Britain's phantoms of the past in Palestine

Britain’s phantoms of the past in Palestine By Ramzy Baroud

It would be intellectually dishonest to reflect on the British House of Commons’ vote of October 13, on a Palestinian state without digging deeper into history. Regardless of the meaning of the non-binding motion, the parliamentary action cannot be brushed off as just another would-be country to recognize Palestine, as was the Swedish government’s decision on October 3.

Unlike Sweden, and most of the 130-plus countries to effectively recognize Palestine, Britain is a party in the Middle East’s most protracted conflict. In fact, if it were not for Britain, there would be no conflict, or even Israel, of which to speak. It is within this context that the British vote matters, and greatly so.

As I listened to the heated debate by British MPs that preceded

the historic vote of 272 in favor and 12 against, phantoms of historic significance occupied my mind.

When my father was born in historic Palestine in 1936, he found himself in a world politically dominated by Britain. Born and raised in the now long-destroyed Palestinian village of Beit Daras – which, like the rest of historic Palestine has now become part of “Israel proper” – he, along with his family – were entrapped between two anomalies that greatly scarred the otherwise peaceful landscape of Palestine countryside. A Jewish colony called Tabiyya, along with a heavily fortified British police compound that was largely aimed at safeguarding the interests of the colony, subjugated Beit Daras.

The residents of the village, still unaware of the plan to dispossess them from their homeland, grew wary of the dual treachery with time. But by 1947-48, it was too late. The British-coordinated withdrawal from Palestine was aimed at creating space for a Jewish state, today’s Israel. The Palestinians, for 66 years and counting, suffered from more than homelessness and dispossession, but also a military occupation and countless massacres, ending with the most recent Israeli war on Gaza. In what Israel calls Operation Protective Edge, nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed and five-fold more were wounded. Yet, Palestinians continue to resist, with greater ferocity than ever.

Because of this, and the fact that the British government remains a member of the ever-shrinking club of Israel’s staunch supporters, the vote in the British parliament greatly matters. “Symbolic” and non-binding, it still matters. It matters because the Israeli arsenal is rife with British armaments. Because the British government, despite strong protestation of its people, still behaves towards Israel as if the latter were a law-abiding state with a flawless human-rights records. It matters despite the dubious language of the motion, linking the recognition of Palestine alongside Israel, to “securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

But there can be no two states in a land that is already inhabited by two nations, who, despite the grossness of the occupation, are in fact interconnected geographically, demographically and in other ways as well. Israel has created irreversible realities in Palestine, and the respected MPs of the British parliament should know this.

The votes were motivated by different rationale and reasons. Some voted “yes” because they have been long-time supporters of Palestinians, others are simply fed up with Israel’s behavior. But if the vote largely reflected an attempt at breathing more life in the obsolete “two-state solution” to a conflict created by the British themselves, then, the terrible British legacy in Palestine which has lasted for nearly a century will continue unabated.

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Britain's phantoms of the past in Palestine

Half-mumbled prayers and friction at Jerusalem's holiest site

* Palestinians angered by Jewish visitors to al-Aqsa compound * Site is third holiest in Islam, holiest in Judaism * Non-Muslims allowed to visit the site but must not pray By Luke Baker JERUSALEM, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Israeli and Palestinian police kept a tight watch over the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday amid high tension between Muslims and Jewish visitors to the holy site and calls from …

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Half-mumbled prayers and friction at Jerusalem's holiest site

Kandel Says Panel Miscalculated on Resource Tax: Israel Markets

An Israeli government panel that recommended higher royalties on the countrys natural resource companies in May will adjust its final proposal this week to avoid hurting investment, a member of the committee said.

The panel changed interim recommendations because there was some miscalculation that would have created a disincentive for investment, Eugene Kandel, a panel member and the head of Israels National Economic Council, said in an Oct. 17 interview at Bloombergs New York headquarters. Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL), the countrys second-largest publicly traded company, froze $1 billion of spending at home amid the proposed tax increase. The final recommendations will be submitted to the finance minister Yair Lapid tomorrow, the ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.

We didnt understand the implications of some of the things that wed proposed on the profitability of certain industries, not necessarily chemicals but others as well, Kandel said. The new recommendations provide protection from additional taxes in the areas where we dont believe additional taxes should exist.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid appointed the panel in June 2013 with a mandate to ensure that the public benefits from the exploitation of Israels natural resources. Israels last government increased royalties for Israel Chemicals two years ago, and the committees interim recommendations in May prompted complaints from the industry that the government was creating regulatory uncertainty and harming investment.

