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Dec. 17, 2014
daily summary - Sunday, February 23, 2014
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Hamas and Fatah agree on stopping incitement
Fateh and Hamas agreed to stop the media statements and practice that increases tension and prevent ending the division.This came during a meeting of the National Gathering of independent national figures headed by Ma’moun Abusheh with Prime Minister of the deposed Government in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh yesterday, to complete the discussions on steps required to end the division and achieve reconciliation.The gathering said in a press statement that "during the meeting a lengthy phone call was held with the head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, and further call with Azzam Al-Ahmed, member of the Central Committee of Fatah and reconciliation official, as a continuation of meetings held by the Gathering headed by Munib Al-Masri with President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders in Gaza and the West Bank." The statement added that“it was agreed to start preliminary steps leading to the implementation of the steps necessary to end the division, and halting media statements and practices that increases tension and prevent ending the division.” (http://www.wattan.tv/ar/news/86900.html)

Al-Ahmed: any solution that does not include Jerusalem will not pass
Member of Fatah Central Committee, Azzam Al-Ahmed, said Saturday that "any political solution that does not include east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State will not pass, and therefore we cannot accept a substitute for east Jerusalem known to all as the capital of the Palestinian State, there can be no peace without an independent Palestinian State on the territory of19 67, a solution to the refugee problem in accordance with resolution 194, and no Jewish State, no waiver of our rights in our sovereignty on the territory of our State." This came during a speech on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, at a celebration of the Democratic front for the liberation of Palestine of the forty-fifth anniversary of its inception, through a festival rally in Ramallah’s Cultural Palace, under the slogan "Festival of national unity and popular resistance."(http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=675753)

NRG: discussing a compensation law for settlers who will evacuate their homes in the West Bank
Ma'ariv daily reported yesterday a discussion on a compensation lawfor settlers who will choose to leave the West Bank and move to within Israel will be held today. According to the law which will be put forward by the Knesset member Ilan Gilon of Meretz, the State would compensate settlers who want to live in Israel, where there will be a director to oversee the implementation of the law. Gilon expected that Knesset members will vote strongly in favor of the law to support a two-State solution.(http://arabic.pnn.ps/index.php/israel/82157-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%81-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%B4%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B9-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%B6-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B7%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B0%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%AE%D9%84%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B2%D9%84%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B6%D9%81%D8%A9)

Abu Amr: Kerry presents a framework agreement to negotiate for five years not a final solution
Deputy Palestinian Prime Minister Ziad Abu Amr said that "the US Administration put a framework agreement to negotiate for another five years, and not a final solution," calling for "alternatives for negotiations", which he rules out its success. Abu Amr said in a lecture entitled "prospects for negotiations and the prospects of the Palestinian resistance"on Sunday evening at the Modern School headquarters in cooperation with Palestine International organization that“Palestinians refuse to negotiations for years about final status issues, like their position on a framework agreement with reservations." Abu Amr denied during the lecture, which was led by a member of the PLO Executive Committee Asaad Abdel Rahman,“any deals or secret negotiating channels," confirming that  "these cannot be achieved in light of the current Arab scene, as happened in the past," referring to the Oslo Agreement (1993).(Al-Quds)

Cutting water… a means of revenge transforming the lives of Jerusalemites to hell
Nearly 300 people in the old city of Jerusalem live without water, since the Israeli water company "Gihon" recently dismantled water counters for their houses without prior warning, trying to create difficult living conditions overburden them, turning their lives into hell, which drives them to emigrate and leave the Holy City.The affected Jerusalemites are forced to get water from neighbors and family and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, without finding any respond by administrators and concerned bodies for their suffering exacerbated day after day, in light of continuing to dismantle water counters on the pretext of unpaid debt.(Al-Quds)

Israel imposes its “Jewishness” in Arab school
The Ministerial Committee for legislation in Israel ratified a draft law for education to impose Israel’s identity as a "Jewish" in all schools including schools for Palestinians, who reject this and consider it asdeformation of Arab identity. The law issued by Knesset member Shimon Ohayon (Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu) passed its first reading on Wednesday by amending the education law in Israel for 1953 to add a new item to the articles on the objectives of education.The amendment states requiring all schools and educational institutions to promote and perpetuate the identity of Israel as the national State of the Jewish people.(Al-Quds)

