By macleans.ca - Friday, November 23, 2012 - 0 Comments
One of the most powerful Arabs, Ashrawi is the Middle East’s version of the Unsinkable Molly Brown
According to Arabian Business, Hanan Ashrawi is No. 353 on its list of the world’s 500 most powerful Arabs. This is a drop from last year when she was No. 100 but don’t count the lady out. Ashrawi is imperishable, the Middle East’s version of the Unsinkable Molly Brown. She is a professional Palestinian, the Western’s media’s go-to person for the weekly update on Israeli-American perfidy. Actually, I’m not being fair. She has spoken warmly about an American diplomat once, ambassador Christopher Stevens, but he had to be assassinated first. De mortuis nil nisi bonum etc.
Rockets over Beersheba sounds cinematic and in that film Ashrawi would play the part of the cunning female spy beguiling Israeli intelligence. She doesn’t beguile anyone with actual knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but she’s catnip for American TV. This week CNN’s Piers Morgan found himself rear-ended by Ashrawi’s collision with truth. “What’s an Israeli supposed to do when showered with rockets?” he asked a few times. Hanan’s eternal answer: “The real issue is the brutal occupation.” One might have thought Israel occupied Gaza, not Hamas.
Hanan Ashrawi burst into view on ABC-TV in 1988 when Ted Koppel went to Jerusalem to cover the first intifada. Ashrawi was a minor player on his show but stole it with her perfectly nuanced English and her sorrowful, powerful, just plain wonderful sense of outrage at the al-Nakbah (Arabic for “the disaster,” now referencing the day Israel was created as a Jewish state) plus her smart suits and inspiring reasonability. She modestly describes herself as “essentially a human being with a multi-dimensional mission,” which, I suppose, is reassuring because I have often wondered if she was actually a figment of my nightmares. Continue…
By Hamida Ghafour - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 2:29 PM - 0 Comments
Later this year, the country’s Jewish population will hit six million—the same number of Jews killed by Nazi Germany
They look like typical senior citizens at any drop-in centre as they gather around small tables and drink tea, occasionally chuckling at a joke or observation. They are dressed formally, as people of their generation often are, the women in blouses and tasteful makeup and the men in suit jackets.
There is nothing obvious that gives away the fact that they are among the last living witnesses to perhaps the greatest crime in history, the Nazi genocide of European Jews. Survivors such as Freddie Knoller, 91, have dedicated a large part of their lives to testifying against what happened to them during the Holocaust when approximately six million Jews were murdered.
Yet the gas chambers, death camps and mass deportations offered another lesson for Austrian-born Knoller. “What kept me alive was optimism,” he said, sipping a cup of tea in a simply furnished room inside Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors Centre in London. “I was an eternal optimist. I knew I would get out.”
Knoller’s parents died in Auschwitz, he survived Nazi-occupied France, and he watched prisoners eat dead bodies to stay alive in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Physical scars also remain. He rolls up his left sleeve to show the faded blue numbers 157103 tattooed on his forearm.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM - 0 Comments
For Benjamin Netanyahu, the question is not if, but when to bomb Iran
Mutual hostility between Israel and Iran has burned hot ever since Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. But rarely, if ever, has the prospect of outright war between the two countries been as real as it is now.
At issue is Iran’s nuclear program. Iran insists it is peaceful. Israel, along with most Western nations, believes it is geared toward obtaining a nuclear weapon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told the United Nations last week that Iran is on track to build an atomic bomb by the summer of 2013, is determined to stop it. A firm ultimatum was needed, he said, calling on the United States and other global powers to set a “red line” that Iran would not be allowed to cross without triggering a military response. The U.S. has so far rejected such a tactic. President Barack Obama says the U.S. will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, but he is refusing to threaten Iran with an explicit deadline.
With American help, Israel has launched a covert campaign of sabotage and cyber-warfare. A wave of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists in the last two years is also believed to be Israel’s responsibility. But still Iran’s centrifuges spin, and uranium is enriched.
