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Archive for December, 2010

New Yorker editor David Remnick to Yediot: ‘I can’t take the Occupation anymore’

December 26, 2010 270 comments

David Remnick

On December 24 2010, Yediot’s Friday Political Supplement ran an interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick by Adi Gold. Most of the interview was dedicated to his new biography of Barack Obama. Gold did ask a political question on Israel and Reminck’s response was very blunt. Note that this is a reverse translation (Hebrew original of section here.)

Do you see a certain change in the US Jewish community?

“A new generation of Jews is growing up in the US. Their relationship with Israel is becoming less patient and more problematic. They see what has happened with the Rabbinical Letter [proscribing rental and sale of property to Arabs — DR], for example. How long can you expect that they’ll love unconditionally the place called Israel [sic]? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967. It’s been happening for so long that even people like me, who understand  that not only one side is responsible for the conflict and that the Palestinians missed an historic opportunity for peace in 2000, can’t take it anymore.

“The US administration is trying out of good will to get a peace process moving and in return Israel lays out conditions like the release Jonathan Pollard. Sorry, it can’t go on this way. The  Jewish community is not just a nice breakfast at the Regency. You think it’s bad that a US President is trying to make an effort to promote peace? That’s what’s hurting your feelings? Give me a break, you’ve got bigger problems. A shopping list in exchange for a two month moratorium on settlement construction? Jesus [sic].”

Categories: Uncategorized

Breaking the Silence’s landmark new book, now in English

December 22, 2010 3 comments

Breaking the Silence has just published a landmark collection of soldier testimonies from the Occupied Territories spanning the period 2000-2010. The 432 page book can now be browsed, downloaded and embedded here.

If you read nothing else, take the time to look over the first to pages of the introduction for a simple and honest analysis of how the IDF degenerated into a tool of dispossession. Here’s its core:

From the descriptions given by the soldiers, one comes to grasp the logic of Israeli operations overall. The testimonies leave no room for doubt: while it is true that the Israeli security apparatus has had to deal with concrete threats in the past decade, including terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens, Israeli operations are not solely defensive. Rather, they systematically lead to the de facto annexation of large sections of the West Bank to Israel through the dispossession of Palestinian residents. The widespread notion in Israeli society that the control of the Territories is intended exclusively to protect the security of Israeli citizens is incompatible with the information conveyed by hundreds of IDF soldiers.

The Israeli security forces and governmental bodies make consistent reference in the media and in internal discussions and military briefings to four components of Israeli policy in the Territories: ‘preventing terrorism’ or ‘prevention of hostile terrorist activity’ (sikkul); ‘separation’, i. e., Israel’s “separating itself” from the Palestinian population (hafradah); the need to preserve Palestinian ‘fabric of life’ (mirkam hayyim); and ‘law enforcement’ (akhifat hok) in the Territories. But the terms that Israeli security forces apply to various components of Israeli policy in the Territories present a partial, often distorted, description of the policy and its consequences. These terms, once descriptive, quickly become code-words for activities that are unrelated to their original meaning. This book describes the Israeli policies in the Territories which the State of Israel’s institutions do not disclose. The men and women soldiers whose testimonies appear in this book are an especially reliable source of information: they are not merely witnesses to Israeli policy; they have been entrusted with the task of carrying it out, and are — explicitly or implicitly — asked to conceal it as well.

Categories: IDF

Following local pressure, Adidas reconsiders sponsorship of Jerusalem marathon

December 12, 2010 12 comments

This Maariv article [full translation below] from Friday is particularly badly written and repetitive, so I’ll summarize.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat decides to hold the first Jerusalem International Marathon in March 2011. He gets Adidas to sponsor the event. An Israeli runner registers and then discovers that the route runs through some of the most egregious examples of discrimination and dispossession in East Jerusalem: Sheikh Jarrah, Issawiya, the Shufat Refugee Camp, Jabel Mukaber and Sur Baher (see map on right.)

He approaches the Meretz representatives on the Jerusalem city council and they, with international human rights organizations, approach Adidas. Adidas smells a possible consumer boycott and gets cold feet. The company demands “clarifications” from the Jerusalem municipality. What does that mean? Time (and persistence) will tell.

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Adidas considers withdrawing sponsorship of Jerusalem marathon

Yosi Eli, Maariv, December 10 2010 [Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]

The sports giant Adidas, which is sponsoring the Jerusalem International Marathon, requested clarifications from the Jerusalem Municipality about the manner in which the event would be conducted [sic]. Sources in the company [say they] are even considering withdrawing the sponsorship because of fears of a consumer boycott, after it became clear that the route also runs through neighborhoods beyond the Green Line.

The company’s communication with the Jerusalem Municipality follows a series of protests it received from human rights organizations across the world, demanding that the company cancel its sponsorship of the marathon, which is scheduled for March 2011.

