viernes, 24 de julio de 2009

Rumbo a la primera película del ciclo de cine "¿Paz o pax en Medio Oriente?"

Además de la entrada "Punto de encuentro" publicada el 13 de enero en este blog, aquí se puede encontrar más información sobre la ONG "Just Vision" empeñada en dar a conocer numerosos puntos de encuentro entre ambas partes del conflicto.

martes, 21 de julio de 2009

Ciclo de cine "¿Paz o Pax en Medio Oriente?" - a partir del 4 de agosto

Errata: en la última mesa de debate,del 29 de septiembre, sobre la película Vals con Bashir, participará Rafael Barajas (El Fisgón) en lugar de Lorenzo Meyer.

domingo, 19 de julio de 2009

Uri Avnery sobre crímenes de guerra y los soldados que se resisten a perpetrarlos

Gracias a Eduardo Mosches por el envío.

Uri Avnery18.07.09

The Johnny Procedure

LIKE THE ghost of Hamlet’s father, the evil spirit of the Gaza War refuses to leave us in peace. This week it came back to disturb the tranquility of the chiefs of the state and the army.

“Breaking the Silence”, a group of courageous former combat soldiers, published a report comprising the testimonies of 30 Gaza War fighters. A hard-hitting report about actions that may be considered war crimes.

The generals went automatically into denial mode. Why don’t the soldiers disclose their identity, they asked innocently. Why do they obscure their faces in the video testimonies? Why do they hide their names and units?

How can we be sure that they are not actors reading a text prepared for them by the enemies of Israel? How do we know that this organization is not manipulated by foreigners, who finance their actions? And anyhow, how do we know that they are not lying out of spite?

One can answer with a Hebrew adage: “It has the feel of Truth”. Anyone who has ever been a combat soldier in war, whatever war, recognizes at once the truth in these reports. Each of them has met a soldier who is not ready to return home without an X on his gun showing that he killed at least one enemy. (One such person appears in my book “The Other Side of the Coin”, which was written 60 years ago and published in English last year as the second part of “1948: A soldier’s Tale”.) We have been there.

The testimonies about the use of phosphorus, about massive bombardment of buildings, about “the neighbor procedure” (using civilians as human shields), about killing “everything that moves”, about the use of all methods to avoid casualties on our side – all these corroborate earlier testimonies about the Gaza War, there can be no reasonable doubt about their authenticity. I learned from the report that the “neighbor procedure” is now called “Johnny procedure”, God knows why Johnny and not Ahmad.

The height of hypocrisy is reached by the generals with their demand that the soldiers come forward and lodge their complaints with their commanders, so that the army can investigate them through the proper channels.

First of all, we have already seen the farce of the army investigating itself.

Second, and this is the main point: only a person intent on becoming a martyr would do so. A solder in a combat unit is a part of a tightly knit group whose highest principle is loyalty to comrades and whose commandment is “Thou shalt not squeal!” If he discloses questionable acts he has witnessed, he will be considered a traitor and ostracized. His life will become hell. He knows that all his superiors, from squad leader right up to division commander, will persecute him.

This call to go through “official channels” is a vile method of the generals – members of the General Staff, Army Spokesmen, Army Lawyers – to divert the discussion from the accusations themselves to the identity of the witnesses. No less despicable are the tin soldiers called “military correspondents”, who collaborate with them.

BUT BEFORE accusing the soldiers who committed the acts described in the testimonies, one has to ask whether the decision to start the war did not itself lead inevitably to the crimes.

Professor Assa Kasher, the father of the army “Code of Ethics” and one of the most ardent supporters of the Gaza War, asserted in an essay on this subject that a state has the right to go to war only in self defense, and only if the war constitutes “a last resort”. “All alternative courses” to attain the rightful aim “must have been exhausted”.

The official cause of the war was the launching from the Gaza Strip of rockets against Southern Israeli towns and villages. It goes without saying that it is the duty of the state to defend its citizens against missiles. But had all the means to achieve this aim without war really been exhausted? Kasher answers with a resounding “yes”. His key argument is that “there is no justification for demanding that Israel negotiate directly with a terrorist organization that does not recognize it and denies its very right to exist.”

This does not pass the test of logic. The aim of the negotiations was not supposed to be the recognition by Hamas of the State of Israel and its right to exist (who needs this anyway?) but getting them to stop launching missiles at Israeli citizens. In such negotiations, the other side would understandably have demanded the lifting of the blockade against the population of the Gaza Strip and the opening of the supply passages. It is reasonable to assume that it was possible to reach – with Egyptian help - an agreement that would also have included the exchange of prisoners.

No only was this course not exhausted – it was not even tried. The Israeli government has consistently refused to negotiate with a “terrorist organization” and even with the Palestinian Unity Government that was in existence for some time and in which Hamas was represented.

