Alexander 0103-13, Alexander Roger

Tax-break activist earns wide support | The Canadian Press

The Calgary Herald | March 8, 2001 | p, A7

WINNIPEG

A Winnipeg man waging an unprecedented court challenge of a $750-million

tax break given to a wealthy Canadian famil says has getting support
from
everyone from right-wing tax hawks to social activists.

“It’s gone right across the political spectrum,” George Harris said
Wednesday, shortly before heading to Ottawa for a Federal Court of
Appeal
hearing Thursday.

The hearing is the latest skirmish in a quixotic five-year legal
battle
against a 1991 Revenue Canada ruling which allowed a $2.2-billion trust
fund to move out of the country tax-free.

Although the family’s name has never been officially released,
it is widely reported to be the Bronfmans, the wealthy Montreal family
that
made a fortune in liquor before becoming a multibillion-dollar player in

the movie and music industries.

Harris, fronting the court challenge for the social justicve group
CHOICES,
wants to have the tax ruling reversed or the loophole closed which
allowed
it. Along the way, the soft-spoken 56-year-old has become the first
taxpayer ever
to be allowed to take the tax agency – now called Canada
Customs
and Revenue Agency – to court over the treatment of another taxpayer.

He’s also struck a chord with disgruntled taxpayers across the country,
who
have donated more [than] $30,000 for legal challenge. Some say the $750

millon in lost tax revenue should have gone to tax cuts, while others
want
it for social spending.

But everyone wants the same rules for rich and poor alike, said Harris,
who
supports himself with part-time jobs as a bookkeeper and AIDS support
worker.

“You get people who come to you with stories about how Revenue Canada
pursued them for arnounts of under $10,” said Harris. “People are
looking
at it from
the fairness point of view and saying everybody should be pursued with
the
same degree of diligence.”

The case has been put on a fast track because Ottawa will lose its right
at
the end of the year to recover any taxes that might be due on the trust
fund.

The matter will get a full hearing in September.

Harris said at least another $50,000 is needed to cover this year’s
legal
bills, even though the provincially funded Public Interest Law Centre
has
subsidized the lawyers’ billings.

<end>

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Edited by Dr. Bill Friend
RLA

[[ Please note that I have referenced what I deem important
portions between bold brackets [ ] – Bill ] This report has been
abridged for length. Those portions omitted do not directly relate to
Israeli treatment of Israel Arabs or Palestinians.

Israel (for information on occupied territories, see occupied
territories report)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -2000
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
February 2001

Israel 1/ is a parliamentary democracy with a multiparty system and
free elections. There is no Constitution; a series of “basic laws”
provide for fundamental rights. The legislature, or Knesset, has the
power to dissolve the Government and limit the authority of the
executive branch. Labor and One Israel party leader Ehud Barak was
elected Prime Minister in May 1999 and took office in July 1999 at the
head of a broad centrist coalition Government. On December 9, following
the breakdown of his coalition, Barak resigned as Prime Minister; prime
ministerial elections were scheduled to be held on February 6, 2001.
The judiciary is independent.

[[Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been in a state of war with
most of its Arab neighbors.]] It concluded a peace treaty with Egypt in
1979 and with Jordan in 1994, and a series of agreements with the
Palestinians beginning in 1993. As a result of the 1967 war, Israel
occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan
Heights. [The international community does not recognize Israel’s
sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories.] Throughout its
existence, Israel has experienced numerous terrorist attacks.

An historic process of reconciliation between Israel and the
Palestinians began with the Madrid Conference in 1991 and continued with
the September 1993 signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of
Principles (DOP). In September 1995, Israel and the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Interim Agreement on the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. In January 1997, the parties concluded the
Hebron Protocol and in October 1998, Israel and the PLO signed the Wye
River Memorandum. In September 1999, the Israeli Government and the PLO
signed the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum. The parties held intensive
working-level talks between March and June and met at Camp David in
July; however, the Government and the PLO did not reach an agreement.
Internal security is the responsibility of the Israel Security Agency
(the ISA — formerly the General Security Service, or GSS, and also
known as Shin Bet, or Shabak), which is under the authority of the Prime
Minister’s office. The police are under the authority of the Minister
of Internal Security. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are under the
authority of a civilian Minister of Defense. The IDF includes a
significant portion of the adult population on active duty or reserve
status and plays a role in maintaining internal security. The Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee in the Knesset reviews the activities of
the IDF and the ISA. [Some members of the security forces committed
serious human rights abuses.]

Israel has an advanced industrial economy, and citizens enjoy a
relatively high standard of living, with a per capita income of over
$17,000. Unemployment remained at about 9 percent during the year, but
was substantially higher in the country’s peripheral regions and among
lower-skilled workers. [The country’s economic growth has been
accompanied by an increase in income inequality. The longstanding gap
in levels of income within the Jewish population and between Jewish and
Arab citizens continues. The 14 towns with the highest unemployment
rate in the country all are populated by Arab citizens.] A heavy
reliance on foreign workers, principally from Asia and Eastern Europe,
is a source of social problems. Such workers generally are employed in
agriculture and the construction industry and constitute about 6 percent
of the labor force. Since the implementation of an economic
stabilization plan in 1985, the country has moved gradually to reduce
state intervention in the economy through privatization of several
state-owned companies and through deregulation. State-owned companies
continue to dominate such fields as electricity generation and
transmission, oil refining, shipping, and international air travel.
However, individuals generally are free to invest in private interests
and to own property. [ The Government owns and manages 77 percent of the
country’s land area, and as a matter of policy it does not sell land.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organization established in 1897 for
the purchase and management of land for the Jewish people, owns 8
percent of the country’s land area, including a considerable amount
transferred directly from the Government, and manages another 8 percent
on behalf of the Government.] Foreigners and citizens of all religions
are allowed freely to purchase or lease the 7 percent of land not
controlled by the Government or the JNF. [In March the High Court of
Justice ruled that the Government’s use of the JNF to develop public
land was discriminatory, since the JNF’s statute prohibits the sale or
lease of land to non-Jews. ]

The Government generally respects the human rights of its citizens;
however, [its record worsened late in the year regarding its treatment
of non-Jewish citizens.] Historically, Israel’s main human rights
problems have arisen from its policies and practices in the occupied
territories and from its fight against terrorism. However, [in October
police used excessive force to disperse demonstrations in the north of
the country that coincided with the outbreak of violence in the occupied
territories, killing 13 Arab citizens and injuring over 300 (see
Sections 1.a., 1.c., and 1.g. of the annex for a discussion of
casualties in the occupied territories). There also are credible
reports that police failed to protect Arab lives and property in several
incidents in which Jewish citizens attacked the homes of Arab
citizens.] A landmark decision by the High Court of Justice in
September 1999 prohibited the use of a variety of abusive practices,
including violent shaking, painful shackling in contorted positions,
sleep deprivation for extended periods of time, and prolonged exposure
to extreme temperatures. Since the September 1999 ruling, domestic and
international NGO’s have been unable to substantiate sporadic
allegations that security forces tortured detainees. [There were
numerous credible allegations that police beat persons in detention.
Detention and prison conditions, particularly for Palestinian security
detainees held in Israel do not provide inmates with sufficient living
space, food, and access to medical care. Following the IDF withdrawal
>from its self-declared “security zone” in southern Lebanon in May and
the concurrent collapse of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), all of the
prisoners from the Al-Khiam prison in southern Lebanon, where Lebanese
guards routinely committed abuses, were released. The Government
continued to detain without charge Palestinians, some of them for
lengthy periods; the number of such detainees increased following the
outbreak of violence in September.] In April an Israeli High Court
ruling declared illegal the holding of Lebanese detainees as “bargaining
chips” in Israeli prisons. Subsequently, authorities released 13
Lebanese prisoners, [all of whom had been held without charge, or had
already completed their terms.] At year’s end, there were approximately
20 Lebanese prisoners in custody, two of whom — Sheikh al-Karim Obeid
and Mustafa Dirani — were held without charge. Legislation that would
enable Obeid and Dirani to be held as “members of enemy forces not
entitled to prisoner-of-war status” passed a first reading during the
year. [Following the outbreak of violence in September, the Government
detained without charge hundreds of persons in Israel, the West Bank,
and Gaza, and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of persons and
some restrictions on the movement of goods between Israel and the West
Bank and Gaza and between cities in the West Bank and
Gaza–i.e., closure, which has been in effect to varying extents since
1993 (see Section 2.d. of the annex).]

