By Akiva Eldar
Last week the prime minister congratulated Ariel College for being elevated by the Judea and Samaria Council of Higher Education to university status. Today, Ehud Olmert is traveling to Jericho, in order to hold talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, on an agreement of principles (and perhaps even "agreed-upon principles") for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
According to all maps, including those of our American friends, the land on which the new university sits is supposed to be an inalienable part of the new Palestinian state. How, then, should the common Palestinian citizen interpret the news about the upgrading of the large Israeli college in the very heart of the West Bank? What value could Olmert's promise to Abbas, that he will further a peace accord that will bring about an end to Israeli occupation, have in the Palestinians' eyes?
It is conceivable that the prime minister had no ill intentions. Olmert, like most Israelis, has become accustomed over the past 40 years to living in a world of double meanings. Throughout history, Israeli governments have extended one hand "to peace with the Arabs" while the other hand lays further claim to the occupied territories. In order to maintain the industry of contradictions between what is said and what is done, legal experts constructed a splendid system of overpasses for the politicians. These allow the de facto annexation of Palestinian land, without the need to annex Palestinian residents.
The Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria is one of these inventions. It is meant to enable the establishment and development of an Israeli academic institution outside the sovereign territory of the State of Israel. On the one hand the Ministry of Education recognizes the degrees the council grants and the educational programs it approves. On the other hand, the education minister declared recently that the council's decision to upgrade the college is not valid.
This federal lawsuit was initiated on March 15, 2005 against Illinois-based Caterpillar, Inc. on behalf of the parents of Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old American peace activist and student who was run over and killed by a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Gaza as she was trying to protect a home from being demolished while the family was inside. On May 2, 2005, the complaint was amended to include four Palestinian families whose family members were killed or injured when Caterpillar bulldozers demolished their homes on top of them.
Working with CCR on the case are: the International Human Rights Clinic at Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic at Seattle University School of Law, Seattle-based Public Interest Law Group, PLLC, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
In November 2005, Judge Franklin Burgess granted Caterpillar's motion to dismiss the case without permitting discovery or hearing oral argument. CCR appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit on March 20th, 2006 and will present oral arguments setting out why this case should be permitted to go forward on July 9, 2007 in Seattle, Washington.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleges that Caterpillar, Inc. violated international and state law by providing D9 bulldozers to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that it knew would be used to demolish homes and endanger civilians. In doing so, Caterpillar aided and abetted the crimes committed by the IDF by knowingly providing assistance that had a substantial effect on the commission of the violations.
The violations of international and state law include: war crimes (including destruction of private property), extrajudicial killings, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and wrongful death. The claims were brought under the Alien Tort Statute, the Torture Victim Protection Act and 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
The United States, international human rights organizations, and the United Nations have condemned house demolitions as a clear violation of international humanitarian law.
Al Sho'bi family: Mahmoud Omar Al Sho'bi is from Nablus in the West Bank. In April 2002, a D9 bulldozer destroyed Mr. Al Sho'bi's family home without warning in an IDF attack in the middle of the night. His father Umar, his sisters Fatima and Abir, his brother Samir and pregnant sister-in-law Nabila, and their three children, ages 4, 7, and 9, were all killed. After the Al Sho'bi family home was demolished, the IDF kept the area under strict curfew for days, denying access to rescue workers, and it was not until a week later that the families' bodies were found under the rubble of the house by relatives and neighbors.
Fayed family: Fathiya Muhammad Sulayman Fayed's home was bulldozed during an IDF incursion into the Jenin Refugee Camp in 2002. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed allegedly to clear paths for IDF's tanks. During the demolition, her son, Jamal, who was paralyzed, needed assistance to get out of the house. While the IDF initially stopped bulldozing so Fathiya could help Jamal, they resumed demolition. Fathiya escaped, but Jamal could not and was killed.
Abu Hussein family: A D9 bulldozer demolished the Abu Hussein home in the al-Salam neighborhood of Rafah in 2002. The destruction began without warning at 5:00 a.m., physically injuring six family members inside. After being warned, the IDF halted active demolition, but fired on neighbors or relatives trying to evacuate those in the house. The family was eventually rescued.