Read more…

Categories: Direct Action, Jerusalem

Maariv: How to build another nuclear reactor without signing the NPT

December 12, 2010 1 comment

Dimona nuclear reactor Dome

Like most of the world, Israel is facing a major energy crisis. Our population is growing and per-capita energy consumption is on the rise.

Nuclear energy is emerging as the solution favored by the government, as reported in a December 8 2010 Maariv feature [full translation at the bottom of this post]:

Israel’s efforts to build a nuclear power plant are the result of a report prepared by a large international energy company, which was submitted to the Infrastructure Ministry.  The report states that a nuclear plant is the best solution, given the energy situation in Israel — both in economic terms and in terms of ensuring Israel’s energy supply.

According to the report, Israel is not capable of carrying out such a project on its own — and therefore it would have to purchase a reactor as an “off-the-shelf product” from one of the prominent manufacturers in the market, such as the French company AREVA or the American company Westinghouse.

But there’s a snag.

Until now, Israel has encountered strong opposition by the world — mainly on the part of the United States — to manufacturing electricity from a nuclear plant in Israel, since it is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Our leaders, however, always have a “creative solution” (most Israelis would call it a “combina”) up their sleeves.

However, the Infrastructure Ministry, with the support of the prime minister, is examining a creative possibility for circumventing the international opposition: To declare the site of the power plant that will be built as an ex-territorial area to the State of Israel.  This means that a foreign company, French or American, will build the reactor and also own the land upon which it is located.  Senior Infrastructure Ministry officials say that this means that the land will not be under Israeli sovereignty, and it will be possible to bypass the obstacle in this manner.

What if the Americans don’t share our enthusiasm for the “combina”? One of our leading scientists thinks that threatening them with suicide will yield acquiescence:

Another problem discussed [at a recent conference] is the unwillingness of countries to sell Israel off-the-shelf reactors. Professor [Arie] Dubi [of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Ben Gurion University] offered a solution: “Israel should publish a tender, oriented towards the Russians and Chinese, for purchase of the knowledge necessary to plan and build a nuclear reactor. Then the Americans will run after us — because the Russian and Chinese reactors are less safe.”

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Foreign nuclear plant may be built in Israel is em

Ronit Morgenstern, Maariv, December 8 2010 [Hebrew original here]

Has the Israeli government found a creative way to build a nuclear power plant?  Until now, Israel has encountered strong opposition by the world — mainly on the part of the United States — to manufacturing electricity from a nuclear plant in Israel, since it is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

However, the Infrastructure Ministry, with the support of the prime minister, is examining a creative possibility for circumventing the international opposition: To declare the site of the power plant that will be built as an ex-territorial area to the State of Israel.  This means that a foreign company, French or American, will build the reactor and also own the land upon which it is located.  Senior Infrastructure Ministry officials say that this means that the land will not be under Israeli sovereignty, and it will be possible to bypass the obstacle in this manner.

Israel’s efforts to build a nuclear power plant are the result of a report prepared by a large international energy company, which was submitted to the Infrastructure Ministry.  The report states that a nuclear plant is the best solution, given the energy situation in Israel — both in economic terms and in terms of ensuring Israel’s energy supply.

According to the report, Israel is not capable of carrying out such a project on its own — and therefore it would have to purchase a reactor as an “off-the-shelf product” from one of the prominent manufacturers in the market, such as the French company AREVA or the American company Westinghouse.

The Infrastructure Ministry and Israel Electric Corporation are already preparing to build a nuclear power plant: The Israel Atomic Energy Commission is currently conducting, together with the Infrastructure Ministry, a joint feasibility study for building nuclear reactors for producing electricity in Israel.  The results of the study are due to be published at the start of 2011, and will address all the aspects related to nuclear power plants: Safety, economic profitability, new technologies in the field and geopolitical aspects.

Read more…

Categories: Diplomacy

Yediot’s legal editor cites Nuremberg Laws, Eichmann trial, in critique of new Rabbinical ruling

December 8, 2010 5 comments

Rabbis’ disgrace

Analysis, Boaz Okon, Yediot, December 8 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]

Okon

In 1834, a clothes salesman in London refused to sell an article of clothing to a customer.  The refusal stemmed from the fact that the buyer was “just a Jew.”The Jewish buyer sued the salesman, but the court in the Timothy case supported the salesman.  It was not a just trial, but the judge employed a sacred principle, the freedom of contracts, according to which a person can choose with whom he wants to enter into a contract and whom he does not.  This sanctity was a disgrace and a refuge for ugly prejudice.  The court’s non-intervention only supplied ammunition to the strong and violent versus the human and the weak, and the usual outcome of giving “freedom to wolves,” as Prof. Isaiah Berlin put it, is “death for sheep.”  Since then, the sanctity of the freedom of contracts has been made subject to the demand of good faith.  It can no longer serve as a refuge for racists.  In the Israeli ruling in the case of Naamne vs. Kibbutz Kalia, Judge Miriam Mizrahi ruled that one cannot rely on freedom of contracts to prevent Arabs from entering a water park.