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
Israel has sent the remains of 91 Palestinian militants to the occupied West Bank…
Israel has sent the remains of 91 Palestinian militants to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a deal to end a weeks-long prison hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian inmates. The Israeli government says it also hopes to kick-start stalled peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
As the BBC reports, all of the 91 died carrying out attacks against Israel since 1975. Some of them were suicide bombers. The bodies had been kept in numbered graves for enemy combatants until Thursday, when they were handed over to Palestinian officials at dawn. According to the Associated Press, 80 of them were taken to Ramallah in the West Bank, and the remaining 11 were transported to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
From the AP:
Near the crossing from Israel to Gaza, families held framed pictures of their dead sons as they awaited the bodies. Ahmad Kahlout’s 21-year-old son Yehiya was killed 17 years ago after he raided an Israeli settlement.
“I am happy they are sending back his body so I can go and pray on his grave before I die,” said Mr. Kahlout, 78. “Until my dying day I will be proud of him, but also sad for the years I wasn’t able to visit his grave.”In describing the dead, Palestinian officials are using the word “martyrs,” while Israelis have deemed them “terrorists.” Among the 91 bodies includes the remains of fighters killed in a 1975 assault on the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv, the AFP reports.
“We hope that this humanitarian gesture will serve both as a confidence building measure and help get the peace process back on track,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, quoted by the AFP. ”Israel is ready for the immediate resumption of peace talks without any preconditions whatsoever.”
Peace talks haven’t been held since they broke down two years ago over the development of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority wants the construction of new settlements in the occupied territory—captured in the war of 1967—to stop before the resumption of peace negotiations.
By Cigdem Iltan - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 8:05 AM - 0 Comments
A University of Regina lecture series has sparked controversy and accusations of censorship
The University of Regina was buzzing this month with talk of academic muzzling off-campus. Emily Eaton, an assistant professor of geography, was a week away from presenting “Solidarity with Palestine: The Case for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel,” the second of 12 lunchtime talks scheduled over the summer in Regina’s Victoria Park, when she says the coordinator of the series told her the topic was under scrutiny and asked to know more about it. The lecture series, titled “Profs in the Park,” was to be produced in partnership with the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID).
The next day, she says, the university told her the RDBID had cancelled her event. “This is a clear case of a city-level administration stepping in and saying what its citizens should and shouldn’t be able to hear, and therefore defining the terrain of public debate,” says Eaton. All the professors scheduled to present—on everything from “Gardening with Native Plants” to “Current Trends in Policing”—withdrew from the series. “The profs and the dean collectively decided we’d rather pull all the presentations than be subject to censorship,” says Eaton. (The lecture series has since taken on a new name, “Profs in the City,” and has been relocated to a private space: Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Forum. Eaton presented her lecture to a packed house on June 14.)
Judith Veresuk, executive director of the RDBID, says her organization isn’t to blame for pulling the plug on the original series. She claims that RDBID contacted the university to clarify the content of the talk after the city and her organization received complaints about its subject matter. And instead of providing more info, says Veresuk, the university pulled the lecture. “The next thing I know,” she says, “the university is crying censorship and cancelled the series.”
By Yoni Goldstein - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 1:00 PM - 59 Comments
Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy on the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, and Iran, and why Israel is indestructible
Efraim Halevy is the former head of the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, where he worked closely with five Israeli prime ministers—Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. He is the author of Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis With a Man Who Led the Mossad.
Q: What are the real chances of peace between Israel and the Palestinians?
A: I think peace between Israel and the Palestinians hinges on the Palestinians proving the capability of nationhood. I don’t think that nationhood can be thrust upon the Palestinians from without. A nation has to be built from within—and it has to be purely Palestinians who create and build their own nation. The way things are at the moment, the Palestinians are not creating their own nation. The nation is being created from without. The United States is training their military forces; Tony Blair is chaperoning them and helping them build their economic and political institutions; the European Union is helping in other fields. In other words, what is being done is the Palestinian nation is being built with outside help. This, I think, cannot succeed. Whether the Palestinians have it within their capacity to transform what they have into a nation that has an in-built hierarchy, that has an in-built structure of discipline and orderly conduct—this is something that we don’t know yet.
Q: Do you have a sense whether they’ll be able to do it?
A: I don’t know. I think that if it is not the case, then they’re in for a lot of trouble. I think it is in Israel’s interest that there should be a Palestinian state—I think it is in Israel’s interest that there should be a Palestinian people that is capable of sustaining a Palestinian state. But what has been going on in recent years is not very encouraging.