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Reporting on the Middle East, Science, and Education



Toward a better future through tolerance and mutualism



Updated: 2017-11-23T17:45:25Z

 



Israel and Saudi Arabia cooperate

2017-11-23T17:45:25Z

theatlantic.com How a Saudi-Israeli Alliance Could Benefit the Palestinians Hussein Ibish 9-11 minutes The flirtation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which has been gaining momentum both publicly and privately in recent years, seems to be picking up even more steam … Continue reading → theatlantic.com How a Saudi-Israeli Alliance Could Benefit the Palestinians Hussein Ibish 9-11 minutes The flirtation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which has been gaining momentum both publicly and privately in recent years, seems to be picking up even more steam now, especially on the Israeli side. Israel’s Military Chief of Staff General Gadi Eizenkot gave a wide-ranging interview to a major Saudi website offering greater intelligence cooperation, among other overtures. Israel is co-sponsoring a draft Saudi UN resolution on Syria. And Israel’s communications minister praised comments by the Saudi Grand Mufti that were highly critical of Hamas, and invited him to visit Israel. Reciprocal Saudi moves have been more subtle and often unofficial, yet signs of an increasing recognition of the potential value of working more closely with Israel to counter Iran are readily discernible in Gulf Arab discourse. Most attention on this issue has focused on Iran, because countering Tehran’s growing regional power—particularly as the war in Syria winds down, and with Iran and its allies gaining control of key strategic areas along the Syrian-Iraqi border—is uppermost in the minds of Saudis and Israelis alike. Both also feel keenly menaced by Iran’s most effective Arab proxy, Hezbollah, which has emerged from the Syrian war much more powerful than before, and has engaged in conflicts around the region. But, especially if something more significant develops from these overtures, what might all this mean for the Palestinians? The instinctive Palestinian, and arguably more broadly Arab, reaction would be negative. The traditional assumption has been that the Palestinian cause benefits from a zero-sum attitude toward Israel by the Arab states that, at a minimum, demands a complete end to the occupation that began in 1967, before significant diplomatic progress with Arab states can be purposefully initiated. There’s still a strong sense of betrayal about Egypt’s separate peace with Israel in 1979; there’s somewhat more understanding about why Jordan undertook a similar treaty with Israel following the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords.Many Palestinians and their supporters are likely to instantly conclude that any meaningful efforts at building a new strategic relationship between Israel and Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia will be at their expense. This is certainly understandable, but it’s by no means necessarily correct. In fact, there is every reason for Palestinians to see far more opportunity than danger in these potential developments. A new opening between Saudi Arabia and Israel wouldn’t deprive Palestinians of anything they currently possess that has either real or potential value. It certainly wouldn’t make the occupation worse or do anything that’s likely to prolong it. To the contrary, given the political constraints the Gulf Arab countries face domestically and regionally—as well as their genuinely held (if sometimes, though unfairly, doubted by both Palestinians and Westerners) sympathy with the Palestinian cause—there are major limitations to how far Saudi Arabia and others could or would publicly go in developing closer ties to Israel. The Arab Peace Initiative, launched by Riyadh in 2002 and subsequently endorsed by both the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, initially held out full diplomatic and trade normalization for Israel with virtually the entire Arab and Muslim worlds as a major additional benefit to be acquired upon the conclusion of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The Arab, and especially Saudi, position appears to have evolved lately to accept the virtue of “concurrence,” whereby limited Israeli peace moves and concessions toward the Palest[...]



Jews and Arabs work together

2017-11-23T17:37:55Z

Study shows Jews, Arabs work together in Jerusalem despite tensions According to new research, east Jerusalem Arabs make up 71% of construction workers, 40% of hospitality workers, and 20% of workers in health care and welfare • While Jews feel … Continue reading

