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Saturday, January 23, 2010
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
(PLC Speaker Aziz Dwaik (right) meets UK millionaire David Martin Abrahams in Hebron, Wednesday.)
Hamas has accepted Israel's right to exist and would be prepared to nullify its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel, Aziz Dwaik, Hamas's most senior representative in the West Bank, said on Wednesday.
Dwaik's remarks are seen in the context of Hamas's attempts to win recognition from the international community. Dwaik's remarks are seen in the context of Hamas's attempts to win recognition from the international community.
Dwaik is the elected speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was released a few months ago after spending nearly three years in an Israeli prison.
Dwaik was among dozens of Hamas officials and members who were rounded up by Israel following the abduction of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit near the Gaza Strip in June 2006.
His latest remarks were made during a meeting he held in Hebron with British millionaire David Martin Abrahams, who maintains close ties with senior Israeli and British government officials.
Abrahams is scheduled to brief British Foreign Secretary David Milliband this weekend on the outcome of his meeting with Dwaik and other top Hamas officials in the West Bank.
Abrahams, a major donor to Britain's Labor Party, told The Jerusalem Post he would urge Milliband to "consider the implications of Hamas's positive overtures."
During the meeting in Hebron, Dwaik stressed that other Hamas leaders, including Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, have voiced support for the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 boundaries.
"The [Hamas] charter was drafted more than 20 years ago," Dwaik noted, adding that his movement would even be prepared to "nullify" the document.
"No one wants to throw anyone into the sea," he said.
Dwaik also expressed Hamas's desire to engage in dialogue with the international community, first and foremost the European Union. He confirmed that Hamas was receiving financial aid from Iran, but said that this was the direct result of the boycott and sanctions against the movement.
Abrahams said that he would be happy to facilitate a dialogue between Hamas on the one hand, and Israel and the international community on the other. He said he was "very excited" to hear from the most prominent leader of Hamas in the West Bank that the movement would be prepared to nullify its charter and accept Israel.
"The fact that there is a possibility for recognition of Israel is a symbolic gesture," Abrahams added. "We can all look for good in people and we can all look for bad in people. I always look for the good."
Asked whether he might be condemned as naïve for believing Hamas, Abrahams said, "People might say that I'm naïve, so let them. But I'm prepared to give them [Hamas] a chance because I've got faith and confidence in Dwaik and Haniyeh. We can't allow 1.5 million to be festering in the Gaza Strip while the majority of them are good and well-educated."
Abrahams said that his decision to engage Hamas was aimed at "preventing bloodshed on both sides." He said he was encouraged by the massive support he found among the Jewish community in Britain for the idea of talking to Hamas.
"I recently published an article in the Jewish Chronicle to test the temperature of the water within the Jewish community about Hamas," he said. "I found a lot of support among Jews for dealing with Hamas and I was pleasantly surprised."
Denying that he had delivered any message from the British government or the EU leadership to Hamas, Abrahams said he was convinced more than ever that the movement posed no threat to the US. "Hamas is different from al-Qaida," he said. "Hamas is no threat to Western interests."
Some consider Dwaik, as speaker of the PLC, to be the acting president of the Palestinian Authority, since Mahmoud Abbas's term officially expired on January 9. Dwaik himself has said that he is content to let Abbas continue in office until the election that is now scheduled for June 28, 2010
Courtesy of Jerusalem Post
Dear Paul, thanks for sharing another point of view to the view of Runderheim. Every one has to strive to be honest when writing about two populations and be open to different points of view. I laud you for bringing your point of view to the fore. Good Job!
Peace is attainable and we should not give up on it. The Jews deserve security and the Palestinians the hope. Peace hinges on hopes for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis, anything short of justice will not produce sustainable peace"
I am yet to see a conference where they invite known radicals, liberals and moderates from both sides. No one has to support anothr point of view, but must be willing to see and acknowledge it. It will extinguish some of the fire when some one is heard. Until we put all our cards on the table, our dialogue remains partial and does not contribute to peace making significantly.
This is an article of mine that was published (in Norwegian) in "Hallingdølen", the newspaper of the Hallingdal region of Norway, in the issue of Jan. 21, 2010. [This was in response to an anti-Israel article of similar length that appeared in the paper the previous week.]
An online link to the published article and the Norwegian text can be found by scrolling down.
ISRAEL WILL LIVE – IN PEACE
by Paul Goldstein
In his piece attacking the State of Israel and Jewish nationhood, Bjarte Runderheim relies on numerous distortions and inaccuracies, as well as ignoring the many relevant facts that would contradict his claims. It does no service to the cause of peace, which requires building two-sided trust, to distort facts in bashing one of the sides to a conflict.
His denial of the legitimacy of a Jewish national homeland ignores the facts of history. Jews have lived in what is now Israel for 4000 years, in an unbroken continuous existence. After their first two states in Palestine were destroyed, a Jewish community (historically called the “Yishuv”) continued to thrive in the land under a series of successive conquering powers.
The Arab population in what is now Israel has its original roots in the Muslim conquest of the region in the 7th century. Jews and Arabs from that point lived together uneasily in the region under differing foreign powers and empires. There was no independent state in Palestine, either Jewish or Arab, from the time of the destruction of the Second Temple (in the year 70) until 1948.
By the time of the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire (1517 to 1917), both the Jewish and Arab populations had diminished sharply. The author Mark Twain, travelling through what is now Israel in the mid-19th century, reported the region was mostly a desolate wasteland and sparsely inhabited.
The Yishuv, though, began to grow in that century. By the 1850’s the western part of Jerusalem had a Jewish majority. Spurred by anti-Semitic pogroms in Russia and other areas, European Jews began arriving in 1882, joining the long-standing Yishuv, a people who by that time had been stateless for nearly 2000 years.
As the British took control of the region in 1917 under a League of Nations mandate, the Balfour Declaration was issued, promising the restoration of a Jewish national homeland in part of Palestine. During the British rule of Palestine (1917-1948), Jewish immigration was sharply restricted – even during those years when Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust desperately searched for a safe haven. However, during the British Mandate there was a substantial increase in the area’s Arab population from neighboring lands, an immigration quietly encouraged by the British authorities.
