Louis Bohté, onze vorige voorzitter, schrijft ons vanuit Bethlehem
 

Beste mensen,

Vrede en alle Goeds.

Bethlehem, 4 juli 2010

 foto's

 

Geregeld krijgt mijn medebroeder Lawrence post met foto’s van pasgeboren baby’s. Steevast danken de ouders voor het geschenk van een kind dankzij de poeder van de melkgrot na eerst jarenlang vruchteloos te hebben gewacht op de komst van een zeer gewenst kind.

Afgelopen zondag viel mij de eer te beurt foto’s te krijgen van een nieuwe wereldburger. Ruim een jaar geleden had ik het verzoek doorgekregen om de poeder op te sturen naar een vrouw in Oostenrijk. De betreffende vrouw ontving de poeder precies op haar verjaardag, 29 mei. Zij heeft vurig tot Maria gebeden. Op 7 oktober kreeg ze te horen, dat ze zwanger was. In mei is hun zoon geboren. Kennelijk is de jongen naar mij vernoemd: Luis Paul. De tweede naam is in een bepaald opzicht opmerkelijk, want sinds zijn emeritaat als hoogleraar plastische chirurgie woont een oud klasgenoot van mij in Oostenrijk en hij heet Paul.

Dinsdag was er de priesterwijding van een aantal medebroeders. Dat is hier altijd op het feest van Petrus en Paulus. Het was een viering als vanouds. Na afloop ging ik naar Ofer om met hem mijn vriendin Hadassah te bezoeken. Zij had enkele weken in haar huis een ongelukkige val gemaakt en daarbij haar rechterelleboog gebroken. Zij is nu aan het herstellen hiervan.

De rit naar de priesterwijding verliep wat anders dan gedacht. Gewoonlijk gaan we via Beit Sahour naar een checkpoint, maar daar werden we niet doorgelaten en reden we via de grote checkpoint van Bethlehem naar Jeruzalem. De beveiliging was straffer, vermoedelijk vanwege de spanningen binnen Israël. Ten eerst is het plan om een deel van Oost Jeruzalem te slopen, met name van de wijk Silwan ten zuiden van de oude stad, waar een park moet komen. Dan is er de strijd tussen een groep orthodoxe Ashkenazi Joden en Sephardische Joden. Deze Ashkenazi Joden willen niet dat hun dochter les krijgen in gezelschap van meer wereldse Sephardische meisjes, die TV kijken. Een aantal vaders hebben hiervoor in de gevangenis gezeten.

Ten derde is er nu de mars gaande van duizenden sympathisanten van Gila Shalit, de Israëlische soldaat, die nu vier jaar in handen van Hamas in Gaza is. De mars, waaraan nu 20.000 mensen deelnemen en waarvan het aantal groeit, loopt vanaf de woonplaats van Shalit naar Jeruzalem en duurt 12 dagen. Komende vrijdag wordt de intocht in Jeruzalem verwacht en gaat naar de ambtswoning van de premier om hem te dwingen een soepelere houding tegenover Hamas in te nemen. De vader van Shalit wil daar blijven totdat zijn zoon vrij is. Zie artikel

Nu wordt Hamas gekritiseerd omdat het niet toestaat, dat het Rode Kruis Shalit bezoekt en er ook geen contact met zijn familie wordt toegestaan. Uri Avnery heeft hier een behartenswaardig artikel over geschreven. De twee belangrijkste argumenten van hem zijn, dat enerzijds hij de vraag stelt wie zich om de positie van de Palestijnse gevangenen bekommert, die zonder aanklacht vastzitten, praktisch geen contact met hun familie hebben en het contact met een advocaat moeizaam verloopt. Anderzijds heeft Israël herhaaldelijk gepoogd gevangen Israëliërs te bevrijden, die het echter met de dood hebben moeten bekopen. Hamas voorkomt een herhaling hiervan. Zie bijlage met ook een beschouwing over de betrokkenheid van de Amerikaanse politiek op Israël.

Vorige week zondag was er een andere mars in Libanon van Palestijnen, die pleiten voor meer burgerrechten. Zij wonen in 12 vluchtelingenkampen en tellen 40.000 inwoners. Zij zijn praktisch rechteloos sinds 1948.

