Wednesday, January 23, 2019

BDS Counter-Productive To Peace


The former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, once said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

Yehuda Cohen, CEO of Lipskin Company, located in the Barkan Industrial Park, recited those words on Wednesday at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference. Speaking on a panel titled, “Coexistence in Conflict: How BDS Undermines the Chance for Peace,” Cohen explained that he employs 100 people in his West Bank plastic factory – 70 Palestinians and 30 Israelis.

“I give my Palestinian workers hope that can build their homes, hope they can send their children to university, hope they can live a normal life,” said Cohen, noting that these employees make higher salaries in Israel than in the Palestinian territories. His factory, he added, “is a bridge for peace.”

“If BDS or any kind of labeling or boycott is successful, we can say we lost the option to live in this area,” said Cohen. “I believe that work brings hope and boycott brings suffering.”

Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan reflected on Airbnb’s decision in an earlier speech at the conference, calling it “appalling in its hypocrisy, outrageous in its discrimination, and counter-productive in its effects.”

“This policy of distinguishing or differentiating between Israel and Judea and Samaria is discriminatory, counter-productive and simply dangerous,” he said. “This policy is counter-productive becomes it aims to undermine the very activities that can form the basis for a viable peace.”

The best model for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence can be found in industrial areas in Judea and Samaria, Erdan said. Here, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze all work together in mutual respect and harmony, yet these areas are a main target of the policy that calls to distinguish between Israel, and Judea and Samaria.

“Nothing could be more counter-productive to peace,” he said.

This was true in October 2015, when some 500 Palestinians lost their jobs when the SodaStream headquarters moved from its location in Mishor Adumim industrial park in the West Bank to a new facility in Lehavim, within the Green Line, due to pressure from the BDS movement.

“There was no great elation for the BDS movement because it quickly discovered that hundreds of Palestinians lost their jobs,” said Efrat Mayor Oded Ravivi, who also spoke on the panel. Ravivi said what BDS supporters don’t understand is that its outcome is worse for the Palestinians.

“For us [the Israelis] it might be unpleasant, but we are way stronger and more financially stable,” he said.

He added that BDS supporters are out of touch with the reality in Judea and Samaria, since many choose not to visit. He cited the popular Rami Levy grocery store that is in the center of the Gush Etzion junction, where “Jews and Arabs are walking up and down the same aisles.” He said it is the chain’s most profitable branch.

To help showcase this co-existence and the unique products being farmed and created in Judea and Samaria by Jews and Arabs alike, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs hosted a display table at the conference. Diplomats could touch and taste West Bank products and talk with representatives from the area.

Special emphasis is placed on the innovative solutions to agricultural challenges that serve both communities and the day-to-day peaceful coexistence that working together fosters.

“While we work to counter the lies and pressure of the boycott organizations, we’re also working to spread the truth about Israel and support those harmed by the boycotts,” Erdan said.

A Palestinian businessman, Ashraf Jaabari, also spoke on the panel. He told listeners about the recent launch of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where both Israelis and Palestinians can participate.
“I believe if we continue to work hard, we will get to excellent results,” Jaabari said.

But Ron Brummer, director of operations at the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said while working to combat BDS, it is also important to label it for what it is – antisemitism.

Brummer said that according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, signaling out Israel is defined as antisemitism.

He then compared the BDS movement to a load of dirty laundry.

“You throw in antisemitism, terrorism, and delegitimization. The washing machine works and out comes a message of human rights, justice and equality,” Brummer said. “You cannot talk about annihilating the State of Israel. So, BDS is used to cover up the movement’s true face: antisemitism [which is] linked to terror and denying the mere existence of the State of Israel.”

Brummer added that BDS is a tool being used by those who want to delegitimize Israel. He said there is no threat that BDS will cause the Israeli economy to collapse. Rather, it “eats at the hearts and minds of the uneducated, of people who don’t know the reality of this area.”

Brummer, however, said to attending diplomats: “You have to realize that any victory for BDS is a defeat of coexistence.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The UN, the "State of Palestine" and the Torture of Women

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  January 15, 2019 at 5:00 am
  • This is the kind of story that the "State of Palestine" does not intend to raise during its chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries at the UN. It seems that, from the point of view of the Palestinian Authority leadership, Jbara's ordeal does not fall within the category of human rights.
  • Jbara's story has barely attracted the attention of the international mainstream media. As far as many foreign journalists covering the Middle East are concerned, a Palestinian woman complaining about torture in a Palestinian prison is not newsworthy. Had she been detained by Israel, Jbara would have most likely made it to the front pages of the world's leading newspapers and magazines in a matter of minutes.
  • The PA regularly complains about human rights violations of Palestinians held in Israeli prison for security-related offenses. But when the PA's own security forces detain and torture a mother of three, Palestinian leaders are found elsewhere -- like at the helm of a UN bloc.
The Palestinian Authority's recent arrest and torture of a Palestinian 
mother of three is the kind of story that the "State of Palestine" does not intend 
to raise during its chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries 
at the UN. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 
addresses the  UN General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City.
 (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