Therefore, the decision to start the War on Gaza, with a civilian population of a million and a half, was unjustified even according to the criteria of Kasher himself. “All the alternative courses” had not been exhausted, or even attempted.

But we all know that, apart from the official reason, there was also an unofficial one: to topple the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. In the course of the war, official spokesmen stated that there was a need to attach a “price tag” – in other words, to cause death and destruction not in order to hurt the “terrorists” themselves (which would have been almost impossible) but to turn the life of the civilian population into hell, so they would rise up and overthrow Hamas.

The immorality of this strategy is matched by its inefficacy: our own experience has taught us that such methods only serve to harden the resolve of the population and unite them around their courageous leadership.

WAS IT at all possible to conduct this war without committing war crimes? When a government decides to hurl its regular armed forces at a guerrilla organization, which by its very nature fights from within the civilian population, it is perfectly clear that terrible suffering will be caused to that population. The argument that the harm caused to the population, and the killing of over a thousand men, women and children was inevitable should, by itself, have led to the conclusion that the decision to start this was a terrible act right from the beginning.

The Defense Establishment takes the easy way out. The ministers and generals simply assert that they do not believe the Palestinian and international reports about the death and destruction, stating that they are, again in Kasher’s words, “mistaken and false”. Just to be sure, they decided to boycott the UN commission that is currently investigating the war, headed by a respected South African judge who is both a Jew and a Zionist.

Assa Kasher is adopting a similar attitude when he says: “Somebody who does not know all the details of an action cannot assess it in a serious, professional and responsible way, and therefore should not do so, in spite of all emotional or political temptations.” He demands that we wait until the Israeli army completes its investigations, before we even discuss the matter.

Really? Every organization that investigates itself lacks credibility, not to mention a hierarchical body like the army. Moreover, the army does not – and cannot – obtain testimony from the main eye-witnesses: the inhabitants of Gaza. An investigation based only on the testimony of the perpetrators, but not of the victims, is ridiculous. Now even the testimonies of the soldiers of Breaking the Silence are discounted, because they cannot disclose their identity.

IN A war between a mighty army, equipped with the most sophisticated weaponry in the world, and a guerrilla organization, some basic ethical questions arise. How should the soldiers behave when faced with a structure in which there are not only enemy fighters, which they are “allowed” to hit, but also unarmed civilians, which they are “forbidden” to hit?

Kasher cites several such situations. For example: a building in which there are both “terrorists” and non-fighters. Should it be hit by aircraft or artillery fire that will kill everybody, or should soldiers be sent in who will risk their lives and kill only the fighters? His answer: there is no justification for the risking of the lives of our soldiers in order to save the lives of enemy civilians. An aerial or artillery attack must be preferred.

That does not answer the question about the use of the Air Force to destroy hundreds of houses far enough from our soldiers that there was no danger emanating from them, nor about the killing of scores of recruits of the Palestinian civilian police on parade, nor about the killing of UN personnel in food supply convoys. Nor about the illegal use of white phosphorus against civilians, as described in the soldiers’ testimonies gathered by Breaking the Silence, and the use of depleted uranium and other carcinogenic substances.

The entire country experienced on live TV how a shell hit the apartment of a doctor and wiped out almost all of his family. According to the testimony of Palestinian civilians and international observers, many such incidents took place.

The Israeli army took great pride in its method of warning the inhabitants by means of leaflets, phone calls and such, so as to induce them to flee. But everyone – and first of all the warners themselves - knew that the civilians had nowhere secure to escape to and that there were no clear and safe escape routes. Indeed, many civilians were shot while trying to flee.

WE SHALL not evade the hardest moral question of all: is it permissible to risk the lives of our soldiers in order to save the old people, women and children of the “enemy”? The answer of Assa Kasher, the ideologue of the “Most Moral Army in the World”, is unequivocal: it is absolutely forbidden to risk the lives of the soldiers. The most telling sentence in his entire essay is: “Therefore…the state must give preference to the lives of its soldiers above the lives of the (unarmed) neighbors of a terrorist.”

These words should be read twice and three times, in order to grasp their full implications. What is actually being said here is: if necessary to avoid casualties among our soldiers, it is better to kill enemy civilians without any limit.

In retrospect, one can only be glad that the British soldiers, who fought against the Irgun and the Stern Group, did not have an ethical guide like Kasher.

This is the principle that guided the Israeli army in the Gaza War, and, as far as I know, this is a new doctrine: in order to avoid the loss of one single soldier of ours, it is permissible to kill 10, 100 and even 1000 enemy civilians. War without casualties on our side. The numerical result bears witness: more than 1000 people killed in Gaza, a third or two thirds of them (depending on who you ask) civilians, women and children, as against 6 (six) Israeli soldiers killed by enemy fire. (Four more were killed by “friendly” fire.)

Kasher states explicitly that it is justified to kill a Palestinian child who is in the company of a hundred “terrorists”, because the “terrorists” might kill children in Sderot. But in reality, it was a case of killing a hundred children who were in the company of one “terrorist”.

If we strip this doctrine of all ornaments, what remains is a simple principle: the state must protect the lives of its soldiers at any price, without any limit or law. A war of zero casualties. That leads necessarily to a tactic of killing every person and destroying every building that could represent a danger to the soldiers, creating an empty space in front of the advancing troops.

Only one conclusion can be drawn from this: from now on, any Israeli decision to start a war in a built-up area is a war crime, and the soldiers who rise up against this crime should be honored. May they be blessed.

אורי אבנרי נוהל ג'וניכמו רוח אביו של האמלט, הרוח הרעה של מלחמת-עזה מסרבת לתת לנו מנוח. השבוע היא חזרה להטריד את ראשי המדינה וצה"ל...
קראו עוד במצורף

sábado, 18 de julio de 2009

Contra el sitio por sed en Cisjordania - protesta

Gracias a Eduardo Mosches por el envío

Israel leaves the inhabitants of the West bank thirsty
Join us in a protest against the water shortages caused by the occupation

Dry water taps – no water for drinking or bathing, many months during the summer heat. Since March this is the situation of many families in the villages Qarawat Bani Zayed, Kufr 'Ein, Ramani & Nabi Salah, 15,000 people. In the same time, these Palestinian villagers can see beyond the settlements' fences a different situation. They see green lawns and sprinklers irrigating the whole day. A similar situation exsists in many other parts of the West Bank.

We hereby call activists to join and donate money to the protest campaign
Checques can be made to Rabbis For Human Rights,
9 Harechavim St. Jerusalem, 93462, Israel.
Or to account No.153380 in Bank Hapoalim branch 782, Aza, Jerusalem.
N.B.: Mention for water campaign

In a later announcement we shall give details about the water convoy to Qarawat Bani Zayed that will take place on 07/08/09

Further activities will consist of demonstrations, petitions, letters, appeals to MKs, embassies and intl. organizations.

Details and comments: Yuval 050-7336117, Yakov 050-5733276, 09-7670801 email

Background: Since the occupation in 1967, Israel took control over most of the water sources in the West Bank, and uses them for Israeli clients and especially for settlers. The mountain acquifer is considered a joint (Palestinian-Israeli) water reservoir that Israel is permitted to use – but not in the current way when 80% of the water is taken by Israel and the remaining 20% are allocated to the millions of Palestinian inhabitants. Other water sources, as in the Jordan valley, are used almost exclusively by Israelis and only meager quantities are left for the usage of Palestinians. The Palestinian inhabitants of the south Hebron area having a serious problem of water shortage as well. In Israel and the settlements, the mean per capita water consumption for domestic and municipal usage is 235 lites per day, and in the occupied territories it is 66 litres per day only. 227,500 people in 220 villages are not connected to the water system. An additional 190,000 people have only partial water supply.

The Oslo accords reaffirmed the Israeli control over the water supply and pumping. The Palestinians assumed that it was a temporary agreement, and according to the time table that was established then, by May 1999 an independent Palestinian state would be established with control over its natural resources. The continuing water shortage increases the anger and frustration the Palestinians feel.

The small quantity of water supplied to the Palestinians is not distributed equally. As the water runs through the pipes the quantity reduces and as a home is situated higher up the pressure diminishes, and as a result the highest situated homes do not receive supply at all.

The village Qarawat Bani Zayed, situated on a mountain slope, is an example to this difficult situation. Lately Israeli peace activists visited this village and heard of this difficult situation. Many inhabitants of this village have to purchase water from water tanks at high prices – up to NIS 40 to 1 cubic metre of water, ten times its price in Israel or the settlements. Abud spring that gave them water before the occupation was caught by Mekorot, the Israeli water supply company, and only a small portion of its water currently arrives at the village.

Supplying enough water to the Palestinian civilians – for their homes, public and agricultural needs is not a favour or act of compassion. This is a legal and moral obligation whose violation is a serious crime against international law.

Organisations participating: Anarchists against the fence, Bat Shalom, Gush Shalom, The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, The Israeli Committee Against Torture, The Alternative Information Centre, Yesh Gvul, Sadaqa-Reut, Coalition of Women for Peace, Physicians for Human Rights.

