Archive for Haaretz

Haaretz: Jerusalem Christians are Latest Targets in Recent Spate of ‘Price Tag’ Attacks

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Some more analysis of the ongoing “price tag” attacks against Muslims and Christians in Israel:

Jerusalem Christians are latest targets in recent spate of ‘price tag’ attacks

“Price tag” graffiti was spray-painted in Jerusalem again Sunday night, with vandals this time targeting a downtown church.

The attack on the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation marks the latest in a series of price tag attacks that have targeted Muslim, Christian and leftist institutions in the capital over the last two months. But police believe most of the vandalism is not the work of an organized group; rather, they say, the spray-painted slogans are largely copycat actions carried out by lone individuals.

The original price tag attacks, in contrast, were thought to be the work of a group of settlers seeking to set a “price tag” on house demolitions in the settlements via retaliatory attacks on Palestinians and/or Israeli soldiers.

The attacks during the past two months have included the torching of cars belonging to Arab residents of Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood; spray-painting slogans on a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion; spray-painting slogans on Peace Now’s office in the capital, as well as the house of Peace Now activist Hagit Ofran; threats against Peace Now secretary general Yariv Oppenheimer; and an arson attack on an ancient mosque in the city’s Geula neighborhood. Over the last week alone, a bilingual school and two churches have been vandalized, including the Baptist church vandalized Sunday.

In both church attacks, the vandals spray-painted slogans denouncing Christianity, Jesus and Mary, such as “Jesus is dead,” “Death to Christianity” and “Mary was a prostitute.” They also included the by-now customary “price tag” slogan.

The Jerusalem police said they have arrested several suspects in this spate of attacks, including one for the attacks on Peace Now and one for the vandalism of the bilingual school. The latter suspect, arrested last week, said he vandalized the school to avenge the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team’s loss to two Arab teams two weeks ago, according to police. Police believe that many of the other attacks are similarly motivated by ordinary hooliganism, rather than ideology.

“It’s intolerably easy,” one senior Jerusalem police officer said. “Any child can take a spray can and spray it, and people know it will be broadcast. Not every case is really nationalistic.”

But to victims, the motive is irrelevant. Jerusalem’s Christian community increasingly feels under assault, and that is especially true for Christians living in Jewish neighborhoods. Priests in the Old City, especially Armenian priests who must often transit the Jewish Quarter, say they are spat on almost daily.

“It’s almost impossible to pass through Jaffa Gate without this happening,” said a senior priest at one Jerusalem church.

The spitting has become so prevalent that some priests have simply stopped going to certain parts of the Old City.

The Baptist church has been attacked twice before: It was torched in 1982 and again in 2007. “We mainly feel sad” about the attacks, said the church’s pastor, Charles Kopp. “It hurts us that anyone could even think we deserve such treatment. They don’t know us, but they apparently oppose anyone who doesn’t identity with them. I wish them well; I have no desire for revenge.”

Baptist priests don’t normally walk around in priestly garb, but Kopp said he would be afraid to walk through the Old City if he did.

Jacob Avrahami, the mayor’s advisor on the Christian community, visited the Baptist church on Monday to condemn the attacks. “They feel besieged; you can see it on them,” he said.

Dr. Gadi Gevaryahu, whose Banish the Darkness organization works to combat racism, said his big fear is that “one day, they’ll attack a mosque or a church with people inside and there will be a terrible conflagration here.”

“Over the last two years, 10 mosques have been torched here, and today it’s clear that it’s not just aimed at Palestinians or Muslims, but at foreigners in general,” he said.

Gevaryahu also offered a practical suggestion: Security cameras, he said, should be installed on every sensitive building in the city.

Netanyahu Backs Law to Ban Loudspeakers at Mosques

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2011 by loonwatch
A mosque in Kafr Azarya next to the Maaleh Adumim settlement. Photo by: Emil Salman
A mosque in Kafr Azarya next to the Maaleh Adumim settlement. Photo by: Emil Salman

What’s next? Bans on minarets?

