Sunday, December 30, 2012

‘Tis the Season: how anti-Israel NGOs are abusing Christmas

DECEMBER 24, 2012, Ariella Kimmel

The Christmas season is upon us, and yet instead of spreading messages of peace and good cheer, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are using this celebratory time of year to advance their politicized anti-Israel campaigns. Organizations such asChristian Aid(UK), Kairos Palestine, Sabeel, War on Want (UK), Amos Trust, and Adalah-NY-NY employ offensive and inflammatory rhetoric in Christmas carols, holiday messages and cards, nativity scenes, and other gift items to push their immoral agenda. Even more alarming, is the inclusion by some of these organizations of blatant anti-Semitism in their campaigns, and the silence of their European funders. As funders, these governments are enablers and share the moral responsibility for the repugnant actions of these organizations.

The manipulation by these organizations of religious symbols is offensive; instead of promoting co-existence and peace, as one would hope human rights groups would, they revive deep-seated Christian anti-Semitic theology. At the same time their messages conspicuously omit any references to deadly terrorism and other violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians.

For example, Christian Aid, which largely operates on a budget that stems directly from the public pockets of Britain and Ireland, holds a one-sided view on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Their publications systematically ignore the Palestinian role in the ongoing conflict and disregard Israel’s right to self-defense.

As in previous years,  Christian Aid has used their Christmas materials for politicized attacks against Israel. Christian Aid has published an “Advent Journey” and “Advent Reflections,” both under the title of “Healing in this Holy Land.” Within these publications there are clear theological overtones:

In Bethlehem, where Jesus was born…there is also an enormous wall around part of the town that makes the lives of Palestinians living in Bethlehem very difficult because they cannot move freely. As you think about Mary and Joseph making the journey to Bethlehem, pray for the people who live there now and whose lives have been affected by conflict.

Christian Aid describes travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians and other forms of suffering due to roadblocks and checkpoints, while completely removing the context of Palestinian mass terror which necessitate these security measures.

Two blatant examples of antisemitism this season include Kairos Palestine and Sabeel, who both invoke anti-Semitic imagery by linking their attacks on Israel to the ancient libel blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus (deicide).

Sabeel, which describes itself as “an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians,” is funded by the Swedish government via Diakonia. They are active in anti-Israel political campaigns, including church divestment resolutions, and support a one state formula, meaning the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.

The director of the organization, Naim Ateek, has been no stranger to the use of offensive rhetoric in regards to Israel; this year in their annual Christmas message, he makes use of an anti-Semitic analogy equating the Palestinians with Jesus, and Israel with the evil Roman Empire responsible for his death. In a deft reversal of where Jews fit into the historical narrative, he writes that:

…people of first century Palestine were looking for salvation and liberation from the oppressive yoke of the Roman Empire…Today’s Palestinians are looking for salvation and liberation from the oppressive yoke of Israel.

Kairos Palestine, a Christian Palestinian group centrally involved in political warfare against Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, published a 32-page “Christmas Alert” together with Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ). This text includes distortions on the situation of Palestinian Christians, for instance blaming Israel for a “severe water crisis” in villages near Bethlehem, ignoring the Palestinian Authority’s full responsibility for this crisis through mismanaging water distribution in Palestinian areas.

The falsehoods in the Christmas alert are interlaced with biblically-based sermons. One of these compares the situation of the Palestinians today with the “Parable of the Vineyard and the Tenants.” This parable invokes classic anti-Semitic deicide themes: the tenants (the Jews) reject the word of God (the owner of the vineyard) and kill his son, causing their land to be taken from them and given to “others.” This document casts modern day Jews as the evil tenants, and the Palestinians as Jesus, whom the tenants seek to kill.

Funding from European governments, both directly and through outsourcing designated for international aid, which is provided to these groups and their theologically-charged messages, exacerbates the impact and damage. The parliaments and taxpayers in the EU, Ireland, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, and Norway should demand full transparency and an immediate end to such hate-producing activities. With this abuse of holiday and religious symbols, the NGOs and charities that claim to promote moral agendas are not offering messages of peace and good cheer. Rather, their intolerant and theologically charged messages further an already polarized and violent conflict.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

UN: Return Golan Residents to Syrian Slaughterhouse “Forthwith”

Evelyn Gordon @evelyng1234

The UN General Assembly, as Elliott Abrams noted yesterday, just passed nine resolutions in a single day condemning Israel, mainly for its treatment of the Palestinians, while completely ignoring the real disaster that befell the Palestinians this week: the Assad regime’s bombing of the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, which reportedly killed dozens of Palestinians and caused about 100,000 to flee. But the situation becomes even more surreal when one examines the actual content of the resolutions–because it turns out that while the UN is voting to condemn Israel, its alleged victims are voting the opposite with their feet.

One resolution, for instance, slams Israel’s 1981 annexation of the “occupied Syrian Golan” and demands that Israel “rescind forthwith its decision.” Given what’s happening across the border in Syria, where the ongoing civil war has killed over 44,000 people and created over 500,000 refugees, I suspect most of the 20,000 Syrian Druze on the Golan are thanking their lucky stars to be living safely under Israel’s “occupation.” But you needn’t take my word for it: According to the Hebrew daily Maariv, whose report was subsequently picked up the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Israeli government statistics show that the number of Golan Druze applying for Israeli citizenship (for which the annexation made them eligible) has risen by hundreds of percent since the Syrian civil war erupted, after 30 years in which very few did so.

“More and more people comprehend that this [Israel] is a well-managed country and it’s possible to live and raise children here,” one Druze who acquired Israeli citizenship explained. “In Syria there is mass murder, and if [the Druze are] under Syrian control they would likely be turned into the victims of these atrocities. People see murdered children and refugees fleeing to Jordan and Turkey, lacking everything, and ask themselves: Where do I want to raise my children. The answer is clear–in Israel and not Syria.”

But what the Golan’s own residents want, of course, is of no interest to the UN: It would rather Israel return the area, and its Druze, to the Syrian hellhole “forthwith.”

Then there was the resolution condemning Israel for violating “the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” But in East Jerusalem, too, the number of Palestinians requesting Israeli citizenship has risen sharply in recent years (West Bank and Gazan Palestinians aren’t eligible for citizenship, since Israel hasn’t annexed those areas). And while the number of Palestinians actually receiving citizenship remains small, Haaretz reports, “everyone involved agrees” it would be higher if Israel’s notoriously slow Interior Ministry would just process the applications faster.

The number of East Jerusalem Palestinians registering for the Israeli matriculation exam rather than the Palestinian one has also recently risen by dozens of percent, meaning these young Palestinians aspire to study at an Israeli university and work in Israel rather than studying and working in the Arab world. This, too, is a sea change: For years, Palestinians refused to allow their children to study the Israeli curriculum; now, private preparatory schools are springing up to enable these children to pass the Israeli exams.

Moreover, repeated polls have shown that if Jerusalem were redivided, many Palestinians–at least a sizable minority, and possibly a majority–would want to remain in Israel. But again, what East Jerusalem residents want is of no interest to the UN.

All of which just goes to show, if anyone had any doubts, that the UN and its member states have no interest whatsoever in the actual wellbeing of those under Israeli “occupation.” All they’re interested in is bashing Israel.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

HRW Contradicts Prior Promises

By Hillel Neuer 15th Dec.2012

GENEVA - Minutes after the U.N. voted on Nov. 29 to call “Palestine” a state, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a press release urging the Palestinians to use their new status to pursue Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Yet few noticed that HRW’s lobbying contradicted its own promises that this scenario would never happen.

In 2001, when Americans were debating whether or not to support the ICC, Human Rights Watch published “Myths and Facts About the International Criminal Court.”.

As part of its campaign to get the U.S. to ratify the Rome Statute and join the ICC, Human Rights Watch affirmed that the new court would never be used “to pursue politically motivated cases against Israel.” This concern was nothing but a “myth,” insisted HRW.

This was because “Future actions on Israeli or Palestinian territory will be covered only if the ICC treaty is ratified by Israel or by a broadly recognized Palestinian state.” And as HRW explained, in a Washington Post op-ed, “That will not happen until after a peace agreement, in which case the likelihood of Israeli military action against Palestinians greatly diminishes.”

Fast forward several years. Suddenly, HRW is lobbying for the Palestinian bid to become a U.N. state and an ICC member before a peace agreement — and indeed while the Palestinians have refused to even sit at the negotiating table with Israel.

What happened to HRW’s “that will not happen”promise?

The truth is that over the past several years, HRW has actively lobbied to make happen everything that it assured Americans would never happen.

On September 16, 2009, less than 24 hours after Judge Richard Goldstone released his infamous U.N. report accusing Israel of war crimes (which he retracted some 18 months later), Human Rights Watch published a detailed press release that “supported the fact-finding mission’s call for the Security Council to refer the Gaza conflict to the ICC”; argued that the ICC was “the obvious international tribunal for war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict”; and documented all of the possible ways that Israeli political and military leaders could be hauled before the ICC, including “if the ICC prosecutor acts positively on a declaration by the Palestinian National Authority requesting the court’s authority over crimes committed in Gaza.”

While HRW was sometimes cagey on expressing outright support for the formal ICC request submitted by the PA, there was no mistaking where they stood: “Human Rights Watch called on the ICC prosecutor to make a prompt legal determination on the Palestinian National Authority request, consistent with the ICC’s mandate to end impunity.” The latter phrase could only mean HRW wanted the ICC to decide in the affirmative.

Similarly, in a September 2010 speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council, HRW called on the 47-nation body to “urge the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to determine in a prompt manner whether he believes the court has jurisdiction over the Gaza conflict. Such a determination will clarify the avenues of international justice available.”

Again, HRW made it clear how they wanted the jurisdiction question to be decided: “The parties... have thus far not shown a willingness to conduct investigations up to international standards, so international prosecutions may be required.” Peace talks, said HRW, “in no way lessen the need for accountability. On the contrary, justice [i.e., ICC prosecution] for serious violations should be part of the discussion.”

On Nov. 6, 2012, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth tweeted his objection to a New York Times editorial that had opposed the Palestinian U.N. statehood gambit.

According to Roth, the Times ignored the key salutary effect of the upgrade: the possibility of the Palestinians joining the ICC and “deterring both sides’ war crimes.”

Disingenuously, Roth and Human Rights Watch pretend that any international or UN-affiliated process on Israel would be fair and objective.

In fact, the greatest supporter of the Goldstone Report’s call for ICC prosecutions, apart from HRW, was the Hamas terrorist organization. One recalls the “Goldstone” scarves that were popularly sold in Gaza stores, next to posters of Hamas leaders. If Hamas cheered the call for ICC action, how can one logically claim that Hamas would be “deterred” by it?

By actively lobbying for Palestinian statehood prior to a peace agreement, and by urging Palestinians to pursue Israel in the ICC, Human Rights Watch promotes the Hamas agenda and the politicization of international law.

More than that, HRW breaks its word, and undermines the credibility of its organization.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Europe Once Again Shows that Palestinian Violence Pays

Evelyn Gordon

Just in case there were any doubts, last week provided conclusive proof: Yes, Palestinian violence pays. And the so-called “enlightened” countries–those Western states who claim to deplore violence and favor the peaceful resolution of conflicts–are the very ones who will reward violence the most. That’s precisely what happened with the Palestinians’ successful bid for UN recognition as a nonmember observer state.

Most European countries understood that this move would at best not advance the peace process, and at worst hinder it. So some had planned to vote no, while others planned to abstain. But then Hamas dramatically escalated its rocket fire on Israel, forcing Israel to respond; Hamas thus became the center of world attention while the Palestinian Authority was sidelined. So in an effort to give the PA a boost, European governments switched their votes at the last minute: Those who had planned to vote no abstained, and those who had planned to abstain voted yes. In other words, they agreed to support something they had previously considered “unhelpful” just because Hamas fired lots of rockets at Israel.

But the hypocrisy doesn’t end there. These same European countries are now furious at Israel’s response: They thought they had an understanding with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel would let the UN vote pass quietly. And in fact, they did. The only minor detail they’re overlooking is that Netanyahu agreed not to retaliate for the UN vote in exchange for what he thought was a European commitment to either vote against or abstain. In short, the Europeans reneged on their side of the unwritten deal, but are furious that Israel isn’t upholding its side anyway.

That is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the peace process as a whole: As far as most of the world is concerned, bilateral Israeli agreements are binding on one side only: Israel. Thus it’s perfectly fine with the Europeans for the PA to violate one of its cardinal commitments under the peace process: that all disputes will be resolved through negotiations rather than unilaterally–or as the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement put it, “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” But it’s an outrage, completely beyond the pale, for Israel to respond by doing something that no signed agreement actually bars it from doing: In no agreement did Israel ever promise to halt construction in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

So here’s what we’ve learned from the past week’s events: Palestinians should keep shooting rockets at Israel, because Europe will reward them for it by punishing Israel. And Israel should never again make any agreement with the Palestinians, because the Palestinians won’t be bound by it at all, whereas Israel will be bound not only by what the deal actually says, but by what the Palestinians and their Europeans allies think it should have said.

You’d think countries that claim to abhor violence and favor diplomacy could find better lessons to be teaching, wouldn’t you?