Corrie Family: On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, a student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, was killed by a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza, Palestine. Rachel was attempting to prevent the home of a local pharmacist from being demolished while the family was still inside. Despite being in plain view and wearing a florescent orange vest, Rachel was crushed to death when the bulldozer drove over her.
Khalafallah family: In a July 2004 incursion into Khan Yunis Refugee Camp, the IDF demolished over 70 homes. At midnight, a bulldozer approached the home of Ibrahim Khalafallah and his wife Eida, where they lived with their 5 children, 2 daughters-in-law, and 4 grandchildren. Ibrahim, in his 70s and sick, was unable to move. When the bulldozer hit the house, Eida tried to stop the driver, but he continued, destroying the home and killing Ibrahim.
Britain has told Israel that it should prosecute one of its army officers for the killing of a British documentary maker after new evidence allegedly proved that the soldier fired the fatal shot.
UK officials have given Israel a deadline of Tuesday to respond, after which the authorities in this country will consider prosecuting Captain Hib al-Heib in the UK for the murder of James Miller, who was 34 when he was shot dead four years ago.
The warning follows new evidence from an inquiry commissioned by Scotland Yard which has shown that the bullet that killed Miller came from al-Heib’s armoured personnel carrier (APC).
The Tuesday deadline, originally set in a letter from Lord Goldsmith before he stepped down as attorney-general, was reiterated last week by the Foreign Office.
Miller, who was married with two children, was shot dead in the Gaza Strip on May 2, 2003 while making a film about children caught in the crossfire of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
July 27, 2007
When Israel's education ministry announced that history textbooks for third-graders would now include a heretofore unmentionable truth -- that the creation of a homeland for Jews in 1948 resulted in the exile of 700,000 Palestinians -- it seemed an enlightened step.
"History is written by the victors," as Winston Churchill said, and for the last 59 years, Israeli elementary school textbooks have taught only the Jewish version of events: The outcome of the Arab-Israeli war was justifiable because of Jews' historic roots in the Holy Land and their need for a permanent refuge from persecution. The Palestinian exodus from Israel, called the Nakba (catastrophe) by Arabs, was nowhere to be found.
The education ministry's apparent openness, however, is deceptive. For the new, balanced textbooks will be printed only in Arabic and distributed only to Arab classrooms. Hebrew editions of "Living Together in Israel" won't be revised. Some education officials sought to amend Jews' textbooks too, but they were overruled by those who said Jewish third-graders cannot understand divergent interpretations of history.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir says the new books will help Arab children reconcile the history they learn at home with the history they are taught in school. But Jewish children, who are less likely to hear the Palestinian version of events in their homes, need this information even more than their Arab peers, who at least may have the personal experiences of family and friends to educate them. If Israel acknowledges the fact of the Palestinian exodus, then it should be taught to all children. Instead, the ministry seeks to placate Palestinians without standing up to hard-line Jewish conservatives, who oppose the revisions even for Arab classrooms.
Here's an eg found via "Fateful Triangle"
ISRAEL TO FINANCE MORE SETTLEMENTS IN OCCUPIED LANDS
September 6, 1982, Monday
By DAVID K. SHIPLER, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (NYT); Foreign Desk
Late City Final Edition, Section 1, Page 1, Column 6, 1161 words
DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - The Israeli Government, ignoring President Reagan's call for a freeze on Jewish settlements, allocated $18.5 million today to build three new settlements in the occupied West Bank and announced approval to build seven others.
Land Grab: Israel's Settlement Policy in the West Bank
Since 1967, each Israeli government has invested significant resources in establishing and expanding the settlements in the Occupied Territories, both in terms of the area of land they occupy and in terms of population. As a result of this policy, approximately 380,000 Israeli citizens now live on the settlements on the West Bank, including those established in East Jerusalem (this report does not relate to the settlements in the Gaza Strip).
During the first decade following the occupation, the Ma'arach governments operated on the basis of the Alon Plan, which advocated the establishment of settlements in areas perceived as having "security importance,” and where the Palestinian population was sparse (the Jordan Valley, parts of the Hebron Mountains and Greater Jerusalem). After the Likud came to power in 1977, the government began to establish settlements throughout the West Bank, particularly in areas close to the main Palestinian population centers along the central mountain ridge and in western Samaria. This policy was based on both security and ideological considerations.
The political process between Israel and the Palestinians did not impede settlement activities, which continued under the Labor government of Yitzhak Rabin (1992-1996) and all subsequent governments. These governments built thousands of new housing units, claiming that this was necessary to meet the "natural growth” of the existing population. As a result, between 1993 and 2000 the number of settlers on the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) increased by almost 100 percent.
It's time to outlaw these ruthless killers
Published: 18 September 2006
I was in Lebanon in July 2005 on a trip to document the residual problem from cluster bombs used in 1978 and 1982. Unexploded cluster munitions were still claiming lives more than two decades after that conflict. I recently returned from another trip to Lebanon where I saw that a whole new wave of devastation from cluster bombs is beginning.
The use of cluster munitions in Lebanon was an outrage. It was known before they were used that they would kill and injure civilians in populated areas because of their inaccurate dispersal pattern. It was known that cluster munitions would leave hundreds of their submunitions unexploded to terrorise civilians returning to rebuild their lives.
With a ceasefire in sight, Israel launched millions of cluster bomblets throughout towns and villages in the last 72 hours of the war. The mounting toll of civilian deaths and injuries and the deadly unexploded ordnance contamination that will blight Lebanon for years to come were all predictable, foreseeable and preventable.
Most of the submunitions used in Lebanon look like torch batteries with ribbons and others look like tennis balls. They are a deadly attraction for children who make up about 30 per cent of the casualties.
What can be done about the cluster bomb infested fields of south Lebanon? While we cannot reverse the consequences of Israel's use of cluster munitions, we can work to prevent use of the weapon in future conflicts. Pressure to this end from civil society groups has been growing through the international Cluster Munition Coalition that now has more than 170 member groups, such as Human Rights Watch in the US, Handicap International in France and Europe and Landmine Action in the UK. Despite opposition within governments to a new law, campaigners against cluster bombs have begun to show results.
The video footage of a 'rocket' (in reality, a stretcher), being thrown into the back of a UN ambulance, is another conspiracy theory, not much different to zombie's nonsense. The 'malicious propaganda' quote comes from the head of UNRWA* at the time, that's what he called this blatant falsehood.
The blog that picture is taken from, Lawrence of Cyberia, does a good job of compiling some incidents where the idf have commandered ambulances, used ambulances to transport troops, & used ambulances to transport non-uniformed troops. There's another incident where an ambulance carrying a British MP who has just had a stroke, was delayed at an Israeli checkpoint for 90 minutes;
'When Is An Ambulance Not An Ambulance?'
Israel's 'malicious propaganda' endangers UN staff
Jerusalem – Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has written a strongly-worded protest to Silvan Shalom, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanding an apology for allegations made against UNRWA's ambulance drivers in the Gaza Strip.
Israel's military and its ambassador to the United Nations have alleged that it has footage of a Palestinian rocket being transported in an UNRWA ambulance. An investigation by UNRWA and analysis of the footage has established that the object in question was a patient stretcher.
In the letter, which was sent today, Mr Hansen writes:
"Given the technical means and military expertise at the disposal of the IDF to enlarge and analyse the pictures taken by the IDF drone, it is inconceivable that the IDF could have made this egregiously erroneous allegation in good faith. While UNRWA's denial has now been acknowledged by responsible media outlets, there is no such denial shown on the IDF website."
"It is appalling that, with the serious conflict now raging in the Northern Gaza Strip, where UNRWA ambulances are operating in constant danger alongside those of other humanitarian agencies to try to save and transport scores of wounded Palestinians to hospital, the Government of Israel would put out such deliberately inciteful, false and malicious propaganda, encouraging IDF soldiers on the ground (or in the air) to think that UNRWA ambulances and other humanitarian vehicles are transporting terrorists and weapons."
