Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Israel seems to become more and more horrible each day

Yaron London is one of the most beloved and popular media personalities in Israel; a journalist for mainstream radio, TV and printed press; and an actor and songwriter. He has co-hosted numerous children's shows on TV as well as producing films and events. His daily current affairs program "London & Kirschenbaum" on Israeli TV Channel Ten is well known and popular.
Considered a political moderate, in recent years his positions have shifted to the right, reflecting trends in the Israeli mainstream public at large.
He has an opinion column on Israel's most popular news website, YNet, of which the most recent is below. The highlighting of the key passage was not in the original.

The victory of cruelty

A year after Gaza offensive, Yaron London says Israel must not aim to satisfy global public opinion

Yaron London, Ynetnews Opinion, 29.12.09

A year has passed since Operation Cast Lead. The Gaza vicinity region is calm and prosperous. Residents who left for fear of Qassams are returning home. Apartment prices are increasing. Even nature is blossoming. The blessed rain of the beginning of winter has woken the sleepy seeds of wild flowers. The soft hills of the "vicinity" have been speckled with yellow and red patches. It's possible that this is what these landscapes looked like last year as well, but no one was gazing at them, but rather westward, to locate a rising missile and precede its diving fall by taking shelter.
Hamas is deterred. Not because its leaders and the teachers of Islamic law have changed their opinion as to the way the conflict in the Middle East should be solved. Our monitors, who listen to the preaching in their mosques and to the radio broadcasts on their stations, have not discovered signs of moderation. As they did before the operation, the preachers talk about the Jews, the descendants of apes and pigs, who spread wars and epidemics and heresy and communism in the world, and that they must be expelled from the this world. Hamas fighters have not lost their courage. They are as fanatic and daring as they were. The virgins waiting for them in heaven have not lost their patience as well.

Hamas refrains from firing because it needs a timeout in order to establish its rule, rebuild the destructed houses, intensify its military power and fulfill the Shalit deal. When its leaders feel that they have completed their missions, when they believe the time is right, they'll resume their attacks. And maybe not. Perhaps they have learned their lesson. In any event, we cannot doubt the assertion that had we not sent a blow of fire to Gaza, Hamas would have continued firing.

It doesn't pay to wait

We're enjoying a state of calm which is seldom violated. What was its price? The price was 10 fallen soldiers and more than 300 injured Israelis. There is no way to weigh this loss. The world has worsened its criticism against Israel. It's unpleasant, completely unpleasant, to face boycotts and curses, but the stains added to our image have not damaged us in measurable areas. The economy is good. The commerce relations have not been hurt. The countries leading the world – the United States, Russia, the European community, China, India, Canada, Brazil – have not changed their attitude towards us. They have not even compensated the Hamas regime for the suffering of the Strip's residents. Egypt has tightened its relations with us. Saudi Arabia has rebuked Hamas and has not adopted the Gazans with money. The Palestinians in the West Bank have not launched a third intifada. For now. Turkey, with which we have always had unstable relations, was angry and cursed us, but a year later it is clear that its interests have cooled the growling of its feelings. Venezuela, Bolivia, Mauritania and Qatar have severed their diplomatic ties with Israel. It's a shame, but not a disaster.

The operation's results are the victory of cruelty. It's unfortunate. It's brings us back to reality. It calls for conclusions. As time passes, the world, which as a short memory, will forget the harsh sights in Gaza, because more difficult sights, in other places in the world, will take up all the free space in the collective mind's hard drive. The Gazans will be the only ones to remember. If we are proven false, we must arouse their memory with fire.

We must not return to the absorption strategy, which is aimed at collecting credit points in the international public opinion. It has been proven that our stock of points runs out several days after we deal our enemies a critical blow. It doesn't pay to wait. We will have to impose the disproportionate response quickly, even if the rocket interception measures are not fully developed by then. "Deterrence", as security experts say, "must be maintained." To this statement we should add that the determination of the deterrence maintainers must also be maintained.

Are the people just going insane or is this a "sane" choice of fascism? With those minds there is no hope only bloodshed and killing...

Thursday, 3 December 2009

TAC Press Statement

3 December 2009

TAC commends President Zuma for his leadership on HIV and welcomes the death of AIDS denialism

Following on other important speeches in recent months, President Zuma’s World AIDS Day address reaffirmed government’s new-found commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS in an open, serious, and evidence-based manner. TAC welcomes the president’s call for people to get tested and his public admission of having taken HIV tests himself.

Some key changes announced by the president include:

1) Providing ART to all people co-infected with TB/HIV at a CD4-count of 350.

While we welcome the decision to initiate treatment for all people co-infected with HIV and TB with a CD4 count of 350 cells/mm3 or lower, TAC will continue to campaign for the provision of treatment to all HIV-positive people with a CD4 count of 350 cells/mm3 or lower irrespective of their TB status. This is in accordance with World Health Organisation recommendations.

2) Providing all infants under 12 months with antiretroviral treatment (ART)

TAC welcomes the changes made to the paediatric treatment guidelines. Following the compelling findings of the Children with HIV Early Treatment study, TAC has been campaigning for the provision of antiretroviral treatment for all infants under one year of age.

3) Providing pregnant women with CD4 counts above 350 with prevention
of mother-to-child treatment from 14 weeks.

The changes to the PMTCT regimen indicate government's commitment to eradicating new paediatric infections. However, in addition to improving the prenatal regimen, policy improvements are also needed for postpartum vertical transmission. Various options are possible here which TAC will address in more detail in a PMTCT briefing that we will release early in 2010.

While we welcome the new guidelines, they do not address the urgent need to update the current first-line treatment regimen. TAC will continue to campaign to have tenofovir-based three-in-one once-daily pills introduced as part of the standard first-line regimen by July 2010.

As the new guidelines are implemented in facilities across the country it is critical to improve the monitoring and evaluation of both the HAART and PMTCT programmes. At a minimum we must aim for complete quarterly district-level information on the numbers of people initiated on these programmes, median baseline CD4 count, median change in CD4 count, number of people lost-to-follow-up, number of deaths and number of children born to HIV-positive women who have been tested.

President Zuma will face challenges ahead to ensure that these are not just changes to policy but are implemented in all facilities across the country. We call on government to strengthen health systems to implement the improved treatment guidelines.

TAC is committed to working with government to address capacity constraints to improve the response to HIV. TAC further supports government’s call for all South Africans to take responsibility for their own health and get tested and access treatment for HIV. Knowing your status will allow you to make informed decisions to protect your own health, the health of your sexual partner and the health of your baby.


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Help warn about AdSense

his week Google began recording the web surfing behavior of everyone who visits any page that uses AdSense or DoubleClick. It happens as soon as the page loads — no clicking is required. Their new cookie has a unique ID and is similar to the same sophisticated system that was developed over the last ten years for the cookie.

Many major sites use AdSense. It took me a minute to find AdSense on,,, and, and then I stopped looking because my suspicions were already confirmed. Even apart from AdSense, DoubleClick ads are all over the web. Unless you disable JavaScript, which makes surfing inconvenient on many sites and impossible on some, you are getting thoroughly tracked.

This tracking is a major move on Google's part. The referral from the phone-home to contains the complete URL of the page you are viewing. It happens in the same instant that your browser offers up the unique ID from your cookie. Google can add a time stamp and your IP address — and knowing Google, they will.

While Google says that it is dicing this information so that it can merely stick you into a number of broad interest categories, we have to assume that Google is saving all of the information they collect. It would not make sense to identify the relevant categories on the fly and then throw away the details. That would preclude future development into a more finely-grained system. Yes, we have to assume that Google saves everything, until such time that Google allows auditors into the Googleplex and the auditors say otherwise.

The biggest issue that ought to evolve out of this latest development is the issue of opt-in vs. opt-out. This new tracking should be opt-in, but Google is falling all over itself to make sure it stays opt-out. My guess is that opt-in might allow tracking of less than two percent of the activity that the current opt-out system will allow. How many people even know what a cookie is? What percentage know how to configure the cookie options on their browsers? If they delete their cookies just one time after opting out, will they remember that they also deleted their opt-out cookie, and that Google's tracking now resumes?

