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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2010 arrow April 8, 2010

April 8, 2010
April 8, 2010: Email from Israel and related links

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SECURITY and Loose Canons 



Dorothy writes from Israel:

Dear Friends,


This message began as a single item but has expanded to 5, each on a subject that should be of interest to you.


The initial  2 are deal with the same problem—treatment of certain classes of individuals at Ben Gurion aiport.  Today’s Haaretz editorial posits a fictional case where three Jewish Israelis are deported from JFK.  The purpose is to play up what really happens at BG airport in Israel, where visitors are often shown the door instead of being ushered in to Israel.  This happens frequently with individuals of Palestinian heritage, but not only.  It also happens with individuals that the Shabak does not want—as internationals who have participated or are expected to participate in solidarity events with Palestinians in the West Bank and/or Gaza, and it happents with people whose skin is the wrong color, or who are suspected to have ulterior motives (but with no proof or reason for this). 


One of the more pathetic cases that I have dealt with (some years ago), but to no avail, was of a 40 year old deaf woman.  She had come to visit a dying aunt, and also to participate in a family affair (all in the West Bank).  Her sole means of communication with her brother (likewise deaf) in the WB was via sms—and when her phone battery died, she was left with no means.  I learned about her plight on a weekend evening, at about 9 PM. 

I phoned the American embassy and requested the duty officer.  He could not be found, and time was running out. She was due to be put on a plane headed for the States in short time.  I phoned someone at the embassy whom I knew, and who was in a fairly high position.  He promised to look into it and to try to do something.  He phoned me back and explained that she was not being allowed in because she had a family member in the WB who had overstayed his visa (turned out that this was during a strike of several months in the Israeli Min of Interior section that deals with extending Passports of West Bank residents, and that the relatives passport had been sitting on someone’s desk during the entire time).  There was nothing, the official told me, that he could do.  I had no sooner finished speaking with him when the phone rang.  The duty officer had been found, and was on the line.  I related the story to him, and began to give him the necessary details (passport number, flight number, etc).  When I told him the name (an obvious  Arab name), he said in a somewhat exasperated voice, recognizing the source, “Oh, that’s the problem.”  It’s all in a name , in other words,—not what a person is.  It’s time for other countries to behave accordingly to Israeli citizens!


The 2nd item on the same subject of harassment at BG is about 2 Arab brothers who are citizens of this wonderful racist country, but who, after being humiliated at least found a judge who apparently is not racist. 


Item 3 is about colonist violence against a Sheikh Jarrah family.


And the final about Palestinian non-violent means of battling the Israeli occupation, expansion, and ethnic cleansing published in the New York Times, not way in the back, but apparently right up front—on page A1.  I am beholden to Teresa for calling attention to it.   


All the best,




 Haaretz Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Last update - 05:39 07/04/2010    


Barriers at Ben-Gurion


By Haaretz Editorial 


Tags: Israel news 



Three Jewish Israelis were deported from New York's JFK Airport last weekend after telling border control agents they were considering visiting a friend seeking political asylum in the United States. Despite the Israelis' protestations and the attempts by attorneys to post bail for their release, the three travelers were unceremoniously boarded on the first plane back to Tel Aviv.


Anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia? No, just a fictional inversion of an incident revealed by Amira Hass in yesterday's Haaretz. The actual event, which took place last Thursday, involved three American tourists (Christian pilgrims), all born in Ethiopia or Eritrea. All three were held for hours at Ben-Gurion International Airport after one of them told an Israeli official that they planned to visit an African refugee seeking asylum in Israel. Rather than review the case, the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority summarily deported all three.


It seems immigration officials have had a busy Passover holiday, having expelled three Swedish citizens of Palestinian origin several days earlier who had arrived as part of an educational group. The group also included four Jewish Swedes who were allowed to remain. Such incidents are only becoming more commonplace.


The explanations offered by immigration officials for the incident are unconvincing. A more compelling reason is required to prevent someone bearing the appropriate documents from exercising his right to enter Israel, just as every Israeli expects other countries to grant him entry.

