Saturday, March 28

Right Wing Ant-Arab Demonstrations in Israel

All logic is defied when the Israeli Police issued a permit to the right-wing racists to hold an Israeli flag raising demonstration in Umm al-Fahm, an Arab village in Israel. Surely, the whole demonstration was to illustrate a show of strength and to prove that they have a right to raise the Israeli flag in every corner of Israel irrespective of the nature of the population living there. The relationship between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel is tense and it is not prudent or wise for Jewish citizens to flex muscles in order to incite the Arab citizens of Israel to violence. What is the purpose?

The right wing under the two racist pseudo-religious fascists, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir, are provocateurs in the tradition of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach Party. This party was banned for its racist ideology.

The double standards that Israel seems to be practicing when it comes to dealing with the fascist right wing are blatant. On the one hand, permits are granted to right wing racists to hold demonstrations against the Arab citizens, and on the other hand, Palestinian Cultural Festivals are banned because of incitement considerations. If both right wing anti-Arab demonstrations as well as the Palestinian Cultural Festival were banned then there would be a sense of balance. Unfortunately this was not the case.

The Israel establishment always justifies their actions against the Arab minority in Israel as "security considerations". If these considerations were genuine, there should never have been permits issued to the right wing hoodlums to incite the Arab community to violence. It meant recruiting 2500 policemen to keep the peace so that these hoodlums could carry out their provocation within the law. The whole exercise was not justified.

It is amazing but not surprising that Ehud Barak has agreed to join Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Coalition. One would expect that Labor would join the opposition in the Knesset. The enticement of Netanyahu to Barak could not be refused and Labour under Barak decided to forego the few principles that remain in that party, virtually foregoing the two-state solution to the conflict.

Once again Labor shelved its ideology for gaining a few cabinet posts in the Knesset. This is the beginning of the demise of the Labor Party. It will be part of a right wing coalition that maintains the occupation, and encourages Israeli settlements within the West Bank. The Labor Party has compromised on its ideals. Those members who were opposed to the Likud-Labor deal have fallen into line and accepted the deal as a fait accomplait. Labor will be sitting on the same side as Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Foreign Minister-designate. Need more be said about that apart from the fact that those who voted Labor feel betrayed? How can Barak claim that this is the will of Labor supporters? When the election results were known, Labor lost heavily. Barak stated the following day that the voters wanted Labor in the opposition. He rapidly changed his mind after Likud caught him in their net and made him an offer he could not refuse even at the expense of betraying his supporters. Labor has lost its soul and its identity. It is no more accountable to its supporters and is destined to the political dustbin of history despite its glorious past in the establishment of the State of Israel.

The peace movement in Israel has been neutralized. Labor that was part of this movement has other interests in mind - certainly not coexistence with the Palestinians as priority. This means that those who believe in peace will have to find other ways to reach that goal. The government of Israel now believes in peace with occupation and no compromise. Labor is part of this as well.

Saturday, March 21

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

In these days after the elections, there's very little to be optimistic about. Benjamin Netanyahu is on the threshold of signing up the right wing parties to his coalition. For a start, it looks as if a narrow right wing coalition will be the beginning of a government that will lead nowhere. Ehud Barak, the Labor Party leader, is finding every reason to join the coalition amidst opposition from his party members. This government will not be imaginative in finding a way to get the peace process back on track. Two states for two peoples will not be part of this future government's policy.

Apart from this, the Foreign Minister-designate, Avigdor Lieberman, will be undergoing a criminal investigation for money laundering, corruption and bribery. This person should not be standing for any cabinet position until his name is cleared from any criminal investigation. It seems that Israel is joining the other banana republics' "Exclusive Club" of corrupt parliamentarians. Why is the Israeli public not protesting? Is it because he received much support that gives him legitimacy despite the heavy suspicions against him? The fact that he has been under police investigation for nine years and no charges have been laid against him illustrates police inefficiency.

This could result in Israel becoming isolated in a similar way to apartheid South Africa of the 1960'and 70's. An outspoken anti-Arab racist being nominated as Foreign Minister to represent Israel to the world will not serve Israel's rather tarnished image positively.

Apart from that, the religious parties will once again be part of a macabre mix of party political hacks of the right wing persuasion. More tax-payer's money will be squandered in keeping this right wing coalition together.

Another fact has been revealed that has shocked many of us. Although this may come as no real surprise, reports coming from the Israeli Army spokesman are accurate but there is concern for what is not revealed. Some reports of unprovoked killings of innocent civilians in the Gaza War of December - January.

According to a Haaretz report of 19th March 2009, IDF killed civilians in Gaza under loose rules of engagement. This is according to testimony that was given by soldiers who participated in the Cast Lead operation.

Israel has always regarded its army as being the most humane and moral in the world. Reports of human rights abuses as well as unjustified killings of a suffering civilian population in Gaza are starting to flow into the Israeli press. Somehow there seems to be a total blackout or censure of information about the Israeli Army treatment of Gaza citizens. When reports of abuse and ill treatment of Gaza's population come from Israeli soldiers involved in Operation Cast Lead, there is very little reason to doubt their credibility. After all they have nothing to gain from spilling the beans on Israeli Army. Also reports came from the Israel Press which cannot be seen as hostile to Israel.

The reports of abuse and killings by the "moral and humane Israeli Army" will shatter many myths as to what the Israeli Army spokesman would like us to believe. Too many innocent civilians have been killed and wanton destruction of property for Israel Army investigators to ignore.

These reports should not detract from the fact that an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shaliit, is being held captive by Hamas under duress. He is denied visits as well as basic human rights. There is no communication between him and his family. His family has not been informed as to his whereabouts. Hamas does not represent a country. This group is not bound by international law in the care of prisoners-of-war.