Study shows Jews, Arabs work together in Jerusalem despite tensions




Textbooks are wrong on evolution

2017-09-17T17:57:51Z

But Why Do Biology Textbooks Retain Discredited Evolutionary Icons? David Klinghoffer | @d_klinghoffer September 14, 2017, 1:17 AM Discovery Institute That’s a question naturally prompted in reading two books by biologist Jonathan Wells. Reviewing Dr. Wells’s Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution for Salvo Magazine, Denyse O’Leary … Continue reading → But Why Do Biology Textbooks Retain Discredited Evolutionary Icons? David Klinghoffer | @d_klinghoffer September 14, 2017, 1:17 AM Discovery Institute That’s a question naturally prompted in reading two books by biologist Jonathan Wells. Reviewing Dr. Wells’s Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution for Salvo Magazine, Denyse O’Leary puts her finger on the mot juste, or one of them, to describe the way textbooks leave in discredited evolutionary icons, in defiance of accurate science: About fifteen years ago, I read Jonathan Wells’s Icons of Evolution (2000). The sheer brazenness of the outdated information that continued to be paraded in decades of textbooks dealing with evolution was striking — even to a longtime textbook editor (now retired) like me. Little has changed since then. And Denyse is right, it’s the “brazenness” of it that astonishes. They must know they’re feeding students fake science — don’t they? — yet they go merrily on their way. She explains on the basis of past professional experience: The textbook publishing industry depends on a simple set of facts: Parents are required by law to present their children to the local public school system unless they can afford other legally acceptable arrangements. Homeowners and businesses are required to fund the public system. The system needs textbooks. Textbook authors, usually successful teachers, are well rewarded. Thus, the opportunities for soft corruption (stale, dated content that lingers year after year) are vast and inevitable. Some such stuff is doubtless defended by pressure groups, anxious to retain a discredited icon that supports their cause. Jonathan Wells is willing to go farther than calling it “soft corruption.” O’Leary asked him: Why is it so easy for Darwinians to get away with disquieting misrepresentations in textbooks — for example, the idea that traditional Darwinism is a “done deal,” when the lively Royal Society (founded in 1660), meeting last November, showed that the whole field is in ferment (much as many have tried to pretend otherwise)?5 Wells replies: “Disquieting” is too mild. I would say “disgraceful,” “appalling,” even “evil.” Every time we have tried to correct textbook misrepresentations, school boards or textbook adoption committees are bombarded by experts from the scientific establishment who assure them the textbooks are fine. Why does the scientific establishment go along with this? Most scientists ignore the issue and just want to be left alone to do their research. “Evil”…Well, that is pretty frank to call it that. The “experts” who swoop in to assure schools that the textbooks are in no need of fixing present a psychological puzzle. But an insistence on conveying untruths that touch on ultimate questions, year after year, to students compelled under law to read these textbooks — whether evil or merely corrupt, that’s certainly not a very pretty thing. Maybe it depends on your understanding of what makes people tick. I don’t disbelieve in evil, of course. Far from it. But I’m also constantly impressed by the way ideas are tied to self-esteem, self-image, and group belonging, so that even highly decent people will defend preferred, false concepts at all costs because those ideas are vital to how they see themselves. Photo credit: Free-Photos, via Pixabay. [...]



