Tag Archives: Israel

What Egypt’s Handover of the Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia Means for Israel

Egypt made an excellent deal: It receives an outstanding economic lifeline in exchange for territories that it does not even own. However, this rescue line is also a knotted rope that turns Egypt into a Saudi satellite state.

By Zvi Bar’el

The maritime border demarcation agreement signed two days ago between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, authorizing the return of Tiran and Sanafir islands to the kingdom, aroused — as expected — a political storm in Egypt and concern in Israel.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s rivals, among them the Muslim Brotherhood, the April 6 protest movement and leftist representatives, assert that he lacks constitutional authority to cede any Egyptian territory, and if he does want to do so, he has to submit a request for parliamentary approval. Sissi and his government reject this claim, explaining that the two islands are sovereign Saudi territory and that they were leased to Egypt in 1950 to “strengthen the defense of Egypt and Saudi Arabia from Zionist aggression.”
Officially, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are correct. According to the correspondence between the late Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Sedki in the 1980s, President Hosni Mubarak asked Saudi Arabia not to raise the issue of the islands’ ownership until Israel completed its withdrawal from Egyptian territory as per the Camp David Accords. The fear was that bringing up the issue of sovereignty would cause Israel to refrain from discussing withdrawal from Taba by arguing that Israel’s earlier withdrawal from Tiran and Sanafir didn’t need to be part of the Camp David Accords, since they were Saudi territory.

Learn more » Haaretz
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Pashtun clue to lost tribes of Israel

Genetic study sets out to uncover if there is a 2,700-year-old link to Afghanistan and Pakistan

By , Jerusalem

Israel is to fund a rare genetic study to determine whether there is a link between the lost tribes of Israel and the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.

Historical and anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a connection, but definitive scientific proof has never been found. Some leading Israeli anthropologists believe that, of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the 10 lost tribes, the Pashtuns, or Pathans, have the most compelling case. Paradoxically it is from the Pashtuns that the ultra-conservative Islamic Taliban movement in Afghanistan emerged. Pashtuns themselves sometimes talk of their Israelite connection, but show few signs of sympathy with, or any wish to migrate to, the modern Israeli state.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/17/israel-lost-tribes-pashtun?CMP=share_btn_fb

Israel-Indian missile system Barak 8 carries out successful trial in Indian Ocean

“Trial will benefit both the Indian and Israeli navies,” CEO of IAI says.

The Israeli-Indian developed Barak 8 missile system carried out two successful interceptions from an Indian Navy ship over the past day.

Israel Aerospace Industries said that the weapons system successfully hit its target and completed a series of three tests that demonstrate its readiness.

Yossi Weiss, CEO of IAI, said the interceptors were fired from the heart of the Indian Ocean from an Indian Navy ship, striking their targets successfully.

Weiss described the trial as a “most impressive technological achievement” that will benefit both the Indian and Israeli navies, both of which are expected to receive the system in a fully operational mode soon.

The Indian ship used to fire the interceptors is significantly larger than the Sa’ar 5 type Israel Navy corvette used for a similar recent trial of the Barak 8.

The Barak 8 missile system is designed to protect naval ships and offshore gas rigs from hostile aircraft, missiles and rockets.

Read more » Jerusalem Post
See more » http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-Indian-missile-system-Barak-8-carries-out-successful-trial-in-Indian-Ocean-438821

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More details » BBC urdu
Read more »  http://www.bbc.com/urdu/regional/2015/12/151230_india_new_missile_test_zh?ocid=socialflow_facebook

Senior IDF source: If Lebanon war scenario becomes reality, artillery will cross border

If conflict were to break out, artillery units will have to accompany maneuvering forces over the border rather than provide supporting fire, as they did last summer.

The IDF held a series of intensive drills around the country in the past week, part of a directive issued by recently appointed Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who placed war training back at the top of the military’s priorities.

One of the exercises took place in the Jordan Valley, where the Artillery Corps 282 Support Unit spent five days training for war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Although the unit of conscripts holds this type of drill annually, this year was different due to the scope and variety of live fire employed, according to a senior Artillery Corps officer who spoke to The Jerusalem Post.

“What is special in our unit is its fusion of a variety of surface- based firepower,” he said. The unit can deploy cannons to strike ground targets, precision- guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, and the Spike [Tamuz] electro-optical fireand- forget missile.

It can also employ a radar battalion that can look far beyond the immediate battle zone, to locate enemies, provide early warning of incoming fire, and pass on target coordinates for return fire in seconds.