Any security concerns that could prevent the entry of dangerous passengers are supposed to be aired before the traveler boards his plane for Israel, not after he lands; [one would think so, but in Israel the visa in a passport is not the final word.  That is left for the Shabak, the Israeli über Ministry of Interior. -Dorothy] this was not the case with the three Americans. If Israeli immigration authorities had even the slightest suspicion that the tourists were planning to join their friend in requesting refugee status, they should have proved as much with substantive evidence. Instead, they acted merely on assumptions, offering no justification for their decision to order a deportation - one based on information willingly and innocently proffered, not gleaned from a criminal or intelligence file.


The authorities' conduct was both unjust and injurious to Israel's good name. David Ben-Gurion, who lent his name to the gateway by which most visitors enter the country, hoped to see Israel become "a light unto the nations," not a red light with a towering barrier closed arbitrarily. 

Ynet Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Airport Humiliation 

El Al to compensate 2 Arab passengers,7340,L-3872794,00.html


Two brothers from Galilee complain airline put them through series of humiliations while waiting to board flight to Israel. Judge rules behavior is 'infringement of civil rights under mantle of sacred security cow,' orders company to pay NIS 30,000 in damages


Ahiya Raved Published:  04.07.10, 18:18 / Israel News 



The price of humiliation: El Al Airlines will pay NIS 30,000 (about $8,000) in damages to two brothers from the Galilee who claimed the company humiliated them while they were waiting to board a flight to Israel. 


The two said that after going through an unusually long security check, a female security office was instructed to follow them while they were waiting to board the flight. When one of the brothers lost his temper and confronted the guard, a supervisor approached him and demanded that the brother apologizes to the guard – or else he will not be allowed to board the plane. 


El Al claimed one of the brothers threatened to hit the security guard, but the claim was dismissed in court. A Haifa Magistrates' Court justice ruled that the airline's measures were not in line with what is allowed by law and called them "abusive and unnecessary." 


In the beginning of February, a group of insurance agencies from Menora insurance company traveled to the United States. Two of the group members, brothers Abd al-Wahab shalabi and Abd al-Aziz Shalabi from the village of Iksal arrived at the New York airport four hours prior to the scheduled Israir flight to Israel.


During the security check, which was conducted by El Al personnel, the two were asked to leave their luggage and carry-on bags at the security counter and come back to retrieve them in two hours. When they returned to pick up their bags, they were asked to come back again in half an hour.


After 30 minutes the brothers returned the second time, and were told that a female security officer will escort them until boarding. After the flight was delayed, an argument errupted between Abd al-Wahab and the security guard. 


According to the lawsuit, after Wahab spoke on the phone and went to the restroom, the security guard "scolded" him for "roaming freely and not letting her keep an eye on him." At this point, Wahab told her that "as long as she is not arresting him for any offence, she can 'get lost'."


'Security constraints'

The lawsuit stated that at this stage the security officer's supervisor approached Abd al-Wahab and demanded that he apologizes to the security guard, or else he will not be allowed to board the flight. Wahab, who broke down sobbing due to the series of humiliations, eventually apologized and was allowed on the plane.


El Al's statement of defense said that the company's actions were in line with security constraints. The company claimed that the security guard was told to escort the passengers in order to spare them from having to go through an additional security check at the boarding gate. 


The defense also stated that the supervisor demanded an apology after the plaintiff threatened to hit the security guard. The supervisor later denied telling the plaintiff he couldn't board the flight if he didn't apologize.


Justice Amir Toubi ruled that El Al's conduct exceeded its authority and what was allowed by law. "There is no argument about the need for strict security measures, especially due to the increasing terror threats in recent years. However, the law has certain boundaries pertaining to security, which do not include surveillance, escort or restriction of the passenger's freedom of movement in any way, without a substantial suspicion," he said. 


"There is no justification for infringement of civil rights under the mantle of the sacred security cow," Toubi added. 


Addressing the supervisor's demand for an apology, the judge said it was the product of "arrogance and obtuseness." He then instructed the airline to pay Abad al Wahab NIS 20,000 ($5,400) and Abd al-Aziz NIS 10,000 ($2,700) in damages, in addition to NIS 6,000 ($1,620) in expenses and fees.


