There is no doubt that the New Israel Fund means well - or at least many of its members and contributors do. But there is also no doubt that the New Israel Fund supports or collects funds for some of the most odious organizations in Israel - organizations whose goals have nothing to do with democracy and nothing to do with peace - organizations whose only goal is to besmirch Israel and to destroy Zionism and the Jewish state.
Zochrot is one example of these organizations. It organizes activities to perpetuate the myth that Israel was founded by "ethnic cleansing" of hapless and peaceful Palestinians who were minding their own business in 1948 - the Palestine Nakba myth. Its brochure claims that Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. Its Web site links to the BADIL organization, that is dedicated to blocking any solution to the Palestinian refugee problem other than return to original (nonexisting) homes in Israel. New Israel fund also supports the innocently named "Coalition of Women for Peace" which is likewise involved in the delegitimation of Israel and Zionism, as well as New Profile, an organization noted for encouraging draft dodging.
The activities of New Israel Fund have been known for some time. The controversy over them was ignited by a study soon to be released by a right-wing group, Im Tirzu, which claims:
92 percent of the negative citations used in the Goldstone Report to criticize the IDF’s conduct in Gaza last year came from 16 Israeli NGOs, which Im Tirtzu has alleged received some $7.8 million in financial support from the NIF in 2008-2009 alone.
Among the NGOs listed in the report are Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, Doctors for Human Rights, Gisha, Bimkom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Itach, Other Voice, New Profile, Machsom Watch and Who Profits from the Occupation.Im Tirtzu has its own political ax to grind, and showed execrable judgment in ad hominem attacks on Meretz politician Naomi Hazan, currently president of the international board of the New Israel Fund. The Im Tirtzu ad caricatured her with an "N.I.F." horn and titled her "Naomi Goldstone Hazan." In Hebrew, the word for horn is keren, which also means fund. This clever pun was lost on English speaking readers of course, who only saw a Jew with a horn.
The ad claimed that without the New Israel Fund there would not have been a Goldstone report. But we know that the New Israel Fund didn't initiate the Goldstone report, and that committee members were determined to find Israel guilty regardless of the evidence. There would have been a different Goldstone report without the New Israel Fund, with the same conclusions,
Hazan didn't initiate the Goldstone report and is not responsible for its findings. As president of the international board she may have much power, but it is doubtful if she is solely responsible for approving the funding requests of each organization. There was no excuse for their obnoxious advertisement, nor is Naomi Hazan responsible for all the output of all these organizations. Hazan is a passionate advocate of peace and is entitled to her opinion, though New Israel Fund doesn't have to support it. Im Tirtzu's regrettable misuse of their findings gave enemies of Israel just the opening they needed to destroy the credibility of a legitimate finding.
However, Im TIrtzu deserve the same hearing as others. The "rights" advocates ask us to separate the political message of groups like New Profile from the facts they present. There are, for example, real human rights violations at checkpoints that don't serve the cause of Israel in any way, and Machsomwatch exposes them. That doesn't mean Israel is an illegitimate apartheid state and it doesn't mean Zionism is racism, but it points out a fault that is in urgent need of correction. However, the same advocates who want us to accept testimony from Machsom Watch or Betselem, have no problem trying to discredit the facts that Im Tirtzu presents as the work of "settlers." It doesn't matter who said it. It matters that it is true.
Nobody denies that N.I.F. supports these organizations, and it is a fact that most of these organizations are out to destroy Israel. We need to separate the message from the messenger. It is too bad that middle of the road, responsible groups, including peace groups who are desperately in need of funds, did not dare to raise the issue of New Israel's selective funding of radicals, and left it to Im Tirzu. Where were all the Tikkun Olam people when Zochrot and Adallah were telling lies about Israel? Isn't correction of falsehoods also Tikkun Olam?
A recent article by Solomonia about New Israel Fund attracted vigorous protests claiming that these organizations are only fighting for civil rights and pointing out injustices. Let's be clear. If there is an injustice in any democratic society, it is the duty of citizens to report it, to highlight it and to fight it. But the way to fight Jim Crow in the United States was not to join the Cominform and insist that America must be destroyed. Similarly injustices in Israel cannot be fixed by those who advocate the destruction of Israel. Decapitation is not a good way to cure headaches. The Arab society that would replace Israel would not have the same respect for human rights, and there are also the human rights of Israeli Jews to consider. We are also human and have rights.
It is right and proper for any organization to give evidence to an investigatory commission, but it is wrong for them to give fabricated evidence, to claim that dead terrorists are civilians and to pass off hearsay as fact. It is right to point out inhumane behavior at checkpoints. It is wrong to use instances of brutality in a campaign to delegitimize the state. It is right for Breaking the Silence to uncover abuses by the army, and to provide documentation of these abuses to Israelis. It is wrong for Breaking the Silence to take their traveling road show of Israeli atrocity stories to US campuses, and show it to 18 year olds who never served in the army, never heard of Hamas and have no other background information about the Middle East. Adallah has the right to advocate for an Arab Palestinian state perhaps, but it is simply insane for New Israel Fund to collect money from Zionist Jews to give to an organization of that type, and we do not need Im Tirtzu to tell us that.
How can we explain the fact that Jews, not necessarily anti-Zionist Jews either, founded and contribute to and support a charity that funds organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel and defamation of the Jewish people? Rather than advancing peace and democracy in Israel, these activities make "peace" and "democracy" into hateful words among the Israeli Jewish public, because in propaganda, "peace," "democracy" and "justice" have been made synonymous with defamation and genocide of the Jewish people, destruction of Israel and dissemination of lies. Are there no causes in Israel and no organizations that really advance peace and democracy that are more worthy of funding by the NIF than the mendacious political extremists and degenerates of groups like Zochrot?
An article by Ben-Dror Yemini, translated from Hebrew, explains the Israeli Zionist point of view:
(Translation of Article by Ben-Dror Yemini, Ma'ariv, 2.2.10)
The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people's right to self-determination.
The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark countries that controls the "UN Human Rights Council." It thinks that it is OK for Israel to cooperate with the Commission even though no country in the free world supported its establishment. It is certainly legitimate, in a democratic country, to do all these things.
But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description "human rights." If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.
For example, the New Israel Fund supports the Zochrot non-profit association, which openly aspires to eliminate the State of Israel via the realization of the "right of return." Not that there is any such right and not that there has been even one precedent of a mass "return" after post-war population exchanges – but this does not bother the Fund. It always jumps at the slogan "human rights."
None of this is to say that Israel is exempt from criticism. Among the hundreds of claims, there are those that have merit. But many sane people abhor the human rights bodies, not because they abhor human rights, on the contrary. It is because most sane people are fed up that human rights have become a weapon for dark forces.
The New Israel Fund has turned itself into yet another body, one among many in the world, that are party to global deception. There are a million and one attacks on human life and human rights in the world. Israel, as a state in the midst of conflict, makes fewer attacks than any other element. This has been verified. This is anchored in numbers. But it is Israel that absorbs most of the criticism. This is called demonization, delegitimization and obsession.
