Louis Bohté, onze vorige voorzitter, schrijft ons vanuit Bethlehem
 

Beste mensen,

Vrede en alle Goeds.

Bethlehem, 17 oktober 2010

 foto's

Afgelopen week heb ik veel om handen gehad. Woensdag heb ik Jack bezocht. Hij ligt in een kunstmatige coma en ik heb de indruk, dat zijn situatie stabiel is. Voorlopig blijft hij in deze coma. Ik ging op eigen gelegenheid naar Jack toe , maar bij de checkpointstond zijn broer Judeh een stukje voor mij. Wij zijn samen naar Jack toe zijn gegaan. Een stukje achter mij stond een franciscanes, die Jack goed kent. Haar communiteit bidt elke dag voor hem. Ik heb haar de volgende morgen over de gezondheidstoestand geďnformeerd. Ik kwam bij haar communiteit aan, juist voor zij naar mij toe wilde gaan.

Na mijn bezoek aan Jack ben ik naar zijn moeder gegaan om haar te vertellen hoe het met hem gaat. Zijn dochter Razan was ook thuis. Ik hoorde dat er een werkster gaat komen om de moeder van Jack te helpen met het huishouden. Zij is namelijk slechtziende. Ik ben benieuwd hoe Jack hierop gaat reageren, als hij eenmaal beter is. Hij houdt graag alles in eigen hand.

Met zijn zoon Shukri ben ik bezig geweest om te zien wat voor hulp verder mogelijk is. Dat ziet er goed uit.

Toen ik met Anton Sleiby en zijn broer Munder over Jack sprak, bleken zij goed op de hoogte van wat er met hem gebeurd was. Ik hoorde dat zij hem zeer hoog achten. Jack heeft een goede reputatie onder de bevolking van Bethlehem, Christenen én Moslims.

Hiernaast was ik druk met de groep Duitsers, die met mijn medebroeder Markus Heinze op bezoek in Bethlehem waren. Hoewel ik niet verantwoordelijk voor het programma hoefde te zijn, heb ik in feite een belangrijk deel van het programma geregeld. Je kunt niet zomaar op de bonnefooi hierheen komen en denken dat je ter plekke wel een goed programma in elkaar kan zetten.

Het bezoek werd gecompliceerd doordat de helft van de groep van acht ziek werd, de een na de ander.

Ik had al georganiseerd, dat Mohammed Abu Alia met hen zou spreken, zie vorige brief. Hij kwam afgelopen vrijdag voor een uitgedunde groep nogmaals in Aktie om hen activiteiten te laten zien van een centrum, waar hij aan verbonden is. Onderweg erheen liet ik het groepje twee plekken zien, die in maart 2008 brandpunten waren door de pogingen van het israëlische leger iemand op te pakken, zijn huis te verwoesten en vervolgens hem met drie anderen uit de weg te ruimen. Een van de drie anderen was Ahmed Balboul. Ik regelde een bezoek aan zijn zus Basima, de moeder van mijn ‘nicht’. Tijdens dit bezoek op maandag werd de groep uitgenodigd voor een maaltijd afgelopen donderdag. Basima maakte een grote indruk door haar opgewektheid en doorzettingsvermogen. Zij liet vernielingen zien, die Israëlische soldaten in haar huis hadden aangericht. Haar oudste zoon was met de dood bedreigd. Haar man was 14 jaar geleden gedood door het Israëlische leger. Maar zij oogt onverwoestbaar. Volgend jaar wordt zij grootmoeder van een tweeling.

Haar dochter Majd, mijn ‘nicht’, toonde zich zeer geëmancipeerd. Haar ideaal is, dat zij in de toekomst werkt en haar man voor het huishouden zorgt. Zij vertelde verder, dat zij nooit naar de VS kan gaan, want daarvoor moet zij in persoon een visum aanvragen bij het consulaat van de VS, dat in Oost Jeruzalem gevestigd is. Van Israël zal ze nooit een vergunning krijgen om naar Oost Jeruzalem te gaan. Haar familie staat op een zwarte lijst.

Een andere maaltijd was bij Mohammed Oweineh, die een enige jaren geleden Markus in Frankfurt had opgezocht. De maaltijd was dinsdag op zijn verjaardag.