'Monday, 4 November, 2002, 05:48 GMT
Amnesty says Jenin operation 'war crime'
The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has accused the Israeli army of committing war crimes during its incursions into the West Bank towns of Jenin and Nablus earlier this year.
In a new report, the London-based organisation says that some of the actions carried out by Israeli forces during their military operations between April and June breached the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Amnesty says the army killed civilians, tortured prisoners, destroyed houses and prevented the arrival of humanitarian aid in the Palestinian towns.
While early Palestinian claims that hundreds of people were massacred have now been discounted, Amnesty believes that over 50 Palestinians were killed in the fighting in Jenin, and at least another 80 in Nablus, many of them civilians.
Women and children were among the dead.
Inside the camp of the dead
from janine di giovanni in jenin refugee camp
April 16, 2002
BASHIR died in agony. The hands of the 23-year-old Palestinian are clenched into tight fists, his body charred.
He lies buried under rubble and cement, his head twisted towards the door as if crying out for help. His tomb is a wasted house that crashed around him after the Israelis tried to bulldoze it to make a road.
Next door, up a blackened stairway and across shards of glass, is the body of Ashran Abu Hadel, also 23. Someone tried to pull him out of the rubble but gave up. His arm lies straight out, as though he tried to push himself away from the cement as he lay dying.
Elsewhere in the Jenin refugee camp I saw bodies of men who were clearly fighters, replete with ammunition belts and other paramilitary trappings. Bashir and Ashran had nothing.
The refugees I had interviewed in recent days while trying to enter the camp were not lying. If anything, they underestimated the the carnage and the horror. Rarely, in more than a decade of war reporting from Bosnia, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, have I seen such deliberate destruction, such disrespect for human life.
Israel and the Occupied Territories
Shielded from scrutiny: IDF violations in Jenin and Nablus
According to hospital lists reviewed by Amnesty International there were 54 Palestinian deaths between 3 and 17 April 2002 in both Jenin refugee camp and Jenin city as a result of the incursion and subsequent fighting. This figure includes seven women, four children and six men over the age of 55. Six had been crushed by houses. The body of one person known to have died by being crushed in his house has not been recovered.
The records of Palestinians killed in the incursion and admitted to Jenin City Hospital reflect the impact of the IDF blockade round the hospital between 5 and 15 April. Five bodies were brought to the hospital, which is just at the edge of the refugee camp, on 3 April, the first day of the IDF incursion into the camp. One body was brought in on 4 April. After that the hospital and the camp were under tight siege and although the hospital stands at the entrance to the camp, not a single corpse was brought into the hospital from 5 until 15 April, the day after a petition filed by two human rights organizations, Adalah and LAW, before the Israeli High Court resulted in the State agreeing to allow the ICRC access to the refugee camp. Most bodies of those fighters or those not involved in fighting killed between 5 and 15 April remained where they lay; a few were taken from streets to homes, a few were buried by their families in yards or back gardens, and four were taken to the al-Razi Hospital. Amnesty International delegates who entered the refugee camp on the departure of the IDF on 17 April found ruins smelling of death, with parts of human bodies sticking out of the rubble of destroyed houses.
'The lunar landscape that was the Jenin refugee camp
Suzanne Goldenberg in Jenin
Tuesday April 16, 2002
A fortnight ago, before Israeli forces invaded, this was a crowded, bustling place. The narrow alleys between the cinderblock homes - spanning barely the width of outstretched arms - were packed with children.
Yesterday, the Hart al-Hawashin neighbourhood, the heart of the Jenin refugee camp, was a silent wasteland, permeated with the stench of rotting corpses and cordite. The evidence of lives interrupted was everywhere. Plates of food sat in refrigerators in houses sheared in half by Israeli bulldozers. Pages from children's exercise books fluttered in the breeze.
In a ruined house, the charred corpse of a gunman wearing the green bandana of Hamas lay where it fell, beside his ammunition belt. Electric cables snaked through the ruins.
