Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Non Governmental Organisations

Human Wrongs: The Worst of Amnesty, HRW, and others in 2011

As 2011 concludes, NGO Monitor released a list (below) of the most outrageous and
absurd NGO actions from the past year, demonstrating the political nature of NGOs involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. NGO Monitor also published an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post on the NGOs' lack of preparedness in 2011 during the Arab Springs. Another op-ed appeared in JTA as a letter to Tom Friedman and Hillary Clinton, facetiously discussing the state of American democracy.

The list:

1. Amnesty International's new Israel Researcher, Deborah Hyams, has a history of radical
anti-Israel activism.

2. HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson
race-baited American Jews and ignored the embarrassment of having praised Saif-Islam Qaddafi as a human rights reformer.

3. German NGO "Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future (EVZ)" exploited government funding designated for Holocaust reparations and education in order to join the delegitimization campaign against Israel and added to new antisemitism.

4. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned as "war crimes" the IDF response to the terror attack in Eilat.

5. A number of NGOs attacked Judge Richard Goldstone after he honestly admitted the need to "reconsider" his UN report.

6. HRW appointed Shawan Jabarin to its Middle East Advisory Board, an alleged senior activist in the PFLP terrorist organization, and head of Al-Haq.

7. Members of Machsom Watch supported and hugged relatives of the murderers of the Fogel family killers.

8. Amnesty International defended Ittijah head Ameer Makhoul, a convicted Hezbollah spy.

9. Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) accused the New Israel Fund (NIF) of being an "ally" of NGO Monitor, after NIF was forced to finally end funding to the pro-BDS group.

10. Wikileaks revealed that NIF Associate Director in Israel Hedva Radanovitz believed that "the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic."

11. Itamar Shapira of Breaking the Silence claimed "we are creating the terror against us, basically."

12. Kathleen Peratis, co-chair of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee, held meetings with Hamas

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eye camp by Israeli doctors in Nepal

A team of seven Israeli volunteers including three doctors and one nurse visited Nepal for a 13-day stay in April 2011.

A team of seven Israeli volunteers including three doctors and one nurse visited Nepal for a 13-day stay in April 2011. The formal opening of the program "Vision Nepal 2011" took place at Dhulikhel Hospital, the Kathmandu University Hospital, on April 22, inaugurated by the Vice President of Nepal, Mr. Parmananda Jha.

The next day a symposium on cataract and oculoplasty was held at Dhulikhel Hospital in coordination with Embassy of Israel, Eye with Zion and the Nepal Ophthalmic Society. Some 60 participants including ophthalmologists, residents and optometrists from all over Nepal participated in this symposium.

A three-day camp at Mane Kharka, in Langtang Valley, was set up along with a team of medical doctors from Dhulikhel Hospital on April 24, where the Israeli and Nepali doctors together conducted examinations, treatments and surgeries. A total of 485 cases were examined during the camp, among which 54 cases of cataract were identified. Of these, 25 patients were operated on during the camp, and the rest were referred for treatment to Dhulikhel Hospital.

After returning to Kathmandu, the Israeli doctors continued to conduct treatments and cataract surgeries at Dhulikhel Hospital and wrapped up their mission on May 3, 2011.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Palestinian Kids Die as a Result of PA Boycott

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported (PCHR) on December 4th that two Palestinian children, members of the same family, died recently as the result of a political decision by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. For the full article see by "Missing Piece" dated Dec 18th

On November 2nd The PA ministry issued a decision decreasing the transfer of seriously ill patients to Israel, citing the high cost of treatment in Israeli hospitals.
The measure has nothing to with finances however, but was the result of the long standing PA policy of boycotting Israel.

PCHR submitted a report on the deaths of Mohammad Azzam Sahwil (9) and his sister Hiba Azzam Shawil (8):

Yearly thousands of Palestinian patients are treated in Israeli hospitals. From the Israeli perspective high costs were never a reason to refuse them treatment.

There have even been cases in which funds for treatment were raised among the Jewish public in Israel. The best known example of this was
the story of Mohammed Abu Mustafa, a Palestinian baby from Gaza who was born without an immune system. The baby was saved by Israeli doctors after a anonymous Jewish Israeli donated the costs of the treatment.

The Peres Peace Centre has a special fund known as ‘Saving children’ that enables hundreds of Palestinian children to receive free medical treatment in Israel.

Recently the IDC website
No Camels ran a story about a pregnant Palestinian woman who received emergency treatment in the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.
The woman was pregnant with twins whose blood supply was insufficient. According to No Camels ‘A small catheter was inserted into her womb and using a laser device, her placenta was burnt and separated to two parts – one for each baby. The procedure was carried out successfully and the lives of the twins were saved.’

It is obvious that the decision to deny seriously ill Palestinians treatment in Israeli hospitals has nothing to do with finances but everything with the ongoing political war against Israel by the Palestian Authority.

Last week several planned informal meetings which aimed to promote normalization between Israelis and Palestinians, were thwarted by Fatah. Hatem Abdel Khader, a senior Fatah official, told Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh that Fatah has
declared war on all informal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians.

It is highly doubtful however that this new PA attempt to boycott Israel will succeed.

An earlier economic boycott failed miserably after the Palestinian public refused to participate. One has only to visit the West Bank to see that Palestinians massively buy Israeli goods and are involved in trade with Israel. Despite an ongoing ban thirty thousand Palestinians work in the Jewish communities in the West Bank and their number keeps growing.

The current normalization boycott seems to be ignored as well. While Fatah was busy sabotaging reconciliation meetings in Jerusalem and Beit Jallah last week, Israeli scientists met their Palestinian counterparts at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in order to discuss further cooperation.

So the real victims of this boycott appear to be the seriously ill Palestinians who do not have the ability to ignore this cynical attempt to destroy normalization with Israel.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday of Holidays Festival - Haifa

The 18th Holiday of Holidays Festival multicultural event marks Hannukah, Eid Al-Adha and Christmas in interfaith harmony.

It's a happening that brings tens of thousands of happy people to the streets of Haifa every December. Now in its 18th year, the Holiday of Holidays Festival is once again filling the Jewish-Arab mixed Wadi Nisnas neighborhood with good cheer, musical concerts, art exhibits, delicious bites and, most importantly, a feeling of togetherness.

It's actually a combination of holidays of the three main monotheistic religions: Hannukah, Eid Al-Adha and Christmas celebrated in interfaith harmony every Thursday through Saturday in December. "We honor everyone who lives here," says Asaf Ron, CEO of the
Beit Hagefen Arab Jewish Center, which organizes the event. "The festival is very important for dialogue, community activity, neighborliness and tolerance."

On the bill are an antiques fair, outdoor art exhibits, crafts fair, Christmas tree decorating, Christmas parades, liturgical concerts, neighborhood tours, concerts, street theater and Israeli street food.

"First of all, visitors must see the art exhibits. This year the artists look at their origins. The art is at the heart of the festival," says Ron. "Secondly, the [concert] stages are a center point and a real Israel mix. You can hear everything on the stage: Baha'i music, modern Arabic music, world music, Israeli music. This is a happening for everyone. It's great to see all the religions in the same festival."

Pilgrimage to Haifa

Travelers tend to go to Haifa to see the Baha'i Gardens, Stella Maris Monastery, the Cave of Prophet Elijah, the Achmadim Mosque and the Old German Colony area. The city does not boast a particular pilgrimage site as found in Jerusalem or Nazareth.

"Haifa offers something else. We're not a holy site specifically, but we have people that want to live harmoniously; the atmosphere here is special. The feeling is one of pluralism," Ron says.

The annual festival attracts some 200,000 people from across Israel and even from abroad. More than 40 percent of festivalgoers are out-of-towners. "The festival is very important for dialogue and a shared experience of togetherness," Ron says, noting that Beit Hagefen’s goal is to educate toward coexistence by means of cultural and artistic activities.

The festival takes place in the neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas, where Jews, Christians and Muslims live side by side. A few churches are located here, but the area is best known for its art and culinary delicacies. Here you’ll find some 100 works of art by Arab and Jewish artists from across the country. And the marketplace (shuk) is known for its mounds of indigenous herbs and oriental pastries.

During the year Wadi Nisnas is a quaint neighborhood with an open-minded atmosphere. During the festival, it's one of the most energetic and boisterous places in Haifa, if not in all of northern Israel.

Festival highlights

One of the best-loved activities is taking a photo with Haifa's own Santa Claus. "At least 80 percent of those taking pictures with Santa are Jewish," reports Ron. "It's an attraction for everyone."

Another highlight is the coexistence walks. Beit Hagefen conducts these guided tours year-round at NIS 20 per person, but it is at the festival that demand really heats up. The tours are conducted in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Spanish and Russian. Ron says they're working on getting French-speaking guides as well.

The Art Works route includes displays by dozens of Jewish and Arab artists; the Poetry Path includes excerpts by Arab and Jewish poets and explains how their words connect to the neighborhoods; the Taste of Wadi Nisnas route includes samplings of traditional foods like knafeh, baklava and olesh (chicory); and the German Colony route gives a short history of the Templar settlement amid the beautiful historic buildings.

While informative, Ron says, the purpose of the tours is to introduce visitors to the cultural mosaic of Haifa. "Educational messages of peace, pluralism, tolerance, cooperation, neighborliness and joint hope for a better future, are conveyed through the tours," reads the Beit Hagefen website.

And then there's the Christmas parade. Ron says December 22-24, 2011 is "the" weekend to be in Haifa. "Hannukah and Christmas get their start with the Santa parade that winds around the neighborhoods. The parade ends with the lighting of a hannukiah (menorah) and with two Israeli-Jewish and Israeli-Arab bands playing on stage." There really is a little something for everyone.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Big Tent for Israel – A Day to Remember « Ray Cook

Having been invited to participate in the "BIG TENT for Israel" event in Manchester UK, recently, I wanted to express some thoughts after returning home.

One of the people there I got to know was Ray Cook who wrote up his impressions, so I ask myself, why reinvent the wheel?

For a report see Big Tent for Israel – A Day to Remember « Ray Cook

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Muslim-Jewish Friends Forever Meet “Face to Faith” at Leo Baeck

An Israel first…Muslim students from the Galilee village of Ein Mahal joined their "Friends Forever" Leo Baeck partners to present their unique and life-changing story of shared existence to schools in India and the US via a historic Tony Blair Face to Faith multi-country Video Conference.

In the words of Eden from Leo Baeck: “Friends Forever” opened my eyes. I am learning so much from the Arab students… My political views have completely changed.” Anwar from Ein Mahal added: “Friends Forever has completely changed my life. I am now more open to different people…I believe that we can end the war and that we can all live in peace!”

This special day celebrating the deepening relationship between the village of Ein Mahal and the Leo Baeck community and our capacity in Israel to bridge the gaps that divide our cultures, marked the launching pad for Leo Baeck's Human Rights Month.

The Friends Forever Program is the inspiration for “Step By Step Sauwa Sauwa”, an original Arab-Jewish musical production featuring 38 talented Muslim and Jewish students to be performed in London on 22nd and 24th April 2012.

To watch the students’ presentation click on