Archive for the ‘israel’ Tag

Gay shooting inflames debate in Israel

Gay shooting inflames debate in Israel

The shooting at the gay youth club Bar-Noar in Tel Aviv, which resulted in the tragic death of 26-year-old Nir Katz and 16-year-old Liz Tarboushi, and the injury of 13 others, is sending political shockwaves across Israel. “This is our Stonewall,” said activists in Israel’s gay community this weekend, referring to the defining moment for the gay community in the US, back in 1969.

While everybody involved in gay events always anticipates violence in the religious and conservative Jerusalem – and particularly in the Jerusalem gay pride parade which has become a centre of controversy in recent years – the gay community sees Tel Aviv as its safe haven. No matter how segregated, old fashioned, grumpy and troubled the rest of Israel gets, Tel Aviv keeps shining as a liberated autonomous jewel, the iconic big city into which anybody can integrate, or at least be tolerated. Its proud gay community, which has turned Tel Aviv into a tourist attraction for many Europeans, is also part of what makes some Israelis hate the “bubble”, as the city is often referred to.

Nobody knows yet the identity of the masked character, dressed in black, who ventured into the bubble and shot the young people at the gay youth club on Saturday night. But as one of the commentators on the subject noted, a hate crime is defined by its victims, not its perpetrators. This much was understood by everybody. Even the community’s most bitter enemies, the orthodox Shas party, ultra-orthodox MK Yaakov Litzman of Yahadut Hatora (United Torah Judaism) party and others were quick to condemn the murder in no uncertain terms. “The Tel Aviv branch of Shas is shocked and pained and it condemns the murderous crime against the gay community,” said Shahar Bakshi, a spokesperson for Shas. Litzman said he strongly condemned the killing and that the murderer should be caught and prosecuted “like any other murderer”. The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu; the president, Shimon Peres; the leader of the Labour party, Ehud Barak; and the leader of the opposition, Tzipi Livni, all voiced their condemnations and condolences, and spoke of the importance of equality, freedom and tolerance.

Foreign Secretary “dismayed” at calls for boycott of Israel

From the Foreign Office:

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has expressed dismay that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed by trade union congresses and conferences. He said:

‘The Government is dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer.

Mr Lewis, Minister of State responsible for the Middle East, is this week meeting representatives of leading British unions in order to make clear the Government’s firm belief that calls for boycotts of Israel cannot and do not contribute to peace.

The Scottish Trades Union Council has released a response:

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) today (Wednesday 24 June) rejected the Foreign Office’s “dismay” at trade union’s supporting boycotts of Israel, and suggested this is an indication that the UK Government is out of step with the views of workers on this matter.

The Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP yesterday stated that: “The Government is dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer”.

STUC Assistant Secretary Mary Senior said: “I am pleased that the UK Government is beginning to recognise the strength of feeling in the British trade union movement for the need for urgent action against the state of Israel for its continued violations of human rights of Palestinians. Rather than expressing his dismay to us, the Foreign Secretary should be expressing his outrage in the strongest terms to the Israeli Government for its attacks on the people of Gaza, for the growing Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, and for the ongoing breaches of international human rights laws”.

Neo-Nazism thriving in the Holy Land

Neo-Nazism thriving in the Holy Land

Concern is growing over the action of neo-Nazi groups inside Israel. Society is split over the reasons for young people turning to the hostile ideology.

In November 2008 eight members of a neo-Nazi gang in Israel were convicted and sentenced. The longest prison term was 7 and a half years, with the oldest convicted aged 20 years old and the youngest just 17.

The group was charged with violence against foreigners, drug addicts and homosexuals.
Many in Israeli society were sure that putting them behind bars would close this neo-Nazi chapter in Jewish history.

However, expert Zalman Gillichensky is convinced this is only the tip of the iceberg:

“The problem is that neo-Nazism is very popular today. It’s on the rise in Russia and other post-Soviet states too. Youngsters can connect with these organisations through the internet. It’s very easy to do, and they hear that they’re always right and strong,” says Gillichensky.

South Africa: Workers Refuse to Offload Israeli Ship

South Africa: Workers Refuse to Offload Israeli Ship

3 February 2009 In a historic development for South Africa , South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, 8 February 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Apartheid Israel . The pledge by SATAWU members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe. Last year, Durban dock workers had refused to offload a shipment of arms that had arrived from China and was destined for Zimbabwe to prop up the Mugabe regime and to intensify the repression against the Zimbabwean people. Now, says SATAWU’s General Secretary Randall Howard, the union’s members are committing themselves to not handling Israeli goods.

SATAWU’s action on Sunday will be part of a proud history of worker resistance against apartheid. In 1963, just four years after the Anti-Apartheid Movement was formed, Danish dock workers refused to offload a ship with South African goods. When the ship docked in Sweden , Swedish workers followed suit. Dock workers in Liverpool and, later, in the San Francisco Bay Area also refused to offload South African goods. South Africans, and the South African working class in particular, will remain forever grateful to those workers who determinedly opposed apartheid and decided that they would support the anti-apartheid struggle with their actions.

Last week, Western Australian members of the Maritime Union of Australia resolved to support the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel , and have called for a boycott of all Israeli vessels and all vessels bearing goods arriving from or going to Israel .

This is the legacy and the tradition that South African dock workers have inherited, and it is a legacy they are determined to honour, by ensuring that South African ports of entry will not be used as transit points for goods bound for or emanating from certain dictatorial and oppressive states such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Israel.