An emergency meeting of the heads of local authorities to prevent the demolition of Arab houses
An emergency meeting of the heads of local authorities in the Galilee was held yesterday in the village of Kufor Kana, after increasing the phenomenon of house demolition in Arab areas by the Israeli authorities, especially after the decision to demolish the home of Tarek Khatib from the town of Kufor Kana under the pretext of unauthorized construction. Head of follow-up Commission Mohamed Zidan said: “we are facing an administration who adopted a strategic position to besiege the Arab community inside the green line,”holding the Israeli Government responsible for Palestinians building without a permit for the failure of the authorities to adopt structural maps for Arab towns. (Al-Quds)

What Israel does to get rid of 190,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem?
Israel is seeking to empty Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants, and change its character to a Jewish character.To achieve its goal Israel is following a plan to reduce the number of Palestinians in Jerusalem (holders of Israeli identity cards) of more than 290,000 people, to less than 100,000 Palestinians, to become a "minority" in Jerusalem, and get rid of this obsession of Israel since the occupation of the city described as that "demographic issue". Ziad Hammouri, Director of the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic rights, spoke to “Al-Quds”on the most important means of the Israeli authorities to implement its plans to displace the majorityof Jerusalemites, saying that “the most important factor is the economic factor, Israel managed to make more than 80% of Jerusalemites live below poverty line, while the commercial sector is virtually destroyed the city, especially in the old town, and there is a backlog of debts because of taxes, we are talking about dealers that have millions of shekels of debts.” Hammouri also mentioned the issue of Jerusalemites’ property and real estates, saying that "in case of accumulation of debts, property and real estate owned by the Palestinians in Jerusalem could be confiscation by the occupation.” Hammouri noted another factor used by the occupation authorities in its war against the Palestinian presence in the city, demolition. Hammouri said: "there are more than 20,000 demolition orders against Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, demolishing half the houses will create a major disaster, many of these people will have to get out of the city because they can’t rent houses, rent houses strikingly reduced in the city, due to increased demand, leading a huge increase of rental prices unaffordable for most Palestinians residents."(Al-Quds)

Settlers attack homes houses of Qalqilya
Dozens of settlers attacked, yesterday evening, houses and smashed a number of vehicles in the village Jet, east of Qalqilya. Ghassan Daghlas, settlements in northern West Bank official, said that dozens of settlers from the settlement of "Havat Gilad" attacked houses with stones and smashed a number of vehicles on the road in the village Jet, which led to clashes between Palestinians and settlers. Daghlas said that the settlers attacked farmers who were planting areas adjacent to the settlement belonging to people in the village, and that a number of vehicles were damaged by settlers. (Al-Ayyam)

Abe Rabbu: recognition of Israel as a Jewish State is “out of the question”
A Palestinian official confirmed yesterday that the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State is "out of the question" in the ongoing peace negotiations under the auspices of the American.Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Abed Rabbu, told Xinhua News Agency that the Palestinian position regarding this issue is clear "because any positive reactionto it would be a serious threat to the Palestinian cause." Abed Rabbu said that any positive response with such recognition "means the recognition of Israel, including the occupied Palestinian territories, a national home for the Jewish people as a whole without a place for Palestinians."(Al-Ayyam)

Israeli sources: kidnapping soldiers would ignite a war in Gaza
Military estimates by the Israeli army predicted that the Egyptian military will continue cracking down on Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Sinai jihadi organizations, noting that Hamas has become self-reliant, and prepares to kidnap soldiers.Israeli estimates published by the military magazine "Israel Defense", that thestrike by Egypt on the Gaza border has affected the economic and operational situation in the Gaza Strip. The estimates noted that the use of "Hamas" of tunnels on the Gaza border to kidnap soldiers will ignite a war with the Gaza Strip during 2014.(Al-Ayyam)

Merkel stresses her support to Kerry's efforts
German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed yesterday her support for the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry to find a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.Merkel said in her weekly commentary before her upcoming visit to Israel on Monday and Tuesday"I support the efforts of Foreign Minister, and will use my visit to Israel to discuss the issue with the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.” Merkel added "we need a solution based on two States, one Jewish the other Palestinian, as soon as possible ", noting that Germany "for historical reasons is committed to support Israel and its right to exist is one of the foundations of our foreign policy". (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)