Netanyahu backs law to ban loudspeakers at mosques

‘There’s no need to be more liberal than Europe,’ PM says of move that would ban loudspeakers in calls to prayer.

By Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday voiced support for a law that would ban mosques from using loudspeaker systems to call people to prayer.

The so-called Muezzin Law, propos[e]d by MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu ) applies to all houses of worship but the practice is prevalent only in mosques.

“There’s no need to be more liberal than Europe,” Netanyahu said in reference to the law during a meeting of his Likud ministers.

After intense pressure from Likud ministers Limor Livnat, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, who harshly criticized the bill, Netanyahu announced that he was postponing the scheduled debate in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

Michaeli has said hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens routinely suffer from the noise caused by the muezzin’s calls to prayer.

“The bill comes from a worldview whereby freedom of religion should not be a factor in undermining quality of life,” she said.

Netanyahu made similar comments to the Likud ministers.

“I have received numerous requests from people who are bothered by the noise from the mosques,” he said. “The same problem exists in all European countries, and they know how to deal with it. It’s legitimate in Belgium; it’s legitimate in France. Why isn’t it legitimate here? We don’t need to be more liberal than Europe.”

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said there was no need for such a law and that it would only escalate tensions.

Michael Eitan, minister for the improvement of government services, agreed with Meridor, adding that this law was just a pretext for those wishing to legislate against Muslims. “If the desire was to combat sound, then a law against sound in all areas should be introduced,” said Eitan. “But the MK proposing the bill wants to combat religion. I met with her and she tried selling it to me as an environmental law. I said to her, ‘Look me in the eyes. You are not interested in the environment, but in Islam.”

Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat joined Eitan and Meridor, saying anyone who wishes to serve a complaint over noises coming from Mosques can already do so under existing law. “There is an anti-noise law that is supposed to deal with the problem of noise from mosques, if such a problem even exists, but that law is not enforced. There is no need for a new law, rather the proper enforcement of the existing one,” said Livnat.

“None of the ministers came to Netanyahu’s defense or supported his position,” said one minister who participated in the meeting.

Netanyahu realized he would not be able to muster a majority in support of the law among his Likud ministers, and announced that the bill would be removed from the agenda of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which convened a few hours after the Likud meeting.

Netanyahu added, however, the matter would be debated over the coming days and that the bill would be brought before the ministerial committee next week.

As a resident of Caesarea, Netanyahu is particularly familiar with the struggles that exist over noises emerging from mosques. For some time now, Caesarea residents have been acting against the use of loudspeaker systems by mosques in the neighboring village of Jisr al-Zarqa. In the past few years, “round table” teams comprised of members from both villages have been set up to find solutions to various issues. One of the representatives from Jisr al-Zarqa told Haaretz the issue of mosques using loudspeakers has arisen in their meetings.

Head of the Jisr al-Zarqa local council Az-a-Din Amash said Netanyahu did not intervene in the discussions, adding, “We have no desire to clash with Caesarea residents over the matter, quite the opposite. As such, we established a joint committee for dialogue, in which numerous issues relating to mosques use of loudspeaker systems arise.”

Students on trip to IDF base simulated shooting targets with Arab headdress

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2011 by loonwatch
Herzliya’s Hayovel School. Activities included target practice on silhouettes wearing keffiyehs. Photo by: Nir Keidar

Students on trip to IDF base simulated shooting targets with Arab headdress

Incident took place during at a military base where students were being escorted as part of an ‘IDF preparation’ project, sanctioned by the Education Ministry.

By Or Kashti

Twelfth-grade students from Herzliya’s Hayovel High School took part in a simulated shooting attack in which the targets were figures decked out with the Arab keffiyeh headdress, Haaretz has learned.

