Tuesday, March 13, 2012

441 Palestine Papers lead to Arab revolt. Rudd calls for inspections of Israel's nuclear facility-

Palestine Papers lead to Arab revolt. Rudd calls for inspections of Israel's nuclear facility

(1) Palestine Papers lead to a new Arab world not controlled by the West - Robert Fisk
(2) Palestinian papers: "Leaks threaten my life" - Saeb Erekat
(3) Rudd calls for inspections of Israel's nuclear facility
(4) Edward Teller advised Israel on nuclear matters; he persuaded US not to inspect Dimona
(5) U.S. to sell nuclear technology & supplies to Israel & India, although neither signed NPT
(6) US removes sanctions on India over nuclear tests
(7) Rabbis quote the Bible in support of racism - especially Ezra's ban on intermarriage
(8) The curse of Ezra, by Gershom Schocken
(9) Israeli soldiers attest IDF abuses against Palestinians

(1) Palestine Papers lead to a new Arab world not controlled by the West - Robert Fisk
From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences) <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu> Date: 27.01.2011 05:52 PM

A New Truth Dawns on the Arab World

By Robert Fisk

January 26, 2011 "The Independent"


The Palestine Papers are as damning as the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian "Authority" - one has to put this word in quotation marks - was prepared, and is prepared to give up the "right of return" of perhaps seven million refugees to what is now Israel for a "state" that may be only 10 per cent (at most) of British mandate Palestine.

And as these dreadful papers are revealed, the Egyptian people are calling for the downfall of President Mubarak, and the Lebanese are appointing a prime minister who will supply the Hezbollah. Rarely has the Arab world seen anything like this.

To start with the Palestine Papers, it is clear that the representatives of the Palestinian people were ready to destroy any hope of the refugees going home.

It will be - and is - an outrage for the Palestinians to learn how their representatives have turned their backs on them. There is no way in which, in the light of the Palestine Papers, these people can believe in their own rights.

They have seen on film and on paper that they will not go back. But across the Arab world - and this does not mean the Muslim world - there is now an understanding of truth that there has not been before.

It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished. The words of their leaders - which are, unfortunately, our own words - have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more.

In Egypt, we British loved democracy. We encouraged democracy in Egypt - until the Egyptians decided that they wanted an end to the monarchy. Then we put them in prison. Then we wanted more democracy. It was the same old story. Just as we wanted Palestinians to enjoy democracy, providing they voted for the right people, we wanted the Egyptians to love our democratic life. Now, in Lebanon, it appears that Lebanese "democracy" must take its place. And we don't like it.

We want the Lebanese, of course, to support the people who we love, the Sunni Muslim supporters of Rafiq Hariri, whose assassination - we rightly believe - was orchestrated by the Syrians. And now we have, on the streets of Beirut, the burning of cars and the violence against government.

And so where are we going? Could it be, perhaps, that the Arab world is going to choose its own leaders? Could it be that we are going to see a new Arab world which is not controlled by the West? When Tunisia announced that it was free, Mrs Hillary Clinton was silent. It was the crackpot President of Iran who said that he was happy to see a free country. Why was this?

In Egypt, the future of Hosni Mubarak looks ever more distressing. His son, may well be his chosen successor. But there is only one Caliphate in the Muslim world, and that is Syria. Hosni's son is not the man who Egyptians want. He is a lightweight businessman who may - or may not - be able to rescue Egypt from its own corruption.

Hosni Mubarak's security commander, a certain Mr Suleiman who is very ill, may not be the man. And all the while, across the Middle East, we are waiting to see the downfall of America's friends. In Egypt, Mr Mubarak must be wondering where he flies to. In Lebanon, America's friends are collapsing. This is the end of the Democrats' world in the Arab Middle East. We do not know what comes next. Perhaps only history can answer this question.

(2) Palestinian papers: "Leaks threaten my life" - Saeb Erekat

From: Sami Joseph <sajoseph2005@yahoo.com> Date: 27.01.2011 05:31 PM


26 January 2011

Palestinian papers: Leaks threaten my life, Erekat says

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has accused al-Jazeera TV of putting his life in danger by leaking secret papers on the peace talks with Israel.

The documents suggest the Palestinians were ready to make big concessions, despite public claims to the contrary.

But in an interview with the BBC, Mr Erekat admitted that some of the material was true. He had initially dismissed it as a "pack of lies".

He has vowed to take responsibility if the leaks came from his office.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been rocked by the revelations which show that in private meetings with Israeli negotiators, Palestinian negotiators appeared to offer compromises on issues including the status of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Mr Erekat has featured prominently in al-Jazeera's coverage of what it says are 1,600 documents related to the Middle East peace process. The Qatar-based channel started publishing the documents this week, along with the UK's Guardian newspaper.