The enormity of the Holocaust, during which countries around the world firmly closed their doors to Jewish refugees and allowed millions of people to be slaughtered, demonstrated the urgent need of a restored Jewish national homeland. The United Nations in 1947, over the objections of Arab countries, authorized the rebirth of Israel, fulfilling a 2000-year-old dream – though only after a third of all the world’s Jews had been murdered.
After the British left on May 14, 1948, the surrounding Arab countries wasted no time in trying to destroy the new Jewish state, co-ordinating a massive attack the following morning.
The years of 1947-1949 were ones of great upheaval in the region, and a massive two-sided population shift took place. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from surrounding Arab countries, fleeing greatly increased persecution, poured into the new Jewish state. At the same time hundreds of thousands of Arab residents of western Palestine fled into neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
As a result of the enormous exodus into Israel of Jews of Arab lands, a majority of Israel’s Jewish population was of Middle Eastern origin (Sephardic or Mizrachi Jews) until the great influx of Soviet Jews at the beginning of the 1990’s. The founding Jewish population of Israel was mostly indigenous to the region with Middle Eastern roots going back thousands of years; European (Ashkenazi) Jews were a 40% minority. Together they created a nation in a land that had never seen any independent state other than a Jewish one.
From the beginning the Arab minority was granted full voting rights and citizenship rights in the new state, and there have always been Arab members in the Knesset [parliament]. Arab citizens of Israel have enjoyed a higher quality of life – in education, literacy, health care, longevity, and financial conditions – than Arabs in the surrounding nations. Relations between Jews and Arabs within Israel have always been relatively peaceful. Nearly all the hostilities have been between Israelis and Arabs living outside the country’s boundaries. Any assessment of Israeli treatment of Palestinians needs to take these facts into account (which Runderheim does not).
What came to be known as the “occupied territories” were a direct result of the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel defeated a co-ordinated effort from the surrounding Arab countries to destroy the Jewish nation. Most of this land has since been returned to Arab control. But plans to withdraw from the West Bank under the Oslo treaties were derailed by an increase in violence and terrorism. Israel withdrew entirely from the Gaza in 2005, but that did not stop terrorist attacks from Hamas, which continues to control the region.
The often-heard rhetorical comparisons to South African apartheid (a word which Runderheim uses several times) have no basis in reality. In the old South Africa three million whites ruled over 20 million blacks, who were denied all voting rights. Blacks were required to live in designated areas, and there was strictly enforced segregation in restaurants, public transportation, and places of recreation such as parks and beaches. In contrast, the Israeli Arab minority has full voting rights, and there is absolutely no segregation or enforced separation. Jews and Arabs mingle freely together in all public facilities.
The “wall” that Runderheim refers to is the security barrier, which for 95% of its length, is fence, not wall. It was designed not for any “apartheid” or separation, but to reduce the instances of terror attacks. In this respect the barrier has “worked”. However, it is most unfortunate that it needed to be erected. Undoubtedly it will come down as a result of resumed peace negotiations.
One-sided bashing in this complex conflict, as Runderheim does, is of no help to anyone. What is needed is a recognition of the national rights of both Jews and Palestinians, and a long-term mutually acceptable peaceful solution borne in negotiation and compromise. One such comprehensive framework already exists – the unofficial 2003 Geneva agreement. It remains only for dedicated and visionary leaders on both sides to put it into effect.
- Paul Goldstein
(published in Norwegian, in “Hallingdølen”, January 21, 2010)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Contact: Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916,
event email: HolocaustandGenocides@gmail.com
III ANNUAL REFELCTIONS ON THE HOLOCAUST AND GENOCIDES
DALLAS – (January 14, 2010) –The Foundation for Pluralism announces the 7/7 speakers Panel to reflect upon the Holocaust and Genocides event at 5:00 PM on Sunday, January 24, 2010 at the Center for Spiritual Center, 4801 Spring Valley Road, Dallas, TX. 75244.
Each individual in the seven member panel would acknowledge the inhumanity in each one of us and reflect upon the solutions for co-existence. It is a purposeful event to learn, acknowledge and reflect upon the terrible things, that we humans have inflicted upon each other.
What can you do as individual?
~ ~ ~
Sunday, January 10, 2010
From The Holocaust?"
It is Jewish to stand up for Justice, I salute her, my comments follow the article - Mike Ghouse
By Silvia Cattori
09 January, 2010
85-year old Hedy Epstein is back in the limelight. Last week in Cairo, she embarked on a hunger strike to protest the ongoing blockade of Gaza. A Jewish Holocaust survivor whose parents perished in Auschwitz in 1942, she emigrated to the US in 1948 and first visited Palestine in 2003. Revolted by the Israeli Government’s oppression of the Palestinians, she has devoted her life to drawing public attention to this reality. Back from a visit to Palestine, she was interviewed by Silvia Cattori.
Hedy Epstein speaks with a gentle and mild voice about her last travel to Palestine after a moving visit to one of several concentration camps to which her parents had been deported. And she said: "I would like to dedicate this interview to the children of Gaza, whose parents cannot protect them or send them away to safety as my parents did when they sent me to England in May 1939 on a Kindertransport” (*)
Silvia Cattori : In 2004, after the humiliating and dehumanizing abuse you had to undergo at Tel Aviv airport, where you had to get undressed and were internally searched as you explained it to me in our first conversation  you were very upset and you declared: "I will never return to Israel". But since then you have been back four more times. Last summer you were there again. How was it possible?
Hedy Epstein : I have never felt such anger after what happened to me and the friend travelling with me at the Ben Gurion airport in January 2004.
While on the plane, still full of rage, I wrote on every page in the magazines provided by the airline "I am a Holocaust survivor and I will ’never again’ return to Israel". I sometimes pressed so hard on the paper with my pen, that I tore the page. It was one small way to vent some of my anger.