All of this activity simulated a full-scale war in southern Lebanon, the source said. Until last week, “my battalions were in Judea and Samaria, doing daily security missions. On Saturday night, they switched to a livefire drill,” he said. Usually, a full-scale drill of this kind comes at the end of a gradually escalating exercise, involving more and more military units. This time around, the source said, the Artillery Corps flipped things around, and started with the biggest drill.

“Together with the Armored Corps’ 7 Brigade, we held two-division exercises. We want to create the most realistic simulation, so this had to involve live fire,” he said. The unit moved from Ma’aleh Efraim to Beit She’an, activating the full range of its fire power – the first time this has happened in a drill, the source said.

Read more » The Jerusalem Post
See more » http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Senior-IDF-source-If-Lebanon-war-scenario-becomes-reality-soldiers-will-cross-border-402491

Israel’s Ethiopian Jews clash with police at race rally

At least 40 people injured during anti-racism rally in Tel Aviv sparked by brutality against a black soldier.

Israeli riot police have fired stun grenades and water cannon on thousands of ethnic Ethiopian Jewish citizens in an attempt to clear one of the most violent protests in memory in the heart of Tel Aviv.

The protesters, Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, were demonstrating on Sunday against what they said was police racism and brutality after a video clip emerged last week showing policemen shoving and punching a black soldier.

Demonstrators overturned a police car and threw bottles and stones at officers in riot gear at Rabin Square in the heart of Israel’s commercial capital.

Israel’s Channel 2 television said tear gas was also used, something the police declined to confirm.

“I’ve had enough of this behaviour by the police, I just don’t trust them any more … when I see the police I spit on the ground,” one female demonstrator who was not identified told Channel 2 before police on horseback had charged.

Read more » Al Jajazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/israel-ethiopian-jews-rally-police-brutality-150503155817247.html

New book takes aim at Israel, angers pro-Israel community

BY:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accuses Israel of being an occupying force in her new memoir Hard Choices and claims that the Jewish state denies “dignity and self determination” to Palestinians in the West Bank.

Clinton recalls being surprised by what she termed “life under occupation for the Palestinians,” according to the book.

Pro-Israel officials and insiders on Capitol Hill have called Clinton’s comments tone deaf and said that her claim that Israel is an occupying force reveals a bias against the Jewish state.

“When we left the city and visited Jericho, in the West Bank, I got my first glimpse of life under occupation for Palestinians, who were denied the dignity and self-determination that Americans take for granted,” Clinton writes.

Clinton’s comments demonstrate that she supports the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure and marginalize Israel, which current Secretary of State John Kerry recently accused of becoming an “apartheid state,” said one senior GOP Senate aide, who worked with Clinton when she was at the State Department.

Continue reading New book takes aim at Israel, angers pro-Israel community

Titanium jaw created by Israeli dental tech firm on Israeli-developed 3D printer

By BY DAVID SHAMAH

Over the past several years, Israeli hospitals have treated hundreds of victims of the Syrian civil war, but a procedure conducted on a Syrian patient last week at Rambam Hospital in Haifa was easily the most ambitious the institution has ever attempted, according to the hospital

The patient, who sustained severe injuries as a result of fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan border, was brought by the Israeli army to the hospital for treatment. The patient’s lower jaw was completely destroyed as the result of a bullet wound. The man, in critical condition, was unable to eat or to even speak.

Continue reading Titanium jaw created by Israeli dental tech firm on Israeli-developed 3D printer

Bye, the beloved country – why almost 40 percent of Israelis are thinking of emigrating

By and Shanee Shiloh

According to a new survey, more than a third of Israelis would leave the country if they could, citing economic opportunities as the main reason. Who are the wannabe leavers, and what can be done to induce them to stay?

Read more » Haaretz
Learn more » http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/bye-the-beloved-country-why-almost-40-percent-of-israelis-are-thinking-of-emigrating.premium-1.484945

 

 

Netanyahu says European Jews should immigrate to Israel

 

Israeli prime minister pushes plan encouraging Jews to “come home” in wake of deadly attack on Copenhagen synagogue.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for “massive immigration” of European Jews to Israel following the shooting attack outside a Copenhagen synagogue that killed a Danish Jew.

Netanyahu said the government on Sunday will discuss a $46M plan to encourage Jewish immigration from France, Belgium and Ukraine.

“This wave of attacks is expected to continue,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. “Jews deserve security in every country, but we say to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Israel is your home.”

