Mizrahi Jews as political cannon fodder —again
Seemingly in response to Mahmoud Abbas's initiative to revive a statehood bid for Palestine at the UN, Israel has launched an initiative to demand restitution for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. This is explicitly portrayed as a means to head off moves towards a reckoning with the question of Palestinian refugees. The campaign was kicked off on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Sept. 21, with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon serving a pointman. Ayalon presided at the opening gig along with Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor. Also on hand were World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations vice chair Malcolm Hoenlein, and the indefatigable Alan Dershowitz. Ayalon wasted no time in cutting to the chase: "We won't achieve peace without solving the problem of refugees, including Jewish refugees. Justice isn't a term for just one side. The same criteria must apply to both sides." (Globes, Sept. 23)
Israel shoots down Hezbollah drone?
Israeli warplanes swooped low over Lebanese villages Oct. 7 in a menacing show of force apparently aimed at Hezbollah the day after a mysterious incursion by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Israeli Air Force shot down the drone shortly after it crossed into southern Israel from the Mediterranean, passing "over settlements and military bases in the Negev," the IAF said. The craft's launch point is unknown. Israeli officials believe the UAV may have been on a mission to perform surveillance of the Dimona nuclear complex. Israeli politicians have been quick to draw their own conclusions. "It is an Iranian drone that was launched by Hezbollah," Knesset member Miri Regev, a former chief spokeswoman for the Israeli military, wrote on her Twitter feed. "Hezbollah and Iran continue to try to collect information in every possible way in order to harm Israel." (Slate, AP, Oct. 7; JP, Oct. 6)
Jihad against the phantom menace hits Sinai
The jihad against a non-existent "film" produced by non-existent "Jews" continues to claim lives, with the most recent attack Sept. 23 launched by militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Israeli troops guarding the border, killing one and wounding another. AFP informs us that an outfit calling itself Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) took credit for the attack, calling it a "Disciplinary Invasion Against those who Dared Against the Beloved Prophet." The statement posted on Islamist websites read: "As the defence of the honour of the Messenger of Allah is one of our duties and responsibilities, your brothers...carried their weapons and became determined to discipline the Jews for their heinous acts." Hey, read the small print, willya Ansar Bait al-Maqdis? "The Jews" had nothing to do with this one—the non-existent "film" (really just a "trailer" on YouTube) was produced by a Coptic Christian who cynically assumed the fabricated identity of an Israeli-American, and falsely claimed to have Jewish financial backers. Talk about "Anti-Semitism without Jews."
Unprecedented maneuvers in Strait of Hormuz
We have long been skeptical about incessant predictions from the Chicken Little crowd of an imminent US or Israeli attack on Iran. We've heard these predictions for years, and it still hasn't happened—yet none of those making the predictions ever seem to eat crow. And there has been plenty of evidence that the whole thing is a game of brinkmanship aimed at keeping Iran intimidated. But in recent weeks we have started to fear that the new circumstances in the Middle East may indeed be compelling the West towards war with Iran. Now, with two US warships headed for Libya, 25 nations led by the US are converging on the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz for naval maneuvers on an unprecedented scale. The idea seems to be to prevent Iran from closing off the strait in the event of war. Prominent partners in the 12-day exercise are the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (The Telegraph, Sept. 15)
Arab Spring hits the West Bank
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Sept. 6 announced he would resign if that is the will of the people, amid growing protests across the West Bank over the rising cost of living. Palestinians have taken to the streets for three days in mass demonstrations against price rises and unemployment, and protesters in cities across the West Bank have called for Fayyad's resignation. In Hebron, protesters burned an effigy of the premier.
Israeli high court orders release of Gaza 'red lines' document
Israel's Supreme Court on Sept. 5 ordered the state to release the "red lines document" in which it purportedly established the minimum caloric intake required for the survival of residents of the Gaza Strip, as part of a policy in place until June 2010 that restricted the entrance of goods into Gaza. The document, dated January 2008, reportedly details the minimum number of grams and calories that Gaza residents would be permitted to consume, according to demographic data such as gender and age. The release date of the document has not yet been determined.
Jerusalem political football in US horserace
Well, well. Look who's getting "thrown under the bus," to use the current catchphrase. Advocates for a just peace with the Palestinians, and secularists. What a surprise. From the New York Times' The Caucus blog, Sept. 5:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Obama, seeking to quell a storm of criticism from Republicans and pro-Israel groups over his support for Israel, directed the Democratic Party to amend its platform to restore language declaring Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Rachel Corrie family: 'black day for human rights'
There was no middle ground in reactions to the Haifa District Court ruling Aug. 28 rejecting a lawsuit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie, a US Palestine solidarity activist crushed to death by an army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Israeli officials are welcoming the ruling as a long-due exoneration, while the Corrie family and their attorney denounced it as a "black day for human rights." Attorney Hussein Abu-Hussein said that the ruling showed that there was injustice across the Israeli legal system. At a press conference, he displayed photographs which had been presented in court, and which he said proved that the bulldozer operator must have seen Corrie. He also said the photos disproved the court's finding that the bulldozers were active, but not demolishing homes at the time of the incident. Hussein also argued that there was no basis for applying the "combatant activities" exception in the case, because there was no battle going on at the time of Rachel's death.
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