After I returned home, still very angry, traumatized, I decided to get some counselling, which helped me to work through my anger and allowed me to plan my next trip back to the West Bank just a few months later, in the summer of 2004. I have been back every year since then, a total of five times since 2003. I have gone back because it is the right thing for me to do; to witness and to let the Palestinians know there are some people who care enough to come back and stand with them in their struggle against Israel’s occupation. Palestinians have asked me upon my return home, to tell the American people what I have seen and experienced, because the American people don’t know what is happening, because the media does not inform them. I made a commitment to do so and have taken every opportunity to honour this commitment.
Silvia Cattori : What was your interpretation of the fact that the Israeli officers treated you in such a brutal way?
Hedy Epstein : They tried to intimidate me, to silence me, hoping I would never come back. Though momentarily they may have succeeded, ultimately they did not. To quote General McArthur, an American army general, who said "I shall return", I have returned four times since the January 2004, event at the Tel Aviv airport, on my way back from Israeli occupied territory, and will continue to return. They will not be able to stop me. And, so, I plan to aboard ship to Gaza in a few months.
Silvia Cattori : Was it not too traumatic for a sensitive person like you to go back to the West Bank and see the Isreali soldiers humiliating, threatening, killing, and destroying Palestinians lives and properties?
Hedy Epstein : As an American I am a privileged person. I am very much aware of this and feel uncomfortable wearing this cloak, especially when I am in Palestine, conscious of the fact that I can come and go any time I want to, a privilege denied the Palestinians, who have great difficulty in moving from one place to another, restricted by road blocks, check points, the imprisoning 25 foot high wall, by young Israeli soldiers who can decide who can pass and who cannot, who can go to school, to the hospital, to work, to visit family and friends.
I have seen the long lines of Palestinians at the Bethlehem checkpoint. I spoke to a 41 year old man, who told me he works three days a week; in order to get to work on time, he gets up at 2:30 A.M. and arrives at the checkpoint at 3:15 A.M. to wait in line, a long line, with others, for the checkpoint to open around 5:30 A.M. He has to come this early because many people line up. Sometimes the Israeli soldiers allow no one to go through. He would like to work full time, but there are no jobs in Bethlehem.
During each of my five visits I have spent some time in Jerusalem. I have been painfully aware how increasingly its current size and boundaries share very little with the city’s historic parameters, Israeli only settlements, such as Har Homa and Gilo are referred to as Jerusalem neighbourhoods. East Jerusalem is dotted with Israeli flags flying from homes from which Palestinians were "removed," thus judaizing the area more and more.
During my last visit, in August 2007, I only had time for a brief visit with my dear Palestinian friend, and her husband in Ramallah. During prior visits, I and some of my American travel companions were their houseguests for several days, basking in their hospitality, typical Palestinian hospitality, which is unlike any other I have ever experienced anywhere. The wife, ever cheerful in the past, seemed downcast, though she did not complain, simply stating "Life is more difficult since my husband is no longer working". In a conversation later, alone with her husband, he stated that he left his job in order to go to school and study. There is truth in both statements, but the husband’s comments reflect an effort to salvage and maintain some of his dignity.
I also visited and stayed overnight with my Palestinians friends and their children in Bethlehem. The TV, which is always on, at one point caught our attention. There was a story about Jews from all over the world, immigrating to Israel. There were many small Israeli flags waving and welcoming the new citizens of Israel arriving at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. A big banner in the background spelled out in English and Hebrew "Welcome Home".
As the story continued, we all stared at the TV, silently. Then one of us, I don’t remember who, broke the heavy silence, asking no one in particular "What about the return of the Palestinians?"
At the regular weekly non-violent demonstration in Bi’lin, as the teargas tossed at us by young Israeli soldiers, choking us, as we all ran to get away from it, I overheard a conversation between two Palestinian boys, one saying to the other "I don’t want to die" "Nor do I" said the other. Their fear has stayed with me. What will happen to them? What is their future?
And yet, despite the almost hopelessness of the situation that might never change, Palestinian people are amazingly strong. Even though the Israeli oppression goes on, and gets worse, with new types of military oppression, the Palestinians have not given up; they are going on living there.
They are an amazing, resilient people. They will never give up. The Israeli may kill many of them, destroy their homes, destroy their lives, but they will never be able to destroy their hope for a different way of existence, for a better way of living together.
No matter what the Israelis do, they cannot take away the hope and the dignity of the Palestinian people. The Israelis have the power, the Palestinian people have dignity and despite all odds, still have hope. The Israelis have the airplanes from which they drop bombs in Gaza, they have bulldozers made here in the United States, not far from my home, they can do all those things, but despite this imbalance of power, the Israelis will never be able to destroy Palestinians’ hope and dignity.
Silvia Cattori : For the Palestinians in Hebron or Nablus, to see a Holocaust survivor travelling in such precarious conditions to express to them her love and solidarity, is it not something very unusual and touching?
Hedy Epstein : I feel it is important for the Palestinians who are not allowed to leave Palestine, who are living under the Israelis military occupation, in such horrendous conditions, to know that there are people in other parts of the world who condemn the Israeli oppression, who care enough to come there, and to share their difficulties and sufferings, even if it is for a very short time.
I am impressed again and again to discover that Palestinians know so much more about what is going on in the world. They are better informed than the American people.
Most Palestinians I have met have asked me to tell the American people what I have seen and experienced, because the American people do not know, because the media does not inform them. I have made a commitment to do that. I have given talks at high schools, universities, churches, community groups, in the United States, as well as in Germany (in German). I urge people to go to Palestine to see and experience life there. It is a life changing experience. They will come back a different person, more aware, more sensitive and hopefully challenged to make a difference.
Though I am not a religious Jew (I consider myself a secular humanist), I know a little bit about Jewish tradition, which teaches that: "We’re permitted neither to give up hope, nor to abandon the work we’ve started, even if we cannot complete the task ourselves".
