Archive for the ‘zionism’ category

Once more, Irish media silence and elision as Minister’s Gaza visit deemed barely newsworthy

February 17, 2015
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Charlie Flanagan in Gaza (Photo: UNRWA)

Of the three Irish media outlets that deemed it newsworthy to mention the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan’s, visit to Gaza yesterday, none of them deemed it necessary to go beyond reporting what was in the government press release on the matter.

Well that’s not entirely true, while the Irish Examiner managed to omit entirely that he was in Gaza, and just reported the €4.7m blood money thrown at UNRWA, the Irish Times gave a little bit of background, noting that:

“[Last summer] Seven weeks of Israeli bombardment from air and sea, and rocket attacks on Israel, left more than 2,200 people dead – the great majority of them Palestinians in Gaza. More than 10,000 Gazans and some 700 Israelis were wounded while some 20,000 homes in the strip were estimated to have been left uninhabitable by shelling and air strikes.”

Let’s deconstruct these two sentences which say so much (about the Irish Times‘ method) while saying very little (about what happened in Gaza last summer).

1) “Seven weeks of Israeli bombardment from air and sea, and rocket attacks on Israel, left more than 2,200 people dead”

No mention of the Israeli ground invasion, which was brutal and saw many Palestinian civilians being killed by Israeli troops on the ground, not merely by means of bombardment.

2) “left more than 2,200 people dead – the great majority of them Palestinians in Gaza.”

Why not give the figures, for what does “the great majority” mean in real terms? The UN (via UNOCHA) gives the figure of 2,205 killed (1,483, or 67%, civilians). The Palestinian Center for Human Rights gives the figure of 2,191 killed (1,660, or 75%, civilians). So two reputable human rights monitoring NGOs give the figures for Palestinians killed as being in the low 2000s.

The official figures from the Israeli government meanwhile give the figures for killed Israelis as 72 (6, or 8%, civilians).

Taking the average between the UN and PCHR numbers, we thus have 2,198 dead Palestinians stacking up against 72 dead Israelis. In percentage terms that is 97% and 3%. And when we take civilians (again using the average) we have 1,572 Palestinian civilians and 6 Israeli civilians – in percentage terms 99.6% to 0.4%.

These are the grim realities the Irish Times hides with it’s bland statement that the “the great majority of the [dead were] Palestinians in Gaza”.

It is also important in understanding that when the Irish Times says “rocket attacks on Israel, left more than 2,200 people dead – the great majority of them Palestinians in Gaza”, even after we take the time deconstruct the actual figures, this phrase could potentially be understood to mean that “many” or “the majority” of the dead on the Israeli side were caused by Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. Yet the breakdown provided by the Israeli government shows that 92% of the Israelis killed were military personnel – this tells us that in fact the “great majority” of these casualties were caused either inside Gaza or along the border where the military was besieging the enclave.

A similar massaging of facts is noticeable when the Irish Times cites the figure of “some 700 Israelis” being wounded, with the same qualifier of being caused “by rocket attacks on Israel”. The Israeli government gives the official Israeli wounded figure as 556 (“some 550”, not “some 600”, but let’s ignore that). Of those, 496 (82%) were military operatives, while 87 (18%) were civilians, which tells us, once again, that the “great majority” of these casualties were caused either inside Gaza or along the border where the Israeli military was besieging the enclave, not merely by “rocket attacks on Israel”.

The piece also helpfully tells us that:

“[UNRWA] runs schools, clinics and social services for displaced Palestinians across the region while building infrastructure and maintaining camps. During the war in Gaza last summer, its schools gave shelter to hundreds of thousands of families forced to flee their homes. Some of those schools are still being used as temporary housing for more than 10,000 displaced people whose homes were destroyed.”

So let’s briefly deconstruct that too.

1) “[UNRWA] runs schools, clinics and social services for displaced Palestinians across the region”

These Palestinians are merely “displaced… across the region”. How they became displaced, what forces compelled them to become displaced, what their rights as displaced people are and who keeps them displaced is all a mystery, and seemingly irrelevant. As is the fact that the “great majority” (some 80%) of people living in Gaza are in fact refugees and their descendants from the 1948 Zionist ethic cleansing and colonisation of Palestine that gave birth to the State of Israel.

2) “Some of those schools are still being used as temporary housing for more than 10,000 displaced people whose homes were destroyed”

This is essentially accurate, but also leaves out a giant important fact about homelessness in Gaza. Yes, UNRWA buildings are currently sheltering some 12,000 people – but this is only about 10% of the total population that is still homeless almost six months after the end of the Israeli assault. Why are over 100,000 Gazans homeless, thousands of them living in UNRWA shelters? This question is neither asked nor answered, but the reason is of course the illegal Israeli imposed, Egyptian-enforced, and UN-facilitated siege of Gaza.

