Thursday, October 29, 2009
Taking on water
AMNESTY International's report on Israeli water use on the West Bank (The Age, 28/10) is yet another example of a non-government organisation disregarding Israeli material and relying solely on Palestinian allegations to condemn Israel. Amnesty refused to hear from Israel's Water Authority. Israeli-Palestinian water policy is based on an interim agreement between the two sides, which allocates a set amount of water to the Palestinians. Israel has not only kept its side of the agreement, but has given the Palestinians more water than it is obliged to. By contrast, the Palestinians have breached their obligations by, for example, drilling illegal wells and failing to build sewage treatment plants that would make water available for agriculture, and for which they have received funding. Palestinian water consumption has, in fact, significantly increased since Israel took over the West Bank in 1967.
Israel has also frequently offered to provide the Palestinians with desalinated water. This offer is always rejected. Israelis living in the West Bank do, however, receive this water, which may help account for the discrepancies found by Amnesty.
Jamie Hyams, Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, South Melbourne
The problem is of course much more than water. It's all about politics and how to justify recalcitance on the part of one side that refuses to accept the other. Below is a letter writer seeking to justify violence because of the lies that enabled the report to see the the light of day. Another instance of theft of the truth which ultimately deprives people on both sides of their lives, which deprives children of their rights to a father or a mother. This is the sin and here is the lie -
SO ISRAEL takes most of the water now? Even in the Palestinian occupied territories. President Abbas is fed up because the US gives him and the Palestinians nothing, while Obama acquiesces to Israel's demands on settlement activity and probably the Goldstone report too. I think we are beginning to see why some people resort to futile violence and resistance. Futility breeds futility, and the blood is more and more on the international community's hands (that includes us).
Hisham Moustafa, Sandringham
* both letters can be found in the Age letters section here.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Patrick Seale in a few short paragraphs manages to present practically all the well worn anti-Zionist allegations and critiques ("Mideast stalemate dooms Palestinians", 27.10.09)
Even the most cursory reading of his article throws up internal contradictions. He writes, for example, that "Cut off from the world by Israel, Gaza is increasingly integrated into the Egyptian economy.
It depends for its survival on goods smuggled in from Egypt through hundreds of cross border tunnels." Seale here firstly blames Israel for cutting off Gaza and then notes that the border between Gaza and Egypt is controlled by Egypt. How then can he hold Israel solely responsible for what he choses to call "The cruel siege of Gaza"?
Seale would do well to reflect on why both nations which share a border with Gaza feel it necessary to adopt such stringent border security measures.
Seale writes that nine tenths of the people in Gaza live below the poverty line, given the immense sums of money that the UN and other many organisations have been pouring into Palestine for decades he might have produced a useful contribution to understanding the present situation in Gaza if he investigated what happened to all this money - clearly it hasn't reached the people it was intended to help.
Seale's whole article is replete with nonsense, half-truths and one-eyed analysis. If his article reflects the standard of analysis of "a leading British writer on the Middle East" one shudders to think what sort of nonsense lesser British writers on the Middle East are churning out.
