Thursday, 19 March 2009

Greek and Italian parliamentarians call for recognition of Hamas

Greek and Italian parliamentary delegations met with Khaled Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, yesterday in Damascus. They called for the recognition of Hamas as the democratic and legitimate choice of the Palestinian people.

In a press statement following the meeting on Wednesday evening, Giorgos Anagnostopoulos, the head of the Greek delegation, called for protecting Palestinian rights that are being violated by Israel throughout Palestine.

Anagnostopoulos added that there will be no peace without justice, stressing the need to reconstruct the Gaza Strip without delay and refused to accept the notion of linking reconstruction to any other issues.

The Greek lawmaker called on the Israeli government to immediately release all Palestinian prisoners in its jails and to end the siege immediately.

He also underlined that European states realized that Hamas could not be ignored when considering the Palestinian cause, pointing out that the main task now for the European delegation was to promote the reconstruction of war-torn Gaza.

For his part, Fernando Rossi, the head of the Italian delegation, said that Hamas is a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, deploring the Israeli actions against the resistance movement.

Rossi criticized those Arab countries such as Jordan and Egypt that maintain diplomatic relations with Israel despite the Gaza war, saying there is no justification for not breaking those relations following the war crimes committed against the Palestinian people.

A member of the Hamas political bureau, Sami Khater, welcomed the visiting delegations, describing the visits as courageous and helping to pave the way for more European openness towards Hamas.

Thanks to Hamas and the Palestine Information Center

Support the European campaign to recognise Hamas by signing the petition organised by Campo Antiimperialista. Send a message to camp@antiimperialista.org

See story about the launch and list of notable signators here

Hamas warns Israel on abusing Palestinian prisoners

Hamas on Thursday warned Israel against continuing to arrest Hamas politicians and of threatening to toughen the conditions of Palestinian prisoners

Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, told Al Arabiya TV that if Israel worsens the conditions of its prisoners, captured Israeli prisoner-of-war Shalit will be subject to the same treatment.

Making public its criminal intentions was a very foolish move on Israel's part.

Caryl Churchill's Gaza play is anti-war not anti-semitic

[UPDATE - The Guardian reported on 16 March that BBC Radio 4 is refusing to broadcast the play Seven Jewish Children claiming it might damage the BBC's impartiality. The BBC is caving in to the zionists again. In the footsteps of the refusal to show the Gaza humanitarian appeal this is truly unbelievable and outrageous. They'll probably refuse to report the next Israeli war against the Palestinians on the pretext it might create sympathy for Palestinians.

Protest to the BBC using the online complaints form here]

Photograph: Tristram Kenton

Some critics - yes Melanie Phillips is among the zionist attack dogs - have claimed the 10-minute play, Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, by British playwright Caryl Churchill, is anti-Semitic. See Jeffrey Goldberg's 'critique' here The Royal Court Theatre's Blood Libel.

Churchill’s play is currently being performed at London’s Royal Court Theatre as a benefit for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians.

You can download a PDF of the script here:
Seven Jewish Children script

Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill is a 10-minute history of Israel, ending with the bombing of Gaza. Thirteen performances will take place on the main stage of the Royal Court Theatre after Marius von Mayenburg's play, The Stone. There will be no admission charge and a collection will be made for Medical Aid For Palestinians (MAP): Emergency Appeal for the People of Gaza, after the show.

Angry? Sad? Confused? Come and spend 10 minutes with us.

Director Dominic Cooke, Lighting Matt Drury, Sound David McSeveney

Cast includes Ben Caplan, Jack Chissick, David Horovitch, Daisy Lewis, Ruth Posner, Samuel Roukin, Jennie Stoller, Susannah Wise, Alexis Zegerman.

and from the New York Times comment by 'Martin' on the ArtsBeat blog
The play (having read it) is certainly not anti-semitic. Although in NY, that term is used for anything that presents the Palestinians rights in any way whatsoever.

I have no doubt that there are Israelis who have said and/or thought everything Ms Churchill has put into the mouths of her characters.

There are few people in the world outside of Israel and the insular “with us or against us” portion of American Jewry, who do not understand that invading Gaza, killing 100’s of civilians, destroying buildings, impoverishing and terrifying the population - who have no army of any kind to provide resistance - was not a good idea.