That only three mainstream media outlets in Ireland felt that the Minister for Foreign Affairs’ visit to an area of the world that was headline news half a year ago was newsworthy, and that all played up the “Ireland gives almost €5 million to Palestinian refugees” angle that framed the government press release, rather than some other angle –  for example, the continued devastation of the region, the ongoing illegal siege, the routine Israeli ceasefire violations and so on – tells us that the mainstream Irish media continues to be part of the problem. The silence and the elisions represent, quite simply, complicity with the ongoing Israeli policies of occupation, colonisation, war crimes and apartheid.

If you’re interested, here are the three pieces, and the official Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and UNRWA press releases on the matter. Note that RTE, the Irish regime broadcaster, did not deem this visit newsworthy, which places it in the unenviable position of being worse at news than the Chinese regime news service Xinhuanet, which did pick it up:

Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/government-pledges-4-7m-to-help-palestinian-refugees-1.2106185

Irish Examiner: http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/government-announces-nearly-euro5m-in-funding-for-palestinian-people-662459.html

Newstalk: http://www.newstalk.com/Foreign-Affairs-Minister-announces-47m-of-funding-for-Palestinian-people

DFA Press Release: https://www.dfa.ie/news-and-media/press-releases/press-release-archive/2015/february/funding-for-the-palestinians-announced/

UNRWA: http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/irish-foreign-minister-announces-new-%E2%82%AC500000-contribution-during-gaza-visit

Xinhuanet: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/europe/europe/2015-02/17/c_134001457.htm

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No Ronaldo didn’t refuse to swap shirts with an Israeli footballer (but he did pose for photos with Shimon Peres)

July 26, 2014

A story is doing the rounds (for probably the fourth time this year) saying that Christiano Ronaldo refused to swap jerseys with an Israeli player in a 2013 friendly match (See an example of the story here [1]).

Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. Here’s the video in full:

You can clearly see that the player he “refuses” to exchange his jersey with is a Portuguese player, who has already swapped shirt with an Israeli player (look at the colour of his shorts, then look at the colour of the Israeli players’ shorts).

The story also goes that Ronaldo remarked that he wouldn’t swap his shirt with (depending on where you read it) a “killer” or an “assassin”, accoridng to a ‘locker room interview’ follwing the game. As there was no refusal to exchange shirts in the first place, clearly the whole ‘interview’ in the dressing room is also made up. Furthermore, there is no source for the alleged comment – even if, going via the Veterans News Now piece above, you click through to the ‘source’ story in French, there is no actual source cited, just “a reporter said”… who were they? what was their name? Where did they say it? Why is one French blog the only place where this incredible news was reported?

Incidentally Ronaldo certainly had no qualms about going to Israel and shaking the hand of war criminal Shimon Peres as part of a Real Madrid PR/hasbara trip:

Shaking Hands

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All the lads

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There is also a picture being frequently shared that purports to show Ronaldo holding a sign saying “Todos Con Palestine”, which roughly tranlsated mean “I’m always with/love Palestine”.

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This is a crude photoshop from a photo-session following the Lorca earthquake when the Real Madrid squad held up a placard saying “Todos Con Lorca”. Some internet dickhead thought it would be great to lie to the world and Photoshop in an entirely different message.

rontod2UPDATE (31st March 2015): A brand new image of Ronaldo has started doing the rounds on social media recently. This too, unsurprisingly, is a crude Photoshop fake. In the original image, below, instead of ‘Save Palestine’, his undershirt says simply ‘Madeira’, the name of Ronaldo’s home city in Portugal. I have included it from another angle as well, just so people are 100% sure.

more ronaldo fakeryFinally there is another story about Ronaldo that goes something like “Ronaldo donated 1.5m / the proceeds from the sale of his Golden Boot, to the children/people of Gaza”. There’s 145,000 hits if you google ‘Ronaldo Donates Gaza‘.

Now while this may be true, it probably isn’t. Hands up, I cannot find conclusive proof that it is not – but I definitely cannot find proof that it is true either. This site does a decent job of explaining why it’s probably an internet fabrication:

However, the story reeks of a hoax, with neither Real Madrid’s official site validating the news, nor any major Spanish daily covering it, as reported in many of the articles reporting the story. Also, the likelihood of Indonesian site Tribunnews being one of the first to report the news of Ronaldo’s ‘generous donation’ makes the whole story more make-believe than genuine news.