[ The Government made little headway in reducing institutionalized
legal and societal discrimination against Israel’s Christian, Muslim,
and Druze citizens, who constitute just over 20 percent of the
population, but do not share fully the rights provided to, and
obligations imposed on, the country’s Jewish citizens. Prior to
October, the Government did not take tangible steps to improve the
situation of the country’s non-Jewish citizens, which was one of the
main factors that contributed to large Israeli Arab demonstrations in
October. The demonstrations and clashes between the police and Israeli
Arabs brought renewed attention to the different treatment accorded to
the Jewish and Arab sectors of the country. ] In October the Government
approved a $975 million economic assistance plan for Arab citizens to be
phased in over 4 years; however, some human rights groups criticized the
plan as inadequate. The Knesset did not approve the plan by year’s end.

In early October, there were many instances of societal violence between
Arab and Jewish citizens, which coincided with violent events in the
country.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom From:

a. Political and other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political killings during the year.

I[n October police used excessive force to disperse demonstrations in
the north of the country that coincided with the outbreak of violence in
the occupied territories (see Sections 1.a., 1.c., and 2.b. of the
annex), killing 13 Arab citizens and injuring 300 with a combination of
live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets (see Sections 1.c. and
2.b.). Demonstrators did not have firearms; however, some demonstrators
reportedly threw rocks and firebombs. International and domestic human
rights groups assert that police used rubber-coated metal bullets and
live ammunition against demonstrators who posed no imminent danger of
death or serious injury to security forces or others. ]

On [September 28, opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple
Mount (Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem.] On September 29, Palestinians
held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of
the Western Wall. Police [used rubber-coated metal bullets and live
ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring
about 200 (see Sections 1.a. and 1.c. of the annex).] In response to
this violence, Palestinians held demonstrations throughout the occupied
territories and Israel. On October 1, Israeli Arab leaders called a
general strike, which received widespread support from Arab citizens,
thousands of whom demonstrated throughout the country. [On October 1,
police used live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets to disperse
demonstrations in Um-al-Fahem, killing two persons and injuring hundreds
of others. On October 2, police killed six persons and injured numerous
others during demonstrations in Jat, Nazareth, Arrabe, and Sakhnin.
Police also used live ammunition and rubber bullets to disperse
demonstrations in other towns and villages in the north of the country,
injuring hundreds of demonstrators. On October 3, police killed three
persons during demonstrations in Nazareth and Kfar Manda. ]

In October and November, coinciding with violence in Israel and the
occupied territories, there were numerous violent incidents along the
Israel-Lebanese border. [ On October 7, IDF personnel reportedly killed
2 persons and injured 25 during demonstrations along the border. On
October 9, the IDF reportedly fired live ammunition on a group of about
500 Palestinian demonstrators who were throwing rocks and Molotov
cocktails, and trying to cross the border into Israel; IDF personnel
reportedly killed 1 person and injured 10. ]

On October 21, Prime Minister Barak proposed establishing a commission
of examination to study the violence that occurred in early October.
However, Israeli Arab leaders rejected Barak’s offer and demanded that
the Government establish a legal commission of inquiry, which would
operate independently of the Government, have subpoena power, and
automatically bestow immunity on anyone who testified before it. On
November 8, in response to pressure from both Arab and Jewish citizens,
Barak announced the establishment of the Legal Commission of Inquiry,
which reportedly is to have considerable ability to collect
information. The Commission is headed by a High Court justice, and its
members include an Arab judge from a Nazareth court, and a professor
>from Tel Aviv University. In December the Legal Commission of Inquiry
began its investigation; however, it did not reach any conclusions by
year’s end.

There also are [credible reports that police failed to protect Arab
lives and property in several incidents in which Jewish citizens
attacked Arab citizens. On October 7, a group of about 200 Israeli Jews
attacked Arab homes in Nazareth Illit (Upper Nazareth), including the
home of an Arab Member of the Knesset. On October 8, a group of about
1,000 Israeli Jews attacked Arab homes in Nazareth. The attackers
allegedly targeted Arab citizens due to their anger over the Hizballah
kidnaping of three IDF soldiers and the attack on Joseph’s Tomb in the
West Bank in early October (see Sections 1.b. and 2.c. of the annex).
Many of the Arabs exited their homes and attempted to defend themselves
and their property (see Section 5). Police reportedly arrived at the
scene late, did not take action beyond inserting themselves between the
two groups, and fired live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas at
the Arab citizens. Two Israeli Arabs were killed and approximately 50
others were injured in these incidents. International and domestic
human rights groups reported that the police were responsible for the
deaths and injuries; however, some residents of Nazareth reported that
some members of the Jewish crowd had firearms. Large crowds of Jews
also attacked Arab homes, businesses, and two mosques in other areas of
the country (see Sections 1.c. and 5). Arab protesters also attacked
Jewish-owned businesses and at least one synagogue (see Sections 1.c.
and 5). ]

During the year, 22 Israelis died and 244 were injured in terrorist
attacks carried out by Palestinian groups or individuals in Israel and
the occupied territories (also see Sections 1.a. and 1.c. of the
annex). For example, on November 1, a car bomb in Jerusalem killed two
Israelis and injured eleven others, including four children.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. On
November 22, a car bomb in Hadera killed three Israelis and injured 61.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad also claimed responsibility for this attack.

b. Disappearance

On October 10, Hizballah guerrillas kidnaped three IDF soldiers. At
year’s end, the soldiers were believed to be held in Lebanon.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment

Laws and administrative regulations prohibit the physical abuse of
detainees; however, security forces sometimes abused Palestinians
suspected of security offenses. A landmark decision by the High Court of
Justice in September 1999 prohibited the use of a variety of abusive
practices, including violent shaking, painful shackling in contorted
positions (“Shabbeh”), sleep deprivation for extended periods of time,
and prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures. Since the September 1999
ruling, domestic and international NGO’s have been unable to
substantiate sporadic allegations that security forces tortured
detainees.

Prior to the High Court’s 1999 decision, laws and administrative
regulations prohibiting the physical abuse of detainees were not
enforced in security cases. The head of the ISA was empowered by
government regulation to authorize security officers to use “moderate
physical and psychological pressure” (which included violent shaking)
while interrogating detainees. These practices often led to excesses.
In November 1999, the Attorney General issued revised guidelines that
denied blanket immunity from prosecution for interrogators; however, it
remains theoretically possible that the State could decline to prosecute
interrogators who used prohibited methods in cases of extreme urgency.

In [October police used live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets
to disperse demonstrators in the north of the country, killing 13 Arab
citizens and injuring over 300 (see Sections 1.a. and 2.b.).
Demonstrators reportedly did not have firearms; however, in some cases
they reportedly threw rocks and firebombs. On October 1, police beat
severely a woman who screamed at a police officer during a
demonstration. The incident was videotaped and broadcast on domestic
and international television.]

There were numerous credible allegations from human rights groups that
[police beat persons in detention; reports of such beatings increased in
October following demonstrations and the numerous subsequent police
arrests of suspected or actual participants in the demonstrations (see
Section 1.d.). For example, on October 26, police arrested an Arab
citizen, Amneh Aqayleh, on suspicion of participating in demonstrations
in Nazareth. Police brought Aqayleh to the Kishon detention center for
interrogation where they reportedly beat him. Police also reportedly
arrested and beat some Jewish demonstrators. For example, according to
Amnesty International police arrested and beat Yoav Bar following a
demonstration in Wadi Nisnas, breaking his hand, two of his ribs, and
two of his teeth. According to Amnesty International, police also
reportedly arrested and beat youths following demonstrations in the
north of the country (see Section 1.d.).]

