Israel minister pursues tougher anti-BDS law

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is seeking a toughening up of the country’s anti-boycott legislation, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government continues its fight against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

According to a report in Arutz Sheva, Erdan is hoping to advance a “Boycott Bill” that would “render a body or person working to encourage the boycott of Israel eligible to be sued for 100,000 shekels [$28,500] without proof of damages – or 500,000 shekels [$142,500] with proof of damages”.

The bill states:

The increasing activity around the world and within Israel of the BDS movement, whose goal is to boycott, divest and sanction the State of Israel and its citizens, constitutes great harm, and it is the moral duty of the legislator to restrain and deter those seeking to aid it.

The report says that Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation could deliberate on the bill as soon as this Sunday, but there are concerns in the Justice Ministry that such a law would ultimately face obstacles in the Supreme Court.

MK Yoav Kish (Likud), a supporter of the bill, said: “I am sure that [Justice] Minister Shaked will ignore these voices and support the passage of the bill in the Ministerial Committee this Sunday.”

Read: Knesset calls for permanent annexation of West Bank

(Source / 02.11.2017)

Egypt stops Palestinians shelling Israel following tunnel attack

Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh (C) attends the funeral ceremony of those who died after Israel bombed a tunnel in Gaza on 31 October 2017

Egypt is pushing Hamas not to retaliate following Israel’s strike against a Palestinian tunnelwhich killed seven Palestinians and wounded 12.

Israel Hayom reported that Hamas vowed to avenge and Egypt is pushing the movement to maintain calm. It added that the Palestinian organisations in the Gaza Strip called for revenge for its seven operatives who were killed in a tunnel blast on Monday.

The agency noted that in spite of the high number of deaths indicates that the organizations in Gaza underwent a pressure from Cairo to curtail responses to the killing of its militants and to not drag the region to a new round of escalation.

Among those killed was the head of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in central Gaza, Arafat Abu Marshould, and his deputy, a Hamas field commander and other Islamic Jihad fighters, the agency revealed.

On the other hand, the Israel’s Kol Yisrael said that the Egyptian intelligence officials told Hamas that it was not the time to respond to Israel. The Palestinian movement agreed to pressure Islamic Jihad not to take any action against Israel.

Read: Israel digs tunnel on Gaza’s eastern border as obstacle to Hamas

(Source / 02.11.2017)

Guest Writer: I am not anti-Semitic, but I am anti-Zionism

A protest against Zionism

By Marika Sherwood

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism states that, “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities…. Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

As a Jew born in Hungary in 1937, I have some problems with this definition. Firstly, I don’t at all understand why or how anti-Semitism would be directed towards “non-Jewish individuals”. As for “targeting the state of Israel”, as it is a “Jewish collectivity” this is surely inaccurate. Israel has a very mixed population, with citizens of many religious faiths, as is Britain, for that matter. Is the United Kingdom a “Christian collectivity” because the majority of the population would declare themselves to be Christians?

I have criticised Britain much for its trade in enslaved Africans, which it did not stop in 1807 when Parliament made it illegal; for the use of slave labour; for its colonial devastations; for the ongoing racial discrimination; and for the exploitation of all workers in Britain itself. Is it acceptable, therefore, for me to criticise Israel for its treatment of Palestinians when this is similar to some of Britain’s actions of which I have been critical? I hope so.

I agree with the Alliance that “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” is not acceptable. It is the state of Israel that has to be held to account.

Read: Zionism is anti-Semitism

Among its “contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life”, the Alliance includes “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” With this I totally disagree. I was a Jewish child in Budapest. In those days children even in not very rich families in the cities were looked after by nannies, who were peasant girls. So the woman I grew to love, who was with me 24 hours a day, who cuddled me, walked with me and played with me, was Kisuka. I don’t know from which part of Hungary she came, or why she needed such a job. What I do know is that a law was introduced making it illegal for Jews to hire non-Jews. Thus, I lost my surrogate mother. Not long after that my real mother and I were forced to move, as many parts of Budapest were declared illegal for Jews to live in; I lost my home, my toys, my books… We then had to move again, to a newly-created Jewish ghetto. I was homeless; homeless. My mother was unused to looking after me and was bewildered by all this homelessness. I had not seen my father for years, as he had been sent early in the war to the Forced Labour groups supporting the military. And, of course, I could not go to school.