"Today what is being practised against us [by the al-Jazeera coverage] is that we are guilty, we should be executed, and then after our execution, we should be given an unfair trial," he told the BBC on Wednesday, following his return to Ramallah from meetings in Cairo.Security links

The latest cache of papers revealed on Tuesday suggested that the PA co-operated with Israeli security officials to kill its own people.

The documents cited what they said was a 2005 conversation between Palestinian Interior Minister Nasr Yousef and Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz in which they talked about assassinating a prominent militant, Hassan al-Madhoun.

Mr Madhoun, of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - a militant group linked to the Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas - was later killed in an Israeli missile strike in Gaza.

After the release of the papers, the Aqsa Brigades said they held Israel responsible for the the attack, not the PA. But in the Gaza Strip, run by Fatah's rival movement Hamas, hundreds of people rallied against the PA.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters news agency that the documents "represent clear evidence of the involvement of this [PA negotiating] team in the killing of Palestinian resistance fighters".

The documents also suggest that Britain's intelligence service, MI6, was intricately involved in attempts to weaken the militant group Hamas, before it took control of Gaza four years ago. The British plan is said to recommend the detention without trial of middle-ranking Hamas officials.'Half-truths'

Despite the revelations, Mr Erekat was carried aloft amid throngs of supporters when he returned to the West Bank from Cairo on Tuesday.

A defiant Mr Erekat challenged al-Jazeera to publish the official Palestinian papers on Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees and other core issues.

But he admitted that at least some of the information in the leaked confidential documents was true. The rest, however, were "half-truths" and "total fantasies" that had been taken out of context.

He said that there was now an investigation into where the leaks came from.

"If these documents were leaked from this office, I, and I alone, will hold the responsibility," he told the BBC.

But the overall impression is of a disconnect between the Palestinian leadership and the people, because the former has been prepared to say things privately that it wouldn't say in public, our West Bank correspondent Jon Donnison reports.

Al-Jazeera is gradually publishing 1,600 confidential documents from more than 10 years of secret US-brokered Middle East peace talks.

They outline major concessions Palestinians offered during talks, which were rejected by Israel. They include:

a formal offer to allow Israel to annex all but one of the Jewish settlements built in occupied East Jerusalem

an international committee to take over Jerusalem's Temple Mount, which houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque - Islam's third holiest site

limiting the number of Palestinian refugees returning to 100,000 over 10 years

The channel will reveal the fourth and final set of documents on Wednesday evening.

(3) Rudd calls for inspections of Israel's nuclear facility

John Lyons    The Australian    December 14, 2010  12:00AM   


FOREIGN Minister Kevin Rudd has arrived in Israel with a blunt message: allow international inspectors into your nuclear facility.

He has also called on Israel to stop building in Jewish settlements in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In an interview with The Australian before he arrived in Israel last night, Mr Rudd staked out strong positions on both issues.

While many countries are calling on Israel to halt settlement growth, it is Mr Rudd's strong stance on Israel's nuclear facility that is bound to be most controversial in Israel.

Israel refuses to confirm that it even has nuclear weapons, but foreign intelligence analysts familiar with the program believe Israel has just over 200 nuclear warheads at its facility in Dimona in southern Israel. Israeli officials have confirmed to The Australian that Israel has nuclear weapons but will not place a figure on them.

Mr Rudd told The Australian: "Our view has been consistent for a long period of time, and that is that all states in the region should adhere to the NPT, and that includes Israel."

But it is what he added next by referring to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that has caught Israeli officials by surprise: "And therefore their nuclear facility should be subject to IAEA inspection."

He was speaking before reports that a WikiLeaks cable suggested Australia, along with the US, could be drawn into a nuclear war in the Middle East if Israel were to attack Iran in an attempt to disable its nuclear program.

Israeli officials were not surprised by Mr Rudd's call for Israel to sign the NPT but were taken aback by his call for IAEA inspections. One high-ranking Israeli official said: "I don't remember any Australian minister saying (Israel's) facilities should be put under inspection."

Another Israeli official, who spoke on the condition he not be named, said: "It is very surprising; first of all, as we are not signatories to the NPT we are not bound by its obligations; and, secondly, the NPT has proven to be ineffective. Its signatories include Iran, Syria, Libya and Iraq, which should speak for itself.

"Unlike Iran, we haven't cheated on any of our obligations."

Mr Rudd said that, given the security challenges Israel has faced from the 1950s to the second intifada, Australia could understand why Israel had become increasingly anxious about its security needs, particularly given the challenges from Iran.