מדינת ישראל מצמיאה את תושבי הגדה המערבית
בואו להשתתף במחאה על מצוקת המים

פותחים את הברז ואין מים – לא לרחצה וגם לא לשתיה, לא יום, לא יומיים אלא חודשים רבים בחום הקיץ. מאז חודש מרס השנה זהו מצבן של משפחות רבות בכפר קרוואת בניי זייד ושכניו כופור עין, רמאני, ונאבי סלאח, בסך הכל כ- 15,000 נפש. בו בזמן, יכולים תושבי הכפרים לראות מעבר לגדרות ההתנחלויות הסמוכות דשאים ירוקים וממטרות מסתובבות כל היום. מצב דומה קיים בחלקים רבים של הגדה המערבית.
אנו קוראים לפעילות ולפעילים להשתתף ולתרום למסע המחאה
המחאות ניתן לשלוח לפקודת "מטה הקואליציה" ת.ד. 1335, כפר-סבא, 44113
או לחשבון מס. 119442 בבנק הפועלים סנף 679- טשרניחובסקי, כ"ס

בהודעה הבאה נפרסם פרטים לגבי שיירת מים לקרוואת המתוכננת ל- 7.8.09
פעילויות מתוכננות נוספות: הפגנות מחאה, עצומה, מכתבים, פניות לחכ"ים, לשגרירויות ולארגונים בי"ל

לפרטים ותגובות: יובל- 050-7336117. יעקב- 050-5733276, 09-7670801. במייל:

רקע: מאז הכיבוש ב- 67 ישראל השתלטה על רוב מקורות המים בגדה המערבית, המנוצלים לטובת ישראלים בכלל ומתנחלים במיוחד. אקוויפר ההר ממנו מופקים מדי שנה 600 מיליון ממ"ק, נחשב כ"מאגר משותף" שישראל רשאית להשתמש בחלק ממנו – אך בודאי לא בחלוקה הקיימת היום, כאשר 80% מן המים נלקחים לשימוש ישראלי ואילו למיליוני התושבים הפלסטינים מוקצית "מכסה" של 20% בלבד. מאגרי מים אחרים, כגון בבקעת הירדן, מוקדשים ברובם לשימוש ישראלי ולפלסטינים נותרות כמויות מועטות בלבד. גם לפלסטינים בהר חברון, ובמיוחד בדרומו, יש בעיה קשה במיוחד של מחסור במים. הצריכה הממוצעת לנפש לצרכים ביתיים ועירוניים עומדת בישראל ובהתנחלויות על 235 ליטר ליום, ובפלסטין על 66 ליטר בלבד. 227,500 נפשות ב- 220 כפרים אינם מחוברות כלל לרשת המים. 190,000 נוספים זוכים לרשת מים מצומצמת וחלקית.

הסכמי אוסלו הנציחו את השליטה הישראלית על מקורות ושאיבת המים. הפלסטינים הניחו אז כי מדובר בהסכם ביניים זמני וכי לפי לוח הזמנים שנקבע תקום עד מאי 1999 מדינה פלסטינית בעלת שליטה על המשאבים הטבעיים. המשך המחסור החמור במים מגביר את תחושת המרירות והזעם בקרב הפלסטינים.

מעט המים שמועברים לפלסטינים אינם מחולקים בצורה שוויונית. ככל שהמים עוברים מרחק גדול יותר בצינורות כך פוחתת הכמות המגיעה ליעד הסופי, ככל שהבית נמצא גבוה יותר כך פוחת לחץ המים בצינורות, ולבתים הגבוהים ביותר אין מים בכלל.

הכפר קרוואת בני זייד, הבנוי על צלע הר, הוא דוגמא בולטת למצב הקשה. לאחרונה ביקרו בכפר זה פעילי שלום ישראלים ושמעו בפירוט על המצוקה הקשה. תושבים רבים שלביתם לא מגיעים מים זורמים נאלצים לרכוש מים ממיכליות במחירים מופקעים – עד 40 שקלים לממ"ק מים, פי עשרה ממחירו בישראל או בהתנחלויות. יש משפחות המוציאות עד מחצית ההכנסה החודשית על מים. מעין עבוד, שלפני הכיבוש סיפק את צרכיהם של תושבי הכפר, נמצא בשליטת "מקורות" ורק חלק קטן ממימיו מגיע אליהם.
אספקת מים בכמות מספקת לאזרחים הפלסטינים - לצרכים ביתיים, ציבוריים וחקלאיים – אינה "טובה" או "חסד". זוהי חובה חוקית ומוסרית, והפרתה היא עבירה חמורה על החוק הבינלאומי.

