Browsing Posts published in March, 2010

The only Christian TV station in the West Bank has been shut down by the Palestinian Authority after 14 years on the air. Al-Mahed “Nativity” TV sits just a stone’s throw from the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, believed by many Christians, Muslims and even Jews to be the site of Jesus’ birth.

As stated on its own website, Al-Mahed’s “Nativity” TV’s mission is “to help in building a Palestinian civil society, based on the principles of freedom, democracy, pluralism, anti-discrimination and equality of all in front of the law.”

According to the station’s general manager Samir Qumsieh, Al-Mahed “Nativity” TV was shut down for not paying additional money for a “license,” despite having operated with great Palestinian support for over a decade. While silencing voices may be par for the course in Hamas-controlled Gaza, this decision by the PA in the West Bank is disturbing and hopefully not a portent of things to come.

To read more, click here.

Photo provided by Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

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Kassam rocket strikes hothouses in Netiv Haasara (Photo: Edi Israel)

A Qassam rocket launched from Gaza hit a greenhouse to the north, killing 30 year old Manee Singueanphon, a Thai foreign worker employed in Israel. While a warning alarm known as a “Color Red” alert was sounded, Mr. Singueanphon was killed before he could make it to the community shelter. This was the third rocket barrage fired by Hamas in the last 24 hours, coming at a time when Israeli leadership is preparing for proximity talks with the Palestinians under U.S mediation.

“While Israel continues to extend its hand in peace, the other side not only refuses to come to the negotiating table, but continues to incite recklessly against Israel,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon

After years of bloodshed and tragic deaths on both sides, the time has come to negotiate a peace. Hamas, which took control of Gaza following Israel’s withdrawal in 2005, is making it quite clear who the real war criminals are. In contrast to Israel’s tactics for a solution to the conflict which include negotiations without preconditions, the other side chooses random, indiscriminate attacks whose goal is solely to claim innocent lives.

Officials in Israel are pointing their finger at the Goldstone Report, which by condemning Israel sent a message of support to the terrorists whose rockets torment the south of Israel. “The Goldstone Report provides legitimacy and propulsion for terrorism and is immoral and unprofessional. With or without the report, Israel will continue to defend its citizens,” said Ayalon.

With that said, Israel will continue to stand strong in the face of terror and will not allow Hamas to stand as a wedge between the Israeli and Palestinian hopes for a two state solution. Hamas’ stranglehold in Gaza is bolstered by the conflict, and it is in its leaders intentions to prolong it.  Hamas’ actions are still the voice of the minority, and Israel will not them drown out the voices of those who wish for a lasting peace.

Sometimes, friends disagree.  By no means does that disagreement mean an end of a friendship or an increase in tension.

Photo: GPO

As Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, stated in his op-ed in the New York Times on March 18, 2010, “Israel and America enjoy a deep and multi-layered friendship, but even the closest allies can sometimes disagree. Such a disagreement began last week during Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit to Israel, when a mid-level official in the Interior Ministry announced an interim planning phase in the expansion of Ramat Shlomo, a northern Jerusalem neighborhood. While this discord was unfortunate, it was not a historic low point in United States-Israel relations.”

To read Ambassador Oren’s complete op-ed, click here.

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Photo: GPO

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel for a series of meetings with top Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Two major issues on the agenda include Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and putting an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there’s simply no space between the United States and Israel,” stated Biden. “There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security and for that reason and many others addressing Iran’s nuclear program has been one of our Administration’s priorities. We’re determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and we’re working with many countries around the world to convince Tehran to meet its international obligations and cease and desist.  Iran must also curb its other destabilizing actions in the region, well beyond their desire to acquire nuclear weapons and that is their continued support for terrorist groups that threaten Israel and I might add our interest as well. President Obama and I strongly believe that the best long-term guarantee for Israel’s security is a comprehensive Middle East peace with the Palestinians, with the Syrians, with Lebanon, and leading eventually to full and normalized relationships with the entire Arab world. It’s overwhelming in the interest of Israel, but it’s also overwhelming interest to the Arab world and it’s in our interest as well.  The goal is obviously to resolve the final status issues to achieve a two-state solution with Israel and a Palestine living side by side in peace and security. A historic peace is going to require both parties to make some historically bold commitments. You have done it before and I’m confident for real peace you would do it again”.

During his visit to Israel, Biden commended the Israeli moratorium on new building in the West Bank, and stated that on the Palestinian end there is a real commitment to reach an agreement.

In the coming weeks, Israeli and Palestinian officials will resume proxy talks that will eventually reignite official dialogue between the two administrations: “I appreciate the Administration’s effort to advance peace in the region,” added Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I know that this has been difficult and has required a great deal of patience, but I’m pleased that these efforts are beginning to bear fruit and we have to be persistent and purposeful in making sure that we get to those direct negotiations that will enable us to resolve this conflict.

“I look forward to working with President Obama, and with you and your entire Administration to forge a historic peace agreement in which the permanence and legitimacy of the Jewish State of Israel is recognized by our Palestinian neighbors and in which Israel’s security is guaranteed for generations to come.”

In Gaza, Hamas continues to govern along the extremes. Moderate voices are being drowned out by the few in power who wish to create a complete Islamic society. In a bizarre piece of legislation announced this week, men have been banned from working in women’s hair salons.

Instead of finding ways to move towards nonviolence and improve the lives of its people, they spend their time on petty measures that many would describe as an unnecessary infringement on human rights. Putting individuals out of work is the exact opposite of what Hamas was “elected” to do.

For the full story on the latest Hamas ruling, click here.

Photo provided by Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

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Recently, on a University of California campus, several dozen students repeatedly and brutally interrupted my lecture. Their goal was to undermine the freedom of expression and delegitimize the Israeli state. They did not achieve it. I finished my speech, but neither did I applaud, as did many others in the audience, when the protesters were arrested and led out of the hall. I had come to that university specifically to engage with those students, to exchange ideas—complex and controversial as those ideas may be—and not only to speak but to listen. I did not exalt in their arrest; rather, I was saddened. continue reading…

Israeli minister of Defense Ehud Barak says that U.S and Israeli administrations are on the same page regarding putting new sanctions on Iran. In an interview to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Minister Barak stated that evidence is piling up regarding Iranian intentions to produce nuclear warheads: “that will threaten not only Israel but Paris and Moscow as well. Iran is not just a challenge for Israel. I believe it is a challenge for the whole world, I can hardly think of a stable world order with a nuclear Iran.”