He said the second part of Australia's policy on nuclear weapons in the Middle East, as it involved Iran, was equally clear. "That as signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty already, to wit Iran have to give effect to their obligations, and they are not. They are in flagrant violation, a point I reiterated in discussions only a few days ago with the Iranian Foreign Minister."

On settlements, which have been at the centre of the collapse of direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, Mr Rudd said: "The position of the Australian government has long been clear. We do not support new settlement construction and the reason is that it undermines the prospects of the successful prosecution of peace negotiations."

Mr Rudd said the Australian government fully understood Israel's security concerns from Gaza, but that settlements were "a different matter".

He expressed concern after comments by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, that if the peace talks achieved nothing he might dissolve the Palestinian Authority and hand over day-to-day running of the West Bank to Israel. "There is a second reality also, which is what security challenges Israel would face if the peace process entirely collapses, if the Palestinian Authority totally disengages or if Abu Mazen were to give effect to what he publicly implied in his recent statements about folding the authority, or if the moderate Arab states would begin to adopt a different posture against a protracted and non-successful peace negotiating process."

Mr Rudd warned that there may be serious consequences if the peace process collapsed.

"All of us, if we are any students of the history of the last decade or so, have a grasp of what can go wrong, and what can go wrong big time if the Palestinian people don't have a stake in a negotiated outcome," he said.

(4) Edward Teller advised Israel on nuclear matters; he persuaded US not to inspect Dimona
From: Michael <RePorterNoteBook@Gmail.com> Date: 02.01.2011 12:59 PM


[edit]Nuclear technology and Israel

For some twenty years, Teller advised Israel on nuclear matters in general, and on the building of a hydrogen bomb in particular.

In 1952, Teller and Oppenheimer had a long meeting with David Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv, telling him that the best way to accumulate plutonium was to burn natural uranium in a nuclear reactor. Starting in 1964, a connection between Teller and Israel was made by the physicist Yuval Neeman, who had similar political views.

Between 1964 and 1967, Teller visited Israel six times, lecturing at Tel Aviv University, and advising the chiefs of Israel's scientific-security circle as well as prime ministers and cabinet members. At each of his talks with members of the Israeli security establishment's highest levels he would make them swear that they would never be tempted into signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In 1967 when the Israeli program was nearing completion, Teller informed Neeman that he was going to tell the CIA that Israel had built nuclear weapons and explain that it was justified by the background of the Six-Day War. After Neeman cleared it with Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Teller briefed the head of the CIA's Office of Science and Technology, Carl Duckett. It took a year for Teller to convince the CIA that Israel had obtained nuclear capability; the information then went through CIA Director Richard Helms and then to the US president. Teller also persuaded them to end the American attempts to inspect the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona.

(5) U.S. to sell nuclear technology & supplies to Israel & India, although neither signed NPT


July 7, 2010

Report: Secret document affirms U.S.-Israel nuclear partnership

According to Army Radio, the U.S. has reportedly pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity, as well as nuclear technology and other supplies.

By Haaretz Service, Barak Ravid and Reuters

Israel's Army Radio reported on Wednesday that the United States has sent Israel a secret document committing to nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

According to Army Radio, the U.S. has reportedly pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity, as well as nuclear technology and other supplies, despite the fact that Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. ...

Army Radio's diplomatic correspondent said the reported offer could put Israel on a par with India, another NPT holdout which is openly nuclear-armed but in 2008 secured a U.S.-led deal granting it civilian nuclear imports. ...

(6) US removes sanctions on India over nuclear tests


25 January 2011 Last updated at 07:07 GMT

US eases sanctions on Indian space and defence firms

The US has removed sanctions imposed on nine Indian space and defence organisations after India carried out nuclear tests.

The list includes the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation and Defence Research Development Organisation.

President Obama had promised to lift sanctions on these firms during his November visit to India.

The decision comes a week before a US trade delegation, led by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, visits.

India was subjected to US sanctions after it carried out nuclear tests in 1974 and again in 1998.

Correspondents say even today, many Indian space laboratories continue to languish on the dreaded US blacklist.

(7) Rabbis quote the Bible in support of racism - especially Ezra's ban on intermarriage


The Darkness to Dispel

by Uri Avnery l Gush Shalom

January 03, 2011

It is easy to despair before the filthy wave of racism that is engulfing us. The remedy for this despair: the growing number of young people, sons and daughters of the new Israeli generation, who are joining the fight against racism and occupation.

This week, several hundred of them gathered in a hall in Tel Aviv (belonging, ironically, to the Zionist Federation of America) to launch a book published by the group "Breaking the Silence". In the hall there were some veterans of the peace camp, but the great majority of those present were youngsters in their twenties, male and female, who have completed their military service.

