Archives: July 2006

Thu Jul 27, 2006


The Australian millionairess Lee Lieberman is worried about how Israel is studied in foreign universities - "through the narrow perspective of the Palestinian conflict."

To change the situation and allow Israel to be viewed differently, she recently decided to establish a new chair in Israel studies at Monash University in Australia.

Lieberman also established two other chairs in Jewish-related areas at Monash, one of Australia's prominent universities: one in contemporary Jewish life and the other on Jewish civilization with a focus on history.

Lieberman, whose family owns a major interest in Paz and the First International Bank, raised $10 million to endow them. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 27, 06 | 5:57 pm

Operations 'Summer Rains’ and 'Adequate Pay’ — yet other acts in the Mizrahi-Palestinian tragedy

On Jan. 25, 2006, Hamas won a landslide victory in the democratic Palestinian legislative elections. The elections were conducted under tight US supervision. Immediately thereafter, Israel’s general attorney, Menny Mazouz, started exploring the legal procedures to jail the movement’s leadership. Soon after that, the Israeli army started executing the Gazan leadership of the movement by air strikes. Several dozens innocent Palestinian civilians were casualties of the process.

On June 24, the Israeli army land forces entered the Gaza Strip and kidnapped two Hamas men. As a response, on June 25, Hamas captured Gilad Shalit, an Israeli army soldier. Immediately afterwards, the Israeli army embarked on “Operation Summer Rains” to inflict large-scale destruction and to press for Shalit’s release. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 27, 06 | 5:28 pm

Sat Jul 22, 2006

Al-Jazeera, as American as Apple Pie

In a country's hinterlands, a distant region seldom visited by outsiders, a television crew investigates why so many residents are fleeing the area. When local officials catch wind of the crew's presence, they begin interrogating people the journalists interviewed, and pressure others not to talk.
Russia? Uzbekistan? China? No. This incident took place in North Dakota, in the heart of the United States.

That's where a team of reporters I supervise went to shoot a story about the Great Plains emptying out. When the sheriff of Crosby, a town near the Canadian border, heard about it, he contacted the U.S. Border Patrol. An agent soon showed up at the local newspaper, asking for the journalists' names. Other agents asked whether they "seemed like U.S. citizens." More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 22, 06 | 9:27 am

Thu Jul 20, 2006

Nothing but anti-Arab racism can fully explain the behaviour of the Israelis

Hugh was so right, tragically so. Hugh Blaschko was one of the greatest men that ever lived. He and his wife Mary gave me shelter, became my surrogate family from 1972 to 1978 when I had to cope with the loss of my old homeland, Uganda. Born in Germany, Hugh was from one of those cultured, intellectual Jewish Berlin families crushed by Nazism. He escaped to Britain in the late 1930s to become a world-class scientist. Israel would bring out the worst in his people, he always said, and I argued with him. Survivors of the Holocaust, I believed, were on the side of the angels. "No, my dear," he would respond, "the Jewish state will make us nationalists, and will one day make us racialists." I am glad he is not alive to see his prophetic words turned flesh.

As we witness the bombardment by Israel of Lebanon and Gaza – a grotesque over-reaction - and, as the death toll of Arab civilians mounts, you have to ask how the Israelis can do what they do. My only answer now is to conclude that it is racism. No political or territorial struggles can convincingly explain or excuse the maddened onslaught by the Israeli state. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 20, 06 | 6:25 pm

Tue Jul 18, 2006

Press Release--Gaza University Teachers’ Association calls for academic and cultural boycott of Israel

The latest round of Israeli war crimes in Gaza has resulted in the brutal killings of the entire Abu Salmyieh family in Sheikh Redwan, Gaza City as they slept in their own house. This brings today's toll alone to 23 Palestinian martyers. Since Thursday 6.July.2006, the Israeli Occupation Forces have killed more than 70 Palestinians, most of whom are civilians and children.

The University Teachers’ Association condemns in the strongest possible terms these heinous crimes and calls upon all civil society organization and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it for its 39 years of military occupation of Palestine.

As UN, EU and the international community by in large for generations has failed the Palestinian people, we address the civil society organizations to take whatever step however small to show their support for Palestine and rejection of Israeli genocidal war crimes.

The experience of South Africa shows that the collective action of ordinary people who did not buy South African products, did not watch South African sports and did not have any relationship with South African academic and cultural institutions, were able to pressurize their governments to isolate apartheid South Africa. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 18, 06 | 9:28 pm

Israel's latest bureaucratic obscenity

The same malign intent by Israel towards the Palestinians is stamped through its history like the lettering in a childrens stick of seaside rock. But despite the consistent aim of Israeli policy, generation after generation of Western politicians, diplomats and journalists has shown a repeated inability to grasp what is happening before its very eyes.

The Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi once noted that the first goal of Israels founders as they prepared to establish their Jewish state on a large swath of the Palestinian homeland in 1948 was to empty Palestines urban heartlands of their educated elites.

Even before Israels Declaration of Independence on 15 May 1948, most Palestinians had been terrified away from the two wealthiest cities in coastal Palestine, Jaffa and Haifa. Other Palestinian cities soon fell during the war of 1948: Israeli forces mostly cleansed Lydda, Ramle, Acre, Safad, Tiberias, Baysan and Bir Saba of their native populations. Today all these cities have been repopulated with Jews -- as well as renamed. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 18, 06 | 9:22 pm

Covering up Gaza

The state of Israel, fearful of the truth, continues to control media coverage of its brutal occupation, writes Jonathan Cook*

One early and easy victory for Israel in Gaza has been in its battle to manage the news. Israel's invasion is a very private war against Gaza's population, to which only invited guests -- the representatives of our major media outlets -- are being given access.

In the last Iraq war, America set a precedent by requiring Western reporters to "embed" with its forces before they were let near the battlefield. Israel is following suit, adopting similar measures to control the flow of bad news from Gaza.

The restrictions on who can report and what they can tell us explain in part why more than a fortnight after an Israeli soldier was captured, almost every Western reporter is still referring to him as "kidnapped"; why the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure such as Gaza's only power plant is described as "pressure" rather than what it is -- collective punishment, a violation of international law and a war crime; and why the deaths of large numbers of Palestinians, civilians and militants, in the current attacks are receiving far less coverage than the deaths of the two soldiers enforcing the occupation that gave Israel the pretext to launch its invasion. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 18, 06 | 9:18 pm

What Does Israel Want?

Imagine a group of high ranking generals who simulated for years Third World War scenarios in which they can move huge armies around, employ the most sophisticated weapons in their disposal and enjoy the immunity of a computerized headquarters from which they can direct their war games. Now imagine that they are informed that in fact there is no Third World War and their expertise is needed to calm down some of the nearby slums or deal with soaring crime in deprived townships and impoverished neighborhoods. And then imagine - in the final episode in my chimerical crisis - what happens when they find out how irrelevant have their plans been and how useless are their weapons in the struggle against the street violence produced by social inequality, poverty and years of discrimination in their society. They can either admit failure or decide none the less to use the massive and destructive arsenal at their disposal. We are witnessing today the havoc wreaked by Israeli generals who opted for latter course of action. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 18, 06 | 9:10 pm

Sat Jul 08, 2006

Slurs will not silence us

When our union recently passed a resolution critical of policies of the government of Israel, it was savagely attacked in several quarters and labelled by many as anti-Semitic.

When the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant church in the country, called for a limited boycott and divestment strategy toward Israel, it, too, faced a barrage of baseless allegations of anti-Semitism (though little was said about the two Jewish organizations, the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians and Jewish Women to End the Occupation, who joined in the church group's action). More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 08, 06 | 9:27 am

Sat Jul 01, 2006

Shalit seen as prisoner of war and bargaining chip

The terminology alone reflects the gulf of views over the plight of Corporal Gilad Shalit. To Israelis, the teenage soldier was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists and is a hostage just as much as foreigners held in Iraq. To Palestinians he is a prisoner of war - a legitimate target as a soldier in the uniform of an army that has killed dozens of civilians in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks - and a bargaining chip.
Then there is the difference of scale. In the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, where the Israeli military dropped leaflets on Wednesday night warning its 42,000 residents that an assault was coming and to keep out of the way, they are baffled at the lengths Israel is going to over one man.

"Don't Israelis understand how many Palestinians are sitting in their prisons just for resisting the occupation?" said 60 year-old Khalil Naim, who has lost count of the number of Israeli attacks on his town in recent years. "For me, he [Cpl Shalit] is military. What was done was right. They have thousands of our prisoners in their prisons. The mistake will be if they are not behaving well with him. We want them to feed him and not hurt him." More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jul 01, 06 | 10:17 am