobbyist whose clients include the cruel corporate junta that overthrew the elected president of Honduras. Both men rustled up the baying pack of Thomas-haters during the weekend and filled the unanswered narrative on Fox and other facilitating media.

Then, belatedly, something remarkable occurred. People reacted against this grossly disproportionate punishment. Ellen Ratner, a Fox News contributor, wrote – “I’m Jewish and a supporter of Israel. Let’s face it: we all have said things—or thought things—about ‘other’ groups of people, things that we wouldn’t want to see in print or on video. Anyone who denies it is a liar. Giver her [Helen] a break.”

Apparently, many people agree. In an internet poll by the Washington Post, 92% of respondents said she should not be removed from the White House press room. As an NPR listener, R. Carey, e-mailed: “D.C. would be void of journalists if they all were to quit, get fired or retire after making potentially offensive comments.”

Listen to Michael Freedman, former managing editor for United Press International: “After seven decades of setting standards for quality journalism and demolishing barriers for women in the workplace, Helen Thomas has now shown that most dreaded of vulnerabilities—she is human…. Who among us does not have strong feelings about the endless warfare in the Middle East? Who among us has said something we have come to regret?.... Let’s not destroy Ms. Thomas now.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, wrote: “Thomas was the only accredited White House correspondent with the guts to ask Bush the tough questions that define a free press…. Her remarks were offensive, but considering her journalistic moxie and courage over many decades—a sharp contrast to the despicable deeds committed by so many littering the Washington political scene – isn’t there room for someone who made a mistake, apologized for it and wants to continue speaking truth to power and asking tough questions?”

Last week, in front of the White House, people calling themselves “Jews for Helen Thomas” gathered in a small demonstration. Medea Benajmin—cofounder of Global Exchange, declared that “We are clear what Helen Thomas meant to say, which is that Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine and we agree with that.” While another demonstrator, Zool Zulkowitz, asserted that “by discrediting Helen Thomas, those who believe that Israel can do no wrong shift attention from the public relations debacle of the Gaza Flotilla killings, and intimidate journalists who would ask hard questions about the Israeli occupation of Palestine and American foreign policy.”

Helen Thomas, who grew up in Detroit, is an American of Arab descent. She is understandably alert to the one-sided U.S. military and foreign policy in that region. Her questions reflect concerns about U.S. policy in the Middle East by many Americans, including unmuzzled retired military, diplomatic and intelligence officials.

In 2006 when George W. Bush finally called on her, she started her questioning by saying “Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of Americans and Iraqis. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true.” Or when she challenged President Obama last month, asking “When are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse?”

Asking the “why” questions was a Thomas trademark. Many self-censoring journalists avoid controversial “why” questions, thereby allowing evasion, dissembling and just plain B.S. to dominate the White House press room. She rejected words that sugarcoated or camouflaged the grim deeds. She started with the grim deeds to expose the doubletalk and officialdom’s chronic illegalities.

What appalled Thomas most is the way the media rolls over and fails to hold officials accountable. (British reporters believe they are tougher on their Prime Ministers.) This is a subject about which she has written books and articles—not exactly the way to endear herself to those reporters who go AWOL and look the other way, so that they cancontinue to be called upon or to be promoted by their superiors.

The abysmal record of the New York Times and the Washington Post in the months preceding the Iraq invasion filled with Bush-Cheney lies, deception, and cover-ups is a case in point. As usual, she was proven right, not the celebrated reporters and columnists deprecating her work, including the Post’s press critic, Howard Kurtz.

Thomas practiced her profession with a deep regard for the peoples’ right to know. To her, as Aldous Huxley noted long ago, “facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Lastly, there is the double standard. One off-hand “ill-conceived remark,” as NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard stated, in praising Ms. Thomas, ended a groundbreaking career. While enhanced careers and fat lecture fees are the reward for ultra-right wing radio and cable ranters, and others like columnist Ann Coulter, who regularly urge wars, mayhem and dragnets based on bigotry, stereotypes and falsehoods directed wholesale against Muslims, including a blatant anti-semitism against Arabs. (See http://www.adc.org/education/educational-resources/ and Jack Shaheen’s book and companion documentary about cultural portrayal of Arab stereotypes, Reel Bad Arabs.)

Ms. Thomas’ desk at the Hearst office remains unattended a week after her eviction. One day she will return to pack up her materials. She can take with her the satisfaction of joining all those in our history who were cashiered ostensibly for a gaffe, but really for being too right, too early, too often.

Her many admirers hope that she continues to write, speak and motivate a generation of young journalists in the spirit of Joseph Pulitzer’s advice to his reporters a century ago—that their job was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel.