Alleys leading off the square deepened the image of wanton destruction: entire sides of buildings gouged out, stripped out to the kitchen tiles like discarded dolls' houses. The scale is almost beyond imagination: a vast expanse of rubble and mangled iron rods, surrounded by the gaping carcasses of shattered homes.
Yesterday the first definitive accounts of the battle of Jenin began to emerge as journalists broke through the Israeli cordon and gained access to the heart of the refugee camp. Palestinians describe a systematic campaign of destruction, with the Israeli army ploughing through occupied homes to broaden the alleys of the camp and make them accessible to tanks and vehicles.
Israel/Lebanon: Evidence indicates deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure
Press release, 08/23/2006
Amnesty International today published findings that point to an Israeli policy of deliberate destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure, which included war crimes, during the recent conflict.
The organization's latest publication shows how Israel's destruction of thousands of homes, and strikes on numerous bridges and roads as well as water and fuel storage plants, was an integral part of Israel's military strategy in Lebanon, rather than “collateral damage” resulting from the lawful targeting of military objectives.
The report reinforces the case for an urgent, comprehensive and independent UN inquiry into grave violations of international humanitarian law committed by both Hizbullah and Israel during their month-long conflict.
"Israel’s assertion that the attacks on the infrastructure were lawful is manifestly wrong. Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of power and water plants, as well as the transport infrastructure vital for food and other humanitarian relief, was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy," said Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.
The Israeli government has argued that they were targeting Hizbullah positions and support facilities and that other damage done to civilian infrastructure was a result of Hizbullah using the civilian population as a "human shield".
"The pattern, scope and scale of the attacks makes Israel's claim that this was 'collateral damage', simply not credible,” said Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.
"Civilian victims on both sides of this conflict deserve justice. The serious nature of violations committed makes an investigation into the conduct of both parties urgent. There must be accountability for the perpetrators of war crimes and reparation for the victims.”
The report, Deliberate destruction or 'collateral damage'? Israeli attacks against civilian infrastructure, is based on first-hand information gathered by recent Amnesty International research missions to Lebanon and Israel, including interviews with dozens of victims, officials from the UN, Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and Lebanese government, as well as official statements and press reports.
The report includes evidence of the following:
* Massive destruction by Israeli forces of whole civilian neighbourhoods and villages;
* Attacks on bridges in areas of no apparent strategic importance;
* Attacks on water pumping stations, water treatment plants and supermarkets despite the prohibition against targeting objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population;
* Statements by Israeli military officials indicating that the destruction of civilian infrastructure was indeed a goal of Israel’s military campaign designed to press the Lebanese government and the civilian population to turn against Hizbullah.
The report exposes a pattern of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, which resulted in the displacement of twenty-five percent of the civilian population. This pattern, taken together with official statements, indicates that the attacks on infrastucture were deliberate, and not simply incidental to lawful military objectives.
Amnesty International is calling for a comprehensive, independent and impartial inquiry to be urgently established by the UN into violations of international humanitarian law by both sides in the conflict. It should examine in particular the impact of this conflict on the civilian population, and should be undertaken with a view to holding individuals responsible for crimes under international law and ensuring that full reparation is provided to the victims.
13 Jul 2006 11:40:21 GMT
July 13 (Reuters) - Israel struck Beirut airport and blockaded Lebanese ports on Thursday, intensifying reprisals that have killed 52 civilians since Lebanese Hizbollah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight a day earlier.
Here is a short chronology of previous Israeli attacks in Lebanon.
December 1968 - Israeli commandos blow up 13 passenger planes on tarmac of Beirut airport, in reprisal for an attack by Lebanese-trained Palestinians on an Israeli airliner in Athens.
April 1973 - Israeli elite troops, including former prime minister Ehud Barak disguised as a woman, entered Beirut flats and shot dead three Palestinian guerrilla officials.
March 1978 - Israel invades south Lebanon and sets up occupation zone. Most troops withdraw within weeks, leaving behind a 10-km (six-mile) wide zone held by Israel's Lebanese Christian allies, the South Lebanon Army (SLA).
