Thursday, May 19, 2016

Netanyahu pulls off coalition surprise to upend Israeli politics

 Once Hillary is elected US president we are good to go.

"He's a magician, he's a magician," the partisan crowd chanted as a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu strode into his party headquarters a little over a year ago to declare a come-from-behind victory in Israel's election.

Now, with the expected entry into his right-wing government of ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister, it looks like Netanyahu, in his fourth term as premier, has pulled off another piece of political sleight of hand worthy of a "House of Cards" script.

In a matter of hours on Wednesday, Netanyahu crushed the opposition, shored up his support in his narrow, rightist coalition and put himself more firmly on course to become Israel's longest-serving leader.

But Netanyahu's surprise pact with Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, widely expected to be finalised by the weekend, and dashing talks with the center left was already raising Palestinian and international concern.

Lieberman, a settler in the occupied West Bank, has stirred controversy by questioning Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's commitment to peace and the loyalty of Israel's Arab minority, while pushing for stonger military action against Gaza's Hamas rulers.

"It's already an extremist government and now it will get even more extreme. This government will block any horizon for peace," said Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

An Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: "We're shocked, we're really shocked." He noted that the Lieberman appointment came just a day after a speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised Cairo's help to try to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At home, questions were raised about whether Lieberman, a former foreign minister who once proposed bombing Egypt's Aswan dam, had the temperament or qualifications to replace ex-general Moshe Yaalon as defense chief of a country that has largely lived by the sword since its creation in 1948.

"I hope Lieberman lives to 120, but I think that even if he does, he will not gain the prowess, knowledge and experience that Yaalon has. These kind of chances should not be taken," former Defence Minister Moshe Arens told Army Radio.

It had appeared for the past days that Netanyahu and Isaac Herzog's center-left Zionist Union party, which has 24 lawmakers, were closing in on an alliance that would put a more moderate face on the government and bolster its one-seat majority in the 120-member parliament.

But in a surprise move, Lieberman, who declined to join the government straight after the 2015 election, convened a news conference on Wednesday to say he was now ready to negotiate an agreement that would bring his party's six lawmakers into the coalition.

Soon, Lieberman's car was pulling up to the prime minister's office, where the two - who have a history of testy relations - launched talks expected to be wrapped up before the weekend. Netanyahu met Lieberman's demand to be named defense minister, political sources said.

Herzog swiftly curtailed his own negotiations and said that bringing Lieberman in would result in government policies "on the brink of madness". Herzog's future is now uncertain.

Political commentators have predicted his days as head of the Zionist Union are numbered, especially after many of the party's legislators warned against negotiating with Netanyahu and threatened not to support any partnership with his Likud party.

For Netanyahu's current far-right coalition partner, the Jewish Home party, the prime minister's expected ousting of Yaalon could not come soon enough.

A Likud member, Yaalon drew criticism from ultranationalists and his own party for backing the military's decision to prosecute a soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian attacker in the occupied West Bank in March.

Laying out the welcome mat, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Jewish Home, said: "Avigdor Lieberman is part of the nationalist camp, and I think the coalition, together with him, with 67 legislators will hold together until 2019," when Israel's next election is due.

If Netanyahu remains in office until the end of July 2019, he will be Israel's longest serving prime minister.
(Additional reporting by Dan Williams and Ali Sawafta; Editing by Luke Baker and Alison Williams)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Only Individuals busted on 9/11 were Israeil nationals

 Declasified (read all files link)


 There was a considerable criminal adventure associated with Urban Moving Systems. Along with the reported employees (the 5 Israelis) , these companies utilize Israeli nationals in the US on B-2  visas (tourist/ business)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Before Zionism: The shared life of Jews and Palestinians

Before the advent of Zionism and Arab nationalism, Jews and Palestinians lived in peace in the holy land. Menachem Klein’s new book maps out an oft-forgotten history of Israel/Palestine, and offers some guidance on how we may go back to that time.

Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem (1867-1948) "We wish to express our definite opposition to a Jewish state in any part of Palestine."
The European foreigners who came here were the ones to form a wedged between the partners to this quasi-utopia. Yeshayahu Peres, who put together the historical-geographical encyclopedia of the Land of Israel, complained that when the Ashkenazi Jews immigrated they brought with them their customs, clothing, and lifestyle, and did not adapt to the cultures of Palestine: “They speak Yiddish and maintain the Jewish street accent of their home countries.
 They are different from their Sephardic brothers not only in language and appearance but also in their worldview.” Or take Palestinian activist Ghada Karmi, who says: “We knew they were different from ‘our Jews,’ I am talking about the Arab Jews. We saw them as foreigners who came from Europe more than as Jews.”