(5) Israel is denying Palestinians access to water - Amnesty International
From: WVNS <ummyakoub@yahoo.com> Date: 22.06.2010 08:44 AM

Report: Palestinians denied water

BBC News, 27 October 2009

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8327188.stm

Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel's blockade has pushed the already ailing water and sewage system to "crisis point".

Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/8327188.stm

Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel's blockade has brought the water and sewage system to "crisis point".

Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal.

'Basic need'

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for the Israelis.

It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day - the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

Amnesty says that Israel denies West Bank Palestinians to dig wells, and has even destroyed cisterns and impounded water tankers.

At the same time, the report claims, Israeli settlers are enjoying swimming pools and green gardens.

In Gaza, Israel refuses access to many of the building materials needed to renovate the ailing water system, the document says.

It adds that Israel uses more than 80% of the water from the Mountain Aquifer - the main source of underground water in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

"Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality, subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford," Amnesty's Donatella Rovera said.

"Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians' access to water."

Ms Rovera also urged Israel to "take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources".

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the report was factually inaccurate, accusing the Palestinians of mismanaging water resources.

He also rejected the claim that Israel was preventing Palestinians from drilling for water.

The spokesman said Israel had approved 82 such projects but the Palestinians had only implemented 26 of them.

"They have received billions of dollars in international aid over the last decade and a half, why have they not invested that in their own water infrastructure?" he asked.

The report also criticised the Oslo Accords, which the Palestinians agreed to in 1993.

It said that under them, the Palestinians gained the responsibility for managing an "insufficient" water supply and maintaining "long neglected" water infrastructure.

Also, the deal left the Palestinians paying Israel for half of the domestic water used in the West Bank, despite the fact it is extracted from the shared aquifer.

Mr Regev said Israel provides the Palestinians with more water than it was required to under the accord.

(6) Israel revives plan to raze Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem

From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences) <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu> Date: 22.06.2010 04:00 PM

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jerusalem revives plan to raze Palestinian homes

By Amy Teibel

AP foreign, Monday June 21 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/9136816

A Jerusalem planning body on Monday approved a plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem to make room for an Israeli tourist center, a decision that could raise tensions in the divided city and deepen the conflict with the Obama adminstration.

Back in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pressured Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to hold up the plan so authorities could consult with Palestinians who would lose their homes — a delay that appeared to be aimed at fending off criticism from the U.S.

"Now, after fine-tuning the plan and seeking more cooperation with the residents as far as their needs and improving the quality of their lives, the municipality is ready to submit the plans for the first stage of approval," said Barkat's spokesman, Stephan Miller, before the city's planning commission agreed to the plan.

Final approval, which would require an Interior Ministry green light, could take many more months. ...

(7) US condemns Israel's decision to raze 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem
From: Kristoffer Larsson <kristoffer.larsson@sobernet.nu> Date: 22.06.2010 06:32 PM

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/u-s-east-jerusalem-demolitions-undermine-trust-vital-for-israel-pa-talks-1.297471

U.S.: East Jerusalem demolitions undermine trust vital for Israel-PA talks

Jerusalem municipal planning committee approves plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem to make room for a tourist center.

By Nir Hasson, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

June 21, 2010

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Israel's decision on Monday to raze 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem is the kind of step that undermines trust fundamental to progress in the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Senior U.S. officials have asked Netanyahu's office  to explain why the plan was authorized, saying that Washington will issue an official condemnation of the demolitions.

The Jerusalem municipal planning committee approved Monday a contentious plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes to make room for a tourist center that Palestinians fear would tighten Israel's grip on the city's contested eastern sector.

The plan, which affects the neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, risks more U.S.-Israeli friction just two weeks ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Crowley said the United States was concerned about the project, though he said it was a preliminary step being taken by the Jerusalem municipality and not the Israeli government.

"We've had a number of conversations with the government of Israel about it," Crowley said. "This is expressly the kind of step that we think undermines trust that is fundamental to making progress in the proximity talks," referring to the indirect, U.S.-mediated peace negotiations.

The Palestinian government issued a statement on Monday in regards to the plan, in which it emphasized that "these dangerous steps require American and international intervention."

According to Israel Radio, chief negotiator Saeb Erekat commented on the plan as well and said the move shows Israel wants to destroy the indirect peace talks with the Palestinians.

Erekat called on the international community to "halt these dangerous steps" and said that the move "proves that Israel has decided to destroy the indirect talks with the Palestinians."

Tensions have already been raised in Jerusalem, when conflict erupted during the meeting between committee members and the residents of Silwan. Silwan residents starkly objected to the plan and demanded the committee discuss their alternative plan, which does not include razing homes.