Israel Chemicals is waiting for the committees recommendations before making any decisions, it said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Any new tax increase will deteriorate ICLs business conditions in Israel relative to other countries, and therefore force it to adjust its business strategy in Israel, according to the statement. The continuation of the frequent regulatory changes continues to increase the insecurity of the Israeli industrial environment.

The company canceled $750 million of domestic investments and put a further $1 billion of spending on hold amid the row with the government. Stefan Borgas, the chief executive officer of Israel Chemicals, which harvests Dead Sea minerals to make fertilizers and whose parent company is controlled by billionaire Idan Ofer, has warned that frequent and unplanned regulation is poison for the company.

Shares of Israel Chemicals declined 0.6 percent to 25.23 shekels at 12:27 p.m. in Tel Aviv, bringing its decline this year to 13 percent, compared with a 7.6 percent gain in the TA-25 Index. (TA-25)

Any type of softening of the recommendations is good news, Gilad Alper, a senior analyst at Excellence Nessuah Brokerage in Petach Tikva, Israel, said today by phone. The question is, is it good enough to revert Israel Chemicals intention to cancel capital investment in Israel?

The government panel, led by economics professor emeritus Eytan Sheshinski of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in its interim report in May recommended setting a windfall tax of 42 percent on natural resources, saying it would add 500 million shekels ($134 million) annually to government coffers.

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Israel's natural gas group negotiating sale to Egypt

The partners in Israel’s offshore Tamar gas field said on Sunday they are negotiating the sale of at least 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas over three years to private customers in Egypt via an old pipeline built to send gas in the other direction.

The supplies would pass through an underwater pipeline constructed nearly a decade ago by East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), the company that oversaw a now-defunct Egyptian-Israeli natural gas deal.

Egypt had been selling gas to Israel in a 20-year agreement, but the deal collapsed in 2012 after months of attacks on the pipeline by militants in Egypt’s lawless Sinai peninsula. It has since been out of commission and EMG is suing the government of Egypt for damages.

Recent offshore discoveries such as Tamar, with an estimated 280 bcm of gas, and Leviathan, which is more than twice as big, have turned previously import-dependent Israel into a potential energy exporter. Egypt has been slow in developing its own sizable gas resources and now faces an energy crisis.

The Tamar consortium, led by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group, said in a statement they signed a letter of intent to negotiate with Dolphinus Holdings, a firm that represents non-governmental, industrial and commercial consumers in Egypt.

Any deal would be subject to various approvals in Israel, Egypt and from EMG.

The gas to be sent through the pipeline would be “interruptible”, meaning it would only come from excess reserves. It would be sold at a price comparable to other export agreements from Israel and based mainly on a linkage to Brent oil prices.

Tamar began production last year and output is mostly earmarked for the Israeli market. In addition, the Tamar partners are already in talks to provide an annual 4.5 bcm of gas for 15 years to Union Fenosa Gas for its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Egypt and a total of 1.8 bcm over 15 years to Jordan. Union Fenosa Gas is a joint venture between Spain’s Gas Natural and Italy’s Eni.

Noble and Delek are also developing the Leviathan field and are working on a major deal with BG Group to export 7 bcm of gas a year over 15 years for their LNG plant in Egypt.

“The memorandum of understanding with Dolphinus is another important link in the series of agreements that will allow the supply of natural gas to the domestic market in Egypt,” said Gideon Tadmor, chief executive of Delek subsidiary Avner Oil Exploration

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Israel's natural gas group negotiating sale to Egypt

WorldViews: Pudding Man who left Israel for Germany reveals his identity

BERLIN Pudding Man is unmasked! He is none other than 25-year-old mobile app designer Naor Narkis.

And if you dont know who pudding man is, you clearly dont live in Israel or Germany.

Narkis whose revealed his name for the first time to The Washington Post sparked an uproar over the past three weeks after taking to the Internet to share his decision to leave behind the high cost of Tel Aviv and follow a host of young Israelis emigrating to cheap and shabby-chic Berlin. Despite the shadow of the Holocaust here, he encouraged more of his countrymen to do the same anonymously mounting a Facebook page on Sept. 29 titled Olim Le Berlin. Even the name itself playing on a Hebrew word commonly used to encourage immigration to Israel stirred passions.

But his page really went viral and became part of the national debate after he posted a shopping recipe including a local version of a beloved Israeli chocolate dessert known as Milky. He bragged of buying a far more ample portion than the typical serving size in Israel for roughly one-third the price. Soon, talk began of a Milky Revolution or an outflow of young Israelis who could find economic solace in the symbolically important, and undeniably cheap, former capital of Nazi Germany.