Headlines
** “Al-Quds Brigades” announced the death of one of its elements in a “Jihad operation” in Dier Al-Balah (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** Cairo: announcingdiscovery of a treatment for hepatitis and AIDS viruses in military laboratories (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** Palestine is a full member of the international capital market supervisory bodies(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** 3 killed in a suicide attack targeting a Lebanese military checkpoint in Biqa’ (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** 84% of local authorities without effective control… an audit revealed suspicions of embezzlement (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** Opening Rafah crossing today and tomorrow (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
** Israeli courts extend detention of 14 prisoners and issue verdicts to imprison 5 (Al-Quds)
** Two Palestinian martyrs is Syria (Al-Quds)
** Siege of Yarmouk continues despite withdrawal of militants (Al-Ayyam)
** Iraq – 13 killed in separate bombings (Al-Ayyam)
** Istanbul – Police uses tear gas to disperseprotestors (Al-Ayyam)
** A non-binding resolution of the Security Council to lift the blockade of the cities in Syria and facilitate the entry of aid (Al-Ayyam)
Front Page Photos
Al- Quds:Aleppo – rescue men searching for survivals after airstrikes on the city.
Al-Ayyam: 1) A Syrian man carries injured babies after an airstrike by the regime’s forces in Aleppo yesterday, 2) Istanbul – police arrests protestors yesterday.
Al Hayat Al Jadida:.Lebanese soldier stands near a car exploded at the checkpoint.
Voice of Palestine News
Gaza:
Q: With regards to the opening of Rafah, who can pass through the crossing today?
Yes, the crossing will be reopened today specially for the travel of the third batch of worshippers travelling to Mecca, we are talking about 600 from Gaza, at the same time, the crossing will be open until Tuesday in order to allow citizens to return to the Gaza Strip, nothing new regarding who is permitted to pass through the crossing, connection were held during the last days to allow more groups to pass through the crossing other than humanitarian and emergency cases.
Q: With regards to the Islamic Jihad announcement of the death of one of its elements, are there any new information about the reasons for the death?
Seems like he was trying to prepare an explosive device and it exploded during his work.
Voice of Palestine Interviews
** Ghassan Daghlas, Settlement in northern West Bank official, on settlers attacking houses in Qalqilyah.
Q: With regards to this attack, can you tell us more about the incident?
Settlers  from “Havat Gilad” attacked houses in the village of Jet the evening hours of the day yesterday, citizens went out and confronted the settlers, after attacking some houses and vehicles, the settlers then ran away after being confronted by local youths. But this a serious warning, and we thank our people in Jet for confronting this attack. It is clear that there is a green line for the Israeli government for settlers to carry out such actions, after its meeting in Ofer settlement less than 20 days ago.
Q: Thisis being confronted by popular effort by localcitizens, is there anything else that can be done to stop this?
We tried everything, international organizations, filming, archiving etc… the only thing that worked was popular resistance to such actions, after announcing that there are protection committees these actions were dramatically reduced, since they know that we will confront this. We have the right to protect our property and people.
Q: Do you realize a decrease or an increase after what happened in Qusra?
The increase is in cutting olive trees, 2500 tree were cut in less than one month, but inside the villages it decreased. It is clear that this is helping in reducing attacks inside the villages.
** Salem Khelleh, coordinator of the national campaign for returning remains of martyrs, on handing over remains of martyrs.
Q: With regards to continuing the handing over of martyrs, the announcement was that 36 remains will be returned, is it over yet?
Today at 14:00 two remains of martyrs Sarhan Sarhan and Muayad Ubada, will be handed over, reaching 14 out of 36.  So there are 22 remains that we hope will be handed over soon, after the 26 are handed, we will still have 252 remains of martyrs in the figures cemetery. We already began with steps in order for 2014 be another achievement years with handing over more remains, we already issues 150 petitions to the Supreme Court.
Q: with regards to remains of Arab martyrs, so you have coordination with Arab states regarding this issue?
Yes of course  we do, we coordinate with Arab state regarding this issue, and these are continuous efforts on all levels. We hope 2014 will be a year where this file will be closed forever. There shouldn’t be a punishment after death, the inly entity who does this is Israel.
** Muhammad Awad, coordinator of the popular committee for resisting settlements and the wall, on settlers attacking a farmer in Beit Ummar.
Q: This is not the first attack, an increase of settlers’ attacks under protection of the occupation army.
Form the beginning of this year, more than 13 attacks were carried out by settlers against citizens, where settlers continue their attack against farmers in Beit Ummar, and this is what happened yesterday, when the farmer Muhammad Al-Swedy and his sons who went to work in his land near the settlement, this attack was protected by the occupation soldiers providing the settlers with the needed cover. Knowing that Al-Swedy has a decision from Beit El’s high court, allowing him to work in his lands with his sons without any assaults by soldiers or settlers. Still, the occupation protected settlers when they attacked Al-Swedy and his sons.
MORE NEWS________________________________________________
Occupation arrested 6 citizens in the West Bank
Occupation forces arrested six Palestinians early today launched raids across the West Bank. The occupation announced the arrest of a citizen from Kufor Qaddoum near Nablus, while another citizens was arrested in Abu Dies east of Jerusalem, and two others were arrested in Halhoul north of Hebron. Also, in the area of Anabta, near Tulkarem, Israeli public radio said the army arrested two Palestinians last night, claiming they had two explosive devices and a Molotov cocktail.(http://safa.ps/details/news/123256/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84-6-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B6%D9%91%D9%81%D8%A9.html)
The Arab League demands an international investigation committee to investigate prisoners’ conditions
The Arab League called for sending an international commissions of inquiry to investigate conditions of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons and act for their release.The Arab League secretariat assured in a report today it continues to follow the developments of the issue of prisoners in Israeli jails.The report said that Israel continues its violations against prisoners in its prisons, where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating and affectstheir dignity, noting that there are more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners still in Israeli jails.(http://qudsnet.com/news/View/266719/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D8%A5%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%8A%D9%82-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%B1%D9%89/)

