Category Archives: Israel

Remote-control machine gun installed on top of wall near Bethlehem?

Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins report for Mondoweiss:

detail of photograph of wall north of Bethlehem

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled rifle, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s “unprecedented” and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called “Bethlahem Today” has the same report.


Palestinian university students’ trip to Auschwitz causes uproar

William Booth writes for The Washington Post:

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a few weeks ago as part of a project designed to teach empathy and tolerance. Upon his return, his university disowned the trip, his fellow Palestinians branded him a traitor and friends advised a quick vacation abroad.

Dajani said he expected criticism. “I believe a trip like this, for an organized group of Palestinian youth going to visit Auschwitz, is not only rare, but a first,” he said. “I thought there would be some complaints, then it would be forgotten.”

But the trip was explosive news to some, perhaps more so because it took place as U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were in danger of collapse, and emotion surrounding the decades-old conflict is high. Controversy was also heightened by rumors — untrue — that the trip was paid for by Jewish organizations. It was paid for by the German government.


Israel Buys $2 Billion in Warplanes, Assumes US Will Pay for It

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Ever confident in their ability to get the US to foot the bill for unwise purchases, Israel has announced the acquisition of $2 billion worth of the troubled V-22 Osprey planes, on a “deferred payment plan.” The reason for the deferred payment plan in this case is because Israel has no intention of paying for these planes, and is just putting them in the arms dealers’ equivalent of layaway until they can con the US into paying for it.

The planes won’t be coming out of the current promises of US aid, but rather will be covered by military aid the US hasn’t promised yet, which will be appropriated after 2018. Former Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon says it is “reasonable” for Israel to assume that the US will eventually cough up a couple billion dollars for the Ospreys, citing overwhelming support in the US Congress for all things Israel.


Will Extremist Avigdor Lieberman Become Israel’s Next Prime Minister?


Inside the deep, ugly world of anti-Semitic YouTube

Gaby Dunn writes for The Daily Dot:

undefined[...] Anti-Semitic communities represent the worst of YouTube. Just like Reddit, if not worse, YouTube mostly turns a blind eye to racism in the name of free speech, allowing vigorously uninformed and hateful comments to flourish.

Of course, YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit hate speech, defined as “speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity.” But one stroll through pretty much any popular video inevitably validates Godwin’s Law: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

But it’s not just YouTube’s comment section—long considered one of the filthiest places on the Web—that’s inundated with accusations that the Jews own the banks and control the media. There are popular anti-Semitic vloggers, conspiracy videos, documentarians, “comedy” videos, and more.

Delve into one of the darker parts of a community mostly known for cat videos and there’s a thriving, terrifying world we’ve lulled ourselves into thinking doesn’t exist.


US aid to Israel secure despite budget cuts

From Reuters:

The United States will continue providing Israel with defense aid after a current package worth some $3 billion a year expires in 2017, and the grants are unlikely to wane despite Washington belt-tightening, two US senators said on Thursday. Kelly Ayotte and Joe Donnelly, who are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited Israel to confer on security issues like missile defense, on which the allies have partnered.

The previous US administration signed a 10-year deal with Israel in 2007 granting it $30 billion, most of which must be spent on American defense products. Talks on a new package were already under way, said Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican.


Israeli defense minister apologizes for calling U.S. ‘weak’

Barak Ravid writes for Haaretz:

Hagel and Ya'alon.Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is apologizing for the second time in two months about critical statements he made against the U.S. government.

In the wake of tremendous anger in Washington, a telephone call between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a personal talk with the prime minister, Ya’alon told his American counterpart, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, that there was no defiance, criticism or intention to hurt the United States or Israel’s relations with its ally with his words.

Ya’alon said he sees utmost importance in the strategic relations between the countries, as well as in personal relations and mutual interests. He told Hagel he values relations on all levels between Israel and the United States in general, and on the defense level in particular.


Netanyahu orders IDF to prepare for possible strike on Iran during 2014

Barak Ravid reports of Haaretz:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered the army to continue preparing for a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at a cost of at least 10 billion shekels ($2.89 billion) this year, despite the talks between Iran and the West, according to recent statements by senior military officers. Three Knesset members who were present at Knesset joint committee hearings on Israel Defense Forces plans that were held in January and February say they learned during the hearings that 10 billion shekels to 12 billion shekels of the defense budget would be allocated this year for preparations for a strike on Iran, approximately the same amount that was allocated in 2013.