June 1982 - Israel invades Lebanon. Syrian army ousted from Beirut and thousands of Palestinian guerrillas under Yasser Arafat leave by sea after bloody 10 week-siege.
September 1982 - Israel captures Beirut after pro-Israeli Christian leader Bashir Gemayel, who days earlier had been elected president, was assassinated. Hundreds of civilians in Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila are killed by Christian militiamen allowed in by Israeli troops.
May 1983 - Israel and Lebanon sign peace agreement under U.S. patronage. Syria opposes it, and it is never ratified.
Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is increasing by roughly a quarter its 2006 budget for its activities in Israel and the occupied and autonomous territories, bringing the overall figure to more than 52 million Swiss francs. The additional funding will provide the means to meet most acute needs of Palestinians affected by the current crisis, particularly in the faltering health-care sector.
Over seven million of the additional 10 million francs will be allocated to supporting emergency and other essential medical services, most of them furnished by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), which is the second largest Palestinian provider of care in the occupied territories. The ICRC will fund the purchase of medical supplies and cover salaries and running costs to help the PRCS operate four hospitals, 30 primary health-care centres and ambulance services. The ability to provide these services has been severely jeopardized by the fact that the Society no longer receives funding from the Palestinian Authority.
The ICRC also plans to increase other aid, especially to the communities most affected by restrictions on movement. Ongoing projects aimed at helping people in the northern West Bank and the Gaza Strip to earn a living will be stepped up. In the old city of Hebron, where the ICRC is already providing particularly needy families with food parcels, additional households will benefit.
The ICRC is deeply concerned about the growing needs and the worsening security situation in the occupied territories, caused in large part by the decision earlier this year to withhold funds and other aid from the Palestinian Authority. Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC had repeatedly warned of such a deterioration.
Humanitarian organizations cannot replace the authorities in their role as provider of public services. As the ICRC has pointed out on previous occasions, the occupying power - in this case the State of Israel - is responsible for meeting the basic needs of the civilian population of the territories it occupies. Those needs include sufficient food, medical supplies and means of shelter.
Once a woman of liberal views, Melanie Phillips is now known for her scathing criticism of modern Britain. In her new book, she turns her outrage on multiculturalism, immigration and the anti-semitism she believes has turned London into Europe's 'epicentre of Islamic militancy'. What's all that about? And what drives such fury? Jackie Ashley braves her wrath.
Friday June 16, 2006
Driving to my rendezvous with Melanie Phillips, scourge of the Guardian-reading liberal establishment, voice of rightwing moral outrage, and reflecting on her relationship with this paper, it seemed to me like the aftermath of a vicious divorce, in which both parties were obsessed with the other. Phillips, once a Guardian staffer, now star columnist at the Daily Mail, as well as being a regular on The Moral Maze and Question Time, is renowned for her scathing criticism of this country's moral and cultural malaise. Her world view, whether she is writing about the inadequacies of the education system or the sanctity of marriage, seem a world away from Guardian values now. She clearly sees the split in the same way.
"I worked for Guardian Newspapers for the best part of 20 years and I regard it as a bit like a family from whom one has had a terrible divorce. I look back with enormous affection at what was, and yet the relationship broke down, and that's very sad." Acknowledging the mutual fascination, she adds: "I think that's simply because I am an apostate and there is no one who is more hated than an apostate." She goes on to talk of the Guardian's "rage" and "vilification". Within minutes she is repeatedly accusing me of misrepresenting her views and failing to understand her new book. Almost as soon as I get home, a long protest email has arrived, copied to the Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, claiming that I had misunderstood almost everything she stands for and warning about "the possible inflammatory consequences of any misrepresentation of my views".
Well, perhaps I should have expected that. Phillips is a renowned controversialist whose spare, lean frame seems to be sustained by argument rather than food and drink. She arrives, at a French cafe in Chiswick, west London, tense and intense, in a pink shirt, and orders only black coffee.
We are here to discuss her new book, titled Londonistan: How Britain Is Creating a Terror State Within. It argues that anti-semitism and liberal weakness have turned London into "the epicentre of Islamic militancy in Europe". Britain, she says, "is currently locked into such a spiral of decadence, self-loathing and sentimentality that it is incapable of seeing that it is setting itself up for cultural immolation". She concludes that "the emergence of Londonistan should be of the greatest concern to the free world".