Almost immediately, the Tel Aviv native became a folk hero to some, and an anti-Zionist villain to others. Those falling in the lattercamp include a range of media commentators, politicians and Holocaust survivors who railed against the unknown pudding man. Israeli Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir told the Jerusalem Post: “I pity the Israelis who no longer remember the Holocaust and abandoned Israel for a pudding.

In response to the “milky” debate, Israel’s main discount supermarket chain, Rami Levy, put the chocolate puddings on sale, although in reality most other goods remain pricy.

In the summer of 2011, Israel saw the biggest protests it had ever witnessed when hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to decry the high cost of living in their country. The mass demonstrations, which took issue with high housing prices and the cost of everyday consumer goods, threatened to down Netanyahu’s government at the time. Since then, however, and despite promises by various leaders to tackle the high cost of living, little has changed on the ground.

In Germany, meanwhile, Narkis has become an anonymous phenom, with the Bild Tabloid declaring, “Because of chocolate pudding a Berlin-revolution in Israel. Spiegel Online declared Berlin the pudding paradise!”

Sitting at a cafein Berlins fashionable Mitte neighborhood Friday, Narkis, a slightly built Tel Aviv native who spent six years in the Israeli army, said he was initially shocked by the uproar. He received death threats via his Facebook account, he said, though in retrospect he does not “take them seriously.”He said he decided to remain anonymous to keep the focus on his message Israel is too expensive for young people, and if that doesnt change, it will lose a generation of us who will move away. He was unmasking himself now, he said, to start promoting his message publicly.

Narkis arrived in Berlin five months ago, he said, after first trying his hand in Paris. It seemed initially like a logical choice. His mothers parents immigrated to Israel from France, and he speaks fluent French. But, he said, besides the high cost of Paris, a virulent strain of anti-Semitism there drove him away after just a few months. There are people there at protests yelling ‘Jews, out of France, he said.

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WorldViews: Pudding Man who left Israel for Germany reveals his identity

Israel's fury at the young Jews moving to Berlin for a cheaper life

The high cost of living in Israel has driven many to move to Berlin A popular dessert being a third cheaper in Germany highlights the issue It’s now known as the ‘Milky’ protest, after the pudding’s Israeli name The exodus has sparked fury with one labelling the trend ‘disgusting’ The idealization of Berlin is viewed by many as a hurtful provocation

By Ted Thornhill for MailOnline

Published: 03:37 EST, 16 October 2014 | Updated: 03:58 EST, 16 October 2014

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A group of young Israeli expats in Berlin have unleashed controversy back home by encouraging others to join them for a cheaper life.

The high cost of living in Israel has driven many to up sticks to the German capital, with the fact that a popular chocolate pudding can be bought for a third of the price there used to highlight the issue.

However, the exodus has sparked fury in Israel, with one commentator labelling the trend ‘disgusting’.

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Israel's fury at the young Jews moving to Berlin for a cheaper life

Richard Gere to star in Joseph Cedar movie filmed in Israel

Richard Gere. Image via Wikipedia

Actor Richard Gere is set to star in a new film by award-winning Israeli director Joseph Cedar.

Cedar also wrote the screenplay for the movie, which will be filmed in New York and Israel, the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot reported Sunday.

The movie will be called Oppenheimer, according to Yediot, and also star Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi.

Two of Cedars films, Footnote and Beaufort, were nominated for Academy Awards. Gere was a Golden Globe winner for his role in the film version of Chicago.

Meanwhile, the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats is slated to come to Israel for the first time.

The musical, which has been running on Broadway for 18 years, will be performed in Israel in November, according to reports.

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Richard Gere to star in Joseph Cedar movie filmed in Israel

Did Israel's 'Hannibal directive' lead to a war crime in Gaza?

By Maayan Lubell and Nidal al-Mughrabi KEREM SHALOM Israel/GAZA (Reuters) – The July-August war in Gaza drew international condemnation for a number of reasons, but one episode proved more deadly than any other: an Israeli air and artillery bombardment on Aug. 1 that killed 150 people in a matter of hours. Six weeks on from the war, with the toll of destruction still being counted, there is …

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Did Israel's 'Hannibal directive' lead to a war crime in Gaza?

Insight – Did Israel's 'Hannibal directive' lead to a war crime in Gaza?

By Maayan Lubell and Nidal al-Mughrabi KEREM SHALOM Israel/GAZA (Reuters) – The July-August war in Gaza drew international condemnation for a number of reasons, but one episode proved more deadly than any other: an Israeli air and artillery bombardment on Aug. 1 that killed 150 people in a matter of hours. Six weeks on from the war, with the toll of destruction still being counted, there is …

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Insight – Did Israel's 'Hannibal directive' lead to a war crime in Gaza?