Archive for Israeli politics

Activism

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 09/04/2009 by 3071km

Activism (Global Voices)

Interview to Richard Falk and Philip Rizk from Global Voices in which they talk about activism and non-violent resistance to express protest and disagreement not only in Gaza and Palestine but also in the rest of the world.

Rizk raises many interesting points including blogging as a powerful arm of non-violent resistance, the role of NGOs in slowing the outburst of the humanitarian and political crisis in Gaza, the Israeli strategy of dividing Palestinians in order to deepen the occupation, etc. He also talks a bit about his film This Palestinian Life. Stories of Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance, which we have introduced in our previous post.

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Disposable justice

Posted in Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 04/04/2009 by 3071km

This is an interesting article from Gideon Levy published in Haaretz 0n 02/04/09 on the (inexistent) rule of law in Israel.

Here you have some excerpts:

Not that anything different could have been expected. From the day the military advocate general announced that unlike in the first intifada, not every killing in the territories would be investigated, battle ethics were condemned. When the killing of 4,747 Palestinians in the second intifada, 942 of them women and children, according to B’Tselem, is followed by 30 indictments, five convictions and only one prison sentence of any considerable length, the IDF is sending a clear message: The killing of Palestinian civilians is of no concern to the military justice system.

The message to soldiers is just as clear: Kill as much as you please, no wrong will come to you, the army won’t even bother to look into it. Now, after 1,300 deaths in Gaza, the military advocate general confirmed this policy. Any adherent of the rule of law in Israel should have been shocked by this rash decision, but our army of lawyers is concerned with other things.

(···)

Israel cannot be considered a country of the rule of law if its backyard is occupied by this grotesque show called the military justice system. Only when it is segregated from the IDF and a civil justice system investigates the army will we know we have a legal army and a legal state. Until then, all we can do is look to The Hague.

U.N. official pleads for opening of Gaza borders

Posted in Gaza, Hamas, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Siege with tags , , , , , on 04/04/2009 by 3071km

Source: REUTERS

Fri Apr 3, 2009 3:44pm EDT

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 (Reuters) – The top U.N. aid official in the Gaza Strip urged Israel on Friday to ease restrictions on the flow of goods into the conflict-torn territory, saying they were “devastating” for the people.

“It’s wholly and totally inadequate,” John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said about the amount of goods Israel permits into the territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.

“It’s having a very devastating impact on the physical circumstances and also the mindset of people on the ground,” he said.

Israel says it has opened Gaza’s border to larger amounts of food and medicine since its December-January offensive against Hamas militants who control the Palestinian enclave and were firing rockets against Israeli towns.

The war destroyed some 5,000 homes and, according to figures from a Palestinian rights group, killed over 1,400 people. Around 80 percent of Palestinians are reliant on aid.

Ging said access to goods was still a severe problem.

“We need access,” he said. “It’s the number one issue. It’s the number two issue. It’s the number three issue, and so on. Until we get it, there’s nothing as important as solving the access issue.”

Israel fears opening the borders would allow Hamas to smuggle more weapons and ammunition into the territory.

Ging said that all the crossing points from Israel into the Gaza Strip should be opened, and those that were currently opened in a limited way to only selected people or goods should be fully opened.

In addition to restrictions on what it deems luxury goods, such as cigarettes and chocolates, Israel has blocked entry of materials such as cement and steel for rebuilding because it says they could be used for bunkers and rearming.

Since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in a 2007 civil war with Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah faction, Israel has tightened its blockade of the 30-mile (45-km) strip in an effort to weaken Hamas’ hold on power.

Ging said he understood the “real security challenges” to the operation of crossing points, such as when militants were firing rockets that could endanger people at the crossings. But he said it was not clear why they were closed at other times.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said last month that an expansion of activity at Gaza’s border crossings could be discussed once Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas in 2006, is released.

(Additional reporting by Claudia Parsons; Editing by Alan Elsner)

The Knesset: many parties, one mind

Posted in Gaza, Israeli politics with tags , , , , , on 30/03/2009 by 3071km

This is an interesting article written by Daphna Baram and posted last week in The Guardian (Thursday 26th March 2009). We hope you find it interesting!