What is true about Ronaldo, apart from his willingness to appear alongside a disgusting war criminal like Shimon Peres, is that he did appear in a photograph once, wearing a Paletsinian neck scarf. However, I’ve yet to see the context to that picture. I’ve heard it was at a Medical Aid For Palestinians event, but that the logo on the scarf is the Palestinian Football Association’s and that the Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub is on the far right of the picture, it seems to me like he was nabbed for a photo-op at a gala FIFA dinner or similar event, and that there’s no simply no ‘pro-Palestinian’ ideology involved.

UPDATE 2016: Ronaldo, along with other Real Madrid players, did entertain Ahmad Dawabsheh, the 5-year-old Palestinian kid who was badly burned on 80% of his body in an arson attack by illegal Israeli settlers in 2014. The same attack killed both of Ahmed’s parents, Riham and Sa’ed, nd his 1-year-old little brother Ali.

cristiano-ronaldo-palestine-scarf

So why am I saying all this? It’s quite simple, I don’t like to see people get credit where it’s not deserved. Ronaldo was willing to pose for pics with war criminal Shimon Peres, which is his prerogative, but he should not be lionised on social media as some heroic tribune for Palestine. He is not. And everyone should stop sharing this bullshit immediately.

EXTRA BONUS DEBUNK

This picture of Lionel Messi is a fake too. Obviously.

messi

And here is the greatest footballer in the world today, along with the butcher of Gaza, one Benjamin Netanyahu.

messi2

Notes

* This is an incredibly shitty website, and I am posting the link only for illustration.

Huge explosion and fire in illegal Israeli chemical factory in Tulkarm on Thursday night

September 6, 2013

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According to a Palestinian news report from the Al Fajer TV website (Arabic, with lots of images) and eyewitnesses on the ground, late Thursday night there was a massive explosion followed by a huge fire in an illegal Israeli industrial area located beside the Palestinian city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank.

At the time of writing (10pm, a day later), for some reason there has been no English language reporting about this event. I am hearing via a friend visiting Palestine that residents have been advised by local television reports to stay indoors and turn off their air conditioning.

I do not speak Arabic, so the following report is compiled by using Google Translate – apologies in advance for any errors.

Explosion, fire and aftermath

The Al Fajer report says that a large cloud of smoke covered the sky of the city and the villages of Tulkarem last night, after a huge fire broke out in a nylon factory in the illegal Israeli industrial area Nizanei Shalom, west of Tulkarm. Nizanei Shalom (which means ‘Buds of Peace’ in Hebrew) is a controversial – even by illegal settlement standards – area, which houses a number of Israeli industrial and chemical plants.

A big explosion echoed from inside the industrial zone at 11pm on Thursday night, resulting in a dramatic fire and a two hour power outage for residents on the outskirts of the city.

Palestinian civil defence crews and medical staff were scrambled to the west of the the city to check on the health of citizens and provide them with protection, under the direction of Tulkarm’s Director General of Health, Saed Hanoun.

Incredibly, witnesses in the vicinity of the industrial zone reported that there was a large presence of Israeli occupation forces in the area, and military patrols fired tear gas canisters at local people who went to see what was occurring.

Firefighters worked throughout the night and the fire was largely extinguished in the early hours of the morning. However, Fulla Jallad, a local Palestinian woman told me that “the structure is still on fire and the smoke is obviously [still] poisoning the air”.

Health and environmental hazards

Palestinian Officials have warned of health and the environment hazards in Tulkarem citizens in the city. The have called on those living near factories to get out of their homes because of the serious consequences resulting from the thick smoke and the rain of falling ash in the aftermath, which constitute a potential danger to public health and the environment.

One local Palestinian official, Jamal Said, told the official PA news service Wafa that they had long warned of the danger of these plants to the health of citizens, due to emissions of serious toxins, adding that the seriousness of this fire lies not only in the phenomenal amount of smoke, but in the explosions of which there were several inside from inside the plant because of the huge fire.

Mr. Said added that the fire was out of control, and pointed out that the Israelis occupation forces had requested help from the Palestinian civil defence crews, who had put their priorities in the protection of Palestinian citizens and property in the western and southern region near the industrial zone

Mr. Said stressed the need for immediate intervention of the international community to ensure that these dangerous plants are fully removed from the Tulkarm area.

The Legal Counsel of the Environmental Quality Authority in Tulkarem, Mr. Murad, said that he had warned of the warning of the danger of these plants during a workshop held in Tulkarem only two days ago, and he called on all international bodies to assume their responsibilities towards what is happening as a result of the dangerous environmental contamination in the Tulkarem area. He said that this fire is clear evidence that Tulkarm is exposed to environmental dangers due to the burning of toxic substances, calling on citizens to beware of the smoke.