Palestinians must educate for peace

2017-07-18T18:32:19Z

eureporter.co Education to peace is crucial in the #Israeli-Palestinian conflict : EU Reporter EU Reporter Correspondent | 4-5 minutes Long-term education to peace is a crucial issue when it comes to reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Palestinian … Continue reading → eureporter.co Education to peace is crucial in the #Israeli-Palestinian conflict : EU Reporter EU Reporter Correspondent | 4-5 minutes Long-term education to peace is a crucial issue when it comes to reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Palestinian and Israeli experts told an international seminar with the participation of some 40 journalists organized  by the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA) in Brussels. “This dimension was always neglected by both sides and the moderator,’’ said Michael Herzog who has took part in each and every round of peace negotiations since the nineties and the Oslo agreements. ”We had then an agreement called “people to people’’ which never materialized because the Palestinians didn’t want to normalize relations with Israel before any solution,” he added. “This culture of peace is the critical issue. It is not only about signing an agreement between two governments. You need to educate the people,’’ Herzog, an associate researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stressed. Bassem Eid, an outspoken Palestinian analyst and commentator, who is founder and director of the Palestinian NGO Human Rights Monitoring Group in East Jerusalem, agreed with this.  “Yes absolutely, this is one of the major problems,’’ he said in an interview with European Jewish Press. “If the European Union who is funding the education system and the schools under  the Palestinian Authority, is not going to evaluate their  curriculum, which is not educating to peace, it means that Europe becomes part of the conflict rather than part of the solution,’’ Eid added as he criticized the EU’s role of providing a “blind support’’ to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. “In my opinion the EU is playing a bad role. It so strongly supports Abbas – and not the Palestinians – in a way that is not contributing to the peace process,’’ Eid said. “The EU is even not interested in seeing new Palestinin elections and don’t push for it because Abbas told them that he would loose them to Hamas.’’ He continued: “The Palestinian leadership is holding its own people as hostages for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As long as Fatah and Hamas are divided from each other, forget any kind of opportunity for resuming peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That because of the Palestinians  not the Israelis. It looks like the Palestinian leadership today is even not interested in a two-state solution. They are much more interested in a three-state solution : one Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip, the empire of the West Bank under Abbas and the State of Israel. This is how unfortunately we are living in the past ten years and that is  showing a lack of goodwill of the Palestinian leadership to resume any kind of negotiation with Israel.’’ Six months after the Trump administration decided to make a deal between Israel and the Palestinians a “priority”, the parties do not know what they really want, Michael Herzog noted. Since the last round of negotiations failed in 2014, things have changed. ”Israel’s Prime Minister has today less maneuvering room than several years ago because of the nature of his coalition, the Palestinian side is totally divided between the West Bank and Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas lost legitimacy in the eyes of his people and we have seen a rapparocheement of Israel and regional powers such as Egypt, Jordan, some Gulf States based on a common fear for instability,” the veteran peace negotiator said. He acknowledged that there are real gaps between the two parties regarding the core issues.[...]



Jerusalem belongs to Israel

2017-06-09T05:58:40Z

jpost.com Israel’s right to Jerusalem established firmly in int’l law, expert says – Christian News Benjamin Glatt Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017 Israel national flag is projected on the wall near David Tower at the Old City of Jerusalem May … Continue reading → jpost.com Israel’s right to Jerusalem established firmly in int’l law, expert says – Christian News Benjamin Glatt Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017 Israel national flag is projected on the wall near David Tower at the Old City of Jerusalem May 20, 2017.. (photo credit:RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS) The Jewish people’s right to Jerusalem was granted under international law at the end of the First World War, a leading international legal scholar said at the UN Monday. “[The] title over Jerusalem and its Old City was granted to the Jewish people during the San Remo conference of the Principal Allied Powers in April 1920,” Dr Jacques Gauthier said at an event by the Christian group European Coalition for Israel (ECI) and the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem with a High Level UN breakfast briefing in New York with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, as a guest of honor. NYC turns blue and white for 53rd annual Celebrate Israel Parade Was the Six Day War fought in part over Israel’s nuclear program? In the Gregorian calendar, June 7 marks the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Gauthier said it was in San Remo that the claims presented on the behalf of the Jewish people on February 27, 1919, during the Paris peace conference – the rights of the Jewish people to reconstitute a Jewish national home in what was then called Palestine – were approved. “The rights granted in San Remo were incorporated in the treaty of Sevre in 1920 and the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922,” he said. “These rights included the recognition of the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem and the right to reconstitute in that City their ancient capital.” He warned the UN ambassadors who attended the breakfast briefing not to dismiss the undeniable facts that had been presented to them in his presentation but to take them in to serious consideration whenever new resolutions on the issue of Jerusalem are discussed in the future. He also commented on the popular notion that Israel could not have the title over east Jerusalem through military conquest by noting that this principle of international law does not apply in a situation where the title has already been granted to the territory in question. Although Jordan illegally occupied east Jerusalem and the Old City in 1948, Israel could not be expected to lose their rights when they reconquered it in 1967, since it was already theirs under international law, he said. Following the presentation, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell handed over an open letter for a united Jerusalem to Mayor Barkat. More than 50 senior political leaders from around the world, among them presidents and vice-presidents, support Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem as the best guarantee for a united and open Jerusalem where people of all faiths and none can co-exist in respect for each other. The letter has also received support from deputies from all five major political groups in the European Parliament. Barkat responded by speaking about Jerusalem as an open, inclusive and united city which is important for billions of people around the world. “In one square kilometer there are more synagogues, mosques and churches than anywhere else in the world,” he said. “When Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, no mosques were destroyed and no churches were taken down. We maintain openness and respect for all religions,” he said, reminding the audience that this does not exist anywhere else in the Middle East. The mayor[...]