Dr Bill Anderson
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Why did the Arabs run? Their mass flight from Tiberias, Haifa, Safed, Jerusalem, Jaffa and from the village in those areas, seemed to have little to do with the fighting itself. Anyhow, down the ages civilians have traditionally stuck to their homes and their land, through wars and alien occupations, surviving as best they could, waiting for the end of their troubles. Why should the Arabs have behaved differently, even those who had been on good terms with the Jews? Some blame it on the Mufti. Arabs told their Jewish neighbors that agents of the Mufti said they should go or they'd get their throats slit by the Israelis. Some professed not to believe this, but thought they'd better do as they were told. Other Arabs thought Jewish control would be temporary, a matter of weeks, and that their safest bet was to get out until the Arab forces came back; otherwise they might be regarded as collaborators and suffer at the hands of their own bosses. Others may have been merely defeatist, assuming Jewish victory and preferring to live under Arab rule: the sense of national boundaries is not strong in most of the Arab world. Another likely cause was the example of the wealthy Arabs. When the poor worker in the town or on the land saw his betters disappear with their belongings, he was likely to conclude that the same danger existed for him, too. A dozen reasons probably combined to create the vast epidemic of fear that drove some 500,000 Arabs out of Jewish Palestine into the already overcrowded ranks of homeless, penniless "displaced persons." Should Israel take them back if they want to come? No one I talked to believed they should be readmitted -- any of them -- before the war ends. Aside from those who are hostile and potentially under the orders of Fawzi el Kaukji or the Mufti, they would be an intolerable burden on the new state's already staggering economy. Besides, the Jews feel no responsibility for their flight and, consequently, little obligation to help them return. After the war the question of the refugees can be discussed on its long-range merits.
Six decades later, the discussion continues.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Bernstein put in the hard yards in the late 1970's and 1980's when human rights organisations really looked after the human rights of oppressed people around the world, rather than serve the interests of terror groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah.
Last week members of his former organisation were swanning around in a five star hotel in India - so much for caring for the poor and oppressed people of the world.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Unfortunately, perception and reality are poles apart in Palestinian politics and since the promises made have not included the destruction of the Jewish State, the honeymoon is now over.
Marty Peretz puts it nicely in his New Republic blog - Not Since Never Have the Palestinians Had a More Sympathetic American President.
Sometimes, it's not enough to have a sympathetic American President!
Friday, October 16, 2009
In an interview with Jewish Forward, Goldstone denied that his group had conducted “an investigation.” Instead, it was what he called a “fact-finding mission” based largely on the limited “material we had.” Since this “material” was cherry-picked by Hamas guides and spokesmen, Goldstone acknowledged that “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.” He emphasized to the Forward that the report was no more than “a road map” for real investigators and that it contained no actual “evidence,” of wrongdoing by Israel.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The fund will work to practically support Israeli and Palestinian Trade Unions undertaking projects of mutual interest, that foster peace and hope in the region.
Chairing the Inaugural meeting of the TULIP Executive, Paul Howes, National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union said:
"The opportunity to provide practical support to working people in Israel and Palestine should not be missed. We aim to support projects developed by Israeli and Palestinian trade unions to bring progress to a region in need of more action rather than words."
Deatils on the TULIP website
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
One of my favourite television programmes was Drop the Dead Donkey, a situation comedy, that ran on Channel 4 in the UK in the 1990's. Set in the offices of "Globelink News", a fictional TV news company the series highlighted some of the worst characteristics of news presentation which, at its extremes includes the making of stories as sensational as possible, even where doing so requires the use of exaggeration or misrepresentation. In the programme, stories were sometimes invented or exaggerated and others suppressed. The title came from a decision to drop a mundane story about a dead donkey in favour of something else of a more newsworthy nature.
The story does highlight how adept some of the Gazans have become at lying, not only to their own people but also to the rest of the world. After all, if a so-called eminent jurist such as Sir Richard Goldstone could fall for the crock of lies he accepted during his recent so-called investigation into the Gaza war, then turning a donkey into a zebra has to be a cinch.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
It starts thus:
Ever since his June speech at Bar-Ilan University, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that peace with the Palestinians is conditioned on
the latter accepting Israel as a Jewish state. During his much-lauded address at the United Nations, Netanyahu reiterated his position:
"We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. As simple, as clear, as elementary as that. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people."
The Palestinians, for their part, have rejected Netanyahu's position. Their claim rests on three assertions: It is not the business of Palestinians to recognize the Jewish nature of Israel. Such recognition would endanger the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Acknowledging the Jewish state would negate the Palestinian right of return. So, should the Palestinians accept a Jewish State?
Israeli and Palestinian writers Roi Ben-Yehuda and Aziz Abu Sarah got together to explore the topic.