According to local and international human rights NGO’s, in some cases
[police reportedly delayed ambulances and medical personnel from
entering Arab villages to treat persons who were injured during the
clashes (see Section 2.d.). According to police officials, the streets
often were too crowded and volatile for the ambulances to enter the
villages safely. According to some observers, local leaders broadcast
requests over mosque loudspeakers that demonstrators return home in
order to clear the way for ambulances].

[ DIFFERENCES IN TREATMENT OF ISRAELI CITIZENS VS PALESTINIANS IN
INCARCERATION FACILITIES]

Conditions vary in incarceration facilities in Israel and the occupied
territories, which are administered by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS),
the IDF, or the national police. IPS prisons, which generally house
Israeli citizens convicted of common crimes, usually provide inmates
with sufficient living space, food, and access to medical care. In
general, IPS inmates are not subject to physical abuse by guards, and
prisoners receive basic necessities. Inmates receive mail, have
television sets in their cells, and receive regular visits. Prisoners
receive wages for prison work and benefits for good behavior. Many IPS
prisons have drug treatment, educational, and recreational programs.
The IPS established a national police unit to investigate allegations of
offenses committed by guards, including complaints about the use of
force against inmates.

Since the closure in 1995 of the main IDF detention camps in the
occupied territories, all security detainees (i.e., those detained and
held without charge by security forces) from the occupied territories
who are held for more than a few days are transferred to facilities
within Israel. During the year, security detainees usually were held in
the IDF’s Megiddo prison, in IPS facilities, and in special sections of
police detention facilities. Prisoners incarcerated for security
reasons are subject to a different regimen, even in IPS facilities.
They often are denied privileges given to prisoners convicted on
criminal charges such as furloughs and some family visits. According to
the Government, security detainees may receive financial assistance from
the Palestinian Authority (PA), food from their families, and medical
supplies from the ICRC and other aid organizations. Security detainees
include some minors. Detention facilities administered by the IDF are
limited to male Palestinian detainees and are guarded by armed
soldiers. The total number of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel,
approximately 1,354 at the beginning of the year, reached 1,832 by
year’s end. The number of administrative detainees (held without charge
or trial) was between 10 and 15 at year’s end, including one Israeli
Arab (see Section 1.d.). Under the terms of the Sharm el-Sheikh
Memorandum, the Government released a total of 350 Palestinian security
prisoners in 1999 (in addition to the 250 prisoners released in late
1998 pursuant to the Wye River Accords). On May 1, Palestinian
prisoners throughout the country began a hunger strike to protest prison
conditions and their continued incarceration. Following negotiations
with government and PA officials, the prisoners agreed to suspend the
hunger strike on May 31. The Government agreed to remove prisoners from
solitary confinement and to allow family members to visit inmates, and
the prisoners agreed to refrain from planning terrorist attacks from
prison.

Conditions at the Russian Compound, which is run by police and houses a
combination of security and common prisoners and detainees in Jerusalem,
were criticized in 1997 as “not fit to serve as lock-up” by High Court
of Justice President Aharon Barak. Conditions in other IDF facilities
have improved in some respects. For example, inmates are given more
time for exercise outside their cells. Nevertheless, recreational
facilities remain minimal, and there are strict limitations on family
visits to detainees. Visits were prevented for long periods of time
during closures.

Conditions at some national police detention facilities are poor. Such
facilities are intended to hold criminal detainees prior to trial but
often become de facto prisons. Those held include some security
detainees and some persons who have been convicted and sentenced.
Inmates in the national police detention facilities often are not
accorded the same rights as prisoners in the IPS system. Moreover,
conditions are worse in the separate facilities for security detainees
maintained both in police facilities and in IPS prisons.

In 1996 the Government began a reform program for the country’s
detention facilities. To date, there have been some improvements,
including the opening of a model detention center near Netanya; however,
problems, including dilapidation and overcrowding persist. The 1997
Arrest and Detention law provided for the right to live in conditions
that would not harm the health or dignity of the detainee, access to
adequate health care, the right to a bed for each detainee, and access
to exercise and fresh air on a daily basis. The Government has made
significant strides towards implementing this legislation, though
problems remain.

All incarceration facilities are monitored regularly by various branches
of the Government, by members of the Knesset, by the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and by human rights groups (see
Section 1.d. of the annex).

In September 1999, [the Government acknowledged that it trained,
debriefed, and paid the salaries of the Lebanese administrators and
staff of the Al-Khiam prison in southern Lebanon, where prisoners
allegedly were tortured routinely. Following the IDF withdrawal from
its self-declared “security zone” and the concurrent collapse of the
SLA, all of the prisoners in Al-Khiam were released.]

d. [ Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile]

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest of citizens, and the Government
generally observes this prohibition. Defendants are considered innocent
until proven guilty and have the right to writs of habeas corpus and
other procedural safeguards. However,[ a 1979 law permits
administrative, or preventive, detention (i.e., without charge or
trial), which is used on occasion in security cases. In such cases, the
Minister of Defense may issue a detention order for a maximum of 1 year,
though such orders may be extended.]] Within 24 hours of issuance,
detainees must appear before a district judge who may confirm, shorten,
or overturn the order. If the order is confirmed, an automatic review
takes place after 3 months. Detention orders were confirmed in all
cases during the year. Detainees have the right to be represented by
counsel and to appeal detention orders to the High Court of Justice;
however, [the security forces may delay notification of counsel with the
consent of a judge.] According to human rights groups and legal
experts, there were cases in which a judge denied the Government’s
request to delay notification of counsel. [ At detention hearings, the
security forces may withhold evidence from defense lawyers on security
grounds. The Government also may seek to renew administrative detention
orders.] However, the security services must “show cause” for continued
detention, and, in some instances, individuals were released because the
standard could not be met.

[ Human rights groups allege abuse of detention orders in cases in
which they assert that the accused did not pose a clear danger to
society.]]]

Most of[ the protections afforded to Israelis are not extended to
Palestinian detainees, who fall under the jurisdiction of military law
even if they are detained in Israel. With IDF redeployment in the West
Bank, detention centers there were closed in 1995. As a result, all
Palestinian detainees held for longer than 1 or 2 days are incarcerated
in Israel (see Section 1.d. of the annex).]]

[Police arrested hundreds of persons mainly in the north of the country
in connection with the demonstrations and disturbances that began in
September; approximately two-thirds of the persons arrested were Arab
citizens and about one-third were Jewish citizens. According to
domestic and international human rights organizations, police continued
to arrest Arab citizens whom they suspected of participating in the
disturbances over a month after the demonstrations ended. On October
26, the Northern Police Commander announced to the press that his office
compiled a list of hundreds of persons who participated in the
demonstrations and that the police intended to arrest many of them.
According to human rights organizations, police lacked any evidence
against a significant number of Israeli Arabs that they arrested. There
also were credible reports that police tricked some Israeli Arabs into
confessing that they threw stones during demonstrations. Many of the
persons arrested, including some minors, also reportedly were held
without bail until the end of criminal proceedings against them.
Several detainees brought appeals to the High Court of Justice; however,
the Court upheld this practice on the grounds that calm had not yet
returned to the country. According to Amnesty International, at least
10 Arab citizens detained in connection with the disturbances in October
were denied access to counsel for up to 1 week.]