OPINIONS__________________________________________________
Electricity debts… and the legitimate questions
Al-Quds Editorial
The Israel electricity company threatens to cut off the West Bank and east Jerusalem starting today (Sunday) because of the debt accumulated by the authority, estimated by the company of about 1.3 billion shekels, and monthly by about 75 million shekels, and are demanding the Government either to cut off tax debts or allow them to cut off electricity, despite the fact that such a decision will face negative responses from the international community.
We rely on the Israeli company almost entirely with regards to electricity, despite all attempts and efforts to establish a national substitute for this economic dependence…citizens have many the questions such as the accumulation of debt and more, from where all this debt came from, and why the PA permitted this accumulation, and who is responsible for delaying payment for the Israeli company ...?
Supposedly, even if we are agents for the Israeli company, we should  make a profit from the proceeds if things go in the proper context and in normal and logical matter… but both debt accumulates and life in general will face economic paralysis in case of a cut off, are totally unacceptable and the PA holds the responsibility alone, without anyone else responsible in this regard, if there are some who consume  electricity without paying, they should be held accountable, and if some steal electricity they must be stopped and punished, in all cases there should be no anarchy in electricity consumption or in collecting receivables, and follow-up and attention is the only means.
We understand that there is a deficit in the PA budget resulting in accumulation of debts, such as those of the Jerusalem hospitals for example, but the electricity is an entirely different issue, which we must benefit of not have debt, we do not want to get into some details about the causes of the debt but we demand the PA with a real stand and a real review of this problem, and act to resolve it and not allow it to continue, if cutting form taxes will end the current crisis then let it be, but we should not accept the reasons which led to the accumulation of this debt, in order to be sure this will not happen again. (Al-Quds)
Arab Press
BDS movement, this is your big chance…

By Stuart Littlewood

My last article spoke about a British MP who was harassed by the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, for daring to suggest that Israel’s leaders seemed happy to inflict on the Palestinians in Gaza the sort of thing that happened to Jews in the Holocaust of World War II.

Ms. Pollock called the MP’s remarks “offensive.” She also said the comparison was “inappropriate,” and that such “lazy and deliberate distortions have no place in British politics.”

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, accused the MP of being “deeply offensive to the memory of the Holocaust” and “willfully ignorant of the actual situation in Gaza.”

A couple of comments at the end of the article caught my eye. A reader in Milwaukee observed:

“I thought there was freedom of speech in the UK. I didn’t realize that speakers had to have their comments vetted by Ms. Pollock to ensure she didn’t find them offensive. Her zeal in persecuting anyone who she believes is disrespecting the Holocaust only enhances the view of the UK as a puppet regime doing the bidding of Israel.”

Another said: “Friends of Israel groups should be banned in the UK along with their chief lobbyist BICOM. If our supine, pathetic MPs love apartheid Israel so much they should go and live there.”