Some MKs asked the army’s deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and planning directorate official Brig. Gen. Agai Yehezkel whether they felt there was justification for investing so much money in those preparations, said the MKs present at the meetings, who asked that their names be withheld because of the sensitivity of the issue. They said some lawmakers also asked whether the interim agreement reached between Iran and the six powers in November 2013, and the ongoing negotiations for a full nuclear accord, had caused any change in the IDF’s preparations. The IDF representatives said the army had received a clear directive from government officials from the political echelon – meaning Netanyahu and Ya’alon – to continue readying for a possible independent strike by Israel on the Iranian nuclear sites, regardless of the talks now happening between Iran and the West, the three MKs said.


Israel Bombs 29 Locations in Gaza

Facebook’s safe haven for Israeli racists

Roni Bar reports for Haaretz:

Somewhat more than 1,000 people are friends on the Hebrew-language Facebook page Nikmat Hayeudim (“Revenge of the Jews”). They receive daily photo updates on attacks against Palestinian property and people and on leftists. “What a picture, a real pleasure,” one of them wrote under a photo showing a person severely beaten around the head, blood running down his face, lying on a hospital bed. “That’s what should be done to all the Arabs,” another post added, and then continued with a coarse stream of invective including cursing Mohammad.

Another Facebook page, called “We’re all for death to terrorists,” has more than 60,000 followers. Next to a photo at a demonstration at the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh is the caption: “Female terrorist leftists clash with IDF and Border Police forces.” One post, which can be said to be typical, says: “May their name and memory be wiped out. Let them die, those leftists…kill them. They’re worse than Arabs!” Under the report of a rape in Tel Aviv, one member of the group wrote: “I swear an oath that tomorrow I’m going to go through the central bus station, call an Eritrean over to the car, close the window on his head and drag him all through south Tel Aviv.”


Senator John McCain at AIPAC: ‘This regime in Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terror’

Israeli Settlement Construction Rose 123 Percent in 2013

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Official statistics from the Israeli government reflect what Palestinian negotiators have been complaining about for months: Israel has dramatically been expanding settlement construction since the peace talks began. Construction starts were up 123 percent in 2013 over the previous year, a huge amount despite the talk of a “partial settlement freeze.” Peace Now, the anti-settlement NGO, said the stats underscores Netanyahu’s government was committed to settlement expansion at the expense of everything else.

Israel is not seeing such a growth boom elsewhere. There was a 12 percent increase in construction in the Negev, but the massive city of Tel Aviv actually saw construction decline by 19 percent over 2012. The growth in settlement construction is likely a function of Netanyahu announcing more construction every time the peace talks hit any sort of milestone, nominally to placate the far-right members of his cabinet.

AIPAC Is Losing Influence Over U.S. Foreign Policy: Interview with Phyllis Bennis

Israel raised 11% of all global cyber defense investments in 2013

Man analyzes computer codeFrom the Jerusalem Post:

Israeli companies in the field of cyber security raised $165 million in 2013, about 11% of the world total, Israel National Cyber Bureau chief Eviatar Matania told the Cabinet on Sunday. Israeli exports in the cyber field, he said, amounted to $3 billion, representing about 5% of the global market, and triple that of the United Kingdom. They represent about 14.5% of total cyber companies in the world.

“We established the INCB in order to assist turning Israel into a major cyber power,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the meeting.  “I see the INCB as spurring strong economic development, especially since there is considerable global interest in our abilities, and this can serve not only the defense component, but that of economic growth as well,” he added.


Last month, Israel launched CyberSpark, a high-tech park in Beersheba devoted to cyber security, and meant to take advantage of the proximity to Ben-Gurion University, the train, and future IDF bases. The park has already drawn investments from Lockheed Martin and IBM. The INCB and the chief scientist’s office have budgeted NIS 80 million, over two years, to support Israeli companies in the field.

Netanyahu unintentionally gives Merkel a Hitler moustache

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been photographed unintentionally forming a Hitler moustache on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s face. (Photo courtesy: Marc Israel Sellem/ Jerusalem Post)

Samantha Power Pushing for Israel’s Place on The U.N. Security Council

From Forward:

Samantha Power, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, recommitted to securing Israel a tour on the U.N. Security Council after assisting its entry to a U.N. regional group.

Israel last month became a member of the JUSCANZ regional group at U.N. headquarters in New York. JUSCANZ stands for Japan, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, some of the 15 members of the regional group, which is a sub-group of the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group at the U.N. Israel was admitted to WEOG in New York in 2000, and in Geneva in 2013. Israel had been a member of JUSCANZ in Geneva, but until late last month not in New York.

In an address Monday to the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, Powers said she will not give up on achieving a seat on the U.N. Security Council for Israel. Israel is vying with Germany and Belgium for a seat on the 2019-20 Security Council.