There is no defense of human rights here but rather an orchestrated campaign in the service of Iran and Hamas. This is not the Fund's intention but this is the result. Things should be called by their name. Most of the groups supported by the Fund deal in the delegitimization of Israel. But the Fund rolls its eyes and whines: What is wrong with human rights? There is nothing wrong. There is something wrong with those who clearly aspire to deny the Jews' right to exist in the only place where they have sovereignty, in order to turn Israel into a "state of all its citizens," in which the majority will be Hamas supporters. There is something wrong with those who want to perpetrate politicide on only one people in the world. There is something wrong with those who collaborate with dark forces and try to sell the lie that it is all about "human rights."
How is it that so many people, mainly Jews, support the Fund? How is it they facilitate this systematic campaign that masquerades as humanitarian and is, in effect, demonic? They are not anti-Semites. They are people with good intentions. Their rhetoric deals with human rights and minorities. Jews are sensitive to this and good for them. Most are simply unaware. Most truly and innocently want Israel to be more enlightened and more progressive, and stricter about human life and human rights. But they do not know that the money goes to other goals.
Even Professor Naomi Chazan, who heads the Fund, does not hate Israel. But what has happened to countless bodies that deal with "the rights talk" has happened to them. In the end, they serve the agenda of Iran and Hamas.
Human rights groups can restore the confidence in themselves. They need to support human rights, not groups that deal in denying Israel's right to exist. In the meantime, these groups, including the New Israel Fund, are the major enemy, not only of Israel but of the free world and human rights.
Not every group funded by the New Israel Fund is anti-Zionist. We don't want New Israel Fund to stop funding projects in Israel and we certainly want them to encourage human rights, democracy and peace. But responsible people who really care about these issues should ask of the N.I.F. that it limits its funding to groups that really support democracy and human rights, not groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel.
Labels: Anti-Zionism, Human Rights
Continued (Permanent Link)
There is no doubt about it. The Goldstone report about Operation Cast Lead (the Gaza war of 2008) is not about "justice." It is based on an investigation initiated with the most malicious intent, by a UN body, the UNHRC, that is obsessed with the mission of delegitimizing Israel. Its major conclusions were decided before there was any "investigation," and the investigation that was undertaken was a bad joke, consisting mostly of collecting Israel-bashing libels from anti-Israel NGOs. Judge Goldstone was enlisted in this nefarious project to provide a fig leaf of respectability for the "human rights" advocacy of countries like Libya and Sudan. He did not exercise the best judgment in accepting the charge and did not conduct a fair investigation.
The Goldstone report was meant to be, and will be, the centerpiece of a vicious PR campaign and UN propaganda persecution against Israel. It gives the usual sources many opportunities to rant about "Zionist war criminals" and "Zionist war crimes" and to attempt to force a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel. Alan Dershowitz has pointed out that Goldstone went beyond the various human rights organizations with his fantastic contention that the Israeli government diabolically planned in advance to murder Palestinian civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure. (see THE CASE AGAINST THE GOLDSTONE REPORT: A STUDY IN EVIDENTIARY BIAS).
However, it is time to say what everyone knows and will not admit. Israel's army probes of the Gaza war crime allegations are not going to satisfy many critics, nor will documents like the one issued recently by the Israeli government, and other reports that are either in preparation or submitted. The Israeli MAG (Military Advocate General) reported that they investigated X number of cases raised ( about 140 at this time) by the infamous Goldstone report and closed them. But the skeptics will dismiss it all as "Zionist propaganda" because they have been convinced, rightly or wrongly, that only an independent civilian inquiry will discover the truth.
Contrary to the impression that some people seem to have, the report presented to UN Secretary General Ban was not the final Israeli rejoinder to the Goldstone report. Israel is preparing a very long report that will be a point by point refutation:
The 40-page “letter” was delivered to Ban, explaining the independence of ’s legal system, and the efficacy of the justice system in the military.
Diplomatic officials stressed that this letter is not the IDF’s answer to the Goldstone Commission report. The IDF rebuttal is currently being completed, and will number more than 1,000 pages and will answer point-by-point all the allegations in the Goldstone Report
The "40 page letter" referred to above may or may not be the 46 page document that is posed at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website - Gaza Operation Investigations - an update. That document details the structure and independence of the Military Advocate General's office and the Israeli investigation process, as well as giving finding regarding some of the cases.
These efforts, which impress Israel's friends, are not necessarily going to convince the the world, and do not change the fact that there were, and are, real problems that require both judicial and administrative or legislative remedies.
The problems are evident even in the handling of the rebuttal. According to Haaretz, newspaper, the letter sent to Secretary General Ban claimed that two IDF officers were disciplined for improper use of white phosphorus in one incident on January 15, 2009. But according to Haaretz newspaper, the IDF promptly denied that any officers were disciplined!
The Israel Defense Forces on Monday denied that two of its senior officers had been summoned for disciplinary action after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government wrote in a recent report.
The report, which was a sensation for a day, seems to have vanished without a final resolution - either a clear official confirmation or a clear denial. This is not indicative of an orderly process of investigation, to say the least. If Haaretz is referring to the 46 page update document, there is indeed a report that officers were disciplined in section 100 and what is apparently the same report for the same incident is given in Section 108:
One of these incidents involved alleged damage to the UNRWA field office compound in Tel El Hawa.102 The special command investigation revealed that, during the course of a military operation in Tel El Hawa, IDF forces fired several artillery shells in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas. Based on these findings, the Commander of the Southern Command disciplined a Brigadier General and a Colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others.
There is no mention of white phosphorus in that section. In Sections 118-120, the document states categorically that all IDF use of white phosphorus was found to be legal and there were no violations. The Haaretz article related an entirely narrative that is not taken from the document, and their source is not clear. The IDF denial that officers were disciplined for any reason that is quoted in Ha'aretz is also unexplained.
If we don't believe our own report, it is not likely that anyone else will believe it. If different branches of the IDF cannot ascertain whom the IDF punished and for what, there must be at least some procedures that require investigation and correction.
According to the report, about 150 cases were investigated and 36 were referred for disciplinary action. Details are not given for every case. In the entire Gaza operation, we are supposed to believe, almost nobody made serious errors in judgment. We are to believe that almost all the decisions were correct, even though soldiers died from friendly fire, and three little Palestinian girls, whom everyone admits were blameless, daughters of a blameless physician, Dr. Izzeldin AbuelAish, were killed by mistake..Those are three wrongful deaths that we can identify by name. Even the most pro-Israel enthusiast might think it is suspicious if the IDF says, "We investigated ourselves and we found ourselves almost blameless."
If all the IDF decisions were correct, then how did it happen that we waged an expensive and risky war, and at the end of the war there was a lot of destruction in Gaza, but the Hamas
remained stronger than ever? It is unlikely that Israeli generals are war criminals as Goldstone charges, but nobody should get a prize for the planning and execution of the Gaza war. The Goldstone report or some similar kangaroo proceeding, should also have been foreseen by the planners since allegations of Israeli "war crimes" are not new. Even if there were no instances of criminal malfeasance, there was certainly a failure of decision making, and there errors of judgment and lapses in discipline. We all know about the graffiti left in Gaza by various IDF soldiers, and about the inciteful pamphlets initiated by fanatic rabbis and distributed by the IDF "through an oversight." What mechanisms were put into place to correct these problems?