El Al Airlines said in response that "Israeli aviation security is solely the responsibility of the State of Israel. El Al was asked by the State to conduct security checks abroad on behalf of Arkia and Israir airlines, and is acting under the security guidelines set by official elements of the State.


"El Al is not interested in providing security services, in general or for other airlines, and has requested the State to be relieved of providing this service."

From Pal Reports < >


Settlers Destroy Al-Kurd Property: Two Palestinians Arrested


Sheikh Jarrah, Occupied East Jerusalem, Israel, 12AM – Right-wing settlers began to dismantle a fence the Al-Kurd family erected around their garden shortly after midnight Wednesday morning. Palestinians and internationals in the Al-Kurds protest tent, where the family has have lived in for four months, placed themselves between the fence and the settlers. Police arrived soon after and arrested two young Palestinian men of Sheikh Jarrah. No settlers were taken into custody. Despite pleas by the Palestinians and internationals who witnessed the event, officers refused to look at the destroyed section of the fence.

The Al-Kurd family, assisted by residents across east Jerusalem, recently reclaimed their garden during a commemoration of Land Day. The reclamation included the seeding and transplanting of plants and erecting the fence that the settlers attempted to destroy this evening.

"The settlers actions in Sheikh Jarrah are a perfect example of the total power disparity between the Jewish and Palestinian populations of Israel and Palestine," said Nina Mackay. “With the police behind them, the young settlers can make up any story in an attempt to incarcerate Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah,” the Scottish ISM volunteer concluded.

Approximately 475 Palestinian residents living in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, located directly north of the Old City, face imminent eviction from their homes. All 28 families are refugees from 1948,, whose houses in Sheikh Jarrah were built and given to them through a joint project between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Jordanian government in 1956.

So far, settlers occupy four Palestinian families, displacing around 60 residents, including over 40 children. they have all been left without suitable housing but only some protest on the street continue to protest against the unlawful eviction from the sidewalk across the street from their homes, facing regular harassment from the settlers and racist police forces.

 Ryan Olander – Media Coordinator

International Solidarity Movement


Palestinians headed to plant trees last month in the West Bank, part of a new, nonviolent approach to assert their land claims.


Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times


The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said he planted trees in the West Bank last month “to establish our presence on our land and keep our people on it.”


Something is stirring in the West Bank. With both diplomacy and armed struggle out of favor for having failed to end the Israeli occupation, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, joined by the business community, is trying to forge a third way: to rouse popular passions while avoiding violence. The idea, as Fatah struggles to revitalize its leadership, is to build a virtual state and body politic through acts of popular resistance.


“It is all about self-empowerment,” said Hasan Abu-Libdeh, the Palestinian economy minister, referring to a campaign to end the purchase of settlers’ goods and the employment of Palestinians by settlers and their industries. “We want ordinary people to feel like stockholders in the process of building a state.”


The new approach still remains small scale while American-led efforts to revive peace talks are stalled. But street interviews showed that people were aware and supportive of its potential to bring pressure on Israel but dubious about its ultimate effectiveness.


Billboards have sprung up as part of a campaign against buying settlers’ goods, featuring a pointed finger and the slogan “Your conscience, your choice.” The Palestinian Ministry of Communications has just banned the sale of Israeli cellphone cards because Israeli signals are relayed from towers inside settlements. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is spending more time out of his business suits and in neglected villages opening projects related to sewage, electricity and education and calling for “sumud,” or steadfastness.


“Steadfastness must be translated from a slogan to acts and facts on the ground,” he told a crowd late last month in a village called Izbet al-Tabib near the city of Qalqilya, an area where Israel’s separation barrier makes access to land extremely difficult for farmers. Before planting trees, Mr. Fayyad told about 1,000 people gathered to hear him, “This is our real project, to establish our presence on our land and keep our people on it.”