The incident took place at a military base last week during the annual 12th grade trip. The students were being escorted to a commanders’ base in the Negev as part of an “IDF preparation” project, which is sanctioned by the Education Ministry.

According to a person familiar with the details, the event was tantamount to “educating toward hatred of Arabs.”

“Some citizens of the State of Israel wear keffiyehs,” the source said. “Now they are viewed as legitimate targets for a shooting simulation.”

The trip concluded on Thursday. In a notice that was sent to parents, the school said that “the course of the trip is an inseparable part of the educational curriculum in general, and the ‘IDF preparation’ in particular.”

The first day of the trip included “activities with soldiers in commanders’ school,” according to the notice. The students met with soldiers on the base and heard lectures about the army and the importance of conscription.

During one of the discussions, the students were told that whoever does not serve in a combat unit “does not perform meaningful service.”

During the visit to the base, some of the students took part in an “electronic shooting range,” a computer-generated simulation that recreates a setting in which a soldier uses a laser-guided weapon to shoot targets. According to sources, the images in the electronic shooting range were outfitted with keffiyehs.

“From what I understood, the boys were more excited about this visit than the girls, some of whom preferred not to take part,” said the parent of one student on the trip. “I don’t think that it’s the education system’s job to train students to shoot.”

The “IDF preparation” project usually entails the visit of army officers to schools as well as occasional class trips to army bases for educational and instructional activities. This is believed to be one of the first times a visit to an army base has included students’ participation in a military activity. Children who are eligible for conscription usually undergo introductory military training as part of “Gadna Week,” which is not under the purview of the school system.

A school official said that the use of an electronic simulator that depicted a target wearing a keffiyeh “is certainly problematic, but this is a wider and more fundamental issue than our visit to the base. We have no intention of teaching the students to shoot people with keffiyehs.”

The Education Ministry did not issue a comment as of press time.

Haaretz: Mubarak’s Departure Thwarted Israeli Strike on Iran

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2011 by loonwatch

Netanyahu afraid of an “Islamic Revolution” hopes for a “Turkish” outcome in Egypt. So I guess he will be apologizing for the Mavi Marmara incident sometime soon?

Mubarak’s departure thwarted Israeli strike on Iran

by Aluf Benn (Haaretz)

Most Israelis were either born or immigrated to this country during the period in which Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt. This is the reality they know. And this is the significance of the stability that Mubarak provided them with.

In all the upheavals that took place in the Middle East over the past three decades, the Egyptian regime appeared to be a powerful rock. The leaders of Israel knew that their left flank was secure as they went out to war, built settlements and negotiated peace on the other fronts. The friction in relations between Jerusalem and Cairo, however frustrating it was at times, did not undermine the foundations of the strategic alliance created by the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement.

The resignation of Mubarak following 18 days of protests in Egypt ushers in a new era of uncertainty for the entire region, and for Israel in particular. The long reign of the Egyptian leader was not unusual for the Middle East. Hafez Assad led Syria for 30 years, like Mubarak in Egypt; King Hussein and Yasser Arafat ruled for 40 years. But when they stepped off the stage, their legacy was secure. Hussein and Assad passed the reins on to their sons, and Arafat was replaced by his veteran deputy, Mahmoud Abbas. This is why the changing of the guard in Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian Authority were perceived by Israel as natural, arousing no particular concern. After all, the familiar is not all that frightening.

But this is not the situation in Egypt today. Mubarak was thrown out, before he could prepare one of his close aides or his son to take over as president. The army commanders who took over are trying to calm the Egyptian public and the international community with promises that they have no intentions of setting up a new junta in Cairo, but rather, plan to pass to transfer authority to a civilian government through free elections. But no one, including the generals in the Supreme Council of the Armed forces, knows how and when the regime transition will play out. History teaches us that after revolutions, it takes a number of years of domestic infighting before the new regime stabilizes.