If this new Google initiative remains opt-out the way it is now, the FTC should require all sites that use AdSense, to intercept their page with a notice that allows a simple opt-out click for that page. But that is extremely clumsy and would crush AdSense altogether. Opt-in is the only reasonable alternative.

How to combine two cookies

( Google already knows this, but you might not )

1. On the Google home page, force the browser to fetch an invisible image or iframe from DoubleClick.

2. Overwrite the cookie ID to match the ID that was just recorded.

3. Keep it up until nearly all browsers show a Google ID in their DoubleClick cookie.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Conservatives Anti-Semitic Friend Declares his Undying Sympathy for Israel!

I May Not like Jews but I Just Love Israel
Michal Kaminski - friend of British Conservatism

The row over the Tory Party’s choice of allies in the European Parliament rumbles on. In particular over Michal Kaminiski, member of the far-right Law and Justice Party in Poland’s Sejm and leader of the Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament. Leaving aside Robert Zile’s Freedom and Fatherland Party in Latvia, which has a soft spot for all those Latvian SS men who helped round up the Jews.

What is interesting in this debate is how, BNP style, Kaminiski’s retort to the allegation of anti-Semitism is: ‘What me? But I support Israel.’ And that is precisely the problem. It reminds me of a quotation in Francis Nicosia’s new book, ‘anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany.’ [2008].

Nicosia is an American Professor of Political Science and an ardent Zionist who continually finds himself at odds with the evidence he uncovers. But despite his Zionism he notes that although today criticism of Zionism
‘is often dismissed as motivated by a deeper anti-Semitism, in Herzl’s day an opposite non-Jewish reaction, one of support for the Zionist idea, might have resulted in a similar reaction.’ [p.7]
His conclusion is that ‘Before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, active anti-Zionism… was largely a Jewish phenomenon…’ [13]

And that is precisely the point. If someone says that they believe Jews don’t belong in this country and should depart, then they are either an anti-semite or a Zionist or both. So it’s no surprise that Israel’s Ambassador to Britain, the intellectually challenged Ron Prossor, should be up there giving Kaminiski his full support. Likewise the Conservative Friends of Israel stand shoulder to shoulder with a man who has opposed any form of Polish apology for the massacre at Jedwabne (because Jews should apologise for the behaviour of the Soviet Union – understandable if you hold that Jews collectively were responsible for Stalin's atrocities or for Communism more generally, which is something Hitler certainly believed in.

Kaminski also paid homage to see General Pinochet when he was under house arrest in Britain, presenting him with some Catholic curiosity. Leaving aside of course his anti-gay credentials.

Now it may be, as some have argued, that Kaminski is more an opportunist than a fascist supporter. But regardless he makes a good bedfellow for both Israeli apologists and David Cameron. Interestingly, senior members of the Jewish Leadership Council have been spitting blood at the letter Vivian Wineman, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews sent David Cameron asking, ever so politely, about his new far-right friends.

We are told that ‘One JLC member described colleagues as “livid” at the timing of the letter. Another said he was “incandescent”. A senior Jewish Conservative said: “The Board has done itself a lot of damage. It is acting naively, it has been manipulated by left-wing interests into a completely inappropriate position. The irony is that the new Tory European group will be the most pro-Israel lobby group.

Of course this is no irony at all. I can once remember watching a programme featuring one Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. He littered his conversation with anti-Semitic epithets, but this man was as pro-Zionist as you could get.

What of course the unnamed senior Jewish conservative meant is that ‘anti-Semitism’ is only a stick to beat the left and those horrible Muslims around the head with. It’s not actually mean to be taken seriously, as in anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews. ‘Anti-Semitism’ is merely a form of defamation and libel to be used against anti-racists in the name of Israel’s war against the Palestinians. It is effectively the conscious and deliberate misuse of the memory of those who died in the Final Solution to bolster Israel and US imperialism.

Kaminski admits wearing 'fascist' symbol
By Martin Bright and Jessica Elgot, October 10, 2009

Michal KaminskI, the Polish MEP at the centre of the controversy over David Cameron’s European alliances has admitted he wore the symbol of a totalitarion group, claims he had previously denied.

In an interview with the JC, Mr Kaminski was asked if he had ever said he was proud to wear the Chrobry Sword, the symbol of the National Radical Camp (ONR).

Formed in 1934, the extreme rightwing, nationalist ONR- Falanga was largely a student movement, but practised violent anti-Semitism including attacks on Jewish students, buildings and businesses, organised boycotts of Jewish businesses and attacks on left wing groups.
The group used the medieval symbol of the Mieczyk Chrobrego – the Chrobry sword,

Mr KaminskI categorically denied knowledge of wearing the Chrobry sword symbol.
He told the JC: “No, I never wear it. I don’t even know which symbol you are referring to.”
But Mr Kaminski later issued a clarification, where he admitted he had worn the badge.
He said:
"I did wear the sword, which was used around a millennia ago to crown Polish Kings, on my lapel on occasions. After 1989 it was used as one of the symbols of the Christian National Union and many Conservative politicians would wear it, including politicians now in the Civic Platform.

“In recent years it has been taken as a symbol by the Far Right. Although it is not the same, there are similarities with how the BNP in Britain has taken the Union Jack as their symbol.
“When I felt the symbol started having this meaning I stopped wearing it and I asked the rest of my party to stop too.”
He added: “I acknowledge that it is possible that my pronunciation was unclear, so I am happy to clarify his position on this controversial symbol."

EXCLUSIVE Michal Kaminski: 'I'm no antisemite'

When I finally interview Michal Kaminski he is looking extremely flustered, not to say hounded, by the attention he has received during his flying visit to Conservative Party conference. The controversial leader of David Cameron’s new allies in the European Parliament has been chased into a fringe meeting by a woman from Channel 4 and to the doors of a lunch hosted by Conservative Friends of Israel. Allegations about his far-right past have quite literally pursued him to a suite at Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

Here it is that the 37-year-old head of the new European Conservatives and Reformists grouping has chosen to explain his controversial past statements, which range from the Holocaust and the role of Jewish partisans in the Soviet occupation, to General Pinochet and homosexuality.

In his only interview with a British newspaper, he says he welcomes the opportunity to reassure readers of the JC that he is no antisemite.“If you grew up in Poland, if you saw the traces of the Holocaust in my country, the accusation of being an antisemite is, I think, really hard,” he says. “Being an antisemite is something which is contradictory to all my beliefs, starting with my religious beliefs as a Christian and ending with my political conservative views.”

He adds that he considers that western civilisation is essentially Judeo-Christian and therefore “created to a big extent by Jews”.

Mr Kaminski says that he understands the concerns raised by some of the allegations against him. His colourful CV has already caused acute embarrassment to the Conservative Party and provided ammunition to those who say Cameron has rejected the mainstream centre-right in Europe in favour of a rag-tag bunch of apologists for fascism. At the same time, his robust support for Israel provides Anglo-Jews with a dilemma. His status as guest of honour at the CFI lunch demonstrates the level of trust he commands among leading Jewish Tories. His visit to Israel last month saw him welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

But how does this square with Mr Kaminski’s political beginnings with the far-right National Revival of Poland party (NOP)? The party he joined as a teenager is said to have pledged that “Jews will be removed from Poland and their possessions confiscated”. His response is that he was just 15 when he joined the NOP in 1987 when it was still an underground movement. Two years later it merged into the mainstream Conservative Christian National Union. “It was for me the first available option to join the anti-Communist movement and when I was 17 I left this group,” he says, adding that there was no evidence of a neo-fascist tendency at the time. “When I was a member of them, I don’t remember. Maybe you will find that someone will… but as far as I know it was a party which was Catholic and nationalist-orientated.”

Mr Kaminski himself raises the issue of Jedwabne, a town in the north-east of Poland which was the site of a massacre of hundreds of its Jewish inhabitants in July 1941 by a mob of Poles. Sixty years later, the then Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski issued an apology for the atrocity, but the issue was hugely divisive. As the deputy in the Polish parliament responsible for the area, Mr Kaminski expressed his opposition to a generalised apology, a decision he stands by.
From the very beginning I was saying as a human being, as a Pole, that Jedwabne was a terrible crime, unfortunately committed by the Polish people. My point was from the very start: we are ashamed of these people, we have to condemn them, we have to judge them if they are still alive. But I don’t want to take the whole responsibility for this crime for the whole Polish nation.
He adds that he doesn’t believe the Jedwabne massacre should be classified on the same level as the Holocaust. “I think that it’s unfair comparing it with Nazi crimes and putting it with the same level as the Nazi policy.”