"The Occupation of the Territories" is a book of 344 pages, consisting of almost 200 testimonies by soldiers about the daily and nightly life of the occupation. The soldiers supplied the eyewitness accounts, and the organization, which is composed of ex-soldiers, verified, compared and sifted them. In the end, 183 of some 700 testimonies were selected for publication.

Not even one of these testimonies was denied by the army spokesman, who generally hastens to contradict honest accounts of what is happening in the occupied territories. Since the editors of the book have themselves served as soldiers in these places, it was easy for them to distinguish between truth and falsehood.

The book makes very depressing reading, and not because it details gruesome atrocities. On the contrary, the editors made it a point not to include incidents of exceptional brutality committed by sadists, which can be found in every army unit in Israel and throughout the world. Rather, they wanted to throw light on the grey routine of the occupation.

There are accounts of nocturnal incursions into quiet Palestinian villages as exercises – breaking into random houses where there were no "suspects", terrorizing children, women and men, creating mayhem in the village – all this to "train" the soldiers. There are stories about the humiliation of passers-by at the checkpoints ("Clean up the checkpoint and you will get your keys back!"), casual harassment ("He started to complain, so I hit him in the face with the butt of my weapon!"). Every testimony is meticulously documented: time, place, unit.

At the launch of the book, some of the testimonies were shown on film, with the witnesses daring to show their faces and identify themselves by their full name. These were no exceptional people, no fanatics or bleeding hearts. No weepers of the "we shoot and we weep" school. Just ordinary young people, who had time to come to grips with their personal experiences. ...

The situation here is now moving in the opposite direction: the country is embracing the racist demon. After millennia as the victims of racism, it seems as if Jews here are happy to be able to do unto others what has been done to them.

IT IS impossible to ignore the central role played by rabbis in this filthy mess. They ride the wave and assert that this is the spirit of Judaism. They quote the holy texts at length.

The truth is that Judaism, like almost every religion, includes racist and anti-racist, humanist and barbarian elements. The Crusaders, who massacred the Jews on their way to the Holy Land and who slaughtered the inhabitants of Jerusalem – Muslims and Jews alike – when they conquered the city, shouted: "God Wills It!" One can find in the New Testament magnificent passages preaching love, side by side with quite different sections. So, too, in the Koran there are Surahs full of love for humankind and calls for justice and equality, as well as others full of intolerance and hatred.

So, too, the Hebrew Bible. The racists quote Rabbi Maimonides, who interpreted two biblical words as a commandment not to let non-Jews reside in the country. The whole Book of Joshua is a call to genocide. The Bible commands the Israelites to murder the entire tribe of Amalek ("both man and woman, infant and suckling") and the Prophet Samuel dethroned King Saul because he spared the lives of Amalekite prisoners (1 Samuel 15).

But the Hebrew Bible is also a book of unequalled humanity. It starts with the description of the creation of man and woman, stressing that all human beings are created in the image of God - and therefore equal. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he him." The Bible repeatedly demands the treatment of "Gerim" (foreigners living among the Israelites) as Israelites, "because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt".

As Gershom Schocken, the owner and long-time editor in chief of Haaretz, pointed out in an article republished this week on the 20th anniversary of his death: Ezra did indeed expel the non-Jewish wives from the community, but before that, foreign women played a central role in the Biblical story. Bathsheba was the wife of a Hittite, before she married King David and became the mother of the house from which the Messiah will come in due course (or from which, as Christians believe, Jesus – who was born 2010 years ago today – already came.) David himself was the descendant of Ruth, a Moabite woman. King Ahab, the greatest of Israelite kings, married a Phoenician woman.

When our racists present the ugliest face of Judaism, ignoring its universalist message, they do great damage to the religion of millions of Jews around the world. The most important Jewish rabbis were silent this week in face of the racist fire that was ignited by rabbis, or murmured something about "ways of peace" – referring to the rule forbidding the provocation of Goyim, because they might treat the Jews in their countries as the Jews treat the minorities in their own state. Up to now, no Christian priest has yet called upon his flock not to let apartments to Jews – but it could happen.

The silence of the "Torah sages" is thunderous. Even more so the silence of the country's political leaders: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres did not roar his outrage, and Binyamin Netanyahu has contented himself with calling upon the racists "not to take the law into their own hands". Not a single word against racism, not a single word about morality and justice.

WHEN I listened to the ex-soldiers at the "Breaking the Silence" meeting, I was filled with hope. This generation understands its duty to heal the state in which they will spend their lives.

