Browsing Posts published in June, 2010

In a small Jerusalem café, I sat with Noam Shalit and tried to discuss his son, Gilad. I say tried because each time Noam, a soft-spoken, bespectacled man, began a sentence, the owner of the café rushed over with complimentary plates of humus, salads and desserts. Passersby, glimpsing Noam through the window, burst inside to embrace him. “We are with you,” they cried. “We will get our Gilad home.”

That our is the key to understanding the devotion that Israelis feel for Gilad Shalit. The Israel Defense Forces is a citizens’ army in which most young men serve for a minimum of three years, followed by several decades of reserve duty. Young women serve for at least two. Our soldiers are literally our parents, our siblings, our children. Israel is also a small country with few if any degrees of separation between families. Even those who have never met the Shalits know someone who has. And all of us have loved ones—a brother, a son—who could suffer the same ordeal that Gilad began four years ago today. continue reading…

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” Albert Einstein once said.

Since 1993, successive governments, supported by the international community, have tried to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using the flawed paradigm of land for peace. Each time, the same formula was attempted, but failed every time because of Arab recalcitrance. continue reading…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Following the release of Israel’s updated policy on civilian goods entering Gaza,  “things that people are trying to bring in by flotilla you can bring in through the legitimate existing crossings, [so] do it that way” said Quartet Envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Israel is currently letting in all civilian goods enter Gaza, with the only outright banned items being weapons and explosive materials. The goal has always been to weaken Hamas but not to the detriment of the Palestinian people living in Gaza. The updated policy will come with a public, universal list of what is not allowed to fall into the hands of Hamas, which continues to mount rocket attacks at Israeli and Palestinian civilians. continue reading…

Over the past few months, Israel began easing restrictions on the flow of goods into Gaza. This was met with approval by UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon during his visit to the region. Israel’s policy towards the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is not stagnant and is always changing in response to regional security. Over this past weekend, the Israeli Cabinet voted to approve a number of measures which will create a much simpler policy towards the closure of Gaza.

The goal of the closure has always been to eliminate the flow of combatants and deny Hamas weaponry which it has, and will continue to use against Israelis and Palestinians. However, the updated policy will make the distinction between what is and what is not allowed into Gaza clearer. All goods, food products, medicine etc. will continue to enter Gaza with no restrictions. But rather than publish a list of what is allowed, the Israeli government has decided it will be simpler to have only a list of what is not allowed. This way, there is no confusion and the world can see that Israel has no intentions to deny Gazans needed goods. Again, everything that is not on the published list of banned materials (grenades and rifles etc.) will pass through any and all Israeli-operated crossings. continue reading…

Israel’s security cabinet has voted to “liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza… expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision” and “continue existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war material.”

Even before these measures are to be put in place, on Tuesday, Israel allowed in 5,355 tons of goods into Gaza. No border crossings were closed. In addition to the list below of goods which entered Gaza on June 15th, dozens of international organization staff members crossed into and out of Israel through the Erez crossing. continue reading…

Yasser Kashlak, organizer of another flotilla which will be leaving from Beirut, has been found to be a friend of Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Said Mr. Kashlak in a letter for Nasrallah, “In the name of the Palestinian people… we stress that we are taking the path of resistance.”

One of the ships, Miriam, is being led by Samar al-Hajj, who is the wife of a Lebanese officer who served a prison sentence for his involvement in the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Three weeks ago, to celebrate the officer’s release, al-Hajj met with Hezbollah’s Nasrallah to thank him for his support.

There are a lot of unknowns about the incoming Lebanese ships. However, according to international law, Israel has the right and the obligation to redirect ships trying to break the law. Israel can then bring them to an Israeli port for inspection.

Please stay tuned for future updates. To read more, click here.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A year after Iran’s controversial election and subsequent crackdown of dissent, the UN issued a statement this week condemning Iran’s campaign of brutality and violence against human rights activists and peaceful protesters.

Said the United States’ representative to the HRC, Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahue, “Today’s joint statement on the human rights situation in Iran is a significant accomplishment for the Human Rights Council. Fifty-six states from every region of the world came together in this joint statement of solidarity with the Iranian people, bringing much-needed focus and world attention to the human rights conditions in Iran.”

The United States joined 55 other countries in supporting the statement, which can be read in its entirety here. Among the signatories were all 27 members of the European Union. continue reading…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Israel is not above the law and not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. Israel’s blockade of Gaza, together with Egypt, it should be recalled (though Egypt is never condemned in this regard), is probably not the wisest policy ever implemented by Israel. After the international outcry over the flotilla to Gaza that was poorly handled by the Israelis, and with tragic consequences, it is high time this policy was reviewed.

The issue, however, is not this or some other specific Israeli policy, but Israel-bashing, or the prejudicial way in which Israel is usually treated by the international community and the world media. Prejudice is recognised by its three constituent practices: it singles out the subject; it then applies a double standard; and, of course, the subject is always guilty. Israel is indeed singled out for special treatment and the double standard is also reflected in a specific vocabulary that is applied only to Israel. continue reading…

Photo: IDF Spokesperson

Israel is setting up a commission led by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel to investigate actions taken by the State of Israel to prevent vessels from reaching the coast of the Gaza Strip on May 31st, 2010.

In addition to Justice Turkel, the Commission will have two members and two foreign experts who will serve as observers. The members of the Commission will be Shabbtai Rosen and Amos Horev, experts on international law.

The foreign observers will include Lord David Trimble, Nobel Peace laureate from Northern Ireland and Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin, a former judge advocate general of the Canadian Forces. continue reading…

The only ship that was violent was not carrying any aid. Of the six ships in the flotilla which announced their intentions to break Israel’s legal maritime blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza, five were redirected without incident. The one vessel, Turkish-operated Mavi Marmara, was the only ship which ambushed Israeli soldiers. Over the past 10 days, it has been obvious that the dozens of  “peace activists” came ready and eager for a violent skirmish and were thus anything but peace loving individuals.

After contents of the ship were unloaded, it has been discovered that the Mavi Marmara did not contain a single ounce of aid. Not one box of food or medicine for the people of Gaza. continue reading…