More difficult for Mr Kaminski (and potentially Mr Cameron) is the suggestion that the Polish politician claimed no apology should be made until Jews apologised for alleged Jewish crimes of collaboration with the Soviet Union. His answer is ingenious. He says that asking the Poles as a whole to apologise for Jedwabne would make as much sense as asking the Jews to apologise for alleged Jewish involvement in Communist crimes.It is a theme to which he returns later in the interview:
My position is that there were acts of collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet army when the Soviet army came to Poland. It’s a fact. It’s a historical fact… If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would require from the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish Communists did in Eastern Poland.
I ask him about an interview he gave to the ultra-nationalist Polish newspaper Nacza Polska at the time of the apology, when he is alleged to have said he would only apologise for Jedwabne when “someone from the Jewish side will apologise for what the Jews did during the Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941, for the mass collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet occupier.” He claims he does not remember giving the interview. Does he recognise the words as his? “I absolutely do not recognise them. It was nine years ago.” He adds that official statements at the time made his position on the matter clear. I ask him about his use of the slogan “Poland is for the Poles”, which is said to have associations with pre-war Polish ultra-nationalism. He says he had been referring to Poland’s corruption scandals of 2000 when the new democracy was seriously under threat. “We have to give Poland to Poles but….not in a racial or nationalistic sense but in terms of democracy. We want to give back Polish democracy to the Poles, to the citizens.”

I ask him to clarify claims that he expressed pride in wearing the Chrobry sword, the symbol of the National Radical Camp Falanga, a Catholic totalitarian group formed in 1935. He issues a categorical denial: “No, I never wear it. I don’t even know which symbol you are referring to." [Mr Kaminski later clarified his position, claiming he had in fact worn the symbol]

There is no doubt there has been a concerted attempt by David Cameron’s political enemies to discredit Mr Kaminski. But there are areas of his own political biography where he admits he made serious errors of judgment. In 1999, he visited the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London, an event he described as “the most important moment of my whole life”. He later made a statement to the Polish parliament saying he regretted his actions. He says: “I think I made a mistake visiting Pinochet. A decent politician should have the courage to admit the mistake”.

I wonder if he thinks it was also a mistake to have described homosexuals as “pedaly”, a derogatory term akin to “shirt-lifters”. Again he admits an error of judgement. “I said I would never use these words again. But please remember it was a word used commonly by Polish politicians about homosexuals. “Since I discovered that this word was offensive in the eyes of homosexuals, I never used it again.” As we end the interview he talks of his pride at heading up the new conservative grouping in the European parliament and his great respect for British Conservatism. But Mr Kaminski cannot have imagined that he would end up as such a controversial figure for the party that has inspired his politics for so long.

The creation of the ECR has been a huge risk for David Cameron, brought about because he needed to provide some “red meat” to the Eurosceptics in his party. In the final irony, though, it turns out that Mr Kaminski is himself an enthusiastic Europhile who has embraced the Lisbon Treaty so hated by the right-wing of the British Conservative Party. “I was on the side of those who were in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. It is well known in Poland. It is not a secret,” he says. I apologise that so much of the interview has been taken up by allegations from Mr Kaminski’s political enemies. To his credit he says that it has been important to answer his critics.

UPDATE: Mr Kaminski made the following statement to the JC on Friday:
I did wear the sword, which was used around a millennia ago to crown Polish Kings, on my lapel on occasions. After 1989 it was used as one of the symbols of the Christian National Union and many Conservative politicians would wear it, including politicians now in the Civic Platform. In recent years it has been taken as a symbol by the Far Right. Although it is not the same, there are similarities with how the BNP in Britainhas taken the Union Jack as their symbol. When I felt the symbol started having this meaning I stopped wearing it and I asked the rest of my party to stop too.
Analysis by Political Editor Martin Bright Editor Stephen Pollard

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Once no self-respecting politician would have gone near people such as Kaminski

Conference season 09: There is plenty of ground to attack Cameron on, a man aligned with those who excuse or celebrate history's darkest events

Jonathan Freedland, Tuesday 6 October 2009 20.30 BST

Tony Blair's parting gift during his last conference speech as leader was to tell Labour they could win again because the Conservatives were eminently beatable. "If we can't take this lot apart," he said, "we shouldn't be in the business of politics at all."

Of course, it was a double-edged remark, one that pre-emptively branded his successor a failure. But, in its implication that David Cameron's Tories were a bunch of weaklings, it was also unfair. For the Conservatives on display in Manchester are anything but. They are, in fact, marching towards power, acting in every way like a government in waiting. The ruling circle is confident, whip-smart and, above all, hungry.

The contrast with their counterparts in Labour could not be sharper. When they gathered in Brighton last week, too many of the party's most senior figures came across as flabby, too used to power and its comforts, delusional, kidding themselves that their leader might undergo a personality change between now and the election, or utterly resigned, all fight drained from them.

The clearest sign is that the once-feared New Labour attack machine now stands unmanned and rusted with decay. Tory missteps and gaffes go ignored and unpunished, where, in the Alastair Campbell era of rapid rebuttal, they would have been seized on ruthlessly.

Which is a pity, because the Tories, while not exactly the useless shower suggested by Blair, are certainly vulnerable. If Labour were in fighting mood, there is no shortage of weak spots on the Conservative flank at which they could aim their darts.

They might start with the polls. Not with the headline figure, which shows a daunting Tory lead, but with the rest of the data. According to Populus, 68% don't believe the Conservatives have really changed, while only 28% believe they have. They may like David Cameron personally, but they harbour suspicions about the Tories themselves.

Perhaps that doesn't matter much in our quasi-presidential system. But it's clearly preying on the minds of senior Tories. They say that one of their aims this week is to persuade voters that, yes, they'll be cutting spending, but it "won't be 1980s-style cuts". Hence George Osborne's insistence that, when he wields the scythe through the national budget, he'll always have the poorest in mind. "We're all in this together" was his happy tune.

That suggests a man anxious to deflect unhappy memories – a tactic Labour should be doing its damnedest to thwart. They have the perfect weapon, in the form of the Tory pledge to scrap inheritance tax for the wealthiest, a move that will benefit the likes of Osborne and Cameron but not many others.

Just imagine what a US presidential campaign would do with this ammunition. You could run an ad showing the Tory duo in their Bullingdon tails, reminding voters of their personal wealth, and asking how these two could ever be in touch with real people. You might show a man on a bike, later revealed to be followed by a car. The screen would fill with three words: "David Cameron: fake."

But the ad any American politico worth his salt would be itching to make would open thus. "They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. So what does it say about David Cameron that these are his friends?" At which point we'd see images of the men feted in Manchester yesterday, Michal Kaminski, of Poland's Law and Order party (PiS), and Roberts Zile, of Latvia's Freedom and Fatherland party, who now sit as allies with the British Conservatives in the European parliament – an issue raised first, to his enormous credit, by David Miliband last week.

This is about more than party point-scoring. It is, in fact, a matter of the deepest principle. For there was a time when no self-respecting British politician would have gone anywhere near such people. Kaminski began his career in the National Rebirth of Poland movement, inspired by a 1930s fascist ideology that dreamed of a racially pure nation. Even today, the PiS slogan is "Poland for Poles", understood to be a door slammed in the face of non-Catholics. In 2001 he upbraided the president for daring to apologise for a 1941 pogrom in the town of Jedwabne which left hundreds of Jews dead. Kaminski said there was nothing to apologise for – at least not until Jews apologised for what he alleged was the role Jewish partisans and Jewish communists had played alongside the Red Army in Poland.

Incredibly, Kaminski's Polish party is not the most unsavoury of the Tories' new partners. That honour goes to the Latvian grouping whose members have played a leading part in the annual parade honouring veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS. Lest we forget, the SS were the crack troops of Nazi genocide; the Latvian Legion included conscripts, but at least a third were volunteers, among them men with the blood of tens of thousands of Jews on their hands. It is in honour of those killers that Cameron's new buddies march through the streets of Riga.