This uncertainty troubles Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His reactions during the first days of the revolution exposed deep anxieties that the peace agreement with Egypt might collapse. He tried to delay Mubarak’s end as long as possible, but to no avail, and on Saturday he praised the Egyptian military’s announcement that all international agreements would be respected, including the peace treaty with Israel.

Netanyahu is afraid of the possibility that Egypt may become an Islamic republic, hostile to Israel – a sort of new Iran but much closer physically. He hopes this doesn’t happen and that Egypt will follow Turkey’s footsteps, preserving formal ties with Israel, embassies, air connections and trade, even as it expresses strong criticism of its treatment the Palestinians.

The best case scenario, in his view, even if it is less likely, is that Egypt will become like Turkey before the era of Erdogan: a pro-American country, controlled by the military.

Netanyahu shared with Mubarak his concerns about the growing strength of Iran. Egypt played a key role in the Sunni, the “moderate,” axis, which lined up alongside Israel and the United States against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

The toppling of the regime in Cairo does not alter this strategic logic. The revolutionaries at Tahrir Square were motivated by Egyptian national pride and not by their adoration of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Whoever succeeds Mubarak will want to follow this line, even bolster Egyptian nationalism, and not transform Egypt into an Iranian satellite. This does not mean that Mubarak’s successor will encourage Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear installations.

On the contrary: they will listen to Arab public opinion, which opposes a preemptive war against Iran. Israel will find it difficult to take action far to the east when it cannot rely on the tacit agreement to its actions on its western border. Without Mubarak there is no Israeli attack on Iran. His replacement will be concerned about the rage of the masses, if they see him as a collaborator in such operation.

Whoever is opposed to a strike, or fear its consequences – even though they appear to be in favor, like Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – now have the ultimate excuse. We wanted to strike Iran, they will write in their memoirs but we could not because of the revolution in Egypt. Like Ehud Olmert says that he nearly made peace, they will say that they nearly made war. In his departure Mubarak prevented a preemptive Israeli war. This appears to have been his last contribution to regional stability.

 

Brad Burston: Rethinking Boycotts, the ADL and a Mosque

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2010 by loonwatch

Brad Burston is one of my favorite writers at Haaretz. His articles are always insightful, analytical and the commentary always makes you think.

In this article he writes about the ADL’s comments on the Cordoba Center as well as his opinions in general about boycotts.

A Special Place in Hell / Rethinking Israel boycotts, the ADL and a N.Y. mosque

by Brad Burston

In theory, the first purpose of boycotts is to cause people to think. To discover or reconsider an issue.

In theory, the first purpose of the Anti-Defamation League is the same. To cause people to discover, to rethink, to become aware of and combat bigotry, within themselves as well as in others.

This week a boycott campaign caused me to rethink boycotts against Israel. And a campaign by the Anti-Defamation League caused me to rethink the Anti-Defamation League.

The boycott was the decision by the Olympia, Washington Food Co-op, to remove Israeli products from the shelves of its two stores.

In a move as courageous as it was overdue, the co-op also featured and published online a pamphlet strongly opposing manifestations of anti-Semitism in leftist movements.

“Unfortunately,” the co-op’s blog observed, “anti-Semitic statements have abounded in a lot of the ‘support’ that the co-op has received in regard to the Israeli-products’ boycott.”

Protester calling for boycott of Israel A protester calling for a boycott of Israel.
Photo by: AP

The Olympia Food Co-op has taken an important step in distinguishing between opposition to the policies of Israel on the one hand, and anti-Jewish hatred on the other.

It has also worked to identify and distance Islamophobia and anti-Arab bigotry from the wider discussion of boycotts and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Which makes it all the more curious that when longtime ADL National Director Abraham Foxman chose to publicly oppose the construction of a mosque and Muslim cultural center near the Ground Zero site, his rationale was troubling, to say the least:

“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” Foxman, himself a survivor, told The New York Times.

“Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, ‘Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.’”