Intransigence, expansionism, racism and warmongering now seem to be the consensus across Israeli politics

Ehud Barak’s move to join Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition and rub shoulders around the cabinet table with arch racist Avigdor Lieberman should not have surprised anybody, but was still met with shocked lamentations from the ranks of the decomposing remnants of the Zionist left. The fact that Tzipi Livni, leader of the opportunistic “central” Kadima party, demonstrated more courage and integrity (for which the long knives in her party have already been drawn against her), is hardly a breathtaking bombshell either for anybody who has been following the careers of the power-obsessed general and the goody-two-shoes girl scout. Many ask themselves what’s left of the Israeli left.

The answer to that, as it always has been, is simple. The Israeli left is combined of the following: the diminishing Meretz, a group of liberal Zionists who are torn by the realisation that they will soon have to decide whether they want a Jewish state or a democratic one – if they opt for the former they’ll have to waive the liberal tag, while if they choose the latter they’ll have to part with the Zionist one; Arab and Jewish Hadash voters who are struggling to hold on to their two-state solution while beginning to realise that it may well be too late for that; and the mainly Arab voters of Balad, whose plain call for a state for all its citizens is heard by most Jewish Israelis as a subversive “antisemitic” plan. Traditionally, the other Arab party, The United Arab List, is also counted with the left, though there’s nothing particularly lefty about it. However, since it represents a part of the constituency of the Palestinian-Arab deprived minority, it naturally aligns itself with the cause of Palestinians’ rights, both inside Israel proper, and in the context of the West Bank and Gaza.

This whole block, which has just been defined as “the left”, is represented now by 14 parliamentary seats out of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset. To them one may hesitantly add four out of the 13 representatives of the Labour party in the newly elected Knesset, who are close in their political stance to Meretz. Hence 18 out of 120 is what’s left of the Israeli left, and even that only if one is willing to engage in some intellectual gymnastics and expand the notion of “left” way beyond its traditional boundaries.

As for the Labour party, labelling it a traitor for joining a rightwing government involves a certain amount of wishful thinking regarding its true nature to start with. The answer to the question “when has the Labour party transformed?” is “never”, when it comes to its patterns of dealing with Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and “in the mid 1980s, just like most Labour parties in the west” when addressing its stance on social and economic issues. On society and economy, it might suffice to say that it was none other than Ofer Eini, the leader of Israel’s huge workers union, the Histadrut, who instigated Barak’s move to join what will be, in all likelihood, Israel’s most radical neoconservative government ever. The Israeli Labour party has long ago abandoned any commitment to social issues; it has joined up with the ruthless new economy and the big money behind it. The few Labour MKs who still bother paying lip service to social equality are all among the four “rebels” mentioned previously. The rest do not even flinch at the idea of hooking up with Netanyahu, who branded himself as the enemy of the workers and the poor in his last tenure as finance minister.

The case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more complicated. Internationally, the Labour party is viewed as a kosher stamp for any Israeli government, promising a less belligerent stance and a bigger willingness to reach a peaceful solution. This rather hollow belief is exactly what makes Barak such a desirable partner for Netanyahu, despite the pathetic size to which his party has just sunk in parliament (13 out of 120 MKs). Netanyahu is well aware that any type of intransigence and pig-headedness, not to mention actual acts of war, would be more digestible for the Obama administration when coming from a government that includes the Labour party.

The fact of the matter is that the Israeli Labour party has supported all the wars Israel has waged, and actually ran and instigated most of them. The two latest gory interventions, in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza this year, were both orchestrated by Labour ministers of defence, Amir Peretz and Barak. Paying lip service to the division of Palestine while planning and propagating territorial expansionism and land-grabbing has been the policy of the Labour party ever since the early days of the Zionist movement, sprinkled by sporadic attempts at giving up some of the territory in return for getting rid of as many Palestinian inhabitants as possible from under Israel’s control in the process. Labour might have invented this double-tongues policy, but it has now been adopted by all the main powers in Israeli politics, from Kadima to Likud and even the radical mark on the right – Lieberman’s Israel Beytenu.

Everybody is chanting the now popular two-state solution slogan, while in effect expanding the settlements, waging war on the Palestinians in Gaza and devising discriminatory policies aimed against the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Considering the fact that the largest party in the emerging default opposition, Kadima, is holding to identical values and political programme to that of the parties in the government, there’s no choice but to recognise the painful truth. The intransigence, the expansionism, the racism and the warmongering are not the problem with only one of the big parties in the Israel’s politics; at the moment they seem to be the national consensus. The extent to which Barack Obama’s new administration will try to bend this consensus remains to be seen. The precedents, however, do not leave much space for hope.