And so, the situation, especially in Gaza, is so awful, I feel I must continue to be a moral voice, must continue to have the courage to take a public stand against Israel’s crimes against humanity and the misinterpretations provided by the media. Israel would not be able to carry out its crimes against humanity without the United States, the world, permitting it to do so and the mass media, which, with few exceptions, dehumanizes Palestinians and instills fear, ignorance and loathing of them and their culture.
Having met Palestinians, experienced their hospitality, warmth, dignity and even humor, it is incumbent upon me to bring their voices, their experiences to anyone who will listen to me, to bear witness about the Wall, the land confiscations, the demolished homes, the violation of water rights, the restrictions of freedom of movement. The future of peace cannot be awaited passively, but rather from commitments and struggles for justice. There is no peace without justice.
Nadav Tamir, the Israeli Consul General in Boston, wrote in the Boston Globe newspaper in November 2007 "This is no longer an issue of being pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, but rather a confrontation between those who prefer peace and those who prefer bloodshed. It is time to choose sides".
Silvia Cattori : You said that you plan to be aboard ship to Gaza in a few months? " 
Hedy Epstein : Oh yes, definitely. There is nothing which can stop me. I am determined to go and I am going to take swimming lessons, just in case. The "Free Gaza" boat could not go last summer for different reasons. I think it is important for all of the people who are invited on the boat, to take that chance to show to the world what Israel is really doing in Gaza and to express their intention to break the illegal siege.
The Media is so controlled - probably by Israel as well – that, whatever the power that be in United State or in Europe, they never convey what is really happening every day on the ground; how much suffering is caused by the extreme oppression, what is happening to the people, not only in Gaza, but to a lesser extent maybe to the people in the West Bank. The world needs to know, and if we can be that medium, to let the world finally know what is happening, then it is important for us to play that role.
Silvia Cattori : While most countries are isolating the Hamas authorities in the Gaza strip, and cutting them off from the most essential humanitarian aid, the Hamas takeover in Gaza does it not represent an obstacle for you to go there?
Hedy Epstein : No. Hamas was elected in a democratic way, there were neutral observers there and they did not find anything wrong with these elections. They have been democratically elected. As you know, Israel and the United States wanted this election but they where hoping for a different outcome. They did not like the fact that Hamas won the election. For that reason, they are attacking Hamas and do not want to recognize it and they are carrying out a sort of collective punishment against the 1.5 million people in Gaza. There is a huge humanitarian crisis. The Israeli army controls all the exit points from Gaza to Israel, to Jordan, to Egypt. In fact they control the air, the sea and the land.
Almost nothing is allowed to come in, and nothing is allowed to go out. Gaza is essentially an agricultural community. Farmers in Gaza, who grow flowers, strawberries and tomatoes for instance, spend a lot of time and energy and money to grow these products and cannot sell them! And so the flowers wilt and the strawberries and tomatoes spoil.
The Israeli government pretends that it no longer occupies Gaza. But that is not true.
Silvia Cattori : For those people who do not know, or do not want to know, what the Israeli government is really doing, your voice is of utmost importance. Indeed, a person like you, who can give testimony about the Nazi oppression and about the present Zionist oppression, able to look at the facts with a very honest spirit, is very rare!
Hedy Epstein : I do not make comparisons between Nazi oppression and Zionist oppression; though, I have been accused of doing that. Instead I speak of the lessons learned from the Holocaust. I credit my experiences as a Holocaust survivor as the leading influence behind my efforts to promote human rights and social justice. For me "remembering is not enough", which is the title of my autobiography, published in German, in Germany in 1999, under the title "Erinnern ist nicht genug" . Remembering also has to have a present and a future perspective.
What is the lesson to be learned from the Holocaust? I know what it is to be oppressed. Nobody can do everything, but I feel that it is incombent upon me to do as much as I can, to do the right thing, to, in this case, stand with the Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli oppression, under which they exist and suffer every day and night.
Why did I survive? To just sit here and say: yes, the situation is bad, somebody shsould do something about it. I firmly believe that each and every one of us, including me, has to be that someone, who tries to improve the situation.
And this is not to say that the sufferings of the Palestinians are more or less important than the sufferings of the people in some other places. But I have only so much energy and so much time each day. Rather than dispersing my energy here and there, I decided just to concentrate it on the Israeli and Palestinian issue.
Silvia Cattori : On your way to Palestine, you went first to France to visit one of the concentration camps to wich your parents were deported? Was it your first visit?
Hedy Epstein : Let my clarify. In 1940, on 22 October, all the Jews from the area of South West Germany, where I come from, were deported to the concentration camp, Camp de Gurs, located in the foothills of the Pyrenaen Mountains, in what was then Vichy France, which collaborated with the Germans. Men and women were separated by barbed wire. In late March 1941, my father was transferred to Camp les Milles, near Marseille. In July 1942, my mother was transferred to Camp de Rivesaltes, near Perpignan.
In September 1980, I visited Camp de Gurs, the Dachau concentration camp (my father was there for four weeks after Crystal Night or the Night of the Broken Glass in 1938) and Auschwitz. In 1990, I visited Camp les Milles, where my father was until his deportation to Auschwitz via Drancy (a transit camp near Paris).
Until August 2007, I was not able to visit Camp de Rivesaltes, where my mother was, for about two months in 1942, until her deportation, via Drancy, to Auschwitz. And, last summer, with friends, I went to visit Camp de Rivesaltes for the first time.
In a letter, dated August 9, 1942, my father told me: "Tomorrow I am being deported to an unknown destination. It may be a long time before you hear from me again..." In a letter, dated September 1, 1942, my mother told me exactly the same. And, then, I received another postcard from my mother, dated September 4, 1942, in which she writes: "I am travelling to the East and sending you a final goodbye..." These were the last communications from my parents.
When, in 1956, I learned that my parents were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, in Poland, I could only assume that, after they had spent almost two years in the concentration camps in France, they were physically in a very bad condition, and that they were probably sent straight to the gas chamber upon their arrival there.
Silvia Cattori : What was your feeling?
