Something is happening to Matti Golan, Globes’s grumpy daily columnist. The other day he blasted the settlers for cutting down Palestinian olive trees. This evening he aims his wrath on the right-wing “lawfare” groups petitioning the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to order government to publicize the names of the Palestinian prisoners slated to be exchanged for Gilad Schalit. He might as well have been talking about Gerald Steinberg, who has also recently discovered the convenience of “‘transparency” as cover for his government-sponsored campaign to suppress Israeli human rights groups.
Excerpt from column, Matti Golan, Globes, November 30 2009
It’s a little ridiculous when radical right-wing groups go to the HCJ arguing for “public debate” based on the democratic principle of the “right to know.” If there is a public somewhat estranged from democracy it’s the fanatical right. They remember democracy, and speak in its name, only when it serves their purposes. In any other case they kick it, or at least stone it.
The truth is that they are simply against the [Schalit] deal and hope that “the public’s right to know,” which they don’t really respect, will help them. Its doubtful whether they will get any traction at the HCJ, because it is an institution that one has to approach in good faith.
RELATED POSTS: Yediot: Settlers quickly find ‘freeze’ workaround | Settler attacks on Palestinians upset even the most chauvinistic Israeli pundits | [Video] IDF “concerned” that soldiers are participating in settler “revenge attacks” [but doing next to nothing about it]
Yaron London, an elder statesmen of Israeli journalism, television personality and respected intellectual, has a reputation for saying what others think. In his Yediot column this morning (November 30 2009) he had this to say about law enforcement on settlers in the West Bank
Israel’s governments have accustomed us to the sense that the rebellion of the annexers of the occupied territories is a law of nature, or perhaps a version of “cops and robbers,” in which the cops are not real police officers and the robbers no more than good boys disguised as criminal offenders. Youthful folly should not be punished, perhaps only gently reprimanded, and the policemen and soldiers will quarrel with them cautiously. Some of the buildings will be demolished, and then rebuilt, demolished, and so on and so forth, until the spineless jellyfish known as the state is worn down, and they will remain standing.
Full translation after the jump.
Settlers lay mock foundations
Zvi Singer and Itamar Eichner, Yediot, November 30 2009 [page 6]
Immediately after the prime minister announced a settlement construction freeze, settlers in a number of settlements rushed to lay fake foundations in areas that had been cleared for construction. Their goal was to make the sites in question appear in the aerial photographs to be taken by the Defense Ministry as if they contained buildings in mid-construction, the foundations of which were already fully laid.
The settlers, it appears, knew in advance about the Defense Ministry’s intention to take aerial photographs thanks to a document that fell into their hands, and they prepared in advance accordingly. The construction freeze orders stipulate the cancellation of construction permits that had already been issued for thousands of housing units because the foundations for those housing units were not laid. Read more…
On November 25 2009, Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group that monitors law enforcement on settler violence in the West Bank, published a data sheet, demonstrating that 69 documented cases of Palestinian olive tree destruction by settlers in the first ten months of 2009 had resulted in zero indictments.
Matti Golan is a veteran Israeli journalist not known for being a bleeding heart, to say the least. He has a daily column in Globes, an evening business daily, read by the Israeli financial elite. Apparently Golan read an Haaretz report on the issue and had this to say
Anyone who reads this column knows I don’t have much patience for the complaints and grievances of Arabs…
[But] I thought we, especially the people of faith among us, maintained that we are “not like them,” that we are “better than them.” Yet here we have the settlers, people of faith, saying that actually we are like them. So what was all that talk about the supremacy of Jewish spirit and values?…
And a question to the police: you have to answer the charge that for four years you did not manage to prove even one of dozens of incidents of cutting down trees that the Arabs complained about. How is that possible? Would you handle complaints by Jews the same way?
A full translation of the column can be read after the jump. You can see the original clipping here.
Incidentally, Human Rights in Yesha, whose media release Golan references, is another pro-settler group engaged in what NGO Monitor defines as “lawfare”, but which Gerald Steinberg’s organization mysteriously fails to monitor. More about Steinberg’s hypocrisy here.
UN official: “Israel is spying on the UN”
Eldad Beck, Yediot, November 29 2009 [page 9]
BERLIN — Who placed eavesdropping devices in the UN’s conference rooms in Geneva? According to UN officials, the answer is clear: Israel.
In the course of repairs carried out by electricians in two conference rooms at the UN’s facility in Geneva, two eavesdropping devices were discovered. The rooms in which the devices were found are used primarily for deliberations by the United Nations Disarmament Committee.
The Swiss daily newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung reports that in addition to the commission’s deliberations, the rooms in which the devices were found, were also the location for secret meetings held in preparation for the 2003 Iraq War. The rooms were also used for hearings as part of the investigation into the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Read more…
On November 18 I wrote about the State Department report criticizing religious freedom in Israel and the Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg’s amazement at the fact Israelis and Jewish-Americans had all but ignored it. I attached an op-ed by Naomi Chazan that ran in that day’s Yediot, which, for the first time in the mainstream Israeli media, addressed the report, slamming Israeli intolerance for Jewish religious pluralism.
On November 26, Common Ground News Service ran an article by Prof. Menachem Klein, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University, which approaches the issue from the perspective of Jewish-Muslim relations in the Israeli-Palestinian context.
Interestingly, Klein hints at the one state reality currently in place between the Mediterranean and the Jordan
No less important is the question of the return to the land. The Palestinian right of return is denied by Israel offhand. Yet, Israel upholds the principle of Jewish return to the Land of Israel. This is perceived in Israel as an exclusive right. The idea of Jewish return is what motivates the settlements in Hebron and galvanises Jewish groups to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.
The wheels of history cannot be reversed, and religion can no longer be separated from the conflict over territorial sovereignty and return.