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Nizanei Shalom – One of Israel’s toxic little West Bank secrets

Initially based in Israel, several of the Nizanei Shalom, aka Geshuri, industrial park’s current inhabitants were closed down by Israeli court order for pollution violations during the 1980s. In 1987 Geshuri Industries, a manufacturer of pesticides and fertilizers originally located in Kfar Saba, was the first to relocate, moving their Keshet Prima factory there after closure by Israeli authorities earlier that decade. The Dixon industrial gas plants, formerly of Netanya industrial zone in Israel, followed and now there are almost a dozen such factories in this industrial zone, including Atzei Shitim, The Solor Group and Yamit E.L.I. Filtration and Water Treatment. According to a report by RT, the factories produce fibres, chemicals, glass, paint and materials for construction, and they operate 24 hours a day.

Many of the factories have come under severe criticism for both their environmental records and the treatment of their mainly Palestinian workforces.

Tulkarm’s General Director of Health, Saed Hanoun says that industrial by-products of these factories are dangerous to the health of citizens and the environment because of the damage caused by the vapours, which may be responsible for some serious diseases developing amongst the population, and he added that these “plants should be removed immediately as they internationally prohibited”. Nor is this the first such explosion and fire; in an interview with RT in 2009, Mr. Hanoun said that for three days that May, thick clouds hung over Tulkaram after a previous explosion in one of the factories.

According to Irish activist-journalist Tommy Donnellan, who visited the area in 2010, and documented local people’s stories on video, “[the lands] in the immediate vicinity of the factory have been polluted to the point where they are no longer agriculturally viable. Trees in the area are decaying; those that remain alive exhibit stunted growth. Pollution from the factory also widely affects other agricultural land in Tulkarm and has seeped into underground water sources in the area. Noxious carcinogenic fumes from the Geshuri [Keshet Prima] factory have also adversely affected the health of the population. Respiratory problems and eye infections, which are most likely to afflict the very young and elderly, are the most commonly reported problems. It is also believed by medical experts that the pollution caused by the plant has led to cancer cases, although to confirm this no studies have been carried out to date”.

Mr Donnella also said that the “chemical complex is beyond the control and power of the [Palestinian Authority] as the Israeli occupying [so-called] ‘Civil Administration’ watch over and protect it – where for 11 months of the year the prevailing west to east winds blow the emissions into Tulkakem and in the one month when the winds shift direction and blow from east to west into Israel the factories cease their carcinogenic activities”.

One worker in the zone, Ahmed, interviewed by Corporate Watch, also in 2010, has stated that the “factories are dangerous in that they pollute the environment … they are also unsafe for the workers, they do not adhere to any health and safety regulations as they are based in occupied territory and there is nothing to protect workers. Accidents are common”.

Workers’ and locals’ rights abused and safety compromised

Another worker, Rashid, went on to say that the “Solor factory is very unsafe. Three workers have died – in 2000, 2002 and 2008 – from burns sustained from gas related fires at the factory” and that “Solor workers receive 90 shekels a day, well under the Israeli minimum wage. Before we started to organise in the factory we were paid 65 shekels a day”.

Indeed, the area can also be more immediately dangerous to those not even working vicinity. According to the General Union of Petrochemical Workers in Palestine, a young man, 18-year-old Hamza Walid Haloub, was seriously wounded by live army fire in March this year while walking near the industrial park. Dr. Khaled Saleh of Thabet Thabet Hospital said a bullet punctured his lung and the injury was so serious that Mr. Haloub had to be transferred to Nablus hospital for emergency treatment.

A microcosm of the iniquity of the occupation

Nizanei Shalom is a microcosm of the iniquity of Israel’s occupation; local Palestinians were forced from their lands in the 1980s so that illegal building could begin; the zone exploits the far cheaper Palestinian labour force, so economically crippled by decades of occupation that they have little choice but to work under awful conditions; in practice, a separate legal/safety system exists than inside Israel, with these highly polluting factories are given the all clear by Israeli authorities; the result is that it is the Palestinians of Tulkarm who suffer the environmental, economic and health problems and dangers arising from the operations of the plants. And Nizanei Shalom is not the only such zone, there are several in the occupied West Bank, pointing to the importance and inextricable nature of these parks for the Israeli economy.

The existence of these illegal colonial settlement-factories are war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and should be shut down on that basis alone. That they are highly dangerous and possibly in contravention of international pollution standards should add an urgency for the international community to take immediate meaningful action to ensure that they are.

Al Haq video about the Nizanei Shalom industrial zone

Why is Ynet News using an image from just before the Breivik massacre to illustrate an anti-EU piece?

July 10, 2012

Well now, this is kind of interesting. The rightwing Israeli English-language news service Ynet News has just published a rant against the EU, headlined ‘Europe united against Israel‘. Reading it, one wishes that some of what it said was true in relation to the EU’s relationship with Israel. Alas, it’s the stuff of (wilful?) paranoid fantasy on behalf of the author and not really worth commenting on. Israel has a major friend and facilitator in the EU, second only to the US.