This danger has been caused by decadence: "Among Britain's governing class - the intelligentsia, its media, its politicians, its judiciary, its church and even its police - a broader and deeper pathology has allowed and even encouraged Londonistan to develop."
The Five: A Novel of Jewish Life in Turn-of-the-Century Odessa
by Vladimir Jabotinsky; Michael R. Katz, trans
In 1917, after the British conquest of Palestine, the Jewish Battalion, which Vladimir Jabotinsky had campaigned for since the outbreak of World War I and which had participated in several of the battles, was allowed to rename itself the Judean Regiment. The regiment chose as its insignia a menorah with the Hebrew word "kadima," meaning "forward" or "eastward." This was not the first time Jabotinsky had used the word. Kadima was also the name of the Zionist publishing house he had founded with a group of friends in Odessa in 1904, which marked the beginning of Zionist activity throughout Russia. When, at the end of last year, Ariel Sharon left Likud to form a new party of the center-right, Kadima, a move widely welcomed as creating a fresh middle ground in Israeli politics, he was therefore paying the profoundest tribute to Jabotinsky--Likud's forefather, founder of militant Revisionist Zionism, visionary of the Jewish radical right.
After Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion, Jabotinsky is perhaps the most renowned figure in Zionist history, although he remains more controversial. For the Labor Zionist founders of the State of Israel, he was a pariah. He split with the Zionist Organization on the issue of Jewish self-defense (he was imprisoned by the British in 1920 for possession of firearms and for provoking disorder) and of armed struggle against the British in Palestine. He had also proclaimed that the goal of Zionism was the creation of a Jewish state, at a time when Zionist leaders preferred to keep quiet about their aims. "I, too, am for a Jewish state," one of his closest collaborators commented, "but I am against using the words." Jabotinsky was ostracized for speaking the truth. Because he recognized Arab national aspirations as legitimate, he had no interest in denying that the Zionist struggle would be violent. According to Jabotinsky, a group of Arabs approached him in 1926: "You are the only one among the Zionists who has no intention of fooling us," Egyptian intellectual Mahmoud Azmi is reported as having thanked him for not disguising the true nature of his aims.
As I write, Israel is faced with a democratically elected Hamas government, the legacy of its own brute military policies toward the Palestinians. Behind Hamas's statement that it will not recognize Israel--for which it is isolated and financially starved--we can ironically detect the shade, and perfectly logical consequence, of the ethos of Jabotinsky, who famously ended his 1923 essay "The Iron Wall": "The only path to an agreement in the future is an absolute refusal of any attempts at an agreement now." There could be no agreement or even negotiation with the Arabs until they accepted that Zionism was invincible. For Jabotinsky inflexibility was political doctrine.
Jabotinsky is most famous for creating the militant youth organization Betar, which he founded in 1923. Members of Betar saw themselves as warriors opposed to the laboring, agricultural spirit of the first socialist Zionist pioneers. In his book on Revisionist Zionism, The Jewish Radical Right, Eran Kaplan describes how the members of Betar took their inspiration from the early Zionist poet Ya'acov Cohen, who wrote:
In blood and fire Judah fell
In blood and fire Judah will rise!
War! War to our country, war for freedom--
And if freedom is forever lost--long live revenge!
'An Interim Assessement of Passages and Trade Facilitation
Prepared by the World Bank Technical Team, February 28, 2006'
'Israel/Occupied Territories: Immediate action needed to avert humanitarian crisis in Gaza
The Israeli authorities contend that Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip ended when Israeli troops were withdrawn from the Strip in September 2005 and, consequently, that Israel is no longer bound by its obligations as an occupying power under international law in the Gaza Strip.