Hedy Epstein : I was amazed at the immense size of the camp, which could house 30,000 people, and its deplorable condition. Some of the barracks no longer exist; others are falling apart, roofs missing, walls falling down, and wild vegetation everywhere. Desolation everywhere. Wind turbines nearby stood like sentinels, watching over the demise of what was once home to a hapless people, to my mother.
From correspondence with my mother at the time she was there, I knew in wich two barracks she was housed. One barrack I never found; it probably does not exist anymore. The other one, barrack number 21, I found it.
The entrance to the barracks is elevated, making entry difficult. But, as though to invite me to enter barrack Nr, 21, a wooden board was leaning up to the entry. With the help of my friends I was able to maintain my balance as I tip-toed, like a ballet dancer, into the barrack. I touched the walls, maybe where my mother might have touched it, I picked up some of the debris to take home with me, tried to imagine what it must have been like for my mother. Later, I left the barrack at the opposite end, jumping out and into an overgrown area, stopped by thorny growth, holding me in place. One of my friends poignantly remarked "The building doesn’t want you to go away".
Silvia Cattori : Was the visit of Camp de Rivesaltes beneficial to you, since it made you closer to the soul of your beloved mother?
Hedy Epstein : I felt very close to my mother when I was there; I imagined how she moved around in the camp, what it was like for her. She was there from July to September 1942, a time when it is very hot. I remembered that my mother suffered from the summer heat when we were still living together in Kippenheim. It was very hot when I visited this camp. As so often in my life, I was reminded of the "unearned privileged" life I lead. Thanks to my parents’ great unselfish love, I escaped what they had to endure. By sending me to England on a Kindertransport in May 1939, my parents literally gave me life a second time.
Silvia Cattori : It was a very moving visit for you, wasn’t it? A come back to a very sad period of your life, away from your parents!
Hedy Epstein : Before I left Germany on a Kindertransport to England, my parents gave me many admonitions, to be good, to be honest, always ending with "We will see each other again soon". I believed that we would see each other again soon, whether my parents believed that, I will never know. My parents and I corresponded directly with each other until England declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Then it was no longer possible to correspond directly with each other. Instead we exchanged 25 word messages through the Red Cross.
After my parents were sent to the camps in Vichy France, we could correspond directly with each other again. However, my parents were allowed only to write one page, per person, per week. I could write as much and as often as I wanted to. My parents never wrote about the horrible conditions under which they were forced to "exist," I learned about that only after the war was over.
Thinking back on that time in England, I was a very sad little girl, not allowing myself to really get in touch with my feelings and fears. As I told you, each of my parents in their last letters to me before their final deportation (to Auschwitz), each of them wrote: "It will probably be a long time before you hear from me again".
How long is a long time? A week, a month, a year, ten years! Since I wanted so very much to be reunited with my parents again, I kept on telling myself: "A long time is not over yet, I have to wait some more". I was in denial. I was not able to accept the inevitable, my parents’ demise. That was really a psychological game I played with myself, it was a way for me to survive, a self-preservation mechanism.
It was not until September 1980, when I visited Auschwitz and stood on the place, called "Die Rampe" (The ramp), where the cattle cars arrived in the 1940s, the people were forced to get out and Dr. Mengele and his cohorts made a selection as to who will live and who will die (in the gas chambers), that I was able to accept the fact that my parents and other family members did not survive. That is a very long time to be in denial. Perhaps the denial was in lieu of the usual mourning process.
Silvia Cattori : Thanks for this moving interview.
Sailing to Gaza, by Silvia Cattori, Voltaire Network; 7 June 2007.
Silvia Cattori is a Swiss journalist. After having extensively written about diplomacy in South-East Asia and Indian Ocean, she was a witness of operation "Protective shield", launched by Tsahal against the Palestinians. Since then, she has been devoted to raising the world’s awareness on the condition endured by the Palestinian populations.
 About Hedy Epstein’s abuse by Israeli security officers: Airport security as political bullying, by Jonathan Cook
 An Interview with Greta Berlin, by Silvia Cattori, Counterpunch; 7 June 2007 and Hedy Epstein and Greta Berlin: “We Are Committed to Sailing to Gaza – Ahoy!”, by Silvia Cattori, Voltaire Network, 13 August 2007.
 Erinnern ist nicht genug ... Autobiographie, by Hedy Epstein, Gerhard Peine, junge Welt; 8./9. Januar 2000.
It is Jewish to stand up for Justice, however, I would not be surprised to see the real enemies of Israel, the Necons* who would denounce her as a self-hating Jew, and want to dupe the common folks and make their bucks by frightening them. Their ways have made the Jews more insecure not the other way around. For a change the majority of Jews need to speak up. Peace is there waiting to be had, if they speak up and let the Necons know that they have duped them for too long.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Why did she choose to call Norman Finkelstein "the radical American scholar"?. The Neocon Jews call him that, but not sure whose language she was using.
The Jerusalem Syndrome
By Neena VyasShare
''Myth-making and demographic cleansing are central to Israel’s legitimisation of its illegal occupation of the Palestinian half of this holy city. ''
The air in Jerusalem is thick with religiosity. Competing claims based on the three great Religions of the Book — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — cry out for the suspension of all disbelief. You are invited to walk several hundred centuries into the past to revisit the conflicts that in many ways are at the root of the 60-year-old crisis in the Middle East today.
No wonder tourists, visitors and even residents are awe-struck by the holiness of the place and some are taken in by the Jerusalem Syndrome — waiting for Christ to return; or the advent of the Jewish Messiah, the Redeemer, son of King David, who will usher in an era of peace; or look in wonder at the Al Aqsa Mosque from where Prophet Muhammad ascended the golden stairs to the Seventh Heaven.
“Jerusalem is a bubble,” said writer Shifra Horn over dinner. As we ate a delicious kosher meal in the city just a few days before Christmas — six Indian journalists were guests of the Israeli government — Ms. Horn talked about the Jerusalem Syndrome. “Haven’t you come across people waiting for the Second Coming of Christ? The Crusaders called it the Jerusalem fever… after a visit here people fantasise about the city for the rest of their lives.”