There is something at once refreshing and destructive about Foxman’s words. Refreshing, in the sense that this sounds like unfiltered honesty. Destructive, in the sense that this is precisely the rationale under which many on the left have justified or excused non-progressive, at times overtly bigoted, statements and actions by militant Palestinians.

It is high time to strike bigotry of all forms – by both sides – from the debate over the Mideast conflict.

It is time, as well, for the Jewish community as a whole to relate differently to those in their midst who have a serious difference of opinion with Israel.

In this regard, it is time for the Jewish community to engage those who support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, rather than effectively excommunicating them.

Perhaps what is most profoundly needed is for those who care about the Mideast equation to genuinely say what they think, and to abandon the time-honored codes in which each side attacks the other.

Allow me to begin.

I fully recognize as valid the opinions of those who oppose the idea of a specifically Jewish state. I would only ask that they be honest and open about it.

If you think a Jewish state is a bad idea, an institution that should be disbanded, I believe that it is the honest thing – honest to yourself, before all else – to come out and say so.

As a supporter of the idea of a truly democratic Jewish state alongside an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, what I cannot accept is the idea that formally Muslim states are acceptable, where a Jewish state is not.

In the past I have been vociferous in opposing boycotts. I now realize that it was not the boycott per se that cause me rage, but the tolerance for a double standard that said “While others – including our own United States – commit war crimes, engage in oppression, and have a long history of subjugating, disenfranchising and dehumanizing minorities, Israel will be our sole target.”

Something else angered me as well – not the fact that some of the people who advocated boycotting Israel were actually against the idea of having a state of Israel, but the fact that for tactical reasons, they refused to come out and say so.

In general, I oppose boycotts as a tactic, first because I oppose collective punishment of all kinds, whether practiced by Israel against Gazans, or by progressives against Israelis as a whole. I also believe that boycotts against Israel tend to be self-defeating.

Having said that, I recognize that nearly everyone tends to boycott those they do not care for, while making efforts to support those whom they do. Moreover, some of those who most strongly oppose the BDS movement continually launch boycotts of their own.

I want to thank the Olympia Food Co-op Israel boycott. Something extremely valuable is happening there. Something truly radical. An awareness that people who are truly in favor of social justice must take a stand against bigotry, no matter the target.

The mayor of New York has set an example in this regard, saying of the mosque and its critics, “What is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us?”

It’s a lesson that Abraham Foxman needs to relearn.

 

Update: Israel Funds Rabbi who endorses Murder of Gentile Babies

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2009 by loonwatch

Update: Israel Funds Rabbi who Endorses Murder of Gentile Babies

yitzhak_shapira

Haaretz brings us an update on the case of the West Bank Settler Rabbi who endorsed the murder of Gentiles including babies and innocents.

Who is Funding the Rabbi who Endorses Killing Babies?

Right-wing spokesmen, including some elected officials, rushed to place Yaakov “Jack” Teitel in the fringe group alongside Yigal Amir, Eden Natan Zada, Eliran Golan, Asher Weisgan, Danny Tikman and a few other “political/ideological” murderers.

True, they acknowledge, there are among us several lunatic rabbis who agitate to violence. Really, just a handful; even a toddler could count them.

The more stringent will note that unlike the Hamas government, our government does not pay the salaries of rabbis who advocate the killing of babies.

Is that so? Not really.

For example, government ministries regularly transfer support and funding to a yeshiva whose rabbi determined that it is permissible to kill gentile babies “because their presence assists murder, and there is reason to harm children if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us … it is permissible to harm the children of a leader in order to stop him from acting evilly … we have seen in the Halakha that even babies of gentiles who do not violate the seven Noahide laws, there is cause to kill them because of the future threat that will be caused if they are raised to be wicked people like their parents.”