In the words of the Hanukkah song, which is rapidly becoming the anthem of the anti-racist demonstrations: "We come the darkness to expel!"

(8) The curse of Ezra, by Gershom Schocken


The curse of Ezra

Intermarriage is one of the most sensitive subjects for Jews and Arabs living in this land. This article, written by Gershom Schocken, is being republished on the 20th anniversary of his death.

By Gershom Schocken, Haaretz chief editor, 1939-1990

August 29, 1985
republished in Haaretz on December 22, 2010

The main reason the rabbis oppose encounters between Jewish and Arab youths is that such meetings might lead to intermarriage. Even give the small chance that this would be the result of such interactions, there's no denying that the rabbis have touched on a most sensitive issues for Jews and Arabs living together in this land.

Ezra the Scribe is the person who banned intermarriage between the Jews who had returned from Babylon to the Land of Israel and the other nations already living here. He not only declared this prohibition but also forcibly broke up many mixed marriages that he discovered when he returned to Jerusalem from Persia. These were mainly between priests and members of distinguished families.

Another legacy of the period of Ezra and Nehemiah was the decision to forfeit Jewish sovereignty in the land. If we ignore the brief interlude of the Hasmonean period, then from that time until the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews in the Land of Israel, and obviously in exile, were not a sovereign people, but rather, a religious group ruled by other nations. Jewish life was limited to stringent observance of the Torah commandments and the laws created by the rabbis during the period of the Mishna and Talmud. And one of the most important prohibitions was the ban on intermarriage.

This prohibition had not been in effect beforehand, when the Israelites lived as a sovereign people in their land, following the conquest of the land and during the First Temple period. Just witness the mixed marriages of Boaz and Ruth the Moabite, Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba, and the marriages of King Solomon and King Ahab to Gentile women. Particularly illuminating is the case of Bathsheba: King David was considered to have committed a terrible sin for violating her marriage, even though she was married to a Gentile.

So long as the children of Judah and the children of Israel dwelt as a sovereign people in their land, it must have been apparent that coexistence with other peoples in the land or in neighboring lands was likely to lead in some cases to intermarriages. They did not, however, declare a ban on such unions. All this changed in the time of Ezra the Scribe, when mixed marriages were officially prohibited. As far as the rabbis are concerned, this ban is still in effect today, even if in practice it is ignored in most countries of the Diaspora.

When the founders of Zionism moved to re-establish the Jews as an independent political entity, they did not take into account that the ban on intermarriages might create problems for the Jews returning to their land. Indeed, some of the prominent leaders and thinkers of the Zionist movement were themselves intermarried. Mixed couples also arrived here during the various waves of immigration, but it never became a problem until the religious gained power after the establishment of the state.

Ever since the state was founded, the religious establishment has undergone a process of radicalization, as it attempts to impose on the sovereign Jewish nation those prohibitions and bans that applied when they existed solely as an ethno-religious group. Although it won't be able to succeed, the more it tries, the more it prevents the formation of normal relations among the different ethnic groups in the country.

This realization has not yet filtered into the public consciousness. But the fact is that there is not one sovereign nation in the world that bans marriages with members of other nations. On the contrary, nearly all the European nations (not to mention the United States ) were formed by merging different nations. The process usually took place when one nation conquered lands inhabited by members of another. These were bloody wars, resulting in thousands of casualties. But one day, the killing stopped and joint living began, the weaker nation usually adopting the lifestyle and language of the conquerers.

There were certainly variations on this theme. Often, the conquering nation was influenced by the culture and social norms of the nation it dominated, the outcome being a merging of different cultures. When the Normans conquered England in the 11th century, the conquerors, indeed, became the feudal lords of the conquered land, but the Normans' language did not become the language of England; rather, a new language was created. The English language we know today was borne out of a merging of the French dialect of the Normans with the Anglo-Saxon language of the conquered people.

At about the same time, Germanic tribes spread eastward and conquered large swaths of land inhabited by Slavic nations. The conquered Slavic communities usually became Germanized within a few generations. Once they adopted the German language, the process was reinforced through mixed marriages, first among members of the ruling classes, but eventually, also among the common people. The Germany nation, as we know it, therefore, has assorted ethnic foundations, and even today, there are differences between Germans in the west and south of the country and Germans in Saxony and areas east of the Elbe River. But they are still one nation.

In Israel, we are witnessing a process not all that different from that which transpired in Europe 900 years ago. We conquered a land in which a local Arab population had lived and evolved over the course of more than 1,000 years. After wars that caused numerous casualties on both sides, and after some of the original inhabitants of the land were exiled, the State of Israel was left with a sizable Arab minority that is constantly growing becauses of higher birth rates.