In [December for the first time since 1994, the Government placed an
Israeli Arab, Jhasan Athamnah, in administrative detention where he was
being held on secret evidence at year’s end. ]

At year’s end, the Government held 1,832 Palestinians in custody. Those
held were a mixture of common prisoners, administrative detainees, and
security detainees. The Government continues to deny the ICRC access to
one Lebanese citizen, Mustafa Dirani (held without charge since 1994).
The Government granted the ICRC access to Sheikh Obeid (held without
charge since 1989) for the first time in December 1999, and allowed the
ICRC four additional visits during the year. However, following the
October kidnaping of IDF soldiers by Hizballah guerrillas (see Section
1.b.), the Government suspended ICRC access to Sheikh Obeid. In May
1998, the High Court of Justice ruled that the Government was entitled
to continue holding them for use in a possible exchange of hostages to
obtain the return of an Israeli who still may be held by hostile
forces. The High Court’s ruling stressed that national security needs
took precedence over the detainees’ individual rights under Israeli and
international law. However, in April the High Court declared illegal
the detention of individuals to be used as “bargaining chips;” the
Government subsequently released 13 Lebanese prisoners. However, Obeid,
Dirani, and approximately 18 other Lebanese prisoners remained in
custody at year’s end; the former are administrative detainees, and the
latter have been charged and convicted of crimes. [The Government
claims that Obeid and Dirani are security threats and attempted to pass
legislation that would allow the continued detention without charge of
“members of enemy forces not entitled to prisoner-of-war status.” The
bill had passed a first reading by year’s end. Two legal advisors to
the Knesset criticized the bill, claiming that it contravened domestic
and international laws. ]

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government
respects this provision. However, in the past the judiciary routinely
acquiesced to the Government’s position in security cases. The
September 1999 landmark High Court of Justice decision barring the use
of torture (see Section 1.c.) marked a major change in this practice, as
did the April ruling prohibiting the holding of detainees for use as
“bargaining chips.” The judiciary generally provides citizens with a
fair and efficient judicial process.

The judicial system is composed of civil, military, religious, labor
relations, and administrative courts, with the High Court of Justice as
the ultimate judicial authority. The High Court of Justice is both a
court of first instance (in cases involving government action) and an
appellate court (when it sits as the Supreme Court). Each of the cited
courts, including the High Court of Justice, have appellate courts or
jurisdictions.

The law provides for the right to a hearing with representation by
counsel, and authorities observe this right in practice. A regional and
national system of public defenders operated by the Ministry of Justice
was inaugurated in 1996 and now employs about 700 attorneys through 5
regional offices. Under the system, economically disadvantaged persons
who face sentences of 5 years or longer, and all persons who are accused
of crimes with sentences of 10 years or longer receive mandatory legal
representation. Judges also have discretionary power to appoint an
attorney in all cases. Since the system was implemented, representation
has increased to about 70 percent. All nonsecurity trials are public
except those in which the interests of the parties are deemed best
served by privacy. Cases involving national security may be tried in
either military or civil courts and may be partly or wholly closed to
the public. The prosecution must justify closing the proceedings to the
public in such cases, and the Attorney General determines the venue.
Adult defendants have the right to be represented by counsel even in
closed proceedings but may be denied access to some evidence on security
grounds. Under the law, convictions may not be based on any evidence
denied to the defense. In addition, convictions may not be based solely
on a confession by the accused, although in practice security prisoners
have been sentenced on the basis of the coerced confessions of both
themselves and others.

[According to human rights organizations, the legal system often imposes
far stiffer punishments on Christian, Muslim, and Druze citizens than on
Jewish citizens. For example, human rights advocates claim that Israeli
Arabs are more likely to be convicted of murder (which carries a
mandatory life sentence) than Jewish Israelis. The courts reportedly
also are more likely to detain Arab-Israelis until the conclusion of
proceedings. The Government notes that the judicial system is
independent and disputes the charge that the court system systematically
discriminates against non-Jewish citizens. According to press reports,
following the demonstrations that took place in September and October,
66 percent of those arrested were Arab Israelis, and 84 percent of those
detained until the conclusion of proceedings as of late October were
Arab Israelis (see Section 1.d.). ]

There were no reports of political prisoners

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The law provides for freedom of the press, and the Government generally
respects this right in practice. The law authorizes the Government to
censor any material reported from Israel or the occupied territories
regarded as sensitive on national security grounds. A censorship
agreement signed in 1996 between the Government and media
representatives continued the trend of liberalization of the
Government’s censorship regime. The agreement, which now applies to all
media organizations in the country, provides that military censorship is
to be applied only in cases involving national security issues that have
a near certainty of harming the country’s defense interests. All media
organizations can appeal the censor’s decision to the High Court of
Justice. Moreover, a clause prohibits the military censor from shutting
down a newspaper for censorship violations and from appealing a court
judgement against it. News printed or broadcast abroad may be reported
without the censor’s review, which permits the media to run previously
censored stories that have appeared in foreign sources. Emergency
regulations prohibit persons from expressing support for illegal
organizations. On occasion in the past, the Government has prosecuted
persons for speaking or writing on behalf of terrorist groups. No such
cases were filed during the year. During the year, there were reports
that the military censor intervened in several cases related to national
defense.

[One Palestinian-owned newspaper is required to submit its entire
contents, including advertising, to the military censor by 4:00 p.m.
each day. The editor claims that this process caused his journalists to
practice self-censorship. Journalists and professional journalist
groups complained about limitations placed on their freedom of movement
within the occupied territories, between the West Bank and Gaza, and
between the occupied territories and Israel during the violent unrest in
September (see Section 2.d.). One media organization reported that more
than two dozen journalists were injured or harassed while covering
events in the occupied territories in October and November (see Section
2.a. of the annex). On October 5, during a demonstration in Jaffa,
demonstrators acting outside of government control assaulted a foreign
camera crew, injuring several journalists and breaking three cameras. ]

Foreign journalists are required to sign an agreement to submit certain
news stories and photographs for censorship; however, they rarely are
challenged for not doing so.

Individuals, groups, and the press freely address public issues and
criticize government policies and officials without reprisal. Laws
prohibit hate speech and incitement to violence. All newspapers are
privately owned and managed. Newspaper licenses are valid only for
Israel; separate licenses are required to distribute publications in
areas in the occupied territories still under Israel’s authority.
Sixteen daily newspapers are published in Israel. There are about 90
weekly local newspapers and more than 250 periodical publications.

Directed by a government appointee, the quasi-independent Israel
Broadcast Authority (IBA) controls television Channel 1 and Kol Israel
(Voice of Israel) radio, both major sources of news and information.
The privately operated Channel 2, the country’s first commercial
television station, is operated by three franchise companies and
supervised by the Second Television and Radio Authority, a public body
that also supervises 14 private radio stations. There are five cable
television companies that carry both domestic and international
networks.

The Government continued to attempt to close down the estimated 150
pirate radio stations operating out of Israel and the West Bank.

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION IN ISRAEL TOWARDS JEWS

Many citizens object to the Orthodox Jewish religious authorities’
exclusive control over Jewish marriage, divorce, and burial. These
authorities do not recognize marriages or conversions to Judaism
performed in Israel by Conservative or Reform rabbis. These issues have
been a source of serious controversy within society, particularly in
recent years, as thousands of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet
Union have brought with them family members not recognized as Jewish by
Orthodox authorities.

Many Jews who wish to be married in secular or non-Orthodox religious
ceremonies do so abroad. The Ministry of Interior recognizes such
marriages.

Under the Government’s current interpretation and implementation of
Jewish personal status law, a Jewish woman is not allowed to initiate
divorce proceedings without her husband’s consent; consequently there
are hundreds of so-called “agunot” in the country who cannot remarry or
have legitimate children because their husbands either have disappeared
or refused to grant a divorce.

In August Prime Minister Barak announced his plans to “separate religion
>from politics” by promoting a “civil-social revolution” consisting of a
number of measures including: Drafting a constitution, folding the
Ministry of Religious Affairs into the Ministry of Justice, lifting
restrictions on transportation during the Sabbath, allowing for some
form of civil marriages, eliminating the nationality clause from
identification cards, and introducing a new core curriculum in all
state-funded schools. These proposals triggered a national debate on
religion and society. By year’s end, none of these proposed reforms had
been implemented.