Many MPs have been similarly bullied for talking out loud about Israel’s evil and lawless conduct. In one recent case, party bosses were browbeaten by Israel lobbyists into suspending their MP and appointing a task group to set down language rule to assess whether he was “salvageable” and re-educate him about Israel.

Furthermore, our standard watchdog has so far been indifferent to Israel’s stooges driving a coach and horses through the Seven Principles governing the behavior of those who hold public office.

Taking a stand

Six years ago twenty signatories, mostly senior professionals, wrote to the chairman of the Standards in Public Life committee about the undue influence of the Israel lobby at the heart of British government.

They received a dismissive note from an administrator, which included this statement:

“The Committee would not see this as encompassing the attitudes of British politicians towards foreign countries and governments, assuming that these did not imply relationships which amounted to improper behavior under existing corruption laws.”

Improper behavior, of course, was exactly what they were getting at.

The band of MPs wrote again:

“It seems perfectly clear to us that the Standards Committee is established to uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life is explained in our submission of 19 December, the activities of the Israel Lobby in Westminster seriously undermine a number of those Principles as defined by the Committee itself, namely Selflessness, Integrity, Accountability, Openness and Honesty.

A large majority of Conservative MPs and MEPs are Friends of Israel. The Lobby also claims a very large number of Labour MPs and ministers. The Liberal Democrat FoI website brazenly states that its first aim is “to maximize support for the State of Israel within the Liberal Democrats and Parliament”, furthermore to “develop and maintain a broad-based LDFoI membership inside and outside of Parliament”. We are not discussing individuals, which you have suggested, but powerful groups within Government.

All MPs (and many parliamentary candidates) are subject to the lobby’s influence and a disturbingly large number have succumbed and actively carry its message into their parliamentary work, causing great damage to our parliamentary democracy, harm to Britain’s reputation throughout the world and risk to our security because a just solution in the Holy Land is excluded by such partisanship.

We therefore fully expect our Standards ‘watchdog’ – at least those members of it who do not have a prejudicial interest – to act, and we are more than happy to meet with you to clarify any points at issue.”

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is gathering a nice pace. It now needs to shift up a gear and widen its scope.

They were later told the committee could not investigate individual cases.

So they wrote again.

“It had already been made clear that we are not asking the committee to investigate individual cases, or specific allegations of misconduct, so to be told yet again that the committee is precluded from doing so is perplexing.
You are now saying the subject is a matter of general policy for others but admit that the remit of the body you suggest (the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards) does not fit the circumstances. It is plain to us that the matter falls squarely within the Standards Committee’s remit.

The man in the street is entitled to look at the Seven Principles and say that the activities of lobbies like Friends of Israel are against the declared intentions, both in word and spirit, of the Principles. Otherwise what is the purpose of having them enshrined in the Committee’s constitution?

The aim of Friends of Israel is to promote the interests of Israel and its government, which is racist in its treatment of its own Arab population, the Palestinians and the Bedouin. MPs who align themselves with Israel are not acting in the public interest of the UK but against our own anti-racist laws.”

The letter also reminded the Standards Committee of George Washington’s wise words:

“Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all… The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.”

Falling on deaf ears

None of this was an attack on the Jewish community in Britain. It was about the activities of the Israel lobby – groups of political activists and MPs who are mostly non-Jews – and its support for a foreign government that has repeatedly defied United Nations resolutions and committed sickening war crimes.

The letter pointed to Secretary of State for Defense, Dr. Liam Fox, who was quoted on the Conservative FoI website as saying:

“…We must remember that in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided.”

Presumably Fox was speaking for all friends of Israel in the party that hoped to form the next government. They would have the parliament and the public believing that Israel’s enemy, Iran, must become Britain’s enemy.

How ironic that Fox was forced to resign as Defense Secretary in 2011 following scandalous goings-on between him, his ‘close friend’ Adam Werrity, the UK ambassador to Israel and Israeli intelligence figures allegedly involved in plotting sanctions against Iran.

The chairman, still ducking and weaving, replied:

“This Committee commented on lobbying in their first report in 1995 and re-addressed the issue, including the changes instigated by their first report, in a review in 2001. The Committee has no plans to review this area again in the near future.”
So the twenty citizens wearily batted the ball back into the committee’s court, saying there appeared to be nothing in the 1995 report relating to MPs and legislators representing the interests of foreign countries within parliament or placing themselves under the influence of a foreign country’s political lobby. Nor could they find any mention of it in the 2001 report. They asked for chapter and verse, but none was supplied.