Read more » Aljazeera
Learn more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/netanyahu-european-jews-immigrate-israel-150215105904162.html

Obama Is Pursuing Regime Change in Israel

Angered by Netanyahu’s invitation to address Congress, the White House is now quietly working to unsettle the prime minister before elections in Israel.

BY AARON DAVID MILLER

The White House, Secretary of State John Kerry, and assorted U.S. officials have repeatedly made clear that Washington will not intervene in Israeli politics and elections. And, indeed, under normal circumstances, non-intervention is the rule.

But what if Israel suddenly and blatantly intervened in America’s politics? Would an administration already fed up with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and very much hoping for a new leader to come out of Israel’s March 17 elections — use such an intervention to try to tip what promises to be a close vote to a rival?

Welcome to regime change, Obama style. There are few opportunities to change the mullahcracy in Tehran. But Jerusalem may be another story. By accepting Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress — now widely seen as a real bungle, the prime minister has given the Obama administration an opening. And you can bet the White House is taking advantage to make it unmistakably clear that Bibi is bad for the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

The White House has already made clear there will no meeting with President Obama, assuming that Netanyahu sticks to his word and actually shows up in early March. The good news for Netanyahu is that the two won’t have another bad meeting. The not-so-good news is that the White House door will be closed to a sitting Israeli prime minister — that doesn’t happen often. While White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said that the reason is that we’re too close to an Israeli election, that’s a stretch. Trust me: If Obama and Bibi were buddies, they’d be hugging in the Oval Office. Just look at former President Bill Clinton’s efforts to sway the 1996 election in Shimon Peres’s favor, which included seeing him at the White House.

 

Read more » FP
Learn more » http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/12/obama-is-pursuing-regime-change-in-israel-bibi-netanyahu-elections/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks&utm_campaign=2014_EditorsPicksRS2%2F12

EU foreign policy chief: Israel violating Oslo Accords by freezing Palestinian tax revenues

 

Federica Mogherini’s statement doesn’t mention PA’s request to join ICC, but calls on both sides to refrain from taking actions that could prevent ‘a rapid return to negotiations.’

By

The EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, called on Israel on Tuesday to immediately renew the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, calling the recent freeze on the funds a violation of the Oslo Accords.

Mogherini stressed in a statement that Israel’s decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenue “runs counter to Israel’s obligations under the Paris Protocol” – the economic part of the Oslo Accords. According to Mogherini, the EU provides extensive financial aid to the Palestinian Authority to build the institutions and infrastructure of the future Palestinian state. “These achievements should not be put at risk by not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues,” she said.

Read more » Haaretz
Learn more » http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.635626

Simmering Unrest in Israel

Jerusalem Seethes as Competing Claims to Holy Site Turn Violent

By Jonathan Ferziger

Shrouded head to toe in black, the women slowly circled the domed mosque in east Jerusalem’s Old City, chanting, “Allahu akbar,” the Muslim declaration of faith.

“This is our home,” said a woman who introduced herself as Oum Mustafa, speaking through a gauze veil that fully covered her eyes. “Nobody can move us from here.”

No place in the Holy Land is as fiercely contested as the 37-acre hilltop compound where the Al-Aqsa mosque stands. The sacred ground has once again become the front line in competing claims to the city, pitting Jews demanding to pray at the shrine they call the Temple Mount against Palestinians who see that demand as an attempt to cement Israel’s grip on a city they hope to make their capital.

Amid a stalemate in peace negotiations, the Palestinian outrage is growing increasingly violent, leading to clashes with police at the compound that have infuriated parts of the Muslim world.

“Jerusalem is among the most sensitive issues in the conflict and it matters to Muslims all over the world,” said Jacob Perry, Israel’s science and technology minister and former head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency. “It is vital for both sides that anything involving the al-Aqsa mosque be handled in the most careful way possible.”

Simmering Unrest

The unrest at the site is feeding off violence that has been simmering in Arab areas of Jerusalem since a Palestinian youth was burned alive in July in suspected retribution for the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish youths in the West Bank. Fanning the unrest, Palestinian leaders say, is the breakdown of U.S.-sponsored peace talks, Israel’s 50-day conflict with Gaza Strip militants and Jewish settlement on land Palestinians claim for a state.

Some analysts warn that the clashes in Jerusalem will explode into a third Palestinian uprising against Israel; others say support for another revolt just isn’t there.