Arabs still haven’t recovered

2017-06-09T05:47:11Z

foreignpolicy.com The Arab World Has Never Recovered From the Loss of 1967 Emily Tamkin |Foreign Policy, June 5, 2017 On Dec. 11, 2016, Sadiq Jalal al-Azm, Syria’s most consequential public intellectual in the last half-century, died in Berlin. He was … Continue reading → foreignpolicy.com The Arab World Has Never Recovered From the Loss of 1967 Emily Tamkin |Foreign Policy, June 5, 2017 On Dec. 11, 2016, Sadiq Jalal al-Azm, Syria’s most consequential public intellectual in the last half-century, died in Berlin. He was 82 years old. In his last conscious days, Azm, like numerous other Syrian exiles, watched from afar the slow, methodical massacre of rebel-held eastern Aleppo. For a man who struggled for half a century against Arab tyranny, intellectual vacuity, socio-economic injustice, and sectarian and ethnic bigotry, it must have been particularly cruel to see the victory of these forces in the physical destruction of Aleppo, the jewel of Syria’s ancient and famed cities. From the heady days of intellectual debates over the perennial question of “what went wrong” in the Arab world to his last deathbed moments of solitude and sober reflection, Azm was a critical witness to the Arabs’ long descent into the heart of darkness. Fifty years after Azm and other Arab intellectuals started to mercilessly deconstruct their ossified political orders, reactionary and primitive religious structures, and stagnant societies, the Arab world has descended further into darkness. Physical, intellectual, and political desolation has claimed many of the once lively metropolises of the Arab region — Damascus, Aleppo, Baghdad, Mosul, Cairo, and Alexandria — with only Beirut still resisting, albeit teetering on the edge. For centuries, these cities constituted a rich human and linguistic mosaic of ancient communities including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze, Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, and Circassians. In modern times, they were joined by Greek, Armenian, and Italian communities. A vibrant cosmopolitanism found home in the port cities of Alexandria and Beirut and the cities of the hinterland, such as Aleppo, Damascus, and Baghdad. As a teenager roaming the streets of Beirut, I would hear a babel of languages: Arabic, French, English, Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish. Admittedly, that thriving cosmopolitanism had its drawbacks amid a brittle world of uncertainties and inequalities. The rural hinterland was populated by resentful peasants, who could see and envy from afar the shimmering lights of the forbidden cities and their hidden rewards. As a young man, I witnessed the surprising outburst of enthusiasm that arose in the wake of the collective Arab disbelief and humiliation following the swift, crushing defeat of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan at the hands of Israel in six days. The war allowed Israel to seize Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Syrian Golan Heights, and the West Bank and Gaza and eventually marked the death knell for the idea of Arab nationalism embodied by Egypt’s then-president, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Initially, most Arabs sought refuge in denial, refusing to admit that their military rout was emblematic of deeper rotten cultural maladies and social defects and instead calling the disastrous defeat a temporary “setback.” Many wanted badly to believe that Israel’s victory was achieved only because of Western machinations and deception, since it was almost an article of faith among many Arab nationalists, leftists, and Islamists that Israel was an “artificial entity” — an extension of imperialism in the Arab East. The belief among Arabs that their armies would prevail in the war was almost universal. I was 17 years old then, and I still vividly remember the searing pain I felt, mixed with unadulterated rage directed mostly against the self-appointed guardians of Arab patrimony. Fifty years after the defeat, the brittle world the Arabs built is unraveli[...]