Unless the idea is to make the people in Gaza so angry that they all become suicide bombers and provide the ‘final solution’ of the Gaza problem.

Writing a play that looks at the issue from the Palestinian pov, as Ms Churchill’s does is not ant-Semitic in any definition of the word that I know of.

Especially in New York, its important to understand the suffering and pain of the Gazans, which is as real, and incontrovertible as any ever inflicted on the Israelis by the Gazans.

Perhaps the 60 years of statehood for Israel and denying Palestinians an equal right to live in peace and prosperity and to share in governance is continuing to come home to roost.

And Israeli overreaction, their constant resort to Macho Rambo combat against their comparatively unarmed neighbors, guarantees only that the possibility of a peaceful settlement gets remoter and remoter

I’m Jewish and proud of my heritage. The arrogance and saber wielding of Israel fills me with grief and despair.

We need to hear the other side, as stridently as we hear the Israeli side.
— Martin


and from Theatre critic Michael Billington in the Guardian
...The work consists of seven cryptic scenes in which parents, grandparents and relatives debate how much children should know and not know. It moves, implicitly, from the Holocaust to the foundation of the state of Israel through the sundry Middle East wars up to the invasion of Gaza. At first, the advice indicates the deep divisions within Israel ("Tell her they want to drive us into the sea" / "Tell her they don't"); at the end, it becomes a ruthless justification for self-preservation ("Tell her we're the iron fist now, tell her it's the fog of war, tell her we won't stop killing them till we're safe").

Churchill, I'm sure, would not deny the existence of fierce external, and internal, Jewish opposition to the attack on Gaza. What she captures, in remarkably condensed poetic form, is the transition that has overtaken Israel, to the point where security has become the pretext for indiscriminate slaughter...

And from Theatre Notes
The accusations of anti-Semitism made against Churchill are very depressing. They are part of a political strategy to undermine critique by conflating legitimate criticism of a state with the ugliest racism. What is worse is that the bombing of Gaza has prompted some of the vilest anti-Semitism I have seen recently, which seems - erroneously - to legitimise this stance. However, confusing Churchill's play with anti-Semitism helps nobody, and worst of all, trivialises what anti-Semitism actually is.

Israel faces isolation crisis

The New York Times confirms what we have been saying on this blog for some time:

After Gaza, Israel grapples with crisis of isolation

JERUSALEM — Israel, whose founding idea was branded as racism by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and which faced an Arab boycott for decades, is no stranger to isolation. But in the weeks since its Gaza war, and as it prepares to inaugurate a hawkish right-wing government, it is facing its worst diplomatic crisis in two decades.

Examples abound. Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey. Mauritania has closed Israel’s embassy.

Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely. A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza. “Israel Apartheid Week” drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers. And even in the American Jewish community, albeit in its liberal wing, there is a chill.
more here

Economy falling apart in Israel as looting breaks out

(pic: Yaron Kaminsky)
First came the employees, shortchanged two months' pay and laid off by the supermarket called God's Blessing. They rifled through their shuttered workplace, helping themselves to crates full of groceries.

As word spread through the small town, the store's jilted creditors joined in. They dismantled the light fixtures, ripped out wiring and absconded with the cash registers, even as television cameras rolled.

Within hours the parking lot was jammed with ordinary shoppers. They left car engines running and brought their children to help pick the shelves clean. Finally even the shelves were hauled away, leaving latecomers to scrounge the floor for leftover fruit.

The two-day spree shocked and puzzled Israelis, who assume that the rule of law prevails in their society. Yet this and other recent cases of looting have coincided with news that the economy, flattened late last year after half a decade of enviable growth, had slid into recession.

The outbreaks are isolated and few, but labor activists and social commentators warn that many Israelis are becoming desperate.

"What we're seeing are small stories about collapsing businesses and layoffs that threaten their livelihoods," said Dafna Cohen, a spokeswoman for the Histadrut, Israel's trade union federation. "These small stories are the beginning of a big fire."