Here is where myth blends into history, fiction and legend are presented as a melodramatic reality play, and history cannot be separated from mythology and legend without offending someone’s religious sensitivity. But most of all, Jerusalem and the legends associated with it are an intrinsic part of the political plan to legitimise the presence of a Zionist state in the midst of predominantly Muslim Arab nations.
In the old walled city of Jerusalem — that was part of Jordan till 1967 and is now under illegal occupation of Israel — Jewish people from all over the world come to the Western Wall (popularly known as the Wailing Wall) to grieve over the two lost temples by which they define their nationhood. The old Wall, we were told, is what remains of the temple complex, marking the compound where the Biblical King Solomon’s temple stood, never mind the fact that the grand old Al Aqsa Mosque has been standing at the spot since the eighth century A.D. And as if this was not enough to make us tremble under the weight of the old conflicts, a few metres away Stations of the Cross mark the path Jesus took to Crucifixion. And the Church of the Holy Sepulchre marks the empty grave from where Jesus miraculously rose from the dead three days after his death.
Myth and legend dating back some 3,000 years are an inseparable part of Zionism. This is the Biblical “promised land” and Jerusalem is central to it. The now non-existent Jewish temples on this Temple Mount are crucial to the Israelis’ claim that this is their ancient land.
In 2002, Yasser Arafat had challenged Israelis to find a “single stone from the Temple of Solomon.” They have been digging around for 34 years without finding even one, he pointed out.
Undoing the intervening centuries since King Solomon and pushing under the carpet the atrocities inflicted on Palestinians and Arabs has been an official Israeli project from the start. In a lengthy article “An Introduction to the Israeli-Palestine Conflict,” the radical American scholar Norman Finkelstein quotes the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, to make the point that “settlement” was the weapon used by the Zionist movement “to establish a great Jewish fact” in Israel.
The “great Jewish fact,” it would seem, is being established by not only presenting religious beliefs as history, but by engineering the demography of the walled city.
A Moroccan quarter was cleaned out to make way for the compound in front of the Wailing Wall; after the 1967 “capture” of East Jerusalem by Israel, thousands of Muslim Arabs left or were forced to leave. Israeli law prevents them from returning to claim their properties. We saw refurbished modern apartments housing ultra-orthodox Jews that have come up exactly across the compound.
It seems the process is slow but never-ending. A CNN report said in 2008 that more than 4,500 residency permits of Muslim Arabs were withdrawn and more than 8,500 were “cleansed out” in the previous years. Mr. Finkelstein quotes British Labour MP Richard Crossman as saying in the 1940s: “Zionism is… the attempt by the European Jew to build his national life on the soil of Palestine…” and the Arab must “go down before the march of progress”.
The former Israeli Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan (whose incognito visit to India in the 1970s led to India eventually establishing diplomatic ties with Israel) had admitted that Israelis were “a generation of settlers, and without the combat helmet and the barrel of a gun, we will not be able to plant a tree or build a house.”
He might as well have added that without U.S. aid of some $3 billion a year and German guilt money totalling some €64 billion (including sums paid to private entities) the Israeli economic miracle of $24,000 per capita income, a war machine like no other, and lush fruits and vegetables in greenhouses in the middle of the desert may not have been possible.
“There is a longing for peace... but in 1967 war was imposed on us [by the Arabs],” continued Ms. Horn over dinner. “Yes, we took advantage of that war to take and keep a bigger Israel [including the walled city of Jerusalem],” she admitted. “We are the survivors of the Holocaust… everywhere we lived as minorities… now we are settled here; for us this country is a shelter…”
But what about the Palestinians, whose home this was? “I’m very, very sad we cannot live like in a normal country…we believe our [Muslim Arabs and Jews] DNA is similar… Palestinians were Jews converted to Christianity or Islam…”
The script was familiar to Indians. After all, have we not heard the Hindu Right fanatics declare their love for Muslims (and Christians), for after all, were they not Hindus not so long ago?
As Jewish settlers from around the world were invited to return to “the promised land” to resolve what some European scholars have described as Europe’s “Jewish problem,” the price of European anti-semitism and Hitler’s genocide began to be paid by the Arabs. Edward Said put it briefly: what the Holocaust was to the Jews, the Naqba (the day of disaster when Israel was created in 1948) is to the Palestinians.
Just 20 months ago when Israel celebrated its 60th birth anniversary, some 100 Jewish intellectuals wrote a letter to The Guardian explaining why they would not celebrate the event. Even as Israel was born, Plan Dalet was put into operation, authorising the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of its people, they said. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. In all 7,50,000 Palestinians became refugees. They will not celebrate Israel’s birth.
The question of refugees popped up during a conversation with an Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry official. “Yes,” he said, “there were refugees, but the total number was small. Instead of keeping them in camps, why couldn’t Lebanon and other Arab countries absorb this population? They want to keep the problem alive…” Of course, the question of Israel absorbing them did not arise, we supposed. Israeli law does not allow Muslim Arabs who have left their homes, for whatever reason, to return.
Through myth-making or an act of faith, the repeated attempt is to prove that Jews have been here since Biblical times and that this land belongs to them. Arab presence is simply an inconvenient fact.
It is the same theme everywhere. “Sixty years ago we were given this land to set up kibbutz Ein Gedi,” said Ron Meir as we were shown around the botanical gardens maintained by the kibbutz, situated not far from Jerusalem. “We were just 3 km from the Jordanian border. The idea was to establish a Jewish presence in this desert…”
But the young in Israel may be changing; at least that is the hope, said film producer Sylvain Biegeleisen. “Hundreds of films have been made about the conflict… I made a series of giving cameras to children on both sides…when Rabin and Arafat shook hands I made a film on what people felt… on both sides they want peace… Yes, there is a censor, but few films have been banned...”
There are strong, dissenting voices within Israel — even among the young who are forced to do military duty. But reports suggest that there is a renewed attempt by the Israeli government to muzzle all voices that question its militarist policies.