We were assured, from the start, that the Gaza war would not be like the Second Lebanon war. Officers and government officials would not speak out of turn, and would not make pointless bellicose remarks. But pointless bellicosity continued long after the Second Lebanon war, and the Goldstone report used them as "evidence" against Israel. For example, In October 2008, just before General Eisenkott said, regarding Lebanon:What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”
This is the sort of primitive and needless bragging and bullying that used to characterize Arab leaders. It is in a class with the threats made by Gamal Abdul Nasser before the Six day war
. Whatever policies the government adopts, they are not set by the IDF, and whatever military doctrines the IDF adopts, they are not more effective if discussed in public. Wars are not won by rhetoric. If the Israeli government wanted to warn the Lebanese against testing Israeli patience, there were other, more credible and more civilized ways to do it.
Even more pointless were the remarks of Eli Yishai, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. He said on February 2, 2009Even if the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired.
We can point out that these remarks were made after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead and cannot prove intent, though they might say something about general policy and state of mind They are not evidence surely, as Yishai didn't plan the operation. They were utterly pointless because unlike General Eisenkott, Yishai is not a military authority and is not in charge of military planning.
He should stick to what he knows.
Perhaps the skill of Alan Dershowitz can convince friends of Israel that it is not illegal to call for destruction of homes, as he does so well. But if you require a Dershowitz or a Clarence Darrow to defend you and to produce an exegesis of your remarks in the manner of the Rashi and the Rambam, you are in trouble. Those who are not so well disposed to our cause will take the remarks literally. As the Israeli government had to be aware of the hostile international environment, what possible excuse was there for remarks such as these, intended evidently to garner support from Shas party voters. What is a minister of a religious party doing meddling in foreign policy and military strategy in public? Yishai probably knows even less about military strategy than he knows about industry, trade or labor. What purpose did these remarks serve?
At least some Israeli authorities have understood that an independent investigation is required. Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, who headed the Military Advocate General's international law department during Operation Cast Lead called for an investigation
, though she is apparently convinced that all is well in the best of all possible worlds:"There is not necessarily a need for a commission of inquiry because we essentially know more or less what happened in terms of decision making, orders and targets," she said. "As for the top brass, we have the protocols of government meetings."Nonetheless, she added, "We are now in a situation in which we need to give our friends - who don't want to see lawsuits filed against us in their own courts - the tools to do away such claims, along with other charges against us," she said."If they need a commission of inquiry then that's what we'll give them," she added. "I really don't think we have anything we need to hide."
It is not so clear that everything is under control and nothing can go wrong, as Sharvit-Baruch implied. If she had done her job right during the Gaza war, there might not have been a Goldstone report. Moreover, if everything is just fine, then how did it happen that her remarks, made in confidence to a closed forum, were published the next day in Haaretz? Leaks of this sort are the rule, rather than the exception. What sort of army cannot keep secrets?
Menachem Mazuz, Israel's outgoing government counsel (a title erroneously translated in English as "Attorney General") also explained
why an independent investigation is needed:
"There is a danger here of a 'Serbianization' of Israel," even though the report on the Gaza war was biased and contains unsubstantiated conclusions, Mazuz said. "Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report. It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes."
"Some sort of committee" is not enough. There must be a judicial committee of inquiry or judicial proceedings in regular courts regarding criminal allegations. The investigation or trials would not satisfy everyone. The Palestinians, notwithstanding the fact that they won't try any of their "alleged" war criminals and their supporters will continue to rant about Zionist war criminals, backed by the Arab world and degenerates like the Dutch socialite Greta Duisenberg. But friendly governments will at least have a solid basis to reject the Goldstone allegations and to combat the campaign of pseudo-legal war criminal proceedings being waged by Palestinians and their supporters.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi are opposed to a probe. But they are among the "suspects," because part of Goldstone's allegations, the most serious ones, claim that the Gaza operation was planned to harm civilians and to harm infrastructure in order to hurt civilians. Of course, intentional destruction of some infrastructure may have been done based on the doctrine that we must destroy "infrastructure" of terrorists. That is not criminal, but since terror groups do not have and do not need much infrastructure, it is probable that this doctrine is mistaken. But it is clear that suspects in a possible investigation should not be deciding whether or not to have an investigation.
A second investigation, non-judicial, is needed to examine the tactical and strategic and policy aspects of Operation Cast Lead
. Before the next war, we must find out what really went wrong in Operation Cast Lead
, and in the Second Lebanon War
. Obviously, not all the lessons of the Second Lebanon war were learned, because in some respects the Gaza war was a repeat performance. This is true despite the great strides taken by the IDF in repairing itself, and despite the fact that both the Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister had been replaced, and nobody doubts the professional qualifications of the present incumbents. And the problem is not confined to military planning.
The two wars share too many negative characteristics in common: Both were long drawn out operations that generated a lot of destruction and civilian deaths on the enemy side, but did not inflict a decisive blow on the enemy. Both brought charges of Israeli "war crimes."Israel's friends may be willing to help us, especially as the United States, Britain and others may be accused of similar war "war crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan by the same coalition of terror groupies But friends can only help those who help themselves. And we need a real investigation, because there are real problems that exist regardless of the Goldstone report. The same sorts of problems have been dogging the IDF and Israeli government since the Yom Kippur War
: poor intelligence, poor decision making, poor strategy, neglect of essential preparation, flaws in implementation. Israelis who do not believe me, should consider this example, which is easy to check. What is the status of the air raid shelters in your town. Are they all clean and ready? Were they all opened and ready for use when there was a drill?
After each war there is an "investigation" and we are assured that the problems will not recur, but they do. Condemning the Goldstone report is not enough. Friends of Israel have to understand that along with condemning the Goldstone report, we must call for independent inquiries.
What is more important than the last war or last wars, is the next one. The next Lebanon or Gaza war, if there will be one, is being planned according to the same formula: a long war of attrition featuring air and ground operations. The minister of religion and the minister of rabbit growing will issue bellicose announcements about grinding the enemy to dust and will be duly quoted in the media. The confidential remarks of every military official in closed door forums will make daily headlines. The network and media photographers and correspondents will have weeks to report about the real or imagined agony of innocent Lebanese civilians. The enemy will be able to generate a great deal of Pallywood and Hoaxbulla - dead bodies taken from morgues, staged ambulance emergencies, the same person losing a different home on different days. The anti-Israel lobby will have a PR festival, and Israel
will accomplish no strategic objective other than to strengthen its enemies.
Well-meaning polemics against the Goldstone report, as bad as the report is, miss the point. It is always valid to ask for an independent civilian investigation of criminal actions when there are reasonable suspicions. Justice must be seen as well as done. When the military and civilian decision process has produced two catastrophic failures in a brief period, it is also imperative to hold a serious and probing technical and policy review as well. It is not unpatriotic to mount these investigations. It is common sense, good government and good Zionism.
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Human Rights, IDF, International law, United Nations, US Policy
Continued (Permanent Link)
A tiny step forward in the nightmare of UN boycotts of Israel.
Geneva, Jan. 27, 2010 – After decades of exclusion, Israel was granted membership in a United Nations caucus in Geneva.
Israel's admission to the Human Rights Council's JUSCANZ group -- an acronym for the non-EU democracies of Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- was approved last Friday by consensus, and signifies they regard the Jewish state as "like-minded." The group has expanded over time to include Norway, Switzerland and other Western countries.
"For this to happen in Geneva, and especially at the Arab-dominated Human Rights Council, is an historic accomplishment for Israel and for the principle of equality," said Alfred Moses, Chair of the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization.