Lior Yavne, who oversees research at the Yesh Din human rights organization, checked and found that in 2006-2007, the Ministry of Education department of Torah institutions transferred over a million shekels to the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in Yitzhar.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has allocated over 150,000 shekels to the yeshiva since 2007, scholarships for students with financial difficulties studying there. And what can they learn with the help of public funding from the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira? According to selected items published last week in the media, the boys can learn that Teitel is not only innocent, but also a real saint.

Their spiritual leader stated in his book, “Torat Hamelekh” that “a national decision is not necessary in order to permit the shedding of blood of an evil kingdom. Even individuals from the afflicted kingdom can attack them.”

A brochure distributed in Judean and Samarian communities stated that “needless to say that nowhere in the book does it state that these remarks are aimed only at gentiles in ancient times.”

The commandments in the book do not suffice only with gentiles; you can also find in them approval to attack leftist professors: every citizen in the kingdom opposing us who encourages the fighters or expresses satisfaction with their actions is considered a pursuer and his killing is permissible,” wrote the rabbi and adds, “and also considered a pursuer is someone whose remarks weaken our kingdom or have a similar effect.”

Not long ago, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that he would ask European Union countries to halt their support for the Breaking the Silence organization because he was displeased with their publications.

The minister surely has reservations about the rabbi’s publications.

He is invited to approach his colleagues at the Ministry of Education and at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Update: Israel Funds Rabbi who endorses Murder of Gentile Babies

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2009 by loonwatch

Update: Israel Funds Rabbi who Endorses Murder of Gentile Babies

yitzhak_shapira

Haaretz brings us an update on the case of the West Bank Settler Rabbi who endorsed the murder of Gentiles including babies and innocents.

Who is Funding the Rabbi who Endorses Killing Babies?

Right-wing spokesmen, including some elected officials, rushed to place Yaakov “Jack” Teitel in the fringe group alongside Yigal Amir, Eden Natan Zada, Eliran Golan, Asher Weisgan, Danny Tikman and a few other “political/ideological” murderers.

True, they acknowledge, there are among us several lunatic rabbis who agitate to violence. Really, just a handful; even a toddler could count them.

The more stringent will note that unlike the Hamas government, our government does not pay the salaries of rabbis who advocate the killing of babies.

Is that so? Not really.

For example, government ministries regularly transfer support and funding to a yeshiva whose rabbi determined that it is permissible to kill gentile babies “because their presence assists murder, and there is reason to harm children if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us … it is permissible to harm the children of a leader in order to stop him from acting evilly … we have seen in the Halakha that even babies of gentiles who do not violate the seven Noahide laws, there is cause to kill them because of the future threat that will be caused if they are raised to be wicked people like their parents.”

Lior Yavne, who oversees research at the Yesh Din human rights organization, checked and found that in 2006-2007, the Ministry of Education department of Torah institutions transferred over a million shekels to the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in Yitzhar.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has allocated over 150,000 shekels to the yeshiva since 2007, scholarships for students with financial difficulties studying there. And what can they learn with the help of public funding from the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira? According to selected items published last week in the media, the boys can learn that Teitel is not only innocent, but also a real saint.

Their spiritual leader stated in his book, “Torat Hamelekh” that “a national decision is not necessary in order to permit the shedding of blood of an evil kingdom. Even individuals from the afflicted kingdom can attack them.”

A brochure distributed in Judean and Samarian communities stated that “needless to say that nowhere in the book does it state that these remarks are aimed only at gentiles in ancient times.”

The commandments in the book do not suffice only with gentiles; you can also find in them approval to attack leftist professors: every citizen in the kingdom opposing us who encourages the fighters or expresses satisfaction with their actions is considered a pursuer and his killing is permissible,” wrote the rabbi and adds, “and also considered a pursuer is someone whose remarks weaken our kingdom or have a similar effect.”

Not long ago, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that he would ask European Union countries to halt their support for the Breaking the Silence organization because he was displeased with their publications.

The minister surely has reservations about the rabbi’s publications.

He is invited to approach his colleagues at the Ministry of Education and at the Ministry of Social Affairs.