Palestijnen hebben meer problemen. Als zij vanuit de West Bank naar elders willen reizen, is dat alleen via de Allenbybrug mogelijk. Aan de kant van de West Bank worden zij gecontroleerd door de Israëliërs en aan de andere kant door Jordaniërs. Aan beide kanten worden zij gescheiden gehouden van overige mensen, die de brug gebruiken om de grens te passeren, zodat de buitenwereld niet ziet, hoe de Palestijnen behandeld worden. Deze opmerking geldt vooral voor de Jordaanse kant. De Israëlische grenswachters gedragen zich correcter aldus Husam, die pas van de brug gebruik heeft gemaakt voor zijn reis naar Duitsland.

Woensdag hadden we bezoek van enkele Braziliaanse medebroeders. Een van hen, die provinciaal ofwel de algemene overste is en afkomstig uit de VS, zei dat met het voetbal Brazilië van Nederland zou winnen. Ik reageerde met: wishful thinking. Zo gebeurde.

Er is één argument, waarom het goed is, als Nederland wint. Ik las op internet, dat het Nederlandse team Robbeneiland bezocht heeft, waar Nelson Mandela 27 jaar heeft vastgezeten, en een zogeheten township, waar de armoede zeer zichtbaar is.

Water is hier een probleem. Bij vrienden in Deheisha kamp was de watertank op het dak leeg. Daarom moest er met een fles bij de tante van de schoondochter water gehaald worden, want zij heeft een grotere tank op het dak staan met nog voorraad.

De familie Azza heeft ook waterproblemen. Af en toe is er watertoevoer voor het kamp, maar zij hebben geen krachtig pomp om het water binnen te halen. Zo zitten zij zonder water. Daarom zijn ze bezig een put klaar te maken om water uit de grond te krijgen.

De hele toestand rond de vloot voor Gaza heeft ook wat duidelijkheid opgeleverd. Nu mag ook WC papier weer Gaza worden ingevoerd. Voorheen was dit om veiligheidsredenen verboden. Of liever: het was een manier om de mensen in Gaza te vernederen. Daar wordt nu van afgezien.

Ik merk dat door mijn verblijf hier van zowat zeven jaar ik een belangrijke bijdrage lever aan de reputatie van ons minderbroeders hier in Bethlehem. Morgen begint het drie jaarlijks kapittel van de Custodie. Ik hoop, dat er daarna meer broeders hier komen, die voor de mensen in Bethlehem belangrijk zullen zijn.

Ik heb verder als bijlage toegevoegd een artikel over de aanval op de vloot met hulpgoederen, die gepland was; een analyse over de invloed van orthodoxe Joden; een artikel over hoe wetten in de staat Ontario in Canada tot stand kwamen om de veiligheid te regelen rond de toppen van de G8 en G20. Tot slot een artikel over het tegenhouden van zuurstofmachines bestemd voor de West Bank en Gaza, gegeven door Noorwegen.

Groeten uit Bethlehem,

Louis Bohté


De foto's van deze week

Analysis / The ultra-Orthodox are returning Israel to the middle ages

In a country established on the principle of integrating Jews from all over the world, the ultra-Orthodox have become a leading force behind racism and division in Israeli society.

By Yoel Marcus

From week to week, month to month, and year to year, our situation is getting bleaker. They do what their rabbinical leader tells them to do. They don't recognize the authority of the state, or its institutions or laws, aside that which is related to the government's coffers.

They don't recognize the national anthem or the Israeli flag. They don't recognize methods of birth control, and instead fulfill the religious commandment of being fruitful. They educate their offspring to hate the state.

In a country established on the principle of integrating Jews from all over the world - which succeeded rather well in terms of the secular society - the ultra-Orthodox have become a leading force behind racism and division in Israeli society.

When former Sephardi chief rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef - whose children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have studied and continue to study at Ashkenazi educational institutions - calls for the Sephardi public to send their children exclusively to Sephardi institutions, he is sowing the seeds of racism. And his reasoning is that anyone who studies at an Ashkenazi school "will have an Ashkenazi mind."