From the LA Times

Palestinian factions agree to national unity government says Ma'an news agency

[13.55 GMT UPDATE - The Ma'an news agency was premature. News from Cairo suggests the negotiations have now broken down - more in a future post when the picture is clearer]
A spokesperson for the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said on Wednesday evening that factions have agreed on the terms of establishing a national unity government.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum added that the government will be formed after elections, though the date has not been finally set.

In a statement to Ma'an, Barhoum said that "there is an agreement regarding the nature of the next government," and that it will be one of national unity, and will be temporary until the next Palestinian elections.

He said Palestinian officials in Cairo are "studying the issue of its political composition and the ministerial issues.”

Barhoum added that the Higher Coordinating Committees continued discussions and meetings on Wednesday in Cairo "with all seriousness and interest in all cases brought by the five committees regarding the Palestinian issue," pointing out that they considered a number of obstacles and unresolved issues related to the government, security and elections in order to complete discussions to solve them.

Speaking about the security file, Barhoum said, "This issue is still under discussion by the Higher Coordinating Committee in order to collect views from everyone."

On elections laws, Barhoum stressed that there are different views regarding the system, where Hamas wants to provide the opportunity for all Palestinians to participate in the elections process on the basis of a "mixed system."

From the Ma'an News Agency

Shin Bet kidnaps Hamas leaders on theWest Bank


Israel has kidnapped 20 Palestinians in an early morning raid on the West Bank, including four senior Hamas leaders.

The detainees include Nasser Shaher (pictured, left), a former Palestinian deputy prime minister.

Ahmed Bahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, denounced the arrests as "immoral blackmail by the Zionist occupation."

The detentions are part of an attempt by Israel to pressure Hamas into releasing Israeli prisoner-of-war Gilad Shalit, after the failure of recent efforts to win his release.

This move follows pronouncements from the cabinet to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners in a blatant breach of international conventions

IDF NCOs say Israel acted immorally in Gaza war

The IDF did not behave morally during Operation Cast Lead, soldiers who had participated in the operation said during a post-op conference at the military academy at Oranim. The conference protocol was published Thursday.

One NCO told of the experiences that bothered him during the operation. "Prior to going into a crowded area… we had a meeting about the rules of engagement and opening fire within a city, because as you know we fired a lot of rounds and killed a lot of people in order for us not to be injured or shot at."

"When we entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up story by story… I call that murder. Each story, if we identify a person, we shoot them. I asked myself – how is this reasonable?"

The NCO also related a story about an old woman who was crossing a main route who was shot by the soldiers. "I don't know whether she was suspicious, not suspicious, I don't know her story… I do know that my officer sent people to the roof in order to take her out… It was cold-blooded murder."


So the truth will out. Enough said. More at ynetnews

Occupiers issue a further 17 demolition orders in Jerusalem

The Israeli municipality in occupied Jerusalem issued orders to demolish 17 buildings and homes, some of them were built 10 years ago in the Al-Thawri neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.

Qadar Harini, one of those who received demolition notices, said that he expects the arrival of municipal staff any moment to demolish his two-story home, pointing out that he built his house 10 years ago without being able to get a building permit because of red tape, unaffordable high taxes and the rejection of his requests to build a home at the pretext that his land is small.

Harini added that Israeli municipal staff roam the neighborhood's streets everyday taking pictures of homes and issuing exorbitant fines against any alleged unlicensed construction even if it was a decorative panel above some door.


Harini emphasized that in case his home was demolished, he would challenge this arbitrary measure through pitching a tent in place of his demolished home.

For his part, Ziad Al-Hammouri, the director of Jerusalem center for social and economic rights, said the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem intensified nowadays its measures against Palestinian homes in eastern Jerusalem especially in the areas of Attor, Issawiya and Silwan as well as the two apartment buildings in the Abbasiya neighborhood.

Hammouri warned of Israeli fierce attack against Jerusalemites behind the separation wall through using the so-called 'law of the custodian of absentee property' in order to seize more Palestinian land.

He also noted that after completing the construction of the apartheid wall around the Jerusalem and expanding the surrounding external settlements, the new Israeli government would likely focus on reducing the number of Palestinian citizens in Jerusalem to 70,000 out of the current census population of 285,000.

Israel kills Palestinian freedom fighters


DEIR AL-BALAH, (PIC)-- Two Palestinian fighters of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Emad Mughnia group, were killed in an Israeli air raid early Thursday that targeted them east of Deir Al-Balah.