Vrijdagavond heb ik met de overgebleven vier van de groep gesproken over de achtergronden van de situatie hier. Hierbij is vermeldenswaardig, dat de oudste van de groep 79 is en derhalve de tweede helft van de jaren dertig van de vorige eeuw als kind bewust heeft meegemaakt.

Gisteravond heb ik van de groep afscheid genomen. Met de laatste zieke, Markus, ging het ook beter.

Een ander onderdeel was de film over de belegering van de Geboortekerk in april-mei 2002 gedurende 38 dagen.

Van de week is de vorige gardiaan verhuisd. Er wacht alleen vanmiddag een afscheidsetentje. De envelop met de stempel van de custos voor de aanvraag van studiebeurzen kwam boven water.

Vrijdag hadden wij ons eerste huiskapittel van de communiteit om de gang van zaken in huis met elkaar te bespreken. De nieuwe gardiaan heeft een open geest en geeft ruimte om in te brengen wat wij van belang vinden. Dit vraagt meer tijd.

Maandag werd ik door een reisbureau gebeld of ik van 14 tot 24 oktober een Nederlandse groep wil gidsen. Gelukkig kan ik niet, maar bovendien heb ik de ervaring niet om dit te doen. Het is raar, dat op zo’n korte termijn dat nog geregeld moet worden.

Na mijn bezoek woensdag aan Jack heb ik van de gelegenheid gebruik gemaakt om eindelijk eens Ofer en Marion te bezoeken. Het gaat hen goed en met name Marion is druk bezig met de voorbereiding van de Bar Mitzwa van hun dochter Na’ave, die binnenkort 12 wordt. Met het ritueel, waarbij zij voor het eerst uit de Torah ofwel de boeken van Mozes voorleest, wordt zij tot de volwassenen gerekend.

Donderdag was ik op wereldnet te beluisteren. Op dezelfde dag was er in Bethlehem aandacht voor de Palestijnse gevangenen in Israëlische gevangenissen. Israël gaat onverdroten door met het arresteren van Palestijnen, ook hier in Bethlehem.

Gisteren ben ik met Hajj naar de muziekschool geweest, waar hij graag de al ud wil leren bespelen, een klassiek Arabisch snaarinstrument.

Tot slot een aardige observatie van vorige week zondag. Toen ik de kerk binnenkwam, helemaal vooraan vlak bij het koor, was daar een lid van het koor met haar twee dochtertjes. De jongste was denk ik, een jaar of drie. Zij was kennelijk gefascineerd door mijn uiterlijk en bleef maar naar mij kijken. Toen ik vanaf mijn gebruikelijke plaats mijn hand door het traliewerk stak, durfde zij geen hand te geven. Bij de communie kwam ze mij een hand geven en nam daar de tijd voor. Na de viering kwam ze naar mij toe en wilde zij kusjes van mij hebben. Het is leuk om te zien wat voor een proces zo’n meisje doormaakt in een tijdsbestek van een uur.

Ik heb vier artikelen aangehecht: het eerste gaat over de suggestie om de VS te vragen de Palestijnse staat te erkennen als drukmiddel op Israël. Het tweede artikel is een oproep aan te sluiten bij 35 Joodse organisatie in een oproep aan het Joods Nationaal Fonds om op te komen voor de Bedoeďenen in de Negev woestijn. Het derde artikel gaat over de nominering van de organisatie ‘Verbreek de stilte’ van oud-soldaten van het Israëlische leger voor de Sacharov vredesprijs. Het vierde artikel gaat over de buitengerechtelijke executie van twee Palestijnen, die verantwoordelijk werden gehouden voor de dood van 4 kolonisten op 31 augustus j.l.

Komende week ben ik in het Frankische Bethlehem, in Vierzehnheiligen, Beieren. Mijn volgende brief is dan ook een week later. Groeten uit het oorspronkelijke Bethlehem,


De foto's van deze week

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Abbas may circumvent Israel, ask U.S. to recognize Palestinian state

Unilateral declaration considered if peace talks with Israel remain in limbo, though previous pronouncements have been received coolly.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told Arab leaders he may seek U.S. recognition for a Palestinian state, which would include all of the West Bank, should peace talks with Israel break down, an aide said on Saturday.

The idea, raised during Arab League deliberations in Libya on Friday, would place new pressure on Israel to extend a recently expired freeze on construction of settlements in the West Bank - a Palestinian condition for continuing recently relaunched direct peace negotiations.  