The Tory defence has been weak. They have cited the embrace extended to Kaminski by first, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, and second, the Conservative Friends of Israel, which astonishingly welcomed Kaminski yesterday. What Tories do not point out is that the former is now a fierce anti-Brown partisan while the latter is, as the name suggests, wholly aligned with the Conservatives. Of course they are defending Cameron's decision. And both have spoken chiefly about Kaminski, suggesting a reluctance to defend the Latvian party. Besides, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has now written to Cameron, raising questions about the Tory leader's new friends in Europe.

The party chairman, Eric Pickles, offered an appalling defence, telling the BBC last month that the Latvian Waffen-SS were only conscripts fighting for their country, and to say otherwise was a Soviet smear. Again, this misses the fact that a substantial minority of the Latvian Waffen-SS were eager volunteers, including veterans of pro-Nazi death squads who had already taken part in the first phase of the Holocaust – and that should be enough to decide that those who march in celebration of men who fought with Hitler, and against Britain and its allies, are beyond the pale.

The talk coming from senior Tories – at least some of whom have the grace to squirm when questioned on this topic – suggesting that it's all terribly complicated, that it was a long time ago and that even SS members were, in some ways, themselves victims, is uncomfortably close to the kind of prattle we used to hear from those we called Holocaust revisionists.

They too tried to relativise away the crimes of the Nazi era, constantly telling us that the Soviets also did terrible things, that Hitler's eastern European collaborators were freedom-loving patriots and all the rest of it. What is shocking is that this garbage is now coming from those defending the party poised to form the government of Britain.

So yes, there is plenty of ground on which to attack Cameron, a man whose judgment allowed him to placate his Eurosceptics by aligning with people who excuse or celebrate some of the darkest events of the last century. Labour might not have much vim left, but if it can't sustain an attack on this terrain, then maybe Blair was right, and they should not be in politics at all.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

From Kiev to London

Some dots from recent time and travel

Constructing modern Kiev

next to structures from different pasts

Golders Green

different kinds of grass and green

view on the city of London from the Heath

The Heath

Sunday, 23 August 2009

London views (mothers view)

second hand shop

our local pub :)

wall face

school play ground

riding a dog

Phoenix on church street

London Thames view

London tube view

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Fatah's Gauntlet

by Amira Hass Ha'aretz 19/08/2009
The decision by Fatah's Sixth Congress that the movement is sticking to negotiations as a means of achieving independence, statehood and peace is an admission that the use of arms during the second intifada was disastrous. That is a difficult admission for a movement founded on the sanctification of the armed struggle. And despite being tacit, it is a brave admission for Fatah at a time when most Palestinians are convinced that Israel does not want peace. Nevertheless, the decision has sparked a few questions from the side of the occupied. The first question is whether Fatah's courage will hold firm if another uprising against the occupation erupts. Or, in other words, whether Fatah is capable of leading an uprising without falling into the trap of the fantasy known as "armed struggle." The second question relates to the negotiations. The conditions that the congress said must be met before talks can resume reflect criticism of the complacent way in which Palestinian representatives have conducted negotiations. Indeed, the authors of the congress' platform beat their breasts over the negligence that caused the first negotiators to omit from the Oslo accords the demand that settlement construction be stopped, the goal of statehood and any mention of the state's borders. But even if Fatah's veteran negotiators wise up and change their negotiating tactics, is it not too late? No new negotiations will be enough on their own to remove the facts on the ground that Israel has created. It is only natural that people subject to foreign domination seek other means of achieving independence in the spectrum between armed struggle and peace talks. Therefore, it is logical that Fatah declared at its congress that it is not giving up other legitimate forms of struggle (boycotts, acts of popular resistance against the settlements) alongside the negotiations. The question this begs is whether this can become more than mere words. After all, this is the same Fatah that entrenched itself so deeply in its status as the ruling party, and the attendant minor perks, that even during the most frustrating of the Oslo years, it refrained from developing the option of mass civil disobedience. This is the same Fatah that still sees the establishment of the Palestinian Authority - i.e. the establishment of governmental institutions that are, by nature, crippled - as a huge achievement. Neither the Palestinian Authority, which is an institution concerned with maintaining its existence, nor Fatah, which is concerned with maintaining its huge achievement, have dared to expand the popular protests against the separation fence, of which they boast, into a real popular revolt. The PA is more concerned with recruiting masses of young men into its police forces, whose goal is to suppress "disturbances" (and impose order on Palestinian cities, where the chief disturbers of the peace were Fatah's own frustrated and quarrelsome armed men). Their foreign trainers are not preparing them to confront armed Israeli soldiers with bare chests. Masses of Palestinians tried this during the first intifada, and the early days of the second as well. And the Israel Defense Forces showed them that in its view, like that of many Israelis, a popular uprising by Palestinians is a no less legitimate target for suppression than the use of live fire - as is proven by its lethal dispersal of demonstrations against the fence and its nighttime raids and arrests of demonstrators and organizers. The popular revolt at the beginning of the second intifada was killed off by the decision to use weapons, which senior Fatah officials either encouraged or were dragged into when the number of Palestinian casualties mounted. But those who opted for weapons misinterpreted both Israel's intentions and its might. Granted, even without suicide bombings, Israel did and is still doing everything in its power to annex West Bank lands. But the indiscriminate use of weapons, against soldiers and civilians alike, gave Israel a pretext for erecting the fence, making disproportionate use of lethal weaponry and dictating to the PA. If the results have been so disastrous, why are they not discussed openly? It is hard to hold a debate on the weapons fantasy when thousands of families have lost loved ones because of it. It is hard to hold such a debate when thousands of Palestinians have paid with their freedom, including many who never held a gun. It is hard to hold such a debate when people who participated in this fantasy have been elected to Fatah's central committee. Moreover, such a debate might have addressed the way senior Fatah members used the "armed struggle" to divert public criticism of the PA and its failures, and salvage Fatah's prestige as a liberation movement. The schizophrenia of being both a government and a liberation movement (as it defines itself) is one of Fatah's most salient characteristics. Can Fatah, which sees the PA as a huge achievement, manage to pick up the gauntlet of popular resistance that it itself threw down?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Medical Justice Annual Report 2008

If you are interested in the work of Medical Justice, please have a look. You will find the annual report under the link below.

All the best and take care

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Prävention und Profit in Zeiten der Grippe

Medico-International Schreiben, Juli 2009

Vielleicht seit dem Beginn der AIDS Epidemie in den 80er Jahren ist nicht mehr so intensiv über das rechte Maß und die richtigen Maßnahmen zur Bewältigung einer Gesundheitsgefahr gestritten worden.
Spielen die Behörden in den betroffenen Ländern die reale Gefährdungslage herunter, um ihre Touristik Industrie nicht zu gefährden, und von der realen Vernachlässigung der öffentlichen Gesundheitsdienste im Bundesstaat Chiapas abzulenken, wie uns unsere Partner aus Mexiko berichten?
Oder inszeniert die WHO und die Weltgemeinschaft eine überdramatisierte Katastrophe, um ihre eigene Wichtigkeit zu bestärken und gemeinsame Handlungsfähigkeit zu demonstrieren, während zugleich die Kluft zwischen der gesundheitlichen Realität in der Welt angesichts der Krisenökonomie weiter zunehmen wird?

Ohne Zweifel bestärkt aktuell die „Chronik einer angekündigten Seuche“ angesichts der offensichtlichen geringen Gefährlichkeit des neuen Influenza-Virus bei vielen den Trend zum Misstrauen gegenüber den großen Katastrophenszenarien, medienwirksam von der WHO Chefin Margareth Chan mit dem Pandemie-Stufenplan im Frühjahr vorgeführt.
Und wenn auch manche Gesundheitsplaner die Influenza H1N1 als gelungenen „Probelauf“ für die bereitliegenden Katastrophenpläne einschätzen, und die Unberechenbarkeit von Virusmutationen kein Argument gegen eine solche Vorbereitung sein kann, so bleibt es doch besonders wichtig, ein gesundes Misstrauen zu behalten gegenüber den Profiteuren solcher Szenarien, und immer wieder die Frage zu stellen : qui bono? Wem nützt es?

