Concerns raised about spate of vandalism by hardline Jewish nationalists in Jerusalem churches and attacks in Galilee
Right. How much more willing is the Western media, and society in general, to accept that the Pope has to be worried about “those Palestinians” than the genocidaires of Israeli Apartheid.
Palestinians held in administrative detention on open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
Yesterday, Roger Waters and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd urged the Rolling Stones not to go ahead with a planned concert in Tel Aviv this summer.
“With the recent news that the Rolling Stones will be playing their first-ever concert in Israel, and at what is a critical time in the global struggle for Palestinian freedom and equal rights, we, the two surviving founders of Pink Floyd, have united in support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), a growing, nonviolent global human rights movement initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to end Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and denial of basic Palestinian rights,” the pair write in their message, published in Salon.
“Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid; regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime.”
“If you wouldn’t play Sun City, back in the day, as you, the Rolling Stones did not, then don’t play Tel Aviv until such time as freedom reigns for all and equal rights is the law of the land,” the pair conclude.
The message has been reported widely in mainstream media, including in The Washington Post and the New York Daily News.
It has also been shared via social media thousands of times, and has garnered significant attention on Roger Waters’ Facebook page with almost 10,000 “likes” and 800 comments.
Yet a large number of the comments, apparently from users in Israel, are extremely abusive against Waters and Palestinians, and many are Islamophobic.
If anything, however, the backlash indicates how sensitive many Israelis are to calls that their state should suffer consequences over its systematic violations of the rights of millions of Palestinians."
The media stunt was to advertise what Israel claimed was a shipment of missiles en route from Iran to the Gaza Strip. At the time, many people pointed out that it was hard to understand how large missiles could be smuggled into Gaza, given Israel’s siege by land sea and air, supported by Egypt.
Iran and the Palestinian political and military organization Hamas claimed Israel was lying.
While Oren didn’t question the veracity of Israel’s claim, he did point out its propaganda value.
First, for the prime minister: the media event took place five days after the ship had been supposedly captured, but just after Netanyahu returned from a trip to the United States. Second, as form of pressure on Iran.
The claims also give Israel a pretext for its continued collective punishment of Gaza.
Oren did point out the absurdity of Israel’s indignation that Iran had accused it of lying, given that Israel itself habitually lies: “Israel’s condemnation of Iran as a liar is ridiculous. From David Ben-Gurion’s time to the present, Israel has lied when it believed it had to do so to avoid punishment.”
While there were already plenty of reasons to cast doubt on Israel’s story, Dan Williams of Reuters has a report today headlined: “Doubts surface on Gaza destination of rockets seized by Israel.”
The reports quotes a “US official” saying of the rockets: “You look at those things and it’s obvious they couldn’t have been slipped into Gaza.”
Some US intelligence analysts and Middle East security officials believe that a rocket shipment seized by the Israeli navy in the Red Sea this month was destined for the Egyptian Sinai and not for the Gaza Strip, as Israel says.
A US official and two non-Israeli regional sources said Israel appeared to be insisting on the Gaza destination in order to spare the military-backed interim Egyptian administration embarrassment as it struggles to impose order in the Sinai.
Israel has little compunction about drawing scrutiny to the rocket arsenals of Gaza’s governing Hamas Islamists and other armed Palestinian factions, with whom it has regularly clashed.
“Were the Israelis to say the rockets were going to Sinai, then they would also have had to say who in Sinai was going to receive the rockets,” one source told Reuters, adding that such a statement would draw attention to the insurgents resisting Egypt’s security sweeps in northern Sinai.
Israel says the Syrian-made M302 rockets and other munitions were hidden aboard the Panamanian-flagged Klos C while it docked in Iran. The ship was intercepted on March 5, en route to Sudan – where, Israel says, the arms would have been offloaded and trucked to Gaza through Egypt, a standard trafficking route.
An Israeli military officer who took part in planning the naval interdiction told Reuters that, in the month before it happened, “not once did I hear anyone mention anything other than Gaza as the end-point for these weapons.”
A US official said Washington had confirmed the Syrian and Iranian provenance of the rockets and believed they were to have been used against Israel. But half of US intelligence analysts thought Sinai, not Gaza, was the destination, the official said.
“You look at those things and it’s obvious they couldn’t have been slipped into Gaza,” the official said, adding that the M302s were not designed to be disassembled for easier smuggling.
The Reuters report says that US analysts believe that mortars aboard the ship may have been bound for Gaza, while other weapons, including large amounts of ammunition, were likely bound for destinations in Africa.