Then follows an interesting exchange.
Monday, October 12, 2009
WHEN awarded to terrorist Yasser Arafat in 1994, the Nobel peace prize was devalued in the eyes of many. When awarded in 2007 to a political body (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and a failed politician (Al Gore), who are dedicated to a problem that we can't control and that may not even exist, it became a joke.
With its awarding this year to Barack Obama, it has become a prize for hope over substance, rhetoric over action. No one who has read the resumes of other nominees could still think that Obama is a worthy winner. Why the selection committee overlooked nominees such as Sima Samar, an Afghan women's rights activist, or Dr Denis Mukwege, founder and head of the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is hard to fathom. Especially when you bear in mind that Obama was in office for just 12 days when nominations closed.
One day, if his lofty ideals and ambitions materialise and the world does become a safer place, he may merit a peace prize. Until then, shouldn't we reward people who are actually doing something now?
Robbie Gore, McKinnon
Saturday, October 10, 2009
FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA WON WHAT? (Washington Post)
In a stunning development, Millard Fillmore Senior High School announced today that it had chosen Shawn Rabinowitz, an incoming junior, as next year's valedictorian. The award was made, the valedictorian committee announced from Norway of all places, on the basis of "Mr. Rabinowitz's intention to ace every course and graduate number one in his class." In a prepared statement, young Shawn called the unprecedented award "[expletive]ing awesome."
At the same time, and amazingly enough, the Pulitzer Prize for literature went to Sarah Palin for her stated intention "to read a book someday." The former Alaska governor was described as "floored" by the award, announced in Stockholm by nude Swedes beating themselves with birch branches, and insisted that while she was very busy right now, someday she would make good on her vow. "You'll see," she said from her winter home in San Diego.
And in an astonishing coincidence, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar for best picture will be given this year to the Vince Vaughn vehicle "Guys Weekend to Burp," which is being story-boarded at the moment but looks very good indeed. Mr. Vaughn, speaking through his publicist, said he was "touched and moved" by the award and would do everything in his power to see that the picture lives up to expectation and opens big next March.
At the same news conferences, the Academy announced that the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award would go this year to Britney Spears for her intention to "spend whatever it takes to save the whales." The Academy recognized that Spears had not yet saved a single whale, but it felt strongly that it was the intention that counted most. Spears, who was leaving a club at the time, told People magazine that she would not want to live in "a world without whales." People put it on the cover.
The sudden spate of awards based on intentions or plans or aspirations was attributed to the decision by the Nobel Committee to award the peace prize to Barack Obama for his efforts in nuclear disarmament and his outreach to the Muslim world. (The committee said next year it will honor a Muslim who reaches out to the non-Muslim world.) Some cynics suggested that Obama's award was a bit premature since, among other things, a Middle East peace was as far away as ever and the world had yet to fully disarm. Nonetheless, the president seemed humbled by the news and the Norwegian committee packed for its trip to the United States, where it will appear on "Dancing With the Stars."
Friday, October 09, 2009
Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on Al-Quds Day: 'Israel Must Be Wiped Out Of Existence'
There are of course, many apologists in the West who give their full support and even tell lies for the Islamist terrorist organisations Hizbullah and Hamas and some even describe themselves as Jews (Loewenstein and his dodgy little wanna be mate Brull) or peace activists.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The institution of the UN is vital. The extent to which it has been hijacked has reached crisis point, however. The imperative to tackle human rights issues is thus subsumed by anti-democratic agendas. It falls to the democracies among us to haul this once-august body back on track.
Monday, October 05, 2009
To: Judge Richard Goldstone
From: Barbara Press
Subject: Hello Richard... It's been a while...
Our paths have crossed many times compelling me to correspond directly with you. I pray your indulgence that you hear me out by reading to the end of my missive. In fact I ask you to share my letter with Noleen from beginning to end and to respond with your thoughts.