This aspect does need to be picked up on however. The author, Eldad Beck, says that “at a time where the Middle East is burning because of endless violations of human rights, condemnations are constantly being issued against Israel”. What he fails to mention is that the EU is currently supporting sanctions against both Iran and Syria, but refuses to even look at imposing any kind of sanctions against Israel for consistent violations of international law. Beck, wilfully, I would suggest, ignores the EU’s actual record in an effort to maintain the Zionist hyperbole regarding Europe’s scandalous relationships with Israel.

But what is most interesting about this piece is that accompanying it is a photograph of members of the Norwegian Labor Youth holding a banner saying ‘Boikott Israel’. The picture comes from just 48 hours before neo-fascist, racist and Islamophobic supporter of Israel Anders Behring Breivik massacred 69 people on the island of Utøya on July 22nd 2011 in a terrorist attack. Utøya is where this picture was taken, during a visit by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere (on the left) to the Labor Youth summer camp taking place there.

Both men pictured in the image foreground – Minister Stoere, and Eskil Pedersen (the Labor Youth leader), along with former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland – were on a kill-list that Breivik had drawn up. According to the Daily Telegraph, Breivik’s “initial plan was to take one of [these] leading Labor Party officials hostage at Utoya and read a death sentence before carrying out an execution”. Stoere and Brundtland had already left the island by the time Breivik arrived in his fake police uniform to carry out his politically motivated murder spree.

Breivik’s rationale for the attack was that the Labor Party in Norway, which was the ruling party at the time of the attack, were “traitors” to white Europeans. Thus, not only the political leadership of the party, but the entire island-full of young social democrats became legitimate targets in his “war on Islam”. Prior to the island attack, Breivik set off a bomb near government buildings in Oslo that killed 8 people and injured hundreds.

I’m not suggesting that Ynet’s editors believe that this is an appropriate way to deal with European government or citizens that are critical of Israel, but one has to ask, given both the context of the article and the similarities in some of the logic between the author Eldad Beck and Breivik, how the editors could think it was in good taste to include a picture from just before the Breivik massacre with this article. It is hard to believe it’s merely a simple mistake, as it was Ynet that originally reported the story about the pro-Palestine Labour Youth members being on the island, using the very same picture. It really is, simply, incredible.

With regard to the similarities in logic mentioned above, a couple of issues are worth noting. Firstly, Beck claims – preposterously – that the EU is “working with great determination to decide for Israel how it should behave”, and “that the Europeans have been taken captive by the Arab magic formula, whereby the conflict with Israel is at the heart of the region’s problems and only its resolution – that is, making Israel capitulate to Arab demands – will bring peace and stability”.

In his manifesto, entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, Breivik repeatedly makes a similar point, saying for example that “Western European governments, giving in to pressure from Arab terrorists and oil-producing states, abandoned their traditional pro-Israeli position and gradually aligned themselves with the Arab-Islamic world”.

A second point made by Beck, where he accuses “EU emissaries – mostly with the help of Israeli collaborators who enjoy generous funding – [of monitoring] anything that could be perceived to undermine the rights of Palestinians or Israel’s Arab citizens”. Aside from the implicit suggestion that violations of Palestinians’ rights should not be monitored, the use of the term “Israeli collaborators” provides an insight into how Beck views Jewish people. The only good Jew is a Zionist Jew who says “I stand with Israel, right or wrong – not that Israel ever does anything wrong”.

Breivik’s manifesto says, “Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists”. Breivik views Jewish people in almost exactly the same manner as Beck.

Incidentally, Breivik’s manifesto contains repeated favourable mentions of Israel, whom he views as a natural ally in the fight against ‘Islamic Jihadism’ and ‘Euarabia’ (a rightwing buzzword indicating paranoia about the mere presence of Muslims in so-called ‘Judeo-Christian’ Europe). For example, he encourages his neo-fascist co-thinkers to “end the stupid support for the Palestinians that the Eurabians have encouraged, and start supporting our cultural cousin, Israel”. It is his view that “if Israel loses in the Middle East, Europe will succumb to Islam next”, that ” Israelis defend themselves so that their daughters do not have to suffer rape at the hands of Muslim Jihadists”, and as with other apologists for Israeli apartheid, he believe there is ‘no such thing as Palestinians, referring to “Israeli attacks on the Syrians [called] Palestinians by the mass media”.  In one section he even advises buying paramilitary equipment from Israel, as in some cases, it’s easier than buying it in Europe.

Here are some other choice quotes from Breivik, showing us his view of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims. Leftists and Israel:

“[A]ll Western journalists support the EU’s Eurabia project, their enemy (based on coverage) is the Israeli and also often the Russian government. Western European journalists, editors and publishers are guilty of facilitating Muslim crime (Jihad) by underreporting it.”