הארגונים השותפים למסע המחאה: אנרכיסטים נגד הגדר, בת שלום, גוש שלום, הוועד הישראלי נגד הריסת בתים, הוועד הישראלי נגד עינויים, המרכז לאינפורמציה אלטרנטיבית, יש גבול, סדקה-רעות, קואליציית נשים לשלום, רופאים למען זכויות אדם,

miércoles, 15 de julio de 2009

"No había inocentes"

"Abrimos fuego y no hacemos preguntas". "Nos dijeron que debíamos arrasar la mayor parte posible de nuestra zona". "Mi comandante me dijo, medio sonriendo, medio serio, que esas demoliciones podrían añadirse a su lista de crímenes de guerra". "Si alguna vez nos hablaron de inocentes, fue para decirnos que no había inocentes". Es el turno de los soldados israelíes. Dirigentes, académicos y analistas hebreos; políticos y civiles palestinos; organizaciones no gubernamentales internacionales y locales; Naciones Unidas. Todos han investigado y extraído conclusiones de la guerra que el Ejército israelí lanzó contra Gaza el invierno pasado. ¿Guerra? "¿Es realmente plausible denominar batallas al bombardeo con artillería y tanques, y al fuego lanzado desde helicópteros y aviones?", se pregunta el abogado Michael Sfard, defensor ante los tribunales israelíes de muchas víctimas palestinas del Ejército. "Es el ataque más duro que ha infligido el Estado de Israel a una zona urbana densamente poblada por civiles", añade Sfard. Más información

martes, 14 de julio de 2009

Armas de precisión contra
civiles de Gaza: AI

MADRID, 1 (OTR/PRESS).- Amnistía Internacional (AI) ha asegurado que la "mayoría" de los 1.400 palestinos que murieron durante la ofensiva efectuada a principios de este año por Israel en la Franja de Gaza, entre los que había alrededor de "300 niños y niñas y centenares de civiles desarmados", fueron víctimas de "armas de alta precisión" cuyo "excelente sistema óptico permitía ver con detalle el objetivo", por lo que no se pueden seguir justificando estas muertes "calificándolas sin más de "daños colaterales"". Más información.

lunes, 13 de julio de 2009

Noticias de Gush Shalom y una nota de Uri Avnery

Gracias a Eduardo Mosches por el envío.

Palestinian villages surrounded by the green lawns of settlements get hardly a drop of water
Gush Shalom takes part in a campaign to raise this subject by bringing water to the hardest hit. You can take part wherever you are - with an earmarked donation

New on Forum Gush Shalom
'Ana Atlab el Haq - an in-depth article on what is going on in the Sheikh Jarrah Jerusalem neighborhoodby Marcey Gayer
What YOU can do

Ad in Haaretz, July 10, 2009
From the mouth of the ministerLieberman admitted franklyI live in a settlement.Therefore I cannotNegotiate with the USThe settlements are... Full text


Matter of the Heart
EVERY GERMAN child knows the story of the Captain of Koepenick

The scene is 1908 Germany, with the Second Reich at the peak of its power, ruled by a Kaiser who is almost always decked out in a splendid military uniform

Full English text in the end

Avnery columns' archive

כפרים פלסטיניים מוקפים במדשאות הירוקות של ההתנחלויות בקושי מקבלים טיפת מים גוש שלום משתתף במסע ציבורי לעורר מודעות לנושא הזה על ידי הבאת מים לנפגעים הקשים ביותר. את/ה יכול/ה להשתתף במאבק הזה, מכל מקום – על ידי מתן תרומה.

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מודעה ב"הארץ"10 ביולי 2009
מפי השרליברמן הצהיר בגילוי-לב:"אני גר בהתנחלות, ולכןאיני יכול לנהלמו"מ עם האמריקאים".ההתנחלויות במהותן מהוותהפרה של...
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כל ילד גרמני מכיר את הסיפור על הסרן מקופניק.
זה אירע ב-1906, כאשר "הרייך השני" היה בשיאו, ובראשו עמד הקיסר שלבש מדי-צבא מפוארים.
סנדלר בשם וילהלם פויגט ... קראו עוד במצורף

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Uri Avnery11.07.09

Matter of the Heart

EVERY GERMAN child knows the story of the Captain of Koepenick.

The scene is 1908 Germany, with the Second Reich at the peak of its power, ruled by a Kaiser who is almost always decked out in a splendid military uniform.

A shoemaker named Wilhelm Voigt is released from prison, after doing time for fraud. He needs a passport to get a job, but felons cannot obtain a passport.

The shoemaker goes to a masquerade shop and puts on the uniform of an army captain. He commandeers a squad of soldiers that happens to be passing in the street. They do notice some irregularities in his outfit but dare not disobey an officer.

The “captain” marches the soldiers to the little town of Koepenick, a suburb of Berlin, arrests the mayor and confiscates the safe, which contains blank passports. Later the police have no great difficulty making out who committed the outrage, and it is not long before he is arrested.

When an adjutant announces the news to the Kaiser, the court holds its breath. After a tense moment or two, His Majesty bursts out laughing. All of Germany laughs with him, along with the rest of Europe.