Zeigt sich doch bei allen Debatten um die globale Bewältigung der Gesundheitsbedrohungen, dass das Hemd immer noch näher als der Rock ist – und globale Solidarität ein schönes Wort bleibt, solange es nicht die etablierte Ordnung gefährdet.
Nirgendwo wird dies sichtbarer als an den „harten Fakten“ der Produktion und Verteilung von Medikamenten und Impfstoffen. Müsste sich nicht hier die „globale Verantwortung“ für die vermeintlich globale Herausforderung in einer eben solchen kollektiven Bereitstellung der Instrumente zu ihrer Bewältigung beweisen?
Während die Entwicklung eines Impfstoffes gegen den neuen Virus fieberhaft vorangeht, hinken die politischen Voraussetzungen dafür nach wie vor hinterher. Die in Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern verfügbare Impfstoffproduktion ist zumeist begrenzt auf die bekannten Standard Impfungen und von ihrem Produktionsumfang nur langsam auszuweiten – die moderneren Verfahren, die in den letzten Jahren in den Industrieländern entwickelt wurden, setzen statt Eiern rascher vermehrbare Zelllinien ein, diese Technologie ist aber vielfach durch Patente abgesichert und nicht einfach kopierbar. Zusammen mit einem zu erwartenden „profitablen“ Preis für die neuen Impfungen werden die Menschen in den wirtschaftlich abgehängten Regionen der Welt daher kaum die Chance auf einen gerechten Anteil an dieser Produktion haben – außer durch caritative Gesten, wie die gerade mal 150 Mio. Impfdosen, die die Produzenten der WHO versprochen haben, bei geschätzten 900 Mio. Dosen Jahresproduktion wären das gerade mal 16% für mindestens zwei Drittel der Weltbevölkerung.

Dabei wäre dies möglicherweise die Gelegenheit, einmal Ernst zu machen mit der beschworenen „globalen Solidarität“.
Interessanterweise haben gerade erst die Staaten des ConoSur, Argentinien, Brasilien, Chile, Paraguay und Uruguay, den Vorstoß gemacht, die neue Vaccine gegen die pandemische Influenza zu einem „Global Public Good“ zu machen und konsequent auf Patentierungen zu verzichten – das wäre in der Tat eine revolutionäre Neuheit, und könnte im Zusammenspiel mit einem umfangreichen Technologie Transfer in die Länder des Südens die Verfügbarkeit der potentiell lebensrettenden Impfungen systematisch ausbauen.

Wenn es zu einer solchen Initialzündung käme – dann wäre ein wichtiger Baustein in der Strategie für eine „Gesundheit für Alle“, wie sie die WHO erst in ihrem letzten Jahresbericht 2008 wieder betont hat, gelegt. Und an solchen Zielen muß sie sich wie auch die anderen Akteure der Globalen Gesundheitspolitik weiterhin messen lassen.

Dr. Andreas Wulf
Medizinischer Projektkoordinator

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A selective invitation from the state of Israel:

To Work – People of all Nations and Religions
To Live – Jews Only

Physicians for Human-Rights Israel (PHR-I) strongly condemns the policy of collective expulsion of migrants and asylum seekers, which fails to examine the specific claims and circumstances of each migrant. Since Israel’s immigration policy is firmly rooted in the right of return (for Jewish people), the policy is fated to cause grave injustice, trouble and distress to all who arrive in Israel and are not Jewish.

We therefore demand the Interior Ministry invite all who are being pursued and face arbitrary arrest to a fair hearing in which their claims and circumstances will be examined individually. Moreover, we demand that everyone be afforded adequate time to prepare and make arrangements prior to deportation. All this must be done before an individual is arrested and place behind bars.

A distorted Policy of Immigration: As long as Israel’s immigrant policy is grounded in the law of return for Jews, injustices against non- Jewish migrants will continue. In contrast to the path customary in advanced democratic societies- where a variety of different options for naturalization exist, which take into account various indicators such as number of years of residence, level of integration, language proficiency, education, etc.- The State of Israel continues to recognize religion as the sole criteria for obtaining status, ignoring beyond a shadow of a doubt the reality which has for years existed here on the ground.

Exploitation and Imperviousness: As long as the State seeks and relies on cheap labor, Israel will continue to issue invitations to migrant workers to work in the country. This will come at the migrants’ expense, as the State will provide nothing short of abuse, imperviousness and degradation. With rises in unemployment Israel has making demagogic use of the presence of migrants, accusing them of being responsible for all economic ills facing the State, as if they themselves were liable for the failed progress of all treasury ministers who have come before. Israel’s hypocrisy continues, for just as migrants are being deported from Israel as sacrificial lambs, the State is allowing thousands of new migrants in. It appears that people still need to cut corners with cheap labor.

In Hot Pursuit of Refugees: By law, refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to live legally in Israel, according to permits provided by the Interior Ministry itself. On one hand, the State affirms that it will refrain from deporting refugees and asylum seekers to countries where their lives may be in danger (such as Sudan, Eritrea and Congo), yet on the other, the authorities are doing all they can to make the life of asylum seekers as difficult as possible. The vast majority are left with no social rights what so ever (no work permits or health insurance, no financial support to help send their children to school, no welfare services of any kind). The geographical restriction of "Hadera-Gedera" is but one example of the abusive policy towards refugees, as it distances them from the only aid and welfare institutions which have been made available to them, all of which are located in the center of Israel.

Expulsion of Israelis: Israel’s malicious policy of collective expulsion is exceptionally harsh as it stands to target families with children, many of whom are just as Israeli as you and I: They speak Hebrew fluently; They are proficient in Israeli culture; They study in Israeli schools and are friends with our children. The imminent rupture of youth from their country and environment, and their subsequent detention and deportation is a blatant violation of the Principles of the Best Interests of the Child, part of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

There is another possibility: In the past, when our penchant for ethnocentrism was at a low, the State of Israel extended residency status to children who had been living in Israel for a minimum of 4 years and 9 months. With this so, why then are children in a similar situation, some of whom are already 6 and 7 years old, not entitled to the same considerations? Are they any less Israeli? Could we ever conceive of our own children sitting in jail as a result of our own actions? Would we continue to be silent if, in some faraway place, an Israeli family sat in prison on account of their child- all because their existence was deemed illegal.

Under the imperviousness that characterizes the relationship between the Interior Ministry and any person who is not a Jew, the State should stop for a moment from its hasty deportation activities and formulate, in all frankness, an immigration policy which references human rights. This- and no less- is what is to be expected from a country in which refuge and immigration play such an integral and prominent historical role.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Wanted and unwanted people - two articles in Haaretz

A new episode of deportations of migrant workers is starting in Israel once again, protests against the mass deportations were taking place in Tel Aviv yesterday. The Haaretz newspaper published two articles about immigration and refugees/migrant workers. 3000 new jewish immigrants are more than welcome in the difficult times while several thousands of "illegal" migrant workers face deportation. The israeli government is planning to launch a new law series against refugees who enter Israel through the desert (mostly from Sudan). They will be recognised as enemy infiltraters and those who help or support them will be criminilased as well with long prison sentences. That would put organisations like PHR-Israel on the list of criminals, because they run an open clinic for refugees and migrant workers in Yaffo.
The new right wing government increased several prices and invented new taxes on basic food itmes, health and other areas widening the gap between rich and poor. For this it will be very convenient to know about so many enemies surrounding and entering the country and just add some more by redefining refugees as enemies as well. Probably the EU will gladly assist in border security and "managment of refugees" and how to use "save third countries". Its one of the most experienced parts of EU policy how to get rid of unwanted people and buy off save countries like Lybia, Tunesia, Algeria and Marokko to treat refugees in a way that they won't dare to dream about entering the EU. Refugee policy of the EU is one of the highlights of human rights in the world.