Something needs to be done. “Israelis need to integrate with the Middle East. We cannot forever remain like some strange European bodies in the middle of the desert,” said foodie Janna Gur, noting the Lebanese, the Moroccan and the Palestinian influences on what goes as Israeli cuisine.
When will peace come to the Middle East, pocked by conflict for 60 years? Why does Israel have to respond with such ferocity to every hostile act by Hamas even when that has not caused much damage or injury? David Goldfarb in the South Asia Department of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, who attempted an answer, was, perhaps, looking for a Second Coming of a different kind: “For that to happen we would need two Gandhis, one on our side and another on the other side.”
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Alarmingly Close in Gaza
When Does It Become Genocide?
By NADIA HIJAB
January 05, 2009 "Counterpunch" -- During a visit to Ramallah a year ago while the Israeli bombardment of Gaza was underway, I shared my fears with a close Palestinian friend. "It may sound insane, but I think the Israelis' real objective is to see them all dead."
My friend told me not to be silly, the assault was horrific, but it was not mass killing. I said that wasn't the issue: This was a population already very vulnerable to disease, ill-health, and malnutrition after years of siege, with its infrastructure rotted, its water and food contaminated. Israel's war would surely push the people over the brink, especially if the siege was maintained -- as it has been.
In other words, Israel would not directly kill tens of thousands of Palestinians, but it would create the conditions for tens of thousands to die. Any epidemic could finish the job. My friend fell silent at these words, but still shook his head in disbelief.
Two things have changed since last year: More people have started to apply the term "genocide" to what Israel is doing to Gaza. And not only is Israel being directly accused but also, increasingly, Egypt.
Is it genocide? "The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" -- a clear, concise document adopted by the United Nations in December 1948 -- states that genocide is any of five acts committed "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
Three acts appear to apply to the situation in Gaza: "(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."
Legal scholars disagree about how to interpret the Convention's articles and it has proven difficult, over the years, to define crimes as genocide, let alone to prevent or end them. In line with the Bosnia precedent -- the only authoritative legal treatment of genocide to date -- it would be necessary to establish deliberate intent for an accusation of genocide against Israel to stand up in court.
Israel's leadership has not, of course, issued a declaration of intent. However, many leading Israeli officials can be said to have done so. For example:
• Putting the Palestinians of Gaza "on a diet" -- Dov Weisglass, chief aide to Ariel Sharon, in 2006.
• Exposing them to "a bigger shoah (holocaust)" -- Matan Vilnai, former deputy defense minister, in 2008.
• Issuing religious edits exhorting soldiers to show no mercy -- the Israeli army rabbinate during the actual conflict.
Such declarations echo at least three of the "8 stages of genocide" identified by Genocide Watch president Gregory Stanton in the 1990s after the Rwanda genocide: Classification, dehumanization, and polarization.
Then there is the deliberate destruction or barring of means of sustenance as Israel has done on land and at sea. Already, the Goldstone Report has said that depriving the Gaza Palestinians of their means of sustenance, employment, housing and water, freedom of movement, and access to a court of law, could amount to persecution.
Since the December-January assault, there have been many authoritative reports by human rights and environmental organizations on the impact of the war and the ongoing siege on the people, soil, air, and water, including the increase in cancers, deformed births, and preventable deaths. The death toll in Gaza from swine flu reached nine in mid-December and 13 a week later -- an epidemic in waiting.
The eighth stage of genocide Stanton identifies is denial by perpetrators "that they committed any crimes." Ironically, Stanton headed the International Association of Genocide Scholars during the conflict, which shut down discussion of Israel's actions despite protests by, among others, genocide scholar and author Adam Jones. Jones and 15 other scholars had posted a declaration stating that Israeli policies were "too alarmingly close" to genocide to ignore and calling for an end to the silence.
Alarmingly close is right. Here is how Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish legal scholar who pushed for the genocide convention, defined it in 1943:
"genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation.... It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups."
It is hard to conceive of a better description of what is going on in Gaza.
All UN member states have the duty to prevent and stop acts of genocide. What is needed is a country brave enough to take the lead, before it is too late.
Nadia Hijab is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.
by Aaron Klein
In her first major interview since becoming President Obama's newly appointed anti-Semitism czar (it took Obama a while to find an ideologically compatible self-hating Jew to fill the position), Hannah Rosenthal blasted the Israeli government. She characterized as "most unfortunate" a decision by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, to not attend the annual dinner in September of J Street, a (self-appointed) lobby group that is mostly led by left-leaning (anti-Israel and anti-Jewish) Israelis and receives funds from Arab and Muslim Americans... J Street supports talks with Hamas, a terrorist group whose charter seeks the destruction of Israel . The group opposes sanctions against Iran and is harshly critical of Israeli offensive anti-terror military actions. (Rosenthal serves on the board of J Street)
Regarding a recent UN report, accusing Israel of war crimes during the Jewish state's defensive war in Gaza last year, Rosenthal told Haaretz, "it is not anti-Semitic to look at a certain policy of Israel and say - I disagree with it. Half of the population in Israel isn't anti-Semitic by not agreeing with policies." (If this is so, will she call for the investigation of war crimes allegedly committed by the US army in Afghanistan and Iraq?)
Increase in US Contempt and Disrespect. Israel's ire reached a new level after an incident on November 13 in which a five-car convoy of consulate vehicles with diplomatic plates arrived at the Gilboa crossing (the West Bank). The drivers refused to identify themselves or open a window or door. The drivers tried running over one of the Israeli security guards and made indecent gestures at female guards. Israel is also furious that one of the consulate cars was found to have transported a Palestinian without permits between Jerusalem and the West Bank . (There is a saying: "Fish starts to rot from the head". By electing a president with an anti-Israel and anti-democratic agenda, who is still hiding his Islamic heritage, Americans have allowed 'scummy' behaviour - first at home and now in Israel!)
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
When civilians actively have been supporting Islamic terrorism against the state of Israel and actively participated in or covered the hostile actions of enemies during the war, as they have been doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Therefore they became enemy combatants. Killing them is not a war crime! The UN's high-priced international lawyers know this, but anti-Semitic international politicians are still waging an anti-Israel smear campaign!