For a country working to bring Jews from around the world together, the Haredim are taking us back to the Middle Ages. "Racism" of this kind has almost entirely disappeared within the secular community. A huge number of "mixed" marriages are seen throughout the country, with the question of which community the bride or groom is from almost a thing of the past - or at least on the path to extinction.

Haredi racism is an abscess on Israeli society that needs to be removed as soon as possible. As it appears impossible to solve, and as if it's only getting worse, I am left with no other way to put an end to this other than reference to a poem by the German poet Heinrich Heine: "Rabbi Yehuda, a man of Navarre, and a Franciscan father by the name of Jose, in Toledo stand before Don Pedro (known as "the cruel" ) and beside him his wife Donna Blanca, on the question of whose God is greater. At the end of the debate, Don Pedro asks his wife for advice. I don't know who is right, she said, putting her hand on her forehead in thought and saying, 'But if the rabbi and the priest could both move back a little; both of them stink.'"

Israel raid on Gaza flotilla was a premeditated 'terrorist attack', say Turkish organizers

Report drafted by IHH, the Turkish NGO which spearheaded the May 31 flotilla, calls says IDF deadly takeover 'an attack against all humanity and peace'.

By Haaretz Service

The Israel Navy's deadly takeover of a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip was a pre-mediated "terrorist" attack motivated by hostility, the Turkish NGO that organized the convoy wrote in a special report released on Tuesday.

"Israel exhibited an example of illegal action by stopping the attempts for breaking the embargo in Gaza which is a collective punishment of Palestinians," according to the report compiled by IHH regarding the May 31 raid on the Mavi Marmara, which left nine Turkish activists dead.

Thousands attended the funeral on Thursday June 3, 2010 in Istanbul for the activists killed in the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Photo by: AFP

"The Israeli navy, including hundreds of fully geared up soldiers with faces painted camouflage carrying guns in assault boats, battle ships, submarines and military helicopters carried out a terrorist attack towards the ship Mavi Marmara in international waters," the report said.

While all six ships comprising the flotilla were in someway affected by the raid, according to the report the passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara were directly subjected to live fire. In its report, the IHH accused the IDF soldiers of having "started killing unarmed civilian humanitarian aid volunteers by directly opening fire on them. Obviously, current Israeli government performed a planned terrorist attack to kill out of nothing but hostility."

"During this terrorist attack nine people have lost their lives and around 50 aid activists have been wounded," said the report, concluding that: "The attack carried out against the flotilla is an attack on all humanity and peace."

"As long as the people of Israel and the world public remain silent, they will be supporting the terrorist attack and the inhumane occupation policies of [the] Israeli government, which are complete against the international law," the IHH added.

The flotilla organizers said their sole purpose was to "end the embargo on Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid and it has received [the] support of people from all over the world and it is the common voice of the public's conscience and compassion and justified by humanity's conscious and the international laws."

The IHH said in its report that Israel's decision to block and raid the Gaza-bound flotilla meant that the "Israeli government has waged war on peace," adding that "those who wage war on peace are doomed to lose."

"Therefore, soon they may be facing enormous difficulties and a possible embargo," the IHH said, adding however that they would aid Israel as they attempted to aid Gaza in the event of such a blockade: "Should they be left in need of humanitarian aid through such an embargo, they should note that all individuals in this organization will be working against that embargo on them as well."

Israel's internal committee investigating Israel's the raid - headed by retired Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel - held its first meeting in Jerusalem on Monday.

One of the international observers, Lord David Trimble of Northern Ireland, said at the start of the meeting that the investigation would be serious and rigorous.

"I hope that the investigation will make a good contribution to peace in the region," Trimble said.

Ken Watkin, Canada's former judge advocate general said that he hoped he could bring a different perspective to the committee.

Turkel expressed hope that the committee would complete its duty fast, and that the prime minister, defense minister and the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff would shortly be summoned to testify before the committee.

The committee members, including Shabtai Rosenne, a professor of international law, and Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Horev, met to create panel guidelines and a schedule for hearing witness testimony, and determine the extent to which the observers will participate in the hearings.

The committee will also examine the security-related reasons for Israel's imposition of a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which the flotilla was launched to protest, and the conduct of Turkey and the flotilla organizers.

