Wednesday 31 December 2008

Antwerp: Arab riots, Jewish neighborhood sealed

Source: Islam in Europe

"... demonstrators marched towards the Jewish neighborhood in Antwerp, clashing with the police. In particular car windows suffered, but also trams and buses were attacked."

How do you protest violence against a civilian population? Attack a civilian population, of course. These riots were expected, given the massive incitement that accompanied the organization of the demonstrations.

"The demonstration that the Arab European League (AEL) in Borgerhout (Antwerp) organized against the bombardments of the Gaza Strip, has gotten completely out of hand. After the protest disbanded the demonstrators marched towards the Jewish neighborhood in Antwerp, clashing with the police. In particular car windows suffered, but also trams and buses were attacked.

The AEL held a protest action in the Kerkstraat in Borgerhout from 2pm. The protesters demanded the immediate suspension of the bombardments of the Gaza Strip and of the violence against the civilian population. Already during the demonstration in Borgerhout there were heated moments here and there.

The situation truly got out of hand when the demonstration disbanded at about 3:15pm. A group of protesters then marched towards the Jewish neighborhood in Antwerp. The police had completely closed off the neighborhood upon which started a cat-and-mouse game. The situation threatened to get out of hand and at about 3:25pm the police arrived with more manpower in order to drive out the protesters. At about 4pm the riots moved again to Borgerhout, in the area of the Turnhoutsebaan.

The protesters caused much damage, in particular to car windows but also trams and buses were attacked. The De Lijn bus company is diverting all buses and trams on the Turnhoutsebaan-Carnotstraat-Rooseveltplaats route."

Source: HLN (Dutch)
Photo: AEL website

Arab-European League lashes out at Geert Wilders and MEMRI

Belgium: Charleroi synagogue attacked

Source: Islam in Europe

DHnet speaks of rising tensions between Jews and Muslims. On the one hand, there is no proof these acts were done by Muslims. On the other, Jews are not attacking mosques.

"Tension is increasing between Jews and Muslims in Charleroi.

The synagogue at Pige au Croly street in Chareloi has been the object of a small attack Tuesday afternoon.

The vandals threw a stone through a window before setting fire to the entrance door. Fortunately, the fire did not have time to spread and damage was very limited.

The Museum of the Righteous (musée des Justes), dedicated to all who rescued Jews, wasn't touched, fortunately.

The local police of Charleroi was notified and descended upon the place, together with a lab.

Given the current context in the Middle East and the palpable tensions here between the Muslims and Jewish communities, the minister of the interior was informed of the situation.

Maurice Konopnicki, president of the Jewish community of Charleroi, condemned the hostile action against the synagogue.

"It's painful. I am both shocked and afraid. We are all Carolos [ie, residents of Charleroi], born here, in this country. What's happening in Israel isn't our responsibility. Why then attack us? Our religion deserves to be respected like all others. I hope that this act remains exceptional."

Yet, in the Charleoi region other signs of tensions are sprouting. In Acoz and Lausprelle, on the rue de Villers, a sinister slogan "Israel = assassins" was painted on a bus stop and residence.

These acts were condemned by both the Jewish community and the leaders of the Muslim community."

See also:
Anti-Semitic vandalism in Brussels and Antwerp

Anti-Semitic vandalism in Brussels and Antwerp

Hanukkah candelabrum vandalised in Antwerp, December 27
Anti-Semitic tags on five shops in Anderlecht (Brussels), December 28
Source: CCOJB

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Proportionality: international law and practice, Hamas' behavior, Israeli conduct

"This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand."

Source: O Diplomata (information supplied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel)

On the Issues of Proportionality

International law

A military target remains a legitimate military target, even if it is located in a civilian area.

"Civilians do not enjoy absolute immunity. Their presence will not render military objects immune from attack for the mere reason that it is impossible to bombard them without causing injury to the non-combatants."
Oppenheim's 'International Law'

The use of civilians as shields to try to prevent attacks on military targets is prohibited.

"The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations."
Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 28

The armed forces are not liable where injury to civilians results from unavoidable collateral damage, provided it is proportionate to the military gain expected of the attack.

"Although they are not military objectives, civilians and civilian objects are subject to the general dangers of war in the sense that attacks on military personnel and military objectives may cause incidental damage… Members of the armed forces are not liable for such incidental damage, provided it is proportionate to the military gain expected of the attack."
Major General A.P.V. Rogers, a former Director of the British Army Legal Services

Terrorist organizations that hide behind civilians bear the primary responsibility for civilian casualties.

"Should civilian casualties ensue from an attempt to shield combatants or a military objective, the ultimate responsibility lies with the belligerent placing innocent civilians at risk."
Dinstein,' Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict'

The correct party to assess the proportionality of a military action is the military commander in the field.

"It is unlikely that a human rights lawyer and an experienced combat commander would assign the same relative values to military advantage and to injury to noncombatants.… It is suggested that the determination of relative values must be that of the 'reasonable military commander'."
Committee Established to Review NATO Bombings in Yugoslavia

The security of one's own forces is a relevant consideration in gauging proportionality.

"The concept of military advantage involves a variety of considerations including the security of the attacking force."
Bothe, Partsch and Solf, 'New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflict'

International practice

The above principles of the law of armed conflict have been adopted as the basis of military guidelines by most states. The following examples of military manuals are typical:

Australian Defence Force Manual:
The presence of non-combatants in or around a military objective does not change its nature as a military objective. Non-combatants in the vicinity of a military objective must share the danger to which the military objective is exposed.

Belgian Teaching Manual for Soldiers:
Objects occupied or used by enemy military forces are military objectives even if these objects were civilians at the outset (houses, schools or churches occupied by the enemy).

German Military Manual:
The term "military advantage" refers to the advantage which can be expected of an attack as a whole and not only of isolated or specific parts of the attack.

France's Law of Armed Conflict Manual:
The application of the principle of proportionality does not exclude that collateral damage may be suffered by the civilian population or civilian objects provided they are not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

Spain's Law of Armed Conflict Manual:
The principle of proportionality… is based on recognition of the fact that it is difficult to limit the effects of modern weapons and methods of warfare exclusively to military objectives and that it is likely that they will cause collateral damage to civilians and civilian objects.

Israel - IDF Operational Planning and Orders:
In cases where there is doubt as to whether a civilian object has turned into a military objective ... one is to asusme that is not a military objective unless proven otherwise.

Even when it is not possible to isolate the civilians from an assault and there is no other recourse than to attack, the commander is required to refrain from an attack that is expected to inflict harm on the civilian population that is disproportionate to the expected military gain.

Hamas' behaviour

Hamas' modus operandi is characterized not only by deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians, but also its disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians. Making no attempt to comply with the humanitarian obligation to distinguish combatants from civilians, Hamas terrorists wear civilian clothes and hide weapons and fire missiles from the heart of populated civilian areas.

In recent months, the Hamas controlled media in Gaza has publicly called for civilians to act as human shields in an attempt to prevent terrorist leaders and infrastructure from being targeted.
The following are but a few of the documented examples of calls in the Hamas controlled Gaza media for Palestinians civilians to serve as human shields:

- Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV called upon children to form a human shield at the home of a terrorist in the a-Shouqaf quarter of Sajaiyeh in order to protect the building from an anticipated IDF air strike (March 1).

- Al-Aqsa TV News broadcast a story about how a crowd of civilians gathered on the roof of Abu Bilal al-Ja’abeer in the Northern Gaza strip, used for launching terrorist attacks, in order to cause the IDF to abort a threatened air strike against the structure.

- Al-Aqsa TV called upon the Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip to go to the house of terrorist Othman al-Ruziana in order to protect it against an anticipated air strike (February 29, 2008).

- Al-Aqsa TV called upon the residents of Khan Yunis to gather at the house of Ma’amoun Abu ‘Amer due to an anticipated air strike. (February 28, 2008). An hour later dozens of Palestinians from Khan Yunis were reported to have gathered on the roof of Abu ‘Amer’s house to serve as human shields to prevent the house from being hit (Pal-today Website, February 29, 2008).

Israeli conduct

Israel makes significant efforts to avoid or minimize civilian casualties, by ensuring that its attacks are directed against legitimate military targets, and that in conducting its operations incidental injury to civilians is kept to a minimum. Every potential military operation is considered on an individual basis in order to ensure that it meets the test of proportionality.

In practice this means many proposed military operations are rejected when it appears that the likelihood of collateral damage to civilians and their property is too high. As Israel's High Court of Justice has held, in reviewing Israeli security actions:

This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand.

Germany's Merkel blames Hamas for Gaza violence

Angela Merkel is the only European leader to have unequivocally pinned the blame on Hamas (so far).

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel blames Hamas for the escalation of violence in Gaza because of the firing of rockets into Israel and the abandonment of its ceasefire, her spokesman said Monday. In a telephone call Sunday evening, Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "agreed that the responsibility for the development of the situation in the region clearly and exclusively lies with Hamas," spokesman Thomas Steg told a regular government news conference.

"Hamas unilaterally broke the agreement for a ceasefire, there has been a continuous firing of...rockets at Israeli settlements and Israeli territory, and without question - and this was stressed by the chancellor - Israel has the legitimate right to defend its own people and territory," Steg said.

"As a result it is completely clear that in this situation Hamas is called upon to permanently stop the firing of rockets so that Israeli military operations can be ended quickly." (...)"

Source: Easybourse

Sunday 28 December 2008

Kostas Plevris - Greek Neo-Nazi Author Convicted

"In 1945 the White Race suffered the greatest catastrophe in its history. Hitlerian Germany's epic struggle for dominance by Aryans ended without a victory."

"A Greek court sentenced a neo-Nazi author of an anti-Semitic book to a 14-month suspended sentence, in the first case of its kind in Greece. Constantine Plevris was found guilty of inciting hatred and racial violence with his book The Jews - The Whole Truth.

In his 1,400 page book, Plevris glorifies Hitler and calls for the extermination of the Jews. He declares himself "a Nazi, a fascist, a racist, an anti-democrat, an anti-Semite. Jews are mortal enemies and deserve the firing squad".

"Hitler is only criticized for not clearing Europe of the Jews. Afterwards, history of humankind will accuse him (Hitler) of having done nothing to rid Europe of the Jews, though he could," the author writes.

He adds: "They rightly preserve the camp (Auschwitz) at a good condition, because nobody knows what might happen in the future."

"We thank the Greek justice system for its dignity and for demonstrating that we truly live in a democratic society," president of the Central Jewish Council of Greece, Moisis Constantinis, said after the trial.

Moses Costantinis testified in court that after the book was published, attacks against Jewish sites increased.

Benjamin Albalas, head of the Jewish Community of Athens, said before the court that the book "incites violence and encourages people to kill us."

Defense lawyers said their clients were being persecuted for freely expressing their views.

The Jewish community saw the trial as a key test of the Greek authoritiesʼ determination to deal with anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece issued the following press release: "Regarding the decision of the Athens Court of Appeal for Indictable Offences to find against K. Plevris, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expresses its contentment with the decision of the Court as it effectively condemns modern-day racism and Nazism in any form. This decision is an instrumental parameter in the on-going, unceasing battle being waged by society and humanity against barbarity and racism, anti-Semitism and fascism".

Mr. Plevris, who plans to appeal, claimed that if he was convicted, it would merely show that the judges had been "bought by the Jews".

On trial together with Plevris, the publisher, the editor and a journalist of the extreme-right weekly newspaper Elefteros Kosmos were found not guilty.

Elefteros Kosmos (Free World) is a marginal extreme right wing weekly with no more than 800 copies in circulation. Plevris is also appearing on a small TV station "Extra".

Once the book was published in May 2006, the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) immediately filled a suite against it under the anti-discrimination law. But a district attorney later dropped the charge of discrimination and instead charged the book with a lesser offence of disseminating false facts.

The anti-Nazi Organization of Greece and the Greek Jewish umbrella organization Central Jewish Board of Greece (CJBG) filled a suit to oblige the district attorney to accept the charge of discrimination.

The trial had a rocky start when district attorney L. Lazarakos moved to have the GHM and the CJBG removed from the trial claiming that no individual Jew was in any immediate danger and that two organizations had no legal claim or standing. The three judges accepted Lazarakosʼs argument.

The district attorney also surprised the court when he called the book "a scientific research" and asked for the acquittal of all defendants. But the court decided with a 2-1 decision to convict Plevris.

It was the first trial in Greece on the recently introduced incitement charges, under the 1979 anti-discrimination law."

An estimated 60,000 Greek Jews, most of the country's prewar Jewish population, were killed by the Nazis during World War II. Around 4,000 Jews live today in Greece."

Source: Greek News
From The Jews - The Whole Truth :

Adolf Hitler: The tragic leader of the German Third Reich is certainly the most impressive leadership figure of the modern age… Human history will blame Adolf Hitler for the following: 1. He could have rid Europe of the Jews, but did not; 2. He did not use the special chemical weapons, which only Germany possessed, to gain a victory... Because of the defeat of Germany then, the White Race and Europe are at risk now… The day will come when Europeans will either dominate or be destroyed. Either way they will acknowledge that Hitler was right... (p. 881)

Heinrich Himmler: Chief in Command of the SS… facts and arguments verify the high moral standing of the Man who, despite the fact that in one day he could have issued the order for all Jews to be put to death, chose to expel them from Europe so as to rid the continent of the White Race of the non-European Semites.... The SS, in particular the combatant SS (Waffen SS,) were the knights in armor of the modern age, indomitable fighting men from every country in Europe, who sacrificed their lives for the ideal of a New Order for civilized peoples. Unfortunately for the human race, they were defeated… They were all fine examples of faith, discipline and fighting skill, serving the ideals of National Socialism. Their bearing reflected the greatness of their character so only the very best of the Aryan Race were included in the ranks of the SS…. (p. 869)

Joseph Goebbels: One of the brightest minds of the century. A philosopher and fighter with a deep understanding of mass psychology, on every battlefield he vanquished Jewish Bolshevism and headed his country's all out war. (p. 885)

Hitler was blamed for something that did not actually take place. Later the history of humanity will blame him for not ridding Europe of the Jews, though he could have … My dear Jews, I do not ask you to suffer all the things that your holy books tell you that we should suffer from you… You are criminals because that is what your religion has taught you to be. You are murderers because crime is instilled in you from an early age. Therefore we others have the right to deal with you. And that is what we will do. (p. 852)

ZYKLON B, so extensively publicized as the gas used to put Jews to death in the special gas chambers (which have not been found) was merely a poisonous gas used to fumigate the concentration camps … everything else [said about it] is fiction produced for the purposes of propaganda. (p. 1008)

The SS divisions fought with unparalleled heroism. (p. 853)

In 1945 the White Race suffered the greatest catastrophe in its history. Hitlerian Germany's epic struggle for dominance by Aryans ended without a victory. (p. 869)

- K. Plevris: "I am a Nazi and a fascist, I am racist, anti-democratic and I am an anti-Semite"
- Kostas Plevris: Hitler could have rid Europe of the Jews but did not
- Anti-semitism in Greece: Final conviction of "Eleftheros Cosmos"

Friday 26 December 2008

UK NGOs use Christmas to attack Israel

"In time for Christmas, several British NGOs have returned to past theological offensives against Israel by combining emphasis on Bethlehem, stories of Palestinian suffering, and false allegations of Israeli cruelty, NGO Monitor said in a report issued Tuesday.

Through Christmas cards, carols and charity fund-raising, War on Want, Amos Trust, Pax Christi and others condemn the West Bank security barrier and ignore the Palestinian terror campaign that necessitates it, according to the report.

As in previous years, when NGOs used London Underground station advertisements and greeting cards, these campaigns capitalize on holiday sentiment and Christian religious symbols to declare: "The wall must fall," and present a biased view of the conflict, NGO Monitor said. War on Want and Amos Trust are marketing Christmas cards depicting the security barrier and conflating Jesus with the Palestinians - a familiar theme among British NGOs.

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign is selling similar items to protest the "illegal structure" of the "apartheid wall," thereby also appealing to religious prejudices.

War on Want's cards feature "the three wise men trying to get to Bethlehem but being forced to dig underneath Israel's separation wall." A second card shows Mary and Joseph encountering a Bethlehem that is "effectively sealed off from the outside world by Israel's Separation Wall," and "Mary and Joseph being frisked on their way to find an inn for the night."

Similarly, Amos Trust advertises cards that portray Santa Claus walking along the security barrier with a bag of gifts, ringing a bell. The inside text ends, "As we celebrate the child born in Bethlehem - let us not forget God's children living in Bethlehem today." Additionally, as in previous years, Amos Trust offers the "Wall Nativity," which comes with a prayer guide and "complete with separation wall [and] depicts the current situation in Bethlehem." This project has been criticized for its anti-Semitic undertones.

On November 26, a fringe group calling itself Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods organized an event titled, "Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons and Carols for Palestine," involving "traditional carols with untraditional lyrics, interspersed with poetry and prose readings, to highlight current reality in the Holy Land."

The event was held at a prominent Anglican church, St. James, Piccadilly, and proceeds supposedly went to Medical Aid for Palestinians and Open Bethlehem. While Medical Aid for Palestinians is funded to provide just that, medical aid, many of its activities focus on political campaigning, including accusations that the Israeli government is responsible for "harsh (and illegal) measures of collective punishment."

And Open Bethlehem, an NGO funded by Trocaire (the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland), blames the "Israeli-built wall" for "an unprecedented wave of emigration, particularly among the city's Christians," ignoring the targeting of Christians by Muslim extremists and Palestinian terror.

Lyrics for the "Twelve Days of Christmas" include: "Twelve assassinations, Eleven homes demolished, Ten wells obstructed, Nine sniper towers... and an uprooted olive tree." "Once in Royal David's City" was changed to "Once in royal David's city stood a big apartheid wall..."

Christian and Jewish community leaders strongly condemned the event.

"It was appalling to see a church allow one of its most endearing seasonal traditions to be hijacked by hatred," Israeli Ambassador Ron Proser said. (...)"

Source: article by Herb Keinon, The Jerusalem Post

- "Hijacked by Hatred": British NGOs Use Christmas for anti-Israel Attacks
- The untold Christmas story
- Belgium: Mary, Saint Joseph, the donkey, checkpoints and the "apartheid wall"

Thursday 25 December 2008

Belgian radio: Comedian jokes about the Holocaust

The "Arbeit Macht Frei" sketch

"Jewish groups have condemned a Belgian public broadcaster for airing a show in which a standup comedian jokes about the Holocaust and the persecution of Jews.

The protest marked the third time in two months the VRT broadcaster was accused of gross insensitivity toward Jews. On Oct. 27, protests forced it to scrap a TV show about Adolf Hitler's supposed favorite dish - alpine trout in butter sauce - as part of a series about famous people's favorite foods.

In the 2008 review show "Het Besluit" - which aired Dec. 21 and is available on the VRT web site comedian Philippe Geubels accused Belgians Jews of overreacting to the food show. (...)

"What a comedian does is up to him, but the VRT decides to include it in the show. At that point, the question can be asked, is this the task of a public broadcaster?" asked Michael Freilich, the head of the Jewish magazine Joods Actueel."

Source: CBS
Auschwitz: "Arbeit Macht Frei"

Geubels' sketch is entitled "Arbeit macht frei", (the sign on the entrance gate to the extermination camp of Auschwitz (Work makes one free), and the delighted audience can be heard laughing and clapping ... (here, in Dutch). The programme is scheduled to be broadcast again on Christmas day and on January 1.

Philippe Geubels:

"What will they do if there is a major gas leak here in Antwerp ? Will they sue the city on the ground of provocation ? Or will they preemptively file a complaint against anyone who dares to make jokes about the incident ? (...)

I have to be careful about what I say. My name is Geubels [pronounced as Goebbels] and I am a skinhead. I am already prepared for the letter these people [the Jews] will be sending me.

It's a real pity what happened to them, but I think that today it [the Holocaust] can no longer happen.

Jews have become much smarter. Nowadays, they are scattered all around the world and cannot be rounded up. Most of them are in the USA and shipping them back to Germany by train isn’t possible any more."

Source: VRT, CCOJB

- Belgium: Hitler favourite dish TV show scrapped due to pressure exerted by "Semites"
- Culinary tv program featuring Hitler’s 'favourite meal' will not be aired tonight
- Public tv channel makes promotion with Hitler caricature ad

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Gaza not among MSF's 'Top Ten' humanitarian crises

And no mention of "open air prison" Gaza !

Source: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) releases 11th annual list

"Massive forced civilian displacements, violence, and unmet medical needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Pakistan, along with neglected medical emergencies in Myanmar and Zimbabwe, are some of the worst humanitarian and medical emergencies in the world, the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported today in its annual list of the "Top Ten" humanitarian crises.

The report underscores major difficulties in bringing assistance to people affected by conflict. The lack of global attention to the growing prevalence of HIV-tuberculosis co-infection and the critical need for increased global efforts to prevent and treat childhood malnutrition—the underlying cause of death for up to five million children per year—are also included in the list. (...)"

Monday 22 December 2008

Madoff scandal: anti-Semitic claims and anti-Semitic counterclaims

This gem - supposedly very funny and insightful - was found in an anti-Semitic Portuguese blog (N.N.*) :

"It has been reported that the American Jew Bernard Madoff will be awarded the Julius Streicher (photo) neo-Nazi gold medal in recognition of his Jewish swindle whereby he robbed [... list of Jews and Jewish organisations ...] and many others."

N.N. blogger then writes that they (only Jews and Jewish organisations) were swindled out of 50 billion US dollars and that this sum is not guaranteed by the American Jewish banking network.

Jews complicit in a huge fraud

So far so good: just classic anti-Semitic tropes, but much too naive and black and white for Portuguese negationist blogger H.D.C.*.

H.D.C. is a really sophisticated thinker who is able to see through layers of Jewish tricks and propaganda. In his blog he mostly uses material written by well-known Jewish useful idiots to promote his negationist views. He commented as follows :

"Don't trust what you read. In fact none of these individuals or organisations has lost a single dollar. It's all a smoke screen."

In other words, the whole thing is a complex Jewish scam. Jews pretend to have been victims of a Jew, but in reality they are complicit, and stand to gain from the fraud in terms of victimhood, money and power !

It's easy to guess who he believes are the genuine victims of the fraud.

* link withheld for obvious reasons.

Anti-Semitism floods Internet after Madoff scandal, Jewish group says

Sunday 21 December 2008

Belgium: Mary, Saint Joseph, the donkey, checkpoints and the "apartheid wall"

As reported here
Mary, Joseph and the donkey
Leuven, Saturday 20 December 2008
A 300-strong (!) human chain to protest against the "apartheid wall"
"Bethlehem is an open air prison. (...) Paletinian society is oppressed by Israelly policies: occupation, stealing of land and sly ethnic cleansing. While this goes on, our leaders look the other way.
We will therefore form a human chain against the apartheid wall. Will Mary, Joseph and the donkey be allowed to cross the checkpoint?"

Saturday 20 December 2008

European Parliamentarians call upon the Red Cross on behalf of Gilad Shalit

Source: European Friends of Israel

"Today we simultaneously mark the 900th day since Gilad’s abduction and the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the latter is being internationally commemorated, rightfully so, European Friends of Israel have determined not to neglect Gilad, whose health and whereabouts have remained concealed for over 900 hundred days, in total negation of his basic Human Rights.

Thus, in almost all of the EU-27 countries, Parliamentarians friends of Israel have contacted local Red Cross representatives, the international and impartial guarantor of human rights, to request that more action is taken to secure Gilad’s human rights, such as his visitation rights and the right to proper medical treatment, which have been continuously denied.

EFI wants to keep awakening the conscience of the world, to display to Gilad’s family that Europe has not abandoned their son, and to determine what more can be done.

EFI thanks all dedication of the Parliamentarians to this cause. We see this initiative as a symbol, both of that aspiration and of the very purpose of EFI to achieve more together than we can do alone."
João Rebelo, Chair of the Portugal-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, reported to the EFI on his meeting with the representative of the Portuguese Red Cross, Luís Barbosa. The meeting took place in the Assembly of the Republic, São Bento Palace, on 12 December 2008. Mr Barbosa was made:

"aware of the presence of the Portugal-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group in the EFI Policy Conference, that took place in Paris in November 2008, in which Gilad Shalit’s father called upon the European Union and the international community to pressure the Hamas movement, in order to the ICRC be allowed to visit Gilad Shalit. Afterwards, the President of the Portuguese Red Cross submitted some elements on this matter, such as:

- The ICRC has to maintain itself very discreet on this matter, since they cannot speak too much about this matter, given the need to keep their neutral statute;

- The ICRC has made continuous attempts to approach Gilad Shalit, but so far has been unsuccessfull;

- The Carter Center informed ICRC that Gilad Shalit is alive;

- The ICRC stresses that the right to visit is a crucial element of the international humanitarian law;

- The ICRC will release an announcement, this month possibly, on the process of attempt to approach Gilad Shalit. However, there are details in this process that may not be disseminated, under penalty of affecting the ICRC neutrality;

- Reciprocity has not occurred in this process, considering that visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israel have been possible, while the same does not occur with Gilad Shalit, in Gaza Strip;

- This process involves elements, as possible terms of exchange (about 3000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit), which can turn into a serious difficulty to solve this case;

- The ICRC regulates its conduct through the maximum prudence and unquestionable neutrality, considering that a human life is in danger, bearing in mind the fundamental role this institution played recently in Colombia, Afghanistan and Myanmar."

Friday 19 December 2008

UCU calls off proposed Israel boycott

Now the UCU pretends there was never any intention to boycott Israel's academic institutions ...

"The British trade union at the heart of the call for a boycott of Israeli academia has dropped its proposed boycott following a threat by members to take legal action.

Last May, the University and College Union (UCU), the largest trade union for academics in the UK, voted at its annual conference in Manchester on a motion that proposed an academic boycott of Israel.

Motion 25 called for the dissemination of the testimonies of a UCU delegation that would visit the Palestinian Authority to "promote a wide discussion of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions." This was widely interpreted as a boycott call and led to many questioning how a minority had managed to hijack the agenda of union to pursue a sinister political agenda. The motion also demanded a boycott of Ariel University Center (Ariel College) in the West Bank.

After the motion passed, two eminent Oxford University academics and UCU members, Michael Yudkin, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry, and Denis Noble, Emeritus Professor of Physiology, pointed out that any academic boycott would violate a core principle accepted in the profession - that academics do not discriminate against colleagues on grounds of race, sex, religion, national or ethnic origin, or other personal characteristics.

"It's considered such an important professional principle that the union's rules set it out twice," Yudkin said.

The two academics put together a group of 12 UCU members from universities across the country and sought legal advice from the London-based lawyers Mishcon de Reya.

After obtaining an opinion from two eminent barristers, Michael Beloff and Pushpinder Saini, ruling the motion to be unlawful and contrary to the union's rules, the UCU group threatened to sue the union unless it dropped its boycott call.

"We are happy that the union has withdrawn the proposals that threatened the principle of non-discrimination," Yudkin said.

He said it went against the grain for members to have to use the law against their union but said that if it violated its own rules on such an important matter, there was no choice.

"It's now time for the union to give up its obsession with imposing boycotts and do its best to restore the reputation of UK scientists and scholars," he added.

"It is great news that for the fifth year running the union has, in the end, decided not to try to boycott Israeli universities," Dr. David Hirsh, lecturer at University of London's Goldsmith College and editor of the Engage Web site said. "It is not so great that the union's general-secretary continues to turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism, in spite of having been alerted, formally, informally, urgently, consistently and by a large number of both Jewish and non-Jewish members."

Speaking on behalf of the Stop the Boycott group, Henry Grunwald said: "The UCU's decision is a victory for common sense and for all those who oppose a boycott of Israeli academics. We have always known that such a boycott was discriminatory. We hope this marks the end of union's destructive flirtation with a policy that discriminates against Israelis and does nothing to help Palestinians."

However, the union has insisted there was never a boycott motion and thus its position has not changed.

Hunt insisted that the motion was a "to provide solidarity with the Palestinians" and not to boycott Israel's academic institutions.

"I made clear to delegates that the union will defend their right to debate this and other issues," she said.

"That position, and the position of the union, has not changed. There was no motion calling for a boycott and the implementation of Motion 25 within the law will continue," she added."

Article by Jonny Paul, The Jerusalem Post

- Jon Pike's report of the UCU NEC meeting which decided to implement the boycott by not implementing it
- UCU drops boycott of Israeli academics

Wednesday 17 December 2008

In comparison Pius XII was a saint, by Sean Gannon

"... in 1919 the future Pius XI reported from Poland that the Jews were "perhaps the strongest and most evil influence" there, while 13 years later as pope, he told Mussolini that the Jews of central and eastern Europe posed a threat to Christian society."

Source: Essay by Sean Gannon, TJP

"... recent critics of Vatican policy such as Gary Wills, John Cornwell, James Carroll and Daniel Goldhagen have focused attention on the issue perhaps most damning from a modern perspective - Pius XII's undoubted anti-Semitism - arguing that what Cornwell calls Pius's "secret antipathy" toward Jews helps explain his lack of action on their behalf. Yet the fact is that, however abhorrent, Pius XII's anti-Semitism was utterly unremarkable for a churchman of his time, and was certainly no deeper than that of Pius XI, against whom he is most frequently unfavorably compared regarding his response to Nazism. For example, in 1919 the future Pius XI reported from Poland that the Jews were "perhaps the strongest and most evil influence" there, while 13 years later as pope, he told Mussolini that the Jews of central and eastern Europe posed a threat to Christian society. Even the unpromulgated encyclical, Humani generis unitas, drafted by Jesuit theologians as Pius XI's definitive condemnation of anti-Semitism, warned of "the spiritual dangers to which contact with Jews can expose souls" and stated that Judaism formed an "authentic basis for the social separation of the Jews from the rest of humanity."

Pius XII's anti-Semitism is certainly a stain on his record. But there is simply no evidence that it played any part in determining his wartime decisions. In this, he contrasts starkly with other Catholic authorities whose anti-Semitic ethos led them to directly help the Nazi cause.
For instance, a majority of Slovak bishops initially justified the deportations of Jews as necessary "to stymie [their] nefarious influence." In Croatia (where 50% of Ustache concentration camp commanders were priests), high-ranking prelates presented the "liberation of the world from the Jews [as] a movement for the renewal of human dignity," while in Lithuania, the hierarchy explicitly instructed the Catholic clergy not to assist the Jews in any way during the Einsatzgruppen killing campaign. Elements of the Polish, Slovenian and Hungarian hierarchies also deliberately fanned anti-Semitism's flames even as their Jewish compatriots were being slaughtered.

Here in Ireland, the Catholic Church's endemic anti-Semitism had more indirect, yet still devastating, consequences. Irish Catholicism had, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, published and preached against the Jews as a deicidal nation which had endured for 2,000 years as "the worm in the rose" of Christendom. And in a country where notions of Irishness and Catholicism were inextricably entwined, the Jews, as enemies of the Church, were by definition enemies of the State, and so religious and non-religious anti-Semitic motifs were synthesized to create one national anti-Jewish ideology. So "Jewish finance" was characterized as a means of enslaving the Irish Catholic nation while Freemasonry and Communism were presented as Jewish-driven vehicles for what Ireland's leading anti-Semitic ideologue Fr. Denis Fahey (most of whose books were prefaced and approved by prominent members of the Irish hierarchy) called "the destruction of Catholic civilization through the perversion of hearts."

Thus Ireland's Rome-based Catholic clergy could warn the Irish ambassador to the Holy See in 1946 that Jewish influence was not just "anti-Christian [but] anti-national and detrimental to the revival of an Irish cultural and religious civilization" - an attitude which may partly explain the Irish colleges' apparent refusal to shelter Jews during the round-up of Roman Jews three years earlier, even as 4,500 were being hidden in other Catholic institutions, 10% of them in the Vatican itself.

The Irish government's response to the increasingly desperate pleas of the chief rabbi of Mandated Palestine and former Irish chief rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog (ironically, one of Pius XII's first defenders) to use its influence to rescue small groups of French and Hungarian Jews was, in the words of historian Shulamit Eliash, "tepid and unenthusiastic." And, mindful of the "numerous protests regarding the number of alien Jews who [had] established themselves" in Ireland, the Ministry of Justice (which had the final say on refugee visas) implemented throughout the Nazi era an immigration policy which explicitly excluded those with what were termed "non-Aryan affiliations."

So while just one Irish Jew actually perished in the Holocaust, one wonders how many of her Continental co-religionists died as a result of Ireland's institutionalization of societal anti-Semitism, which resulted in fewer than 70 Jewish admissions between 1933 and 1945.
These, the real anti-Semitic sins of Catholic Europe, have all been obscured by the Pius XII sideshow - a sterile debate which will never be resolved even if the Vatican opens all its wartime archives. For, if documents exist there exonerating Pius of the charges against him, they would have long ago been released, while any evidence supporting the claim that he was, in Deborah Dwork's words, "the canonical example of tacit collusion and collaboration" with the Nazis will have long ago been removed.
It is, then, surely time to let the matter rest."
The writer is a freelance journalist, writing mainly on Irish and Middle Eastern affairs. He is currently preparing a book on the history of Irish-Israeli relations
Photo: cover of Dirk Verhofstadt's book about the Pope's conduct during the war : Pius XII and the extermination of the Jews (in Dutch)

Sunday 14 December 2008

Greta Berlin and Hezbollah members due to give conference at Belgian Parliament

"Deep sensitization and spreading awareness on the aggressive, terrorist and racist nature of the Zionist entity as well as the hazards on security and peace in the world it causes. Exposing its expansionist objectives and inhuman practices and crimes against the Palestinian people and the sacred places, and seeking the expulsion of the Zionist entity from international institutions." (IUPFP articles of association)

Surely it is astonishing and deeply alarming that these people will be holding a conference at the Belgian Parliament:

Sources: IUPFP (and Association belgo-palestinienne in French)

"The International Union of Parliamentarians for Palestine (IUPFP) will be holding a conference this monday the 15th of December at 14:00 hours in the conference hall of the Belgian Federal Parliament.

The conference is entitled : The Palestinian prisoners: their suffering and their resistance: in light of the fact that more than 10 000 Palestinians still languish in "Israeli" [note the quotation marks] jails mostly without a trial and among them many women and children and also parliamentarians. Add to that, the continuous inhumane siege of Gaza that has been turned into a huge prison causing a tremendous humanitarian crisis and inflicting unbearable suffering upon the innocent civilian population. therefore it is of great importance to create awareness on this great injustice in all the above mentioned dimensions."

Speakers at the conference:

"Dr. Hassan Khraishe: Vice President of the Palestinian Parliament (on the current situation in Palestine and the prisoners issue).

Mr. Abdullah Kassir: Secretary general of the IUPFP and former Lebanese MP, he is also the current general manager of the Lebanese Al Manar TV station ( on the role and vision of IUPFP in advocating Palestinian rights). [See Hezbollah TV says German ban on station is unjust, 'Zionist lobbies' behind decision]

Dr. Hussein Al Hadj Hassan: Lebanese Member of parliament- Hezbollah, ( on the prisoner exchange deal between Hezbollah and Israel and the lessons learned from it). [See Hizbullah MP Hussein al- Hajj Hassan and here]

Mrs. Gretta Berlin: From the Free Gaza Movement that has been organizing boat trips to Gaza in order to break the siege." [What nice company Greta Berlin keeps. Being a woman she is treated with great respect and obviously comes after her chivalrous male friends.]

The IUPFP Secretary General is Iranian MP Sayyed Ali Akbar Mohtashemi who is thought to have:

"... played an active role, with the Pasdaran and Syrian military intelligence, in the supervision of Hezbollah's suicide bomb attacks against the American embassy in Beirut in April 1983, the American and French contingents of the MNF in October 1983 and the American embassy annex in September 1984."

and according to a Pakistani newspaper:

"An Iranian member of parliament, Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemi-Pur, who helped found Hezbollah in Lebanon as his country’s ambassador to Syria in the 1980s, has confirmed in an interview with the Iranian newspaper Sharq that Tehran has equipped the group with long-range missiles capable of hitting "any target in Israel".

"Hezbollah’s arsenal not only includes Katyusha missiles, but also Zelzal-2 missiles, which could hit targets as far as 250 kilometres, leaving no spot in Israel unreachable", said Mohtashemi-Pur, who holds a government-appointed post as secretary-general to the Palestinian Intifada Conference. "There are countries that have weapons but don’t have the courage to use them”, he lamented."

The Director General of the IUPP is no other than the pro-Hezbollah founder of the Arab European League (AEL) Dyab Abou Jahjah and self-styled Belgium's Malcolm X/Arab pride and official fears.

The "Zionist watcher" section of the IUPFP infamous website features biographies of the following "Zionists":

Dick Cheney, Ehud Yaari, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, Majalli Whbee, Timothy Kirkhope (the only European), Daniel Pipes, Avi Dichter, John Bolton, Karl Rove, Lynn Woosley, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Yuval Steinitz, Zalmay Khalilzad and astonishingly ... Stephen M. Walt (co-author with John Mearsheimer of the The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy).

The following are some of the aims of the IUPFP :

"Consolidating the presence of the Palestinian people in its land by assisting and supporting its resistance against occupation in all its forms, and providing Palestinians with all essential elements for their steadfastness and the continuation of their glorious Intifada on their national soil."

"Deep sensitization and spreading awareness on the aggressive, terrorist and racist nature of the Zionist entity as well as the hazards on security and peace in the world it causes. Exposing its expansionist objectives and inhuman practices and crimes against the Palestinian people and the sacred places, and seeking the expulsion of the Zionist entity from international institutions."

"Seeking to spread a culture of resisting the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation, and a culture of boycotting both the American and Israeli products."

"Exposing the dealings of every state or organism in supporting the Zionist entity against the objectives of the Palestinian people as well as exposing the policies of such states and boycotting them economically."

- Muslim European group posts anti-Semitic cartoons
- British writer David Hart calls for the creation of an international anti-Zionist lobby

The jihadis of Antwerp North

"They were found guilty of historical revisionism, minimising the Holocaust and inciting to racial hatred, in particular against Jews."

Source: Islam in Europe

"Belgian weekly Knack is coming out with a series of articles about radical Islam in Antwerp. The first article is titled "The Jihadis of Antwerp-North" (De jihadi's van Antwerpen-Noord).

A few days after this article appeared, the Belgian federal police moved to act against a suspected local terrorist cell. Abdessatar Dahmane's widow (the imam marrying them is mentioned in the article) was arrested this week. See Belgium: Al-Qaeda cell apprehended and Belgium: "Mother of al-Qaeda in Europe" saved by Belgian secret service."

Excerpts of Antwerp: The Jihadis of Antwerp North (2) translated by Esther

"International Brothers

Whoever went on a weekend to the Ardennes was written down in the notebook of Jemal Fellous, whose brothers Achmed and Nordine were also active at Rissala [a non-profit organization]. The Fellous family had already gotten in trouble with the law several times and were already sentenced for illegal trade and possession of weapons. In the notebooks which were found in Oma mosque you can see who of Jamaat Tabligh's members attended training in recent years outside Antwerp.

Countless weekends in sites both local and abroad are reported there, but also surprisingly many trip of forty days to Pakistan, the aspiration of every radical Muslim who grows up in the West.

The weekends begin mostly with a lecture at the Tulpstraat. The youth mostly don't know then yet where they are going. Often it's mosques in the Netherlands or the suburbs of Paris. But just as well the trip can lead to Liège or Brussels. For tourism there is no time. The youth stay the whole weekend inside the mosque. At night they sleep on the ground in the house of prayer, by the example of the prophet Muhammad. During the day they can expand their network through contact with like-minded people. The rest of the time is spent by praying and listening to the message of the local imam. The discourse is invariably anti-Western, for strengthening their own faith community and against any form of integration.

Two weeks ago the men of Jamaat Tabligh left Tulpstraat to Anderlecht, for a weekend in the mosque where the Centre Islamique Belge is set up. They got lessons from the followers of the famous French imam of Syrian origin, Bassam Ayachi. Ayachi, beter known as "Sheik Bassam" has been one of the most important radical preachers in Brussels for years. Two years ago his son Abdel Rahman Ayachi and webmaster Raphaël Gendron were sentenced to 10 months in prison, half deferred. Additionally both had to pay a fine of 15,000 euro each and 2,5000 euro to the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism that had lodged a complaint. They were found guilty of historical revisionism, minimising the Holocaust and inciting to racial hatred, in particular against Jews. Meanwhile it isn't going well for the sheik too. He was arrested on November 11th in the Italian port city of Bari. He must answer for being an accomplice to illegal immigration. Five non-EU citizens were found in a hidden compartment of his camper, he had wanted to bring them from the Middle East through Greece into Western Europe. Bassam is known by the French security services as the man who conducted the marriage of Tunisian Abdessatar Dahmane in Brussels, the fake journalist who together with a companion murdered Afghan rebel leader Ahmed Shah Massoud on the eve of September 11."

Read the whole piece here and
Antwerp: The Jihadis of Antwerp North (1)

Saturday 13 December 2008

Antwerp: Youth leave for jihad training in Pakistan

"... youth were incited with anti-Jewish songs and considered the nightly trips as preparations for Holy War."

"Dozens of Muslim youth leave Antwerp every year for Pakistan [Pakistan - well, isn't this a surprise?]. There they are immersed in radical Islam. But also in Belgium they prepare in and out of the mosques for the war with the West.

There are five mosques in Antwerp-North barely several hundred meters from each other. Besides being prayer houses for thousands of moderate Muslims they are also the base for small extremist groups who spread expressly anti-Western ideas. A not unimportant portion of the younger Muslims often leave for Pakistan to be instructed in madrassas or Koran schools. The most important destination for the Antwerp youth is the Haqqania madrassa of Sami Ul-Haq, a head of the Pakistani Islamic Party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Ul-Haq visited the Khatim-Al-Anbia mosque in Antwerp a couple of years ago. In 2005 he declared in Asia Times that whenever the Taliban put out a call for fighters, he would simply close down the madrassa and send his students off to fight.

The majority of the Antwerp youth return to Belgium after forty days. But here and there there's one, such as Kirgies Abdul Aziz who never come back.

The Belgian security services are aware of the extremist danger of the groups. Some can easily get weapons in Belgium. They also organize "jihad trainings" in the Ardennes for the youth. When a few neighbors from Agimont (next to Dinant) complained about the acts last year and the local police arrived on site, there was little to do. Nonetheless the youth were incited with anti-Jewish songs and considered the nightly trips as preparations for Holy War.

Belgian extremist groups are not limited to Antwerp. In Liège and Brussels mostly young Muslims are occupied with Jihad. They are often led by seemingly well integrated colleagues or older imams. The French sheik of Syrian origin Bassam Ayachi of the Centre Islamique Belge in Anderlecht is one such man. The federal police is happy that they've gotten rid of this dangerous person for a while. Ayachi was arrested in the Italian port city Bari several weeks ago. Five non-EU citizens who had been smuggled from the Middle East to Western Europe were found in a hidden compartment of his camper. In Italy there are very strict punishments for such crimes.

Flemish P. (25) converted to Islam when he was 17. He quickly got in touch with recruiters who very actively sought young recruits for the Holy War. When P. was ready to depart to Pakistan, he finally saw straight. He contacted the Antwerp police and later also became an informant for the State Security Service."

Source: Knack (Dutch) - English version: Islam in Europe

Pakistan's Deal with the Devil, An Incubator of Radical Islamists, Der Spiegel
Belgium: "Mother of al-Qaeda in Europe" saved by Belgian secret service
Minister launches center for Islamic culture in Flanders
Antwerp: The Jihadis of Antwerp North (1)

Friday 12 December 2008

Belgian police prevent terrorist attack in Brussels as EU leaders meet

"The investigation that lead to the arrest of about fifteen people from jihadist networks in Belgium early on Thursday, December 11, began about a year ago. In 2007, a developing cell had been identified near Malika El-Aroud, a Belgian national from Morocco who was well-known among European security services. Her first husband [Dahmane Abd al-Sattar] is indeed one of the murderers of Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud who was killed in September 2001, less than three days before the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington. While she was still leaving in Afghanistan (in the same camp as Osama bin Laden…) at the time of the international coalition’s military intervention in October 2001, El-Aroud played it wisely – she pretended to be a victim and promised information – in order to receive support from the Belgian authorities to leave Afghanistan …" Read more
Source: ESISC
"As European Union leaders gathered Thursday in Brussels for a end of the year two-day summit, Belgian police said they have thwarted an imminent al-Qaeda suicide bomb.

"It is more than likely that an attack in Brussels has been prevented," said a Belgian government statement.

According to media reports, the arrival of EU leaders and intelligence that a terror attack was on the way triggered a massive police operation, involving 242 officers, in overnight house raids in the Belgian cities of Brussels and Liège.

Police arrested 14 suspects, three of whom, including the suspected suicide bomber, who had just returned from Afghanistan, where it is thought they had received orders from al-Qaeda commanders.

Johan Delmulle, a Belgian federal prosecutor, told journalists that information in the hands of police indicated one of the 14 "was possibly planning a suicide attack." But he did not specify whether the target was among the presidents and prime ministers who were gathering Thursday afternoon for the two-day summit conference.

Police have been closely watching the suspected suicide bomber, one of four Belgian citizens in the group.

He returned from Afghanistan on Dec 4 and three days later police received information he was planning to send a video message to close relations.

Delmulle described the raids as "the most important" anti-terrorism operation in Belgium following a one year investigation of a Belgian Islamist group involved in training as well as fighting on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

The investigation centered on people linked to Nizar Trabelsi, a 37-year-old Tunisian sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003 for planning to a drive a car bomb into the cafeteria of a Belgian air base where about 100 American military personnel are stationed.

Security services in several European nations suspect Trabelsi, who trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, had links with extremists in Britain, France and elsewhere in Europe."

Source: article by Yossi Lempkowicz, EJP

Thursday 11 December 2008

Eleanor's dream: 1948 to 2008, the state of human rights at the UN

"From its inception in June 2006 to the present, the HRC has condemned North Korea in 1 resolution, Myanmar in 4, and Israel in 20 resolutions."

"Six decades ago, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the magna carta for mankind. The historic proclamation was created by a drafting committee that included Eleanor Roosevelt, founding chair of the UN Human Rights Commission, René Cassin of France, Charles Malik of Lebanon, P.C. Chang of China, and John Humphrey of Canada, and enshrined core principles common to all humanity. The 60th anniversary of the Declaration is a time to celebrate and reaffirm these universal principles.

For proponents of human rights worldwide, however, the celebration of this historic text is marred by the state of crisis that plagues the current UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Created in 2006 to replace the Commission, which became discredited for being politicized and acting arbitrarily, the HRC was supposed to mark a new beginning. Regrettably, with few exceptions, the opposite has happened. The council is dominated today by an alliance of repressive regimes, including China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, that has acted systematically to undermine and erode core principles and effective mechanisms created by the generation of Eleanor Roosevelt and those that followed. (...)

The Council appointed one expert who is the co-founder of the "Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize" (Jean Ziegler), and another who believes that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were an inside job (Richard Falk). Although a new mechanism to review all states (Universal Periodic Review, or UPR) has potential, thus far it has been largely a toothless exercise.

Sixty years after the founding vision of Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin, the United Nations human rights system as a whole find itself in a state of crisis. This UN Watch report includes the following key findings:

- Only 13 of 47 HRC Members Voted Positively: Out of 47 HRC member states, only a minority of 13 had positive voting records in our study of actions taken on 32 key resolutions. In order of highest ranking, these were Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Bosnia, Ukraine, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

- Majority 34 of 47 HRC Members Voted Negatively: A majority of 34 out of the 47 HRC member states had negative voting records - casting ballots against independent human rights mechanisms or basic principles such as free speech - or supported counter-productive resolutions sponsored by repressive regimes. From bad to worse, these were: Guatemala, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, India, Madagascar, Philippines, Angola, Jordan, Mauritius, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, South Africa, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia,Malaysia, Nicaragua, Russia, Sri Lanka and China.

- HRC Ignored Worst Abusers: In 2007-2008, the council failed to address the world’s worst human rights violations. Of the 20 worst violators on Freedom House’s annual survey, the council censured only Myanmar and North Korea. While it did adopt resolutions on Sudan, these were non-condemnatory, weak, and ineffective, some even praising Sudan for its "cooperation." Somalia’s violations were addressed as a matter of mere "technical consideration. Even worse, the council failed to adopt any resolution, special session or investigative mandate for: Belarus, China, Cuba, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe. (...)

- Total HRC Condemnations to Date: From its inception in June 2006 to the present, the HRC has condemned North Korea in 1 resolution, Myanmar in 4, and Israel in 20 resolutions. While the council did address Sudan several times, these were not condemnations but weak and ineffective resolutions, some of which actually praised Sudan for its "cooperation." Despite the pleas of former UNSecretary-General Kofi Annan as well as current UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the HRC’sf ocus has actually become even more narrow than was the case under the former Commission on Human Rights."

Source: UN Watch
Read full Executive Summary here
Full Report (PDF version) here

Wednesday 10 December 2008

European Union and Israel sign civil aviation agreement

After EU upgrades ties with Israel despite Palestinian opposition, more bad news for the Israel bashing and pro-boycott brigade.

"The European Union and Israel signed Tuesday in Brussels an aviation agreement which will remove nationality restrictions in the bilateral air services agreements between the 27 EU member states and Israel.

The agreement, which will encourage traffic between the EU and Israel, was signed by European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Israeli Minister for Transport, Shaul Mofaz, after a meeting in the margins of the EU Transport Council.

"The agreement signed today is good news for Israeli and European airlines and passengers, as it removes the legal uncertainty from the bilateral air services agreements", declared Tajani.

The agreement will allow any EU airline to operate flights between any EU Member state and Israel where a bilateral agreement with Israel exists and traffic rights are available.

This so-called "horizontal" aviation agreement does not replace the bilateral agreements in place between the Israel and 27 EU Member States, but brings these in line with European law.

Horizontal agreements have been negotiated with 38 countries worldwide. Nearly 800 bilateral air services agreements have already been modified by the joint efforts of the European Commission and member states to replace nationality rules with the principle of EU airline designation.

Air transport is crucial for the relations between the EU and Israel, linking people, cultures and businesses.

The EU and Israel also started negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement with a view to establishing a Common Aviation Area between the EU and Israel.

This aviation agreement will gradually open up the air transport market and provide for regulatory cooperation in the fields of aviation safety, security, air traffic management, technology, research and industrial co-operation, consumer and environmental protection and competition."
Source: article by Yossi Lempkowicz, EJP

Tuesday 9 December 2008

EU upgrades ties with Israel despite Palestinian opposition

Good news indeed. The upgrading and deepening of the relationship between the EU and Israel will be achieved in spite of delaying tactics by the European Parliament and Palestinian intense lobbying.

"The EU's foreign ministers approved a significant upgrade in the body's diplomatic relationship with Israel on Monday, despite Palestinian opposition and some calls in Europe that this should be linked to developments on the ground.

The approval of the upgrade by the 27 EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels as the General Affairs and External Relations Council, came less than a week after the European parliament indefinitely postponed a scheduled vote on the upgrade.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who pushed for the upgrade in ties some 18 months ago, called the development a "significant achievement for Israeli diplomacy, which opens up a new chapter between Israel and the countries of the EU. This new chapter faithfully reflects the strengthening cooperation between the sides based on common values and similar world views."

The upgrade in diplomatic ties is the first in a series of upgrades in numerous fields, among them trade, transportation, energy and culture.

The upgrade will make possible Israeli participation in a wide variety of EU programs that were previously closed to it. EU and Israel agreed to the upgrade in principle last June, and the process that is now under way is meant to give content to that decision.

The agreement reached Monday calls for the following:

- Ad hoc summits between the Israeli prime minister and his European counterparts
- Three meetings a year between the Israeli and European foreign ministers
- Periodic meetings between the Foreign Ministry director-general and his European colleagues
- Continuous dialogue on the professional level to discuss the diplomatic process, strategic issues, counterterrorism, and other issues
- Deepening the discussion about anti-Semitism and human rights
- European assistance in greater Israeli integration in the United Nations
- The possibility of Israeli participation in EU peace missions.

The diplomatic upgrade came less than a week after the European parliament indefinitely postponed a scheduled vote over plans to upgrade EU-Israeli relations.

The parliament's vice president, Luisa Morgantini, was reported as saying the postponement was a signal that the European parliament was "not deaf to the suffering of people in Gaza and the West Bank."

That vote was seen by some observers as an indication of a revival in Europe of those favoring linking the level of EU-Israeli bilateral ties to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, a position that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad has been lobbying the EU on for months.

The parliament vote, though a symbolic victory for Fayad, was largely only declarative in nature. While it could cause some technical difficulties in implementing various aspects of the upgrade plan in other spheres, the decision taken Monday by the foreign ministers was the far more significant vote, and the one that will guide EU policy.

Israeli diplomatic officials said France, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, played an important role in smoothing over hurdles and making the upgrade possible.

On the other hand, Israeli officials said Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and - to a certain extent - Britain, all worked unsuccessfully to link the upgrade to developments on the ground.

The text adopted by the ministers hints at some linkage, but Israeli officials said this was very general in nature and something Jerusalem could easily live with. (...)"

Source: article by Herb Keinon, The Jerusalem Post

EU votes to upgrade Israel relations despite Arab lobbying, Haaretz

Monday 8 December 2008

Swedish Christian NGO Diakonia totally obsessed with Israel

Christian charity Diakonia style : "In one single month, October 2008, Diakonia sponsored 10 articles in the Swedish media, nine of which dealt with the world's only Jewish country. ... Yet Congo, which has seen hundreds of thousands of civilians slaughtered, raped and expelled, has merited just one single article, written back in February."

(Paradoxically 65% of Swedes "... see greater interaction between the West and the Muslim world as a threat. This reflects a growing fear among Europeans – driven in part by rising immigration from predominantly Muslim regions - of a perceived "Islamic threat" to their cultural identities.")

"Is it unreasonable to provide information about the Holocaust without at the same time providing information about the Naqba - "the catastrophe" of the Palestinian Arabs who became refugees in Israel's 1948 War of Independence?

This is the official view of Swedish Christian aid organization Diakonia, whose policy officer for conflict and justice Joakim Wohlfeil said at a meeting in Gothenburg in October that Diakonia is more a lobby group with a clear political agenda for the Middle East than a Christian aid organization. The shocked silence that ensued was quickly filled by his boss, secretary-general Bo Forsberg, who said that Diakonia was still first and foremost a Christian aid organization.

Diakonia operates freely in Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of anti-Israel policies that are often remarkably anti-Semitic in effect. Its record speaks for itself.

Political extremism, religious fanaticism, dictatorships and crimes against humanity are all on the rise. As democrats rooted firmly in the Judeo-Christian affirmation of inalienable human rights, it is always our moral duty to stop human suffering at the hands of anti-democratic despots and their collaborators. Iran, Darfur, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Tibet - all require our focus if we are to contribute to a better world.

These, however, are areas in which Sweden's Diakonia is not involved. The ostensibly Christian aid organization appears instead to be totally obsessed with the world's only Jewish state and is uninterested even in coming to the aid of Christian communities in acute distress. Copts suffer systematic racism in Egypt, Pakistan's Christian minority is being hunted to extinction, Christians in the Philippines are being exterminated. Bethlehem's Christian population has been decimated since the Palestinian Authority took control over the area. Yet Diakonia continues to pump Swedish money into the PA apparatus while maintaining total silence on the systematic expulsions of Christians from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and the cradle of Christianity.

In the democratic state of Israel, Diakonia collaborates intimately with a whole raft of extreme left-wing organizations. In the PA dictatorship, it collaborates intimately with radical political groups and fanatical religious organizations that refuse to mark Israel on the map and where schoolchildren are systematically indoctrinated in anti-Semitic hatred from grade one.

In Diakonia's 60-page annual report, the word "terror" appears just once - in conjunction with Paraguay - and then only with the qualifier "alleged terrorists." According to Diakonia's worldview, acts of violence against civilians perpetrated by fanatics with an extreme religious and/or political agenda are not characterized as terrorism.

Diakonia's annual report makes no mention of Sderot, whose civilians have been terrorized by more than 8,000 Palestinian rockets and where playgrounds for toddlers have to be built indoors. Yet the Palestinians get 13 percent of Diakonia's total aid, donated by Christians in Sweden who believe in democracy and the equal value of all human life.

In one single month, October 2008, Diakonia sponsored 10 articles in the Swedish media, nine of which dealt with the world's only Jewish country. Diakonia writes in its annual report that its second focus area outside Israel/the Palestinian Authority is Congo. Yet Congo, which has seen hundreds of thousands of civilians slaughtered, raped and expelled, has merited just one single article, written back in February.

Diakonia runs what it calls an "ecumenical accompaniment program in Palestine and Israel" whose stated aims are to "reduce the brutality of the occupation" and to "end the illegal occupation of Palestine." But it does not aim to bring an end to terrorism - the root cause of the occupation and the violence. Despite the flowery language in its policy document, there has not been one single recorded instance of Diakonia ever accompanying children in Sderot. But then these are Jewish children.

It is to this organization that Christians in Sweden donate their millions. And it is this organization that Israel gives free right to operate within its sovereign territory.

History has taught us it is that religion and politics are dangerous bedfellows. When the church pursues its own foreign-policy agenda with substantial financial backing, the result is seldom pleasant and always predictable. One natural question regarding Diakonia's obsession with the Jewish state while ignoring human rights issues in the world's 23 Arab states is whether its Christian benefactors in Sweden actually know what is being done with their hard-earned money. Because if there is one thing Diakonia does not do, it does not contribute to calm and mutual respect in the Middle East by pursuing such a flagrantly prejudiced stance. (...)

It is incompatible with a Christian, humanitarian and democratic worldview that a radical left-wing organization be allowed to operate under the mantle of Christian aid. It is inconceivable that it should receive Swedish governmental financial aid and official Israeli sanction to engage in lobbying and domestic politics in Jerusalem while remaining silent on the plight of Christians being decimated a few kilometers away in Bethlehem. And it is unconscionable that its obsession with the Jewish state causes it to turn a blind eye to the plight of millions of people the world over who are suffering indescribable injustices."

Source: Equal value of all human life?, by Ilya Meyer, TJP
The author is former deputy chairman of the Swedish-Israel Friendship Society, Western Region and is a former board member of the Joint Council for Jews and Christians in Sweden.