And there the matter rests.

What now?

The tentacles of the Israel lobby had already reached into the inner sanctum of the committee; a body charged with guarding the morality of the nation’s public life.

Even today the Standards Committee includes the likes of Lord Bew, the chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association, which calls itself “a non-political charity facilitating informed debate and seeking to enrich the understanding of decision makers and opinion formers in the UK regarding developments in Israel and the Middle East,” the president of which is the Israeli ambassador.

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is gathering a nice pace. It now needs to shift up a gear and widen its scope. Important elections are looming again: the European elections in a few months and the UK general election next year. Membership of Friends of Israel is said to be a stepping stone to high office in government.

It is also a pathway to being successfully selected as a parliamentary candidate in the first place. Many hopefuls are ‘groomed’ on the conveyor-belt through Tel Aviv’s propaganda cesspit long before becoming MPs. Agent William Hague, our beloved foreign secretary, was a member of Conservative Friends of Israel while a schoolboy and probably still in short trousers.

This time BDS needs to mobilize locally and nationally to challenge election candidates robustly on their membership of Friends of Israel. Party leaders deserve to be clobbered hard until they disband their sinister apartheid support groups. And the Committee on Standards in Public Life ought to be prodded into action by not just 20, but 20,000 signatories.

In case some readers are nervous about BDS and the hysterical claims that it is anti-Semitic, here is how respected Palestinian lawmaker, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, defines it:

“BDS is… a legal, moral and inclusive movement struggling against the discriminatory policies of a country that defines itself in religiously exclusive terms, and that seeks to deny Palestinians the most basic rights simply because we are not Jewish.”(http://english.alarabiya.net/en/2014/02/22/Israeli-lobby-deep-into-British-parliament.html)



Wanted: More Arabs to be like everyone else

By Ray Hanania

I know we Arabs are special. But sometimes, we need to be like everyone else.

What do I mean by that? I mean that in order to be able to influence the world around us, we need to work within the system in the world, in our Arab cultural societies, and in the countries that we have adopted.

Arabs don’t do that very well. We hate the word “assimilate” because to us, it means sacrificing something that is unique and important to us, our Arab identity.

But assimilating, participating and “working from within” do not mean we have to surrender our Arab identity or compromise our pride. In fact, learning how to work in someone else’s system should increase our pride. It definitely will improve our effectiveness as voices in our world.

The Olympics are a good example of how the Arab World is failing to engage the rest of the world on their terms.

During the past two weeks, athletes from 88 countries, which is a record high, are competing in 98 Winter-related athletic games such as Skating, Skiing, Hockey, Curling, Bobsleigh and Luge.

There are 2,862 total athletes competing. Only four of them come from Arab countries, two from Lebanon and two from Morocco. Israel has five athletes competing. Russia has 226 and the United States has 230. Turkey has six. Hong Kong has one.

What’s pathetic is not that Lebanon and Morocco only have two qualifying athletes each in the games, but that the other 20 Arab countries have none.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world will be watching the games and cheering for the winners. And they will see everyone, but no one from Jordan. No one from war-torn despotic Syria. No one from Egypt. No one from Saudi Arabia. No one from Iraq. Twenty Arab countries are not involved. Even Iran, the copyright holder of the epitaph “The Great Satan,” has five athletes in competition.

Why are there not more Arabs? Some will say that it’s because Arabs don’t like snow and we come from lands covered in sand. That’s intuitive but dumb. Others will argue that the Olympics are little more than a Western orchestrated “beauty contest” that celebrates physical achievements rather than intellectual achievements.

That’s not even a good excuse, considering the Olympic were founded by the Greeks in the Mediterranean, which consists mainly of Middle East and now Arab countries.

So what’s up Arabs? The Olympics are held every two years. The Winter Olympics featuring winter games, are being held now. In 2012, the Summer Olympics featured different games and entries from more Arab countries.

In 2012, a total of 17 Arab countries entered into athletic competition. Coincidentally, 2012 represented the 100th Anniversary of Arab participation in the Olympics.

That was good, but not good enough. All 22 countries should have been represented.