"It's a significant achievement in an arena where regression is the norm, one that will allow Israel for the first time to participate in a UN consultative group on human rights issues," said Moses.
"This is particularly important during a time when countries are planning for the 2011 reform of the council, a body that has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the world's victims of human rights violations."
"The diplomatic victory followed years of diplomatic efforts, which were supported by UN Watch as a necessary implementation of the UN Charter's equality guarantee for all nations, large and small. The United States is one of several countries that deserve particular credit for finally making it happen."
The change does not apply to JUSCANZ consultations in New York, nor to the Asian regional group's continued exclusion of Israel. UN Watch called on the United Nations to remove remaining discriminatory barriers to Israel's full and equal participation within UN voting and consultation blocs.
"We also urge the Human Rights Council in particular to remove its permanent agenda item targeting Israel; to eliminate its post of a permanent investigator on alleged Israeli violations, where guilt is presumed in advance; and to end the policy whereby three-quarters of all council resolutions have been devoted to the one-sided censure of Israel, and Israel made the object of more special sessions than the total for the rest of the world combined."
UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.
Labels: Human Rights, Israel-2, United Nations
Continued (Permanent Link)
Of particular relevance is this order issued by the Hamas during operation Cast Lead:
"" In accordance with the policy of the factions of the jihad resistance in Gaza …we inform you that it is completely forbidden to issue information about the numbers, names or pictures or any [other] detail about the shaheeds and wounded of the resistance . The order is in force until the end of the Zionist aggression which is clear to us and our nation, with the consent of Allah, may he be exalted. Any [report] which violates these rules will be deleted and a warning will be sent to whoever is responsible for the posting. Let us all be soldiers of the resistance, and if we cannot assist it, at least let us not assist the enemy [fighting] against it." "
A facsimile of the original Arabic is here.
The following is the published response of the IDF Spokesperson to B'telem allegations:
Approximately six months ago the IDF publicized official statistics, gathered and confirmed by the Research Division of the IDF Defense Intelligence, citing the number of casualties during Operation Cast Lead. According to these statistics, there were 1,166 Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip, the majority of which (709) were terror operatives affiliated with the Hamas terror organization, some of whom belonged to other terror groups.
The "B'Tselem" report is not based on facts or on accurate statistics. Furthermore, among its sources, B'Tselem officially states that it based its findings, on cross referencing statistics from investigations of Palestinian human rights groups and various websites and blogs, including those of the militant wings of terror organizations and that of the Palestinian Police.
The discrepancy in the numbers is based on the fact that B'Tselem's sources are organizations with a vested interest, and it does not have the tools, nor the intelligence capabilities with which it can within a necessary degree of confidence know the causes of death or the affiliations of these casualties.
The Hamas terror organization is hiding these statistics so that it can play on international public opinion so as to increase support in its violent acts of terror. For example, the way in which Hamas "police officers" are categorized in the report, where Hamas is presenting operatives in its military wing as police officers whose job is to enforce law and order. This is done in order to minimize the number of casualties amongst its forces, while inflating the number of civilian casualties.
By shifting public attention to the number of casualties, Hamas is diverting attention from the real issue, in which this terror organization specifically and deliberately endangered the lives of the residents in the Gaza Strip, where on the other hand, as much as was possible, the IDF sought to prevent the harm of uninvolved noncombatant civilians. It should be remembered, that the IDF engaged in Operation Cast Lead after a prolonged period of continuous rocket and mortar fire on hundreds of thousands of Israeli residents. The firing of these rockets was done from within population centers in the Gaza Strip, while using the local residents as a human shield from behind which it would launch its terror attacks.
- With regards to the categorization of the "police officers," information can be found that proves their terrorist activities on the website of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: www.terrorism-info.org.il.
- An example of the double use of Hamas "police officers" in reports can be openly seen in a statements made on June 28, in which the Hamas Minister of the Interior, Hamad Fatahi, and also Haled Mashal himself, admitted that on the first day alone, 400 or 500 "Hamas warriors" had died. Furthermore, as Hamas has a policy of withholding information regarding sustained casualties during the operation, it is possible that the number of terror operatives who were killed is higher than the IDF's calculations.
- It should also be stated the Manager of Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health and Emergency Services Ministry stated that there were approximately 1400 casualties during Operation Cast Lead. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is that a number alone was given unsupported by identifying names, as well as the addition of natural death cases, which stands at approximately 400 per month in the Gaza Strip, possibly caused by the confusion at Gaza Strip hospitals during the operation.
- As was explained to the organization, the IDF is unable to disclose the methods in which it gathers such information, as it is classified.
Labels: Betselem, Hamas, Human Rights, Israel-2
Continued (Permanent Link)
"Legitimate criticism" of Israel reached new lows of depravity in Sweden when Sweden's leading daily newspaper revived the medieval blood libel accusation against the IDF. in a sensational article titled ""Our sons plundered for their organs"(Swedish article is here: aftonbladet.se/kultur/article5652583.ab). Based on this accusation, "Anti-Zionist" Web sites and e-mail lists are hurrying to circulate the "news" that the IDF kills Palestinian Arabs in order to extract their organs for transplants.
The reporter, one Donald Bostrom, assembled a farrago of unrelated stories about illegal organ trafficking from Israel, including a story about the arrest of a New York Jew engaged in selling kidneys contrary to Israeli law. He used hearsay and rumor from Palestinians about the fate of relatives killed during the Intifada:
I was in the area and worked on a book when I several times was contacted by UN staff who were concerned about the development. Those who contacted me felt that body theft actually took place, but that they were unable to act. On behalf of a television company, I then went around and spoke to a large number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza....
"'Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,' relatives of Khaled from Nablus said to me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin as well as the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who all had disappeared for a few days and returned by night, dead and autopsied. - Why did they keep the bodies up to five days before we can bury them? What happened to the bodies in the meantime? And why is the autopsy when the cause of death is obvious, and in all cases against our will? And why are the bodies returned at night?".
Evidently, the rumors spread due to ignorance of forensic autopsy procedures and Jew hate, encouraged by UN personnel. Bostrom described in detail the case of one Bilal Achmed Ghanian, 19, whose body was returned after autopsy after he was killed in 1992. It is probable, but unclear, that the victims were dead when they were evacuated. Of course, organs cannot be harvested from cadavers. Bostrom quoted an IDF denial and explanation that the autopsies were routine, but Bostrom implied that the denial is false:
The routine autopsy of killed Palestinians, as told by the army spokesman is not true in reality in the Occupied Territories. .
The use of rumor and hearsay, and more especially the unrelated material about illegal organ traffic, make it clear that Bostrom set out to intentionally libel Israel and the Jewish people. The Israeli ambassador lodged a strong protest, but this can hardly be a deterrent to people like Bostrom. If a similar report about Muslims had been published in a Scandinavian journal, wouldn't there be violent world wide demonstrations as there were after the Danish Muhammad cartoons?
Swedish Jews claim Bostrom is a known anti-Semite and AftonBladet has published similar articles. The Swedish Embassy in Israel has apologized, but a culture editor of Aftonbladet told Haaretz that the publication stands by the story and insists on an "international investigation" of the alleged nefarious Jewish activities.
The libel of organ stealing is not new and may have originated with Yasser Arafat himself. According to a 2002 Honest Reporting article:
the Islamic Association for Palestine reported that Yasser Arafat "has accused the Israeli apartheid regime of murdering Palestinian children and youths and extricating their vital organs for organ transplants."