The AMB said in a statement that two of its members were killed while on a "military mission" against Israeli targets east of Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza.

It added that Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the two fighters killing them on the spot.

The Israeli army said it was investigating the incident.

Zionist students complain of 'initmidatory banners' at Sheffield University occupation

Some Jewish students at Sheffield University have set up a Facebook group opposing the occupation. Jewish students actively supporting the occupation have responded:

Jewish occupation activists respond to Sheffield J-Soc

The Secretary of the University of Sheffield Jewish Society today released a statement on a Facebook group set up to oppose us expressing the feelings of vulnerability and harassment felt by some Jewish students towards our occupation. The text of this statement is viewable at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/topic.php?uid=60170581533&topic=9766.

Below, Jewish activists within our occupation respond to the statement.

We are writing as Jewish activists from within the occupation in response to fears and concerns expressed by J-Soc. Although we regret any feeling of victimisation on the part of any Jewish student, or any student of another ethnic minority, we wish to make it entirely clear that our occupation is unambiguously opposed to anti-Semitism, which we believe can play no positive role in any movement to fight for peace and justice in the Middle East.

Unlike some, we do not dismiss out of hand the notion that anti-Semitism exists within the Palestine solidarity movement; however, many of the activists involved in our occupation have been at the forefront of fighting those elements and attempting to build a movement in which Jews who oppose the Israeli state's oppression of the Palestinians are made to feel welcome.

The motivation behind this occupation is ultimately anti-racist: we feel revolted by the callous attitudes which see Palestinian lives as disposable, and it is exactly this feeling of solidarity that leads us – and our gentile comrades – to oppose anti-Semitism wherever it occurs, whether inside or outside the movement. The very first principle of our code of conduct clearly states that racism (as well as other forms of discriminatory behaviour such as sexism and homophobia) is unacceptable and will not be tolerated within the safe space we have created.

It is also not the case that our occupation is hostile to Israeli-Jews as a people. Our opposition is to the Israeli state and its oppression of the Palestinians and occupation of their land; far from expressing hostility to Israeli-Jews, one of our demands is that the university expresses its solidarity with those brave Israeli students who have faced jail rather than serve in the IDF in what they feel is an unjust and immoral war. We stand in solidarity with progressive, democratic and radical forces across the world – including within Israeli society.

We cannot see any reason why any of the slogans raised by our occupation would be seen as threatening or anti-Semitic; however, if students do have genuine concerns about feeling threatened, we invite them to explain what their problems are, so we can work our concerns out together and clean up any misunderstandings that may have arisen. Any student with concerns about the impact of our occupation is welcome to visit our occupied space to discuss with us without any fear of intimidation or harassment.

Without wishing to trivialise or dismiss any concerns our fellow students may feel, we would also wish to invite anyone who feels intimidated by the sight of a few solidarity banners in a building to take a moment to think of the plight of Palestinian students attempting to study under military occupation, as it is this sense of compassion for people who are having their educations – and their lives – disrupted which drove us to this course of action in the first place.

We are proud to identify with a long, varied and rich cosmopolitan tradition of radical diaspora Jews, from Emma Goldman to Albert Einstein, and thoroughly resent the idea that an identity as diverse, multifaceted and gloriously indefinable as Judaism should be tied to a narrowly nationalist, militaristic ideology, with diaspora Jews asked to either silence criticism of Israel or else be made to feel somehow “less Jewish”. Furthermore, and as we have said, a considerable opposition movement – comprising working-class forces, refusers, anti-war activists and others – exists within Israel itself, which sees no problem with combining Jewish cultural identity with criticism of, and opposition to, the Israeli ruling-class.

Finally, we disassociate ourselves entirely from the incident in which a 'boycott Israeli goods' sticker was placed on the J-Soc noticeboard. Our occupation has no policy on the question of a boycott and many activists within it oppose the tactic. We wish to reiterate our total opposition to all forms of racism (including anti-Semitism), our commitment to internationalist solidarity with the Palestinian people and our support for Israeli-Jews struggling for peace and justice for all peoples in the Middle East.

Yours -

Jewish activists within the occupation (in personal capacities)