Palestinian prisoners in captivity in Israel for heinous terrorist acts have better conditions than Shalit. They are allowed family visits and have opportunities to study at open universities. While their prison conditions may not be 5 stars, they are cared for far better than Shalit and have more rights.

Hamas is an inhuman bestial organization of terrorists who do not care for their own Palestinian people that they claim to represent. They tolerate zero opposition to their world view and even kill Palestinians who disagree with them. The damage they do to the Palestinian cause is far greater than the damage they do to Israel. While Hamas remains in power in Gaza, Palestinian suffering will never cease.

Hamas terror against Israel in the form of Qassam rocket launches remains sporadic in the south. This illustrates the fact that the Gaza War achieved very little apart from killing many innocent people uninvolved in terrorist activity. These facts are becoming known from Israeli soldiers' reports as mentioned earlier in this article.

It has been reported in Haaretz 20th March 2009 that the police will allow far-rightists to march in Umm al Fahm on Tuesday 25th March. The two right wing activists, Baruch Marzel and Ittamar Ben Gvir are notorious for their anti-Arab racist views as well as their extreme pro-occupation views, will be organizing the march. This is provocative and will achieve nothing but more hate. Why were they given permission for this? It is disgusting! Is this democracy to provoke race hatred? If neo-Nazi groups were given permission by the police overseas to stage a demonstration against Jews in a Jewish neighborhood, the Jewish community would protest in no uncertain terms and rightly so. This anti-Arab demonstration in Umm al-Fahm should be banned because it will be a racist provocation.

The East Jerusalem Palestinians organized a Palestinian Culture Festival in Jerusalem and this was banned by the police. Surely we are witnessing double standards here. At the same time the police gave permission for a right wing anti-Arab demonstration as mentioned before in this article in Umm al Fahm, while Palestinians are banned from holding cultural festivals in East Jerusalem.

Saturday, March 14

The New Coalition & Occupation


The building of a narrow right coalition is in progress. Israeli Prime Minister-designate, Benjamin Netanyahu, will utilize his negotiating skills which will bring in every right wing politician possible, including the rabid racists of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahana breed, into his coalition. At the same time he will try to send out tantalizing bait to the Kadima and Labour Parties to temper the extreme right-wing image of his coalition. It remains to be seen if he will succeed in the end, if not at present.

The peace process, which has come to a halt, will not be revived under the right-wing government which is not conducive to any form of agreement with the Palestinians. The occupation will continue as well as settlement expansion. Netanyahu’s election campaign has made no bones about this.

Everything will be done to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Netanyahu is opposed to a Palestinian state. He will go against United States policy. He talks about improving the economic situation of the Palestinians whatever that means. Does this mean that he will continue the “carrot and stick” policy of economic rewards "for being good" and collective punishment for acts of terror? There is a horrifying reek of a paternalistic attitude towards the Palestinians here.

If there is no movement towards establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, the only alternative is the binational-state solution, which would be an apartheid state under the Likud right-wing coalition. This would be antidemocratic under the right wing coalition.

The repercussions of the end of two-state idea for two peoples will be disastrous. Netanyahu talks about improving the economic situation of the Palestinians and some autonomy for them which amounts to limited self-rule. This can be compared to the Bantustan policies of apartheid South Africa of the past.

Apart from that, it gives the Likud led coalition leeway to continuing settlement expansion and prolonging the occupation. This can be seen by all as a big bluff. Israel will continue to take over Palestinian lands creating a situation that will render the establishment of a Palestinian State impossible to achieve.

Lately there have been reports of quarrying in the West Bank for the purposes of building new homes for potential settlers. The profits of this activity go to Israeli entrepreneurs and not to the Palestinians. Is this the economic improvement intended by the future right wing government, even though this practice occurred during previous governments? Destruction of Palestinian Lands, not to mention the damage to the environment because of the quarries will continue. This in itself renders the land uninhabitable.

Israel will be criticized severely for these activities. It will deny any involvement, thus deceiving the critics of the occupation.

Another cause of concern is the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman, the right wing racist, as Foreign Minister. It remains to be seen how he will represent Israel to the world. This man is on record for making many racist statements against Israel's Arab population. His election campaign was racist. He was successful in gaining support for his extremist anti-Arab views. His demand that Arab citizens take an oath of loyalty to Israel in order to retain citizenship is an example of his uncompromising hate for Arabs. It will be interesting to observe how he will represent Israel's claim as not wishing to rule over another nation while supporting the occupation and even being part of the settler movement (He and his family live in Nokdim in the occupied West Bank). It is shocking that a man with such extreme racist views will be Israel's spokesman on foreign policy. Even worse than that is the fact that he holds the balance of power in coalition building. Surely this will give strength to the "Zionism is racism" theory which is denied by Israel in every international forum. It will also add grist to the mill in the upcoming Durban 2 Conference of Israel's racist attitudes.

While the US, Canada and Italy will not be attending the conference because of its anti-Israel bias, Lieberman's appointment as foreign minister will not serve Israel's interests. It will also strengthen the much maligned view of Israel's racism towards its Arab citizens and the Palestinians.

There is no reason for optimism for the future of any renewal of the peace process.

Another problem that needs to be tackled is the release of Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier imprisoned under Hamas. Outgoing Israeli PM Olmert never succeeded in negotiating his release because of the price tag of releasing Palestinian prisoners, many of whom, with blood on their hands. For the unfortunate parents, no price is too high and understandably so. If the life of Gilad Shalit can be saved and he can return home then this must take top priority more than any other consideration. It is doubtful if Netanyahu has what it takes to secure his release.