Jews venerate the Temple Mount above all other holy sites, as the location of their ancient biblical temple. For Muslim faithful, the al-Aqsa complex is Islam’s third-holiest shrine, the place they believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

Political narratives collide on the mount, too. Palestinians claim all of east Jerusalem, including the Old City’s holy places, for the capital of a future state; the current Israeli government says it won’t cede Jerusalem’s eastern sector, annexed after the 1967 war in a move that isn’t internationally recognized. Peace negotiations have been tortured by disputes over control of the Old City.

Dueling Claims

The dueling claims have repeatedly touched off unrest. Rumors that Israel sought to destroy al-Aqsa to build a third temple ignited riots in the 1990s that left dozens of Palestinians dead. Ariel Sharon’s visit there in 2000 in a show of Israeli sovereignty touched off a cascade of violence that evolved into the second Palestinian uprising. Confrontations over Israeli excavation and construction at the shrine have sparked protests across the Muslim world.

After Israel captured the site from Jordan in 1967, it banned Jewish prayer there and left an Islamic trust known as the Waqf in charge of its administration. More Jews have begun questioning the ban on Jewish prayer and want to overturn it.

“I call on the public to visit the Temple Mount and on lawmakers to join the call to change the status quo to let Jews go to the Jewish people’s holiest place,” Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in a Nov. 4 post on her Facebook page.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more »http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-06/wrestling-over-jerusalem-shrine-underpins-renewal-of-violence.html?hootPostID=442fb75b75af9bbc0130c6bb76704444

 

When Jews found refuge in an unlikely place: Pakistan

Instead of fleeing 1930s Europe to British-controlled Palestine like many other Jews, the Kahan family moved to Lahore on a whim.

By and Gabe Friedman

When Hazel Kahan went back to Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011 for the first time in 40 years, her childhood homes were completely different. Her first home, formerly a tan stone mansion covered in flowery vines, was now completely painted in white and inhabited by the Rokhri family, one of Pakistan’s most powerful political clans. Her second home, where her parents had run a medical clinic, had become the Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts.

Pakistan is still close to Kahan’s heart. She explained that she has been graciously welcomed back into the Pakistani community every time she has visited. “I feel because I was born there that in a very profound way it’s my home,” she said. “Even though I’m not of it, I’m from there.”

After living in England, Australia and Israel, and having worked in market research in Manhattan for years, Kahan, 75, now lives in Mattituck, on the North Fork of Long Island. She produces interviews for WPKN radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and has recently begun discussing her family history in public presentations, telling a story that illustrates how complicated citizenship and allegiances were for Jews during and after World War II in Pakistan and beyond. She has presented her piece “The Other Pakistan” in Woodstock and Greenport, New York and twice in Berlin. She plans to bring her performance to Montreal in November.

Kahan said that her parents wanted to spend their entire life in Pakistan, and dreamt of dispensing free medical care to people throughout the Middle East after they retired.

“I never really cared about it, I never bothered, until [my father] died [in 2007],” Kahan said of the project. “Then I realized there’s no one left to tell this story. He did his best to pass it on to us. And we’re responsible, you know?”

Continue reading When Jews found refuge in an unlikely place: Pakistan

Israeli Finance Minister Lapid threatens to topple Netanyahu’s government

Clash of Israeli Political Ambitions Fuels Budget ‘Street Fight’

By Alisa Odenheimer

The competing ambitions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand Finance Minister Yair Lapid are turning this year’s budget process into a who-blinks-first battle between the leaders of the country’s two biggest parties.

Lapid is threatening to topple Netanyahu’s government, rather than raise taxes — something he has promised voters he won’t do — deepening the standoff between the two over spending plans for next year.

“What we have here is a political street fight,” Yaniv Pagot, chief strategist for Ayalon Group Ltd. inRamat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, said by phone. “It’s not the numbers talking, it’s the political agendas.”

The disputes have already held up submission of a draft budget to cabinet. Lapid says the Defense Ministry is asking for too much more money after the recent war in the Gaza Strip. He has said he’d rather see the budget gap increase than add taxes or abandon his flagship program to lift the 18 percent value-added tax for some first-time homebuyers.

“I will bring down the government and won’t raise taxes,” Lapid said in a videotaped interview posted yesterday on the Ynet website.