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said "alternatives" to the face-to-face talks launched five weeks ago had been discussed, among them "ask(ing) the United States to recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders."

"[Another] is to study the possibility of going to the [United Nations] Security Council to get a resolution that calls upon member states to recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders," he told Reuters by telephone from the Libyan town of Sirte.

Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip - territory that Israel captured from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 war. Israel quit Gaza in 2005 but insists on keeping all of Jerusalem and swathes of West Bank settlements under any peace accord.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed a partial 10-month freeze on settlement construction last November in what he called a goodwill gesture to get negotiations started.

But Netanyahu, whose coalition government includes pro-settler parties, has resisted international pressure to extend the moratorium past its scheduled expiry last month.

Past proposals for Palestinian statehood to be declared without Israeli consent have been received coolly by the United States and other world powers, who want a negotiated solution though they regard the settlements as illegitimate.

The Palestinians say settlements would deny them a viable state, which they envisage having East Jerusalem as its capital.

"I cannot specify all the alternatives that were presented by President Abbas [to the Arab League], but the president will keep working with the American administration to achieve a full cessation of settlement activities in order to restart talks," Erekat said.
Join with 35 Israeli and American Jewish Organizations and
Sign the Open Letter to JNF Leaders

Say yes to equal rights, sustainability, and development for Israel’s Negev –

No to dispossession of the Bedouin!

We, residents of the Negev, human rights activists, social organizations in Israel, Jewish and other allies in the United States and around the world, issue this call to the leadership of the Jewish National Fund (JNF):

JNF must no longer serve as an accomplice to the discriminatory policy of the Government of Israel and the Israel Land Administration (ILA) designed to expel and dispossess the Bedouin from their land.

Join our urgent call to the leadership of JNF to:

1.  Stop forestation activities in areas of existing Bedouin villages as well as on lands for which Bedouin have made legal claims of ownership, pending final court decisions. 

2.  Fund projects for Israel’s Bedouin citizens and communities at levels that are proportional to the size of this population in the Negev—nearly 30%—recognizing the contribution of the Bedouin to the flourishing of the Negev.

3.  Join with human rights organizations in Israel to allow the Bedouin to live on their traditional lands, as they have for many generations. 

4.  Reconsider JNF’s development plans for the Negev and commit, henceforth, to working toward truly sustainable development of the Negev for ALL its inhabitants, Jews and Arabs alike.

Sign the Open Letter here and your protest message will be emailed right now to JNF’s top 3 leaders:  Ronald Lauder, Chairman, Stanley M. Chesley, President, and Russell Robinson, CEO.
JNF is engaged in intensive forestation and development in the Negev designed to ensure a Jewish majority in the region.   To achieve this, it plants trees on large tracts of land containing Bedouin villages, many with ongoing legal claims of ownership, requiring massive dispossession of Arab Bedouin from their lands in order to open up space for the Jewish population.  

The destruction of the entire villages of Al-Arakib and Twail Abu Jarwal and the expulsion of hundreds of men, women and children to make way for JNF forests are but a few of many examples.

JNF has filed with Israel’s Interior Ministry a publicly available plan for forestation which completely ignores the existence of “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in areas it intends to blanket with trees.  Detailed objections to the JNF plan have been submitted to Israel’s Ministry of Interior Israeli human rights organizations.

Sign the Open Letter here and your protest message will be emailed right now to JNF’s top 3 leaders:  Ronald Lauder, Chairman, Stanley M. Chesley, President, and Russell Robinson, CEO.
 
Or visit this link to sign and send your message to JNF leaders:   http://www.change.org/petitions/view/equal_rights_sustainability_and_development_for_israels_negev_not_dispossession_of_the_bedouin
The Open Letter has been endorsed so far by a big tent of 35 ideologically diverse Israeli and American Jewish organizations – 27 NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and 8 progressive American Jewish organizations:   

From Israel:
 
Ř      Al-Arakib Village Committee; Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality
Ř      Rabbis for Human Rights, Israel
Ř      Shatil – Leading Social Change, An Initiative of the New Israel Fund
Ř      The Regional Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages
Ř      Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Ř      Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel
Ř      The Association for Support and Defense of Bedouin Rights in Israel 
Ř      Hit’habrut-Tarabut – Arab-Jewish Movement for Social and Political Change 
Ř      AJEEC – Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development
Ř      The Local Committee – Alsira Village
Ř      Al-Arakib People’s Committee
Ř      Women’s Coalition for Peace
Ř      Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Ř      Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel
Ř      Recognition Forum
Ř      Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights
Ř      Laqiya Womens’ Association
Ř      Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Campaign
Ř      Gush Shalom
Ř      The Israeli Committee against House Demolition
Ř      Social TV
Ř      Alternative Information Center
Ř      Fighters for Peace
Ř      Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
Ř      New Profile – Movement for the Civil-ization of Israel Society
Ř      Yesh Gvul
 
From the US:
 
Ř      Jewish Alliance for Change
Ř      Jewish Voice for Peace
Ř      Meretz USA
Ř      Network of Spiritual Progressives
Ř      Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
Ř      Shalom Center
Ř      Tikkun Community
Ř      The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring

Equal rights, sustainability, and development for Israel’s Negev – not dispossession of the Bedouin!

Targeting: Russell Robinson (CEO, Jewish National Fund), Stanley M. Chesley (President, Jewish National Fund), and Ronald Lauder (Chairman, Jewish National Fund)

Started by: Jewish Alliance for Change

We, residents of the Negev, human rights activists, social organizations in Israel, Jewish and other allies in the United States and around the world, issue this call to the leadership of the Jewish National Fund (JNF):   

JNF must no longer serve as an accomplice to the discriminatory policy of the Government of Israel and the Israel Land Administration (ILA) designed to expel and dispossess the Bedouin from their land. 

Join our urgent call to the leadership of JNF to:   

1.  Stop forestation activities in areas of existing Bedouin villages as well as on lands for which Bedouin have made legal claims of ownership, pending final court decisions.    

2.  Fund projects for Israel’s Bedouin citizens and communities at levels that are proportional to the size of this population in the Negev—nearly 30%—recognizing the contribution of the Bedouin to the flourishing of the Negev. 

3.  Join with human rights organizations in Israel to allow the Bedouin to live on their traditional lands, as they have for many generations. 

4.  Reconsider JNF’s development plans for the Negev and commit, henceforth, to working toward truly sustainable development of the Negev for ALL its inhabitants, Jews and Arabs alike.   

Please click on "Take Action" on the right side of this page, add your name and your protest message will be emailed right now to JNF’s top 3 leaders:  Chairman Ronald Lauder, President Stanley M. Chesley and CEO Russell Robinson.

JNF is engaged in intensive forestation and development in the Negev designed to ensure a Jewish majority in the region.   To achieve this, it plants trees on large tracts of land containing Bedouin villages, many with ongoing legal claims of ownership, requiring massive dispossession of Arab Bedouin from their lands in order to open up space for the Jewish population. 

The destruction of the entire villages of Al-Arakib and Twail Abu Jarwal and the expulsion of hundreds of men, women and children to make way for JNF forests are but a few of many examples.   

JNF has filed with Israel’s Interior Ministry a publicly available plan for forestation which completely ignores the existence of “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in areas it intends to blanket with trees.  Detailed objections to the JNF plan have been submitted to Israel’s Ministry of Interior by Israeli human rights organizations. 

The Open Letter has been signed by a big tent of 35 ideologically diverse Israeli and American Jewish organizations – 27 NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and 8 American Jewish organizations:     

From Israel:

■  Al-Arakib Village Committee ■  Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality ■ Rabbis for Human Rights, Israel ■ Shatil – Leading Social Change, An Initiative of the New Israel Fund  ■ The Regional Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages ■ Physicians for Human Rights – Israel ■ Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel ■ The Association for Support and Defense of Bedouin Rights in Israel ■ Hit’habrut-Tarabut – Arab-Jewish Movement for Social and Political Change ■  AJEEC – Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development ■ The Local Committee – Alsira Village ■ Al-Arakib People’s Committee ■ Women’s Coalition for Peace ■  Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel  ■ Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel  ■ Recognition Forum ■ Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights ■ Laqiya Womens’ Association ■  Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Campaign ■ Gush Shalom ■ The Israeli Committee against House Demolition ■ Social TV ■ Alternative Information Center ■ Fighters for Peace ■ Public Committee Against Torture in Israel ■ New Profile – Movement for the Civil-ization of Israel Society ■ Yesh Gvul

From the US:

■ Jewish Alliance for Change ■ Rabbis for Human Rights-North America ■ Meretz USA ■ Shalom Center ■ Jewish Voice for Peace  ■ The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring ■ Tikkun Community ■ Network of Spiritual Progressives

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Petition Text

Equal rights, sustainability, and development for Israel’s Negev – not dispossession of the Bedouin!

Messrs. Lauder, Chesley and Robinson,

As residents of the Negev, human rights activists, social organizations in Israel, Jewish and other allies in the United States and around the world, we issue this call to you, the leadership of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), as you assemble for JNF’s Annual Conference in Atlanta, together with Israeli cabinet ministers, the mayor of Jerusalem, and others involved in various projects in the Negev, some involving JNF and others sponsored by it. No doubt, JNF presumes to be speaking for all the residents of the entire Negev during this conference. But the facts suggest otherwise.

In 2005, JNF-USA, together with JNF-Israel, the Or Movement, Ayalim and the government of Israel, launched a program for developing the Negev, announcing that it will be placing the Negev at the center of its activities in Israel. JNF has since become the major contributor to various development projects in the region. The program set an ambitious demographic target: between the years 2005-2010 the Jewish population of the Negev was to be increased by 500,000. When this goal was not met, a more modest target was set: to increase the Jewish population of the Negev by 250,000 by 2013. But neither of the two targets were formulated in democratic consultation with the current residents of the Negev.

To implement its plan, JNF is using two complementary strategies:
-Bringing Jews to the Negev in order to achieve demographic superiority over the Arab population.
-Intensive forestation measures which require massive dispossession of Arab Bedouin from their lands, in order to “open up space” for the Jewish population.

The first strategy has yielded few results. By contrast, the forestation efforts of the JNF have been more successful. JNF is planting trees on thousands of acres of land – much of it not empty, but containing Bedouin villages, many with ongoing legal claims of Bedouin ownership.

Two of many examples illustrate the systematic pattern of JNF action:

First, the village of Twail Abu Jarwal, located in the heart of Givoth Goral (“Destiny Hills”), was destroyed some fifty times over the past four years to make room for a JNF forest already underway.

Second, the village of Al-Arakib, north of Beer Sheba, which recently made headlines, is situated in the heart of the “Ambassadors Forest,” an area in which the JNF conducted massive forestation until mid-May 2010. Since the end of July 2010, the village has been destroyed five times – once during the month of the Ramadan fast.

In this case, too, JNF is cooperating with the government of Israel as it dispossesses the people of the Al-Touri tribe living there—the same Bedouin tribe originally expelled from the site during the 1950’s—by completely afforesting the area so that they can no longer return to their lands. Following repeated home demolitions, hundreds of villagers, men, women and children, are currently living in makeshift open tents and huts, exposed to the extreme heat of the day, and the soon approaching winter.

JNF has completed all its work surrounding the village of Al-Arakib and is awaiting its final evacuation. At the same time, Awjan, an area of small hamlets and agricultural farms in the southern part of Givoth Goral, may be the next target for dispossession and expulsion.

JNF has filed a publicly available plan for forestation which completely ignores the existence of Awjan and other “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the area to be blanketed with trees. Detailed objections to the JNF plan have been submitted to Israel’s Ministry of Interior by human rights organizations.

The JNF website showcases a number of projects for the Bedouin population, and invites people to make a contribution to them. But the facts suggest that these projects are little more than lip service by JNF, an attempt to whitewash its complicity in the dispossession, or to gain the confidence of some segments of the Bedouin community, the poorest and most neglected in Israel. Projects like Wadi Atir and Nahal Grar, or a few other small projects intended for the Bedouin population, are in no way proportional to the actual size of the Bedouin population of the Negev or to the huge sums and resources that the JNF is investing in the region.

The Bedouin, the indigenous inhabitants of the Negev, comprising nearly 30% of the region’s population, are being forced to pay the price of JNF activities in the Negev. That the JNF does not itself engage in the government’s demolition and expulsion activity, or decide the legal status of villages, is no defense. The JNF must not serve as an accomplice to the discriminatory policy of the Government of Israel and the Israel Land Administration (ILA) – the dispossession of the Bedouin from their land.

We call on you, the JNF leadership, to reconsider JNF’s development plans for the Negev and to commit, henceforth, to working toward truly sustainable development of the Negev for ALL its inhabitants, Jews and Arabs alike.

We call on you to:

-Stop forestation activities in areas of existing Bedouin villages as well as on lands for which Bedouin have made legal claims of ownership, pending final court decisions.
-Fund projects for Israel’s Bedouin citizens and communities at levels that are proportional to the size of this population in the Negev—nearly 30%--recognizing the contribution of the Bedouin to the flourishing of the Negev.
-Join the call of human rights organizations in Israel to allow the Bedouin to live on their traditional lands, as they have for many generations.

Bedouin villages should be able to find their place in a Negev that also includes forests and tourist sites, within the framework of true environmental planning, involving the Bedouin in determining their own future.

By ensuring that all Israelis can feel confident that their basic rights and culture will be treated with respect by the society in which they live, the State of Israel can build a foundation for trust and partnership with its non-Jewish minorities.

Atlanta is the place to do real soul searching, to end JNF’s role as an accessory to acts of robbery and looting, green-washed by false notions of sustainability. True sustainability is not about one national or ethnic group living at the expense of another. It does not mean doing injustice to one for the benefit of another; nor does it involve the exploitation of the limited resources of indigenous peoples living in the State of Israel. Rather, sustainability is about sharing resources equitably; otherwise, it becomes a fig leaf for entrenching ethnic discrimination.

If you, the leaders of the JNF, fail to heed this call, you will bear responsibility for the betrayal of Israel’s commitment to the values of equality and justice enshrined in its Declaration of Independence, to which the state is obligated by the international conventions it has signed.

If you fail to reevaluate the JNF’s course, you risk embroiling the State of Israel in a war against its own citizens—the Arab population of the Negev—igniting a conflagration that may not easily be extinguished.

We call on you, the leadership of the JNF, to end your complicity in the destruction of Bedouin villages in the Negev and in the dispossession of Israel’s Bedouin community.

Signed by 27 NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and by 8 American Jewish organizations.

From Israel:
■ Al-Arakib Village Committee ■ Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality ■ Rabbis for Human Rights, Israel ■ Shatil – Leading Social Change, An Initiative of the New Israel Fund ■ The Regional Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages ■ Physicians for Human Rights – Israel ■ Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel ■ The Association for Support and Defense of Bedouin Rights in Israel ■ Hit’habrut-Tarabut – Arab-Jewish Movement for Social and Political Change ■ AJEEC – Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development ■ The Local Committee – Alsira Village ■ Al-Arakib People’s Committee ■ Women’s Coalition for Peace ■ Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel ■ Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel ■ Recognition Forum ■ Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights ■ Laqiya Womens’ Association ■ Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Campaign ■ Gush Shalom ■ The Israeli Committee against House Demolition ■ Social TV ■ Alternative Information Center ■ Fighters for Peace ■ Public Committee Against Torture in Israel ■ New Profile – Movement for the Civil-ization of Israel Society ■ Yesh Gvul

From the US:
■ Jewish Alliance for Change ■ Rabbis for Human Rights-North America ■ Meretz USA ■ Shalom Center ■ Jewish Voice for Peace ■ The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring ■ Tikkun Community ■ Network of Spiritual Progressives

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Breaking the Silence nominated for EU peace prize

Breaking the Silence documents testimony of soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza; right-wing group calls on parliament members not to let it win award.

By Nir Hasson

Breaking the Silence, which documents testimony of soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza, has been nominated for a European Parliament prize for defenders of human rights.

In response, the right-wing Israeli group NGO Monitor has started approaching individual parliament members, asking them not to let Breaking the Silence win the Andrei Sakharov Prize.  

Breaking the Silence was founded by army veterans. It collects and publishes soldiers' testimony about human rights violations in the territories.

Two green party blocs in the European Parliament nominated it for the prize.

Parliament member Daniel Cohn-Bendit, president of the European Greens-European Free Alliance and a leader of the 1968 student uprising in Paris, said Breaking the Silence was nominated because "the Greens/EFA group wants to recognize the bravery of all the individuals involved who work to shed light on the injustices of the Israeli occupation and ensure Israeli society does not simply turn a blind eye."

While "Israel is a democracy, it nonetheless takes enormous courage to speak out and break through the taboos and prejudices surrounding the Israeli occupation," he said.