My life was saved by a Christian minister who baptised Jews to save them; he gave them new names and was risking his own life in doing so. With a new name, we had to move again, this time to a tiny flat shared with a similarly-baptised mother and her son; I now had a brother. Sometimes we went for walks, and once I saw people being shot and pushed into the Danube. They were Jews. I was told that if we were questioned on the street I was to be the one to answer, as I was older and knew my new name, my new place of birth, etc. I was not questioned very often, thank goodness. Would I also have been shot if I made a mistake and revealed my real name?

When I began to read about the treatment of Palestinians by the Jews settling in Palestine, I was absolutely horrified. I had been displaced myself, as had many other Jews. Surely we could not inflict the same on the people of Palestine? Why were Jews going there, I wondered as a teenager, instead of struggling for total acceptance in the countries in which they had lived for centuries? After all, they had emigrated from Palestine thousands of years ago.

Read: Zionism’s ongoing love-in with neo-Nazis

Now, reflecting on those years, I also remember how I protested against my parent’s proposal to emigrate in 1948. I cried. I wanted to remain. I was Magyar (Hungarian). We had survived the Holocaust, now we had to rebuild. “No,” said my parents. What I did not know then was that this might have been a response to the Soviet takeover, not down to anti-Semitism.

Reflecting further on the state of Israel, I ask many questions: did so many Jews emigrate those thousands of years ago in search of a better life? Why, when, where, did they confront anti-Semitism? How did they respond? And why and how did anti-Semitism develop? For what reason? It certainly existed in Britain.

This takes me to more questions. That Balfour Declaration, for example; was Balfour covering up his own anti-Semitism? Was it to get more votes? Of course, as Britain was the major colonial power in the world and had never believed that the people it was ruling had any rights to their lands, their cultures or their religions, the Palestinians were ignored by the then British Foreign Secretary.

Read: Britain must atone for the Balfour declaration – and 100 years of suffering

Millions of people left Britain from the 18th century onwards, mainly to escape poverty; they settled in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Southern Africa. The people native to those lands were killed or died of new diseases; those who survived were forced to move to the least cultivatable areas. What would be the reaction here and abroad if the descendants of all those emigrants now copied the Jews, claimed Britain as their homeland and demanded the right to return “home”?

I also question the £50 million gift from the British government for a Holocaust Memorial in London. After all, there are already quite a number, and the Imperial War Museum is completing a new, large memorial. Is this simply a payoff in order to retain the friendship of Israel, Britain’s friend in the Middle East?

In conclusion, I reject any claim that I or anyone else am anti-Semitic for criticising Israel. It is, surely and logically my right to be critical of the state’s founding ideology for the harm that it has inflicted on the Palestinians. Am I anti-Semitic? Certainly not. Am I anti-Zionism? Most definitely.

(Source / 02.11.2017)

Abbas demands British government recognize Palestine on Balfour centenary

MAbbas Balfour UK

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement on Thursday, the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, calling on the British government to “apologize to the Palestinian people for the suffering caused as a result of the Balfour Declaration a hundred years ago.”
“The second day of November marks the centennial of the disastrous Balfour Declaration, which, in 1917, the British government gave the Jews of the world a national homeland in Palestine while it was aware that Palestine is owned and inhabited by another people, the Palestinian people,” the statement said.
 Abbas called the declaration “null and void” given that it ignored the national and political rights of the indigenous Palestinian people.
“The Palestinian people have suffered as a result of this promise,” Abbas said, highlighting the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in 1948, during which time the state of Israel was created, leaving some 750,000 Palestinians and millions of their descendants as refugees.
“Since then, the suffering and tragedies of the Palestinian people have not stopped, whether inside what was left of the land of Palestine, which has now been under occupation for 50 years, since 1967, or in the Diaspora and refugee camps,” the statement said.
Abbas went on to say that the “ responsibility for the displacement and suffering of the Palestinian people” belongs not only to the British government that issued the Balfour Declaration, but the current administration of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who on Thursday celebrated the centenary in London with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“What is troubling today is that…the British Government insists on celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, persisting to openly confirm its colonial policies against our Palestinian people,” the statement said.
“We therefore reiterate our call upon the British government to publicly apologize to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration and to bear the consequences of making that promise by compensating the Palestinian people politically, materially and morally, recognize the State of Palestine and work toward ending the occupation from our land just as it sponsored the occupation state, Israel, on the land of Palestine,” the statement concluded.
(Source / 02.11.2017)

Amnesty International slams Israel for denying entry of group’s advocacy director

Hebron WB town

An Israeli Star of David painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Hebron

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on Tuesday denied the entry of an Amnesty International USA staff member to the occupied West Bank, drawing heavy criticism from the human rights organization, which alleged that the decision was a “retaliation against the organization’s human rights work.”

Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA was attempting to cross through the King Hussein border crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a personal trip to visit family following the recent death of his father, Amnesty International said in a statement Wednesday.
Jarrar was interrogated by Israeli officials about the reasons for his visit, his family in the occupied Palestinian territory, and his work with Amnesty International.
According to the group, Jarrar was specifically questioned regarding the organization’s work denouncing Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the West Bank, before he was denied entry and returned back to Jordan.
After his interrogation, Jarrar was given a document saying that he was denied under Israel’s Entry to Israel Law citing “public security” or “public order” considerations as reasons.
Amnesty International said they were seeking and official answer from the Israeli authorities about why he was denied entry.“The fact that Raed Jarrar was barred from entry after being interrogated about his work with Amnesty International appears to suggest that this move was taken in retaliation for the organization’s work on human rights violations in the cccupied Palestinian territory (OPT),” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“Refusing entry to a human rights advocate because they work for an organization that has criticized human rights violations by Israel would constitute a blatant assault on freedom of expression,” Luther said.
“This appears to be another ominous signal of the Israeli authorities’ resolve to silence human rights organizations and activists who are critical of the Israeli government. It flies in the face of the government’s repeated claims that Israel is a tolerant state, respectful of human rights.”
In July, Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon took steps to strip Amnesty International of its tax benefits in Israel, barring Israeli donors from receiving tax deductions from their donations to the international human rights organization owing to its calls to boycott Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank.
The move seemingly ame in response to an announcement in June by Amnesty International, which said that it was launching a campaign to convince the international community to implement a full boycott of illegal Israeli settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory.
In March, Israel passed the anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) bill, which banned foreigners who have openly expressed support for BDS from entering the country.
Since then, several activists have been denied into the country under the pretext that they supported the BDS movement.
(Source / 02.11.2017)

Soldiers Invade Many Homes, Stores, Abduct One Palestinian And Injure Six Children In Shu’fat

02 NOV
8:29 AM

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, many Palestinian homes and stores in Ras Shehada Area, adjacent to Shu’fat refugee camp, in occupied East Jerusalem, search them and abducted a Palestinian after destroying his furniture, in addition to wounding six children.

Media sources in Jerusalem said the soldiers stormed and ransacked many homes in the refugee camp, and abducted Fuad Khatib, after causing damage to his furniture and belongings.

The sources added that the soldiers also invaded several stores, including a photography shop, and confiscated computers.

Following the invasion and the violent searches, many youngsters hurled stones at the army, while the soldiers fired many gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Medical sources said six children were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and were moved to local clinics.

(Source / 02.11.2017)

Newly Formed Government Officially Takes Control of Gaza Crossings

02 NOV
8:37 PM

As a step towards implementing the latest reconciliation agreement made in Cairo between Hamas and Fateh, the Palestinian Government of National Consensus, early Wednesday, took control over the border crossings of the Gaza Strip, under the supervision of the Egyptian Government.

During a press release held at the entrance of Rafah Border Crossing, in the presence of Minister of Housing and Public Works Mufid al-Hasayneh, Director-general of the General Administration for border and crossings Nazmi Muhanna, representative of the Egyptian government, and other officials, the Egyptian and Palestinian National anthems had been played.

Al Ray reports that Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister Mufid al-Hasayneh stated, during the conference, that the National Consensus Government had begun assuming its duties in the Gaza Strip’s crossings, through the General Administration for Border and Crossings.

The minister added that the government has decided to stop the collection of all taxes and fees in the Strip since Wednesday, indicating that the Prime Minister will visit Gaza in just a few days.