Gaza Aid Convoy Heads Back to Syria. An aid convoy headed to Gaza says it has to detour through the Mediterranean port of El Arish after Egyptian authorities denied it permission to cross at Rafah. At the same time The UN 'independent expert' on Palestinian rights, Richard Falk, has again called for a threat of economic sanctions against Israel to force it to lift its blockade of Gaza. (Sanctions against Egypt were not mentioned! Richard Falk, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian controlled territories. The UN is subjecting only Israel to such discriminatory and humiliating scrutiny - not even Iran, North Korea or Saudi Arabia! )
Arabs and Druze are Most Murderous Israelis. While Arab and Druze Israelis constitute 20% of the country's population, they accounted for 59% of the country's murders. Out of 121 murders in Israel in 2009, 71 were committed by or among Arabs and Druze. The vast majority of criminal bombings occurred in the minority sector, particularly the Arab sector, where 85 events of planting bombs and 65 of throwing grenades at targets were recorded
Keep Traitors Out of Likud. Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara joined with MK Tsipi Hotoveli in opposing efforts to encourage Kadima Mks to join the Likud, or to encourage Kadima to join the government. "Those who tried to destroy the Likud have no place in it," Kara said. "The traitors who jumped ship have no place among us. We will not take back those who tried to wreck our party"
It is Only Egypt. A humanitarian convoy, around 210 trucks and 500 people, loaded with food and medical supplies and intended for the Gaza strip is stuck in Jordan, trying to access the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Terminal, but Egypt is not allowing to convoy to move on to Rafah. (No international outcry or condemnations - Not big news!)
Israel Must Follow US s Lead and End Hamas/Fatah Charade! The air strike in Eastern Yemen Thursday, Dec. 24, which left more than 30 dead, was in fact a US drone attack which wiped out a large part of al Qaeda's leadership in Yemen and Saudi Arabia . Among them were two high-ranking Yemen al Qaeda operatives Saud al Qahtani, Mohammed Amir, al Qaeda's commander in Saudi Arabia, Saad Shahani, and Anwar al Awkali, the American imam who preached to US. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who murdered 13 US military personnel at Ford Hood, Texas last month.
Quote of the Week: "We are not seeking revenge against the Arabs. The difference between us and them is that we are human beings. We won't shoot them in the head for no reason. We are Jews, holy people, human beings." - Eliyahu, 16, one of Meir Avshalom Hai's seven children - It is the duty of the Israeli government to support Zionism, the Jewish independence movement, and to clear Jewish land from hostile Arab occupation .
Iran Became Arabs' Worst Enemy. Iran's nuclear threat to regional security has replaced Israel as the Arab world's public enemy number one, according to an Arab survey commissioned by the Doha Debates group. Nearly a third think that Tehran is just as likely to target them as Israel . (Israel and the US are in the perfect position to remove the nuclear threat to Arab countries from Iran - the time is now!)
Fatah Controlled PA Funds Hamas Terrorists. The PA pays monthly salaries to terrorists released from Israeli prisons. Abu Mazen's administration covertly funds Hamas terrorists, publicly claiming that it is committed to peace with Israel. Most of the PA's budget comes from billions of dollars donated to it by the US, EU and other governments. (who are pretending that they know nothing about the misuse of the funds they provide.)
Harassment of Jewish Patriots by Self-Hating System. Police have withdrawn charges against four Maon Farm residents. The charges refer to an event that took place four years ago when an Arab, who was not persecuted by police, tried to plough Jewish owned land in the South Hebron hills region and was blocked by four Jewish residents.
In Spite of Having Oil. A report published by the United Nations Development Program and the Arab League shows that 40% of people in Arab countries live under the poverty line, a figure that has not changed over the past 20 years. In addition, unemployment among young people in the Arab world ranks among the highest in the world.
Message to anti-Israel Objectors.
by Steven Shamrak
You would like to call and see yourself as genuine and objective supporters of a just cause but you never worry about the factual correctness of the anti-Israel information you are using. Quite often you knowingly using forged information and even deliberately make fake accusations or twist the facts in order to make an anti-Israel smear. When we show you factual proof that so-called Palestinians are a fake nation and are actually the occupiers of Jews' land, you dismiss it as Zionist propaganda. Years of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Jews in Israel are unable to shake off your support for terrorists and the murderous population, Palestinians, which sustain them!
If you are not anti-Semites, why don't you care so much about the occupation of: Tibet by China; Basque region by Spain and France; Northern Ireland by the United Kingdom; Kurdistan by five countries; Kashmir by India and Pakistan; Western Sahara by Morocco? Where is your concern about the fate of refugees created by the war in Congo, the genocidal policy of the Sudanese government and so on?
You did not care that Indonesian Christians of Sulawesi have suffered 10,000 murders, 80,000 homes destroyed and 1,000 churches burnt down from 1998-2002.
You did not scream out when more than 1,100 people (including 777 children) were burned alive and slaughtered in Beslan, Russia, in 2004. Neither the UN nor the Vatican or others of the usual international anti-Semitic suspects were outraged by the many atrocities committed against Christians and even fellow Muslims in the name of Allah in Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and many other Muslim countries. They are mute about discrimination and genocide committed against other ethnic and religious minorities in Muslim countries. Only lip service is paid to the abuse of women. Nothing is done about the education of children, which perpetuates the genocidal tradition of hate, when suicide bombers become role models. You do not care about any of it!
Do you care that every year there are about 50 million refugees all over the world who are deprived of help because for over 60 years billions of dollars have been given to professional 'Palestinian refugees' every year? Do you actually care about "poor Palestinians"? I don't think so! What is most important for you is hate toward Jews and your need to feed and satisfy it. You are hiding it behind 'politically correct' anti-Israel campaigning. Don't kid yourself - it does not absolve you from the 'honourable' title of anti-Semite! At least your predecessors were honest about this pathologically inherited hate that they sucked with the milk of their mothers and did not bother to hide this animalistic trait of human ugliness!