New from Wikileaks

Today, Wikileaks – a transparency group and host of innumerable classified documents from governments, businesses, religious groups and others – released a document from the Department of Homeland Security prepared prior to the Republican National Convention in 2008. In it, the DHS lays out its understanding of potential targets and the connections made between different groups.

Wikileaks also now hosts a database giving information on Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, as previously reported by Haaretz.

At a Border Crossing, Drivers and Truckloads of Aid for Gaza Go Nowhere

At a Border Crossing, Drivers and Truckloads of Aid for Gaza Go Nowhere

EL AUJA BORDER CROSSING, Egypt — France sent technical equipment to help Gazans draw water from the ground. The Swiss sent blankets and plastic tarps. Mercy Corps, a relief agency, sent 12 truckloads of food. And on Tuesday all of it, including dozens of other trucks carrying sugar, rice, flour, juice and baby formula, sat in the hot sun here going nowhere.

This normally quiet commercial crossing between Egypt and Israel has been turned into a parking lot of stalled, humanitarian aid, and in the city of El Arish there are even greater quantities of food, clothing and essential supplies, sitting, waiting and baking in the sun. Some supplies are loaded onto dozens of trucks parked on city streets, but much more is stored in the open areas of a local sports stadium, also waiting, also going nowhere. Only medical supplies seem to be getting through to Gaza.

Since the cease-fire, Israel has allowed some humanitarian supplies into Gaza, but the territory is still desperately short of the necessities. Israel closed all the crossings into Gaza on Tuesday after an Israeli soldier was killed in a bombing on the Israeli side of the border. But that changed nothing at this crossing, where the flow has been stalled for days.

Army rabbi ‘gave out hate leaflet to troops’

Army rabbi ‘gave out hate leaflet to troops’

The Israeli army’s chief rabbinate gave soldiers preparing to enter the Gaza Strip a booklet implying that all Palestinians are their mortal enemies and advising them that cruelty is sometimes a “good attribute”.

The booklet, entitled Go Fight My Fight: A Daily Study Table for the Soldier and Commander in a Time of War, was published especially for Operation Cast Lead, the devastating three-week campaign launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire against southern Israel. The publication draws on the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Jewish fundamentalist Ateret Cohanim seminary in Jerusalem.

In one section, Rabbi Aviner compares Palestinians to the Philistines, a people depicted in the Bible as a war-like menace and existential threat to Israel.

The rabbi in question has been reprimanded.

Craig Murray – Biased Broadcasting Corporation

Craig Murray – Biased Broadcasting Corporation

I am hopeful the public outcry caused by the BBC’s refusal to broadcast the joint appeal for Gaza, will open more eyes to the immense bias in the BBC’s News coverage.

As it has slipped off the front page, I think it is worth reproducing this from my blog for 6 January:

What is Really Happening
I watched BBC World News for a timed hour yesterday. In that time I saw:
Pro-Israeli (including US government) speakers – 17
Pro-Palestinian speakers – 2

Mentions of Hamas Rockets as reason for war – 37
Mentions of illegal Israeli settlements – 0
Mentions of Palestinians killed by Israel during “ceasefire” – 2
Mentions of Sderot – 12
Mentions Sderot used to be Palestinian – 0

If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.

Craig Murray is the former British ambassador to Uzkebistan. Over the last few years he has found himself at the centre of a number of controversies, including Uzbekistan itself and allegations of human rights abuses there, as well as Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, which recently led to legal pressure against his book “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo.”

Analysis of UK University Occupations.

Analysis of UK University Occupations.

The demands being made by UK students are directed not at some anonymous government figure head, or drudging up notions of rights and responsibilities.

Instead, they are calling for their universities themselves to actively respond to the situation, rather than passively remain a silent partner. The demands include scholarships for Palestinian students, equipment to be sent to students in Gaza, and for the universities to condemn Israel’s actions. There are also calls for disinvestment from companies which support the Israeli war machine.

What these demands do is not only prove that our student body is a thinking, articulate collective, but also that there is a wide spread linking up of our systems of authority. An Israeli student I spoke with after a planning meeting for one of these occupations said: ‘I don’t know what to believe any more – my history has been taken away from me.’ She has been radicalised by the recent conflicts – not because it has appealed to her on any particular level of identity, but because her notions of authority are being challenged.

As the recession hits deeper, and as the G20 hits London, more and more these questions of authority and legitimacy will be raised. Universities, as institutions privileged with cultural authority, are being forced to play out the ends of their own logic.

Imperialism is a method of capitalism and authority, and right now that is what is being challenged on our campuses. At SOAS the security guards brought in to deal with the protesters had their logic flipped back on them, being described as the real occupation on campus. And perhaps this is the exact kind of argument we need right now, demanding that our so-called leaders act up to their rhetoric, and then watch as they fail.

Related: photos from the Cambridge occupation are now available.

Occupations spread around the UK

The wave of university occupations against the war, blockade, violence and repression in Gaza has continued to grow. Students in Leeds, Oxford, Nottingham and Mancester have occupied buildings and issued demands.

The London wing of the International Solidarity Movement, which sends activists to Palestine for non-violent direct action and solidarity work, has issued a statement supporting the occupations:

ISM London offers support and solidarity to the numerous student occupations and sit-ins around the UK in recent weeks. This response to the most recent Israeli onslaught on Gaza has been one of the most important initiatives in the movement. Generating pressure on our higher education establishments to take a stand against Israel and the war crimes it commits is vital. We stand in solidarity with the many Palestinians, students, activists, academics and members of the public who are now being more and more vocal about the boycott of Israel as a means of both exerting international pressure on the Israeli apartheid system, and standing in solidarity with the resistant Palestinian people.

For further information: