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Archives: November 2005

Wed Nov 30, 2005

Egal Ahouvi, Delek Real Estate purchase 15 Hilton hotels in U.K.

Delek Real Estate and Israeli businessman Egal Ahouvi have signed a major deal under which they will purchase 15 Hilton hotels in the United Kingdom for close to 400 million pounds (about NIS 3.3 billion). More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Nov 30, 05 | 9:49 pm

Sat Nov 26, 2005

Secret British document accuses Israel: FO paper says international laws are being violated and peace jeopardised

A confidential Foreign Office document accuses Israel of rushing to annex the Arab area of Jerusalem, using illegal Jewish settlement construction and the vast West Bank barrier, in a move to prevent it becoming a Palestinian capital.

In an unusually frank insight into British assessments of Israeli intentions, the document says that Ariel Sharon's government is jeopardising the prospect of a peace agreement by trying to put the future of Arab East Jerusalem beyond negotiation and risks driving Palestinians living in the city into radical groups. The document, obtained by the Guardian, was presented to an EU council of ministers meeting chaired by the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, on Monday with recommendations to counter the Israeli policy, including recognition of Palestinian political activities in East Jerusalem.

But the council put the issue on hold until next month under pressure from Italy, according to sources, which Israel considers its most reliable EU ally. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 26, 05 | 3:04 pm

The New Israel Lobby in Action

This is not about Jews. It is not about race, ethnicity or religion. It is about power. The new Israel lobby in Canada — the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) — has enormous power, derived from abundant resources, corporate connections, political associations, elaborate and able organization and a cadre of dedicated activists. Since its inception several years ago, this hard-line lobby has used its power, first, to gain political hegemony and impose ideological conformity on the matter of Israel within a heretofore diverse Jewish community, and second, to influence government decisions and shape public opinion regarding Israel — ostensibly in the name of all Canadian Jewry. From the outset, a primary focus of this lobby’s attentions has been the university campus, alleged centre of anti-Israel sentiment, conveniently construed as anti-semitism. Over the last two years, the lobby has by various means attempted to pacify these campuses and bring them into line, particularly Concordia and York. While the lobby has made some significant gains, at York their effort has been stalled. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 26, 05 | 2:56 pm

Thu Nov 24, 2005

Keeping dialogue open

After attending a series of meetings about the Israeli academic boycott, Gargi Bhattacharyya still maintains that the issue is not about the ban - it's about the occupation.

After last spring's controversy about the academic boycott and a short summer lull, it has been a busy month of meetings about Palestine and education.

This week, David Hirsch and Ilan Pappe went head to head in Birmingham to debate the academic boycott of Israeli universities. For anyone who has managed to avoid the extensive media coverage of this issue, Hirsch is a founder member of Engage, the campaign group against an academic boycott of Israel. Pappe is an academic employed at the University of Haifa and one of the most well known Israeli advocates of a boycott. I should say from the start that this was not the most fun meeting I ever attended - and, sadly, I am someone who thinks meetings can be fun.

The academic boycott has been controversial to say the least - and the debate has been deeply felt, acrimonious and, occasionally, bordering on the threatening. In Birmingham, a significant proportion of the audience appeared to have come to voice their opposition to Pappe himself, as opposed to the boycott or any other issue. Another smaller group, including myself, came with serious suspicions about the project of Engage. Although both speakers presented thoughtful if controversial accounts of their positions, I am not so sure that the audience felt that we were engaged in a debate. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 24, 05 | 10:04 am

UK Media Gagged Over Contents of Bombing Memo: Targeting Al Jazeera

On Tuesday, Britain's Daily Mirror published an explosive story riddled with implications concerning the character and intent of the US president when pursuing his so-called 'war on terror', and perhaps, shedding light on the bombing of Al Jazeera's offices in both Kabul and Baghdad.

Twenty-four later, the Mirror and all other British papers had been subjected to a "gag order" under Section 5 the Official Secrets Act at pain of prosecution.

"The Daily Mirror was yesterday told not to publish further details from a memo marked 'Top Secret', which revealed that President Bush wanted to bomb an Arab TV station," wrote Kevin Maguire in Tuesday's edition of the paper. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 24, 05 | 9:50 am

Mon Nov 21, 2005

Divestment

For most media in Israel, American Protestants are simply the people who book Bible tours of the region. In June 2004 this indifference changed. That's when the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted a resolution recommending that "a longstanding Presbyterian position against the occupation of Palestinian lands by the State of Israel" should lead to the initiation of "a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance with General Assembly policy on social investing." More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Nov 21, 05 | 11:23 pm

West Bank Landscaping (Mary Ellen Davis)

(In the heart of the West Bank, checkpoints separate Palestinian youth and instructors from their classrooms; by September the sealed wall will further disrupt access to education.)

The view is impressive from the balcony of the Muhsen family's apartment in Abu Dis. Hisham, a fine arts teacher at Al Quds University, gazes over the rolling hills of Jerusalem, the campus, the valley, and the 8-metre concrete wall that meanders into the distance, cutting through land, neighbourhoods, carving East Jerusalem into pieces. With a grin and a hint of sarcasm, he comments : "Great landscaping right?" More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 21, 05 | 8:16 pm

Thu Nov 17, 2005

Arafat the obstacle has been exposed as a myth

One year after Yasser Arafat's death, and he has passed into silent myth and legend. As with all great historical figures, the myth is both powerful and pervasive. Yet in Arafat's case, it possesses a peculiar driving force that frames the manner in which we see the present. Indeed, everything about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel is shaped by this myth. In the west it is entirely a negative myth, cultivated by the press and parroted by political elites, diplomats and intellectuals. It is obvious why Israel would portray its enemy in such a bad light, but why did this negative myth take hold outside Israel with such strength and persuasion? More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Nov 17, 05 | 12:18 am

Sat Nov 12, 2005

Chomsky On Israel, Peace, Disengagement from Gaza

Noam Chomsky, recently voted the most important public intellectual in the world today (based on a poll conducted jointly by the British monthly Prospect and the Washington-based Foreign Policy) was interviewed at length by Shira Hadad for Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper. In it he remarks on the current state of affairs in Israel, on the disengagement from Gaza and prospects for peace. For the full interview, follow this link More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Nov 12, 05 | 1:00 am

Wed Nov 09, 2005

2005 Arab Attitudes toward US: Good News and Bad News

Arab attitudes toward the United States have somewhat improved in the past year. Having plummeted to a dangerous low point in mid-2004, favorable ratings of the US are now back to their still low, but better, 2002 level. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Nov 09, 05 | 3:01 am

Sat Nov 05, 2005

Militia boasts of role in Sabra massacre

It was one of the most shocking massacres to scar the Middle East, the slaying of more than 2,000 Palestinians by Christian militiamen in the wretched Lebanese refugee camps.

Now a film has returned to the story of Sabra and Shatila. But for the first time it has told the story of the slaughter through the voices of the killers. In Massaker, six former Christian Phalange militiamen tell of their training by Israeli allies and recount the events of 16-18 September, 1982, when hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children were killed in the Beirut camps. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 05, 05 | 9:10 am