A Palestinian mother of three has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces of torturing her and threatening to rape her during the two months she was held in a PA prison in the West Bank.
The accusation by the woman, Suha Jbara, 31, came on the eve of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's visit to New York, where he is scheduled to assume the chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries in the United Nations, known as the "Group of 77 and China."
As chairman of the group, which represents 134 nations, Abbas and the "State of Palestine" will negotiate and co-sponsor proposals and amendments on various developmental, humanitarian and legal issues that are on the agenda of the UN



On January 11, Jbara, who was released last week from detention, held a press conference in Ramallah in which she detailed the various methods of torture she experienced at the hands of her Palestinian interrogators. Her horrific experience, however, does not seem to be on the agenda of the UN or the Group of 77 and China, headed by Abbas. Apparently, the UN group's members, who voted in favor of naming the "State of Palestine" as chairman of the group, do not care much about the human rights record of the PA security forces in the West Bank.

Jbara, a dual citizen of the US and Panama, was arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces in early November 2018 at her home near the West Bank city of Ramallah. According to Jbara, she was accused of "illegally collecting donations" for families of Palestinians killed or wounded during clashes with the Israeli army.

Bizarrely, the PA is accusing Jbara of something that the PA itself has done for years and is still doing: paying salaries to Palestinians in Israeli prison and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis. According to Jbara, her interrogators also accused her of "collaborating" with Israel. During her detention, she went on hunger strike for 27 days.

The torture, according to Jbara, included pouring cold water on her face, solitary confinement for several days, strip-search, sleep deprivation, lengthy hours of interrogation and verbal abuse.

"The first stages were the worst," Jbara told the Palestinian Wattan TV station.
"They interrogated me for several hours, without taking into consideration that I felt sick. They moved me from one office to another. I saw a number of detainees who were blindfolded and handcuffed. The interrogators were pouring cold water on their faces and some of the detainees were lying on the floor. It was a horrifying experience for me."
Jbara also said that the Palestinian interrogators threatened to take her three children away from her. "They used my children to blackmail me," she reported. The interrogators apparently also threatened her mother, her sisters and her with sexual assault. "I'm now in a very bad health condition," she said. "I even have difficulty walking."

Last month, a representative of Amnesty International met with Jbara, while she was still being held in Palestinian detention, and heard about her brutal treatment at the hands of her interrogators. "The Palestinian authorities must urgently investigate the torture and ill-treatment of Suha Jbara, an activist who has told Amnesty International that she was beaten, slammed against a wall and threatened with sexual violence by her interrogators," the organization wrote.

According to Amnesty's report, Jbara described how, upon her arrest, she had a seizure, lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital. Armed security officials later dragged her barefoot, out of the hospital, and transferred her to the Jericho Central Prison.

There, when she asked for a drink, a male interrogator threw water in her face, slapped her, punched her in the chest and back, and threatened her with further violence. She was blindfolded and handcuffed throughout her interrogation, and was not allowed to drink water or use the lavatory.

"He insulted me all the time," she said, "used very dirty and violent sexual language, threatened to bring a doctor to look into my virginity and say that I was a whore, and threatened to hurt my family and to take my kids away from me."

According to Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International:
"Suha Jbara has described her torture in harrowing detail. In her testimony she gives an account of ruthless interrogators who have shamelessly flouted Palestine's obligations to treat prisoners humanely and violated the absolute prohibition under international law of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
Yet, Jbara's story has barely attracted the attention of the international mainstream media. As far as many foreign journalists covering the Middle East are concerned, a Palestinian woman complaining about torture in a Palestinian prison is not newsworthy. Had she been detained by Israel, Jbara would have most likely made it to the front pages of the world's leading newspapers and magazines in a matter of minutes.

This is the kind of story that the "State of Palestine" does not intend to raise during its chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries at the UN. It seems that, from the point of view of the Palestinian Authority leadership, Jbara's ordeal does not fall within the category of human rights.

The PA regularly complains about human rights violations of Palestinians held in Israeli prison for security-related offenses. But when the PA's own security forces detain and torture a mother of three, Palestinian leaders are found elsewhere -- like at the helm of a UN bloc.

Actually, Palestinian leaders can rest easy concerning their torture of Palestinians. By being selected to head the bloc of developing countries, Abbas and the leaders of the "State of Palestine" will be in the company of countries rewarded for human rights violations -- including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Venezuela and Yemen -- just elected as the vice-president of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, despite Yemen being ranked "as the worst country in the world on gender inequality (149th out of 149)" -- as well as several countries in Africa and Asia. That group exemplifies the old saying: birds of a feather flock together -- and these birds are definitely of the predator type.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Closing a 2,000-Year Cycle


Monday, January 7, 2019

Social Revolution of Arab Women in Israel

 The status of Arab women in Israel is improving significantly. Hadas Fuchs, a researcher at the Taub Institute, published a study in 2018 on the integration of Arab women in the labor market in Israel. 

The most striking detail of her research relates to a revolution in the education of Arab women: 15% of students in higher education in Israel are Arab women, even though the proportion of Arab women among the general population is only 10%. In fact, the number of female Arab students in higher education has doubled since the beginning of 2000. 

As a result, women in Arab society are much more educated than men. Female students at Arab high schools comprise 52% of students studying computer programming and sciences, 55% in electronics, 59% in mathematics, and 70% in chemistry. The employment rate of Arab women jumped from 35% to 40% in the past year alone.

Israeli-Arab captain of women’s basketball team. 

Shahd Abboud, who plays for the Hapoel Petah Tikvah women’s basketball team in Israel, opened the 2018/19 season as their new captain, making history as the first female Arab captain of a professional Israeli basketball team in the top league. 

Bedouin woman joins Israeli police rescue unit. 

Rana Jaboua, a resident of the Bedouin Negev village of al-Fara’a has become the first female Bedouin in Israel to join the Israel Police Rescue team, Jaboua is part of a unit that helps hikers in the Judean Desert if they become lost or injured.

 Rana Jaboua


Israeli Bedouin Policewoman Blazing Trail  

Recently, Israel dedicated new police stations in the Arab villages of Jisr azZarqa and Kafr Kanna. Four days later, a short video on Facebook showed Sabrin Saadi, a young and also the first policewoman from the Bedouin village of Basmat Tabun, making her way to the Kafr Kanna station in her uniform wearing a hijab, walking past a group of Arab demonstrators. 

Saadi's father, Ali Saadi, said, "We are part of this society, so we should serve it. The people attacking her are a gang of wild kids with nothing better to do with their lives. They should go find themselves and think about what, if anything, they have actually done on behalf of their community." 





Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Fajr 5 - The Hamas Rocket That Threatens Millions of Israelis


The Fajr-5, an Iranian-made rocket in Hamas' arsenal, has a range that
threatens more than 3.5 million Israelis. Since the beginning of
Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF has destroyed a significant
portion of Hamas' Fajr-5 arsenal.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Why did Abbas suddenly dissolve the PA parliament?


This a condensed version from Palestinian Media Watch


After 12 years, during which the Palestinian Parliament (Legislative Council, PLC) has not met, Mahmoud Abbas suddenly announced yesterday, that the Palestinian Constitutional Court had dissolved the PA parliament:

Abbas: "The [PA] Parliament (Legislative Council), which has not been active for 12 years... The topic reached the constitutional court, and it issued a decision to dissolve the parliament and call for elections for the parliament within six months." 
[Official PA TV, Dec. 22, 2018]

Why would Abbas suddenly do something that he has not done for 12 years?

In the last PA elections held in 2006, Hamas won a clear majority of Parliamentary seats in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. With Hamas holding the absolute majority, it was convenient for Abbas that the Parliament never met. Abbas and Fatah ruled the PA directly through government decisions and regulations. Abbas justified the freezing of the Palestinian Parliament due to the Civil War which led to Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Abbas' change of heart is not because he is suddenly interested in democracy. Rather Abbas is recognizing that at 83 years old he must consider what will happen the day he leaves office. Under PA law should the president leave office without a successor, the Speaker of the Parliament takes over as President of the Palestinian Authority for two months after which presidential elections are held. The current Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament is Aziz Al-Dweik from Hamas.

So under PA law Hamas would rule the PA, should Abbas leave his position.

Significantly, a large majority of Palestinians support implementing PA law and having Al-Dweik lead the PA should the position of president be empty. A July 2018 poll by Khalil Shakaki's Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), found that 60% of Palestinians agreed that "in the case of Abbas' absence, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Al-Dweik from Hamas, must become president for two months in implementation of the Basic Law."

Although Abbas has refrained from explaining his decision to disband the parliament, the rationale underlying the move would appear to be his fear that Hamas would legally take control of the PA, even without new elections. While the PA Basic Law does limit the interim presidency to two months there is no guarantee that Hamas once ruling the PA would allow for new elections.

Hamas could use a number of justifications, citing the fact that Mahmoud Abbas himself has been president of the PA for 13 years without calling elections even though the presidency under PA law is limited to 4 years. If Abbas could breach PA law and remain president for such an extended period of time, there is no reason to believe that a Hamas president would rush to relinquish his powers simply because of PA law.

The potential result could be, that having legally taken control, Hamas would have no incentive to call a general PA election and they could extend their rule indefinitely as did Mahmoud Abbas.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Nikki Haley delivers BOLD And FEARLESS remarks at UN Security Council meeting


U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers
her final remarks at UN Security Council meeting.