In this situation, it is natural that the two nations begin a process of merging through a process in which, as the conquered nation gradually accepts the culture and lifestyle of the dominant nation. This is not a completely unilateral process, and it cannot take place without conflict and pain. But numerous examples in Europe and the United States provide a basis for hope that the outcome could be positive.

In practice, the process has already begun, and interestingly, it is happening despite the Arab world's declared hostility toward the State of Israel and its refusal to recognize its existence. But facts speak louder than ideologies and declarations. Today in Israel there are quite a few Hebrew-speaking, Arab intellectuals, who have adopted many practices common in Israeli society, without abandoning their own unique characteristics. A case in point is relations that have evolved between Israeli government institutions and the Druze community. Even among other Arab communities, there are many who would be willing to get closer to Israeli society (which thus far includes only Jews ) if only they were given the chance.

Here enter the prohibitions and bans of the rabbinic establishment that has a monopoly on matrimonial laws. Add to that the deeply entrenched preconceptions of non-religious Jews dating back to pre-Emancipation and pre-Zionist days, when the Jews were merely an ethno-religious group, not a sovereign nation. This is what has delayed and prevented the emergence of a unified Israeli nation, whose ethnic composition includes people with Arab-Palestinian roots as well.

Each one of us knows Arabs who would willingly join our social and cultural world, if only they were allowed to. There are still mixed marriages in this country, despite the religious ban and the fact that it's impossible to conduct a civil marriage in Israel. And there are children born out of these marriages. So long as we persist in our hatred of the other and insist on maintaining the seclusion that characterized us when we were an ethno-religious group, we are helping create a group of people in this country that does not belong to either one of the two nations - a group of "coloreds," as exists in South Africa (the offspring of mixed marriages between whites and blacks ).

Occasionally, we read stories in the papers about such people. There was S.Y. Agnon's great-nephew, whose mother married a member of the distinguished Nashashibi family. There was the grandson of the legendary Professor Gideon Mer, an early researcher at the Hebrew University, who lived for many years in Rosh Pina and helped combat malaria in this country; his daughter married an Arab from Nazareth. Some time ago, a young Jew recited the mourner's prayer, the Kaddish, at a Muslim funeral, when his Arab father was buried. There are dozens of mixed families, the results of marriages between Arab men and Jewish women, living today in Arab communities in Israel.

I have no doubt that most of these families would have preferred to live in Jewish communities because the males spouses are usually professionally integrated in Jewish society. But we refuse to absorb them socially. After all, there is hardly a possibility that an Arab could buy a home or rent an apartment in a Jewish city, and when this does begin to happen - as it already is in Upper Nazareth - it sparks a public uproar. Non-religious Jews are also prejudiced against their Arab neighbors, still influenced by the vestiges of the rabbinic ruling that forced seclusion on us. Some attempt to present rational arguments for their opposition to Arab neighbors, citing security concerns. But this is merely an excuse they use to conceal their emotional repugnance. After all, our cities fill up daily with tens of thousands of Arab workers. Often, it's difficult to pick them out because they speak, look and behave like us.

The timing of the publication of this essay may raise some eyebrows. The rifts among Israel's citizens run deep - both with regards to politics and ideology. Tension in the occupied territories are running high. Israeli society finds itself in the midst of a pivotal social and economic battle. Who has time to consider the rather "strange" issue addressed here? But the issue is strange only because we are trapped by prejudices that have been controlling us since the beginning of time. In fact, this issue is no less important than any of the other issues on the national agenda. If we continue to ignore it, it will only become a bigger problem.

This is not meant to be an advocacy piece on behalf of mixed marriages. Even if these unions were possible, they would presumably remain a marginal phenomenon. But to ensure the formation of an Israeli nation composed of all the ethnic groups in this country, the barriers between them must be knocked down. That includes restrictions on marriages between members of different groups. Had we not granted the rabbinate a monopoly on matrimonial law, and if there were a civil marriage law in Israel, a substantial obstacle would have been eliminated. Ezra the Scribe's prohibition may have been justified for an ethno-religious group. But for a sovereign nation that needs to coexist with another nation from a different background and establish normal relations with neighbors beyond its borders, this prohibition, which symbolizes Jewish alienation, has become a curse. If it persists, it will perpetuate ethnic tensions within the country and guarantee the permanent isolation of Israel in the region. We must liberate ourselves from the curse of Ezra.

(9) Israeli soldiers attest IDF abuses against Palestinians

From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences) <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu> Date: 14.12.2010 05:13 PM

'Our lives became something we'd never dreamt': The former Israeli soldiers who have testified against army abuses

Former Israeli soldiers who have testified against army abuses have for the first time given up their anonymity, to make their voices all the harder to ignore. Donald Macintyre gets an exclusive preview of a powerful new book.