It has been a while since (inspired by you as head of ORT South Africa) I, together with Rabbi Bernard at Oxford Shule, established a school to teach the Killarney-Houghton Black domestic workers how to write, read, sew, cook and drive. It has been a while since you praised my father, Hubert Press, as one of the finest business brains you had ever encountered. It was been a while since I dined with you, Noleen, David and Marilyn Rivkin, discussing opera.
Jewish life has been crying out for a man of the stature of Adolph Cremieux, of Justice Louis Brandeis, of Sir Moses Montefiore, people of the highest integrity and purpose. For those who champion their own people are remembered forever in the annals of history. But those who are self-serving are lost in a trail of ignominy.
South African Jewry stand tall and your efforts in championing Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa were applauded and earned you a reputation as a man of stature.
I am bewildered by the direction you have taken as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This rogue Council has been tainted by a membership that does not condemn Iranian tyranny, Chinese oppression, African despotism but spends their time condemning one country unjustly, Israel.
The Goldstone Commission bears your name. One would expect the mandate of any report to be objective so that your name could be respected and a legacy ensured. Instead your committee ignored the facts, embraced bias and rendered the report bearing your name, illegitimate.
You tried to defend yourself in the New York Times but it was transparent and not effective. You could have resigned from the commission and retained your integrity. You knew that Israel faced 12000 Grads and Kassams from its Iran backed terror base of Gaza, 8000 irreversibly traumatizing the families and children of Sderot. You knew that the U.N. never passed one resolution condemning these deadly missiles. You knew that before and during Operation Cast Lead Israel made thousands of cell phone calls to warn civilians. You knew that Israel sent housands of texts to warn civilians. You knew that Israel dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets in Arabic (I managed to obtain one of these as evidence) to warn civilians. You knew that Israel aborted operations to avoid civilian deaths. You knew that Israel set up medical facilities on the edge of Gaza to treat civilians. You knew that Israel dropped supplies of food into Gaza to feed civilians.
You also knew that Hamas operatives are not "civilians". You knew that not only were they not civilians but that they hid behind their own civilians to fire on Israeli civilians. You knew that they misused ambulances for military purposes. You knew that mosques and schools were used for Hamas depots and launching pads. You knew that Hamas operatives kill or shoot at the legs of any Gazans refusing to target Israel.
The video footage and U-tube sequences are still available for any and all of us to witness.
You clearly knew that one of your team members had condemned Israel in a published letter even before the conclusion of the incursion or the beginning of your investigation. But you did not resign or distance yourself from the hypocrisy of this illegitimate report. Instead a tedious 500-page report of the 3 week battle was padded with pages from the tainted U.N. mockery of Israel's security barrier (misnamed the "wall"). What a sad indictment of the charter of the United Nations.
Richard, you were indeed a respected legal giant in Johannesburg. This report did not arise from ignorance or naivete. I am trying so hard to resist the conclusion that your role and report might represent a self-serving desire to ingratiate yourself for a more senior position in the kangaroo court called the United Nations. But if true - and one hopes that this is not the case - at what price? Association with the infamous U.N. garners no respect in the USA so why would anyone seek to be head inmate at the U.N. Asylum?
I have been very direct as South Africans are want to be. But many of us South Africans have been tainted by the perfidy of the Goldstone report. This is the Jewish time of Judgment when the scales of fate are entered in the book of life and we all need to look into our souls. I am not sure how you could comfortably extricate yourself. Perhaps we could discuss this face to face.
Good Yomtov to you, Noleen and your family.
Barbara Press Fix
Sunday, October 04, 2009
IS AHMADINEJAD TRYING TO HIDE HIS JEWISH ROOTS BY BASHING ISRAEL?