Israel braces for influx of new immigrants this summer
By Jonathan Lis
After years of decline in immigration, Israel is expected this year to absorb 15 percent more new arrivals than last year, thanks in part to 20 flights arriving this summer carrying 5,000 immigrants from North America, France, Great Britain, South Africa and beyond. Of these, some 3,000 immigrants will arrive on organized flights run jointly by the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B'Nefesh. Around 2,000 are expected from the United States and Canada.
New immigrants in 2007, very welcome.
Around 200 immigrants are expected to arrive from both France and Great Britain respectively, 130 from South Africa, and 100 from countries in Latin America. Some 250 Ethiopians recently recognized as Jews by rabbinical authorities will also immigrate. All of the immigrants participating in the program will come in on special flights, including, for the first time, a flight designated for immigrants from Brazil. The first such flight will land in Israel on Tuesday. For years, Nefesh B'Nefesh and the Jewish Agency had competed for control of promoting immigration from North America, until signing an agreement last year stipulating that Nefesh B'Nefesh would be responsible for locating prospective immigrants and escorting them to Israel, while the Jewish Agency would fund their arrival and absorption. Absorption figures have been in steady decline since 2000. Last year, only 16,500 immigrants arrived in the country, the lowest number since the start of the massive immigration wave from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. Eli Cohen, head of the Jewish Agency's department for immigration and absorption, cited the worldwide economic crisis as the primary motivator for the spike in immigration. "Israel is perceived as an island of stability compared with other places," he said.

Of illegals and refugees
By Nurit Wurgaft
"Legal" foreign worker: Someone with a valid work permit. Currently number about 100,000 in Israel. Eligible for minimum wage and such social benefits as private health insurance and severance pay, and entitled to have employer provide minimal living conditions. "Illegal" foreign worker: Lacks a work permit and risks deportation from Israel. His employer is liable to be fined. These workers, estimated to number 120,000, are entitled to minimum wage and social benefits, but these do not include health insurance or room and board. Asylum seeker: A person claiming to be persecuted in his homeland, and seeking to obtain refugee status. He may not be deported from Israel but, unlike in the past, he will not receive a work permit. Anyone who employs him may be subject to a fine, with the exception of certain areas of the country. Their number in Israel is estimated at 17,000. Refugee: Someone recognized as such by government decision or in accordance with the Geneva Convention on Refugees. Considered a temporary resident and therefore eligible for an Israeli ID card and the same rights as a citizen, with the exception of the right to vote and to be elected to the Knesset. Since the founding of the state, only several hundred people have been recognized as refugees in Israel.

Protest of Sudanese refugees and supporters in Tel Aviv

Refugee with Temporary Protection: One seeking asylum from countries the UN has defined as dangerous (usually because of wars going on there), and thereby eligible for temporary work and residency permits. In Israel there are 275 people with this status, all from Congo. The Immigration Authority will begin operations on July 1. It has 1,800 employees. Of these, 150 are charged with enforcing labor laws with employers; 200 inspectors will replace immigration police officers and conduct arrests; 70 will be part of the unit that interviews refugees and is responsible for examining their requests and granting residency permits; 550 are employees of the Population Administration, responsible for identifying illegal residents and issuing deportation orders.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Asylum seekers: Britain's shadow people

As new figures suggest half a million failed asylum seekers are living destitute in Britain, the Guardian speaks to those living in the margins of society.
March 2009, Guardian

Sunday, 21 June 2009

"Immigration centre detainees stage hunger strike over inadequate medical care"

Written by Emma Ginn
By Daily Mail Reporter, 16th June 2009

"Around 20 people were on hunger strike at an immigration detention centre today in protest against inadequate medical care, a group of detainees said.

Melchior Singo, 39 and originally from Malawi, said inmates in the family unit at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire stopped eating yesterday morning.

They are protesting against what they claim is sub-standard health care and the detention of children at the site.
Yarl's Wood

The UK Borders Agency confirmed that some inmates at Yarl's Wood were refusing meals, but said the situation was under control

A spokeswoman for the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) said detainees had access to snack bars and that the situation was 'under control', and insisted that medical facilities were as good as the NHS.

Susanna Kushaba, from Uganda, raised concerns about her five-month old son Sean when his temperature shot up earlier this month.

She claims medical staff at the centre ignored her, and she was forced to dial 999 to get her son examined.

The 26-year-old said: 'He was really sick and he'd never been in that condition before. I tried telling the staff, and the staff were calling the health care but no one was coming.'

Epileptic Siddika Suloojee, 37, has not received proper care for her condition, it is claimed, and Mr Singo said when she fell from her bed staff told her she was 'faking it'.

Sophia Cherbal, 29, who suffers from depression, was left without any medication at all after staff said they would alter her drugs because she is two months' pregnant.

Her husband Ismail, 34, from Algeria, said: 'She's not been eating properly and now she won't go to see the healthcare staff. When she was arrested they took her off her medication. Then they found she was pregnant and they said they would give her something that would not harm the baby, but we have heard nothing from them.'

Mr Singo's nine-year-old daughter Olger was referred to an orthodontist before they were imprisoned but has now been denied further treatment.

Children's Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green has called for an end to the detention of children

He said: 'Medical attention is not given as a priority. We've got medical healthcare but we don't get the right care that we need. If you fall ill after lunch you can't see the nurse, even if it's urgent, until the following day.'

The detainees are also protesting against children being held at the centre.
Solomon Ojehonmon, 38, from Nigeria, said: 'It's not good for us as families to be detained in here. This is the most famous free society in the world and there should not be a place like this where they detain children.'

In April, following a visit to Yarl's Wood, Children's Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green called for an end to the detention of children before deportation.

He found that every year nearly 2,000 children were locked up solely for administrative reasons and that the length of time they were being held was on the increase.

According to the UKBA Yarl's Wood has 121 family beds, along with 284 single female beds, and there is a healthcare centre on-site with a small in-patient ward.

A spokeswoman for the UKBA said: 'A small number of detainees at Yarl's Wood have refused meals since lunch-time yesterday. Some are accessing snacks through the night cafe and children are obtaining additional snacks in classrooms in the day. The situation is under control and we are discussing with detainees their concerns.

'Our centres have been praised by independent monitors and our medical care is as good as on the NHS. There is 24-hour nursing care, doctors on call night and day, and access to social workers and dentists.'"

Guardian : "Hunger strike at Yarl's Wood detention centre" - 18/06/09

"Detainees protest at sub-standard healthcare and the detention of children.

At least 30 detainees at the Yarl's Wood detention centre have been on hunger strike since Monday in protest at poor conditions at the Bedfordshire site.

Melchior Singo, 39, from Malawi, said people in the family unit had stopped eating in protest at the sub-standard healthcare and the detention of children. The action began on Monday.

One detainee, Solomom Ojeheonmon, said: "Children, some of them as young as five months old, in this detention centre, are sick."

In April, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the children's commissioner, said the government's policy of holding 2,000 children a year in removal centres could be harmful to their health. "The UK should not be detaining any child who has had an unsuccessful asylum claim," he said.

Susanna Kushaba, from Uganda, raised concerns when her five-month-old baby developed a temperature. She claims staff ignored her and she was forced to dial 999 to gain medical attention. "I tried telling the staff and the staff were calling the healthcare but no one was coming."

Dr Frank Arnold, clinical director of Medical Justice, said: "We are not at all surprised by these complaints." He said he agreed with MP Alistair Burt, who described Yarl's Wood as "beyond comprehension and decency"."

Article on Guardian website

BBC : "Fire at immigration removal unit" (Brook House) - 13/06/09

"Brook House was opened in March and can house 426 people

A fire was started and "disorder" broke out at a wing of an immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport, Sussex police said.

Officers said there were reports of minor damage and a blaze in the exercise yard at Brook House, which houses 312 people awaiting deportation.

No-one is believed to be hurt and the fire is said to have burnt itself out.

The force said "disorder" involving 30 detainees started at about 2250 BST and was confined to one wing.

Officers were called in to support security firm G4S.

'No risk'

G4S, with the help of HM Prison Service, currently manages the welfare of detainees inside the centre, the police said.

Ch Insp Ed Henriet, of Gatwick Police, said: "Sussex Police is supporting the security arrangements. All detainees are accounted for and there is no risk to the wider community."

West Sussex Fire Rescue Service has also been monitoring the fire at Brook House.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith opened Brook House, which can house up to 426 people, in March.

It is situated next to Tinsley House, a 136-bed detention centre."