“I believe Europe should strive for: A cultural conservative approach where monoculturalism, moral, the nuclear family, a free market, support for Israel and our Christian cousins of the east, law and order and Christendom itself must be central aspects (unlike now). Islam must be re-classified as a political ideology and the Quran and the Hadith banned as the genocidal political tools they are.”

“Christians need to understand that there can be no peace or understanding with the Islamic world. They want to subdue us, pure and simple. Church leaders of all denominations, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, must stop stabbing Israel in the back”

“Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists. Conservative Jews were loyal to Europe and should have been rewarded. Instead, [Hitler] just targeted them all… So, are the current Jews in Europe and US disloyal? The multiculturalist (nation-wrecking) Jews ARE while the conservative Jews ARE NOT. Aprox. 75% of European/US Jews support multiculturalism while aprox. 50% of Israeli Jews does the same. This shows very clearly that we must embrace the remaining loyal Jews as brothers rather than repeating the mistake of the NSDAP [German Nazi Party].”

Israeli Deputy Ambassador/Culture Officer in Dublin advocates intimidation and smearing human rights activists; suggests humiliating them by associating them with Mossad and ‘sexual identity problems’

June 13, 2012

In an exposé by Israel’s Channel 10 News, it has been revealed that Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Ireland, Nurit Tinari-Modai, advocates a campaign of intimidation, smears and falsification against Israeli human rights activists who campaign in solidarity with Palestinians, and suggests that “sexual identity problems” lie behind such activism. (Press Release from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – original here)

Ms. Tinari-Modai, who is also the Culture Officer of the Israeli Embassy in Ireland and wife of the current Ambassador Boaz Modai, made the proposals in a diplomatic communiqué sent to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. According to the Channel 10 report, translated into English by Dena Shunra, Ms. Modai advocates working “directly against those Israeli activists, [to] humiliate and shame them”. She suggests publishing the names and photographs of Israeli activists to embarrass their family and friends, and implying that they are agents of Mossad to undermine trust between Palestinian, international and Israeli solidarity activists.

Ms Tinari-Modai’s cable says that “it is possible to obtain names of the Israelis… you have to try and hit their soft underbellies, to publish their photographs, maybe that will cause embarrassment from their friends in Israel and their family, hoping that local activists would understand that they may actually be working on behalf of Mossad [Israel’s spy agency].”

Ms Tinari-Modai also goes on to make the bizarre claim that “the activity of those activists against the state is, in my evaluation, not necessarily ideological, but grounded in psychological reasons (generally of disappointment with the parents, [or] sexual identity problems).”

Martin O’Quigley, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) condemned the proposals saying, “this type of behaviour is indicative of the mindset of apologists for Apartheid Israel. They have no legal, political or moral arguments. Instead of questioning Israel’s illegal actions and occupation, they opt to attack human rights activists’ characters and motivations. Such tactics fit with the recommendations of the Reut Institute, an Israeli government-linked think-tank, which advocates a campaign of ‘sabotage’, ‘attack’ and ‘naming and shaming’ against Palestinian solidarity activists. While the Israeli Foreign Ministry has distanced itself from the proposals, calling them “deranged”, it is hard to believe this is a serious disavowal – more likely it is because the cable was leaked to the press and has become a political embarrassment.”

Mr. O’Quigley called for the Irish Government to take action on the issue. “That these kind of proposals are being seriously touted by the Israeli Embassy in Ireland is incredibly worrying, and the Irish government should, at the very least, demand Ms. Modai be withdrawn immediately. Support for such intimidatory behaviour, interference and personalised attacks on human rights activists by a foreign diplomatic mission should be unacceptable in a democratic and sovereign country.”

Mr O’Quigley pointed out that Ms. Modai has been a prominent opponent of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel. “As Culture Officer of the Israeli Embassy, Ms. Tinari-Modai has been a vocal opponent of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel. Indeed, Ms. Modai organised an Israeli Embassy sponsored propaganda film festival in Dublin last year, which was attended by both An Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter”.

Mr. O’Quigley concluded by saying that “in recent weeks, there has been an unprecedented attack on both the campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel and the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in the Irish media, much of it based on inaccurate and misleading reporting. These attacks have often been highly personalised against individual IPSC members. While this would fit with the modus operandi of the Israeli Embassy, whether or not the embassy has influenced such reporting is impossible to say. However, there is no doubt that the Israeli Embassy can only have been happy with the skewed misrepresentation of the campaign.”

