a different side of Israel

Tag: Settlers

Not Discounting Jewish Terrorism

No one is paying the price for price-tagging but the settlers. Period.

Four female Jews, three of them minors, were arrested on suspicion of torching Palestinian vehicles in Hebron last month. Seems to the court this was related to the Price tag policy of some of the settlers.

The brother of one of the suspects was killed during Operation Cast Lead, this may have affected her judgment, admitted the authorities.

This does not excuse price-tagging.

In an even more disturbing tale, according to Ynet, an IDF major was indicted Sunday on charges of ordering a soldier to run over a 20-year old Palestinian with an army jeep in 2008.

And again: a lieutenant and infantry commander were indicted on charges of vandalism with malicious intent for torching Palestinian vehicles with his soldiers in 2009.

There is no hope for Zionism when we fan the flames of Jihad. We become guilty.

Settlers Clashing With Police and Friendly Farming in the Jordan Valley

Police Commissioner, Dudi Cohen, determined that defense forces acted appropriately during the Havat Gilad incident last week, when 15 Jewish settlers were injured when a Civil Administration team showed up at the illegal outpost with police forces, to demolish the newly built structures. A clash ensued in which settlers threw rocks at the forces and the police were forced to shoot plastic bullets. Eight activists were brought into police custody.

west bank sustainable farmAnd on a more positive note, to the side of the Jordan Valley road, greenhouses and long palm trees ornament the vista, demonstrating the economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.

Amid al-Masri, an agricultural landowner in the Jordan Valley said:

“Cooperation between us and Israel began at the end of the second intifada because we had much to learn from you…We cooperate with many Israeli companies on issues like de-infestation, irrigation and seedlings.”

A foreman at one of the Palestinian Authority’s foremost agricultural companies, Omad Hossam a-Zorbe, said:

“This project is funded by USAID and we now have 200 dunams (49.4 acres) of greenhouses. Most of the produce is for export, and whatever is left gets sent to the local market.”

Palestinian farmers are exporting their produce to countries with which they have trade agreements, through Israeli companies. Palestinians farmers also export produce from the Valley to Israeli farmers, bypassing the boycott of myriad European countries and economic bodies.

The Civil Administration is the organization supervising the cooperation; and is also responsible for instructing farmers and making sure they meet tough Israeli health standards.

An officer at the Civil Administration’s agriculture section, Samir Muaddi, said:

“We’re working with farmers and the Palestinian agriculture ministry to help them market their produce in Israel and make sure that the product we get is of a certain quality…Palestinians take part in seminars on modern agriculture and are exposed to Israeli and international innovations through the administration.”

Mazen Snokrut, the one-time Palestinian Economy Minister and now packing-house owner praised the project:

“This project is the best example of a win-win situation,” “This is an Israeli-Palestinian connection that has created trust between the two sides. We are working with no enemies here. We have joint creation with many companies from the Israeli economy – we buy their technology and seedlings and through them export to Europe and the US and even have Israeli agronomists here.”

Hillary Leaves Settlers Freezing

hillaryUS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered Israel half praise and half criticism on their plans for a semi-freeze of settlement expansion. On Monday she said that the proposed plan “falls short of US expectations.” Israel says that it is willing to limit settlement expansion, while not freezing it altogether.

Clinton said:

“Successive American administrations of both parties have opposed Israel’s settlement policy. That is absolutely a fact, and the Obama administration’s position on settlements is clear, unequivocal and it has not changed. As the president has said on many occasions, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…I will offer positive reinforcement to either of the parties when I believe they are taking steps that support the objective of reaching a two-state solution,” she said.

“This offer falls far short of what we would characterize as our position or what our preference would be. But if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.”

Clinton also insisted that the Palestinian Authority deserved credit for their “unprecedented” steps toward improving security in the West Bank.
After her stop in the Holy Land, Mrs. Clinton continued down the path to Morocco, to speak with Foreign Ministers from several Persian Gulf countries, including Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Does Huckabee Represent the New Approach to Middle East Peace?

Mike HuckabeeThere’s a storm afoot. I can feel it. It’s just now starting to churn, and the waters of the peace process are getting a bit choppier. I refer not to any coming wars, of which there are sure to be plenty, but to a new trend. The world is getting tired of the ongoing Oslo Peace Process, as it was originally designed to solve everything in 3 months (so said Yitzhak Rabin), and now, 16 years later, we’re still at Square One. What I am referring to is a growing post-Oslo phenomenon, a political approach that, instead of trying to find a way to “jumpstart the peace process,” just isn’t interested in having a peace process in the first place. I’m talking about Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

Listed among the top contenders for the Republican throne in 2012, Huckabee’s approach to Israel would be fundamentally different than any president has taken since 1967. He came to Israel last week and said some sound bites that you wouldn’t believe. “The closest thing we [in America] ever had to that”– namely the demand that Jewish settlers leave their homes located on what most of the world believes is Palestinian land–“was the days of segregation, racially, where there were white neighborhoods and there were black neighborhoods.”
Also, “To say that Jews can’t live in Jerusalem is the equivalent of telling the Boston Red Sox they can’t play in Fenway Park. Obviously, that would never go over very well on Beacon Hill.”

The following is a paragraph from Shmuel Rosner’s article published in the New Republic analyzing Huckabee and his approach.

“Huckabee is becoming one of the loudest voices in a small (but growing) chorus of people who aren’t just tired of trying to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or pessimistic when it comes to the prospects of achieving such peace any time soon. These people–among them right-wing hacks and former generals, messianic radicals and cold-calculating strategists, populist politicians and idealistic dreamers–think that the whole paradigm of peace as we know it should be eliminated from the books. The reigning world vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace is, they believe, so ’90s, and should boldly be replaced by new paradigms. Huckabee is the best hope that settlers and their supporters can entertain of turning this relatively marginal viewpoint into a legitimate position.”

Huckabee now has a hit show on Foxnews and is serious contender for the Republican nomination, so we’ll see how far he can get with his rhetoric.

The only problem is, what is Huckabee’s serious alternative? Meaning, there is a status quo here that can’t exactly be maintained for much longer, and peace process or not, it has to be changed. The good thing is, that’s not Huckabee’s business as to exactly how. All he can do is support whatever ideas we in Israel come up with. It’s up to Israel’s leaders to think it up and do it. The problem here is, there’s no one in power right now that is. Thinking it up on the sidelines, there are plenty. The question is, will they break into the mainstream?

The storm is brewing. Time will tell. And something tells me, it won’t really be that long before time does finally tell and the stalemate is broken. While time is busy ticking, here’s a nice video of Huckabee in the previous presidential campaign.

Annual Check Up

Something I found in my Inbox this morning…

I sincerely hope that when the president goes in for his annual check-up, the doctors at Bethesda will do a brain scan. Surely something must be terribly wrong with a man who seems to be far more concerned with a Jew building a house in Israel than with Muslims building a nuclear bomb in Iran..

Barack Obama Slipping with Jewish Minds

World Jewish opinions of U.S. President Barack Obama have seemed to have slipped a bit recently, especially following his “reach out to Islam” address in Cairo and his subsequent meeting with Israel P.M. Binyamin Netanyahu. This fact is especially true in Israel where the country’s Jewish population (now the largest in any one country) is becoming increasingly concerned with Obama’s plans toward a “two state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians. This together with remarks made by U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, during Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent visit to Washington DC, appear to be brewing up a very bitter “lager” (or is it stout) that we living in Israel will eventually have to swallow.

These feelings of apprehension, especially by Jews in Israel, was reflected recently by a poll conducted jointly by the Jerusalem Post and the Smith Research Institute, regarding Jewish “before and after” feelings towards the Obama Administration.

Obama appears to have more than just tried to reach out to both world Muslims and the Palestinians, whose situation he has referred to as “intolerable”.

When asked whether Jews felt the Obama Administration was pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, or somewhere in between, the answer before the Cairo speech and Netanyahu White House visit was:

Pro-Israel: 31%, Pro-Palestinian: 14%, and Neutral: 40%

The response following the address and Netanyahu’s visit turned out a bit different:

Pro-Israel: 6%, Pro-Palestinian: 50%, Neutral: 36%

Another key post Cairo Address question, regarding freezing of construction and “expansion” in large settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim , and Ariel, also indicated the respondents’ concerns:

In favor of construction freeze: 27%, Against: 69%, No-opinion: 4%

The post address poll was conducted on June 16/17 among 500 Jewish adults (their place of residence not indicated) and with a 4.5% margin of error. The pre-address poll was conducted on May 17/18, among a similar number of respondents, their residences also not noted.

When asked how they felt about the previous Bush Administrations feelings towards Israel, the response also indicated a difference in feelings now emanating from the White House:

Pro-Israel: 88%, Pro-Palestinian 2%, Neutral: 7%

And these feelings were despite remarks by former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice concerning the “road map” for Israel Palestinian relations, and the security barrier being built between Israel and the PA controlled areas in the West Bank.

The Obama Administration’s disapproval of what is referred to as “natural growth” in the above mentioned settlement blocs may have been what is causing the most concern among Jewish Israelis – so strong in fact that Israel F.M. Lieberman made a comment towards this issue during his visit with Sec. of State Clinton: “All over the world, people living in various locations are born, get married, and die. Why is this fact any different in areas where Israeli Jews now live (i.e., the settlements)?” He was perhaps referring to whether Jewish families living in these settlement blocs will be prevented from “natural expansion”, i.e., marriages and births, in addition to a freeze on new housing construction in these locations.

Opinion polls always appear to reflect the feelings of the persons conducting the interviews; and most certainly a similar poll conducted by another news media entity, such as Haaretz, CNN or Sky News would have had a different set of results. Or would it have?

We coulda told ya so!

Obama Meeting PA HeadNobody needs to be political genius to figure out which way the wind is blowing in regards to how the Obama Administration is formulating its Middle East policies; especially those regarding Israel. The “two state solution”, settlement freeze, and apparent warming up to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a sobering indication that Israel will not get the same treatment from Washington that was received during the Bush Administration. And for sure, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not be so close to the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem as Condoleezza Rice was.

Obama and his Ivy League foreign policy gurus have given the Israeli government a two year deadline to prepare for the reality of Palestinian statehood, and that includes an immediate freeze to all settlement activity in the West Bank, including, we presume, such Jerusalem suburbs as Maale Adumim, now regarded as the largest Jewish town in the West Bank. The new US policy decisions include an immediate dismantling of a number of “outpost settlements” which although considered as illegal during the Bush Administration were allowed to remain in place – most of them that is.

The big issue now is just which ones are considered to be outpost settlements and which will not? Will Alfe Menashe (a settlement near the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and virtually alongside the Palestinian city of Kalkilia) be slated for dismantlement, as well as ones like Tekoa (in the Gush Etzion Bloc) also fall within this definition?
And let’s not forget ones like the small Jewish presence in Hebron, virtually surrounded by nearly 200,000 Palestinians. The list goes on and on.

From a political standpoint, things might have been a bit more flexible under a Kadima Party government headed by Tzipi Livni; but the Israeli way of putting ruling coalition governments together determined a different political path, as the Likud party’s right winged political friends, lined up on Netanyahu’s side, along with Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, who broke a long standing political philosophy to go “right of center” and join up with such people as Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitanu Party.

That’s not the way things turned out, and as a result, the “winds of change” blowing eastward from the U.S. Capital appear to be a bit on the chilly side. For all of us living here in the Levant, let’s hope that the chilly winds from Washington don’t turn into hot winds blowing from either the North (Lebanon), Northeast (Syria) or especially from the East (Teheran), as well as from our Palestinian “neighbors” in Gaza and possibly later on, the West Bank.

Palestinian Man Gets Death for Selling Land to Jews

In an effort to discourage Palestinians from selling land to “the enemy” a Palestinian Islamic court authorized the death penalty to a man from a small village of Bet Umar north of Hebron in the West Bank. The man, Anwar Brigith, had been convicted of selling land to Jewish settlers living in the area, and was found to be in violation of a Fatwa issued by an Islamic judicial panel forbidding the sale of Palestinian land or houses to Jews.

Brigith was also found to be in violation of a 1979 Palestinian military law (authorized during Yasser Arafat‘s tenure as head of the PLO) which also stated that it is forbidden to sell Palestinian land to Jews. All of Brigith’s personal property, including that belonging to members of his family, may be confiscated as well, due to this harsh conviction.

Why this incident notes merit here, is that we might have expected this kind of punishment to have been levied by a judicial body located in a country like Saudi Arabia or even in Hamas controlled Gaza; where Jews once had property until the disengagement is Israel from Gaza in August, 2005. That this ruling was issued in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Fattah controlled Palestinian Authority headquarters is located, doesn’t bode well for any future agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Most Palestinians appear to support this kind of sentence against “traitors to the Palestinian Nation”; and although no such sentence has been formally carried out (at least on the West Bank anyway) several Palestinians have been kidnapped and murdered for what were considered to be crimes against the “honor and sovereignty of the Palestinian People”. This has included deals involving property in the Old City of Jerusalem sold to Jews.

Many properties, as well as tracts of land within what is now Israel proper, i.e. within the pre-1967 boundaries, were purchased originally by Jews from Arabs; and it remains to be seen how these parcels will be treated in any final settlement. Many land deals have been made recently in areas like the Galilee – areas, which could one day be “swapped” for permanent settlements now located on the West Bank, if politicians like Avigdor Lieberman have their way.

House of Conflict, House of Peace

News reports in the English language refer to is as the “disputed house” (Ynet), the “Hebron house” (Jerusalem Post), or “house of Contention” (Ha’aretz).

We each have our own point of view; an adopted narrative. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Who started it all? Who’s trying to capitalize the course of events?

The truth is I haven’t got a clue. The Hebrew language is fighting itself. Is it the “House of Conflict” or the “House of Peace”? From where I stand, all I see is conflict in Hebron, no peace in sight.

Transit Governments

  • Tzipi Livni has decided last night to forego her last attempts in assembling a parliamentary coalition. This means we’re heading into general elections within 3 to 4 months, probably somewhere in middle February 2009.
  • Municipal elections in Israel are slated for November 11.
  • While the US Presidential elections are due November 4.
  • On top of it all, Abu Mazen, president of the Palestinian Authority, is ending his term in office come January. Hamas has already declared that his people will not regarded Abu Mazzen as a legitimate president if the dejected man decides to remain in office despite the deadline. If such a scenario materializes — and there is high probability it will — then the West Bank might turn into a bloodbath between Fatah and Hamas.

Back to Olmert… As the head of a transit government, he has no public mandate to craft new policies or to resume diplomatic negotiations, yet nevertheless he is still Prime Minister for at least 3 more months.

And as of today he has to deal not only with the Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the possibility of a looming chaos in the West Bank; but also with the growing tensions between the Settlers and the Israeli army.

If you haven’t heard yet, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) dismantled tonight a tiny unauthorized settlement outside of Hebron — that belonged to far-right-extremist Noam Federman. As a result, several people in the Jewish Settlers community called out to kill Israeli soldiers as retaliation!

Despite his lack of public or parliamentary support, and while several indictments are awaiting him in court, he has to face the threats of both a Palestinian civil conflict as well as a Jewish civil conflict.

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