The first female athlete from Saudi Arabia made her entrance to the Olympics, running in a track competition. Sarah Attar, who holds both American and Saudi passports, wore a Hijab and clothing that covered her entire body, save her face and hands. Although her dress made it difficult to compete, and probably accounted for her last place showing, the fact that she tried is noble. It’s admirable. It should be applauded.

Lately, Saudi Arabia is showing to the rest of the Arab World that women have a place in modern societies and in today’s world as leaders. It would have been great if 17 Arab countries participated in the Winter Olympics, too.

Four billion people from around the world will watch segments of the Olympic Games, which began on Feb. 7.

What other event can a nation make a statement that reaches 4 billion people?

But it requires that Arabs set aside this self-imposed censorship in which we refrain from participating” because “participation” is often defined as “assimilation” and “assimilation” is mis-translated into “disappearing". Arab culture will not disappear if we start engaging other people in other societies by being like them.

The Arab World doesn’t think much of public relations and strategic communications as a means of reaching the rest of the world. They should. They won’t buy a full page Ad in the New York Times to lobby Americans to support Palestinian rights, for example. They won’t send athletes to compete in events that are defined as “Western corrupted.”

But the Arabs will complain when American does something we don’t like, or if Americans fail to stand up for Palestinian civil rights.

If you want Americans to respect Arab views, we need to respect Americans. That means becoming a real part of American society. We have to make a sacrifice and be as American as the Americans.

Arabs claim that they are willing to make great sacrifices to achieve justice, but they won’t make sacrifices of pride, like teaching their children to learn English first before learning Arabic.

Sacrifices for the betterment of our people.  In a world where perception is reality, and how you look influences the decisions of others, we need to look, act and sound like the people we want to influence.

That’s the real sacrifice Arabs refuse to make. The Olympics are a great place to start.

We need to dress like the West, speak like the West, live like the West and engage in the activities and events that we associate with the West, if we plan to convince the West that we are right. That our causes are just. That they should support us.

Arabic won’t go away, if we do this. But if we don’t, Palestine might be gone.(http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140223196564)


Israel again trying to play the victim

By URI AVNERY

It has always been a secret ambition of mine to have a bagatz ruling bearing my name. Bagatz is the Hebrew acronym for “High Court of Justice,” the Israeli equivalent of a constitutional court. It plays a very important role in Israeli public life.

Having a groundbreaking Supreme Court decision named after you confers a kind of immortality. Long after you are gone, lawyers quote your case and refer to the judgment.

Take Roe vs. Wade, for example. Whenever abortion is debated in the US, Roe vs. Wade (1973) comes up, though few remember who Jane Roe and Henry Wade actually were. Now there is “Uri Avnery and Others vs. the Knesset and the State of Israel,” which came up this week before the Israeli Supreme Court. It concerns the anti-boycott law enacted by the Knesset.

A few hours after the law was passed, Gush Shalom and I personally submitted to the court our application to annul it. We had prepared our legal arguments well in advance. That’s why it bears my name. The applicants rather disrespectfully called “Others” are about a dozen human rights organizations, both Jewish and Arab, who joined us. After this ego-trip, let’s get to the point.

The court session was rather unusual. Instead of the three justices who normally deal with such applications, this time nine judges — almost the full complement of the court — were seated at the table. Almost a dozen lawyers argued for the two sides. Among them was our own Gabi Lasky, who opened the case for the applicants.

The judges were no passive listeners fighting boredom, as they usually are. All nine judges intervened constantly, asking questions, interjecting provocative remarks. They were clearly very interested.

The law does not outlaw boycotts as such. The original Captain Charles Boycott would not have been involved.

Boycott was an agent of an absentee landlord in Ireland who evicted tenants unable to pay their rent during the Irish famine of 1880. Instead of resorting to violence against him, Irish leaders called on their people to ostracize him. He was “boycotted” — no one spoke with him, worked for him, traded with him or even delivered his mail. Pro-British volunteers were brought in to work for him, protected by a thousand British soldiers. But soon “boycotting” became widespread and entered the English language.

By now, of course, a boycott means a lot more than ostracizing an individual. It is a major instrument of protest, intended to hurt the object both morally and economically, much like an industrial strike.

In Israel, a number of boycotts are going on all the time. The rabbis call on pious Jews to boycott shops, which sell non-kosher food or hotels, which serve hot meals on Sabbath. Consumers upset by the cost of food, boycotted cottage cheese — an act that grew into the mass social protest in the summer of 2011. No one was indignant. Until it reached the settlements.