Read more » Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-16/lapid-says-he-ll-quit-israel-government-rather-than-raise-taxes.html

Israeli official confirms US nixed arms shipment; pols argue over who’s to blame

WSJ report of frayed relations between Washington and Jerusalem, including combative Obama-Netanyahu phone call, sparks firestorm among Israeli politicians

senior Israeli official confirmed to Israeli media that the US had suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel amid worsening ties over fighting in Gaza

Guided by History, a Jew Tries to Unite Two Faiths Divided by War in Gaza

NEWARK, Del. — Shortly after the latest cease-fire expired in Gaza on Friday, Jacob Bender gingerly climbed the steps of the mimbar, the pulpit at the Islamic Society of Delaware here. A Jew in a mosque, his hands palpably quivering but his reedy voice steady, he read some brief comments to close the afternoon’s worship service, called Juma’a.

Mr. Bender offered both hope and censure, twinned: Muslims and Jews could still be “partners for peace and justice,” he said. Israel and Hamas bore shared responsibility for the current carnage, he added, and more hatred would lead to more violence, while love would lead to reconciliation.

Read more » The New York Times

Some Israelis Count Open Discourse and Dissent Among Gaza War Casualties

By

JERUSALEM — The signs are everywhere.

At a recent demonstration in Tel Aviv against Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, counterdemonstrators chanted “Death to the left!” along with the more commonly heard “Death to Arabs!” Afterward, some of the right-wingers beat some of the leftists — using large poles that had held Israeli flags.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority blocked B’Tselem, a human rights group, from running a paid radio advertisement reading the names and ages of Palestinian children killed in Gaza.

Bar-Ilan University rebuked a professor who expressed empathy for all the war’s victims in an email to students.

And at a recent screening at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a fading bastion of liberalism, when some audience members stood for a moment of silence in memory of four Palestinian boys killed as they played soccer on a Gaza beach, others who kept their seats berated them with cries of “Shame on you — what about our boys?” and “You’re raping the audience,” according to several people who were there.

In Israel, open discourse and dissent appear to be among the casualties of the monthlong war in Gaza, according to stalwarts of what is known as the Zionist left — Israelis who want the country to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and help create a sovereign Palestinian state.

Israeli politics have been drifting rightward for years, and many see that trend sharpening and solidifying now. Several polls find that as many as nine out of 10 Israeli Jews back the prosecution of the war by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When that support slipped a bit last week, it seemed to be because more people wanted an even more aggressive assault on Hamas, the militant Islamist faction that dominates Gaza. Israelis who question the government or the military on Facebook, or who even share photographs of death and devastation in Gaza, find themselves defriended, often by people they thought were politically like-minded.

“One of the victims of war is any nuance,” said Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, who emigrated from New York in 1979. “The idea of having a nuanced position that recognizes the suffering on both sides and the complications is almost impossible to maintain.”

Rabbi Weiman-Kelman is the founder of Kol Haneshama, one of Israel’s largest and best-known Reform congregations, where every service ends with an adaptation of a traditional Hebrew prayer for peace that includes a line in Arabic borrowed from a traditional Muslim prayer. (Disclosure: I have occasionally attended those services.)

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/world/middleeast/in-israel-open-dissent-is-among-the-gaza-war-casualties.html?_r=0

Why Americans See Israel the Way They Do

By ROGER COHEN, THE NEW YORK TIMES

TO cross the Atlantic to America, as I did recently from London, is to move from one moral universe to its opposite in relation to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. Fury over Palestinian civilian casualties has risen to a fever pitch in Europe, moving beyond anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism (often a flimsy distinction). Attacks on Jews and synagogues are the work of a rabid fringe, but anger toward an Israel portrayed as indiscriminate in its brutality is widespread. For a growing number of Europeans, not having a negative opinion of Israel is tantamount to not having a conscience. The deaths of hundreds of children in any war, as one editorial in The Guardian put it, is “a special kind of obscenity.”

Continue reading Why Americans See Israel the Way They Do

Gaza and the outrage of millions

By Omar

I do not follow the Palestinian-Israeli conflict very closely, but of course, given the high visibility of this issue, I am not completely ignorant of it either and do have opinions about it. Ever since the current war started, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been aflame with outrage at Israeli actions and support for the Palestinians. I have posted a post (basically saying there is no end in sight) and a few comments here and there, but generally stayed out of it. This (relative) lack of outrage has outraged some of my friends and forced me to think about it a bit more. So here goes:

First, about my relative lack of outrage: I plead old age. I am so old, I remember when i was outraged at Nixon’s Christmas bombing of Hanoi (I was a child, but I was a precocious child in that way, in a very politically aware household). I was outraged at the genocide in East Pakistan a few years after it happened (how I missed being outraged at that in 1971 is a long story). I remember being outraged when the CIA sent terrorists to blow up stuff in Nicaragua and when right wing death squads nailed nuns to the table in El-Salvador. I was outraged at the first Iraq war (and marched in Washington to oppose it, then went to a bar and saw zero coverage of that HUGE march on TV) and approaching old age, at the second. If that looks like a leftish list of outrages, its because (like all Westernized Desis) I grew up in a Leftist milieu when it came to being outraged. But I compensated in my old age. I have since become retrospectively outraged at Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, among others. I was even mildly outraged by our (Pakistan’s) close allies the Sri Lankan army, and their tactics in their elimination of the Tamil Tigers. But the point is, I have discovered by now that the outcome of these things is rarely determined by the number of people outraged. In actual wars, especially wars where the opposing parties look at it as a fight to the death, its usually a matter of who can fight better and longer and who has the deadlier weapons.

In short, if there is no middle ground, then the conflict (no matter who is at fault, or who did what to get here) will, NECESSARILY, be settled by the battle-axe. Any settlement by the battle-axe means more Palestinian suffering than Israeli suffering because Israel has the better axes. Supporters of Palestine (and I continue to believe that I am one, since I think a two-state solution on near 1967 borders is the most humane solution and complete defeat of either party involves too much human suffering) should keep this in mind before they valorize an armed resistance in which they themselves take absolutely no bodily risks. Israel must stop bombarding Gaza and killing civilians as collective punishment, but Hamas must also stop firing rockets and getting civilians killed. Even if we believe that the moral burden of those civilian deaths rests on the killers, not on Hamas, the price is too damned high. Moral victory at that price is not worth it.

Cheer leading that victory from 10,000 miles away on Twitter or Facebook is easy. But the price for those dying and suffering is too high. Should Hamas then accept blockade and lack of recognition and x and y?…yes and no. They must not act as if they can FIGHT their way past these restrictions because clearly they cannot. Then they should get out of the way and let more Gandhian alternatives try to improve the life of Palestinians instead of using them as cannon fodder. By not accepting X or Y, what exactly have they achieved? Has the blockade ended? has the suffering stopped? If the tactics you are using are only getting your own kids killed, then the tactics are not working. Honor and admiration from countless millions backslapping each other in their drawing rooms is not enough of a reward or achievement.

Almost all my friends disagree with me on this, but then, like me, they are safely away from the kill zone….also, many of them have had nasty words for Abbas (Abu Mazen). Well, he has not achieved what he wanted, but the West Bank Palestinians are still better off than the ones in Gaza. Their kids are not being slaughtered in the hundreds and they have the chance to resist non-violently and make their case to the world AND TO ISRAEL. Of course it is possible that (as most of my friends claim) Israel  is really not interested in making an honorable peace. But since the Palestinians do not have (and will not have in the foreseeable future) ANY way to militarily defeat Israel, their options are rather limited. Distant cheerleaders with nothing to lose are encouraging them to commit suicide so that we can all have dead heroes to admire. I dont think thats a good idea for Gazans.

Those protest demonstrations in Western capitals? I saw bigger ones before the Gulf war. What happened next is well known.

PS: What about my disproportionate attention to Pakistani Jihadists, ISIS and suchlike? I think its semi-rational. They have killed friends of mine already> they may kill more in the days to come. Their actions affect people I know personally. Its selfish, but its (sort of) rational.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits
http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/08/gaza-and-outrage-of-millions.html?spref=fb

Peace Not Apartheid – Jimmy Carter’s Roadmap

By NORMAN FINKELSTEIN

Excerpt; The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens–and honors its own previous commitments–by accepting its legal borders. All Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israel’s right to live in peace under these conditions. The United States is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories. (p. 216)

Read more » Counter Punch
http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/11/13/jimmy-carter-s-roadmap/

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition
White House issues unusually strong rebuke after 16 deaths
But Pentagon confirms that US resupplied Israel with ammunition

By  in Washington and in Jerusalem, theguardian.com

The United States issued a firm condemnation of the shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that killed at least 16 Palestinians on Wednesday, but also confirmed it restocked Israel’s dwindling supplies of ammunition.

The White House expressed concern that thousands of civilians who had sought protection from the UN were at risk after the shelling of the girls’ elementary school. Some 3,300 civilians were taking shelter there, after being told by Israel to leave their homes.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which runs the school, said its initial assessment was that it has been struck by Israeli artillery.