 Report: Israel seizes oxygen machines donated to PA

Seven machines donated by Norwegian agency confiscated en route to PA over chance generators attached could be used for purposes other than medical treatment, Ma'an reports.

By Haaretz Service Tags: Israel news Gaza West Bank PA

Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza based on the claim that there was a chance the generators attached to the machines would not be used for medical purposes, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Saturday.

A Palestinian boy lays in a bed next to a cooling fan in the intensive care unit at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

Photo by: AP

According to Ma'an, the Ramallah-based health ministry said that the generators, which were donated to the Palestinian Authority by a Norwegian development agency, were seized by Israeli officials despite the fact that only one machine was bound for Gaza.

The generators "came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes" if they were delivered to southern Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement, adding that the six other machines were bound for government hospitals in the northern Gaza, inducing the European Hospital in Gaza City, the Rafdieyah hospital in Nablus, and other facilities in Ramallah and Hebron.

The Ministry of Health appealed to the Norwegian Development Agency, which supplied the machines, and asked that they intervene and demand the release of the equipment at the soonest possible date, Ma'an reported.

"Any delay in obtaining the medical equipment will negatively affect the health of patients," the statement concluded.

Uri Avnery, June 26, 2010

                                                Shalit, For Example

I AM composing these lines while looking through the window at the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and thinking about the young man who is being held not far from this sea, a few dozen kilometers from here.

Can Gilad Shalit look out on the same sea through his window? Does he even have a window? How is he? How is he being treated?

He has been in captivity for four years and one day today, with no end in sight.

Gilad Shalit has become a living symbol - a symbol of Israeli reality, of the inability of our leaders to make decisions, of their moral and political cowardice, of their inability to analyze a situation and draw conclusions.

IF THERE had been an opportunity to free Shalit through military action, the Israeli government would have seized it eagerly.

So much is obvious, because the Israeli public always prefers solving a problem by force than doing anything that might be interpreted as weakness. The rescue of the hostages at Entebbe in 1976 is considered one of the most glorious exploits in the history of Israel, even though there was only a hair's breadth between success and failure. It was a gamble with the lives of the 105 hostages and the soldiers, and it was successful.

In other cases, though, the gamble did not succeed. Not in Munich in 1972, when they gambled with the lives of the athletes, and lost. Not in Ma'alot in 1974, when they gambled with the lives of the schoolchildren, and lost. Not in the attempt to free the captured soldier Nachschon Wachsman in 1994, when they gambled with his life, and lost.

If there had been any chance of freeing Shalit by force, they would have risked his life, and probably lost. Fortunately for him, there has been no such chance. So far.

Actually, this is quite remarkable. Our security services have hundreds of secret collaborators in the Gaza Strip, in addition to high tech surveillance. Yet it seems that no reliable information about Shalit's whereabouts has been obtained.

How has Hamas succeeded in this? Among other measures, by not allowing any contact with the captive - no meetings with the International Red Cross or foreign dignitaries, just two short videos, almost no letters. They simply cannot be pressurized. They refuse all requests of this nature.

This problem could possibly be overcome if our government had been ready to give assurances that no attempt would be made to free him by force, in return for a Hamas undertaking to let him meet with the Red Cross. To be credible, such an undertaking would probably need a guarantee by a third party, such as the US.

Absent such an arrangement, all the sanctimonious speeches by foreign statesmen about "letting the Red Cross meet with the soldier" are just so many empty words.

NO LESS hypocritical are the demands of foreign personalities to "free the kidnapped soldier".

Such demands are music to the Israeli ear, but completely disregard the fact that the subject has to be an exchange of prisoners.

Gilad Shalit is alive and breathing, a young man whose fate arouses strong human emotions. But so are the Palestinian prisoners. They are alive and breathing, and their fate, too, arouses strong human emotions. They include young people, whose lives are being wasted in prison. They include political leaders, who are being punished for simply belonging to one or another organization. They include people who, in Israeli parlance, "have blood on their hands", and who, in Palestinian parlance, are national heroes who have sacrificed their own freedom for their people's liberation.

The price demanded by Hamas may seem exorbitant - a thousand for one. But Israel has already paid such a price for other prisoners in the past, and that has become the standard ratio. Hamas could not accept less without losing face.