In 1997 Gush Shalom, the movement to which I belong declared the first boycott of the settlements. We called upon Israelis to abstain from buying goods produced by settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories. This caused hardly a stir. When we called a press conference, not a single Israeli journalist attended — something I have never experienced before or since. To facilitate the action, we published a list of the enterprises located in the settlements. Much to our surprise, tens of thousands of consumers asked for the list. That’s how the ball started rolling. We did not call for a boycott of Israel. Quite the contrary, our main aim was to emphasize the difference between Israel proper and the settlements.

While the government did everything possible to erase the Green Line, we aimed at restoring it in the consciousness of the Israeli public. We also aimed at hurting the settlements economically. The government was working full-time to attract people to the settlements by offering private villas to young couples who could not afford an apartment in Israel proper, and lure local and foreign investors with huge subsidies and tax reductions. The boycott was intended to counteract these inducements.

We were also attracted by the very nature of a boycott: It is democratic and non-violent. Anyone can implement it quietly in his or her private life. The government decided that the best way to minimize the damage was to ignore us. But when our initiative started to find followers abroad, they became alarmed. Especially when the EU decided to implement the provisions of its trade agreement with Israel. This confers large benefits on Israeli exports, but excludes the settlements, which are manifestly illegal under international law.

The Knesset reacted furiously and devoted a whole day to the matter. (If I may be allowed another ego-trip: I decided to attend the session. As a former member, I was seated with Rachel in the gallery of honored guests. When a rightist speaker noticed us, he turned around and, in a flagrant breach of parliamentary etiquette, pointed at us and snarled: “There is the Royal Couple of the Left!”)

Abroad, too, the boycott was initially aimed at the settlements. But, drawing on the experience of the anti-apartheid struggle, it soon turned into a general boycott of Israel. I do not support this. To my mind, it is counter-productive, since it pushes the general population into the arms of the settlers, under the tired old slogan: “All the world is against us.”

The growing dimensions of the various boycotts could no longer be ignored. The Israeli Right decided to act — and it did so in a very clever way.

It exploited the call to boycott Israel in order to outlaw the call to boycott the settlements, which was the part that really upset it. That is the essence of the law enacted two years ago.

The law does not punish individual boycotters. It punishes everyone who publicly calls for a boycott. And what punishment! No prison terms, which would have turned us into martyrs. The law says that any individual who feels that they have been hurt by the boycott call can sue the boycott-callers for unlimited damages, without having to prove any damage at all. So can hundreds of others. This way the initiators of a boycott can be condemned to pay millions of shekels.

Not just any boycott. Only boycotts aimed against institutions or people connected with the State of Israel or — here come the three fateful Hebrew words: “A territory ruled by Israel.”

Clearly, the whole legal edifice was constructed for these three words. The law does not protect Israel. It protects the settlements. That is its sole purpose. The dozens of questions rained down on our lawyers concerned mainly this point.

Would we be satisfied with striking out these three words? (Good question. Of course we would. But we could not say so, because our main argument was that the law restricts freedom of speech. That applies to the law as a whole.)

Would we have opposed a law directed against the Arab Boycott maintained against Israel during its early years? (The circumstances were completely different.) Do we oppose the freedom of speech of rabbis who prohibit the leasing of apartments to Arab citizens? (That is not a boycott, but crass discrimination.)

After hours of debate, the court adjourned. Judgment will be given at some undefined date. Probably there will be a majority and several minority decisions. Will the court dare to strike out a law of the Knesset? That would demand real courage. I would not be surprised if the majority decides to leave the law as it is, but strike out the words concerning the settlements.

Otherwise, it will be another step toward turning Israel into a state of the settlers, by the settlers and for the settlers. There are examples for this in history. The eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee — a favorite of mine — once composed a list of countries which were taken over by the inhabitants of their border regions, who as a rule are hardier and more fanatical than the spoiled inhabitants of the center.
For example, the Prussians, then the inhabitants of a remote border region, took over half of Germany, and then the rest. Savoy, a borderland, created modern Italy.

Whatever the outcome, the decision in the case of “Uri Avnery and Others vs. the State of Israel” will be quoted for a long time. Some satisfaction, at least.(http://www.arabnews.com/news/529316)
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