Menachem Klein’s book, Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron, is a depressing one. Originally released in English, the book — which is being published in Hebrew  — paints a picture of a shared life between Palestinians and Jews at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, bringing us face to face with daily life, commerce, education, celebrations, and sadness. 

It shows that us this kind existence, despite everything we were taught by the Israeli education system, is possible. And then Klein goes on and destroys this delicate balance, burning everything left of it today.

As the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine at the time, began losing its power toward the end of the 19th century, a new, local identity began developing out of the lived experiences of Jews and Arabs. This identity, which took precedence over religion, was shared by Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, both the Zionist movement and the Palestinian national movement began trying to take control of that identity and define the people of the land as either Jewish Zionists or Palestinian Arabs. There were those who called for unity, such as Jerusalem Mayor Raghib al-Nashashibi, who wanted not to speak of Arabs and Jews, but of Palestinians.

Klein debunks the myth according to which the residents of the country before the advent Zionism or the Arab national movement lacked all identity. Instead, he describes a lively and vivacious community with its own traditions and customs, bringing testimonies from Jews, Muslims and foreigners as proof.

Both Zionism and Arab nationalism came to Palestine from outside the country. The two movements developed in the diaspora but both saw the territory between the river and the sea as part of their war for control; they drew borders in a place that had been borderless at the expense of those who lived here.

Palestinian residents distinguished between “Arab Jews” — a common identity of Jews who were either born here or in other Arab countries — and Jewish immigrants from Europe who arrived to redefine the land. Klein quotes several journal entries penned by Palestinians at the beginning of the 20th century, according to which non-Ashkenazi Jews were seen as awlad al-balad (“sons of the land”) and yahud awlad al-arab (“Jewish Arabs”).

‘The Bolsheviks from Moscow’

The idealistic reality described by Klein seems almost like a dream today. He quotes the memoirs of Ya’akov Elazar from Jerusalem, who remembers how “the Muslim women cooperated respectfully with the customs of the Jewish religion…the Muslim neighbors allowed the Jewish women to pump water necessary before the Sabbath.” Klein also describes how some Muslims even joined their Jewish neighbors in reciting religious prayers.

He describes the cheder (a traditional elementary school where the basics of Judaism and the Hebrew language were taught) run by Hacham Gershon in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where Arab parents brought their children so that they would learn how to behave properly. Klein also writes that sexual relations and marriages between Jews and Arabs were not unheard of, even if they were not considered legitimate.

The European foreigners who came here were the ones to form a wedged between the partners to this quasi-utopia. Yeshayahu Peres, who put together the historical-geographical encyclopedia of the Land of Israel, complained that when the Ashkenazi Jews immigrated they brought with them their customs, clothing, and lifestyle, and did not adapt to the cultures of Palestine: “They speak Yiddish and maintain the Jewish street accent of their home countries. 

They are different from their Sephardic brothers not only in language and appearance but also in their worldview.” Or take Palestinian activist Ghada Karmi, who says: “We knew they were different from ‘our Jews,’ I am talking about the Arab Jews. We saw them as foreigners who came from Europe more than as Jews.”
Yohanan Ben Zakai's Sephardic Synagogue, Jerusalem, 1893.
Yohanan Ben Zakai’s Sephardic Synagogue, Jerusalem, 1893.

Klein writes that the Zionist establishment invented and nurtured the idealistic image of the Jews as Hebrew-speaking tzabars — as opposed to the Arab Jew. The myth of the tzabar was formed by a culture of immigrants who wanted to see themselves as natives. Maps were redrawn and Arab names of places were ignored or changed to Hebrew names.

This was done not only to transform the immigrants into natives, but also to inherit the place of those who were here before. When Yosef Shlush, one of the founders of Tel Aviv, complained that he was attacked by Arabs, the heads of Jaffa’s Arab clans responded: “Who is at fault for all these incidents if not the Bolsheviks you brought from Moscow?”

The first part of the book, which describes life before the Nakba and the 1967 War, is full of historical anecdotes on how Zionism was viewed by the Palestinian leadership. Salim al-Husseini, the mayor of Jerusalem at the end of the 19th century, is quoted: “This is not a political movement as much as it is a settler movement, and I am sure that not a single intelligent, wise Zionist does not imagine the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine.”

What happened to Palestine?
Najib Azuri, a Maronite Christian from Lebanon who served in the Ottoman administration in Jerusalem and was one of the harbingers of Arab nationalism, said this in 1905: “Both these movements will be resigned to continually struggle until one wins out, the fate of the entire world rests on the results of this struggle between two nations who represent two opposing principles.”

Jamil al-Husseini said in 1914 that Zionism must be fought since its success may bring about the dispossession of Palestinians from their land, while Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husayni, who briefly served as Jerusalem’s mayor and became a famous Palestinian leader, said that, “the Arabs or their leaders do not hate the Jews as Jews.

On the contrary, they want Jews present in the framework of an Arab federation… but the Arabs do not agree in any way that a minority of residents say that… they are the lords of the land… we believe that the Jews need to enjoy the rights they deserve relative to their numbers.”

It is not that the first part of the book is bereft of violence, riots, murder, and clashes between groups — but there is some kind of balance. One group kills, the other responds, then they reconcile and go back to living together. Until the next time.

Beyond history

The second half of the book describes what happened after the Nakba, and it is far more pessimistic. Klein claims that 1948 and 1967 were not two separate wars, but rather two rounds of the same war, basing his theory on a convincing comparison and many testimonies from both Jews and Palestinians. He writes about the expulsion of Palestinian from their homes, which were then re-populated by Jews — both in ’48 and ’67.

He describes the stories of refugees who returned to visit their homes and properties that were taken in 1947, and the meetings with the new residents who weren’t always happy to see the refugees.

The New Jews
Supreme Court Justice Zvi Berenson, who lived in a Palestinian home, refused to show the house to its former owners, claiming that he had invested much money in renovations. A different refugee who arrived at her old home ran into a Jewish immigrant from Poland who argued that the Poles took her old home, in an attempt to justify the fact that she has done the same thing to the Palestinian standing before her.

Even the personal relationships between Jews and Muslims were disrupted by the wars, such as the one between Ishak Musa al-Husseini and his childhood friend Yaacov Yehoshua. Both studied together and remained friends until they were separated by the 1948 war.

After ’67, Yehoshua became a top Israeli clerk, while al-Husseini, whose family lived in the West Bank, came to his Jewish friend to ask for help in retrieving his family’s property. Yehoshua decided not to help him, writing in is journal: “It turns out that you have yet to come to terms with the new Jew — the same one you scorned in the past has now become a brave soldier, a tank crewman, a pilot.”

The old church in Kfer Bir'im. (photo:
The old church in Kafr Bir’im. The Palestinian villagers were expelled from their homes two years after the founding of the State of Israel. (photo:
Klein moves along the years, looking at various failed co-existence initiatives, at the activities of settler organization Elad, until the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in 2014 and consequences it had on the residents of the West Bank.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Bikini Atoll nuclear test: 60 years later and islands still unliveable

ATOMIC AGE: Angel Food

In Washington last week, at the Army War College's sumptuous officers' club, two admirals and their wives gave a little party to commemorate the dissolution of Joint Army-Navy Task Force No. i, which staged Operation Crossroads at Bikini. An East St. Louis (111.) group of bakers sent a cake, made out of tiny angel-food puffs, in the shape of an atomic explosion. Vice Admiral W.H.P. ("Spike")
Blandy, Crossroads commander, and Mrs. Blandy were photographed gaily cutting the cake, while Rear Admiral F. J. Lowry stood happily by (see cut). The picture made the Washington Post's society page.

The Marshall Islands are marking 60 years since the devastating US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll, with exiled islanders saying they are too fearful to ever go back because of nuclear contamination.

Part of the intense cold war nuclear arms race, the 15-megatonne Bravo test on 1 March 1954 was a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It exposed thousands in the surrounding area to radioactive fallout.

Bikini islanders and their descendants have lived in exile since they were moved for the first weapons tests in 1946. When US government scientists declared Bikini safe for resettlement some residents were allowed to return in the early 1970s. But they were removed again in 1978 after ingesting high levels of radiation from eating foods grown on the former nuclear test site.

The Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal awarded more than $2bn in personal injury and land damage claims arising form the nuclear tests but stopped paying after a compensation fund was exhausted.

As those who remembered the day gathered in the Marshall Islands’ capital of Majuro, along with younger generations, to commemorate the anniversary, many exiles refused to go back to the zones that were contaminated despite US safety assurances.

“I won’t move there,” said Evelyn Ralpho-Jeadrik of her home atoll, Rongelap, which was engulfed in fallout from Bravo and evacuated two days after the test. “I do not believe it’s safe and I don’t want to put my children at risk.”

If you sit by a river long enough, you'll see the body of your enemy float by.
Old Japanese proverb