The United States supplies billions of dollars worth of weaponry to Israel each year, which Israel uses to occupy and colonize Palestinians.
However, the United States does not support Palestinians’ right to self-defense and resistance against Israeli occupation and hence views all weapons’ transfers to Palestinian armed groups, regardless of how the weapons are used, as support for “terrorism.”
Via Electronic Intifada
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine… one of a one page long list of US Dept of State “Terrorist Groups.”
And still one of the most moral, beautiful organizations the world has seen. Standing strong against the latest unjustifiable raids on Gaza.
Israel has upgraded a college in a West Bank Jewish settlement to a university, reflecting a determination to keep control of the enclave in any peace deal with the Palestinians.
The decision on Monday gives the Ariel campus, established in 1982 near the city of Nablus, the same status as universities inside Israel, in a move that could trigger international condemnation and enrage the Palestinians."
Hah. Hahaha. Our land of the free in the Middle East indeed. This shit would never happen in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, or, as the article points out, Iran.
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Tue, 12/25/2012 - 18:09
“Today Christian communities around the Middle East are shrinking and in danger. This is of course not true in Israel. Here there’s a strong, growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country,” Netanyahu said.
Vowing to “continue to protect freedom of religion and thought,” Netanyahu also promised “to safeguard Christian places of worship throughout our country” and not to “tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship.”
Making a pitch for Christian Zionist tourism he urged listeners to “Come see our ancient land with your own eyes. Visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade in the Jordan River, stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and next year come visit our eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
His inclusion of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, as well as the banks of the Jordan River, can be taken as another affirmation that Israel, despite its rhetoric, has no interest in a “two-state solution” and intends to absorb all of historic Palestine as an exclusively “Jewish state.”
Disappearing Christmas trees
Netanyahu’s professions of tolerance would have come as news to Palestinian Christian students at Safad Academic College in the Galilee. There, students who could not get home for the holidays bought a Christmas tree and set it up outside their dorm.
But in the evening when they got back from class, they found the tree was gone, Israel’s Walla! News reported.
“This is the saddest Christmas,” said Gabriel Mansour, 24, a third-year political science student, identified by Walla! as a representative of Arab students. “All we wanted to do was provide some good cheer for all the students who remained alone in the dorms, and who were unable to go home to their families.”
When Mansour investigated, he was told by college officials that the tree had been hidden lest it spark riots among the Jewish students.
“I was angry to hear this,” said Mansour of the claim that the tree might spark riots among Jewish students and residents of Safad. “Unfortunately they don’t respect our holidays. We fully respect all Israeli holidays. Why can no one respect our traditions? Why can’t we put up a Christmas tree?”
“I do not think Christmas should be marked with such ostentation,” Walla! quoted an unnamed Jewish student saying. “The college has a distinctly Jewish character. It’s not healthy for anyone to be able to do whatever he wants.”
Caught with a Christmas tree
And there was a mini-scandal when the girlfriend of Yair Netanyahu, the son of the Israeli prime minister, posted a photo of the youth wearing a Santa hat and posing next to a Christmas tree, on Facebook. Under the photo was the caption “My Christian boy.”
The prime minister’s office was forced to issue a statement that the image was a joke and that Yair had been attending a party hosted by “Christian Zionists who love Israel, and whose children served in the IDF,” Israel’s Channel 2 reported. Nevertheless the photo was removed from Facebook.
State rabbis order bans on Christmas
The ban on Christmas at Safad college is no isolated incident. For several years, Shimon Gapso, the notoriously racist mayor of the Israeli settlement of “Upper Nazareth” in the Galilee, has banned Christmas trees, calling them a provocation. “Nazareth Illit [Upper Nazareth] is a Jewish city and it will not happen – not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor,” Gapso said.
According to journalist Jonathan Cook in Nazareth, such bans continue and are widespread this year with Israel’s state-financed rabbis warning hotels and restaurants that they will lose their kosher certifications if they put up trees or other Christmas decorations or hold Christmas events.
“In other words,” Cook says, “the rabbinate has been quietly terrorising Israeli hotel owners into ignoring Christmas by threatening to use its powers to put them out of business. Denying a hotel its kashrut (kosher) certificate would lose it most of its Israeli and foreign Jewish clientele.”
