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This week in Israel: Goldstone concedes a mistake, social workers end their strike, doctors start one, a Palestinian engineer is accused of terror, the state warns against Egyptian vacations, and more

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A tourist in Egypt, March 3; a photo of the Palestinian engineer accused of terror; the funeral procession for Juliano Mer-Khamis. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images; Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images; Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Goldstone, the South African judge who headed the U.N. Human Rights Council investigation into the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, admitted to having made some mistakes in his eponymous report. His turnaround prompted what one writer for Haaretz called Israelis’ “peculiar glee” and “choral fugues of we-told-you-so.” Indeed, the judge’s admission in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians during the 2008-2009 Gaza war elicited front-page headlines, political cartoons, and a wide variety of opinion pieces. Maariv echoed the stereotypical guilt-inducing Jewish mother in a headline that read “Now He’s Sorry.” “Richard Goldstone isn’t worthy of forgiveness, or even of compassion,” wrote one analyst. “No statement or action can undo the immense damage that Goldstone’s blood libel inflicted upon the Jewish people,” wrote another. Yedioth Ahronoth’s Alex Fishman wrote “Goldstone is an exceptionally courageous man.” But to some, Goldstone was kind of right the first time: “The killing of civilians is a crime—even if it wasn’t part of a policy, it was part of the occupation. And I don’t need Judge Goldstone to tell me that.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the Goldstone report to be thrown into “the dustbin of history.” Goldstone countered that would be going too far.

The day after the shooting of Israeli actor and director Juliano Mer-Khamis, his Freedom Theatre in Jenin, West Bank, was plastered with his image and the words: “Juliano Mer-Khamis, Shaheed [Martyr] for Freedom and Culture.” Mer-Khamis also posthumously helped Israeli headline writers come up with tasteless puns. The first part of his last name consists of the same two letters as the Hebrew word for “bitter” (mar), giving rise to the Yedioth headline “His Bitter End” (Sofo Hamar) and the Maariv headline “Bitter Assassination” (Hisul Mar/Mer).

An anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hit an Israeli school bus near the border Thursday, wounding a 16-year-old boy and the driver, who were the only ones left on the bus at the time of the attack. Israel began shelling Gaza shortly afterward, Palestinian militants fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells on the Negev, and the Iron Dome missile defense system made history by intercepting a rocket in the Ashkelon area for the first time. Speaking from New York, where he met with President Barack Obama this week, Israeli President Shimon Peres said the bus attack was “another example of how Gaza has turned into a terror state.”

Israel’s social workers have gone back to their jobs after a 23-day work stoppage that ended last week. Public-sector doctors held a two-day warning strike this week, but the possibility of another extended labor stoppage, like the four-and-a-half month doctors’ strike of 2000, remains a threat. Yedioth ran a clippable “Guide to the Strike”—complete with dotted lines and scissor icon—noting which services were off-limits (elective surgery, outpatient clinics) and which would still be accessible (emergency care, maternity wards, dialysis, and cancer treatments). “I’m worried that if they don’t take care of me, I could lose my vision in my left eye,” 70-year-old Moshe Filer of Kibbutz Sasa in the Galilee told the paper as he awaited word on planned surgery. It could all turn out for the best: Burial society and funeral home directors said that during the 2000 strike, mortality rates fell when doctors stayed home.

Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, director of the Gaza Strip’s sole power station, said he was abducted during a visit to Ukraine in February and brought to Israel. He was indicted this week on charges of terrorist activity after spending nearly 40 days in Israeli custody. Abu Sisi is accused of helping Hamas improve the range of its rockets and the armor-penetration capability of its anti-tank missiles; no word from Israel on the circumstances of his Feburary 19 disappearance. The Shin Bet security service is referring to Abu Sisi as Hamas’ “father of the rockets,” but Haaretz military correspondent (and Tablet Magazine contributor) Amos Harel warned that this nickname “should be regarded with some skepticism,” as Israel and Hamas wage information warfare. Abu Sisi’s wife, Veronica, who has charged on Israeli TV that Ukrainian officials were involved in his abduction, is threatening to sue Israel and Ukraine over what she said was an illegal arrest.

Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, the British fashion gurus known for bluntly telling people how bad they look, came to Jerusalem and appeared on Channel 10. One woman’s outfit was “like a smorgasbord of terribleness.” But their biggest gripe about Israel is that only religious women wear dresses.

Over the weekend the Israel Air Force killed three Hamas militants Israel said were planning to kidnap Israeli tourists in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Israel has issued a travel warning for Sinai, with defense officials saying the security situation there has deteriorated since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February. Although worldwide tourism to Egypt has dropped by up to 90 percent since then, the country is generally a popular Passover vacation spot for Israelis, many of whom are apparently intent on taking advantage of their week off from work to reverse the biblical exodus.

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Gene says:

Why Tablet is posting a trash? (But to some, Goldstone was kind of right the first time: “The killing of civilians is a crime—even if it wasn’t part of a policy, it was part of the occupation.) Not enough BBC and NYT? First. Gaza wasn’t under occupation prior to “cast lead”. Second. The only people who don’t kill civilians during wars are the ones who send others to fight for them. They are worse than criminals. Like the author of this garbage.