A January 1999 High Court ruling enabled Reform and Conservative rabbis
to hold seats on the powerful municipal and religious councils. In 1998
the High Court ruled that draft exemptions for yeshiva students was
illegal; however, it delayed implementation of the ruling several times
and gave the Knesset until December 21 to pass legislation on the
matter. On December 20, an 11-justice panel of the High Court rejected
the Government’s request for another extension; however, it stated that
it would grant the IDF a “reasonable period” of time in which to
implement the ruling.

Governmental discrimination against non-Jewish Institutions

[The Government provides proportionally greater financial support to
institutions in the Jewish sector compared with those in the non-Jewish
sector, i.e., Muslim, Christian, and Druze. For example, only 2.4
percent of the Ministry of Religious Affairs budget for 1999 was
allocated to the non-Jewish sector, although Muslims, Christians, and
Druze constitute 20 percent of the population.] In 1998 the High Court
of Justice ruled that the budget allocation constituted “prima facie
discrimination” but that the plaintiff’s petition did not provide
adequate information about the religious needs of the various
communities. The court refused to intervene in the budgetary process on
the grounds that such action would invade the proper sphere of the
legislature. However, during the year, the court ordered the Government
to allocate resources equitably to cemeteries of the Jewish and Arab
communities.

[ On December 6, a law prohibiting some missionary activity and the
dissemination of some missionary material passed a first reading in the
Knesset.].

[The Government has recognized only Jewish holy places under the 1967
Protection of Holy Sites Law.] The Government states that it also
protects the holy sites of other faiths, and that it has provided funds
for some holy sites of other faiths.

A group of more than 100 Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform women
continued a long legal battle to hold women’s prayer services at the
Western Wall during the year. In May the High Court ruled that women
may read from the Torah and wear prayer shawls at the Western Wall.
Both legislators and the state prosecutor’s office sought to overturn
the ruling; however, they were not successful as of year’s end.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel,
Emigration, and Repatriation With respect to Muslim citizens making
the Hajj…..

Citizens are free to travel abroad and to emigrate, provided they have
no outstanding military obligations and are not restricted by
administrative order. During the year, [the Government generally
continued to permit Muslim citizens to make the Hajj. However for
security reasons, the Government imposes some restrictions on its Muslim
citizens who perform the Hajj, including requiring that they be over the
age of 30. The Government does not allow persons to return if they
leave the country without formal permission. ] The Government justifies
these restrictions on the grounds that Saudi Arabia remains officially
at war with Israel and that travel to Saudi Arabia therefore is
considered subject to security considerations.

Discrimination in cases of intermarriage….

The Government states that non-Jewish female citizens who marry
non-citizen men may retain their citizenship. The Government also
asserts that the male spouses of non-Jewish citizens may acquire
citizenship under the family reunification program, except in cases
where the man has a criminal record or is suspected of posing a threat
to security. However, [[Christian, Muslim, or Druze women who have
married men from Arab states or the West Bank and Gaza have complained
about losing their Israeli citizenship and right to reenter Israel.]

Deliberate delay of medical emergencies…..

During the demonstrations and disturbances in late September, police
reportedly closed roads and entrances to some Arab villages and cities
around the country. According to human rights groups, police also
sometimes delayed ambulances and medical personnel from entering Arab
villages to treat persons who were injured during the clashes (see
Section 1.c.). Journalists complained about limitations placed on their
freedom of movement during the violence in Israel and the occupied
territories (see Section 2.a.).

The discrimination inherent in The Law of Return is cited by the U.S.
State Dept……..

The Government welcomes Jewish immigrants, their Jewish or non-Jewish
family members, and Jewish refugees, on whom it confers automatic
citizenship and residence rights under the Law of Return. This law does
not apply to non-Jews or to persons of Jewish descent who have converted
to another faith. Other than the Law of Return and the family
reunification statutes there is no immigration law that provides for
immigration to the country, or for political asylum or refugee status.
The law does allow individuals to live in the country as permanent
residents.

Discrimination against religious minorities including non-Orthodox
branches of Judaism……

Religious Minorities

Tensions between secular and religious elements of society continued to
grow during the year. The non-Orthodox Jewish community in particular
has complained of discrimination and intolerance (see Section 2.c.).

Evangelical Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Reform and Conservative
Jews complained of incidents of harassment, threats, and vandalism
directed against their buildings, and other facilities, many of which
were committed by two ultraorthodox groups Yad L’Achim and Lev L’Achim.
[ In civic areas where religion is a determining criterion, such as the
religious courts and centers of education, non-Jewish institutions
routinely receive less state support than their Jewish counterparts. ]]

During the demonstrations and disturbances in October, there were
several incidents involving attacks on synagogues and mosques. In
October Arab protesters attacked a synagogue in Shafar’am. Jewish
protesters attacked mosques in Acco and Tiberias.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

[The Government does not provide Israeli Arabs, who constitute
approximately 20 percent of the population, with the same quality of
education, housing, employment, and social services as Jews. In
addition, government spending is proportionally far lower in
predominantly Arab areas than in Jewish areas; on a per capita basis,
the Government spends two-thirds as much for Arabs than for Jews.
According to the National Insurance Institute, 42 percent of Israeli
Arabs live below the poverty line, compared with 20 percent of the total
population. The Government also follows a disproportionately
restrictive policy on issuing building permits to Arab citizens,
resulting in the issuance of proportionately more building demolition
orders against Arab-built structures]. Ministers in the Barak
Government publicly acknowledged the continuing disparities in
government funding for Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. [ Following the
demonstrations and disturbances in September and October (see Sections
1.a. and 1.c.), the Government approved a $975 million (4 billion NIS)
economic assistance plan for the country’s Arab citizens to be phased in
over 4 years. Most of the money included in the plan is allocated for
education and new infrastructure development. Israeli Arab leaders and
human rights groups criticized the plan because it was not based on a
comprehensive survey of the economic and development needs of the
country’s Arab population and was considered inadequate to meet that
population’s needs. Critics also pointed out that only half of the
total sum represented newly allocated money. The Government did not
implement the plan by year’s end, and according to newspaper reports,
the Government’s 2001 budget proposal did not include details about
funding for the plan. ]

The Government appointed an Arab citizen to the board of the Israel land
authority in November 1999.

[ NOTE: The following is information that either the U.S. State Dept. is
unaware of or chooses not to make public. Although the report does
state in the sentence following this that the “Israel Land Authority”
has “half of (its) members represent(ing) organizations forbidden by
stature to transfer land to non-Jews.” It does not make clear why this
is so. Here is the reason. For those wishing to understand this
further, please see my report on the Structure of The World Zionist
Organization. In 1961 a covenant was made between the Israeli
minister of finance, the head of the Finance dept of the Zionist
Executive- which is the body that implements the decisions of the
Zionist Congresses. This covenant established two bodies (1) The Israel
Lands Council and (2) The Land Reclamation Development Council.

(1) The Israel Lands Council is made up of 13 members. 7 are from the
Israeli Government and 6 are from the Jewish National Fund (Keren
Kayemuth L’Israel)

(2) The Land Reclamation Development Council is made up of 13 members. 6
are from the Israeli government and 7 are from the Jewish National Fund.

Both of these bodies fall under the jurisdiction of the Israel Lands
Administration which is chaired by the Israeli Minister of
Agriculture. This is precisely the reason why this ministry is so
coveted by certain individuals. It should be recalled that this
position was held for quite some time under both Labor and Likud
governments (and during the first National Unity Government) by Ariel
Sharon.