Ali Abunimah, Palestinian author and human rights activist noted that “Nurit Tinari-Modai’s emphasis on alleged “sexual identity problems” of those to be smeared, indicates an innate homophobia that is at odds with Israel’s efforts – known as pinkwashing – to portray itself as supportive of the rights of people who identify as LGBTQ.”

Notes:

The Channel 10 News report (text and video in Hebrew only) can be viewed here: http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=903347

A professional translation of the report is published here on Electronic Intifada: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israels-dublin-embassy-planned-smear-palestine-activists-sexual-deviants-and

A second translation from Hebrew can be found here on the Israeli website 972 Magazine: http://972mag.com/deputy-ambassador-to-ireland-pro-palestinian-activists-have-sexual-identity-problems/48180/

For more information on the Reut Institute, see: http://electronicintifada.net/tags/reut-institute

Audio: Discussion with ISM founders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro

February 24, 2012

Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has posted the audio I recorded of last night’s discussion with with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which promotes non-violent resistance to Israeli Apartheid. It was a wide ranging discussion that encompassed everything from Palestinian refugees to the ‘Arab Spring’.

The discussion followed the very successful première screening of the new film ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ by film-makers Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson, and was part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 in Ireland.

Copied from the IPSC website:

On Thursday 23rd February, as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) was proud to present the Irish Premiere of the brand new film ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ by film-makers Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson.

The 90 minute documentary film, takes a look at the current situation in Palestine through the lens of South African Apartheid; comparing the two regimes in a manner not flattering for the Israeli state. It is narrated by US Civil Rights icon Alice Walker, and features interviews with many Palestinian, Israeli, South African and international activists, journalists and academics. The film was well received by the audience of over 60 people, even receiving an ovation at the end. The film is due to be released in the coming months and will be making appearances (and hopefully winning deserved awards) at various international film festivals. You can view the film trailer below, and if you missed it don’t worry, the IPSC will be organising future screenings of this brilliant film around the country.

Following the film, there was a discussion with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro (audio recording below), two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which promotes non-violent resistance to Israeli Apartheid. It was a wide ranging discussion that encompassed everything from Palestinian refugees to the ‘Arab Spring’.

Click here to download an audio recording of the Q&A with Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf (mp3). Disclaimer: Views expressed in the discussion do not necessarily reflect the view of the IPSC.

A section of the audience

Special thanks: The IPSC would like to thank the directors of Roadmap to Apartheid Ana and Eron for allowing us to screen their film as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012, and Huwaida and Adam for stepping in at the last minute when Iyad Burnat’s tour had to be cancelled.

Non-Judeo Christians unwelcome at “Faces of Israel” hasbara event?

February 20, 2012

And so, Ireland finds itself in the hasbara gun-sight once again.

A story appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Times (19/02/2012,  Irish edition) proclaiming that an Israeli hasbara “charm offensive” would be touring Ireland beginning on Thursday. The mission will involve six “young Israeli representatives”, “backed by the Israeli government” and in association with Tom Carew’s “Ireland Israel Friendship League”, engaging in a speaking tour of Ireland.  Although the article is scant on actual details, it does say that both the UCD International Students Society and the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel will be hosting some of their talks (though they have yet to appear on either website – maybe they don’t want people turning up asking difficult questions?).

However, someone sent me the following event listing, organised by the Irish Christian Friends of Israel. This event, hosted by a group who believe “the Biblical truth that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people forever” (so, two-statist ‘moderates’ then),  forms part of the “Faces of Israel” tour. Of particular note is the line stating that, “Jews and Christians are ALL welcome”. Really? Is this to say that people of other faiths, and none, are not welcome at an event allegedly showcasing “how Israel comprises many diverse cultures and nationalities”? Doubly surprising given that over 1 million Palestinian citizens of Israel are of Muslim origin.

On a “diversity” buzz, it appears that this tour’s veritable jewel in the hasbara crown is the inclusion of an “Arab Israeli” (Palestinian citizen of Israel – PCOI) woman called Raneen Khoury. Although the Times article calls her a “member of the Israeli police”, the ICFI description is different, stating that:

Born and raised in the city of Nazareth, Raneen has lived in the midst of Israeli co-existence, always trying to progress Arab – Jewish relations within Israel through various co-existence projects such as the establishment of the National Service Organization. Currently she is the manager of “Lehava” project whose aim is to decrease the digital gap within Israeli society.


It appears that Ms. Khoury, a Christian Palestinian, is involved in recruiting PCOIs into the National Service (Sherut Leumi), an alternative for those who do not wish to serve in the Israeli Military. All Jewish-Israelis are conscripted into the military after leaving school, but some can opt for other means of serving the state instead. PCOIs are exempt from the military draft. As of 2010, there were 1,473 PCOIs volunteering for National Service, 0.12% of the total PCOI population. Clearly, Ms. Khoury is representative of the average Palestinian citizen of Israel, and will indeed champion their cause as a heavily discriminated-against section of the Israeli population (20%) as part of this mission.