Article on BBC website

Sunday, 14 June 2009

No peace - the Netanyhau speech

Netanyahu spoke about peace, a peace that is clearly dictated by Israel. A Palestinian state with no sovereignty over its airspace, no army and that gives full recognition of a jewish state of Israel; no freezing of settlements ('the settlements are not an obstacle to peace'), no solution for the refugees except outside the borders of Israel. The well chosen words which frame the core and real content feel like a badly stitched coat. He doesn't really want to talk about peace or negotiations, he was voted in for conflict.
This speech is a clear no to Obamas plan and vision of the Middle East. And as if Israel already knows that it will be very difficult with a weakening political back up from the US, Lieberman today visited Russia and talked with Putin. The welcome was friendly, Russia would like to take a leading role as a broker of a peace process. So a peace summit in Moscow is planned.
Tomorrow Lieberman will meet with the EU leadership to discuss the relationships in the future. It will be interesting to see if economic and military trade relations will be more important for the EU than regional stability in the Middle East. Will there be a freeze of the upgrade? With a state that openly disregards human rights, criminalises comemmoration of the Nakba, would like all its citizens to swear loyalty to a jewish, zionist state, who is on the way to introduce more and more fascist laws...
Will there be anybody at all, who is still interested in holding Israel to account about what was done in Gaza, not so long time ago? Every fact finding mission has revealed horrendous acts and crimes performed by the Israeli army against the population in Gaza, the facts lie clear on the table for everyone to see, who wants to see them. There should be a way to bring those who were responsible for those crimes to court as well as those who profit from them, which in some way includes some states in the EU. Military research and development always needs places and people to try how it works. The increasing number of drones used in Gaza show a link to research and trade agreements with the EU and the US.

Hostage to Israel’s far right

?Two states or a state of two nations?
(german version posted below)

Following the Israeli elections the far-right leader Avigdor Lieberman has become foreign minister and deputy prime minister. His views on the Arab-Israeli conflict have provoked a clash with President Obama. And he is calling the Israeli Palestinians’ citizenship into question, even talking of eventual ‘transfer’

by Joseph Algazy and Dominique Vidal

David Rotem’s leitmotif is allegiance to the state, but he never spells it out. So much so that, before leaving, we put it to him: “Imagine yourself in Nazi Germany. Where would your loyalty lie?” “To the state,” he replied, without blinking an eye. That retort, given in the Knesset building in Jerusalem, left us stunned, particularly since he went on to tell us how his father left Germany when Hitler came to power.

Rotem is a lawyer, former deputy speaker of the Knesset, prospective director of the new Law Commission and close confidant of Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party (Israel is Our Home). He rehashes his recent election speeches. “Whether he’s a Jew, a Muslim or a Christian, a citizen must demonstrate his loyalty to the state. If he does not, he’s not a citizen,” he says. The same tirade castigates Rabbi Meyer Hirsh for having met Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (1), and those Arab parliamentarians who dared to protest against the recent Gaza massacres.

The party’s stance is that every Israeli should swear an oath of allegiance to the flag (which includes the Shield of David, the symbol of Judaism), sing the national anthem (which evokes the “Jewish soul”) and do military service (Arabs, apart from the Druze and some Bedouin, are exempt along with ultra-orthodox Jews).

Yisrael Beiteinu’s electoral slogan leaves no doubts: “Only Lieberman speaks Arabic”. The historian Shlomo Sand quipped: “In his native Moldova he was a night-club bouncer. Now it’s the Arabs who get bounced”. This joke does, however, ignore one fact about the “Russian” party (2): its official line is not to expel Palestinians (3) – as in 1948 – but to form a future Palestinian state around the areas where they are most populous, particularly Umm al-Fahm and the northern Triangle. In exchange, Israel would annex parts of the West Bank settled by Jews, starting with those who surround East Jerusalem.

For, unlike Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu formally embraces the two-state solution. “We accept the 1947 principal of partition,” Rotem emphasised. “Palestinians want a judenrein (4) state, Israelis a 100% Jewish state, not one which is open to all citizens. An international agreement must redraw frontiers in this spirit.”

Why is there such fury against Israel’s one-and-a-half million Arabs? The three Arab political parties represented in the Knesset have similar views on the subject, but all the same there are certain nuances.

The charismatic 29-year-old Hanin Zoabi – the first female parliamentarian from an Arab party – helped “save” the electoral chances of the National Democratic Assembly (Balad), whose founder, Azmi Bishara, fled the country after being accused of treason. Strangely she sees Lieberman’s position as offering a sort of quid pro quo – “I withdraw from the occupied territories so I must have your loyalty”. As a consequence, she says, one must “remind Israeli Palestinians that they live in a Jewish state and should accept it as such”. Benjamin Netanyahu “has no need to insist on Israel’s Jewish nature because he is not in favour of two separate states”.

‘Only justice heals wounds’

In his Nazareth office, the lawyer Tawfiq Abu Ahmed claimed to represent the Islamist movement, part of the United Arab List/Arab Movement for Renewal (Ra’am/Ta’al). For him, the far right takes an anti-Arab stance to “show to Israeli Jews that it protects their interests”, creating “an internal enemy to fight and so reinforce its own popularity”. Instead of trying to demand loyalty among Israeli Arabs as a condition of citizenship, the lawyer suggested, “the establishment should understand that the opposite works: only real citizenship, that’s to say equal rights, can guarantee loyalty. As one of our proverbs says, only justice heals wounds.”

The long-serving mayor of Eilaboun in Galilee, Hanna Swaid, is second on the Communist ethnically mixed Hadash list, and one of four Knesset members. Without ignoring Yisrael Beiteinu’s electoral impact he is worried about specifics: “Making military service compulsory would aggravate every kind of anti-Arab discrimination” (5). “Above all,” he added, “these themes benefit from popular support and risk provoking tensions between Jews and Arabs which threaten their very coexistence, already strained by the shootings of October 2000 and the Acre pogrom of October 2008 (6). The ‘Lieberman era’ has been ushered in by clashes, particularly in towns with mixed populations.”

“Everything stems from the setback when former prime minister Ariel Sharon invented the politics of separation,” claims the lawyer Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah, the Legal Centre for the Arab Minority Rights in Israel, whom we met in his Haifa office. For Jabareen, Israel’s policies of building the wall, of withdrawing from Gaza, its military adventures of summer 2006 and winter 2008-9 have all failed: “The Israeli establishment blames everything on the Palestinians of Israel precisely because it is impossible to impose a unilateral solution.”

The “demographic threat”, which explains the interest in the creation of a Palestinian state, now also concerns Israel itself. “Nobody believes any longer in two states,” said Jabareen. “Conflict is breaking out on all fronts, as in 1948: there’s no great difference between Haifa, Nablus and East Jerusalem. Except that to make ‘war’ on the Palestinians of Haifa would be easier.”

In so saying, Jabareen finds himself alongside Lieberman. In January 2008, when Lieberman stepped down from the previous government where his role was minister of strategic affairs, he spoke openly: “Our problem is not Judea and Samaria, but the extreme fundamentalist leadership that is in the Knesset… Our problem is [the Arab-Israeli parliamentarians] Ahmed Tibi and Barakeh, they’re more dangerous than Khaled Mash’al [the Damascus-based Hamas leader] and Nasrallah [head of Hizbullah]. They work from the inside; they operate methodically to destroy the State of Israel as a Jewish state” (7).

In reality, mobilisation against this “fifth column” – the current expression – began long ago in hearts and minds, both within Israel’s institutions and at the grassroots.

Take normalisation of racist talk, like that in 2004 by Yehiel Hazan, the former deputy leader of Likud, comparing Israeli Arabs to “worms” who have worked in a “subterranean” way to “harm the Jewish people for 100 years” (8). Another Likud contender for the Guinness Book of Arabophobia, Moshe Feiglin, has opined: “You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic. You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber, a killer and a liar” (9).

A law passed in 1985 prevented Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party from taking part in elections because of similar statements. The aggravations of early 2009 prompted President Shimon Peres to worry, just before the polls, about “incitement to violence against any part of the electorate. Arabs, like all the country’s citizens, have equal rights and duties.” Sadly, the damage has already been done. According to opinion polls conducted in 2006 and 2007, 78% of Israeli Jews are opposed to having Arab political parties in any government; 75% wouldn’t like to live in the same building as an Arab; 75% believe they engage in violence (54% of Arabs think the same of Jews); 68% fear a new intifada; 64% worry about Arab demography; and 56% think that “Arabs can never reach the Jewish level of cultural development”. As for “solutions”, 55% of Israeli Jews believe that the government should encourage Arab emigration, 50% advocate their transfer and 42% suggest that they should no longer have the right to vote (10).