Israel is strong but vulnerable

2017-05-19T06:04:48Z

journal.georgetown.edu Insecurity and Vulnerability in Israeli Political Culture For most Israelis, including for those who oppose settlement expansion, the main obstacles to peace include terror and the Palestinian rejection of Jewish historical claims and the right to sovereign equality, independent … Continue reading → journal.georgetown.edu Insecurity and Vulnerability in Israeli Political Culture For most Israelis, including for those who oppose settlement expansion, the main obstacles to peace include terror and the Palestinian rejection of Jewish historical claims and the right to sovereign equality, independent of border concerns. Gerald Steinberg May 17, 2017 Reprinted from Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Israel’s current government—the fourth headed by Benjamin Netanyahu over eleven years—is often referred to as “the most right-wing in Israel’s history.” This claim, however, is not evidence-based analysis. Reacting to the uncertainty resulting from regional chaos, Israelis continue to respond to the sense of insecurity and vulnerability that has been central to the political culture since 1948. Demands in negotiations that Palestinian leaders stop naming schools after “martyrs” (terrorists to Israelis), acknowledge Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, and end international boycott campaigns (BDS) are recent manifestations of this deep insecurity. In part, the perception of a sharp “turn to the right“ also reflects eight years of conflict with President Obama over the failure to reach a breakthrough with the Palestinians. Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly attacked Netanyahu over Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, identifying those actions as “the central obstacle to peace.” This view also dominates the agendas of U.S.-based groups, such as J Street and the New Israel Fund that oppose Israeli policies from the outside, which had significant influence during the Obama years. In December, just prior to leaving office, Obama departed from previous policies by pointedly refusing to veto UN Security Council Resolution 2344 which singled out Israeli settlements for condemnation, Just five days later, this theme was highlighted in Kerry’s emotional speech on the future of the Middle East. However, this one-dimensional approach to analyzing Israeli political culture negates key factors, particularly the sense of ongoing instability and uncertainty. The combination of six decades of war and terror, the ongoing chaos and instability, Iran’s shrill threats of annihilation, and discriminatory boycott campaigns reinforce the dismal lessons of Jewish history. Netanyahu’s policies and rhetoric, often sharpened by his coalition partners, embody these interpretations. As voting behavior and other data consistently show, the “average Israeli” pays close attention to the widely heard chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – which, in the words of Ayelet Shaked, (a young politician and currently Minister of Justice) means “Palestinians see no place for the Jews“. The problem is more than words: the rhetoric is accompanied by rocket attacks from Gaza and terror from the West Bank. On these core issues, Israel today—ostensibly led by the “most right-wing government ever”—is not very different from 20 years ago, aside from the deepening loss of faith in the potential for rapid change. Israeli voters have also not forgotten the mass terrorism that occurred in the wake of the 1993 Oslo agreements that created the Palestinian Authority. Similarly, the hope that pragmatic leaders would follow Arafat and negotiate a compromise turned out to be a mirage. Even if an agreement becomes possible with moderates in the West Bank, Hamas could quickly take control, as was seen in Gaza in 2007—two years after Israel’s comp[...]