It is one thing when racist Palestinian leaders make accusations of Jewish blood libel
, but quite another phenomenon and much more ominous when they appear in a respected northern European "Nordic" country journal. It seems that there are no longer any real limits to what may be published under the guise of supposedly "legitimate criticism of Israel." A competing Swedish newspaper has published a horrified editorial.The liberal Sydsvenskan - southern Sweden's major daily ran an opinion piece of Mats Skogkär called "Antisemitbladet" (a play on the name Aftonbladet):
"We have heard the story before, in one form or the other. It follows the traditional pattern of conspiracy theory: a great number of loose threads that the theorist tempts the reader to tie into a neat knot without having been provided with any proven connection whatsoever..."
"Whispers in the dark. Anonymous sources. Rumors. That is all it takes. After all we all know what they [the Jews] are like, don't we: inhuman, hardened. Capable of anything," the opinion piece says. "Now all that remains is the defense, equally predictable: 'Anti-Semitism' No, no, just criticism of Israel."
The tale is not told in a cultural vacuum of course. The stories of Bilal Achmed Ghanian and the others are backed by a rich European tradition of "legitimate criticism" of Jew
s. They have joined the European pantheon of fraudulent blood libel martys, which includes numerous "saints" revered by the Catholic church for many years, such as Saint Andreas of Rinn
, Saint Simon of Trent
, and Saint Hugh of Lincoln. Aftonbladet has carried on in a more modern tradition of Nordic journalism, illustrated by the following twentieth century cartoon from the Westdeutchen Beobachter, also considered "legitimate criticism" by its defenders:
Labels: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Human Rights, IDF, Media, Palestinians
Continued (Permanent Link)
What is important is not so much the common sense message, but the source of the message.
English:A word of truth: http://tundratabloid.blogspot.com/2009/07/kuwati-newspaper-runs-op-ed-supporting.htmlAl-Watan, Kuwait
19 July 2009
"Allah testifies that they are lying"
A non-governmental Israeli organization claims that the IDF that attacked Gaza and the ostracized Hamas used local civilians as human shields and opened fire indiscriminately. The report by "Breaking the Silence" says the IDF destroyed buildings, mosques and private homes, and includes testimonies by 30 soldiers who participated in the attack on Gaza (2008/12/27–18/1/2009), but without revealing their names or unit affiliation.
However these allegations are to be rejected because the IDF has proved that its troops follow international law and obey orders despite the stress of battle. These testimonies lack sourcing or corroboration, thus preventing any conclusions from being drawn... Furthermore, it was the ostracized Hamas that caused much grief when it fired dozens of Qassam missiles at innocent civilians in the southern towns and villages of Israel. The IDF had no choice but to fight back causing the deaths of 1400 Palestinians, half of them civilians used as human shields by Hamas, in addition to the 5,000 wounded. Israel lost just 10 soldiers and 3 civilians.
The IDF defended innocent Israeli civilians against Hamas attacks and did all it could to prevent harming any civilians, targeting just the Hamas men, to disarm them by aerial bombing, shelling, and the use of heavy tractors, while maintaining the humane principles of the IDF that seeks to win with minimal human cost to either side.
The report by "Breaking the Silence" was unfair, unbalanced, and lacking in proof, so one wonders where it was when Hamas used schools and homes for weapons storage or for missile launchers. Israeli pilots reported many secondary explosions after they hit Hamas targets. Where was that organization when Hamas smuggled tons of illicit weapons through a network of tunnels from Egypt?
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Human Rights
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Where, oh where, are the crowds of rights demonstrators, where is Oxfam? Amnesty? Human Rights Watch? They issued minor press releases, but nobody gave them much coverage. If Israel or the US were murdering people in this way, there would be an outcry all over the world. Streets would be flooded with protestors. Where is Tikkun? Doesn't Michael Lerner's sense of justice extend to Iranians? Don't they have rights?
Violent confrontations in Iran - Why is everyone silent?
Ma'ariv (Monday, June 22, 09)
by Ben Caspit and Ben-Dror Yemini (opinion)
Tell us, where is everyone? Where did all the people who demonstrated against Israel's brutality in Operation Cast Lead, in the Second Lebanon War, in Operation Defensive Shield, or even in The Hague, when we were dragged there unwillingly after daring to build a separation barrier between us and the suicide bombers, disappear to? We see demonstrations here and there, but these are mainly Iranian exiles. Europe, in principle, is peaceful and calm. So is the United States. Here and there a few dozens, here and there a few hundreds. Have they evaporated because it is Tehran and not here?
All the peace-loving and justice-loving Europeans, British professors in search of freedom and equality, the friends filling the newspapers, magazines and various academic journals with various demands for boycotting Israel, defaming Zionism and blaming us and it for all the ills and woes of the world?could it be that they have taken a long summer=2 0vacation? Now of all times, when the Basij hooligans have begun to slaughter innocent civilians in the city squares of Tehran? Aren't they connected to the Internet? Don't they have YouTube? Has a terrible virus struck down their computer? Have their justice glands been removed in a complicated surgical procedure (to be re-implanted successfully for the next confrontation in Gaza)? How can it be that when a Jew kills a Muslim, the entire world boils, and when extremist Islam slaughters its citizens, whose sole sin is the aspiration to freedom, the world is silent?
Imagine that this were not happening now in Tehran, but rather here. Let's say in Nablus. Spontaneous demonstrations of Palestinians turning into an ongoing bloodbath. Border Policemen armed with knives, on motorcycles, butchering demonstrators. A young woman downed by a sniper in midday, dying before the cameras. Actually, why imagine? We can just recall what happened with the child Mohammed a-Dura. How the affair (which was very harsh, admittedly) swept the world from one end to another. The fact that a later independent investigative report raised tough questions as to the identity of the weapon from which a-Dura was shot, did not make a difference to anyone. The Zionists were to blame, and that was that.
And where are the world's leaders? Where is the wondrous rhetorical ability of Barack Obama? Where has his sublime vocabulary gone? Where is the desire, that is supposed to be built into all American presidents, to defend and act on behalf of freedom seekers around the globe? What is this stammering?
A source who is connected to the Iranian and security situation, said yesterday that if Obama had shown on the Iranian matter a quarter of the determination with which he assaulted the settlements in the territories, everything would have looked different. "The demonstrators in Iran are desperate for help," said the man, who served in very senior positions for many years, "they need to know that they have backing, that there is an entire world that supports them, but instead they see indifference. And this is happening at such a critical stage of this battle for the soul of Iran and the freedom of the Iranian people. It's sad."
Or the European Union, for example. The organization that speaks of justice and peace all year round. Why should its leaders not declare clearly that the world wants to see a democratic and free Iran, and support it unreservedly? Could it be20that the tongue of too many Europeans is still connected to dark places? The pathetic excuse that such support would give Khamenei and Ahmadinejad an excuse to call the demonstrators "Western agents," does not hold water. They call them "Western agents" in any case, so what difference does it make?
To think that just six months ago, when Europe was flooded with demonstrations against Israel, leftists and Islamists raised pictures of Nasrallah, the prot?g? of the ayatollah regime. The fact that this was a benighted regime did not trouble them. This is madness, but it is sinking in and influencing the weary West. If there is a truly free world here, let it appear immediately! And impose sanctions, for example, on those who slaughter the members of their own people. Just as it imposed them on North Korea, or on the military regime in Burma. It is only a question of will, not of ability.