Then again I simply can't picture Mahmoud asking Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to pass the gefilte fish at the dinner table.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
MOST TALKED ABOUT
IRAN V ISRAEL
GIVEN his at times somewhat clownish and outlandish behaviour, some people find it difficult to take Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats seriously ("Iran in deadly warning to Israel”, 30/9). This is a grave mistake.
Adolf Hitler, another leader who many people found it difficult to take seriously until it was too late, in an address to the German Reichstag on January 30, 1939 stated that “I have often been a prophet in my life and was generally laughed at ... Today I will be a prophet again: If international finance Jewry within Europe and abroad should succeed once more in plunging the peoples into a world war, then the consequences will not be the Bolshevisation of the world and therewith a victory of Jewry, but on the contrary, the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe.”
History tells us that we must take threats from egomaniacal, hate-filled political leaders seriously. It’s a matter of great urgency that something be done to stop the Iranian regime developing the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Israel would, I fear, be very mistaken if it were to place any faith in either the UN or the US taking effective action to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Surrey Hills, Vic
On the other hand, see if you can pick out how many errors, omissions and distortions of fact there are contained in Ann Faran's pithy generalisation and whitewash of a Holocaust denying regime which constantly threatens to wipe Israel off the map.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
29 September 2009 Transcript:
Yesterday, on Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world - in Jerusalem, Sderot, here in Geneva - commemorated Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. It is the day when, according to Jewish tradition, our fate is determined for the coming year: "Who will live and who will die, who will be raised up and who brought low". Not only for individuals but also for States, this is a decisive time. In the words of our prayers: "Which for war and which for peace, which for famine and which for plenty".
For the States in this Council this is indeed a fateful time. Today's debate is a real test of the integrity and purpose of this body. But more than that, the response to the challenge presented today will have a clear effect on our ability - collectively and individually - to face some of the greatest challenges in the year ahead.
Five years ago, in a remarkable gesture reaching out for peace, Israel removed every one of its soldiers and over 8000 civilians from the Gaza Strip. We withdrew hospitals and kindergartens, synagogues and cemeteries, leaving only the greenhouses we had struggled to build in the hope that these would be the start of a productive Palestinian society. And you, the States of this Council, applauded this unprecedented measure. You told us in no uncertain terms that in the nightmare scenario that terror would take root, you would back us in our inherent right to self-defense.
Five years later, the greenhouses had been ransacked by Hamas thugs, over 8000 rockets and mortars had been fired on schools and kindergartens in Sderot and other Israeli towns, and an unceasing supply of weaponry was being smuggled through tunnels into Gaza from terror-sponsoring states like Iran. Israel's urgent appeals to the international community were to no avail, and our attempts to extend a fragile cease-fire were met with new, increased barrages of missiles from Hamas. And all the while the range of the attacks was increasing. Now Ashkelon and Beer Sheva were within reach. One million Israeli children, women and men had to live every moment of their lives within seconds of a bomb shelter.
The decision to launch a military operation is never an easy one. It is even more challenging when we have to face an enemy that intentionally deploys its forces in densely populated areas, stores its explosives in private homes, and launches rockets from crowded school yards and mosques. These are new and horrendous challenges, and we sought to deal with them responsibly and with humanity. Yet when we dropped millions of leaflets and made tens of thousands of phone calls to warn civilians in advance of operations, we were witness to the callous and deliberate Hamas tactic of sending women and children onto the roofs of terrorist headquarters and weapons factories. In such cases, again and again missions were aborted, letting the Hamas terrorists escape, Israel protected Palestinian civilians that Hamas had put at risk.
In grappling with these dilemmas we seek the guidance of other states. We may not have all the right answers but we struggle to ask the right questions. And in discussions between officials charged with securing the lives of their civilians we hear genuine admiration for our restraint. For example, when Colonel Richard Kemp, Commander of British forces in Afghanistan was asked about Israel's conduct in Gaza, he replied: "I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF in Gaza."