Nonviolence has never caught on here, and Israel’s military says the new approach is hardly nonviolent. But the current set of campaigns is trying to incorporate peaceful pressure in limited ways. Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, just visited Bilin, a Palestinian village with a weekly protest march. Next week, Martin Luther King III is scheduled to speak here at a conference on nonviolence.


On Palm Sunday, the Israeli police arrested 15 Palestinians in Bethlehem who were protesting the difficulty of getting to Jerusalem because of a security closing. Abbas Zaki, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, was arrested, prompting demonstrations the next day. Some Palestinians are also rejecting V.I.P. cards handed out by Israelis allowing them to pass quickly through checkpoints.


Palestinian political analysts say it is too early to assess the prospects of the nonviolent approach. Generally, they say, given the division between Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority here, nothing is likely to change without a political shakeup and unified leadership. Still, they say, popular resistance, combined with institution-building and international appeals, is gaining notice among Palestinians.


“Fatah is living through a crisis of vision,” said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs in Jerusalem. “How can they combine being a liberation movement with being a governing party? This is one way. The idea is to awaken national pride and fulfill the people’s anxiety and passion. Of course, Hamas and armed resistance still remain a real option for many.”


Khalil Shikaki, who runs the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, said: “The society is split. The public believes that Israel responds to suffering, not to nonviolent resistance. But there is also not much interest in violence now. Our surveys show support for armed resistance at 47 percent in March. In essence, the public feels trapped between failed diplomacy and failed armed struggle.”


Israeli military authorities have not decided how to react. They allow Mr. Fayyad some activity in the areas officially off limits to him, but on occasion they have torn down what he has built. They reject the term nonviolent for the recent demonstrations because the marches usually include stone-throwing and attempts to damage the separation barrier.

[Remember that the so-called barrier steals Palestinian land—lots of it.  Furthermore, stone-throwing usually occurs after IOF soldiers start shooting tear gas and using other ‘dispersal’ means. Dorothy]

Troops have responded with stun grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests. And the military has declared that Bilin will be a closed area every Friday for six months to halt the weekly marches there.


“We respect Salam Fayyad,” one military official said, speaking under the army’s rules of anonymity. “But we don’t want him to engage in incitement. Burning goods is incitement. Destroying the fence is incitement and is not nonviolent. [constructing the fence is incitement and is not nonviolent!!!] They are walking a thin line.”


One reason a violent uprising remains unlikely for now, Palestinian analysts say, is that in the two years that Mr. Fayyad’s security forces and ministries have been functioning, daily life inside West Bank cities and their surroundings has taken on much greater safety and normality.


The police and the courts are functioning again after the intifada of 2000 that led to many deaths on both sides. Traffic tickets are now routinely handed out. Personal checks, long shunned, are increasingly in use.


Of course, the presence of Israeli forces outside the cities and at checkpoints, the existence of the barrier and continued building inside Israeli settlements send most Palestinians into despair and make them doubt that a sovereign state can be built.


One effort to increase a sense of hope is a new push to ban goods made in the settlements, symbols of occupation. A $2 million project called the Karama National Empowerment Fund, jointly financed by Palestinian businesses and the government, aims to spread the message through ads and public events.


Mr. Abu-Libdeh, the economy minister, said a law was likely to go into effect soon barring the purchase of settlers’ goods, a trade worth at least $200 million a year. Efforts to end Palestinian employment in settlements will not carry penalties, he said, because the government does not offer unemployment insurance and it is unclear whether the 30,000 Palestinians who work in settlements could find new jobs.


Palestinian industrialists have financed the settlers’ goods ban partly because they hope to replace the goods with their own. They do not single out other Israeli goods, which are protected under trade agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.


Mr. Fayyad, the prime minister, a political independent, said his notion was to build the makings of a state by 2011.


“It’s about putting facts on the ground,” he said in an interview. “The occupation is not transitional so we need to make sure our people stick around. If we create services, it gives people a sense of possibility. I feel we are on a path that is very appealing both domestically and internationally. The whole world knows this occupation has to end.”


A version of this article appeared in print on April 7, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition.


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SECURITY and Loose Canons 




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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright

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