Sunday, 12 December 2010, The Independent (UK)

Avichay Stolar is a researcher of Breaking the Silence. He says: 'Young soldiers learn from their officers, they imitate their friends in the unit, and they learn to act in a brutal and insensitive way'

For anyone who has covered Israel, the West Bank and Gaza over the past few years, reading Occupation of the Territories, the new book from the Israeli ex-soldiers organisation Breaking the Silence, can be an eerily evocative experience.

A conscript from the Givati Brigade, for example, describes how troops in the company operating next to his inside Gaza during 2008 had talked about an event earlier in the day. After knocking on the door of a Palestinian house and receiving no immediate answer, they had placed a "fox" – military slang for explosives used to break through doors and walls – outside the front door. At that very moment, the woman of the house had reached the door to open it. "Her limbs were smeared on the wall and it wasn't on purpose," the soldier recalls. "And then her kids came and saw her. I heard it during dinner after the operation, someone said it was funny, and they cracked up from the situation that the kids saw their mother smeared on the wall..."

A second-hand story, of course; one without names, dates or supporting detail. Except that it stirred a memory I had of reporting the death of a Palestinian UN schoolteacher east of Khan Younis. Wafer Shaker al-Daghma was killed when the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) commandeered her house during an incursion in May 2008. Her husband had been out at the time. When we came to the house five days later, another incursion was under way and we could hear, uncomfortably close, the gunfire from Israeli armoured military vehicles while Majdi al-Daghma described his wife's death at the age of 34. When she realised troops were nearby, she'd ordered ' the children, Samira, 13, Roba, four, and Qusay, two, into the bedroom, put on a headscarf and prepared to open the door. "Samira heard a loud explosion and there was a lot of smoke," he explained. "She looked for her mother but couldn't see her."

It was surely the same incident. You have to assume that the laughter alluded to by the conscript was a nervous reaction, a manifestation of delayed shock from the soldiers. They had, after all, had the presence of mind to cover Mrs al-Daghma's mutilated body with a carpet, and to keep the children confined to the bedroom for the five hours they had remained in the house. Samira said she had asked one of them, "Where is my mother?" but had not understood his reply in Hebrew. She explained how, when the soldiers finally left after nightfall, "There were still tanks outside our house... I tried to call my father on my mother's Jawwal [mobile phone] but there was no line. I lifted the carpet and saw a bit of my mother's clothes. She was not moving. I did not see her head."

The point of this is not just that the soldier's story is shocking, but that it is so apparently corroborated. Especially given that the conscript's short account – unlike many others in the book, some every bit as disquieting – is based on hearsay, it is powerfully suggestive of the testimonies' authenticity as a portrait of a 43-year-old occupation. These testimonies, checked and cross-checked, of young Israeli men and women struggling to come to terms, sometimes years after the event, with their military service in the West Bank and Gaza, add up to an unprecedented inside account, as the book's introduction puts it, of "the principles and consequences of Israeli policy in the [Palestinian] territories".

Breaking the Silence is a unique organisation. No other country – including those with recent and problematic military histories, such as the US and Britain – has anything comparable. Since it began in 2004, it has collected 700 testimonies from conscripts and reservists, spanning the decade since the beginning of the second intifada. In July last year, it made its greatest impact by publishing accounts from around 30 combat soldiers involved in the onslaught on Hamas-controlled Gaza only six months earlier, challenging the military's assertion that it had done "the utmost to avoid harming uninvolved civilians".

Breaking the Silence has since taken two more decisive steps. The Israeli military has long complained about the anonymity of its witnesses. In July, the IDF even questioned whether all the testimonies were genuine. Anonymity was understandable; the soldiers risked alienation and heavy criticism from their own communities as well as from the state itself, not to mention the possibility of proceedings brought by the military. Now, for the first time, 27 of those who had testified have allowed the Jerusalem-based photographer Quique Kierszenbaum to take their portraits, and use their names, along with summaries of why and what they testified.

The second step change, having in the past let the testimonies speak for themselves, is that Breaking the Silence has been emboldened by the sheer number of them to offer a broader analysis of what it believes they expose: in part that, while Israeli forces have indeed had to deal with "concrete threats in the past decade, including terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens", their operations, especially in the West Bank, extend beyond the solely defensive and "systematically" lead to the "de facto annexation" of occupied territory "through the dispossession of Palestinian residents".