Apparently, something happens to the global adherence to justice and equality, when it comes to Iran. The oppression is overt and known. The Internet era broadcasts everything live, and it is all for the better. Hooligans acting on behalf of the regime shoot and stab masses of demonstrators, who cry out for freedom.
Is anything more needed? Apparently it is. Because it is to no avail. The West remains indifferent. Obama is polite. Why shouldn't he be, after all, he aspires to a dialogue with the ayatollahs. And that is very fine and good, the problem is that at this stage there is no dialogue, but there is death and murder on the streets. At this stage, one must forget the rules of etiquette for a moment. The voices being heard from Obama elicit concern that we are actually dealing with a new version of Chamberlain. Being conciliatory is a positive trait, particularly when it follows the clumsy bellicosity of George Bush, but when conciliation becomes blindness, we have a problem.
There is a different Islam. This is already clear today. Even in Iran. There are millions of Muslims who support freedom, human rights, equality for women. These millions loathe Khamenei, Chavez and Nasrallah too. But part of the global left wing prefers the ayatollah regime over them. The main thing is for them to raise flags against Israel and America. The question is why the democrats, the liberals, and Obama, Blair and Sarkozy, are continuing to sit on the fence. This is not a fence of separation, it is a fence of shame.
The courageous voice of Angela Merkel, who issued yesterday a firm statement of support for the Iranian people and its right to freedom, is in the meantime a lone voice in the Western wilderness. It is only a shame that she has not announced an economic boycott, in light of the fact that this is the European country that is most invested in building infrastructure in Iran. She was joined by British Foreign Secretary Miliband. It is little, it is late, it is not enough. Millions of freedom seekers have taken to the streets in Iran, and the West is straddling the fence, one leg here, the other leg there.
Labels: Anti-Zionism, Human Rights, Iran
Continued (Permanent Link)
>Sad but true.
Amnesty's obsession with Israel
Amnesty persistently condemns Israel while ignoring suffering elsewhere
Yael Beck, Merav Fima
Even in a month when war raged in Georgia, Amnesty International continued to focus on the Gaza Strip, persistently blaming Israel for ongoing Palestinian hardship.
Amnesty, in fact, issued harsher condemnations of Israel than of any party to the Georgian conflict. With a ceasefire holding between Israel and Hamas, resulting in a period of calm, Amnesty stubbornly continued to spew hollow publications repeating outdated allegations.
Moreover, Amnesty took pride in its relentless criticism of Israel, while the rest of the world rightly concerned itself with the unfolding crisis in Georgia. In a press release, the organization boasted: "With the ceasefire holding, the suffering in Gaza has fallen off the international news agenda. However, Amnesty International members continue to campaign." This "explanation" merely highlights Amnesty's obsession with Israel, regardless of the reality on the ground.
Regular readers of Amnesty's material are not fooled by their non-stop publications condemning Israel and can easily discern that they seldom reveal anything new. Many of its press releases are identical, except for minor alterations. Amnesty's ulterior motive appears to be to maintain a constant production rate of material denouncing Israel, regardless of actual developments.
For example, Amnesty's distasteful decision to continue issuing condemnations of Israel during a period of intense intra-Palestinian fighting clearly illustrates the point. Unsurprisingly, Amnesty failed to mention, let alone praise, Israel's commendable acceptance of Fatah members fleeing from Hamas.
While devoting so many of its resources to Gaza, at a time of acute suffering and human rights abuses in Georgia, Amnesty International failed to provide effective coverage of the Georgian conflict. Although one would reasonably expect Amnesty to immediately respond with urgency to such a crisis, raising awareness for its victims, Amnesty preferred to focus on its usual target: Israel.
For instance, on August 12, 2008, the organization released a statement headlined "Trapped – collective punishment in Gaza." An expanded version was re-issued on August 27, 2008. As NGO Monitor analysis has demonstrated, the report lacks evidence and credibility, largely ignores the context of terrorism, exploits international legal terminology, and presents data in a highly selective and distorted manner.
Concurrently, Amnesty released a series of vague and neutral statements calling on all sides of the conflict in the Caucuses to avoid harming civilians, without assuming a clear stance, nor providing comprehensive reporting on the events.
Amnesty's scarce coverage of the war in Georgia is not the result of inaccessibility. Human Rights Watch managed to provide ongoing and insightful coverage, based on its delegation's observations. Such limp statements on Amnesty's part betray its commitment to the defense of every individual's human rights.
Disappointingly, Amnesty expressed less concern regarding the events in Georgia, despite the fact that a greater number of civilians were killed during that conflict than over the course of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. On that occasion, Amnesty rushed to condemn Israel in almost-daily publications. It did not hesitate to portray Israel as an aggressor and largely ignored the fact that civilians in northern Israel suffered a constant barrage of rockets launched by the Hizbullah terrorist organization.
Amnesty's lame response to the recent Georgian conflict, overshadowed by its focus on Israel, indicates that the Second Lebanon War simply served as an incentive for Amnesty to pursue its shameless Israel-bashing. Had its aversion to war been genuine, Amnesty would have responded as forcefully or even more vocally to the Georgian conflict.
Were it truly concerned with the universality of human rights, Amnesty would apply the same standards to all countries. Hence, Amnesty's aim appears clear: to persistently condemn Israel, even if it means neglecting those suffering in other, more pressing conflicts across the world.
The authors are researchers at NGO Monitor, www.ngo-monitor.org
Labels: Amnesty International, Anti-Zionism, Human Rights, NGOs
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Well, we can't be against protecting virtue and fighting vice, can't we?
Abdul Majid Al-Zindani, Sadiq Al-Ahmar, Hussein Al-Ahmar and company prepare to address the crowd of 6,000 who gathered to hear about the new "Authority for Protecting Virtue and Fighting Vice." YT photo by Almigdad Mojalli
SANA'A, July 15 A meeting hosted by Sheikh Abdul Majid Al-Zindani announced on Tuesday that it intends to create a new para-governmental authority to comb the streets and root out anything in society that the committee deems to be a vice, including co-education in schools and universities and television series played during the month of Ramadan.
The newly-created Authority for Protecting Virtue and Fighting Vice said they will work side-by-side with the concerned governmental authorities. Members said they plan that the authority will be responsible for finding offenders who are promoting vice and report them to the police, who will then decide what to do with them. The group said that it would be the Yemeni police force who would decide whether or not to punish those caught by the authority.
However, the government released a statement the same day as Al-Zindani's meeting saying that only the government should concern itself with citizens' freedom, and no other institution can give or take away rights. Likewise, various political opposition parties launched an intense campaign against the authority since hearing of its plans in May.
"The authority was supposed to be composed of 25 clerics and five ministers," said Hamoud Al-Tharehi, the Supreme Committee member from the Islah Islamic Party. However, during the meeting, it was decided that the authority will instead consist of 42 clerics alone. "We reconsidered the issue and decided to restrict the authority to the Yemeni Clerics Association," added Al-Tharehi, pointing out that cooperation between clerics and governmental authorities might be difficult and lead to more problems.