In complex urban warfare, though, civilian casualties are tragically inevitable. There also may have been incidents in which soldiers did not always maintain the standards that we expected of them. The true test of a genuine democracy is how it deals with such cases, and how it examines its own failings. Following the Gaza Operation, Israel has opened over 100 separate investigations into fundamental operational questions, like damage to UN centers and medical facilities, as well as specific allegations of misconduct. Of these investigations 23 have already resulted in criminal proceedings. And this process continues. Any decision regarding whether to open criminal proceedings can be appealed by any Israeli or Palestinian to Israel's Supreme Court - a court which has been cited with respect and admiration throughout the democratic world.
Israel struggles to deal with these tough questions, raised by terrorists acting within civilian centers. Sadly, these are questions which also occupy many other democratic countries and which they and we will have to continue to grapple with. But these questions, apparently, do not occupy the authors of the shameful Report which has been presented to this Council.
Like many of the States in this Council, we could not support a resolution which only addressed one side of the conflict, and which established four separate mechanisms to condemn Israel and not even one to examine Hamas.
Like many of the distinguished individuals who rejected invitations to head the fact finding mission with its one-sided mandate, we objected to a mission which, in the words of Mary Robinson, was "guided by politics not human rights". While Israel has cooperated with dozens of inquiries and investigations from international organizations and NGO's into the events in Gaza it refused to cooperate with this Mission. And the Report presented today fully justifies that decision.
Even prior to the start of any investigation one member of the Mission went on public record stating that Israel's defense of its civilians against Hamas' attacks was "aggression not self-defense". The document submitted today simply reiterates that prejudice. Mr. President
This is a report - 575 pages - in which the right of self defense is not mentioned, in which the smuggling of weapons into Gaza through hundreds of tunnels deserves not a word.A report based on pre-screened Palestinian witnesses, not one of whom was asked about Hamas terrorist activity or the abuse of civilians, hospitals and mosques for terrorist attacks. A report which is based on carefully selected incidents, cherry picked for political effect. As Justice Goldstone revealed in an open correspondence: "We did not deal with the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas. We avoided having to do so in the incidents we decided to investigate." A report which gives credibility to every allegation or hearsay against Israel, and none to even direct admissions of guilt by Hamas leaders. Indeed which sometimes accepts the same source as authoritative as against Israel, but somehow unreliable vis-à-vis Hamas.
Mr. PresidentThe authors of this "Fact-finding Report" had little concern with finding facts. The Report was instigated as part of a political campaign, and it represents a political assault directed against Israel and against every state forced to confront terrorist threats. Its recommendations are fully in line with its one-sided agenda and seek to harness the Security Council, the General Assembly the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council, and the entire international community in its political campaign. In so doing it seeks to inject these bodies with the same political poison that has so undermined the integrity of this Council.
M. President, Unlike the Hamas terrorists who rejoice with every civilian death, Israel regards every civilian casualty as a tragedy, Israel is committed to fully examining every allegation of wrongdoing. Not because of this Report but despite it.
For let there be no doubt. This Report will do nothing to ease the lives of those in Sderot and Gaza City, Kiryat Shemona and Jenin. In providing support and vindication for terrorist tactics, it is a betrayal of Israelis and moderate Paelstinians alike.
In the final analysis, the true test of such a Report can only be whether in future armed conflicts it will have the effect of increasing or decreasing respect for the rule of law by the parties. Regrettably this one-sided report, claiming to represent international law but in fact perverting it to serve a political agenda, can only weaken the standing of international law in future conflicts. This report broadcasts a troubling - and legally unfounded - message to States everywhere confronting terrorist threats, that international law has no effective response to offer them, and so serves to undermine willingness to comply with its provisions. At the same time, it signals an even more troubling message to terrorist groups, wherever they are, that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we want to find a way to live in peace with our neighbors. This is the ultimate question that Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the General Assembly in New York last week:"The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us ... of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense? [...] Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists? Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.
Thank you very much.