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EDIT 24-02-2012:
I have been contacted by the author of the original Sunday Times article, Mr. Mark Paul. He asked me to clarify that he never mentioned Ms. Khoury by name. This is true, and my assertion was based on extrapolating from the ICFI description and the Times article. The article says “six young Israelis” are visiting, five Jewish-Israeli and one “Arab Israeli”. The ICFI claims that Ms. Khoury is speaking at their event, so I put two and two together and came up with five and for that I apologise. It seems the information on the ICFI website is error, not the Times article, as having had a “chance” encounter with the six-strong hasbara team today, Ms. Khoury was not present as far as I could tell, but another Palestinian Citizen of Israel was (more on that in another post).
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Another minority included in the entourage is one Hadas Yossef, an Ethiopian Jew who was brought to Israel in 1983, presumably as part of Operation Moses.  According to the IsraelPolitick blog (an official Israeli Foreign Ministry website):

After completing her studies in Architecture at the Bezalel High Institute for Arts, Hadas began working as a professional architect at one of the biggest firms in Israel.

As with Ms. Khoury, I think, given that some 60% of Ethiopian Jews live below the poverty line and are subject to disgusting forms of racism, Ms. Yossef is not entirely representative of the experiences of her community within Israel either. It’s like pointing at Barack Obama and saying “look, institutional racism doesn’t exist in the US any more”.

In the interview, Mr. Adam Briscoe is at pains to point out that the “Faces of Israel” initiative “operates independently of the [Israeli] government”. This claim is disgustingly laughable. Not only because it is contradicted by his the very next sentence, to whit: “it was born out of an idea publicly touted last year by Yuli Edelstein the Israeli minister for public diplomacy [hasbara]”; but also because the Israeli press has been touting these guys as being sent by the government! As an article in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post explains:

The Public Diplomacy [Hasbara] Ministry plans to send 100 Israelis from different sectors in society abroad to represent and defend the state during Israel Apartheid Week.

The participants in the project have undergone several weeks of training in the Public Diplomacy Ministry, and will visit dozens of college campuses to battle the “apartheid” label in New York, Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Toronto, Montreal, Dublin, London, Madrid, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Indeed, according to the Times article, another of the participants, Sari Diskind, actually works in the office of the Israeli Prime Minster.

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EDIT 2: 24-02-2012:
Mr. Mark Paul of the Times has also asked me to clarify that Mr. Briscoe did not say that “it was born out of an idea publicly touted last year…” and that was in fact Mr. Paul’s balancing of Briscoe’s comments. Fair enough, but I think it was worded (or perhaps edited, as a journalist I know the pain of the editor’s knife) in a clumsy way, such that a cursory reading would suggest the whole comment came from Briscoe.
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Not only that, these same characters could be considered old hands at this type of thing, given that some of them have done it all before, in (at least) February and September of last year. And one can bet they are not paying for this out of their own pockets.

The Jerusalem Post also tells us that the “mission, which leaves next weekend, includes settlers, Arabs, artists, experts in national security, gay people, and immigrants from Ethiopia”.

Conspicuously absent from this list of advocates are any representatives of the Palestinian community of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the occupied Syrian Druze community, the internally displaced Palestinians within Israel, the Bedouin community currently undergoing ethnic cleansing, gay Palestinians blackmailed by the Israeli secret police, the external Palestinian refugee community, or even anti-occupation Jewish-Israelis. Clearly in it’s desire to show us the rainbows of diversity in Israeli society – and given that illegal settler voices are included, presumably the lovely conditions under which all people in the territories controlled by Israel live – the Israeli Ministry of Hasbara feels it is necessary to exclude “unimportant” voices, i.e. ones that might call a spade a spade and say, “Israeli is an apartheid state”.

And ultimately, that is what this mission is all about. This week in Ireland, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other groups are taking part in international Israeli Apartheid Week 2012. According to the IPSC website:

Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual international series of events held across the globe. The aim is to educate people about the nature of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people and to build the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement locally and globally. Last year, IAW took place in over 60 cities across the globe. (Full list of Irish IAW week events here)

I think it is a tribute to the work of Palestine Solidarity activists in Ireland that the Hasbaristas feel it necessary to send a delegation that is definitely, definitely, not sponsored by the Israeli government to come here and lie for them. Keep up the good work folks.

Of course, what the Israeli government seems loathe to accept that it is not better PR tactics that are needed to improve the state’s image, it is an end to apartheid, occupation, human rights violations and war crimes!

(Update 21/02/2012: Thanks to Irish Left Review for re-blogging this piece)