Mike says:

Occupation? Whose Occupation?
by Moshe Sharon

The word “occupation” has been used for many years now to describe the rule of Israel in Judea and Samaria (known as the “West Bank”) and the Gaza district which Israel took from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and from Egypt respectively in the course of the Six Day War in 1967. In the distorted language of the media and of politicians, both in Israel and in most parts of the world, these two territories are described as “the occupied Palestinian territories” as if Israel occupied a country called “Palestine” in 1967 and took Palestinian lands. Sadly, very few of the media consumers in the West and the East are aware of the lie behind the usage of these terms.

First, let us review the simple facts about this “occupation.” Israel took the “West Bank” from Jordan and not from a non-existent “Palestinian” entity; and occupied Gaza that was held by Egypt. Both countries had occupied these territories during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and had ruled them illegally. The Jordanians even annexed territory to the west of the Jordan and called it “The West Bank.” Egypt established its administration in Gaza. Both these areas were, therefore, in Arab hands for 19 years, but nobody, during these years of Jordanian and Egyptian occupation, even thought about the establishment of a Palestinian State in them, although such a state could have been established easily and recognized, even by Israel.

Moreover, the Jordanian occupation of the “West Bank” and the Egyptian rule over Gaza were never recognized internationally for the simple reason that these two countries occupied territories that, according to international agreements, international decisions and international law, belonged to the Jewish National Home. In fact, the only title to these territories belonged and still belongs to the State Of Israel.

The legal position of the whole of Palestine was clearly defined in several international agreements.

The most important is

Mike says:

(continued) the one adopted at the San Remo Conference (following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War), which decided, on April 24, 1920 to assign the Mandate for Palestine under the League of Nations to Britain. An agreed text was confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922 and came into operation in September 1923.

In the preamble to this document it is stated that “…the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The declaration of November 2, 1917 is the famous Balfour Declaration and in this document, it was given international ratification.

Moreover, in Article 2 of the document, the League of Nations declares that “The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble.”

In the preamble it was clearly stated that “recognition has hereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

It was on this basis that the British Mandate was established. Britain betrayed its duty and far from keeping to its undertakings did everything to jeopardize the establishment of the Jewish National Home and finally decided, in 1947, to end its mandate unilaterally, leaving Palestine on May 15, 1948.

Meanwhile the UN (which had inherited the League of Nations) decided on the partition of Western Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab, but this decision of November 29, 1947 was not only rejected out of hand by the Arabs, but seven Arab armies invaded Palestine to put an end to the

Mike says:

young State of Israel which had been established on May 14, 1948.

The 1948 war ended with an armistice. A line was drawn on the map which delineated the position of the fighting armies on the two fronts in the east and the south at the time of the ceasefire. This is the “Green Line.” It is not a border and neither Israel nor the Arabs regarded it as more than what it was: a line defining the positions of the respective armies at the end of one phase of the hostilities; it could be moved to either side if war was to be resumed, as actually happened in 1967. As an outcome of the 1948 war, parts of the Jewish National Home in Palestine were left occupied by Jordan and Egypt, since the only title to these territories belonged to the Jewish people, in other words to Israel, not to the Arabs and definitely not to the “Palestinians” who were not even mentioned at the time.

The 1967 war created a new situation in the field: the armistice line from 1948-49, which had been drawn in green on the maps, was moved as an outcome of this war further east to the River Jordan, and in 1994 was ratified as an international border by the peace agreement with Jordan. In the south, the Green Line was moved as a result of Israel’s victory over the Egyptians and in 1979 was recognized as an international border in the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. There is no Green Line any more! It was abrogated by a new war and ultimately was turned into a “mauve line” by the peace agreements. Those who sanctify the Green Line worship an illusionary image. They have created a Palestinian People and a Palestinian State behind this sacred line but they are not interested in the welfare of the Palestinians as much as in creating the conditions for the elimination of the Jewish National Home.

Forty-five years after the League of Nations Declaration in San Remo, Israel retrieved its rightful possession of the territories assigned to the Jewish People as a National Home. How her possession of her

Mike says:

own homeland can be called the “Occupation of Palestinian territories” is beyond explanation. What is tragic is that the Jews themselves have adopted this usage and made it a cornerstone of their own national policy.

All these facts are well known, but tend to be conveniently forgotten. It is therefore necessary to repeat them at least as frequently as the lies about the false “occupation” are endlessly repeated.

The same can be said about the demand to return to Syria the “occupied” Golan Heights as the “price for peace.” In this case too the facts are well known but must be ceaselessly repeated. Syria lost the Golan Heights as an outcome of two wars which it initiated and waged against Israel in 1967 and 1973, and after many years in which it used the Golan as a big military base for perpetrating endless acts of aggression against innocent Israeli villages in the Jordan Valley. Having lost this territory through aggression, Syria cannot have it back, just as Germany cannot have back the territory that it had lost in the War.

One last word about occupation. If there is any occupation which is historically relevant to the Middle East and North Africa it is the Islamic one. By the power of the sword, the armies of Islam broke out of Arabia in the seventh century, occupied vast territories, subjugated peoples, destroyed cultures and languages in the name of Allah and in the service of His Prophet, and they are now poised to occupy Europe.

Moshe Sharon is professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

pheldermaus says:

The abduction of Abu-sisi by Israel is a moral abomination. Hamas abducting Shalit (an active IDF soldier) is wrong, of course, but abducting a Palestinian civilian in Europe (trying to immigrate out of Gaza, no less!) without a warrant, clear accusation or details is OK. Nice.

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This week in Israel: Goldstone concedes a mistake, social workers end their strike, doctors start one, a Palestinian engineer is accused of terror, the state warns against Egyptian vacations, and more

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