In arguing that Israel exercises a measure of control over Palestinians that extends beyond its own security needs, the book (published in Hebrew on 21 December, with an English version to follow in the new year), takes four technical terms in frequent use by the Israeli military and tries to show in its introductions to the testimonies what Breaking the Silence sees as their real, as opposed to ostensible, meaning.

The first of these terms is "Prevention" [sikkul in Hebrew] which, it argues, has become a "code word" that allows almost every form of military action, offensive as well as defensive, to be classified as "prevention of terrorist activity". It says the principle, first enunciated by the former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon of "searing it into the consciousness" of Palestinians that violence does not pay, translates into "intimidation... and indiscriminate punishment of the Palestinian population". The examples given include: sending a military truck into the village of Tubas at 3am in 2003 "with stun grenades and just throwing them in the street, for no reason, waking people up [to say] 'We are here. The IDF is here.'"; shooting ' a visibly unarmed man walking on a roof in Nablus in 2002 ("The company commander declared him a lookout, meaning that he understood there was no threat from the guy, and he gave the order to kill him"); and halting stone-throwing in Tekoa by using a "moving human shield" – a Palestinian man tied to the front of a vehicle – before driving round the village.

The second term is "Separation" [hafradah], meaning the separation of Palestinians not only from Israelis but from other Palestinians (within the West Bank and between Gaza and the West Bank) and their own land by using checkpoints, separation barriers, Israeli-only roads used by West Bank settlers, and a strict permit regime enforcing "isolation" of many communities. While much of this "separation" – including loss of land – is permanent, in the past two years, post-intifada, some obstacles have eased. But Breaking the Silence insists the "paradigm" is unchanged. "It's obvious Israel relaxes its grip when things are easier," says the organisation's Mikhael Manekin. "But it always has the grip. It can relax or tighten it as it chooses."

There was the "separation" of Nablus in 2003 from the surrounding villages: "You have to understand the proportionality. A person between the ages of 16 and 35, who lives in Nablus has not left Nablus in the past four years, even to go to a village next to Nablus." Another example was the Qalqilya area in 2002: "Someone whose fig grove they uprooted came in tears, and he said to me: 'I worked for 30 years to buy the land, I worked this grove for 10 years, I waited 10 years for it to bear fruit, I enjoyed it for one year and they [the IDF] are uprooting it.'"

Next is "Fabric of life" [mirkam hayyim], the term used by the IDF to underline that it does its best to ensure as normal a life as possible for Palestinians – a proposition strongly contested in the book. It claims that Israel controls the passage of civilians and goods into Israel and within the West Bank, the opening of private businesses, transport of school-children, university students and medical cases. "[Property] can all be taken at the discretion of a regional commander or a soldier in the field... troops will burst into the house in the dead of night and arrest one of the inhabitants, only to release him later – all in order to practise arrest procedures."

Among the examples is the story of a Palestinian truck driver trying to bring milk containers into Hebron from Yatta during a curfew in 2002, who was detained, handcuffed and blindfolded on a hot summer morning. He had some 2,000 litres of milk – all of which spoiled as he sat all day, restrained. "When I look at it [now]," says a former soldier, "I feel embarrassed... Did it contribute to the security of the state? No."

Another example concerns illegal workers and their families trying to get into the Wadi Ara of northern Israel from the West Bank. One former soldier recalls "Pouring out the kids' bags and playing with their toys... They cried and were afraid." The adults cried, too? "Of course. One of the goals was always: I got him to cry in front of his kids, I got him to crap in his pants... from being beaten for the most part."

Finally, in examining the term "Law enforcement" [akhifat hak], the book highlights the dual legal regime in the West Bank, whereby Palestinians are subject to military rule and courts while Israeli settlers are answerable to civilian courts. At the same time, it argues, Israeli settlers are effectively allies of the military – and they have a common enemy.

The book's stark – and inevitably highly political – conclusion is contrary to the view that "Israel is withdrawing from the Palestinian Territories slowly and with the appropriate caution and security". The IDF soldiers quoted "describe an indefatigable attempt to tighten Israel's hold on the territories, as well as on the Palestinian population".

Not surprisingly perhaps, Manekin acknowledges that those who have – as he deliberately puts it – "come out of the closet", by allowing themselves to be named and photographed, are among the more activist of the 500 individuals who have testified to the organisation. It is no coincidence that this parallel project has happened at a time when Breaking the Silence has decided to promote its own analysis of the past decade of occupation. Manekin says it wasn't easy to be photographed. "We didn't do this to be heroes," he says. "Really, the political significance is the only reason for doing it."

Donald Macintyre is The Independent's Jerusalem correspondent. For more from Breaking the Silence: shovrimshtika.org

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