Israel Schemes to Paint Boycott Backers as Terrorists

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Lets just call them terrorists.

It may seem like an incredibly lazy and not particularly inventive strategy, but Israel is willing to bet that, amid threats of a new push for boycott and divestment from the settlements, they can slander boycott advocates into silence.

Israel held a whole special “ministerial meeting” on the matter recently, according to the Times of London, and made it a point not to invite the two moderate members of the government, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni.


Scarlett Johansson row has boosted Israeli settlement boycott, say activists

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson in SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad. SodaStream has a factory in an illegal settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Photograph: AP

From The Guardian:

The movement to boycott Israeli goods linked to settlements has been boosted by “Scarlett syndrome”, say activists, after the high-profile controversy over the film star Scarlett Johansson‘s endorsement of SodaStream. Pro-boycott campaigners believe they will benefit from the celebrity furore, even though Johansson – faced with the incompatibility of sponsorship of SodaStream, which has a factory in an illegal settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and her role as a goodwill ambassador for Oxfam – broke links with the charity.

The row follows mounting pressure, especially from Europe, where NGOs, trade unions, churches and others are forcing their governments to take action. The number of European corporations who have severed or reviewed links with Israeli companies which operate in settlements is accelerating; the European Union is taking an increasingly tougher line; and the boycott movement is gaining traction in the United States, where it has previously struggled to win support.


‘Military action likely’ if Iran talks fail, US spokeswoman says

From The Jerusalem Post:

A resolution to the nuclear dispute with Tehran, should current diplomatic efforts fail, “is likely to involve military action,” US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

“I’m not predicting that we would take military action right away,” Harf said. “It’s more of a broad statement that, look, if we can’t get this done diplomatically in six months or a year or at any time, we will – we are committed to resolving it. And that involves less durable and, quite frankly, riskier actions.

[...] Asked by The Jerusalem Post which the administration considered more likely if diplomacy does not achieve a comprehensive solution in a time frame agreed upon by world powers – war or additional sanctions – Harf responded: “I’m not saying in six months we’re going to go to war if we don’t get a deal done. Broadly speaking, the alternative to resolving this diplomatically is resolving it through other means.

“There are only a few scenarios that come out of this: Either we resolve it diplomatically or we resolve it a different way,” Harf continued.

“It’s just common sense that that different way could involve – is likely to involve military action.”


Israeli Air Force to Target Residential Areas in Next Lebanon War

From Antiwar:

From the perspective of Israel’s military leadership, the nation is never really not at war with any of its neighbors, and at best is just in-between major invasions of those nations

So when top Israeli military brass like IAF chief Major General Amir Eshel talk about what they’ll target in the next Lebanon War, it is important to keep in mind that those officials envision such a conflict kicking off at literally any moment.

Maj. Gen. Eshel made clear today that Israel’s intention is to launch mass attack on residential areas and that the nation will inflict high civilian casualties while doing so.


‘Turn the curse into a blessing’: Netanyahu wants UN of the internet

AFP Photo / Jack GuezFrom RT:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said at the Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv that he wants to create a coalition of leading companies to turn the internet from a curse into a blessing.

In the wake of a reported breach of Defense Ministry computers, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu talked of the importance of cyber security at an Israeli cybertech conference in the Israeli capital on Monday, Globes reports.

“The biggest challenge we face with the cyber world is protecting the privacy and security of the public. There could be a serious breach,” he said.

“There should be a sort of UN for the internet. A coalition of the leading companies in the cyber world…and in my opinion Israel is the most advanced,” he added.


Israel’s nuclear weapons: the open secret

Juan Cole: Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State

Photo: BarcroftJuan Cole writes:

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is adding a fifth demand to his negotiations with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas: That the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”

For Netanyahu’s demand to make any sense, he first has to define “Jewish.” “Jewish” has a number of possible meanings. It can mean “those recognized by Talmudic law as members of the Jewish ‘race’ via maternal descent.” The latter is the legal definition of Jewishness in Israeli law itself, and for this reason we must presume that it is what Netanyahu has in mind. It can also mean “adherents of the Judaic religion,” and we can explore those implications, as well.

Of the some 6 million self-identified Jews in Israel, about 300,000 are not recognized as “Jewish” by the Chief Rabbi and there is no prospect of them being recognized as Jewish any time soon. They were allowed to immigrate to Israel because they had at least one Jewish grandparent, but if their mother was not Jewish neither are they.


Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency claims planned suicide attack shows al-Qa’ida is taking root in Palestine

From The Independent:

Israel says it has arrested two Palestinians from East Jerusalem who were planning to carry out attacks for al-Qa’ida with the help of foreign suicide bombers posing as Russian tourists.

The men were recruited by another al-Qa’ida agent in the Gaza Strip, said Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency – the second Israeli report in as many months suggesting the militant network was taking root among Palestinians.

Hamas Islamists governing Gaza rejected the spy agency’s account as “silly fabrications”, saying it was an attempt to justify Israeli military strikes in the territory.

Security experts say al-Qa’ida and its global agenda have for a long time had only a only fringe appeal among Palestinians as they pursue a more nationalist conflict with the Jewish state.


Chilean football club sparks Israeli outrage with pro-Palestinian uniform

View image on TwitterFrom Al-Akhbar:

A Chilean football club has sparked debate over its new jerseys, in which the number “1” is replaced by an outline of pre-1948 Palestine, angering Israel which demanded the uniform’s removal, local media reported.

Club Deportivo Palestino, a first division football club created in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants, revealed on Saturday its 2014 uniform, on which the geographical outline of Palestine can be seen.

Chilean newspaper La Nacion reported on Tuesday that the Israeli foreign ministry had contacted the Chilean embassy to express its discontent over the football club’s move.


Ariel Sharon’s Troubling Legacy

From Human Rights Watch:

Ariel Sharon died without facing justice for his role in the massacres of hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians by Lebanese militias in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. The killings constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sharon also escaped accountability for other alleged abuses, such as his role expanding settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, prosecutable as a war crime. Sharon ordered the removal of all Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and from four West Bank settlements in 2005, but the overall number of settlers in occupied territory increased significantly during his term as prime minister.

“It’s a shame that Sharon has gone to his grave without facing justice for his role in Sabra and Shatilla and other abuses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “His passing is another grim reminder that years of virtual impunity for rights abuses have done nothing to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace any closer.”


Netanyahu skips Mandela memorial. Israelis say ‘are you kidding?’

Credit: Dan Balilty/AP/File

From The Christian Science Monitor:

As VIPs gathered in the rain for Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa, the emcee announced the attendance of world leaders from US President Barack Obama to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Apparently, no one told him that Mr. Netanyahu couldn’t make it after all.

While the Israeli leader’s absence may have gone relatively unnoticed in South Africa, it has caused consternation in Israel. Detractors argue that missing the memorial of a man who championed freedom and brought down apartheid gives fresh fodder to critics who say Israel, too, has constructed an apartheid system and is insincere about reconciling with Palestinians after decades of conflict.

[...] The reason Netanyahu gave: the cost of the flight. This, coming from a man who budgeted 10,000 shekels ($2,850) for his personal ice cream parlor and spent 6,000 shekels ($1,700) of Israeli taxpayers’ money on scented candles for his homes.

Netanyahu may well have learned his lesson on unnecessary spending, especially after a report last week revealed it costs Israeli taxpayers 3.3 million shekels ($940,000) to maintain his three residences. The trip to Mandela’s memorial indeed would have been expensive; the Israeli government estimated it would have cost about 7 million shekels ($1.9 million) for the flight as well as the security necessary – far more than if Netanyahu had been able to attend the smaller ceremony in Mandela’s home village this weekend, as originally planned. That reasoning sat particularly badly with South Africa’s Jewish community, which long donated more per capita to support Israel than Jews in America, Britain, and Canada.


How South Africa’s apartheid regime saved Israel’s defense industry

From Haaretz:

South Africa under apartheid was the Israeli defense industry’s biggest customer and funded its most ambitious projects. The South Africans were in effect a “captive customer”: The South African army had huge funds at its disposal, but due to the sanctions regime, the West refused to supply it with advanced military systems. Israel, which was cash-starved and suffered international isolation of its own, had no such limitations.

The cooperation reached its peak in the 1980s, which turned out to be apartheid’s dying days. Israel shared with South Africa its technologically advanced systems. Senior officials in the Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces had excellent ties with their South African counterparts, led by Defense Minister Magnus Malan, mililtary chief of staff Constand Viljoen and heads of the South African state defense industry.

The largest deal was reportedly signed in the summer of 1988. Israel sold South Africa 60 Kfir combat planes that were no longer in use by the Israel Air Force. These were substantially upgraded and put to use by South Africa’s air force and renamed the Atlas Cheetah. The deal was worth $1.7 billion, an unprecedented sum.


The White Supremacy of Genocide: Interview with Keith Harmon Snow

Israel Denies Involvement In Assassination Of Hezbollah Commander In Lebanon