Full article after the jump.
The latest phase of the neoconservative assault on Israeli human rights groups, is being led, in addition to Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, by Israel Harel, Chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.
Harel is a founder of the Gush Emunim settler movement. The Library of Congress Country Studies series describes Gush Emunim as
a right-wing ultranationalist, religio-political revitalization movement…The major activity of Gush Emunim has been to initiate Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
Coincidentally, in this morning’s Yediot, Israeli author and academic Gadi Taub, a frequent critic of post-Zionism, had this to say about what this movement’s strategy has done to Zionism and Judaism (full translation after the jump)
The original argument that was presented by the settlers themselves was eschatological in nature, as the founding manifesto of Gush Emunim explicitly states…
[But] Israel was not convinced. That is why the redemptive argument was replaced by what initially was merely a public relations ploy, a means of persuading the non-believers: the security argument…
Reducing Judaism to the commandment to settle the Land of Israel (which isn’t even one of the 613 commandments cited by Maimonides) has turned the settlers’ Judaism into an armed Sparta, which has replaced the spiritual with the material and all of the prophets of Israel with the sword of Joshua Bin-Nun. The settlers’ Zionism is an express route to the loss of the Zionist achievement (the Jewish state), and to accept their interpretation of Judaism is an express route to reducing Jewish ethics to clumps of soil…
The time has come for us to challenge the settlers’ pretension as if they represent the Israeli, Jewish and Zionist legacy all in one.
On a related note, another acclaimed strategist, Lieutenant General (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, is listed as a fellow in Harel’s operation. Yaalon, IDF Chief of Staff during the first years of the second Intifada, is best known for the “searing the consciousness” strategy for defeating the Palestinians. It proved to be very effective in destroying the fabric of Palestinian society and was instrumental in the rise of Hamas.
His post-IDF career has also been characterized by a series of strategic gems. In August 2009 he publicly called Peace Now and “the Israeli elites” a “virus.” This followed “Israel must free itself from the two state paradigm” and “Israel will not accept US dictates on settlements,” in May 2009.
These statements, by the way, were made after Yaalon’s appointment as Vice Premier and Minister of Strategic Affairs in Netanyahu’s government and were not very helpful in maintaining the strategic US-Israeli relationship. In this context, the fact that Yaalon is, at the same time, both a fellow at the Institute for Zionist Strategies and a senior minister should help put to rest any doubts about government complicity in the NGO suppression campaign.
RELATED POSTS: Israel Harel, Zionist Strategist (on NGO Monitor’s fundamentalist allies) | Globes on the hypocrisy of right-wing “democrats” | NGO Monitor to examine US charity supporting sedition in the IDF (not) | Prof. David Newman: Thanks to NGO Monitor, Israel has joined an elite group of states — Syria and Algeria | Exposing Gerald Steinberg and NGO Monitor, ctd. — Dimming the “halo effect”
Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, and his associates in government, have entered a new phase in their campaign to suppress Israeli human rights NGOs. This morning (November 27 2009) Haaretz’s English edition ran an op-ed by Steinberg. No longer satisfied with de-legitimization, Israeli neoconservatives have begun taking concrete parliamentary action to silence internal dissent. Because of a sense that some of the remaining freedoms of Israeli democracy — expression and association for Israeli citizens – were under dangerous assault I agreed, for the first time in years, to byline an op-ed addressing Steinberg’s (both op-eds, side-by-side, can be viewed here). Below is an annotated version of the op-ed, with comprehensive links to supporting documentation.
Wrote and vanished
Shalom Yerushalmi, Maariv, November 27 2009
Sari Nusseibeh, president of al-Quds University, is now publishing an unprecedented and revolutionary chapter as part of a monumental research on the Temple Mount, which is to be published soon in collaboration with international research institutes, among them the Ben Zvi Institute. In the chapter, Nusseibeh essentially assails the leaders of the Islamic movements throughout the generations who have consistently denied Jewish affinity to the Temple Mount. He recognizes the Jewish narrative as well as the existence of the Jewish temple there.
Nusseibeh also attacks Jews who attempt to refute the Muslim ethos, and calls for a stop to the bloody riots over the Temple Mount, which he says are the result of man’s shallow urges, and contrary to God’s command. The book is titled Where Heaven and Earth Meet. Nusseibeh’s chapter is called “Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” the Muslim name for the Temple Mount. He writes that God bestowed holiness on the land of Canaan and destined it for the Children of Israel. He further wrote that Jerusalem’s legendary temple might have been the dwelling place of the divine spirit where the high priests served God.
In another place he notes that Muslims are not aware that Jews and Christians identify the foundation stone as the place where Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac and that Jews do not know that Muslims identify Mecca as the location of this. He writes that there is a false ethos of mutual rejection of the other side’s holiness and antiquities.
Since the book’s publication Nusseibeh has refused to take interviews. He has also cut himself off from his colleagues to the book and is unwilling to promote the book’s distribution. In the book’s launching ceremony a week ago at Ecole Biblique, a Dominican institute in East Jerusalem, Nusseibeh refused to speak, though he was noted in the invitation as a key speaker. He even refused to come up to the stage. The journalist Eli Margalit, who attempted to interview him for Zman Yerushalaim received the response: “I’m sorry, I can’t.’
There are several versions that attempt to explain Nusseibeh’s silence. Sources who collaborated with him in the publication have said that Nusseibeh has received threats from extremists. However, Nusseibeh’s research assistant, Hoda Rajani said that he had not been threatened. Nusseibeh is of the most impressive and outstanding Palestinian intellectuals, and was involved in several peace initiatives, among others the People’s Voice together with Ami Ayalon. He was also one of the people to generate the first Intifada.