Gaza is a failure

2017-04-21T07:26:15Z

INTO THE FRAY: Gaza: Let their people go! By MARTIN SHERMAN Reprinted from Israpundit. Instead of pouring millions into inoperative desalination plants & rusting sewage treatment works, humanitarian aid should be generous relocation grants to help Gazans find safer, more … Continue reading →INTO THE FRAY: Gaza: Let their people go! By MARTIN SHERMAN Reprinted from Israpundit. Instead of pouring millions into inoperative desalination plants & rusting sewage treatment works, humanitarian aid should be generous relocation grants to help Gazans find safer, more secure lives elsewhere “If the borders opened for one hour, 100,000 young people would leave Gaza”  –  Rashid al-Najja, vice dean, Gaza’s Al-Azhar University; “ …I’d go to Somalia, Sudan — anywhere but here” –  Salim Marifi, student, Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, in Al Jazeera, May 6 2015. “96 percent of water in the Gaza Strip is now undrinkable” –  i24 News  April 9, 2017. “Each day, millions of gallons of raw sewage pour into the Gaza Strip’s Mediterranean beachfront … turning miles of once-scenic coastline into a stagnant dead zone” – Associated Press , May 3, 2016. “Gaza’s sole power plant runs out of fuel” – Times of Israel, April 16, 2017. The endeavor, spanning almost a quarter century, to transform the coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip into a self-governing Arab entity (or even part of such an entity) has failed. It has failed resoundingly and irretrievably. After two-and-half decades of futile effort, the time has come to accept this—and to acknowledge that further pursuit of this  ill-conceived objective will only compound the current tragedy—for both Jew and Arab alike. Incapable and uninterested Indeed, with the passage of time, it is becoming increasingly clear, that as a collective the Palestinian-Arabs, in general, and the Gazan-Arabs, in particular, are totally incapable of, and largely uninterested in, creating and sustaining an independent political entity for themselves, by themselves. Underscoring this dour assessment is the increasingly frequent —and increasingly ominous—flow of reports warning of imminent  collapse of virtually all the basic infrastructure in Gaza—electric power, water, sewage and sanitation systems—and the impending catastrophe this is likely to precipitate. This raises a trenchant question and one which advocates of Palestinian statehood must be forced to confront: Why has a Palestinian state failed to materialize up to now? This is not a trivial question that can be avoided or circumvented. After all, it is difficult to identify any other “national liberation movement” that has enjoyed circumstances more benign for their cause than that of the Palestinians-Arabs. Since the early ’90s, the Palestinians have had: Virtually wall-to-wall international endorsement of their claims; Almost unanimously supportive coverage in the global mainstream media; Generous financial aid – reportedly among the highest per capita in the world; and Successive willingly compliant Israeli administrations that not only accepted their claims, but built much of their political credo on that acceptance…and gambled much of their political capital on it. Yet, despite these bountiful benefits, the Palestinian leadership have produced the most meager and miserable results. Corrupt kleptocracy or tyrannical theocracy Other national freedom movements, with far less funding, far less armaments and far less political support, have cast off mighty empires. By contrast, the Palestinian-Arabs have, after decades of “resistance”,  not only proved unable to assert their political independence from a tiny mini-state, beleaguered  in the region and berated by all and sundry in the international community;  but they have failed abysmally to create anything remotely approaching [...]



No apartheid in Israel

2017-04-13T07:42:58Z

New African Perspectives on Israel and the Palestinians (Africans for Peace) Reprinted from Daily Alert Zenobia Ravji: As a Kenyan, I saw how the voices of Africans were exploited by the widespread and false comparison of Israel to apartheid South … Continue reading →New African Perspectives on Israel and the Palestinians (Africans for Peace) Reprinted from Daily Alert Zenobia Ravji: As a Kenyan, I saw how the voices of Africans were exploited by the widespread and false comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa. The unfortunate circumstances and struggles of the Palestinian people are largely perpetuated by their own leaders, whose political strategy determines that the worse things are for Palestinians on the ground, the more convincing their case against Israel. These are the same leaders who compare the Palestinian people’s situation to apartheid South Africa, robbing South Africans of their history and cheapening it, in order to gain sympathy and financing from the international community. Lesiba Bapela: As a social justice activist from South Africa, I was part of a group that went to Israel in January 2016. We saw that in the West Bank, the Palestinians were more hardline. They don’t believe in a two-state coexistence. They want to govern themselves according to Islamic law, and they don’t believe in Israelis having their own territories. However, on the Israeli side, I heard talk of cooperation. The Israelis have been inviting the Palestinians to create peaceful coexistence. But the Palestinian Authority has this all-or-nothing mentality and doesn’t truly believe in a two-state solution. There is nothing in this conflict that I can associate with apartheid. This is a religious conflict. Nkululeko Nkosi: The comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa has been around for more than 50 years. Its originators were not black South Africans or even Palestinians, but the Soviet Union. But apartheid was about race, not religion or nationality. Unlike black people in apartheid South Africa, Arabs in Israel are entitled to vote in national elections, elect their own representatives, and have their interests represented in political deliberations. In 2015, the predominantly Arab party, the Joint List, won 15 parliamentary seats. This party is one of the harshest critics of the Israeli government. The point here is that Israeli policy and law allow dissent and opposition without instilling fear of banishment or imprisonment. Tshediso Mangope: As a black South African and member of the ANC, I reject both the analysis that Israel practices apartheid and the demand that Israel should be dismantled and replaced with a single state of Palestine. After actually visiting Israel, my views on BDS have changed drastically. I am no longer involved in the BDS movement and don’t believe it to be a legitimate cause. The insistence of the Arab world on denying Jewish people, the indigenous people of Israel, the right to sovereign existence is a main reason this conflict has lasted for so long. There is no self-respecting, sober intellectual who will argue that returning to your ancestral homeland from whence you were displaced makes you a settler. Klaas Mokgomole: In 2013, I was one of the BDS protestors who disrupted a piano recital which featured an Israeli pianist at the University of Witwatersrand. But I came to understand that the analogy of apartheid in Israel was an abuse of the memory of apartheid. South Africans involved in BDS need to be given the opportunity to understand that this is a conflict in which both sides have legitimate rights. As a former BDS activist, I encourage those involved in BDS to not blindly believe everything the movement says – because if you accept their propaganda uncritically, you are not contributing to peace, but[...]