Since under its own rules, lease or sale of land to non-Jews is
prohibited by the Jewish National fund, this becomes the reason for that
citing by the U.S. State Dept. report. Without understanding this above
cited paper trail however, the reason becomes a bit obscure – Zevei

This becomes even more of a key issue when one understands that the
underlying reason for this ongoing conflict is precisely the right to
land ownership, which under the policies originally established by the
Zionist Organization (later known as The World Zionist
Organization/Jewish Agency) is only permissible to Jews on land obtained
by the Z.O. through the JNF and its subsidiaries. ]

[This marked the first representation of non-Jews on this body, half of
whose members represent organizations forbidden by statute to transfer
land to non-Jews. In March the High Court of Justice ruled on an
October 1995 petition brought by an Arab couple that was barred from
buying a home in Katzir, a Jewish municipality, which was built on
state-owned land. The High Court ruled that the Government’s use of the
Jewish National Fund to develop public land was discriminatory, since
the fund’s by-laws prohibit the sale or lease of land to non-Jews. The
High Court noted that its ruling in the case would not affect previous
land allocations and that differentiating between Jews and non-Jews in
land allocation might be acceptable under unspecified “special
circumstances.” Following the High Court’s decision, the Government
established an interministerial committee to examine the issues involved
in implementing the decision. The Israel Lands Administration had not
implemented the ruling in this case by year’s end and the Ka’adan family
still was not allocated a plot of land in Katzir. Israeli Arab
organizations have challenged the 1996 “Master Plan for the Northern
Areas of Israel,” which listed as priority goals increasing the
Galilee’s Jewish population and blocking the territorial contiguity of
Arab villages and towns, on the grounds that it discriminates against
Arab citizens; the Government continues to use this document for
planning in the Galilee.]]

Relative to their numbers, Israeli Arabs are underrepresented in the
student bodies and faculties of most universities and in higher level
professional and business ranks. Arabs constitute only 8.7 percent of
the students at major universities in the country. Well-educated Arabs
often are unable to find jobs commensurate with their level of
education. Arab citizens hold only 50 of the country’s 5,000 university
faculty positions. The Government states that it is committed to
granting equal and fair conditions to Israeli Arabs, particularly in the
areas of education, housing, and employment. A small number of Israeli
Arabs have risen to responsible positions in the civil service,
generally in the Arab departments of government ministries. In 1994 a
civil service commission began a 3-year affirmative action program to
expand that number, but it has had only modest results. [Arab citizens
compose 6.2 percent of the civil service and less than 2 percent of the
positions in the four senior-most civil service grades]. In October the
Knesset passed a bill that minorities and underrepresented populations
must be granted “appropriate representation” in the civil service, and
on the boards of government corporations.

In practice, few Israeli Arabs serve in the military or work in
companies with defense contracts or in security-related fields. The
Israeli Druze and Circassian communities are subject to the military
draft, and although some have refused to serve, the overwhelming
majority accepts service willingly. [ Note: The incentive for willingly
accepting service in the IDF is that upon obtainment of an honorable
discharge, certain positions in the job market open up that otherwise
would not be opened. This is obviously the main reason why the Druze
and Circassians accept the draft.] Some Bedouin and other Arab citizens
who are not subject to the draft serve voluntarily. Those who do not
serve in the army have less access than other citizens to those social
and economic benefits for which military service is a prerequisite or an
advantage, such as housing, new-household subsidies, and government or
security-related industrial employment. Under a 1994 government policy
decision, the social security child allowance for parents who did not
serve in the military and did not attend a yeshiva (including Arabs) was
increased to equal the allowance of those who had done so.

Israeli Arab groups allege that many employers use the prerequisite of
military service to avoid hiring non-Jews. For example, a September
1999 survey revealed that 40 percent of employment ads in one weekend
newspaper listed “army service necessary.” Jobs included ice cream
sales, typist, bus driver, and customer service.

Poor schooling facilities for Arab children……….

Arab children make up about a quarter of the public school population,
but Government resources for them are less than proportionate to those
for Jewish children. Many schools in Arab communities are dilapidated
and overcrowded, lack special education services and counselors, have
poor libraries, and have no sports facilities. According to a report
issued during the year, only 54 percent of Arab students finish high
school compared with 89 percent of Jewish students. According to 1998
statistics, 58 percent of the teachers in Jewish schools had university
degrees compared with 39 percent of the teachers in Arab schools. The
disparity in government resources for education also affects Bedouin
children from the unrecognized villages. Currently, preschool
attendance for Bedouin children is the lowest in the country, and the
dropout rate for Bedouin high school students is the highest. Arab
groups also note that the public school curriculum stresses Israel’s
Jewish culture and heritage.

Israeli Arab students also are not eligible to participate in a special
education program to provide academic assistance to students from
disadvantaged backgrounds. A petition was filed with the High Court of
Justice in May 1997 charging that the Ministry of Education’s refusal to
provide this program to Israeli Arab students was discriminatory. The
Attorney General’s office agreed that the policy constituted
impermissible discrimination but asked for 5 years to expand the program
to Israeli Arab students. The petitioners rejected this proposal as
being too slow. The court held hearings in the case twice in 1999;
however, it still had not ruled on the proper implementation period by
year’s end.

Unresolved problems of many years’ standing also include claims by Arab
groups that land expropriation for public use has affected the Arab
community disproportionately; that Arabs have been allowed too little
input in planning decisions that affect their schools and
municipalities; that mosques and cemeteries belonging to the Islamic
Waqf (religious endowment) have been neglected or expropriated unjustly
for public use; and that successive governments have blocked the return
to their homes of citizens displaced in the early years of the country’s
history. The Government has yet to agree with the pre-1948 residents of
the northern villages of Bir Am and Ikrit, and their descendants,
regarding their long-term demand to be allowed to rebuild their houses.
In 1997 a special interministerial panel recommended that the Government
allow the villagers to return to Bir Am and Ikrit. The High Court has
granted the Government several extensions for implementing the
recommendation, including 2 extensions during the year. The Government
stated that a special interministerial panel currently is examining
economic aspects of the issue.

In early October, there were many instances of societal violence between
Arab and Jewish citizens which coincided with violent events in Israel
and the occupied territories (see Sections 1.a., 1.c., and the annex).
For example, on October 3, an Israeli Arab shot and killed an Israeli
Jew on a road in the north of the country. On October 7, a group of
about 200 Israeli Jews attacked Arab Israeli homes in predominantly
Jewish Upper Nazareth. On October 8, a group of about 1,000 Israeli
Jews attacked Arab Israeli homes in Nazareth. Two persons were killed
and approximately 50 persons were injured in these attacks (see Sections
1.a. and 1.c.). Jewish citizens also attacked Arab homes, businesses
that employed Arabs, and two mosques in other areas of the country.
During the October disturbances, Arab protesters also attacked
Jewish-owned businesses throughout the country, and in at least one case
Arab crowds attacked a synagogue.

In 1991 the Government launched Operation Solomon, which airlifted
14,000 Ethiopian immigrants to the country. There were occasional
reports of societal discrimination during the year.

Organized Russian gangsters have increased prostitution in
Israel…………..

According to Amnesty International (AI), every year hundreds of women
>from the former Soviet Union are brought to Israel by well-organized
criminal networks and forced through violence and threats to work
illegally as prostitutes. According to some local NGO’s, thousands of
women are trafficked into the country annually.

In June the Government enacted a law that prohibits the trafficking of
persons for the purpose of prostitution. Prostitution per se is not
illegal; however, the operation of brothels and organized sex
enterprises is outlawed, as are many of the human rights abuses
perpetrated by traffickers and pimps, such as assault, rape, abduction,
and false imprisonment.

Traffickers reportedly often lure women into coming to the country by
offering them jobs in the service industry. In many cases, traffickers
meet women at the airport and confiscate all of their official
documents. Many trafficked women are forced to live and work under
extremely harsh conditions and to give most of the money they earn to
their bosses. The women reportedly often are raped and beaten, and
often are afraid to report their situation to the police because they
are in the country illegally.