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/us-firm-condemnation-shelling-un-school-gaza?CMP=twt_gu

Meshal to Charlie Rose: Hamas doesn’t fight Jews, it fights the occupiers

WATCH: In interview with CBS, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal manages to avoid directly answering question about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

By

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal managed to avoid directly answering the question of whether Hamas would recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in an interview with CBS host Charlie Rose.

In the interview, which aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Meshal said, “When we have a Palestinian state then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. You cannot actually ask me about the future.”

Earlier in the interview, the Qatar-based Hamas leader said he was “ready to coexist” with Jews and Christians, but added, “I do not want to live with a state of the occupiers.”

“We are not fanatics; we are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers,” Meshal told Rose.

Read more » HAARETZ
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.607621

Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?

By Sam Harris, Neuroscientist and author of the New York Times Bestsellers

Excerpt;

The question I’ve now received in many forms goes something like this: Why is it that you never criticize Israel? Why is it that you never criticize Judaism? Why is it that you always take the side of the Israelis over that of the Palestinians?

Now, this is an incredibly boring and depressing question for a variety of reasons. The first, is that I have criticized both Israel and Judaism. What seems to have upset many people is that I’ve kept some sense of proportion. There are something like 15 million Jews on earth at this moment; there are a hundred times as many Muslims.  I’ve debated rabbis who, when I have assumed that they believe in a God that can hear our prayers, they stop me mid-sentence and say, “Why would you think that I believe in a God who can hear prayers?” So there are rabbis—conservative rabbis—who believe in a God so elastic as to exclude every concrete claim about Him—and therefore, nearly every concrete demand upon human behavior. And there are millions of Jews, literally millions among the few million who exist, for whom Judaism is very important, and yet they are atheists. They don’t believe in God at all. This is actually a position you can hold in Judaism, but it’s a total non sequitur in Islam or Christianity.

So, when we’re talking about the consequences of irrational beliefs based on scripture, the Jews are the least of the least offenders. But I have said many critical things about Judaism. Let me remind you that parts of Hebrew Bible—books like Leviticus and Exodus and Deuteronomy—are the most repellent, the most sickeningly unethical documents to be found in any religion. They’re worse than the —. They’re worse than any part of the New Testament. But the truth is, most Jews recognize this and don’t take these texts seriously. It’s simply a fact that most Jews and most Israelis are not guided by scripture—and that’s a very good thing.

Of course, there are some who are. There are religious extremists among Jews. Now, I consider these people to be truly dangerous, and their religious beliefs are as divisive and as unwarranted as the beliefs of devout Muslims. But there are far fewer such people.

For those of you who worry that I never say anything critical about Israel:  My position on Israel is somewhat paradoxical. There are questions about which I’m genuinely undecided. And there’s something in my position, I think, to offend everyone. So, acknowledging how reckless it is to say anything on this topic, I’m nevertheless going to think out loud about it for a few minutes.

I don’t think Israel should exist as a Jewish state. I think it is obscene, irrational and unjustifiable to have a state organized around a religion. So I don’t celebrate the idea that there’s a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. I certainly don’t support any Jewish claims to real estate based on the Bible. [Note: Read this paragraph again.]

Though I just said that I don’t think Israel should exist as a Jewish state, the justification for such a state is rather easy to find. We need look no further than the fact that the rest of the world has shown itself eager to murder the Jews at almost every opportunity. So, if there were going to be a state organized around protecting members of a single religion, it certainly should be a Jewish state. Now, friends of Israel might consider this a rather tepid defense, but it’s the strongest one I’ve got. I think the idea of a religious state is ultimately untenable.

Needless to say, in defending its territory as a Jewish state, the Israeli government and Israelis themselves have had to do terrible things. They have, as they are now, fought wars against the Palestinians that have caused massive losses of innocent life. More civilians have been killed in Gaza in the last few weeks than militants. That’s not a surprise because Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Occupying it, fighting wars in it, is guaranteed to get woman and children and other noncombatants killed. And there’s probably little question over the course of fighting multiple wars that the Israelis have done things that amount to war crimes. They have been brutalized by this process—that is, made brutal by it. But that is largely the due to the character of their enemies. [Note: I was not giving Israel a pass to commit war crimes. I was making a point about the realities of living under the continuous threat of terrorism and of fighting multiple wars in a confined space.]