Civilian deaths in Mosul

2017-03-28T15:31:13Z

Mosul, Gaza and the world’s hypocrisy Op-ed: ISIS learned from Hamas how to use civilian populations as human shields. While hundreds of civilians have been killed in US-led airstrikes in Iraq, there have been absolutely no protests and no claims … Continue reading → Mosul, Gaza and the world’s hypocrisy Op-ed: ISIS learned from Hamas how to use civilian populations as human shields. While hundreds of civilians have been killed in US-led airstrikes in Iraq, there have been absolutely no protests and no claims of ‘war crimes.’ Those are reserved for one country only—Israel. Ben-Dror Yemini |Published:  28.03.17 , YNet News Hundreds of women and children were killed in west Mosul last week. The Americans bombed the area, as part of their cooperation with the Iraqi army against the Islamic State. The tragedy did not make the headlines. Claims of “war crimes” were nowhere to be found either. Neither was something more moderate like claims of “a disproportional response.” There were no protests whatsoever. The hostile sentiments, like the condemnatory headlines, are reserved for only one country in the world—Israel.   The United Nations issued condemnations—not against those who bombed the area, but against the use of civilians as a “human shield.” The New York Times, which constantly condemned Israel during Operation Protective Edge, argued mostly with Trump: “Taken together, the surge of reported civilian deaths raised questions about whether once-strict rules of engagement meant to minimize civilian casualties were being relaxed under the Trump administration.”   One might have assumed that since 2003, or maybe only from 2008, the strict rules of engagement had led to minimum civilian casualties. Well, the figures show that 268,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since the war began there in 2003. There is no proof that former President Barack Obama reduced the number of casualties. The use of drones, for example, was 10 times higher during the Obama era than during the George W. Bush era.   Destruction in Mosul after US-led airstrikes. No condemnations, no protests (Photo: AP)   Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey has admitted in the past that in an effort to reduce the number of civilian casualties, he sends his officers to Israel, which “went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties” in Gaza. That did nothing to lower the level of hostility towards Israel. Neither did the guidelines issued for Hamas militants, ordering them to operate from within a civilian population in order to increase the number of innocent casualties, so as to increase the pressure on Israel.   It’s clear that from a comparative perspective, the number of civilian deaths caused by Israel is much lower. Hamas spokespeople, even more than ISIS fighters, have repeatedly boasted that they use civilians—mainly women and children—as a human shield. ISIS learned from Hamas, hoping that the same international pressure exerted on Israel would be exerted on the coalition forces as well. The organization’s fighters were stationed on the roofs of bombed buildings. The mission was accomplished. Hundreds of civilians were killed.   I am writing this because we are already hearing the sounds of the drums of war in the background: there has been a rise in the number of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, Hamas has elected a militant leader, Yahya Sanwar, and like all jihad organizations, it is investing in the industry of death—in tunnels and rockets rather than in the strip’s reconstruction. As soon as the conflict begins, the global response will be the exact same response as in the previous rounds. The protests will be against Israel, not against Hamas.[...]