Abdul Majid Al-Zindani, the head of Al-Iman University and a controversial figure in Islam as well as in Yemen, reaffirmed that the security forces would really be the ones protecting virtue and fighting vice. "Our only medium of change is the word, but the act is left for the state," said Al-Zindani.
Al-Zindani also said that the authority will ask the government to close any workplace spreading vices like serving alcohol and permitting prostitution. "We will never be silent towards any place, wherever it is," he added.
Al-Tharehi stated that the authority would specifically target private institutions frequented by the wealthy. He said that those are the institutions that smuggle children and promote prostitution.
Al-Tharehi denied that the authority had any hand in recent restaurant closures, but praised those who were responsible.
"The individuals who closed the restaurants don't belong to the authority, but they have good faith," said Al-Tharehi. "Also, there are individuals in Hodeidah who have good faith and individuals in Aden who have good faith," he mentioned in reference to the vigilante anti-vice squads in those cities that seemingly spontaneously cropped up in the last year.
The Yemeni clerics who will make up the new anti-vice authority released a statement of their own, expressing shock at the spread of vices in the country. They said these vices included bringing Arab and foreign female singers and dancers to Yemen for performances, opening nightclubs, broadcasting or holding fashion shows, mixed-sex dancing and pornographic channels in some hotels.
The statement also condemned broadcasting certain television series that play during Ramadan, which they said contradicts with morals during the holy month.
Yet another vice in the eyes of the authority, according to its published statement, is sending female students away to study in foreign countries without companions from their families. The authority said it also considered co-education in schools and universities to be a vice.
In another statement, members of the authority condemned what it called "the press campaign" against the Authority of Protecting Virtue and Fighting Vice, accusing the press of encouraging the building of churches and an overall increased "Christianization" in Yemen. The statement also accused the media of insulting and satirizing verses from the Holy Quran, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and Islamic clerics in general. It added that the press was a herald for vice and pornography.
The meeting's attendees numbered around 6,000 people, consisting of tribal sheiks, clerics and Members of Parliament (MPs). However, the meeting didn't involve any academics, government representatives or women. Female journalists, including one from the Yemen Times, were turned away from the meeting and told leave. Al-Zindani claimed in the meeting that he had sent 100 invited to academics, but none responded.
Most of the attendees were wearing traditional Yemeni garments including the thobe and the jambiya and the overwhelming majority had long beards.
Labels: Human Rights, Islamism
Continued (Permanent Link)
Crime and punishment! The people who carried out these attacks on innocent Arabs should be hunted mercilessly and treated as traitors and enemies of the Jewish people. They have done more harm to the Israeli cause than suicide bombers. Indeed, some suspected that the beatings were provocations by Palestinians dressed as Israelis.
The story of the beatings of the Nawaja family near Sussiya, and a video are posted here.
How many Palestinians have been arrested by Palestinians for murdering Israeli civilians?
Jerusalem Post / Jun 17, 2008 10:10
2 settlers arrested in assault case
By YAAKOV LAPPIN AND JPOST.COM STAFF
Several days after police have opened an undercover investigation to identify the masked men who were videotaped beating three members of a Palestinian family with sticks a week ago, two settlers from the southern Mount Hebron area were arrested, Tuesday.
One of those arrested on Tuesday is a minor, and police estimated more arrests will be made.
The two settlers who were held Tuesday did not try to resist arrest. They were caught after police acted under cover.
The assault took place near Sussiya in the southern Hebron Hills. In the video, shot by a teenage Palestinian girl, four individuals who appear to be young men march toward the family while holding sticks, with one
man wielding a stick at a Palestinian farmer. The film then ends, as the camera girl fled to summon help.
Labels: Human Rights, Israel-2, Palestinians
Continued (Permanent Link)
Dr. Eugene J. Fisher Responds to America Magazine Editorial, "Israel at 60"
While I can sympathize with much of the America editorial, which quite rightly reminds readers
of the needs, plight, and rights of Palestinians, I can only say that the statement that Israel
is not a democracy in the Western sense is ill conceived and very misleading. It seems to
presume that all Western democracies have never had any problems with minorities,
unlike Israel. Say again? The USA has not, ever (according to this editorial) ever in any sense
mistreated its native American or Black American or, currently its Hispanic American citizens?
And the French and British and Germans are not, right now, having problems dealing with their
Arab/Muslim minorities, and none have ever, ever persecuted their minorities?
I'm sorry. Israel may not be a better Western democracy than the USA, England, France, Germany,
Denmark, etc., but to say it is not one of us is to entirely miss the point of what defines Western
democracies, which for all our faults I will defend and, therefore, perforce, defend our friend Israel.
Dr. Eugene J. Fisher
Great Falls, VA. 22066
(Dr. Fisher is the Former Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB))
Labels: Anti-Semitism, Human Rights, Israel-2, Zionism
Continued (Permanent Link)
Send your sympathy to the parents of Rachel Corrie, one of many thousands of victims of the Israeli-Arab conflict, who was killed in 2003 by accident. Ask them please not to allow anyone to use her death in order to spread hatred and cause more and more deaths.
To the parents of Rachel Corrie,
I am sorry for your loss. In 2003, your daughter Rachel became one of the many victims of the struggle between Jews and Arabs in the land of Israel, AKA (between 1917 and 1947) as "Palestine." I am sure that you love your daughter as much as every one of the bereaved parents and relatives of victims of the conflict loved their children. Your daughter was killed, apparently by accident, by a civilian bulldozer driver. I wish that Israel would open a full investigation of the matter and issue an apology, even if the death was purely accidental. As an Israeli, I apologize, but I can only do so as an individual.
But the other victims of the conflict are as dear to their parents and loved ones as Rachel was to you. Here for example, are Rachel Thaler (left) age 15, killed in a suicide attack on a pizzeria, and by her side is Rachel is Rachel Levi, age 19, killed in a suicide attack while waiting for a bus.
There is also Carlos Chavez. I call him "the other Rachel Corrie." He is the Rachel Corrie nobody will remember. He was a volunteer, like Rachel. He was harming nobody. He was working on a kibbutz near the Gaza border. He came all the way from his home in Ecuador to do that. He was murdered intentionally by Palestinian Arab terrorists, not accidentally.
Continued here: Condolences for Rachel Corrie
Labels: Gaza, Human Rights, Israel-2, Palestinians, Peace
Continued (Permanent Link)
The Man Islamists Cannot Silence Sunday, March 30, 2008 - By: Benkin, Richard
He fired the first salvo in 2003 and has been sticking his thumb in Islamist eyes ever since. Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury describes himself as a "Muslim Zionist." He is unabashedly pro-US, pro-Israel, and anti-Islamist. More importantly, he remains all of that from within the Muslim world, which he refuses to leave. I have fielded any number of asylum requests for him, and he declined them all. "Retreat is not in my vocabulary," he says, for he believes that if he were to leave his country, his credibility would be gone, and Islamists would claim victory; a satisfaction he refuses to give them. "Bangladesh is my country," he says. "Let the radicals leave!"
Since 2003, we have fought not only a battle of ideas but also a battle of wills with our adversaries; and the skirmishes never end. Shoaib has been imprisoned and tortured. He has been beaten, and Islamists bombed his newspaper before they and their cronies in the ruling party seized the premises. All of this happened after Shoaib published articles that exposed the rising strength of Islamist radicals in Bangladesh, urged relations with Israel, and advocated genuine interfaith dialogue based on religious equality.