However, Israel continues to control all of the Gaza Strip’s points of entry and exit, as well as its territorial waters and airspace. Israel does not allow the Gaza Strip to have a seaport and destroyed Gaza’s airport in 2001, and only allows goods to enter or leave Gaza via Israel. Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip are permitted to cross the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on foot via the Rafah crossing which is administered by the European Union Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point (EU BAM Rafah), but foreigners are only allowed to enter or leave the Gaza Strip via Israel.
As it remains in effective control of the Gaza Strip, Israel remains bound by its duties as the Occupying Power, as enumerated in the Fourth Geneva Convention. This Convention (Article 33) prohibits the collective punishment of protected persons: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."
According to Article 55 of Geneva IV “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.” And Article 59 specifies: “If the whole or part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of the said population, and shall facilitate them by all the means at its disposal.”
By Amos Elon
The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967–1977
by Gershom Gorenberg
Times Books, 454 pp., $30.00
After weeks of bargaining with smaller parties, each with its own special interests, Ehud Olmert, the leader of the new Kadima party, has finally formed a new Israeli government. The election campaign was overshadowed by the specter of the comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in the third month of a massive hemorrhagic stroke but still formally in office. Hawks and doves pledged their undying loyalty to his "legacy," whatever it was. Sharon was a reckless, controversial man, exceedingly contradictory— as perhaps many interesting men are; only the dull have simple characters. He was not a man of peace, as President Bush once called him, but out of tune with his time. In an age of decolonization, half a century after the French–Algerian war, he was mainly responsible for the huge "settlement project" in the occupied territories, now often described as the great historical mistake of 1967. The occupied territories continue to fester in Israeli life like a monstrous disease. Their days seem numbered. "I hate the corpses of empires," Rebecca West wrote. "They stink so badly that I cannot believe that even in life they were healthy."
It was a mean little empire, even before the inhabitants became restive. Other colonialists co-opted local elites, intermarried, built universities, great waterworks, and other public amenities for the colonized; Israel did little of the sort. Nearly all real improvements in the territories since 1967 were financed by the Saudis and the Gulf States. In 2001 there was not a single traffic light in the occupied territories. They were a captive market and a source of cheap labor; this was ultimately counterproductive, since it retarded the modernization of the construction and other industries. The settlement project remains a main, some say the main, impediment to a historic compromise to end a hundred-year war between two national movements over the same piece of real estate.
How this mini-empire first came into being after the brief 1967 war is brilliantly described by Gershom Gorenberg in The Accidental Empire, his masterly book based on original research. The empire was not founded in a fit of absentmindedness, as was once (wrongly) said of the British Empire, but as Gorenberg's documentation shows, it was the result of deliberate decisions by Israeli governments of the left and the right. In a book that could have served as a telling additional chapter in Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly, he shows how only seven months after the 1967 war there were already eight hundred settlers living in the West Bank. The obsessive drive by all Israeli governments after 1967 to establish "facts on the ground" (the Hebrew translation for faits accomplis) was also an almost blind reflex reaction born of past experience—the practice of Israel's founding fathers to add "one dunam after another" and the memory of the UN partition resolution of 1947, which assigned to Israel precisely those parts of Palestine in which many Jews were already living. After the 1948 war, during which some 600,000 Palestinians fled the country or were kicked out, most nations recognized Israel within 78 percent of mandatory Palestine, an area much larger than was allotted it in the original partition resolution.
The settlement project, as Gorenberg shows, was promoted by successive Israeli governments of the left and the right, overriding objections voiced at various times by a minority of cabinet ministers and a handful of dissenters outside the government in the academy and the press. The project was first intended to provide Israel with secure borders, as called for in Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 war. But soon there was no stopping it. The result, as Gorenberg puts it, was nothing less than "an artificially created Bosnia." Its first promoters were the secularists Shimon Peres, Moshe Dayan, and Yigael Allon, of whom it was said that after God the Father had been declared dead, they had married the Motherland. The first settlements were modestly called "outposts." Raymond Aron, then visiting Israel, asked Prime Minister Levi Eshkol if he wasn't worried about a rebellion by the Arabs as had happened in Algeria. Gorenberg cites Eshkol's answer: "No. This isn't Algeria. We can strangle terror in the occupied territories."
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New York Review of Books
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