According to press reports, brothels are ubiquitous despite being
illegal, and police officials estimate that there are 25,000 paid sexual
transactions every day. Police often detain trafficked women following
raids on brothels. The Minister of Interior has broad powers to deport
illegal aliens and to hold them in detention pending deportation. The
Ministry may issue deportation orders against any person who is in the
country without a residence permit and may hold the deportee in
detention following the issuance of a deportation order. The deportee
can appeal the deportation order to the Ministry within 3 days of its
issuance and also can challenge the order in the High Court. However,
trafficked women often do not challenge a deportation order due to
language barriers or a lack of information about the appeals procedure.
Many trafficked women are detained for extended periods of time because
of government orders that they stay in the country to testify in the
criminal proceedings against their traffickers. Many women are
reluctant or afraid to testify in trials due to threats and intimidation
by their traffickers. According to AI, women refuse to testify in court
in about 90 percent of all the cases that are prosecuted. Since 1997
police have arrested and deported approximately 1,200 women who were
trafficked to the country for prostitution. According to AI, the
Government does not attempt to determine whether or not a trafficked
woman would be at risk for persecution if she is deported to her country
of origin, even in cases in which the woman or girl has testified in
criminal proceedings.

1/ The human rights situation in the occupied territories is discussed
in the annex appended to this report.

NEXT POSTING……

[End.]

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:02 EST 2001
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Zionist occupation regime to demolish more Arab homes in East Jerusalem

Occupied Jerusalem: 11 March, 2001 (IAP News) – The Zionist municipal
council in Jerusalem, headed by the extremist and racists mayor Ehud
Olmert, has reportedly allocated a special budget of a million Israeli
Shekels (roughly 270,000 US dollars) to finance the demolition of
Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

According to zionist sources, Olmert is planning to embark on a
widespread
campaign to destroy hundreds of Palestinian homes which he alleged were
built despite the council’s refusal to grant proprietors building
licenses.

Olmert adopted a selective policy toward building and zoning in
Jerusalem
based on ethnic cleansing and racial and religious discrimination.

According to Meir Margalet, a member of Jerusalem’s municipal board, the

planned house-demolition campaign is aimed at pushing the Palestinian
citizens of the city to leave it in order to create a more favorable
demographic situation for the Jews.

“They simply want to expel non-Jews from Jerusalem in order to create a
Jewish fait accompli, it is a racist policy of ethnic cleansing, there
is
no other name for it.”

Palestinian officials in Jerusalem, including Faisal Husseini, condemned

the new wave of home demolition, calling it “virulent apartheid.”

“No other country on earth demolishes homes because the proprietor has a

different religion.”

_______________________________________________________________
Proudly Serving Palestine and Al-Quds

Islamic Association for Palestine

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:02 EST 2001
Article: 259518 of soc.culture.canada
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Israeli occupation army bombs Hebron, attacks journalists, cameramen

Al-Khalil (Hebron), Palestine: 11 March, 2001 (IAP News) – Israeli
occupation troops last night bombarded three civilian neighborhoods in
this Arab town, causing a number of casualties and inflicting heavy
material damage to buildings and residential houses.

Palestinian hospital sources in al-Khalil reported that 9 civilians
were
hospitalized as a result of the bombardment in which artillery and heavy

machine guns were used.

Two persons reportedly sustained moderate to serious injuries; they are
Nabil Muhammed Abu Ali of the nearby town Yatta, and 25-year old Yasser
Eshtayeh, who was hit by shrapnel in the face during heavy bombardment
of
the Abu Sneineh neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers went on the rampage in the old town
Saturday,
attacking Palestinian pedestrians and vandalizing Arab property.

No reason was given for the wanton violence, but one settler was quoted
by
the Hebrew radio as saying that what they did was “part of our Shabbat
activities.”

Nonetheless, when some Palestinian cameramen sought to film the settler
violence against the defenseless Palestinians, both the settlers and
Israeli army troops attacked the cameramen, injuring at least one,
identified as Mazen Da’ana, in the face.

Later on, the occupation army re-imposed a curfew on the old town of
al-Khalil, forcing some 35,000 Palestinians into their homes, while
leaving
ultra-extremist settlers strolling the streets.

_______________________________________________________________
Proudly Serving Palestine and Al-Quds

========================================
One reason I copy the british NG so often is to remind you that had
Britain
not pursued its policy of allowing Jews to immigrate into Palestine,
which
Britain had no moral right to do, nor legal right either had the
Palestinians
been consulted, things would not be at this sorry pass.
Notice the remarks of the crazy settlers that wanton violence is “part
of our Shabbat
activities.” Isn’t that nice, that they can celebrate their holy day
that way?
Lewis Carroll would go crazy, and George Orwell would have to write
another prophetic book.
RLA

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:02 EST 2001
Article: 259520 of soc.culture.canada
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Peres says UN resolution 194 not part of peace process

Occupied Jerusalem: 11 March, 2001 (IAP News) – Israeli Foreign Minister

Shimon Peres claimed on Sunday that the Palestinian refugees’ right to
return to their native hometowns and villages from which the Israeli
army
expelled them in 1948 was not part of the peace process.

The Israeli state-run radio quoted Peres as saying that UN resolution
194,
which grants the refugees repatriation to their homes and restitution
for
lost property and suffering, was not part of the Oslo process.

“We only agreed to talk about it, but we never agreed to accept that
right,” said Peres.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Saturday said any
peaceful
settlement between the Palestinians and Zionist regime would have to be

based on UN resolutions 242 and 338 as well as the resolution 194.

The plight of the now-estimated 4 million Palestinian refugees is widely

considered the essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Refugee leaders in Palestine and in the Diaspora have warned Arafat and
other PA officials against tampering with the inalienable right of
return,
arguing that no leadership or regime can possibly sign away such a
natural
right of people to return to their homeland.

_______________________________________________________________
Proudly Serving Palestine and Al-Quds

Islamic Association for Palestine

=================================
Do you remember, sports fans that this man Peres (Persky) got
a Nobel peace prize? Obviously they went astray with that one.
Because with this remark, he has destined Israel to a long
guerilla war.
RLA

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:03 EST 2001
Article: 259527 of soc.culture.canada
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Subject: Israel Shamir To the Editor of the Globe and Mail Re: it is time to end
intifada
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The following is the letter to editor of Canadian Globe and Mail, who
called in his editorial to end intifada.
To the Editor of the Globe and Mail

Re: it is time to end intifada

The intifada is like a scream of an abused child who kicks the door of
the dark room where his tormentors have locked him up. If he does not
scream, he will remain there, in the wet cellar with rats, forever. The
Palestinian response to our persecutions is a minimal one, and it hardly
inconveniences us, the Israeli Jews. They just throw stones on the
outskirts of their villages. My ancestors, Russian Jews, responded to
the limitations imposed on the Jews by the Russian Empire by killing a
couple of Tsars, a lot of ministers and officials, and eventually by
killing and sending into exile the majority of the Russian ruling class.
A little reading of history will
reveal a shocking fact: the limitations and the pograms of the Tsars
were modest in comparison with those that we, the Israelis, impose on
the Palestinians.

There is a way to stop violence in the Holy Land. Palestinian Christians
and Moslems must have the same rights as Jews. If Jewish property is
sacred, then Gentile property must be sacred as well. If a Jewish life
is sacred, so must be a life of a Gentile. If a Jew is free to move, so
must be a Gentile.

If this does not come to pass, the rage of the vanquished could
reverberate around the world. It could even reach Toronto. The
Palestinians could remember the Canadian passports issued to Mossad
assassins. They could remember the Park of Canada built by the Canadian
Jews
on the site of Emmaus, a Palestinian village where Jesus shared bread
with Cleopas. The Israeli Army destroyed it in 1967; and its
inhabitants, descendants of Cleopas, now throw rocks on the doorsteps of
their refugee camps. The nearly unanimous international consensus in
support of
Palestinian rights is at present hostile to neither Canada nor to Jews
generally. But if support for the occupation and for apartheid continue,
the wave of retribution that Canada and we Jews may have to face one day
is dreadful to contemplate.