Now Jewish clerics are using a different sanctity, the sanctity of the Torah, to cover their racist shame.  They will find that the sanctity cannot legitimize the ugliness.  Their prejudice will also be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with the ridiculous ritual that surrounds it.

The infamous Nuremberg Laws forbade, in 1935, mixed marriages between Jews and Germans, and barred Jews from employing German maids (under age 45) and laborers.  This prohibition was intended to portray the Jews as a kind of pest, not quite human.  They became a persecuted bloc on the basis of generalizations and slander.  Gideon Hausner, the prosecutor at the Eichmann trial, would later say that in Israel, “we do not make ethnic distinctions.”  But here, rabbis, who receive their pay from the state coffers, forbid people to rent apartments to Gentiles, to Arabs, because it “causes evil and makes the public commit the sin of intermarriage,” and because they have among them “enemies and people who persecute us to the point of endangering lives.”

Read more…

Yediot: “Security establishment” warns of imminent Palestinian prisoner strike

December 2, 2010 2 comments

This appears to be a General Security Service (GSS) leak:

The scenario that the security establishment is preparing for is threatening. The scenario envisions the security prisoners launching a hunger strike, setting fire to their cells, trying attack the guards, severing all contact with the prison authorities, refusing all visits by the Red Cross and family members, while their relatives will demonstrate outside the prisons and will enlist Israeli Arabs to the cause as well.

Israeli security officials said that the Palestinian Authority is behind the planned prisoners’ strike, which is expected to include a hunger strike and rioting in the larger prisons in Israel—similar to the strike that was held in the prisons in 2004, when the security prisoners rioted for 18 days. Israeli officials said they anticipated that the signal to launch the strike would be given in the course of the next number of weeks.

The assessment is that the Palestinian Authority will also launch a parallel “soft attack” that will involve the enlistment of Arab and other international media stations, as well as taking legal action to help shore up the prisoners’ struggle.

It will be interesting to see if the “legal actions” will tackle a major issue that has largely remained under the radar:  the 10,000 or so Palestinian prisoners are held in Israel in direct breach of international law.

On March 25, 2009, Yesh Din along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that prisoners and detainees who reside in the West Bank not be held in facilities within Israel, and that arraignment hearings for such detainees also not be held in courts outside the West Bank.

The petition argues that holding Palestinian detainees in facilities located within Israel, a practice employed by Israeli authorities since 1967, violates Geneva Convention norms and infringes on detainees’ and prisoners’ right to due process, right to counsel, as well as visitation rights, as their lawyers and families are unable to meet with them.

In March 2010, following a hearing, the HCJ rejected the petition, stating that this issue was discussed and decided upon in a previous ruling. In that ruling, the HCJ refused to apply the International Humanitarian Law on this issue – and accepted the Israeli government’s position on the matter. [More here]

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Palestinians planning prisoners strike

Alex Fishman, Yediot, December 2 2010 [Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]

The security establishment is bracing for the possibility that the Palestinian security prisoners who are incarcerated in Israel will launch a general strike, which is being planned by the Palestinian Authority.

Read more…

Categories: Impunity

Maariv “exclusive”: Israel and Brazil sign major security cooperation agreement

December 2, 2010 14 comments

This appears to be a major agreement:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Security in the Defense Ministry Amir Kain signed the historic agreement for security cooperation between the two countries a few days ago.  Brazil’s intelligence affairs minister signed the agreement on the Brazilian side.  Israeli sources report that “the defense industries will make a massive effort to enter the Brazilian market following the agreement.”

Yet it received little publicity and the source of for the article appears to be Israel Aerospace Industries. Perhaps this passage hints at the reason:

Due to the high sensitivity of Brazil, some of whose allies are countries such as Turkey, Iran and Syria, which are considered states that are in confrontation with Israel or enemy states — Brazil demanded that in case of any differences of opinion, Israel would not turn to an arbitrator or third party state in order to resolve disputes that might arise.  In the agreement, it was determined that the chief of security in the Defense Ministry and his Brazilian counterpart would be responsible for resolving such disputes.

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Exclusive: Defense industries take Brazil

Eli Bardenstein, Maariv, December 1 2010 [Hebrew original here]

A market valued at billions of dollars has opened up to the defense industries, after a first agreement of its kind was signed for cooperation between Israel and Brazil.  There are already several giant deals on the table between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Elbit and Rafael with Brazil.

Read more…

Categories: Diplomacy
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