Meanwhile, the right-wing Israeli group NGO Monitor has begun approaching parliament members, asking them not to let the group win the prize.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, chairman of NGO Monitor, sent a letter to parliament members harshly criticizing Breaking the Silence.

If the organization wins the prize, Israeli will interpret this as "a continuation of the European exploitation of human rights principles in order to advance one-sided, anti-Israeli policies," he wrote.

Breaking the Silence responded that it is "proud to be one of the organizations under attack by Steinberg, which include the European Union itself, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International."

When IDF kills terrorists, even Hamas interests are served

The IDF killing of two Hamas men responsible for Kiryat Arba attack on four Israelis rid the PA of the trouble of dealing with the issue, and gave Hamas two more dead heroes.

By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff

A seasoned military figure who a month ago was asked about the probable end to the search for those who killed four Israelis in Kiryat Arba got it right: The terrorists, he said, will die in an Israeli military operation. That is the most convenient outcome for all sides.

IDF Hebron - Reuters - Oct 10, 2010          

IDF soldiers searching a safe house used by Hamas militants after it was demolished in an army raid in Hebron on Friday.

Photo by: Reuters

And that is what indeed happened Friday morning. Officers from a police anti-terror unit, with support from infantry soldiers, raided the hideout near Kiryat Arba of eight members of the Hamas terror cell that opened fire on a car near the entrance to Kiryat Arba on the night of August 31. Yitzhak Ames, Talya Ames, Kochava Even-Chaim and Avishai Shindler, all of Beit Hagai, were killed in the attack.

In Friday's operation, Israeli troops surrounded the house. After an exchange of fire the Israeli forces used bulldozers in an effort to force the fugitives to come out. Nashaat al-Karmi, 33, and Mamoun al-Natshe, 24 were killed during the operation. In recent months Karmi had been head of the armed wing of Hamas in the southern West Bank. The other six were arrested, with a number of weapons in their possession. There were no Israeli casualties.

Several Hamas militants were arrested after the August attack in an attempt to find the perpetrators. The Shin Bet security service interrogated hundreds of detainees in the past month. One of these interrogations elicited the names of the cell members and the location of their hideout and made Friday's operation possible.

Neither prophetic abilities nor insider information were necessary for the prediction. Anyone who has been closely following events in the West Bank over the past three years had no cause to be surprised by what happened on Friday. The fate of Natshe and Karmi was similar to that of the three former Fatah members from Nablus who killed Rabbi Meir Chai in December.

The most recent manhunt took more than a month, compared to just a day and a half for Chai's killers, but despite the careful compartmentalization employed by Hamas in the end the cell was tracked down. Part of the credit, at least, goes to the security forces of the Palestinian Authority.

Both Israel and the PA had an interest in bringing the affair to a swift conclusion. Arresting the suspects itself would have put the PA in a very uncomfortable position, drawing fire from two directions. The Palestinian leaders would face pressure from their people to free the men or at the very least not to hand them over to Israel. For its part Israel could be expected to demand that they be released to face trial in Israel, all the while threatening military force in the event of a refusal.

But killing the terrorists would significantly pacify the settlers in the extremely tense area of Hebron and be perceived as meting out swift "justice." (That was precisely how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it in a congratulatory message to the troops Friday ).

The fact that both suspects were armed and opened fire against the forces made it easier for the commanders in the field. In these circumstances their decision cannot be challenged. The extent of the contribution of Palestinian intelligence to the final part of the manhunt is not known, but from the PA's perspective the deaths of the terrorists put an end to the case.

Even Hamas gained something: two more dead heroes, symbols of success of a type that has increasingly eluded the organization in recent years, at least in the West Bank. The funerals of Natshe and Karmi turned into demonstrations of power for Hamas, with thousands taking part. Hebron has remained one of the more powerful outposts of Hamas in the West Bank, even though the PA has carried out veritable economic and social revolutions in the area.

The affair proved once more that Hamas is still capable of activating sleeper cells despite the tremendous efforts of the PA and Israel to render the Hamas impotent in the West Bank.

The cell's operation suggested a certain level of sophistication. Its members selected the location and the timing for the operation with great care, and murdered all the passengers of the Israeli vehicle. Friday's operation in no way marks the end of Hamas military networks in the West Bank. Other Israelis were injured in additional attacks immediately after the August 31 killings. Their perpetrators are apparently still at large.