In November of that year, he was about to board a plane for Bangkok and then Israel (there are no direct flights between Dhaka and Tel Aviv), agents grabbed him. Eventually, they charged him with sedition, treason, and blasphemy, which are capital offenses and could send Shoaib to the gallows.
In 2005, however, after an intense seventeen month campaign for his freedom, Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) took on his case. He summoned then Bangladeshi Ambassador Shamsher M. Chowdhury to his Washington office, and the three of us had a sometimes acrimonious, always difficult, hours-long meeting. As Kirk (a member of the House Appropriations Committee) describes it, we had a "full and frank discussion," after which Dhaka agreed to free Shoaib Choudhury.
Our elation was short-lived, however, when Shamsher Chowdhury clarified that Shoaib would be freed on bail even though the ambassador had just admitted that there was no substance to the charges. To be sure, we had won the most important point: Shoaib would be free. Still, I looked up and said, "Not good enough. It's an old and tired ruse used by tyrants," I continued. "Free the dissident but keep the charges pending in order to silence him." And so we argued some more until Chowdhury relented and agreed that Dhaka would drop the charges not long after Shoaib's release.
That was three years ago. The charges remain, even though numerous Bangladeshi officials have made the same admission as the ambassador; that the charges are baseless and are maintained only to placate the country's radical Islamists. Bangladesh's population is about 88 percent Muslim, a figure that is growing constantly, especially as Hindus are being ethnically cleansed from that country, falling from 18 to nine percent of the population. Although radical Islamists affiliated with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations represent only a small proportion of the population, they have infiltrated and taken charge of almost every major institution in Bangladesh from education and banking to police and the judiciary.
For months, both sides had settled into a sort of stasis until this past fall when the Bangladeshis tried illegally to revoke Shoaib's bail and send him back to prison. The fact that we continued to frustrate these attempts could have had something to do with what happened next. On the evening of March 18, as Shoaib sat at his desk working on another edition of his newspaper, Weekly Blitz, a large contingent of armed goons from the government's paramilitary squad -- the hated and feared Rapid Action Battalion or RAB -- burst into his office. They ordered all employees out, seized Shoaib's means of contacting the outside, and began "interrogating" him.
Fortunately, his driver quickly alerted Shoaib's brother, Sohail, who telephoned me in the United States. Shoaib's life was in very real danger, so we determined on an immediate course of action. Sohail called Luke Zahner, Second Secretary at the US Embassy in Dhaka, and a long time supporter of Shoaib's. Zahner, who had previously helped set up USAID's elections support program in Iraq, notified U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Geeta Pasi.
I telephoned Kirk's office and described the events unfolding in Dhaka and their life-and-death nature to Andria Hoffman, who is Kirk's point person on the Choudhury case. "These [RAB] are bad people. I know them, and you don't even want them as friends, let alone be on their bad side. They're the kind of group where people sometimes go into their custody and 'disappear.'"
Hoffman got to Kirk, and they set up an emergency command center in his Longworth Building office. I then called three other legislators who have been especially supportive of Shoaib: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA). Their staffs -- who had frequently worked with me on Shoaib's case -- said they would take action and coordinate further with Kirk's office.
That done, I telephoned Bangladesh's DC embassy and told them the following: "If I don't receive a telephone call confirming that Shoaib has been released unharmed and soon, you're going to have a s**t storm like you've never even imagined." Within a short time, the embassy received calls from all four members of Congress mentioned above, as well as several others who they got involved. Hoffman called the Embassy's political secretary, Sheikh Mohammed Belal on his personal cell phone, demanding action.
Cut to Bangladesh. After holding Shoaib for about an hour an a half, an RAB officer said (and I am paraphrasing here), 'Oh look, it appears he has some illegal drugs in his desk drawer.' Now, I have known Shoaib as a brother for years, and we have spent a lot of time together. The man is simply not involved in any way with drugs. Moreover, he and I have spoken on many occasions of the paramount importance of his remaining "squeaky clean" in every way so as not to give his enemies an excuse to further persecute him. According to Sohail Choudhury, the evidence had to be planted, a tactic that RAB has been known to use rather liberally. No matter; they blindfolded Shoaib and took him to a "detention center" within RAB's office in the capital. According to Shoaib, the officers continued the verbal assault non-stop. They threatened him specifically and journalists in general for their criticism of the current military-backed government. They repeatedly called Shoaib a "Zionist spy and agent of the Jews."
At one point, Shoaib reminded them that they were violating a US Congressional Resolution that calls for an end to this sort of harassment, something with which the government said it would comply. House Resolution 64, authored by Kirk and co-sponsored by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) calls on the Bangladeshis to drop all charges against Shoaib and end all harassment of him and his family. It passed last year by an overwhelmingly 409-1 margin. Their response was a string of expletives about the United States and the value of its resolutions.
As they approached the three hour mark, things were turning even nastier. RAB officers told Shoaib that he could expect a steady diet of this, or even worse, unless he began working for them; something that he called "ridiculous." Then the phone rang. The officers told Shoaib that the call came from "a high government official" ordering them to let him go. He phoned Sohail and asked him to bring him home.
Before they allowed them to go, however, Shoaib's captors forced the pair to sign an affidavit giving RAB the power to enter their home or business at any time and for any reason; although it should be added that it had no warrant or other sort of order when its men broke into his newspaper earlier. As such, Shoaib remains in danger, especially as his legal status remains equivocal at best.
Although Shoaib was released unharmed, the action represents a serious escalation of the government's and its Islamist cronies' attempt to silence this courageous journalist who now counts supporters on every continent. Equally important, we have learned over the years that they do these things periodically to probe us and test our resolve. They want to know if we are going to react or note. They want to know if we still are ready to defend Shoaib and other anti-Islamists or if we have lost interest.
Unfortunately, they started this false persecution on the assumption that no one would care what happened to Shoaib, and many in the government still believe that we Americans have little resolve -- and actually have told me that. And so they go after us. Our enemies count on this and point to success when they hear proposals to make concessions in Israel or to pull up stakes in Iraq and elsewhere. If we don't respond, and respond with strength, they'll continue persecuting Shoaib and others like him.
Because, in fact, the stakes go beyond even the fate of this hero. Muslim editors from Pakistan to Indonesia (and even the United States) have told us that Muslims throughout Asia are watching this case. They want to know if it is possible to stand against the radicals and prevail -- without running to the safety of the West, as they put it. If Shoaib prevails, they will be emboldened to act similarly. If we let him go down -- and that is exactly how they will see it -- they will remain silent.
When Shoaib was in prison, his brother told me that people all over the world who need a champion to save them from oppression look only one place, the United States; not to Europe; not to tyrants like Mahmoud Ahmedinejad or Fidel Castro who claim to be freedom fighters; and not to terrorist like Osama Bin Laden. When we stand with Shoaib, we reinforce their belief in us.
In the meantime, Shoaib Choudhury refuses to be silent, especially he says given all the support he received. Two days after his abuse at RAB's hands, he published another edition of Weekly Blitz. Two of its headline articles were "RAB Cocoon of Terror" and "They want to Appease Islamists." He is our ally; he is my brother; he is the bravest man I know. He is the man whom Islamists cannot silence.
Labels: Human Rights, Islam, Islamism
Continued (Permanent Link)
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