The “Hauptmann von Koepenick” became a legend, because his adventure threw into relief the very essence of the regime: in the militarist Germany of the time, just before World War I, military rank meant unquestioned authority.

PERHAPS IT is true that every country has an episode of this kind, highlighting with one stroke the main foibles of its regime. In Israel it was – until this week – the affair of the “Ramat Gan Light Bulb”.

In March 1982 the Economy Minister Yaacov Meridor, a leading member of the Likud, announced that a scientist by the name of Danny Berman had come up with an invention that would cause a revolution throughout the world. By a simple chemical process he was able to produce energy sufficient to light all of Ramat Gan with one single light bulb. Ramat Gan is a sister town of Tel Aviv, and almost as big.

Yaacov Meridor (no relation of the current minister Dan Meridor) was not just anybody. He had been the commander of the Irgun before the arrival of Menachem Begin, and later had set up major economic enterprises in Africa. He was the No. 2 Likud leader and it was no secret that Begin considered him his heir and successor.

Before Meridor’s announcement, a senior reporter of my news magazine, Haolam Hazeh, came to me and told me breathlessly about the wondrous invention. I responded with one word: Nonsense. My years as an investigative magazine editor had honed my nose for detecting phony stories. But the whole country was ecstatic.

In the following days, the revolutionary invention was exposed as a simple fraud. Berman, the genius who posed as a former Air Force officer, was exposed as an impostor with a criminal record. Meridor lost his political future. But a small band of True Believers, including my senior reporter, continued to swear that Berman was indeed a misunderstood genius.

How could a completely nonsensical story, without any foundation at all, capture a whole country and elicit general acceptance, at least at the beginning? Very simple: it expressed one of the deeply-held beliefs of the Israeli public - that Jews are the most intelligent people in the world.

That, by the way, is a conviction held both by many Jews and by anti-Semites. The infamous tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, which discloses a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, relies on this belief.

There are many theories which profess to explain the alleged superiority of the “Jewish Brain”. One asserts that in the thousands of years of persecution, the Jews were compelled to develop their brainpower just in order to survive. Another theory goes like this: in medieval Catholic Europe, the most intelligent men became priests or monks whose vocational celibacy prevented the transmission of their genes to offspring, while it was the habit in the Jewish communities for rich parents to marry their daughters to the most outstanding young scholars.

THIS WEEK, the Ramat Gan Light Bulb was trumped by an even more magnificent invention: the Heart Sticker.

The economic supplement of Haaretz published a sensational scoop: a virtually unknown Israeli company had sold a third of its shares to a Taiwan-British corporation for 370 million dollars, raising its own value to a billion. All this owing to a revolutionary invention: a small sticker that, when put on the breast, can foretell a heart attack a crucial half hour before it actually happens. The sticker sends out warnings by cellular phone and satellite, thus introducing the possibility of saving countless lives.

That evening, one of the chiefs of the happy firm appeared on TV and disclosed that the wonder-sticker could do much more: for example, it could measure the amount of sugar in the blood without invading the body.

My nose immediately began to twitch.

And indeed, a day later the media started to investigate the matter, revealing one curious fact after another. Nobody had actually seen the wonder sticker. No patent had been registered. No cardiologist or other expert had examined it. No scientific paper had mentioned it. And, it seems, no scientific experiment had been conducted.

The Taiwan-British company had sent no representative to Israel to examine the invention for which it had allegedly paid a huge sum. The negotiations had been conducted entirely by email, without any personal contact. The lawyers involved refused to show the signed agreement.

When reporters contacted the foreign company, they denied any knowledge of the matter. It appeared that the inventor had registered a computer domain with a similar name and thus actually sold the shares to himself.

At this stage, the house of cards started to fall apart. It was revealed that the inventor had twice done time in prison for fraud. But his partners still insisted that the matter was serious and that within days, if not hours, the genius of the invention would be revealed to all, and the critics would be compelled to eat their hats.

The hats remained uneaten, and the partners deserted the ship one after the other.

WHAT TRANSFORMED the affair from an amusing “sting” operation into a matter of national importance was the readiness of the whole country, for a whole day, to accept the story as another proof of Jewish genius.

No less typical was the identity of its heroes. No. 1 was the inventor himself, who continues to protest that this time, this of all times, he is not an impostor. No. 2 was his partner, the businessman, who was or was not an accomplice to the fraud. But the interesting characters are the other two main protagonists.

No. 3 has been for many years the closest friend of Binyamin Netanyahu, and especially of his wife, Sarah (known to everybody by the childish diminutive Sara’le). At the height of the scandal he resigned his job as CEO, after failing to obtain a copy of the famous contract. If it is assumed that this friend of Netanyahu’s is indeed innocent, his level of intelligence must be subject to grave doubts. However, it may not be intelligence that the Netanyahu family looks for in close friends.