The little Liebermans

History tells us that such a climate of opinion makes huge backward steps possible, if not probable. Proof of this was the voting in of the 2003 law forbidding a Palestinian living in the West Bank or Gaza to join their husband or wife in Israel (11). Of course, the new government won’t turn any projects proposed by Foreign Minister Lieberman into legislation tomorrow. But who knows about the day after tomorrow?

“The worst is not Lieberman himself but the little Liebermans he spawns, creating a climate of terror where the smallest incident can get out of control.” Ahmed Oudeh, a baker, knows what he’s talking about. He lives in Acre (53,000 inhabitants, of whom 17,000 are Arab) and sits on the local council of a city still bruised by the events of last October. Several hundred Jewish rioters destroyed or damaged 30 homes, 84 shops and 100 cars (12).

We were off on a strictly non-tourist trip around Acre. First we went to see five venerable dwellings in the ancient city restored – and offered to Jewish students by Amidar, the housing company that “owns” Arab property “abandoned” in 1948. Then, we visited a new block under construction bearing the friendly name Northern Fist, promised to former Gaza settlers. Nearby is the site of the largest yeshiva (religious school) in the north of Israel; dozens of Jewish schoolboys stroll around the souk with four armed guards. And there’s the al-Lababidi mosque, still closed although most people who live around it are Muslim.

At Lod (formerly Lydda), where the architect Buthaina Dabit plays host, the theme was similar. The thousand Palestinians who avoided expulsion in 1948 have become 11,000 in a total population of 70,000. “To revive the town’s Jewishness”, our guide explained, “the mayor is both trying to chase out Arabs and attract more Jewish residents”.

The ill-made road, which our small car found hard-going, illustrated this double process: to our right was the smart Jewish Ganei Aviv (Spring Gardens) complex; to our left lay a kind of ruined Arab shantytown, obviously abandoned and threatened with demolition with, here and there, a few expensive villas, separated by a wall – whose construction was stopped by legal action – from the moshav (cooperative) Nir Tzvi. “Yesterday”, the architect recalled, “they used oriental Jews to chase us away. Then it was the Russians and now the ultra-religious. We should all be fighting together rather than against each other.”

Jaffa, once known as “the sea’s fiancée”, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the nakba (catastrophe) of 1948. Its population is currently 40% Palestinian. There, too, a project to Judaise the town revolves around poverty. Judith Ilany, coordinator of a women’s help group organised by Hadash-Balad, explained: “Take family F, a single mother with three children. Waiting, without any great hope, for local authority housing, she rents a private apartment for 2,000 shekels ($483) a month, or two thirds of her salary. Her landlord throws her out. She then is forced 
to sign another rental agreement for 4,000 
shekels which, obviously, she can’t meet for long. Heavily in debt, she is thrown out a second time. She could, of course, obtain a tax reduction by 
completing a large dossier in Hebrew, a language she doesn’t speak. But it wouldn’t be sufficient to put her beyond the long arm of the private company acting for the municipality to repossess defaulting tenancies.”

More than 500 expulsion orders for dwellings built without permission hang over Jaffa like a sword of Damocles. In the Negev they also tear down housing, whole villages at a time (see The forgotten Bedouin).

No longer ready to stand by

Aida Touma-Sliman, the Communist director of Women Against Violence, is proud of founding the world’s first refuge for battered Arab women. As a grassroots activist, she says it’s there, rather than at the polls, that you see a “drift towards fascism. Some may think this is exaggeration but, unfortunately, the facts support us: our very legitimacy is challenged, violent harassment happens frequently, our towns are threatened with Judaisation. The human destruction of Palestinians in Gaza crossed the boundaries. We know from experience where it is all going.”

Nazareth feels secure. Not only has the capital of Galilee remained almost exclusively Arab but, because housing is in short supply there, people are renting, even buying, places in its “sister” town, Nazareth Ilit, created as a Jewish balance. For Touma-Sliman, however, “even here, Lieberman’s speeches resound like a call to attack us”.

Israel’s distraught Arab community does not intend to stand by and let things happen. The Gaza tragedy and the racist nature of the general election campaign could lead, according to many observers, to a large boycott. But some 52% of Arab Israelis went to the polls and their voting patterns changed radically. Only 12% of Arab electors voted for a Zionist party (compared with 30% three years ago), the others choosing between the three parties representing 
their cause, particularly Hadash. There was also 
mass participation in this year’s Land Day on 30 March.

How to build on this riposte and stop what Hassan Jabareen calls “rampant apartheid”? Some 200 Arabs and Jews, representing different age groups and cultures, recently joined the debate one sunny Saturday in Acre at a conference called to counter racism. Heavy anger characterised many of the speakers. The Islamist councillor Adham Jamal, deputy mayor of Acre, paid the price for talking 
about his powerlessness. Accused by one of the families without housing since last October, he left the hall to jeers.

At the heart of the exchanges lay the issue of allegiance. “We’re the victims, so we should define the ground rules,” said a young Balad councillor. She was challenged by Miriam Damoni-Charbit, who trains Jewish and Arab teachers at Israel’s largest educational NGO. “I understand that Israel’s Arabs are torn between their country and their people”, she said, “but for their own sake they must understand Jewish sensibilities. It is simply unacceptable to chatter during the Shoah siren or to violate the peace of Yom Kippur.” She pointed to “all the Likud voters who, on questions of social justice, could get involved in the fight for equality.” On 11 November 2008, in Tel Aviv’s mayoral election, the Communist parliamentarian Dov Khenin broke all records in capturing 35% of votes (nearly 75% of those younger than 35). But his rainbow coalition did not have any Palestinians of Jaffa on its list.

Allegiance, then, but to what? Two states, or a state of two nations? “Some solidarity movements forget that they don’t represent the Palestinian people. Our right to self-determination includes the right to choose for ourselves what seems to be the best solution,” insists Aida Touma-Sliman.

She brandishes every opinion poll “with no exceptions” taken in the West Bank and Gaza. “If nine out of 10 Israeli Jews want their own state, the same goes for two out of three Palestinians in the occupied territories”. And for good reason. “In a two-nation state, what happens to the settlements? Beyond that, who would guarantee our rights?” She believes that real power lies elsewhere. “Only the international community can impose a solution on Israel: that’s what we should all be working for – here and in your country.”

Palestinians of Israel


1947-9 During the fighting, 700,000-800,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes. Only 160,000 remained in Israel.
21 October 1948 The authorities imposed military rule on the Arab population based on British emergency law.
1948-2008 Massive expropriation of Palestinian lands.
End 1966 Military rule lifted
June 1967 Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan allowed Palestinians to re-make contact with those expelled.
30 March 1976 Repression of demonstrators protesting the confiscation of land caused six deaths and dozens of injuries. The date became known as Land Day.
October 2000 Demonstrations of solidarity with the second intifada. Reprisals by the authorities caused 13 deaths.


  • The average salary of Israeli Arab workers in 2007 was only 67% of that of oriental Jews and 52% of that of Ashkenazi Jews.
  • The average per capita income of Israeli Arabs was $7,700 dollars, compared with $19,000 for Israel as a whole.
  • In 2007, 51.4% of Palestinian families lived beneath the poverty line, compared with 19.9% of all families.
  • Less than 6% of state employees were Arab.
  • Only 18% of Arab Israeli women were employed, compared with 56% of Jewish women (and 59% of Arab men).
  • Since the founding of Israel in 1948, there has been no new Arab municipality, as against 600 new Jewish municipalities.
  • Palestinian citizens of Israel own only 3.5% of the land.
  • Arab municipalities received less that 5% of development budget funds and 3% of normal government funding, although Israeli Palestinians form 20% of the population.

Sources: Different reports by UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); The Human Rights Status of the Palestinian Arab Minority, Citizens of Israel, Mossawa Centre, Haifa, October 2008; Israel: Social Report 1998-2007, Adva Centre, Tel Aviv, 2008. Unless specified, statistics are from 2006.