Several lawyers representing the residents spoke out against the committee's decision.

"I also want to have a park in the neighborhood where I can sit on the weekends and dip my feet in the water, but if the committee has the courage to approve a plan against the will of the residents, and to raze their homes for it, then it should have the same courage to discuss their alternative plan as well," said one of the lawyers.

Barkat first floated the plan months ago, but agreed to a last-minute request from Israel's prime minister to consult Palestinian residents before breaking ground. Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes has in the past provoked harsh reaction from the United States.

Palestinians hope to build the capital of a future state in East Jerusalem and see any Israeli construction there as undercutting their claims to the land.

Although Israel claims it is simply enforcing the law by knocking down illegally built structures, many of the unapproved homes have gone up without authorization because Palestinians have a hard time obtaining construction permits in East Jerusalem.

Barkat says the plan gives a much-needed facelift to Jerusalem's decaying al-Bustan neighborhood, which Israel calls Gan Hamelech, or the King's Garden.

The plan calls for the construction of shops, restaurants, art galleries and a large community center on the site where some say the biblical King David wrote his psalms. The 22 displaced families would be allowed to build homes elsewhere in the neighborhood, though it's not clear who would pay for them.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem immediately after capturing it from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967.

Israeli sovereignty there has not been recognized by the Palestinians or the international community, and the fate of the city is one of the core issues dividing the two sides. Nearly 200,000 Jews have moved to East Jerusalem since Israel captured it, living in an uneasy coexistence with 250,000 Palestinians. ...

(8) Moshe Arens says Israel should consider a single state

From: Roy Tov <tovroy@gmail.com> Date: 21.06.2010 09:35 PM

http://www.roytov.com/articles/arens.htm

Moshe Arens | Likud's Latest Zigzag

Roy Tov

Some time ago I commented on a surprising political zigzag of Netanyahu. He had announced to be the first Israeli leader to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) on April 12-13, 2010. However, on April 9, he withdrawn from President Obama's summit claiming that Egypt and Turkey intended to raise the issue of Israel's assumed atomic arsenal at the meeting. Probably, Netanyahu feared not getting the American support needed to deter the concerted accusation.

More recently we all saw the agitated rhetoric of the Israeli leadership with respect to Gaza’s Freedom Flotilla and the illegal blockade of Gaza. It reached such extremes that nine people were assassinated by the IDF so that humanitarian help wouldn’t reach Gaza’s ports. Another zigzag followed it; due to the international condemnation of the crime, Israel lets merchandise enter Gaza. It’s still early to judge if this opening is for real or just a public relations event; however the zigzag did happen.

Much less advertised – but probably much more dramatic – was a political zigzag of the Likud. It wasn’t in the form of a new formal decision, but as an article published by one of the senior members of this party. Another member of the Warring Family, also Moshe Arens features a public nickname, “Misha” in this case. Born in 1925, he is an aeronautical engineer, researcher and former diplomat and politician. He was a Knesset member between 1973 and 1992 and again from 1999 until 2003, he also served as Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Arens has also served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and was professor at the Technion in Haifa. He was a strong supporter of IAI (Israeli Aircraft Industries), and of the Lavi Aircraft, the biggest white elephant in Israel’s history.

In a recent op-ed in Haaretz, Arens suggested that Israel seriously consider the option of a single state west of the Jordan, in which Palestinians be granted full citizenship. Such an article – in the most serious Israeli newspaper and published by one of the most senior Likud members – is almost a formal statement by the party. For certain it indicates the idea is being considered seriously by the Likud.

This is not only a zigzag, but a colossal earthquake. In the past I commented about an infantile test of the Shin Beth; those citizens who support – while quietly questioned by plainclothes informants (see the The Cross of Bethlehem ) – the two-states solutions are considered pro-Israel, while those who support the one-state solution are pro-Palestine. The Likud had supported the two-state solution forever, with a little twist: Jordan is the Palestinian state. An old Likud-members joke says: “Two banks to the Jordan River; this one is ours; the other one also.” Under such reality, Arens’ article is a revelation.

The Likud is zigzagging back and forth like rats in a sinking ship between realities and policies it wouldn’t consider in the past. These three recent examples are not unique and not even the last ones; more are to come. More than anything else, they let us realize one thing: Netanyahu, the Likud and the Israeli Administration in general, are in panic. Israel is being defeated, and they have finally realized that.###

In a personal final comment, this article was published on the eighth anniversary of my exile (June 21, 2010); find more about that in the The Cross of Bethlehem .

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