Israel Shamir, Jaffa

===============================

The Globe & Mail put out a bigoted article stating that the intifada was
a crime.
They do that.
RLA

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:03 EST 2001
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Haaretz internet edition, Sunday, March 11, 2001.

Defining violence By Gideon Levy

Who’s a terrorist? Aida Fatahia was walking in the street; Ubei Daraj
was playing in the yard. She was the mother of three; he was nine years
old. Both were killed last week by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bullets,
for no reason. Their killing raises once again, in all its horror, the
question of whether Palestinian violence is the only violence that
should be called terrorism. Is only car bombing terrorism, while
shooting at a woman and child is not?.Fatahia and Daraj join a long list
of men, women, and children who were innocent of wrongdoing and killed
in the past five months by the IDF. In the Israeli debate, their deaths
were not a result of “terror actions” or “terrorist attacks” and the
killers are not “terrorists.” Those are terms used only for Palestinian
violence.

The right – and the left – in Israel always make that distinction:
Palestinian violence is terrorism; Israel only defends itself. The huge
gap between the numbers of innocent victims on both sides doesn’t change
this one-sided definition. IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, commander of
an army that has killed almost 90 children in the last five months,
calls the Palestinian Authority (PA) a “terrorist entity,” and totally
ignores the actions of the army – and the results of those actions.

But the questions must be asked: Aren’t massive land expropriations,
systematic house destructions, the uprooting of orchards and groves,
also a form of violence? Isn’t cutting off entire towns and villages
>from their source of water a type of violence?

Isn’t limitation on freedom of movement by slicing whole areas of the
population off from each other and denying medical attention to the
residents – even when it’s a matter of life and death – any less painful
than highway shootings?

A pregnant woman whose baby dies or a patient who died because they
couldn’t get to the hospital – something that has become almost routine
in the territories – aren’t they victims of terrible violence? What
about the behavior of soldiers and police at checkpoints, on the roads,
everywhere? The humiliations and beatings, and the settler’s own
violence against Palestinians – what should that be called?

For most Israelis, the violence is what the Palestinians are doing to
us. The Israeli reaction is always just a reaction, much more fatal,
perhaps, but a lot less ruthless. They blow up bombs in our markets, and
we only shoot at the planners, the inciters, and the terrorists.

So, sometimes chips may fly, as the saying lately goes, and some
innocents are also killed, but of course, nobody meant it. That’s just
the way things are in war. That way, Israel always comes out the winner:
It doesn’t intend to kill innocent people. But does the intention matter
to the many victims?

Israelis don’t consider all of Israel’s other steps – the sieges and
curfews, the expropriations and house destruction – violence, of course.
That’s why Israel says it wants an end to the violence “and a return to
the status quo ante,” whether as a condition, by Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon, or as a demand, by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, for renewal of
the negotiations.

When Israel says it wants a return to the status quo before the
Intifada, it means it wants the Palestinians to stop their violence, and
then Israel’s violence, which is only a defensive reaction to the
Palestinians’, will naturally stop.

In other words, Israel wants the Palestinians to reassume their meek
surrender to the brutality of the occupation, while the violence of the
occupation continues.

Back in Oslo, both sides agreed to avoid violence, Israel claims, so the
current outbreak of violence is therefore a gross violation of the
agreement.

Moreover, since the Palestinians initiated the Intifada, – “they started
it” – the responsibility for stopping it is on their shoulders. But
wasn’t the Intifada preceded by a series of violent acts by Israel,
which expropriated land, closed areas, uprooted farms, expelled people,
tortured suspects, dried up resources and destroyed homes – long before
the Intifada, and with no less violence than the Palestinians? Israel is
not demanding an end to that violence.

When it’s only exploding buses and mortar rounds falling on settlements
that is defined as violence, it’s easy to blame the other side for
violating agreements.

But that’s not the whole picture. Israel is not ready in the same breath
to put an end to its own violence. The demand for an end to violence is
obviously right and justified. Violence – any violence – is wrong, and
an end to the violence has to be on the top of the agenda of any
political negotiation.

Israel can and should demand that the Palestinians silence their
weapons. But it should demand the same of itself, regarding all the
various weapons it uses against the Palestinians.

But when, as it did last week, Israel uses bulldozers to create
impassable barriers to and from 33 villages, and there’s no way for an
ambulance or water container to get in, the demand for an end to the
violence is outrageously hypocritical. An end to the violence? Why
shouldn’t Israel, as the stronger side, try being the first

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:03 EST 2001
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February 26, 2001

Sol Kasimer, Chief Executive Officer
YMCA of Canada

Dear Mr. Kasimer:

John Gray of the Globe and Mail, February 24, wrote that Canada YMCA
found fault with the International YMCA for its report of Israeli
violation of human rights and atrocities against the Palestinians in the
Occupied Territorities.

Mr. Kasimer, for more than 50 years, those of us born in the United
States and with little knowledge about the Middle East, believed all the
myths disseminated by political Zionists in Hollywood and throughout our
media. Fortunately, in recent years, many of us have become
independent of the media and no longer watch Hollywood or television
movies. They are in what appears to be irrevocable disrepute.

I not only have access to videos and photographs on the Internet and
access to data from all over the world, but I also have many friends who
have been to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Their reports are
identical to the information stated in the reports of the International
YMCA. On occasion, the truth appears even in committee hearings of the
United States Congress through groups such as Human Rights Watch and
Amnesty International.

So, I must believe that you know, as any reasonably intelligent person
in your position should know, that the reports of the International YMCA
are not only accurate and well documented, but are also courageous.
Following this conclusion, I must then ask why would you be condemn
these reports. You cannot say that the International YMA has not
considered the Israeli point of view, given their many, many trips to
Israel and their support for Israel.

Is it because of your own ethnicity, your own religion, your lack of
compassion for an oppressed people, your own self-interest? Has someone
intimidated you to criticize the International YMCA? What did you say
when you learned that Israeli Defense Forces attacked the YMCA building
and their staff? Did you justify this as you justify what Israel has
done to Palestinians beginning before 1948?

History will not be on your side, Mr. Kasimer.

Betty Molchany
Attorney at Law
31 Blue Ridge Avenue
Front Royal, VA 22630-3045

==================================
If you haven’t been keeping up with this thread, the international Y
took a stand
for the beleaguered Palestinians. The Canadian and American Y’s
criticized
the international for doing so.
Betty Molchany is a tough fighter for the Palestinians.
RLA

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:04 EST 2001
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Subject: Background information you should know: Rabbi Hier and his enterprises &
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Background information you should know:

A short, concise history of Rabbi Hier and his enterprises in Los
Angeles is found in,
“Members of the Tribe: On the Road in Jewish America” by Ze’ev Chafets
(Bantam Books. 1988) beginning on page 81. Michigan born Chafets is a
former
director of the Israeli Government Press Office under Shamir, a
journalist and
author of many books.)

Some briefs from the book:
Rabbi Marvin Hier enterprises (the museum, Menachem Begin Yeshiva
High School, and a West Coast branch of NY’s Orthodox Yeshiva
University) were bankrolled by Sam Belzberg, a multimillionaire in
Vancouver.
Heir employs “aggressive marketing, astute media management, and
emotional appeals to West Coast patriotism.”
Hier and his disciple, Rabbi Cooper, believe in acting aggressively
in order to counter anti-Semitism in America, and “employ a hot, angry
style just short of Meir Kahane’s.” Constantly on the lookout for issues
that appeal to the Jewish sense of vulnerability, they are “active in
fighting Arab propaganda on the West Coast.” …
.”We address issues that people respond to,” