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  • Italy’s far-right leader Salvini visiting Israel to ’whitewash’ record, critics say - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-criticism-mounts-ahead-of-italian-far-right-leader-salvini-s-visit
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.6727080.1544387800!/image/2841627613.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2841627613.jpg

    Some in Italy’s Jewish community say it’s alarming that Netanyahu will ’provide Matteo Salvini with a pro-#Israel license’

    #extreme_droite #Europe

    https://seenthis.net/messages/742924 via Kassem


  • Inside the evangelical money flowing into the West Bank

    A Haaretz investigation reveals that Christian groups have invested up to $65 million in projects in the ‘Biblical Heartland’ over the past decade. That doesn’t include services they provide free of charge, like volunteer laborers
    By Judy Maltz Dec 09, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-inside-the-evangelical-money-flowing-into-the-west-bank-1

    When the first Christian evangelical volunteers descended on the religious West Bank settlement of Har Bracha about 10 years ago, offering to harvest grapes for the local Jewish farmers free of charge, not everyone welcomed them with open arms.
    After all, for generations Jews had been taught that when Christians go out of their way to be nice, it is probably because they are secretly plotting to convert them, and, therefore, it’s best to keep a distance.
    Much has changed since then. There are still Jewish settlers not completely comfortable with the idea of Christians living in their midst and working their fields. But they are far less vocal these days. 

    Hayovel, the U.S. organization that brings them to Har Bracha, is among a growing list of evangelical groups that operate exclusively in the so-called “biblical heartland.” Over the past decade, it has brought more than 1,700 volunteers to the settlements – and only the settlements because, as a matter of principle, its volunteers do not assist farmers within Israel proper.
    Volunteers from Hayovel work in the West Bank: Over the past decade, the group has brought more than 1,700 volunteers to the settlements – and only the settlements Kyle S Mackie
    Explaining the organization’s special attachment to this disputed piece of land – that most of the international community does not recognize as part of Israel – Hayovel states on its website: “Every country in the world has turned its back on Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Israel, where 80 percent of the Bible was either written or occurred.”

    A volunteer from Hayovel carries crates for grapes. He is one of thousands of Christians coming to the West Bank to work for free for Jewish settlers Kyle S Mackie
    There were many years when Hayovel operated under the radar, believing that the less Israelis knew what it was up to, the better.
    No longer. These days, the nonprofit is more than happy to host journalists and the curious at its main campus, located on this settlement that overlooks the large Palestinian city of Nablus. Its willingness to be so aboveboard about its activities is evidence of how mainstream such interactions between Christian evangelicals and Jewish settlers have become.
    The ‘real’ Israel

    The Heart of Israel (also known as the Binyamin Fund) is another nonprofit benefiting from these ties. Established three years ago, the organization raises hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly for earmarked projects in the settlements, according to its American-born founder, Aaron Katsof.
    Although Katsof says evangelicals do not account for the bulk of the money he raises, they do account for the vast majority of his donors. “You have to realize that while the average Jew gives $1,500, the average Christian gives $50,” he says. “But their share is growing very, very fast.”
    Asked what prompted him to set up this new fundraising organization, Katsof – who lives in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh – responds: “The more evangelicals I met over the years, the more I realized how thirsty they were to connect to the settlements. When they land in Tel Aviv, they often tell me that it isn’t how they imagined Israel. But when they come out here to the settlements, they say this is exactly how they imagined it.
    “They are our biggest, biggest, biggest, biggest allies,” he adds.
    Vid - דלג

    https://seenthis.net/messages/742468 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel’s president to CNN : Fighting anti-Semitism alongside neo-fascists is ’absolutely impossible’

    Reuven Rivlin’s remarks come after PM Netanyahu praised Austria, Hungary for combating the issue

    Noa Landau SendSend me email alerts
    Nov 29, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-rivlin-fighting-anti-semitism-alongside-neo-fascists-is-absolutely

    President Reuven Rivlin responded on Thursday to a poll published by CNN earlier in the week that revealed the depth of anti-Semitism in Europe.
    Rivlin told CNN that anti-Semitism is “an evil that can be found anywhere – left and right, nationalist and religious” and argued that combatting the phenomenon by forming coalitions with neo-fascist movements is impossible.
    >> The man challenging the narrative that Netanyahu is Israel’s one and only savior | Analysis ■ Germany’s Nazi-friendly, anti-Semitic far right has a new mission: Recruiting Jews | Opinion

    Rivlin’s comments come after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the right-wing leaders of Austria and Hungary for fighting anti-Semitism, a problem which Netanyahu said is fueled today by the “extreme left and radical Islamic pockets.”
    "I saw [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban in Hungary," Netanyahu told CNN on Tuesday in response to the poll. “He’s opened up a center against anti-Semitism. I saw [Chancellor] Sebastian Kurz in Austria, he just held a conference against anti-Semitism, and that’s encouraging.” 
    In the interview Thursday, Rivlin told CNN that neo-fascism is “absolutely incompatible” with Israel’s principles and values. “You cannot say ‘we admire Israel and want relations with your country, but we are neo-fascists,’" Rivlin said.
    “I meet leaders from all around the world – presidents and prime ministers – and they tell me that sometimes they need to work with movements like these to build coalitions and that although they are neo-fascists they are great admirers of Israel. I tell them that this is absolutely impossible,” Rivlin said.
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    According to the president, rejecting neo-fascists movements is a way of fighting anti-Semitism. “The fact that the President of Israel says to neo-fascist movements ‘you are persona non grata in the State of Israel’ is a statement that fights anti-Semitism in a concrete way. It is a statement that makes clear that memory is important and that we will not compromise on for the political expediency of the state of Israel,” Rivlin said.
    CNN’s poll, conducted in seven European countries, found that a quarter of Europeans believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Additionally, more than one-third of respondents said they have no substantial knowledge of the Holocaust. One-third of respondents also said that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own positions or goals
    According to Rivlin, the problem can be fought by “strengthening memory” and sticking “to the historical facts, not politicians’ talking points.” Rivlin added that Israel must collaborate with other nations “to fight against xenophobia and discrimination, of which anti-Semitism is a variant.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/739988 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Not just Ireland: Chilean congress calls for boycott of Israeli settlements
    Resolution passes as Ireland advances bill banning settlement produce ■ Legislation promoted to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

    Noa Landau SendSend me email alerts
    Nov 29, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-chilean-congress-follows-ireland-and-calls-for-boycott-of-israeli-

    The Chilean congress approved this week a resolution calling for its government to boycott Israeli settlements in any future agreement with Israel and to reexaime past agreements.
    The resolution passed with 99 congressmen voting in its favor, seven voting against it and 30 abstaining.
    To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz
    The resolution approved in Chile on Tuesday includes a demand from the government to examine all agreements signed with Israel, in order to ensure they only cover territories within the Green Line. The second clause requests that the Chilean Foreign Service ensure that future agreements relate to territories within Israel proper. 
    It was also decided to give guidelines to Chilean citizens visiting or doing business in Israel, so that they understand the historical context of the place and “not support colonization or cooperate with human rights violations in the occupied territories.”
    Finally, the resolution calls for the creation of a so-called mechanism to forbid imports of products made in settlements.
    >> Meet the Chilestinians, the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East
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    The resolution recognizes a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Chile has in the past recognized a Palestinian state. 
    The foreign ministry in Chile will study the resolution and it may be legislated into law in the future. 
    On Wednesday, the Irish senate passed another stage of a bill calling to boycott produce originating in Israeli settlements.
    Both of these legal moves were pushed by the Palestinians ahead of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which takes place Thursday.
    The current stage of the Irish law corresponds with a first reading in the Israeli Knesset.
    In July, the Senate approved the bill in a preliminary reading with support from the opposition. Twenty-five Parliament members voted in favor, 20 opposed and 14 abstained.
    The bill prohibits the export and selling of products and services which come from “illegal settlements in occupied territories.” The vote was postponed earlier this year in an attempt to reach a compromise with the government, which sought to soften it after Israel broached the subject.

    However, mutual understandings were not achieved on the matter.
    Saeb Erekat, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), lauded the legislative moves on Thursday by saying: “On the occasion of International Solidarity Day with Palestine, it is important to extend the Palestinian peoples’ gratitude to the courageous efforts of both the Chilean and Irish Parliaments. The efforts of both distinguished parliaments have triumphed for the justice and rights of the Palestinian people.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/739936 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Nancy Pelosi and Israel : Just how hawkish is the likely next speaker of the house ? - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Plus pro-israélien, on ne peut pas imaginer ! la probable future présidente de la chambre des représentants

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/nancy-pelosi-and-israel-why-the-house-s-pro-israel-stance-is-unlikely-to-ch

    Pelosi has also held staunchly pro-Israel views that have at times even out flanked the GOP from the right.
    In 2005, while addressing AIPAC, Pelosi had waxed poetic about her personal experiences in Israel and how they shaped her views: “This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.”
    Pelosi, who was the 52nd Speaker of the House, previously served from 2007 to 2011 in the position which coincided with the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza war known as Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, Pelosi sponsored a resolution that passed the House by a 390-5 majority blaming the Palestinian side for the violence and reaffirming U.S. support for Israel and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    The resolution quoted then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said in 2008, “We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence there.”
    Stephen Zunes, author and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, pointed out at the time that the language in the House decision was even to the right of the Bush administration, which supported the UN Security Council resolution condemning “all acts of violence and terror directed against civilians” - the congressional resolution only condemns the violence and terror of Hamas.
    Pelosi’s resolution also called for “the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been illegally held in Gaza since June 2006.”
    The Shalit kidnapping was a personal issue for Pelosi, who in 2008, while meeting with then Israeli Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, held up dog tags of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in 2006. Two of them belonged to Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose bodies were repatriated to Israel earlier that year. The third belonged to Gilad Shalit, who at the time was still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza. Shalit was famously freed in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal.
    Pelosi said she kept them as a “symbol of the sacrifices made, sacrifices far too great by the people of the state of Israel.”
    However, she hasn’t always been been on the right side of the pro-Israel divide. In 2014 Pelosi was criticized for suggesting Hamas is a humanitarian organization. On CNN she said, “And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” The host of the segment Candy Crowley then interrupted her to ask, “The U.S. thinks they’re a terrorist organization though, correct? Do you?” Pelosi responded with, “Mmm hmm.”
    After receiving a lashing from the likes of Megyn Kelly on Fox News and The Republican Jewish Coalition Matthew Brook, Pelosi’s office released a statement, “As Leader Pelosi reiterated in her CNN interview, Hamas is a terrorist organization.”
    Pelosi was also a vocal critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress denouncing then-President Obama’s nuclear deal, which she supported.
    After the speech she released a very harshly worded condemnation saying, “That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”
    Pelosi, who was endorsed this week by J Street in her bid for speaker, addressed the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference by reading a J Street-backed letter, which was signed by 191 members of Congress, mostly Democrats, urging U.S. President Donald Trump to support a two-state solution.
    “As strong supporters of Israel, we write to urge you to reaffirm the United States’ long-standing, bipartisan commitment to supporting a just and lasting two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Pelosi said.
    “It is our belief that a one-state outcome risks destroying Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, denies the Palestinians fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations, and would leave both Israelis and Palestinians embroiled in an endless and intractable conflict for generations to come,” she continued.
    Pelosi, at 78, represents the Democratic establishment’s traditional position on Israel, coupling unwavering support for Israeli defense and the two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestinians, a bipartisan position that courts both AIPAC and J Street and doesn’t diverge too far from that of centrist Republicans. Unlike some new members of her caucus who criticize Israel for “occupying” the West Bank or for human rights abuses, Pelosi reservers her criticism only for Israeli leaders or policies she disagrees with, most prominently Netanyahu.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/738428 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israeli cyber firm negotiated advanced attack capabilities sale with Saudis, Haaretz reveals

    Just months before crown prince launched a purge against his opponents, NSO offered Saudi intelligence officials a system to hack into cellular phones ■ NSO: We abide the law, our products are used to combat crime and terrorism

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-company-negotiated-to-sell-advanced-cybertech-to-the-saudi

    The Israeli company NSO Group Technologies offered Saudi Arabia a system that hacks cellphones, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his purge of regime opponents, according to a complaint to the Israel Police now under investigation.
    But NSO, whose development headquarters is in Herzliya, says that it has acted according to the law and its products are used in the fight against crime and terror.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Either way, a Haaretz investigation based on testimony and photos, as well as travel and legal documents, reveals the Saudis’ behind-the-scenes attempts to buy Israeli technology.
    In June 2017, a diverse group gathered in a hotel room in Vienna, a city between East and West that for decades has been a center for espionage, defense-procurement contacts and unofficial diplomatic meetings.
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    Arriving at the hotel were Abdullah al-Malihi, a close associate of Prince Turki al-Faisal – a former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services – and another senior Saudi official, Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief. Their interlocutors were two Israeli businessmen, representatives of NSO, who presented to the Saudis highly advanced technology.

    >> Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays | Revealed
    In 2017, NSO was avidly promoting its new technology, its Pegasus 3 software, an espionage tool so sophisticated that it does not depend on the victim clicking on a link before the phone is breached.
    During the June 2017 meeting, NSO officials showed a PowerPoint presentation of the system’s capabilities. To demonstrate it, they asked Qahtani to go to a nearby mall, buy an iPhone and give them its number. During that meeting they showed how this was enough to hack into the new phone and record and photograph the participants in the meeting.
    The meeting in Vienna wasn’t the first one between the two sides. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently expressed pride in the tightening ties with Gulf states, with Israel’s strength its technology. The message is clear: Israel is willing to sell these countries security-related technologies, and they forge closer ties with Israel in the strategic battle against Iran.
    >> $6 billion of Iranian money: Why Israeli firm Black Cube really went after Obama’s team
    According to the complaint, the affair began with a phone call received by a man identified as a European businessman with connections in the Gulf states. On the line was W., an Israeli dealing in defense-related technologies and who operates through Cyprus-based companies. (Many defense-related companies do business in Cyprus because of its favorable tax laws.) W. asked his European interlocutor to help him do business in the Gulf.

    FILE Photo: Two of the founders of NSO, Shalev Julio and Omri Lavi.
    Among the European businessman’s acquaintances were the two senior Saudi officials, Malihi and Qahtani.
    On February 1, 2017, W. and the businessman met for the first time. The main topic was the marketing of cyberattack software. Unlike ordinary weapons systems, the price depends only on a customer’s eagerness to buy the system.
    The following month, the European businessman traveled to a weapons exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, where a friend introduced him to Malihi, the Saudi businessman.
    In April 2017, a meeting was arranged in Vienna between Malihi, Qahtani and representatives of Israeli companies. Two more meetings subsequently took place with officials of Israeli companies in which other Israelis were present. These meetings took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus, where Israeli cybercompanies often meet with foreign clients.
    >> Snowden: Israeli firm’s spyware was used to track Khashoggi
    The meetings were attended by W. and his son. They were apparently friendly: In photographs documenting one of them, W. and Qahtani are shown after a hunting trip, with the Saudi aiming a rifle at a dead animal.
    In the Vienna meeting of April 2017, the Saudis presented a list of 23 systems they sought to acquire. Their main interest was cybersystems. For a few dozens of millions of dollars, they would be able to hack into the phones of regime opponents in Saudi Arabia and around the world and collect classified information about them.
    According to the European businessman, the Saudis, already at the first meeting, passed along to the representatives of one of the companies details of a Twitter account of a person who had tweeted against the regime. They wanted to know who was behind the account, but the Israeli company refused to say.

    Offices of Israeli NSO Group company in Herzliya, Israel, Aug. 25, 2016Daniella Cheslow/AP
    In the June 2017 meeting, the Saudis expressed interest in NSO’s technology.
    According to the European businessman, in July 2017 another meeting was held between the parties, the first at W.’s home in Cyprus. W. proposed selling Pegasus 3 software to the Saudis for $208 million.
    Malihi subsequently contacted W. and invited him to Riyadh to present the software to members of the royal family. The department that oversees defense exports in Israel’s Defense Ministry and the ministry’s department for defense assistance, responsible for encouraging exports, refused to approve W.’s trip.
    Using the initials for the defense assistance department, W. reportedly said “screw the D.A.” and chartered a small plane, taking with him NSO’s founder, Shalev Hulio, to the meetings in the Gulf. According to the European businessman, the pair were there for three days, beginning on July 18, 2017.
    At these meetings, the European businessman said, an agreement was made to sell the Pegasus 3 to the Saudis for $55 million.
    According to the European businessman, the details of the deal became known to him only through his contacts in the defense assistance department. He said he had agreed orally with W. that his commission in the deal would be 5 percent – $2.75 million.
    But W. and his son stopped answering the European businessman’s phone calls. Later, the businessman told the police, he received an email from W.’s lawyer that contained a fake contract in which the company would agree to pay only his expenses and to consider whether to pay him a bonus if the deal went through.
    The European businessman, assisted by an Israeli lawyer, filed a complaint in April 2018. He was questioned by the police’s national fraud squad and was told that the affair had been transferred to another unit specializing in such matters. Since then he has been contacted by the income tax authorities, who are apparently checking whether there has been any unreported income from the deal.
    The European businessman’s claims seem to be substantiated by correspondence Haaretz has obtained between Cem Koksal, a Turkish businessman living in the UAE, and W.’s lawyers in Israel. The European businessman said in his complaint that Koksal was involved in mediating the deal.
    In a letter sent by Koksal’s lawyer in February of this year, he demanded his portion from W. In a response letter, sent in early March, W.’s attorney denied the existence of the deal. The deal had not been signed, the letter claimed, due to Koksal’s negligence, therefore he was due no commission or compensation of any kind.
    These issues have a wider context. From the claims by the European businessman and Koksal’s letter, it emerges that the deal was signed in the summer of 2017, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed began his purge of regime opponents. During that purge, the Saudi regime arrested and tortured members of the royal family and Saudi businessmen accused of corruption. The Saudis also held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri for a few days in a Riyadh hotel.
    In the following months the Saudis continued their hunt for regime opponents living abroad, which raised international attention only when the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul came to light in October.
    It has recently been claimed that NSO helped the Saudi regime surveil its opponents. According to an article in Forbes magazine and reports from the Canadian cyber-related think tank Citizen Lab, among the surveillance targets were the satirist Ghanem Almasrir and human rights activist Yahya Asiri, who live in London, and Omar Abdulaziz, who lives in exile in Canada.
    These three men were in contact with Khashoggi. Last month, Edward Snowden, who uncovered the classified surveillance program of the U.S. National Security Agency, claimed that Pegasus had been used by the Saudi authorities to surveil Khashoggi.
    “They are the worst of the worst,” Snowden said of NSO, whose people he accused of aiding and abetting human rights violations.
    NSO’s founders and chief executives are Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. The company is registered in Cyprus but its development headquarters is in Herzliya. In 2014 the company was sold to private equity firm Francisco Partners based on a valuation of $250 million.
    Francisco Partners did not respond to Haaretz’s request for comment.
    In May, Verint Systems offered to buy NSO for $1 billion, but the offer was rejected. The company is awash in cash. Earlier this month all its employees went on vacation in Phuket, Thailand. Netta Barzilai, Lior Suchard, the Ma Kashur Trio and the band Infected Mushroom were also flown there to entertain them.
    The Pegasus system developed by NSO was a “one-click system,” meaning that the victim had to press on a link sent to him through phishing. The new system no longer requires this. Only the number of the SIM card is needed to hack into the phone. It’s unknown how Pegasus does this.
    Technology sources believe that the technology either exploits breaches in the cellphone’s modem, the part that receives messages from the antenna, or security breaches in the apps installed on a phone. As soon as a phone is hacked, the speaker and camera can be used for recording conversations. Even encoded apps such as WhatsApp can be monitored.
    NSO’s operations are extremely profitable.
    The company, which conceals its client list, has been linked to countries that violate human rights. NSO says its products are used in the fight against crime and terror, but in certain countries the authorities identify anti-regime activists and journalists as terrorists and subject them to surveillance.
    In 2012, NSO sold an earlier version of Pegasus to Mexico to help it combat the drug cartel in that country. According to the company, all its contracts include a clause specifically permitting the use of its software only to “investigate and prevent crime or acts of terror.” But The New York Times reported in 2016 that the Mexican authorities also surveilled journalists and lawyers.
    Following that report, Mexican victims of the surveillance filed a lawsuit in Israel against NSO last September. This year, The New York Times reported that the software had been sold to the UAE, where it helped the authorities track leaders of neighboring countries as well as a London newspaper editor.
    In response to these reports, NSO said it “operated and operates solely in compliance with defense export laws and under the guidelines and close oversight of all elements of the defense establishment, including all matters relating to export policies and licenses.
    “The information presented by Haaretz about the company and its products and their use is wrong, based on partial rumors and gossip. The presentation distorts reality.
    “The company has an independent, external ethics committee such as no other company like it has. It includes experts in legal affairs and international relations. The committee examines every deal so that the use of the system will take place only according to permitted objectives of investigating and preventing terror and crime.
    “The company’s products assist law enforcement agencies in protecting people around the world from terror attacks, drug cartels, child kidnappers for ransom, pedophiles, and other criminals and terrorists.
    “In contrast to newspaper reports, the company does not sell its products or allow their use in many countries. Moreover, the company greatly limits the extent to which its customers use its products and is not involved in the operation of the systems by customers.”
    A statement on W.’s behalf said: “This is a false and completely baseless complaint, leverage for an act of extortion by the complainants, knowing that there is no basis for their claims and that if they would turn to the relevant courts they would be immediately rejected.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/738370 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israeli academics and artists warn against equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
    Their open letter ahead of a conference in Vienna advises against giving Israel immunity for ‘grave and widespread violations of human rights and international law’

    Ofer Aderet
    Nov 20, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-professors-warn-against-equating-anti-zionism-with-anti-se

    An open letter from 35 prominent Israelis, including Jewish-history scholars and Israel Prize laureates, was published Tuesday in the Austrian media calling for a distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel, “harsh as it may be,” and anti-Semitism.
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    The letter was released before an international gathering in Vienna on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Europe.
    The event this week, “Europe beyond anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism: Securing Jewish life in Europe,” is being held under the auspices of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. His Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, had been due to take part but stayed in Israel to deal with the crisis in his coalition government. 
    “We fully embrace and support the [European Union’s] uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism. The rise of anti-Semitism worries us. As we know from history, it has often signaled future disasters to all mankind,” the letter states. 
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    “However, the EU also stands for human rights and has to protect them as forcefully as it fights anti-Semitism. This fight against anti-Semitism should not be instrumentalized to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel’s occupation and severe violations of Palestinian human rights.” 

    The signatories accuse Netanyahu of suggesting an equivalence between anti-Israel criticism and anti-Semitism. The official declaration by the conference also notes that anti-Semitism is often expressed through disproportionate criticism of Israel, but the letter warns that such an approach could “afford Israel immunity against criticism for grave and widespread violations of human rights and international law.”
    The signatories object to the declaration’s alleged “identifying” of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. “Zionism, like all other modern Jewish movements in the 20th century, was harshly opposed by many Jews, as well as by non-Jews who were not anti-Semitic,” they write. “Many victims of the Holocaust opposed Zionism. On the other hand, many anti-Semites supported Zionism. It is nonsensical and inappropriate to identify anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.”
    Among the signatories are Moshe Zimmerman, an emeritus professor at Hebrew University and a former director of the university’s Koebner Center for German History; Zeev Sternhell, a Hebrew University emeritus professor in political science and a current Haaretz columnist; sculptor Dani Karavan; Miki Kratsman, a former chairman of the photography department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design; Jose Brunner, an emeritus professor at Tel Aviv University and a former director of the Minerva Institute for German History; Alon Confino, a professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; and graphic designer David Tartakover.

    Ofer Aderet
    Haaretz Correspondent

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  • Airbnb to remove listings in Jewish West Bank settlements - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/airbnb-to-remove-listings-in-jewish-west-bank-settlements-1.6662443

    Home-renting company Airbnb Inc said on Monday that it had decided to remove its listings in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, enclaves that most world powers consider illegal for taking up land where Palestinians seek statehood. In response, Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin instructed the ministry to restrict the company’s operations across the country.
    A statement on Airbnb’s website said: “We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.” 
    It did not say when the decision, which according to Airbnb affects some 200 listings, would take effect. 
    Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan called on Airbnb hosts harmed by the decision to file lawsuits against the company in accordance with Israel’s anti-boycott law and said he’ll turn to senior U.S. officials to check if the company’s decision violated the anti-boycott laws “that exist in over 25 states.”
    He said that “national conflicts exist throughout the world and Airbnb will need to explain why they chose a racist political stance against some Israeli citizens.”

    The Yesha Council of settlements said in response that “a company that has no qualms about renting apartments in dictatorships around the world and in places that have no relationship with human rights is singling out Israel. This can only be a result of anti-Semitism or surrendering to terrorism – or both.”

    Levin demanded Airbnb cancel its “discrimantory” decision, saying it was a “shameful and miserable decision.”
    Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Airbnb should have included East Jerusalem and should have said settlements “are illegal and constitute war crimes.” He added: “We reiterate our call upon the UN Human Rights Council to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation.”

    Airbnb came under Palestinian criticism for such listings, which some find misleading for failing to mention the property is on occupied land claimed by the Palestinians.
    The Palestinians say that by contributing to the settlement economy, Airbnb, like other companies doing business in the West Bank, helps perpetuate Israel’s settlement enterprise. 
    “There are conflicting views regarding whether companies should be doing business in the occupied territories that are the subject of historical disputes between Israelis and Palestinians,” the Airbnb statement said. 
    The statement continued: “In the past, we made clear that we would operate in this area as allowed by law. We did this because we believe that people-to-people travel has considerable value and we want to help bring people together in as many places as possible around the world. Since then, we spent considerable time speaking to various experts. We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective.”
    Oded Revivi, mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat and a representative of Yesha, described the Airbnb decision as contrary to its mission, as stated on the website, of “help(ing) to bring people together in as many places as possible around the world”. 
    Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 war and began building settlements soon after.
    While Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the settler population in east Jerusalem and the West Bank has ballooned to almost 600,000. The Palestinians claim these areas as parts of a future state, a position that has wide global support.
    Airbnb said that as part of their decision-making framework, they “evaluate whether the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering” and “determine whether the existence of listings in the occupied territory has a direct connection to the larger dispute in the region.”
    The Associated Press contributed to this report

    #BDS

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  • Israel is indirectly cooperating with The Hague’s probe into 2014 Gaza war despite past criticism

    International Criminal Court’s criminal investigation into Israel’s actions in the Strip could lead to a wave of lawsuits against those involved and even to their arrest abroad

    Yaniv Kubovich
    Nov 11, 2018 9:49 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-is-indirectly-cooperating-with-the-hague-s-probe-into-2014-

    Over the last few months Israel has been transferring material to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is examining whether war crimes were committed in the Gaza Strip. According to defense sources, the material relates to events that took place during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Israel-Gaza war. The ICC is also looking into the demonstrations along the Gaza border fence that began on March 30.
    In the past, Israel sharply criticized the court, saying that it had no authority to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, there is concern in the political and military echelons that the court will open a criminal investigation into Israel’s actions in the Strip, a process that could lead to a wave of lawsuits against those involved and even to their arrest abroad.
    >>Rising terrorism in West Bank overshadows optimism around Gaza-Israel deal | Analysis 
    In the last few months, diplomatic, military and legal officials have held discussions, some of them attended by the prime minister, to prepare for the court’s initial findings regarding the 2014 Gaza war. Toward that end, Israel has begun using third parties to transfer documents to the court that could bolster its stance and influence the examination team, which until now has been exposed mainly to the evidence presented by the Palestinian side.

    Demonstration near the Gaza border, November 9, 2018. Adel Hana/AP
    Military advocate general Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek has presented material regarding Israel’s response to the demonstrations in Gaza, but defense sources say these have been for internal use only and have not been passed on to the ICC or to any other body.
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    The sources say Israel has made a distinction between the two subjects of the court’s examination: While Israel is not cooperating with the ICC on its probe of incidents at the Gaza fence, it is already holding indirect discussions with the court over Operation Protective Edge.

    Last April the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that violence against civilians could be considered an international crime, as might the use of civilians as a cover for military operations. She added that the situation in Palestine was under investigation. She warned that the court was following events in Gaza, and emphasized that guidelines for opening fire at demonstrators could be considered a crime under international law.

    Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, August 28, 2017. Bas Czerwinski/Pool via REUTERS
    Officials told Haaretz that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to postpone the evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar came after Israel realized that such a move could influence Bensouda, who said she would not hesitate to use her authority with regard to the village. Last month, Bensouda said she was watching with concern the plan to evacuate the West Bank Bedouin community and that a forced evacuation would lead to violence, adding that the needless destruction of property and transfer of populations in occupied territories are a war crime, based on the Treaty of Rome. She linked the planned evacuation to events in Gaza, saying she was concerned by the ongoing violence for which both sides are responsible.

    FILE Photo: The West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, September 25, 2018. Emil Salman

    Yaniv Kubovich
    Haaretz Correspondent

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  • Felicia Langer. Remembering Israel’s human rights law trailblazer, a Holocaust survivor who called to boycott Israeli products

    A communist labeled ’the terrorists’ attorney,’ Felicia Langer called her clients ‘resistance fighters.’ In 1990 she gave up and left for Germany, where she died over the summer

    Ofer Aderet SendSend me email alerts
    Nov 06, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-remembering-israel-s-human-rights-law-trailblazer-1.6632132

    After the Six-Day War, attorney Felicia Langer opened an office near the Old City in Jerusalem and began representing Arabs. Langer was a strange type in the local topography: a Jewish Holocaust survivor with a Polish accent who adhered to European manners and believed in the ideology of communism.
    “Her engagement with Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip was perhaps the strangest thing in the Middle East,” wrote attorney Michael Sfard. Her acquaintances saw in her a pathfinder in legal battles that advanced the human rights of Palestinians. Her enemies saw in her a traitor and accessory of terrorists.
    >> Holocaust survivor and Palestinians’ rights lawyer Felicia Langer dies in exile at 87
    She was born in the city of Tarnov, Poland in 1930 as Felicia Amalia White. In World War II she fled with her family to the Soviet Union, where her father died. After the war, she returned to the land of her birth and married Holocaust survivor Moshe Langer. In 1950 they immigrated to Israel – “not because of Zionist ideology,” according to her, but to live near her mother.
    Archival documents attest to the tense relationships between her and the Israeli establishment. In 1968 an intelligence officer in the military government in Hebron testified before the Legal Attaché of the West Bank that she “held extreme left-wing opinions.” In 1975, the Foreign Ministry reported that the Shin Bet security service viewed her legal activities as being guided by political motivations to harm “the state and the image of the state.” She faced threats to her life throughout her career. Occasionally, she felt compelled to hire a bodyguard.
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    Langer fought the expulsion of Palestinian leaders, housing demolitions of terror suspects, administrative detentions (imprisonment without charges), and torture. “She never hesitated to accuse the establishment of crimes and to represent her clients as victims of an evil regime,” wrote Sfard.

    When they called her “the defense attorney of terrorists,” she replied that her clients were not terrorists, but “resistance fighters.” “A people under occupation has the right to wage violent struggle,” she said. Among her famous clients was the mayor of Nablus, Bassam Shakaa, one of the leaders of resistance to the occupation, whose expulsion Langer succeeded in preventing. Other clients included the parents of the attackers of Bus 300, who sought to sue the state for killing their sons, and a young Dutch woman who was detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport after she gathered intelligence for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Langer maintained that she was just a “small cog.”
    In 1990, she immigrated to Germany, after handling what she estimated to have been 3,000 cases. “I could no longer help the Palestinian victims in the framework of the existing legal system and its flouting of international law, which is supposed to protect the people that I defended,” she said in an interview with Eran Torbiner. “It is forbidden to be silent; silence also can kill,” she said, in explaining her call for the boycott of Israeli goods. As a German citizen, she called on Germany to fight the occupation.
    Langer lived in Tübingen, teaching and writing books. Critics were angered by her comparison of Israel to the Nazis, and accused her of hypocrisy for ignoring the crimes of communist regimes. When she was asked once to describe her “love of homeland,” she answered: “Hatred of occupation.” In June, Langer died of cancer at age 87.

    Ofer Aderet
    Haaretz Correspondent

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  • Revealed: Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays

    Haaretz investigation spanning 100 sources in 15 countries reveals Israel has become a leading exporter of tools for spying on civilians. Dictators around the world – even in countries with no formal ties to Israel – use them eavesdrop on human rights activists, monitor emails, hack into apps and record conversations
    By Hagar Shezaf and Jonathan Jacobson Oct 20, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-israel-s-cyber-spy-industry-aids-dictators-hunt-dissident

    During the summer of 2016, Santiago Aguirre divided his time between part-time university lecturing and working for an organization that helps locate missing people. Mexico was then in the news internationally because of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall on the American border with its southern neighbor. However, for Aguirre, a Mexican human rights activist, the problems of the present were far more pressing than any future wall. At the time, he was in the midst of a lengthy investigation to solve the mystery of the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students in the city of Iguala two years before. It was becoming increasingly clear that his findings were incompatible with the results of the investigation conducted by the government.
    Aguirre wasn’t concerned when he received a series of text messages containing broken links. “Please help me with my brother, the police took him only because he is a teacher,” one message read. And another: “Professor, I encountered a problem. I am sending back my thesis, which is based on your dissertation, so that you can give me your comments.” The messages looked no different from many of the legitimate messages he received every day as part of his work. And therein lay the secret of their power. When Aguirre clicked on the links, however, he was inadvertently turning his smartphone into a surveillance device in the hands of the government.
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    “Those text messages had information that was personal,” Aguirre notes, “the kind of information that could make the message interesting for me so I would click. It wasn’t until later that I actually thought – well, it is actually pretty weird that I received three messages with broken links.”

    Mexican human rights activist Santiago Aguirre, left, and colleague Mario Patron. Centro Prodh
    The discovery had a brutally chilling effect on the work of his organization. For the first time, he says, speaking with Haaretz by phone, he really and truly feared that every step he took was being watched, and that perhaps his family too was under surveillance.
    “Over the past 10 years, we have a figure of around 30,000 people who disappeared” in Mexico, Aguirre explains. “Many places in Mexico are controlled by organized crime. It has under its influence and power the authorities of some regions of the country, so they use the police to detain and then disappear people that they think are the enemy. I can tell you of many examples in which the Mexican military, for example, has presented the work human rights defenders as [benefiting] the drug cartels and organized crime. So there’s a pattern of thinking about the human rights sector in Mexico as a sector that needs to be surveilled.”

    The public revelation of the fact that Aguirre was under surveillance was made possible by cooperation between Mexican organizations and the Canadian research institute Citizen Lab. It turned out that Aguirre was one of a group of 22 journalists, lawyers, politicians, researchers and activists who were being tracked by local authorities. An examination of Aguirre’s telephone revealed that the links in the text messages were related to Pegasus spyware, which the authorities were using.
    But how did Pegasus get to Mexico? The trail of the malware led to Herzliya Pituah, the prosperous Tel Aviv suburb that is one of the major hubs of Israel’s high-tech industry. It’s there, in a narrow stretch of land between Israel’s coastal highway and the Mediterranean Sea, that NSO Group, the company that developed this Trojan-horse program, has its headquarters. Pegasus, which Forbes magazine called “the world’s most invasive mobile spy kit” in 2016, allows almost unlimited monitoring, even commandeering, of cellphones: to discover the phone’s location, eavesdrop on it, record nearby conversations, photograph those in the vicinity of the phone, read and write text messages and emails, download apps and penetrate apps already in the phone, and access photographs, clips, calendar reminders and the contacts list. And all in total secrecy.
    Pegasus’ invasive capability was rapidly transformed into dazzling economic success. In 2014, less than five years after entering the world from a space in a chicken coop in Bnei Zion, a moshav in the country’s center, 70 percent of the company’s holdings were purchased for $130 million. The buyer was Francisco Partners, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, which specializes in high-tech investments. That deal followed Francisco Partners’ earlier purchases of Israeli firms Ex Libris and Dmatek, According to Reuters, a year after the NSO takeover, Francisco Partners enjoyed a profit of $75 million.
    But the big money of NSO is only a small part of the big picture. Within a few years, the Israeli espionage industry has become the spearhead of the global commerce in surveillance tools and communications interception. Today, every self-respecting governmental agency that has no respect for the privacy of its citizens, is equipped with spy capabilities created in Herzliya Pituah.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/730676 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Why the Khashoggi murder is a disaster for Israel -
    The grisly hit-job on Khashoggi has implications far beyond its exposure of the Saudi Crown Prince as brutal and reckless. In Jerusalem and D.C., they’re mourning their whole strategic concept for the Mideast - not least, for countering Iran

    Daniel B. Shapiro
    Oct 17, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-the-khashoggi-murder-is-a-disaster-for-israel-1.6569996

    For Israel, this sordid episode raises the prospects that the anchor of the new Middle East realities it has sought to promote - an Israeli-Sunni Arab coalition, under a U.S. umbrella, to check Iran and Sunni jihadists - cannot be counted upon.
    And Israel must be careful how it plays its hand. There will, without question, be a U.S. response to Khashoggi’s murder, even if it is resisted by the Trump administration. It will not lead to a total dismantlement of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, but Congressional and public revulsion will have its price. 

    President Hassan Rouhani giving a speech on Iranian TV in Tehran on May 8, 2018.HO/AFP
    The price could include significant restrictions on arms sales that had been contemplated. It is already leading key U.S. investors to distance themselves from the major development projects MBS has promoted. At a minimum, there will be no replay of the warm, PR-friendly visit by MBS to multiple U.S. cities last March, no more lionizing of him in the American press as a reformer who will reshape the Middle East.
    Israel, which has a clear interest in keeping Saudi Arabia in the fold of U.S. allies to maximize the strategic alignment on Iran, will need to avoid becoming MBS’s lobbyist in Washington. Israel’s coordination with its partners in the region is still necessary and desirable. Simple realpolitik requires it. But there is a new risk of reputational damage from a close association with Saudi Arabia. 
    It won’t be easy for Israel to navigate these waters, as the Washington foreign policy establishment has quickly splintered into anti-Iran and anti-Saudi camps. The idea that the United States should equally oppose Iranian and Saudi brutality toward their peoples, and not let MBS’s crimes lead to a lessening of pressure on Iran over its malign regional activities, is in danger of being lost.
    For Israelis, that may be the biggest blow in the fallout of Khashoggi’s murder. MBS, in his obsession with silencing his critics, has actually undermined the attempt to build an international consensus to pressure Iran.
    The damage is broad. Trump may be an outlier. But what Member of Congress, what European leader, would be willing to sit with MBS for a consultation on Iran now?
    That is the greatest evidence of MBS’s strategic blindness, and the damage will likely persist as long as he rules the kingdom.
    Daniel B. Shapiro is Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa in the Obama Administration. Twitter: @DanielBShapiro

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  • Israeli lawmaker’s attack on celebrity Jewish-Arab marriage echoes Nazi ideology

    MK Oren Hazan accused TV anchor Lucy Aharish of seducing Fauda actor Tzahi Halevi in order to hurt Israel – and Netanyahu said nothing

    Yossi Verter SendSend me email alerts
    Oct 11, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-mk-s-attack-on-celebrity-jewish-arab-marriage-echoes-nazi-ideology

    Knesset Member Oren Hazan (Likud), he of the infamous selfie celebrating the passing of the nation-state law, has identified a terrorist cell. This cell has a single member – TV anchorwoman Lucy Aharish.
    This week the Arab journalist carried out a terrorist act intended to lower the Jewish birthrate when she married actor Tzahi Halevi. “She seduced a Jewish soul with the aim of harming our country and preventing more Jewish offspring from perpetuating the Jewish line,” the racist, ignorant and repulsive MK tweeted.
    Substitute the word “German” for “Jewish” here and you’ve got the Nazi racial doctrine. Talk of racial purity, prevention of “assimilation,” seduction of the male and hostile exploitation of his fine, pure seed for nationalist purposes. In the name of such an ideology, six million Jews were murdered in Europe.

    Next week, the Knesset opens its winter session. The Likud MK will address the parliament from the podium. He will vote in committees. No boycott will be imposed on his party faction. He will not be penalized. He will exchange high-fives and pats on the back with the gang who appeared in the selfie. They deserve each other.

    Tzachi Halevy and Lucy Aharish.Vered Adir, David Bachar
    But something can still be done. A few months from now, when an early election is announced, Likud will hold a primary for its slate for the 21st Knesset. Like the rest of the bunch who were elected on the basis of their districts in the last primary, this time Hazan will have to run on the national list. There the hurdle is much higher. The last time around, when he ran in the Samaria district, he needed just 2,000 or 3,000 votes. This time he’ll need 20,000 to gain a top-20 slot (the district winners will be ranked after them). Whoever marks Hazan’s name on the ballot despite this repugnant tweet and everything else we now know about the guy will directly harm Likud.
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    In any event, given the party’s primary system, at least a third of the current MKs will likely be gone in the next Knesset. The math is simple: Twenty-nine will run for re-election (all but Benny Begin). Plus, four candidates not currently in the Knesset are likely to be elected to the list: Gideon Sa’ar, Danny Danon, Yoav Galant and Nir Barkat. That makes 33. The national list that comprises the top 20 will include no more than 18-19 of these people. In other words, we’ll have to bid farewell, happily or otherwise, to some 15 MKs.
    On Thursday we waited in vain for the Likud chairman (and Hazan’s selfie buddy) to denounce the disgusting tweet. Netanyahu chooses his condemnations carefully. What starts with “droves of Arabs are streaming to the polls” culminates in the seduction by Arab women of Jewish men so as to suppress the Jewish birthrate.
    We also waited in vain for any fatherly scolding from the prime minister of his elder son Yair for his hateful, invective-filled Facebook post aimed at Television News Company analyst Amnon Abramovich. No point expecting any such thing from Netanyahu. They are all his sons.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/728528 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel can ’definitely’ absorb 100,000 West Bank Palestinians, justice minister says - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    ’It’s impossible to ignore the processes taking place in the Democratic Party (in the USA). You know, the party itself is becoming less and less what’s considered Zionist,’ Ayelet Shaked tells The Atlantic

    Haaretz
    Oct 10, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-can-definitely-absorb-100-000-west-bank-palestinians-justice-ministe

    Shaked acknowledged that annexation could put Israel at odds with the United States, especially if Democrats take the White House in 2020. “Sadly, it’s impossible to ignore the processes taking place in the Democratic Party. You know, the party itself is becoming less and less what’s considered Zionist,” Shaked said.

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  • Official documents prove: Israel bans young Americans based on Canary Mission website - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Some Americans detained upon arrival in Israel reported being questioned about their political activity based on ’profiles’ on the controversial website Canary Mission. Documents obtained by Haaretz now clearly show that is indeed a source of information for decisions to bar entry

    Noa Landau SendSend me email alerts
    Oct 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-official-documents-prove-israel-bans-young-americans-based-on-cana

    The Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry is using simple Google searches, mainly the controversial American right-wing website Canary Mission, to bar political activists from entering Israel, according to documents obtained by Haaretz.
    >>Israeli court rejects American visa-holding student’s appeal; to be deported for backing BDS
    The internal documents, some of which were submitted to the appeals tribunal in the appeal against the deportation of American student Lara Alqasem, show that officials briefly interviewed Alqasem, 22, at Ben-Gurion International Airport on her arrival Tuesday night, then passed her name on for “continued handling” by the ministry because of “suspicion of boycott activity.” Israel recently passed a law banning the entry of foreign nationals who engage in such activity.

    >> Are you next? Know your rights if detained at Israel’s border

    Links to Canary Mission and Facebook posts are seen on an official Ministry of Strategic Affairs document.
    The ministry then sent the officials at the airport an official report classified “sensitive” about Alqasem’s supposed political activities, which included information from five links – four from Facebook and one, the main source, from the Canary Mission site, which follows pro-Palestinian activists on U.S. campuses.
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    A decision on Alqasem’s appeal against her deportation was expected Thursday afternoon.
    Canary Mission, now the subject of major controversy in the American Jewish community, has been collecting information since 2015 about BDS activists at universities, and sends the information to potential employers. Pro-Israel students have also criticized their activities.

    Lara Alqasem.
    This week, the American Jewish news site The Forward reported that at least $100,000 of Canary Mission’s budget had been contributed through the San Francisco Jewish Federation and the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which donates to Jewish education. The donation was handed to a group registered in Beit Shemesh called Megamot Shalom, specifically stating that it was for Canary Mission. A few hours after the report was published, the federation announced that it would no longer fund the group.
    Over the past few months some of the Americans who have been detained for questioning upon arrival in Israel have reported that they were questioned about their political activity based on “profiles” about them published on Canary Mission. The documents obtained by Haaretz now show clearly that the site is indeed the No. 1 source of information for the decision to bar entry to Alqasem.
    According to the links that were the basis for the decision to suspend the student visa that Alqasem had been granted by the Israeli Consulate in Miami, she was president of the Florida chapter of a group called Students for Justice in Palestine, information quoted directly from the Canary Mission. The national arm of that organization, National Students for Justice in Palestine, is indeed on the list of 20 groups that the Strategic Affairs Ministry compiled as criteria to invoke the anti-boycott law. However, Alqasem was not a member at the national level, but rather a local activist. She told the appeals tribunal that the local chapter had only a few members.

    Canary Mission’s profile of Lara Alqasem.
    The ministry also cited as a reason for barring Alqasem’s entry to Israel a Facebook post showing that “In April 2016 [her] chapter conducted an ongoing campaign calling for the boycott of Sabra hummus, the American version of Hummus Tzabar, because Strauss, which owns Tzabar, funds the Golani Brigade.” Alqasem told the tribunal that she had not taken an active part in this campaign. Another link was about a writers’ petition calling on a cultural center to refuse sponsorship by Israel for its activities. Yet another post, by the local Students for Justice in Palestine, praised the fact that an international security company had stopped operations in Israel. None of these links quoted Alqasem.
    She told the tribunal that she is not currently a member of any pro-boycott group and would not come to study for her M.A. in Israel if she were.
    The Strategic Affairs Ministry report on Alqasem is so meager that its writers mentioned it themselves: “It should be noted that in this case we rely on a relatively small number of sources found on the Internet.” Over the past few months Haaretz has been following up reports of this nature that have been the basis for denying entry to activists, and found that in many other cases the material consisted of superficial Google searches and that the ministry, by admission of its own senior officials, does not collect information from non-public sources.
    skip - Facebook post calling for the boycott of Sabra hummus

    The ministry’s criteria for invoking the anti-boycott law state clearly that in order to bar entry to political activists, they must “hold senior or significant positions in the organizations,” including “official senior roles in prominent groups (such as board members).”
    But the report on Alqasem does not indicate that she met the criterion of “senior” official in the national movement, nor was this the case for other young people questioned recently at the airport. In some cases it was the Shin Bet security service that questioned people due to past participation in activities such as demonstrations in the territories, and not BDS activities.
    “Key activists,” according to the ministry’s criteria, also means people who “consistently take part in promoting BDS in the framework of prominent delegitimization groups or independently, and not, for example, an activist who comes as part of a delegation.” In Alqasem’s case, however, her visa was issued after she was accepted for study at Hebrew University.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/726867 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Netanyahu likely to extend secrecy of some 1948 war documents 20 more years

    Defense establishment asked to lengthen classification period to 90 years, from 70, for material on Deir Yassin massacre, among other events

    Jonathan Lis and Ofer Aderet Oct 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-netanyahu-likely-to-extend-secrecy-of-some-1948-war-documents-20-m

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to sign regulations extending the period of confidentiality for information in the defense archives from 70 years to 90 years. The Defense Ministry and other organization requested the extension to prevent the release this year of some materials relating to the period of the War of Independence in 1948.
    The extension is intended to prevent the exposure of intelligence sources and methods that are still in use today by security forces. The archives also include information that was received from foreign sources under the condition that it would not be released, say defense officials. The draft regulations state that even after 70 years have passed, exposure of some of the archival materials could harm national security. In 2010, Netanyahu extended the period of confidentiality for security archives from 50 years to 70 years.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    The legal adviser to the Israel State Archives, Naomi Aldubi, circulated a draft of the new regulations to the relevant government ministries Wednesday. The document states that the new regulations will apply to materials held by the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad and the archives of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear research centers and the Israel Institute for Biological Research. The new rules would also prevent the publication of raw intelligence from Military Intelligence as well as information concerning intelligence gathering for materials classified as secret and higher, along with materials concerning certain Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry units.
    The decision is expected to make life much more difficult for historians, other researchers and journalists and would also limit the public’s access to valuable historical information of public interest. For example, the new regulations would prevent the release of certain materials concerning the massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948.
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    In practice, the government will be able to prevent the release of any document related to the War of Independence that it wishes to keep secret. The new rules also contradict the recommendations of the supreme advisory council overseeing the Israel State Archives, which recommended extending the confidentiality of only some of the documents for five years.

    The Archives Law states that any person has the right to examine documents stored in the state archives, but also grants the government authority to restrict access according to the level of classification — for example, materials classified as “secret” — and according to the amount of time that has passed since the materials were created. This period ranges between 15 and 75 years, in accordance with the materials’ source and contents. For example, the classification period for the minutes of classified sessions of Knesset committees is limited to 20 years; for foreign policy documents the period is 25 years; for police archives, 30 years and for minutes of the security cabinet 50 years. Intelligence materials, including those of the Shin Bet, Mossad, Atomic Energy Commission and Biological Institute, remain classified for 70 years.
    Even after this period expires, the state archives and other archives, such as the IDF Archives, have not acted on their own initiative to release the materials. In practice, the end of the classification period alone is not sufficient for automatic declassification of the material. First, the chief archivist must examine the materials. After that, a special ministerial committee, headed by the justice minister, has the right to apply additional restrictions on access to them.
    The committee used its power to prohibit access to the so-called Riftin report on extrajudicial executions carried out by the Haganah pre-independence army. In 1998, half a century after the report was written, its confidentiality period expired, after which it should have been unsealed. In the 20 years that have passed since then, two state archivists requested, and received, extensions of the classification period from the ministerial committee.
    The draft proposal does stipulate that the relevant organizations must draw up new protocols that would enable the unsealing of classified materials after 50 years, on their own initiative. In addition, they would be instructed to conduct an annual review of their classified documents in order to determine whether they can be declassified.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/726648 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Qui en Israël se soucie encore de la mort d’un ado de plus à Gaza ?
    https://blogs.mediapart.fr/edition/les-invites-de-mediapart/article/021018/qui-en-israel-se-soucie-encore-de-la-mort-dun-ado-de-plus-gaza

    Cette tribune a été initialement publiée dans le Haaretz ici. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-who-in-israel-cares-about-another-dead-teen-in-gaza-1.6513910 Sep 28, 2018

    Hagai El-Ad est le directeur exécutif de l’ONG israélienne B’Tselem. Dans une tribune initialement publiée par Haaretz, il s’appuie sur le témoignage inédit de la mère d’Amir al-Nimra, un jeune Gazaoui de 14 ans tué dans une attaque aérienne israélienne à Gaza le 14 juillet dernier, pour dénoncer le désintérêt croissant des Israéliens face à l’évolution de la situation.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/726475 via Loutre


  • With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel will have to think twice about the next strike
    The new missile system provided by Russia is not a total barrier to airstrikes, but Israeli jets’ freedom of action will be significantly curbed

    Amos Harel SendSend me email alerts
    Sep 25, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-with-russia-s-s-300-in-syria-israel-will-have-to-think-twice-about

    The two latest developments in Moscow – the Defense Ministry’s report that placed full responsibility for last week’s downing of a Russian plane over Syria on Israel, and the announcement of the transfer of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to the Assad regime – shouldn’t surprise anyone in Israel except maybe a few foolish supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu can’t make the problem disappear.
    Russia suffered an embarrassing blow when Assad’s anti-aircraft fire shot down the plane, and it still has widespread interests to promote in Syria. It was quite clear that the affair would lead to a Russian condemnation of Israel and to demands of Israel. The bottom line still depends on Putin, who initially sufficed with a cautiously worded statement the day after the incident. For the time being it seems the result of the Russian steps will be a significant restriction of Israel’s freedom of action over Syria.
    >> Netanyahu warned Putin: S-300 air defense system in irresponsible hands will endanger region
    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Monday that his country would supply Syria with S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Russia, he said, would also use electronic warfare systems to prevent the activation of satellite tracking systems along Syria’s coast, making it harder for Israel to conduct airstrikes. And Russia will equip Syrian anti-aircraft units with Russian tracking and guidance systems to prevent mishaps in which Syria downs Russian aircraft.

    S-300 Air Defense System infographicHaaretz

    https://seenthis.net/messages/724610 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Why did Israel handcuff and deport a French-American law professor? -

    The military arrest of Frank Romano, a French-American citizen who was protesting Israeli policy, raises many disturbing questions

    Mordechai Kremnitzer SendSend me email alerts
    Sep 18, 2018 1:51 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-did-israel-handcuff-and-deport-a-french-american-professor-1.6

    The case of Prof. Frank Romano, a dual French-American citizen who was arrested on Friday at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, raises a number of questions.
    Why was it documented and reported that the professor attacked a police officer, and based on this report a military arrest warrant for 96 hours was issued, when no such attack had occurred? The attorney representing the state admitted to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court that there had been no attack. Rather a soldier had been hindered in carrying out his duties, when apparently the movement of a tractor was blocked as part of a protest against the intention to evacuate the village and destroy its homes.
    What steps will be taken against those who gave false testimony?
    How long will the practice continue in Israel of law enforcement officers providing false reports against citizens or tourists to lead to their false arrest?
    Was the use of a military arrest order intended to enable a longer detention without judicial oversight? Was it intended to allow for a hasty deportation from Israel? Is this the way Israel treats the right to liberty?
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    Why wasn’t Romano afforded a proper hearing on his deportation, including representation by his attorney? Was the deportation process intended to prevent a hearing in the court in Jerusalem over the legality of his detention, by making such a hearing unnecessary?

    Israeli border police arrest American university professor Frank Romano in the West Bank Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, September 14, 2018. Nasser Nasser/AP Photo
    Why and on what basis was Romano deported?
    How did it happen that for hours, no official body was found to take responsibility for Romano’s custody after a deportation order was issued against him, and as a result, the short trip from Ramla,where he was being held, turned into four hours.

    What justified keeping Romano handcuffed during the hearing? What were those who cuffed him afraid of? And in how many other cases are detainees cuffed unnecessarily, except for the illegal purpose of causing them to suffer?
    How long will the stupidity persist that is behind the government’s persecution of people in Israel and abroad who oppose the occupation, the expulsion of Palestinians and the Israeli government’s contempt for international law? When will it become clear what huge damage this causes to Israel’s image as a free country and its international standing? When will the impact of these steps — which change the attitude of those who are its victims from a critical stance to a completely negative view of Israel — be understood?
    How good it is that there are judges in Jerusalem, including the Magistrate’s Court, whose insight has not deserted them, despite the demands on them by the government to function as automatons in the service of brutality.

    Mordechai Kremnitzer
    Haaretz Contributor

    https://seenthis.net/messages/723206 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • UNRWA’s teaspoon of fish oil and glass of milk: The protective framework that millions of Palestinians remember
    Even if the United States and Israel manage to scuttle the refugee agency’s efforts, this assault strengthens the ties that bind Palestinians – despite their weakening political leadership
    Amira Hass Sep 08, 2018 12:40 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-unrwa-the-protective-framework-that-millions-of-palestinians-remem
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.6463942.1536393009!/image/3572566430.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/3572566430.jpg

    Gazans in their 50s still remember, with a smile and a bit of disgust, the glass of milk and the spoonful of fish oil they had to drink at UNRWA schools every morning. As adults, they’re able to appreciate the supportive framework the UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian refugees gave them, and which that daily dose reflected.

    A resident of the Gaza Strip’s Al-Shati refugee camp, who studied math at Birzeit University in the West Bank in the 1980s, said half the students in his class were from Gaza, and most were refugees. “It’s thanks to the omega-3 in the oil they got from UNRWA,” he joked.

    The children of Gaza’s old-time residents, who aren’t refugees, envied the refugee children because UNRWA schools were considered better than government ones and even provided free notebooks and writing implements including crayons. But the difference also apparently stems from the refugees’ aspirational mantra. After the immediate trauma of losing their land and property, they educated their children in that mantra’s spirit: Study, because now education is your land.

    Good early education (compared to their surroundings, as one graduate of the UNRWA system stressed) was the basic service UNRWA gave and still gives Palestinian refugees, alongside health care. Most UNRWA employees, some 30,000 people in several different countries, work in these two departments. When residents of refugee camps have more employment opportunities, they have less need of services like food packages. And when UNRWA has to invest in emergency services, this weakens its essential education and health services.

    Even though the United States stopped its financial support for UNRWA, the new school year opened on schedule last week in the agency’s 711 elementary schools located in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. Every day, 526,000 Palestinian students leave there homes in these diverse lands’ almost 60 refugee camps and attend schools with uniform characteristics – doors and windowsills painted turquoise, the UN flag, a few trees in the schoolyard with whitewashed trunks, photographs of the tent camps of 1949 on the walls.

    These uniform characteristics have been maintained for almost seven decades. Millions of Palestinian children became acquainted with the UN flag before that of their host country, or even that of Palestine, and before they encountered the Star of David that they learned to hate so deeply as a symbol of daily military violence. They saw the characteristic turquoise whenever they went to the refugee camp’s clinic or ate lunch in the dining hall reserved for children of unemployed parents.

    The spontaneous architectural process that these camps underwent is also similar – from rows of tents with taps and toilets at the outskirts; less organized rows of a few rooms around an interior courtyard, which stole a few centimeters from the alleys and made them even narrower; the multistory buildings that arose in the 1990s to house grown-up children. The savings of family members who found jobs made this possible (in Gaza, the West Bank and pre-civil war Syria much more than in Lebanon).

    Beyond the clan

    The refugee camps initially maintained geographic divisions among the original villages from which residents were expelled, and even subdivisions among extended families. But with time, and marriages between people from different villages, these divisions blurred.

    In a society that to this day retains both ties of loyalty and material ties to the extended family, the refugee camps created more modern communities because they expanded the bounds of foundational social loyalties beyond the ties of blood – that is, the family and the clan – to a large group of people who were living through the same difficult experience and had to make do with living spaces several times smaller than what they or their parents had before. The social and national consciousness of a shared fate that goes beyond the shared fate of family members and village members was bolstered there, beyond any doubt.

    This happened even before the Palestinian political organizations became established. Until the Palestinian Authority was created, these organizations weren’t just a vehicle for resistance to Israel and the occupation, but also a kind of super-clans that created their own internal loyalties and developed networks of mutual aid and protection.

    The Palestinian dialect was also preserved in the camps, and people from different villages or regions even preserved their own unique accents. Over time, the Palestinian accent in every host country has absorbed some of the country’s unique variety of Arabic, but it’s still easy to tell a Palestinian in these countries by his accent.

    Some refugee camps underwent a similar sociological process of absorbing poor people who weren’t refugees. That happened in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, before the civil war destroyed it, in several camps in Lebanon and in the Shoafat camp in Jerusalem. But at the same time, anyone who could left the camps.

    Residents of the West Bank’s Deheisheh camp built an offshoot of their camp on the other side of the road, and today it’s a large, separate community called Doha (named for the capital of Qatar, which helped finance the purchase of the land from Beit Jala residents). The Shabura and Jabalya camps in Gaza also have offshoots that are slightly more spacious. But the ties to and affection for the camp – no less than for the village of origin – remain.

    The uniform framework UNRWA has provided for millions of Palestinian in the camps over the last 70 years has undoubtedly helped them retain these affinities. But had it not been for UNRWA, would they have assimilated completely into their different environments (especially outside Palestine) and forgotten that they are Palestinians, as anti-UNRWA propagandists hope or claim?

    There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in South America who aren’t refugees (they mostly emigrated voluntarily) and never lived in refugee camps. But they haven’t abandoned their Palestinian identity. It has even strengthened among the second and third generations, along with their political consciousness. And if they don’t speak Arabic, they’re trying to learn it now.

    Collapse of traditional political system

    Without UNRWA, would the Palestinian refugees not have maintained their emotional ties to their towns and villages of origin? Would they not have made this the basis of their political demand for a right of return?

    Anyone who thinks so is confusing the framework with the content. Even if the United States and Israel manage to destroy the framework, UNRWA, this political and material assault is merely strengthening the ties that bind Palestinians to one another. This is happening despite, and in parallel with, the collapse of the traditional political system of the past 60 years that united Palestinians wherever they lived, inside and outside the refugee camps.

    The parties that comprised the PLO are either nonexistent or weak, divided and strife-ridden. The PLO itself has lost its virtue of being an organization that nurtured Palestinian identity and culture and tried to create a system of social and economic solidarity. It has become a thin shell of gray, anonymous bureaucrats and is completely dependent on the Palestinian Authority.

    The PA, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas admitted, fulfills its purpose of coordinating with Israel on security issues. It’s a provider of jobs pretending to be a political leadership. It’s also feuding with its rival, Hamas, and that group’s government in Gaza.

    Hamas is even weaker financially. And it maintains its image as a resistance movement mainly in the eyes of those who haven’t experienced the results of its military adventures and delusions on their own skin – that is, people who don’t live in Gaza but in the West Bank or the diaspora.

    In this situation, the framework that U.S. President Donald Trump and former Labor MK Einat Wilf want to destroy remains what it has been for 70 years – an economic and, to some extent, social stabilizer.

    UNRWA’s budget totals $1.2 billion. Its regular budget is $567 million, of which $450 million goes for education, and another $400 million is an emergency budget, of which 90 percent goes to Gaza. That enormous sum reflects the state of this tiny coastal enclave and the ruinous impact of Israel’s assaults and, even more, its restrictions on movement and trade that have left half the workforce unemployed. The rest of UNRWA’s budget is earmarked for various projects (for instance, in Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared camp, or what remains of Gaza’s reconstruction).

    Eight months ago, when the United States first slashed its contribution by $300 million, UNRWA’s budget deficit was almost $500 million. With great effort, and with countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates contributing $50 million each for the first time, the deficit has shrunk to $270 million.

    UNRWA had to immediately cut its emergency services, of which one of the most important is the Cash for Work program that provides temporary jobs for unemployed Gazans. Other emergency projects were also suspended: psychological treatment for people traumatized by Israeli attacks; help for the Bedouin in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control; help for farmers whose lands and income are imprisoned on the other side of the separation barrier; mobile clinics. What is still being funded is the distribution of food and sanitary products such as diapers to 1 million Gazans once every three months.

    Because of the cuts, UNRWA couldn’t renew the contracts of 160 temporary workers in Gaza. It also reduced the salaries of several hundred people employed on its emergency projects.

    The big question is what will happen to its 2019 budget, and whether UNRWA will have to cut or even close its education and health services.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/720671 via Loutre