He expressed wishes that this step will serve as a real take-off towards achieving Palestinian national reconciliation and ending the page of internal division for ever, confirming that the government will accomplish the reconciliation in spite of the all obstacles and challenges.

Al-Hasayneh expressed gratitude to the Egyptian government for its tremendous efforts in fostering the reconciliation.

In turn, spokesman for the Border and Crossings Authority in Gaza, Hisham Adwan, confirmed that there is not going to be any presence for former Gaza employees, and that PA employees would take full control of the Gaza crossings.

He pointed out that the step of handing over control of Gaza’s crossings, to the Palestinian Government of National consensus, is the beginning to achieve a comprehensive reconciliation and end the division that lasted for eleven years.

It is worth mentioning that ministers of the Palestinian National Consensus Government took office in the Gaza Strip, after the weekly government meeting held in Gaza on October 3, 2017.

All this came after Hamas’s announcement to dismantle the administrative committee that was running the Gaza Strip, and its calling on the Government of National Consensus to assumes its duties and responsibilities in the Strip immediately in an effort to promote reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority.

Opinion 10/19/17: Pitfalls of the Fateh-Hamas Reconciliation

(Source / 02.11.2017)

Arouri, Shallah: Armed resistance best response to Israeli terrorism

Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movement

A Hamas delegation led by Saleh al-Arouri met on Wednesday evening with leaders of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Beirut.

Deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri, along with the group’s leaders Maher Salah and Mohamed Nasser, met with the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Shallah, and his deputy, Ziad al-Nakhala.

The delegations discussed the latest Israeli aggressions on the Palestinian resistance fighters in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Both parties stressed Palestinians’ commitment to armed resistance and unity as the best means to respond to the simmering Israeli terrorism.

The meeting comes a few hours after al-Arouri discussed with the Secretary-General of Hezbollah possible ways to boost resistance in the face of the Israeli occupation.

(Source / 02.11.2017)

Number of journalists held in Israeli jails jumps to 28

Amin Siyam arrested

The number of Palestinian journalists detained in Israeli prisons has jumped to 28 after the detention of the photographer Amin Siyam, from Occupied Jerusalem, and the female journalist Bushra al-Tawil, from Ramallah on Wednesday.

Palestinian Prisoners Society said, in a statement on Wednesday, that three of the imprisoned journalists are held under the illegal administrative detention without charges or trials. Besides, six others are serving different sentences, while the 18 remaining detainees are held in custody pending trial.

The Israeli magistrate court in Occupied Jerusalem extended on Wednesday the detention of prisoner Siyam to next Monday. He was arrested after being summonsed to be questioned by the Israeli intelligence, according to his brother.

(Source / 02.11.2017)

UK pushed to reconsider Hamas “terrorist group” tag

Hamas and UK politics

The UK’s House of Lords debated whether Hamas should remain a designated terrorist organization yesterday afternoon, with several prominent figures advocating for the issue to be reconsidered.

According to the Palestine Chronicle, a question raised by Lord Raymond Hylton, a cross bencher and peer who has met with Hamas officials in both besieged Gaza and the occupied West Bank, pointed out that in light of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, the situation of the group had changed significantly since it was first listed as a terror group.

“Would delisting not help all sides to be rather less intransigent than they have been up to now? Would it not build confidence among all Palestinians and help support their new Government of Unity?” he queried.

The request was once again echoed by Lord Frank Judd, who argued that a distinction should be made between the military and political wings of Hamas, Palestine Chronicle added.

“Is it not important to recognize in political terms that Hamas is a pluralist organization? Is it not vital to strengthen the more moderate elements within Hamas, particularly at this time of reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas?”

The issue of the recognition of Palestine was also briefly addressed, with Baroness Lindsey Northover, a Liberal Democrat politician, calling for the British Government to recognize the state of Palestine 100 years after the Balfour Declaration.

In an article published by The Sun daily on Wednesday, UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reportedly refused to reveal whether or not Britain is holding secretive talks with Hamas.

During the final weeks of the election race, the Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Hamas to be removed from Britain’s list of banned terror groups, according to the Telegraph.

As the centennial anniversary of the Balfour Declaration approaches this month, pro-Palestinian activists have asked Britain to apologize for its role in the creation of Israel, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. The request has been denied by senior British officials, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to celebrate the anniversary with pride.

(Source / 02.11.2017)