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March 11, 2010

State: IDF not to blame for activist Rachel Corrie’s death

By Haaretz Service

The State Prosecutor’s Office appealed Thursday to the Haifa District Court to dismiss outright the civil suit filed by U.S. activist Rachel Corrie’s family against the Defense Ministry for unspecified compensation for their daughter’s death.

Corrie was 24 when she was struck and killed in 2003 by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer as she and other activists tried to stop Israel razing homes in Rafah by using their bodies as human shields.

The driver said he did not see her, and the Israel Defense Forces has ruled her death an accident – a version her parents reject.

“The driver of the bulldozer and his commander had a very limited field of vision, such that they had no possibility of seeing Ms. Corrie,” the Prosecutor’s office said in a statement, adding that the incident was considered “a military action in the course of war” which exempts the state from responsibility for it.

The statement also said that “Rachel Corrie was injured as a result of her prohibited action, for which she is solely responsible, due to her considerable negligence and lack of caution.”

At Wednesday’s opening of the civil case, the Corries’ lawyer demanded a new investigation into her death, to which the States Prosecutor responded: “The IDF thoroughly investigated the incident, including a Military Police investigation, in the framework of which considerable evidence was collected.”

“The bulldozer driver and commander were investigated by the Military Police and the unequivocal conclusion was reached that they did not see ? and could not have seen – Ms. Corrie due to the bulldozer’s limited field of vision,” the statement added.

Anti BDS initiative

Campaign planned against Israel boycott

Group working on actionable recommendations for Jewish groups and Israeli gov’t.

The next few days will see the first meeting in Israel of a group of scholars and activists who are planning a new, aggressive Jewish response to the international “Boycott, Divestment, Sanction” (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The group, organized by McGill University history professor Gil Troy and American-Israeli policy analyst Mitchell Bard, is working on developing actionable recommendations for key Jewish groups and the Israeli government to combat what it calls a “full blown political, economic, cultural, ideological struggle against the very existence of Israel.”

The group was first formed in December as a “Delegitimization of Israel” working group at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, an annual gathering under the aegis of the Foreign Ministry.

After two days of discussions at the forum, the working group, then also chaired by Troy and Bard, produced a first draft of what has grown into a 14-page working paper that calls for a “new proactive agenda” in combating the delegitimization of Israel on campuses and in the media worldwide.

That document, completed in late January, has been the basis for discussions in recent weeks that will lead to the formation of “a smaller group” expected to meet in Jerusalem over the coming few days “to focus in on three to five recommendations [for combating BDS] for key Jewish organizations or the Foreign Ministry,” Troy told The Jerusalem Post this week.

Until recently, Jewish and Israeli responses to BDS have been lackluster at best, the group asserts.

“There is a need in the Jewish world today for more coordination, for more sharing of best practices, for more leadership in the fight against anti-Semitism. Activists in the field feel alone,” the working paper explains.

“Those who succeed are not sharing their successful tactics and strategies; those who are less experienced flounder, wasting precious time, resources, goodwill,” it continues.

However, the paper adds, the fight against BDS should be a relatively easy one.

According to the paper’s authors, it is not necessary – and may be impossible – to “win” a debate over Israeli settlements or Palestinian independence. But these are not the issues at the heart of the BDS movement, the paper asserts.

“BDS shifts the terrain, making the battle one over Israel’s right to exist, over the legitimacy of Zionism, over the anti-Semitic tropes shaping the anti-Israel movement, and the rank anti-Semitism behind the disproportionate, obsessive focus on Israel. It is also a battle about freedom of speech and of open discourses, given the BDS attempt to shut down normal flows of learning and commerce with Israel,” it states.

“This is not a carefully constructed, nuanced document,” Troy told the Post. “This is a brainstorming document that reflects different opinions that don’t always agree with each other. We put drafts up on the Web, and other people added to it. The result was a whole series of ideas, strategies, tactics that capture the growing indignation against this push to be so disproportionate in the zeal to demonize Israel.”

The key point of the final document, which the group hopes to turn into the heart of a new campaign by Israel and worldwide activists, is that “BDS draws a line in the sand.”

According to the paper, “By implicitly shifting the debate from Israeli policy to Israel’s right to exist, BDSers have provided what we could call ‘the J-Street Test.’”

The “test,” Troy explains, is a way of drawing the line between honest criticism of Israel and its policies on the one hand, and demonization that seeks Israel’s destruction on the other.

J Street, much castigated by many the Jewish community for its ongoing, strident criticism of the Israeli government, “passes the test” as an honest critic of Israel because it condemned the BDS movement, he said.

The paper quotes Tal Shechter of J Street U, who wrote, “We should be investing – not divesting – in our campus debate, in our communities and in the people who will bring about change in the region. That’s why J Street U is launching an ‘Invest, Don’t Divest’ campaign today to raise money for two organizations –, a Palestinian microfinance organization set up by students like us, and The Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development, which promotes Jewish-Arab Economic Cooperation in Israel.”

“I disagree with J Street, and I’ve written publicly about my disagreements,” says Troy, “But they didn’t get dragged, like some other well-meaning activists, into a prejudiced, obsessive campaign over Israel’s very existence.”

The working paper suggests that “critics of Israeli policy can in fact be particularly useful,” by demonstrating the difference between legitimate activist criticism and “demonization.”

Through the “extremism” of BDS, many of whose supporters have as their ultimate goal the end of Jewish statehood, according to group members, the new campaign hopes to “help heal some of the rifts in the Jewish community, assert a big-tent Zionism, and invite left-wing critics of Israel who nevertheless believe in Israel’s existence to stand up for Israel on this defining issue.”

Among the group’s specific recommendations are campaigning for the passage of legislation in relevant countries against “prejudiced” boycott and divestment campaigns; creating “best practices” for combating the BDS movement; creating networks that gather and share information on the movement’s funders and organizers to “name and shame” them; engaging with local lawyers and academics in various countries to conduct campaigns against BDS activism in their locality; and “pursuing a strategy of ridicule and satire – especially on the Internet.”

The full document, available on the Global Forum’s Web site since it was completed in late January, reads more like the minutes of a meeting than a carefully drafted policy paper.

It is, Troy says, “the start of a conversation” and the launching of “a grassroots movement against a well-organized but, ultimately, failing and marginalized effort.”


9/11 truthers attend Treason in America

There is a growing number of Americans who believe 9/11 was an inside job. 9/11 truthers, as they are known, attended a two day conference that was called Treason in America, in the hopes of bringing awareness to their cause. Is this a signal that the movement is gaining traction?

There IS hope : The youngsters who single-handedly turned Sheikh Jarrah into a center of protest

The youngsters who single-handedly turned Sheikh Jarrah into a center of protest

2010-03-07 00:46:00

Saturday night’s (March 6 2010) rally in Sheikh Jarrah was remarkable: Thousands of demonstrators, Jewish and Palestinian, from a wide range of backgrounds and with diverse political views came out in a show of force to protest injustice. Writing about “Sheikh Jarrah and the birth of a coalition,” Jerry Haber at Magnes Zionist captures the unique stripes of this emerging movement and a comprehensive Jerusalem Report feature provides good context.

The Ynet story below, translated by the indefatigable Sol Salbe and George Malent, completes the picture. It describes how

Behind the subversive struggle that has managed repeatedly to stymie the Jerusalem Police stands a group of young people in their 20s. They have been active for about a year and a half now, with no budget , expertise or experience, and with no lawyers or political parties standing behind them. Encouraged by the success of the campaign at the High Court of Justice, they are promising to continue the struggle. “The struggle will go on as long as the objective, which is the end of the Occupation, has not been realised.”

By fostering the most effective Israeli anti-Occupation movement in years, these youngsters have demonstrated that what is required is leadership, not resources. For an Israeli like me, approaching middle age and facing the prospect of raising two young children in this country, they have become an invaluable source of pride and hope for the future.

read on

The Heart and Soul of Israel : Sad Saga of Azad Restaurant

Israeli woman points and screams at an Arab man near Azad.

Tim King

The discrimination that these Israeli citizens exhibit is akin to the pressure put on so many groups over the years, including their own ancestors in Germany during the 1930’s.
Azad protest

(HAIFA / SALEM) – Nationalism is a dangerous product in the wrong hands, and when you toss in a dose of religious extremism, the kind that leads to the genocidal decimation of an entire culture, you are on dangerous ground.

Welcome to Israel. This is a place where you can’t run your own business; the Israeli military runs it. The IDF, according to Israeli law apparently, can decide what dress codes can be enforced, but only for Palestinian restaurant owners.

That is the story of Azad Restaurant, where a simple ‘No Uniform’ policy long in effect, has led to a closure notice from the city of Haifa.

But that’s not enough. Indignant to the bone that a Palestinian would “dare” not serve an Israeli soldier in uniform, demonstrators gathered in front of Azad looking less like a protest and appearing more like a big ugly mob.

read on

The video


‘Zionism is a real witches’ brew of xenophobia, racism, ultra-nationalism, and militarism that places it way outside of a “mere” nationalist context.”

Dr. Alan Sabrosky

March 09, 2010

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu once remarked to a Likud gathering that “Israel is not like other countries.” Oddly enough for him, that time he was telling the truth, and nowhere is that more evident than with Jewish nationalism, whether or not one pins the “Zionist” label on it.

Nationalism in most countries and cultures can have both positive and negative aspects, unifying a people and sometimes leading them against their neighbors. Extremism can emerge, and often has, at least in part in almost every nationalist/independence movement I can recall (e.g., the French nationalist movement had The Terror, Kenya’s had the Mau Mau, etc.).

read on

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