The thousand Palestinian prisoners have families - fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children, brothers and sisters. Exactly like Gilad Shalit. They, too, cry out, demand, exert pressure. Hamas cannot ignore them.

THE WHOLE affair is shocking evidence of the inability of our government - both the previous and the present one - to take decisions and even to think logically.

Hamas already fixed the price four years ago, according to past precedents. Their demand has not changed since then.

From the first moment, there was a need to make a decision.

No doubt, such an agreement would strengthen Hamas. It would underline its legitimacy as an important Palestinian factor. It would be seen as confirming the mantra that "Israel understands only the language of force".

Therefore, it comes down to a simple question: Yes or No?

Yes means a blow to Mahmoud Abbas, whose conciliatory ways have not led to the release of one single important Palestinian prisoner. (The US has vetoed any such agreement, since it would strengthen Hamas, which it designates as a "terrorist organization", and weaken Abbas, whom the Americans consider as their man.)

NO means life-imprisonment for Shalit, with perpetual danger to his life.

For four years now, our leaders have been unable to decide, much as they are unable to decide upon any other important matter concerning our future. (For example: Two states or one apartheid state? Peace or settlements? Making a peace agreement with Abbas or negotiating with Hamas?)

IN ORDER to wriggle out of the necessity to make a decision, various tricks have been employed. Among others, the assertion that the purpose of the Gaza blockade was to free Shalit.

That was from the beginning a mendacious pretext. The blockade was imposed in order to compel the Gaza population to overthrow the regime of Hamas, which had won the Palestinian elections. The Shalit connection served only for spin.

Now the blockade has been partially lifted. That is a huge victory for the aid flotilla - a victory the planners of the flotilla did not dare to hope for in their wildest dreams. As a result of the stupid decision to attack the Turkish ship, international pressure made this step unavoidable.

Among other pretexts, the government declared that "anyhow the blockade did not help in freeing Shalit".

Shalit's parents cried out. They really believed that there was a connection between the blockade and the fate of their son. But it is obvious that, when deciding to give in to international pressure and lift the blockade partially, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak did not even think about Shalit.

I stress the word "partially". True, it is a huge victory for all those of us who said from the beginning that the blockade was immoral, illegal and unwise. The decision to let everything into the Strip except arms constitutes a big change.

But the main problem in Gaza is poverty induced by unemployment. Practically all enterprises in the Gaza Strip have been shut down by the blockade. Not only could they not obtain raw materials, but, no less important, they could not export their products to the West Bank, Israel or the world at large. It seems that this situation has not changed. Even if the remaining enterprises receive raw materials now, they cannot export their products - textiles, fruit, flowers and all the rest. Israeli suppliers will now make millions selling their wares in the Gaza Strip, but the Gazans will not be able to sell their products in Israel.

Anyhow, this does not concern the fate of Shalit.

THE SHALIT family is in terrible distress. One can understand them, but sympathy does not prohibit disagreement.

They are wrong when they object to the lifting of the blockade. They are wrong when they demand that Hamas prisoners in Israel not be allowed family visits. (And not only because the families residing in Gaza are not allowed into Israel anyhow.)

One cannot have it both ways. When Noam Shalit, the father, demands that a thousand Hamas prisoners be released to free his son - he cannot at the same time take part in persecuting Hamas prisoners. He cannot demand humane treatment for his son - and at the same time justify the inhumane treatment of the Gaza population. This double standard bewilders the public and undermines the campaign for freeing Gilad.

The message must be simple, clear and straightforward, and addressed to Binyamin Netanyahu: to make the decision to implement the prisoner swap at once. Gilad will return home, and all Israelis will be jubilant. The Palestinian prisoners will also return to their homes, and there, too, everyone will be jubilant.

THE INABILITY of Netanyahu to make decisions and stand behind them reveals the full extent of his incompetence as a leader.

Instead, we have a specialist in marketing (which happens to be his original profession), a person who wakes up in the morning with polls and goes to sleep at night with polls. The pollsters tell him that freeing Gilad Shalit would be popular in Israel, but freeing the Palestinians would be unpopular. At night, in bed, he agonizes about it: Which would be better? How many votes would be gained, how many votes would be lost?

That is frightening. If he cannot make a straightforward decision about the fate of Shalit, how can he make decisions about the problems that affect the fate of all of us, not for one year but for generations to come?

 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Israel Policy: Ignorance Or Cynicism?

It is becoming clearer every day that liberals in Congress, with a few exceptions, do not care a whole lot about Israel.  (It's not news that they don't care a whit about the Palestinians.)
Think about it.
On other foreign policy issues they ask questions, try to discern whether a policy makes sense, and usually choose diplomacy over war.  That has been true since the latter days of the Vietnam War (the Iraq war was the notable and tragic exception).
The last thing anyone expects Congressional liberals to say is, "I trust the President's policy, no matter what it is. War works for me."
But, when it comes to the Middle East, the same liberals invariably salute, support, and rush to the House and Senate floors to express enthusiastic solidarity with the Israeli prime minister. (Check out these AIPAC letters, signed by 86 senators and, so far, 311 House members, endorsing without reservation Israel's blockade of Gaza and the attack on the flotilla.)
In our Congress, the Israeli prime minister is always right.  That is, until he is defeated by the next prime minister - who, in turn, inherits the mantle of infallibility.
Some people look at this phenomenon and say that these Senators and Representatives are more loyal to Israel than to the United States.
That analysis is wrong.

I worked on Capitol Hill for more than 15 years (House and Senate) and I can say with certainty that these seeming "Israel firsters" do not, with few exceptions, care all that much about Israel.
They do care about this country. And that is why they don't knowingly support destructive policies for America - while insouciantly supporting them when it comes to Israel.

Take Sen. Chuck Schumer, for example.  Watch him discuss domestic issues.  Note how much he seems to have studied them (although he sometimes reaches the wrong conclusions). Notice how happily engaged he is when talking about them.
Then watch him talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Not only is he ignorant of the facts, the history, and the changes in the contours of the issue, he seems not to care at all.  He is going through the motions.
Schumer does not care enough about Israel to expend any political (or real) capital on it.  He'll just say what he thinks he has to say and quickly move on to issues he does care about, issues that he thinks relate directly to the lives of Americans.
He is far from alone.

Most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House operate the same way for the same reason. They support bad Israeli policies, and sign those "Israel, right or wrong" letters only because that is the path of least resistance.  I doubt there are 30 Democrats in both houses together who really think attacking the flotilla was right, but hundreds signed the letters anyway.
So why do they do it?

They do it because they don't care about the issue enough to risk the lobby's wrath.  As with Republicans and the NRA, the lobby's wish is their command. (See this excellent analysis by Jim Lobe about how the process works on the Hill.)
In one sense, there is nothing wrong with this path of least resistance politics.  Supporting the AIPAC/Netanyahu line is risk free.  And it sure does bring in lots of campaign money, money that helps liberals win elections.  That helps preserve the careers of some outspoken progressive voices (on other issues, anyway).

Of course that is an expedient, even cynical, way of thinking about this issue.  (But, hey, we are talking about Congress.)
It also ignores two important factors.
The first is that US policy on Israel/Palestine directly affects US interests worldwide.  That was obvious long before General David Petraeus said it.
The Israeli-Palestinian issue is the only issue on which Arabs and Muslims worldwide are united in opposition to US policies.  Sunni or Shiite, Egyptian or Indonesian, public opinion in the Muslim world favors ending the occupation. And that means, as Petraeus suggested, that our position on this issue endangers Americans in the Middle East and, no doubt, elsewhere.
Moreover, the banner of "Palestine" is a recruiting poster for anti-American terrorism.  We have been lucky so far, but everyone knows that the Palestinian issue can blow back here in America (which is why synagogues and other Jewish facilities here are guarded by the police on Jewish holidays and, in some localities, all the time).

Resolving this conflict fairly - i.e., ending the occupation with an agreement that guarantees the sovereignty and security of Israel and Palestine - is one of the most effective things the Obama administration can do for US security.
But the security of Israel should matter too.
I am not saying that American legislators must care about Israel (that is not in their job descriptions), but those who profess to care should not be supporting policies that, left unchecked, will bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
But that is where the Israeli government's current policies are leading, with the help of its Congressional enablers.

