Student organization encourages conversation about Palestine

Keene State College senior Hersch Rothmel is spearheading the effort to begin a chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace on campus. Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots organization that seeks to raise awareness about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It advocates for human rights and amended U.S. policy in the region. The new student group held its first event last Tuesday, Oct. 14. The teach-in, focusing on Israel and Palestine, featured a number of speakers and was an impassioned and informative narrative.

Aisha Mershani has a Ph.D in Peace, Development and Conflict Studies. Her talk focused on the Palestinian Civil Resistance against the Israeli apartheid wall and occupation of the West Bank, where she has worked as a photographer and solidarity activist since 2003.

Her photographs are expository, documenting popular resistance to the wall, daily life, interactions and landscapes in the region.

She started off the teach-in by explaining that American media does not show what is truly going on in Israel/Palestine and that as Americans we are brainwashed on this matter.

The first misconception, she explained, Is that its not a conflict its an occupation. Israel is occupying Palestinian lands.

Focusing on the West Bank, Mershanis presentation centered on what she considers the three most dangerous parts of the integrated system that Israel has been implementing in order to control Palestinian movement and steal land. These parts are the checkpoints, the tunnel roads and the apartheid wall.

Inside the West Bank, a checkpoint is a station where Israeli soldiers check IDs of Palestinians before they are allowed to cross to other areas, Mershani explained.

She explained how the checkpoints arent just how we would think of border checkpoints between nations, but checkpoints between villages.

A single village may become enclosed and isolated. A residents ability to leave is completely in the hands of Israeli soldiers.

Mershani explained, What could be a five minute drive, turns into a four hour drive waiting in lines to be allowed to move from one village to the next even within the West Bank. This is a way for Israel to control and track Palestinian movement.

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Student organization encourages conversation about Palestine

Seanad calls on Government to recognise Palestine

The Seanad has passed a motion calling on the Government to recognise the state of Palestine.

It is unlikely to change policy but the decision is the latest boost for Palestinian authorities campaigning for international recognition, coming after a similar move by the British House of Commons and Sweden’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state.

The motion called on the “Government to formally recognise the state of Palestine and do everything it can to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that citizens of both states can live in peace and security”.

It had cross-party support and passed without a vote.

Tabling the motion, Fianna Fil senator Averil Power said Ireland should “make it clear that statehood is a right of the Palestinian people and not a bargaining chip for the Israelis to play in further sham negotiations.

“In doing so, we will help increase pressure on Israel to pursue a genuine peace process that has a real prospect of delivering peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The Government is unlikely tofollow the motion but Ms Power said Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan would visit the Seanad in November to discuss the issue.

“It was great that we didn’t have to have a vote as we had cross-party support, which sends out a strong message,” she said.

Ahead of the vote, the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Boaz Modai, said he had contacted all senators to urge them to vote against the measure.

“Stunt gestures such as recognising ‘Palestine’ unilaterally are counter-productive because they only give excuses to those on the Palestinian side who hope to achieve their goals without talking directly to Israel,” the embassy said in a statement.

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Seanad calls on Government to recognise Palestine

Ingber 15: The oldest hatred in new and old forms

Anti-Semitism is not something we talk about on college campuses. While we may discuss anti-Semitism abstractly in academic conversations, it is something we believe we are beyond, something reminiscent of backward 20th century totalitarian regimes. But this ancient hatred of Jews persists around the world. From the depths of Saudi madrassas to the halls of the United Nations in Geneva, anti-Semitic tropes continue.

This past May, a gunman of Algerian descent murdered four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. A few years earlier, Mohammed Merah, a French national, murdered many people including an 8-year-old girl at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

But this summer, following the Israeli operation in the Gaza strip, anti-Semitism was not isolated to rogue actors perpetrating violence. While many protests expressed clear messages objecting to the actions of the Israeli government, others contained thousands of protesters many in Germany, alarmingly chanting gas the Jews. And most striking was an incident in Sarcelles, France, a suburb of Paris. Jewish businesses were looted and ransacked by mobs in an incident resembling something from 1930s Germany. Synagogues were attacked and Jewish sites were vandalized in the suburb of what many consider to be the cultural capital of Europe.

While it is important to note that European governments have been exceptionally swift in condemning this anti-Semitism and mobilizing broad political support to stop its spread, the populist nature of these events signifies the extant nature of European anti-Semitism.

But it is no surprise that there has been virtually no discussion on this topic of campus. Perhaps it is academically passe to examine anti-Semitism in most circles. But I think most students at Brown, and in the United States more broadly, do not believe they are exposed to anti-Semitism. I write this column not to suggest that Browns campus is brimming with anti-Semitism not in the slightest. But I would like to highlight certain things that have appeared across institutions of higher education that give cause for concern.

It is first crucial to remember that Jews still constitute a minority with a long history of persecution prior to a recent history of safety and security. It was not long ago that Henry Ford regularly distributed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and President Franklin Delano Roosevelts State Department routinely rejected requests to accept Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. While the triumph of the Jewish people vis-a-vis thousands of years of historical threats is nothing short of astonishing, we must remember that persecution weighs heavily on the Jewish historical memory.

And so, it is alarming that somebody drew swastikas on the facade of Emory Universitys chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the schools oldest historically Jewish fraternity. While some might say that Emory is in Atlanta, and the South has more anti-Semitism than other parts of the country, a similar expression of prejudice occurred recently at Yale. Swastikas were chalked on the sidewalk outside a freshman dorm just a short time after they were found on a whiteboard inside an academic building. Scary.

But never at Brown, right? That could not possibly happen here. But it did. Last year, surrounding the now infamous Ray Kelly affair, a number of posters with Ray Kellys face were adorned with swastikas. Should I have to enter my dorm and look at a swastika on the door? Do we have such a short memory of 20th century events that we forget how traumatizing these symbols are for Jews, many of whom had family live through or perish in the Holocaust?

But it is easy to condemn a swastika. The more nefarious instances of anti-Semitism manifest in language, not images. They appear in language speciously germane to a conversation but actually coded in historical anti-Semitism tropes. And it is in conversations regarding Israel that these tropes come to life.

Let me be nothing short of absolutely clear: It is perfectly acceptable and appropriate to criticize the actions of Israel without venturing into anti-Semitic territory. But when criticism of Israel uses language historically associated with anti-Semitic canards, we have to be careful. Calling Israelis or the Israeli government bloodthirsty for Palestinian children is simply a new variation on historic uses of blood libel the untrue and offensive notion that Jews seek the blood of non-Jewish children for religious ritual.

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Ingber 15: The oldest hatred in new and old forms

Rabbis Stern, Amar elected new chief rabbis of Jerusalem

Rabbis Aryeh Stern and Shlomo Amar were voted Jerusalem’s new chief rabbis of on Tuesday evening, after 11 years in which the posts stood vacant.

The 48 electors who cast their ballots at city hall on Tuesday afternoon chose Amar to serve in the capacity of the capital’s Sephardi chief rabbi, and Stern as Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

The two winners enjoyed the backing of both Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who has long wanted to get a Zionist rabbi elected as the citys chief rabbi, and Naftali Bennett, chairman of religious-Zionist party Habayit Hayehudi.

In the Sephardi race, Amar won 28 votes, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu got 18, and Rabbi Haim Amsalem two. Eliyahu, who is currently serving as chief rabbi of Safed, is well known to the Israeli public due to his anti-Arab statements and edicts. He was indicted for incitement to racism in 2007, but the charges were withdrawn after he retracted and apologized for his remarks.

In the race for Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Stern won 27 votes, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau 20, and one envelope was left empty.

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Rabbis Stern, Amar elected new chief rabbis of Jerusalem

Israel panel proposes 25-42 pct tax hike on mining companies

An Israeli government panel on Monday proposed sharply raising taxes on mining activities, but it softened the blow by recommending a progressive, rather than flat, rate ranging from 25 to 42 percent. The hike drew the ire of the country's largest mining firm, potash and speciality chemicals maker Israel Chemicals (ICL) , which has lobbied heavily against the tax. In a final report, the …

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Israel panel proposes 25-42 pct tax hike on mining companies

Palestine is a state, definitely

(MENAFN – Alghad Newspaper) The Palestinian cause abroad is better than it is at home; while the political forces in the Palestinian arena are grappling to overcome their divisions and differences, the outside world began to look with appreciation to the struggle of the Palestinian people, and their right to end the occupation and build their own independent state.

Britain, who played the role of the midwife in the birth of the Zionist project on the land of Palestine, is seeking, after about 100 years of the infamous Balfour Declaration, to atone for its historical sin against the Palestinian people. The British House of Commons vote in favor of recognizing the state of Palestine, even though symbolic, embodies a historic moment in the march of the Palestinians for freedom and independence.

The world has not forgotten the just cause of Palestine and its people, amid the horrors of the region and the concerns of the war on terrorism. I’d go further to say that the horrors the region is witnessing awakened the conscience of many countries, which have begun to realize the objective correlation between extremism and injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people; it has been proven without a doubt that the absence of justice in Palestine gives birth to violence and extremism in the region.

In Europe in particular, many states began feeling uneasy about Israel being a state above the law; entitled to commit what it pleases of the crimes, claiming that the other terrorists undermine world peace. This logic is no longer palatable in the West; there is a growing feeling that the policies of Israel that goes against peace based on international legitimacy resolutions, is the nub of the problem in the region.

Sweden was the first country to launch the cry of rebellion against the old policy of the West, followed by Britain, and now France is paving the way for a similar move which recognizes the State of Palestine.

European support contract, which encircles the neck of Israel and give it the strength and safety it wanted, is gradually falling apart. Maybe before the second decade of the new millennium most Western countries would have recognized the state of Palestine.

The Palestinian state within a few years will become a reality, and stronger than the American veto at the Security Council. More than 130 countries in the world will deal with Palestine as a state that is under occupation. This is a historic development and a victory for the cause of the Palestinian people, one which neither Israel nor the US can ignore. Then, the Israeli occupation will have no choice but to leave.

It does not matter today that the British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the House of Commons vote will not change his government’s policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is important that the representatives of the British people have voted overwhelmingly to recognize the state of Palestine.

Symbolic vote? This is true. But its real value is in the historical symbolism. The Palestinians today do not have a state and will before the departure of the occupation. But at the moment when the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the world recognize the State of Palestine, the occupation will no longer be of value; the Palestinian state would be a reality.

The Israelis are proud of saying that they did not need more than thirty years after the Balfour Declaration to establish their usurping state. The Palestinian people will be proud to break their record after the “declaration” of the British House of Commons; when the whole world announces their recognition of the State of Palestine soon.

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Palestine is a state, definitely

The U.S. and Israel want to marginalize the Palestinians

Peace between Palestine and Israel depends on Tel-Aviv and Washington, according to Magid Shihade, a political scientist at Birzeit University and currently a visiting professor at the University of California at Davis. Shihade is critical of the Cairo Conference, which aimed to raise billions of dollars for the reconstruction of what has been destroyed by Israel in Gaza. He is similarly skeptical of the will of John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, to carry forward the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which has since June represented a union government between Hamas, in Gaza, and Fatah, in the West Bank.

CartaCapital: Do you believe that the Palestinian Authority, now the umbrella organization of Palestine thanks to the reunification of Fatah and Hamas in June, can negotiate with Israel?

Magid Shihade: Israel will always find excuses to delay, and all along continue the theft of Palestinian lands, undermining the social, political, and economic integrity of the Palestinian people. As a settler colonial state, this is a normal pattern. Israel dragged out the talks with the PLO/PA for decades, and when Yasser Arafat wanted to establish an official timeline to achieve peace he was eliminated. Mahmoud Abbas replaced Arafat. The Israeli government continued using Hamas as an excuse for not negotiating. Both Israel and the U.S. will continue to push for empty talks in order to marginalize the Palestinians, creating further frictions thanks to policies such as new Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

CC: The Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the acceptance by the UK and Sweden of Palestine as a state. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and John Kerry say they wish to pursue the negotiations. Are we again facing an impossible peace process?

MS: Netanyahu is not an exception regarding the peace process. The difference between the various Israeli leaders is only a matter of tone. All of them want Israel to remain a colonial state, thus undermining any real sovereignty for an independent Palestinian state. The push from different states (Sweden and others) helps, but both Israel and the U.S. remain the main obstacle.

CC: In Cairo they are raising 3.2 billion euro to reconstruct Gaza.

MS: The so-called international community puts up money to rebuild what Israel destroys. It has become a routine. Why does Israel not pick up the bill? This is a way to let Israel act with impunity.

CC: How difficult is it for an academic to publish pro-Palestinian scientific research in the U.S.?

MS: It is very hard because the academy and the publishing of academic papers in the West are not free from sympathies for Israel and Zionism, to say the least. Therefore, honest critical writing about Palestine is censored. Even teaching here is also under restrictions when it comes to the question of Israel/Palestine. There are, for example, Jewish Zionist groups that blacklist academics for taking a stand against Israel, or even for not supporting Israel such as through the AMCHA initiative (in Hebrew Amcha means your people, your nation). There are also groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who write letters and meet with universities’ administrators to ask for the repression of students and faculty who are critical of Israel.

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The U.S. and Israel want to marginalize the Palestinians

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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Kandel Says Panel Miscalculated on Resource Tax: Israel Markets

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