That is even more true for No. 4: Haggai Hadas. The exact nature of his involvement is not entirely clear. At the beginning, he vigorously defended the invention and seemed to be involved from head to foot, but when the thing blew up he desperately tried to distance himself from it.

Why is this any more important than the usual gossip? Because Haggai Hadas, apart from enjoying Netanyahu’s confidence and being, reportedly, a personal friend of his wife, has served in the past as chief of the operations department of the Mossad, the third most important post in the spy agency. He could by now have been the Mossad chief, if the incumbent had not actively prevented everybody else from coming even close.

Some weeks ago, Netanyahu appointed Hadas to one of the most sensitive positions in the security establishment: to coordinate all the efforts to free the “kidnapped” soldier Gilad Shalit.

If we do not want to assume that this man, a confidante of the Prime Minister and a former senior officer of the Mossad, who has been responsible for life-and-death decisions, was an accomplice to a vile fraud, there is no escape from the conclusion that his judgment is grievously impaired and that he fell into a trap that any person with common sense could have spotted a mile off.

How can such a person possibly be entrusted with such a sensitive task as the negotiation for a prisoner exchange with Hamas, in which sophisticated Egyptian mediators are involved?

And what does this say about the judgment of Netanyahu, who appointed him to this task, especially assuming that his wife had demanded it?

THIS WEEK also marked a milestone: the end of the first 100 days of Netanyahu’s second term as Prime Minister.

The Kadima people have invented a catchy slogan: “100 days, 0 achievements”.

To start with, Netanyahu appointed a bloated government in which a third of all Knesset members serve as ministers or deputy ministers, many of them without any apparent duties. Two of the three most important ministries were allotted to totally unsuited persons: the Treasury to an economic toddler and the Foreign Office to a racist who is openly shunned by many of the world’s most prominent leaders.

Then there came a series of laws and measures that were announced with great fanfare, only to be dropped very quietly. The latest example: the levying of VAT on fruits and vegetables, which was abandoned at the last moment.

But the epitome of inefficiency was the inability to put together the Prime Minister’s staff. The Advisor for National Security, Uzi Arad, is not interested in peace with either the Palestinians or the Syrians, and wants to deal only with the Iranian issue. (This week President Barack Obama issued a public and unequivocal prohibition on any Israeli military attack on Iran.) The Chief of Cabinet, the Director General of the Prime Minister’s office, the Political Advisor and other members of the staff detest each other and do not make any effort to hide it. The Press Advisor has already been replaced, and this week a female friend of Sarah Netanyahu was appointed as advisor for “Branding the State” (Anyone know what that means??)

In the meantime, Sara’le has returned to the spotlight. A former airline stewardess who met Netanyahu in an airport duty-free shop when he was still married to his second wife, she was universally disliked and served as a butt of jokes during her husband’s first term. This time, efforts were made to keep her in the background. When the Prime Minister still insisted on taking her with him to Washington, Michelle Obama avoided meeting her. When he was due to visit several European capitals, she was struck from the list at the last moment. But it seems that she is very active behind the scenes, especially as far as crucial senior appointments are concerned.

Perhaps this country really does need a wonder sticker?

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lunes, 6 de julio de 2009

Los niños de Sonora

La iniciativa Adopta a un niño muerto se hace eco de las exigencias contra la impunidad en el caso de los niños de la guardería ABC en Sonora. Invitamos a quienes lo deseen a firmar y enviar el mensaje a la dirección que sigue. Se reproduce el mensaje recibido por internet (se incluye la invitación a la marcha que tuvo lugar el sábado pasado):

Este documento recoge exigencias básicas a los tres poderes del gobierno mexicano en relación al descuido y la corrupción criminales que provocaron la tragedia de la guardería ABC. Si estás de acuerdo, por favor fírmalo y reenvíalo a tus amigos y conocidos. En caso de que te toque el número 100 o un múltiplo de 100, por favor envía la lista a: y continúa la circulación a tu red de contactos.

Dirigido a:

Ciudadanos y ciudadanas, sin partido político y sin otro interés que luchar contra la impunidad y acompañar a los familiares de las pequeñas víctimas del incendio en la Guardería ABC de Hermosillo, Sonora, nos adherimos a la siguiente demanda.

-Más guarderías dignas y seguras.
-Se declare inconstitucional la subrogación en este delicado campo de la seguridad social.
-Respeto al derecho de las madres y los padres trabajadores de contar con un servicio de guardería que proteja la vida y propicie el desarrollo integral de los infantes.
-Cárcel para los culpables e inhabilitación vitalicia para los funcionarios responsables del incendio en la guardería ABC de Hermosillo.
-La entrega inmediata de las lista de los dueños de las guarderías subrogadas.
-Apoyo de por vida, médico y psicológico, para los niños y las niñas en tratamiento así como a los familiares de todas las víctimas de esta tragedia.
-Revisión inmediata de la legislación en materia de guarderías desde una perspectiva que enfatice los aspectos educativo y de seguridad social e impida que éstas sean manejadas como meros negocios.
-Reforma de los códigos penales para que la negligencia, cuando afecte la vida o la integridad física o psicológica de niños y niñas, sea considerada “delito grave”.

¡Por nuestros niños y niñas: Contra la impunidad!

1.- Olga Durón
2.- Esther Cimet Shoijet
3.- Andrea Bárcena, Centro Mexicano para los Derechos de la Infancia
4.- Raquel Bárcena, Centro Mexicano para los Derechos de la Infancia
5.- Patricia Bárcena, Centro Mexicano para los Derechos de la Infancia
6.- Mireya Cueto
7.- Vicenta Hernández Haddad
8.- Mujeres Aportando a Mujeres, A.C.
9.- Aurora Montaño
10.- Verónica Ortiz Lawrenz
11.- Hebe Rosell
12.- Berta Hiriart
13.- Guadalupe Lozada
14.- Ofelia Quijano
15.- Jesús Anaya Rosique
16.- Beatriz Zalce
17.- Rosina Conde
18.- Dana Gelinas
19.- Angélica de Icaza
20.- Irma Gallegos
21.- Guadalupe Lara
22.- Patricia Vega
23.- María Alicia Haddad
24.- Aidé Grijalva
25.- Paloma Saiz Tejero
26.- Alma Cázares Ruiz
27.- Carlos Anaya Rosique
28.- Elia Baltasar
29.- José Luis Flores
30.- Armando Vega Gil
31.- Rosa del C. Sánchez Anzúres
32.- Eduardo Mosches
33.- Silvana Rabinovich
34.- Mabel García Dejean
35.- Rossana Cassigoli

A la marcha de duelo y de protesta “Por nuestros niños y niñas: Contra a la impunidad”:
*Nos acompañan padres y madres de familia de los niños y niñas de la Guardería ABC de Hermosillo, Sonora.
*Y representante de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal.
Sábado 4 de julio, 10 a.m. Salimos de las oficinas del IMSS en Reforma hacia la Representación del gobierno de Sonora, en Goldsmith 228, Polanco. Si puedes, lleva ropa clara y un listón de duelo en el brazo izquierdo. Por razones obvias, no se admitirán carteles ni consignas de ningún partido político.

sábado, 4 de julio de 2009

The Guardian en youtube

Sobre los crímenes de guerra en Gaza. Información documentada importante que acude a ambas partes para obtener respuestas. Se agradece el envío a Viviana Nardoni.

viernes, 3 de julio de 2009

Palabras de aliento para nuestra iniciativa de parte de una ONG israelí por los derechos humanos

Con el fin de establecer contactos con las familias sobrevivientes de los niños muertos, hemos recibido una alentadora respuesta de ACRI (ONG israelí por los derechos humanos) a nuestra iniciativa. Seguimos su consejo y escribimos a UNRWA y Guishah. Todavía no tenemos respuesta. Esperamos tenerla pronto y publicarla en el blog a fin de que cada uno pueda comunicarse con las familias. El mensaje que sigue, escrito en letras cuadradas, constituye un testimonio más de que en Israel no hay un pensamiento único y que cada vez hay más voces que buscan la paz y la dignidad. Es importante traducirlas en todas las lenguas de Babel.

שלום רב,שמי רונית סלע ואני רכזת קשרי חוץ באגודה לזכויות האזרח. תודה שפניתם אלינו, היוזמה שלכם נשמעת מקסימה. כל הכבוד.
לארגון שלנו אין פרטים של משפחות ברצועת עזה.
מי שיש לו הוא ראש אונר"א בעזה.
UNRWA - UN relief and work agency for Palestinian refugees
אפשרות אחרת היא ליצור קשר עם גישה, ארגון ישראלי שעוסק במצור על רצועת עזה.
.בהצלחה בפעילותכם המבורכת,רונית

"Mi nombre es Ronit Sela y soy la encargada de relaciones exteriores en la unión para los derechos del ciudadano. Gracias por haberse dirigido a nosotros, su iniciativa parece ser maravillosa. Los felicito. Nuestra organizcación no tiene datos de familias en la Franja de Gaza. Quien los tiene es el que preside la UNRWA. Otra posibilidad es que ustedes se comniquen con Guisha (organización israelí que se ocupa del sitio de la Franja de Gaza). Suerte en su bendita laborRonit"