The flotilla attack left Israel more isolated than at any time in its history.  And Israelis know it.  The other day, in Knesset, Netanyahu spoke in near hysterical terms about Israel's terrible position (blaming everything on Israel haters and anti-Semites, of course). He is clearly scared...for his political future.  Other than the United States government (which did so under pressure) no other government supported the attack that left nine Turks dead.
Even worse, the attack produced a rupture in Israeli-Turkish relations.  Turkey has been Israel's ally since the Jewish state was created.  But the Gaza invasion, the blockade, and then the attack on the flotilla seriously damaged Israeli-Turkish relations.  A full diplomatic break, which may be coming, would be disastrous for Israel.
Imagine losing a strategic relationship with Turkey in favor of a blockade that Netanyahu now admits is unnecessary to Israel's security!
But these are the policies that Israel's supposed friends in Congress say they support.

Bottom line: they aren't friends.  They are doing what AIPAC and the House and Senate Democratic campaign committees (run by Chuck Schumer and Chris Van Hollen) tell them they must do to do as they head into November.  It's about the donors.  If we had public financing of campaigns those AIPAC letters signed by hundreds would instead be signed by a few dozen. 

I should mention that the Republicans are no better (they are no worse either).  But they are hawks, neocons and Christian fundamentalists (whose "support" for Israel is all about bringing on the Rapture).  For them, supporting Netanyahu's policies is not primarily about kissing up to a lobby and raising money, it is who they are.
It's the Congressional Democrats (with some wonderful and rare exceptions) who are the hypocrites.
AIPAC calls them "stalwart friends" of Israel and honors them for their "courage." Well, they are "stalwart friends" of AIPAC.  That's for sure.
But Israel, not so much.

In fact the people who should honor them are the "one-state" activists.  After all, the policies these guys support will inevitably lead to one state, for Israelis and Palestinians together.  That is not necessarily a terrible idea if it ends the suffering and allows both people to live together in peace and with security.  But it would end Israel as a Jewish state, a state it took 1,900 years to re-create.
Is that what these members of Congress want?
Nah.  I doubt they have given it much of a thought - much like the security of Israel itself.

Kafka Goes to Canada: Ontario Passes Secret Police Powers for G-20 Summit

by: Jason Hamza van Boom on June 26th, 2010

Guess what? Arizona is more liberal than Canada, or at least, the provincial government of Ontario.

Ontario passed legislation giving police new identification-demand and search powers– and most disturbing of all, this legislation was passed in secret.

At least in Arizona, SB1070 was debated and passed in public.

 

From The Ottawa Citizen:

The Ontario government secretly passed legislation giving police sweeping new powers for the duration of the G8 and G20 summits.Police are now able to jail anyone who refuses to furnish identification and submit to a search while within five metres of a designated security zone in downtown Toronto.

Critics reacted furiously to the new rules, which remained unpublicized until Thursday when a 32 year-old man was arrested in Toronto for refusing to show ID to police….

“We learned about this today from (the media),” said Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop. “This is a disgrace. We were sitting in the legislature when this happened. We had lots of time to debate this stuff.”

This is goose-bump raising, spine-tingling creepy for at least two reasons:

1) Any kind of “Your papers, please” legislation infringes on basic liberal principles of internal free movement.

2) Having any kind of “secret” legislation, however temporary subverts the whole basis of democracy, which is the ability of the public to participate in the legislative process.

As one provincial legislator put it, this is all reminiscent of Kafaka.

New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos said Friday the provincial Liberals created a “Kafka-esque” situation where people could be arrested for violating rules they didn’t know existed.

It’s also reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Government defenders of the legislation said it was posted on the Internet– on an “e-laws” site The Ottawa Citizen calls “obscure.” Hitchhikers has this immortal scene, where ordinary citizen Arthur Dent confronts a bureaucrat about the secrecy involved in the decision to demolish his home in favor of a highway bypass:

Arthur: I eventually had to go down to the cellar.

Bureaucrat: That’s the display department.

Arthur: I had to take a torch.

Bureaucrat: The lights must have been out.

Arthur: So were the stairs.

Bureaucrat: But you did find the plans.

Arthur: Yes, I found them. In a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory behind a door that said “Beware of the tiger.”

Bureaucrat: That’s our display department.