Publicly visible Christmas tree could “injure the souls of Jews”
When the Israeli occupation municipality in Jerusalem this year put up a small Christmas tree near the Jaffa Gate, there were strong protests from rabbis. Occupation municipality city council member Rabbi Shmuel Yitzhaki told settler news website Arutz 7 that the display was a “desecration” and a “grave offense against the Jewish people” and that it was “inconceivable” that a Christmas tree should be allowed in a “public place” where it might be seen by Jews on their way to pray at the Western Wall in eastern occupied Jerusalem.
Mina Fenton, a former city council member, said, “There’s a Christian Quarter. They can put it [the tree] up there,” where it couldn’t “injure the souls of Jews.”
Christmas trees as propaganda for ethnic cleansing group JNF
While Israel’s official rabbis, colleges and municipalities discourage or ban displays of Christmas trees, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the racist state-backed agency actively engaged in ethnically cleansing Palestinians and stealing their land for exclusive use by Jews, has found a way to use Christmas trees to paint a false image of itself as a promoter of multicultural harmony.
The JNF, which misrepresents itself as an environmental charity, now gives away some trees and felled branches particularly to foreign embassies, for use as Christmas trees in private homes, and markets the initiative as outreach to maintain “good relations between religions.” Against the background of the JNF’s true activities, such cynical propaganda should convince no one. But it might be useful in raising donations from Christian Zionists.
Discrimination against Christianity inherent in Israel’s “Law of Return”
The efforts by Netanyahu and the JNF to present Israel as tolerant and friendly to Christians are important to maintain external, especially Christian Zionist support, and to hide a much uglier reality.
Israel claims to be a “Jewish state.” Its blatantly discriminatory “Law of Return” grants the automatic right to those it recognizes as Jews from anywhere in the world to immigrate and receive citizenship even if they have no connection to the country. At the same time, Israel prevents indigenous Palestinian refugees, including those born there, from returning home just because they are not Jews.
But according to the US State Department in its 2011 report on religious freedom around the world, Israel specifically applies a blatantly anti-Christian test in applying this bigoted law:
The question of whether one believes Jesus is the Jewish Messiah has been used to determine whether a Jew was qualified to immigrate. The [Israeli] Supreme Court repeatedly has upheld the right, however, of Israeli Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah to retain their citizenship. The immigration exclusion was routinely applied only against Messianic Jews, whereas Jews who were atheists were accepted, and Jews who chose to believe in other religions, including Hindus and Buddhists, were not screened out.
In other words a “Jew” can be an atheist, Hindu, or Buddhist – anything at all – and be granted citizenship by Israeli authorities. It is only a belief in Jesus that disqualifies them.
Attacks on Christian holy sites
As for Netanyahu’s promise that Christian holy sites would be protected, he failed to mention that in recent months, Israeli settlers, acting with the collusion of Israeli authorities, have stepped up so-called “price tag” attacks on Christian holy sites.
Meanwhile, Christmas celebrations proceeded this year in Gaza and in Iran, where municipal authorities in Tehran have in recent years put up banners celebrating the birth of Jesus on many main streets. Both Iran and Gaza are Muslim-majority places that Israeli propaganda loves to paint as particularly intolerant of religious minorities.
Few countries live up to their own claims about religious freedom and tolerance and many must do better. But selling Israel in particular, whose whole raison d’être is to privilege Jews qua Jews over the indigenous Palestinian population of any religion, as a paragon of tolerance and pluralism is patently absurd.
Israeli settlers have once again attacked the West Bank village of Jalud this evening, according to Israeli military officials, marking the second consecutive night of attacks and vandalism against the village by settlers from nearby Esh Kodesh.
The settlers reportedly throw stones at random villagers, damaged cars, and even broke into one Palestinian’s home, beating him up before they eventually wandered off. Officials say the attack stems from Esh Kodesh’s claim to Palestinian farmland near the village. The Israeli military has confirmed the farmland belongs to the Palestinians.
So far the incidents are relatively small compared to past settler attacks, in which Palestinians attempting to harvest olives were savagely beaten with clubs, a matter which the Israeli military never really did address to anyone’s satisfaction beyond trying to deploy more military police near the village for future harvests.
Indeed, even today’s report of a continued attack carried the special IDF blend of annoyance at the whole situation, saying that keeping the settlers from attacking Jalud was diverting them from “the primary mission of protecting Israeli citizens.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and members of the Security Council, except the United States, have criticised Israel for its plan of the construct thousands of new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Representatives of the 14 council members called for an immediate halt to the settlement plans on Wednesday, which they warned are threatening the possibility of a two-state solution with Palestinians.
But in a rare rebuke of a close ally, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Tuesday accused Israel of engaging in a “pattern of provocative action” that runs counter to the government’s commitment to peace."