Read more: SAM HARRIS
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/why-dont-i-criticize-israel

Madeleine Albright: Israel ‘overdoing’ its response to Hamas

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says focus should be on how to end conflict and implement two-state solution.

By Haaretz

Israel looks like it’s “overdoing” its response to Hamas rocket fire, which is “hurting Israel’s moral authority,” former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Tuesday.

Although she expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire, Albright said in an interview with CNN that the “question of proportionality” was important.

I do think that it is very hard to watch the number of Palestinians that have been killed – innocents,” Albright said as the current secretary of state, John Kerry, was in the region to attempt to broker a cease-fire.

Read more » Haaretz
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.606745

Palestine and Israel…no end in sight

Slate columnist William Saletan has a piece about a possible solution to the conflict in Gaza (How to Save Gaza). It is worth a read. It will probably seem overly liberal to many Israeli supporters and will seem totally unfair to many Palestinian supporters. And it does sound a little utopian. Well, a lot utopian. It seems unlikely that it could be attempted and very unlikely that it would work if attempted.

Anyway, it reminded me of a comment I wrote on Facebook. I am not optimistic…

This is a Greek tragedy. Both sides have lost many opportunities to compromise and they will surely manage to lose more in the days to come. When those in power in Israel clearly want to keep all or most of the occupied West Bank (building new settlements is hardly a signal they are leaving) and avoid every opportunity to make a deal, then they are not laying the foundation for durable peace. When those in power in Gaza seem to believe ALL Jewish presence in Palestine should be “reversed” (“Palestine will be free; from the river to sea”), they are not laying such a foundation either.

If Likudniks think Palestinians are incorrigible terrorists and barbarians who can never be trusted, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Hamas (and even more so, their millions of outside cheerleaders with nothing to lose) say the Israelis are worse than Nazis and are committing history’s greatest genocide, then what sane Israeli would consider them a negotiating partner that wants to make peace? Its a lose-lose situation.
Sad.

Continue reading Palestine and Israel…no end in sight

‘Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies’: Israelis And Palestinians show solidarity online

by Lauren O’Neil

As political tensions between Israel and Hamas continue to escalate this week in the Gaza Strip, a growing number of Jews and Arabs from around the world are coming together in solidarity against the conflict.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2014/07/jewsandarabsrefusetobeenemies-israelis-and-palestinians-show-solidarity-online.html

Stephen Hawking jumps on ‘boycott Israel’ bandwagon

World famous scientist Stephen Hawking called on the world to boycott the Israeli president’s conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in a letter which has gone viral, exposing the lies of the pro-Israel lobby which claimed he had withdrawn on health grounds.

Read more » World Bulletin
http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/140658/stephen-hawking-jumps-on-boycott-israel-bandwagon

PM Stephen Harper urges world leaders to side with Israel

The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification,” Harper said in a statement issued Sunday.

By: The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—Terrorists are deliberately placing people in the path of an Israeli offensive aimed at stopping rocket attacks from Gaza, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper says there is evidence that Hamas, listed by Canada as a terrorist organization, is using human shields in its attempts to stave off the Israeli offensive.

Read more » The Star
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/07/13/pm_stephen_harper_urges_world_leaders_to_side_with_israel.html

Why St George is a Palestinian hero

By Yolande Knell, BBC News

As England celebrates the day of its patron saint, many Palestinians are gearing up for their own forthcoming celebrations of the figure they also regard as a hero.

A familiar flag flaps in the wind above a Palestinian church in the West Bank village of al-Khadr.

The red cross on a white background has been associated with Saint George since the time of the Crusades.

It is the national flag of England and is also used as an emblem by other countries and cities that have adopted him as their own patron saint.

However, Palestinians have particular reason to display the symbol and revere the early Christian martyr. For them he is a local hero who opposed the persecution of his fellow Christians in the Holy Land.

“We believe he was a great martyr for his faith who defended the Christian faith and values,” says Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna.

“By making sacrifices for his faith he was able to defeat evil. We take St George as a patron for people living here – and as he was born in historic Palestine, we pray to him to remember us and this holy land.”

St George was a Roman soldier during the Third Century AD, when the Emperor Diocletian was in power. It is said that he once lived in al-Khadr near Bethlehem, on land owned by his mother’s family.

While the saint’s father is usually traced back to Cappadocia, an area in modern Turkey, it is believed his mother was Palestinian from Lydda – now Lod, in Israel.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27048219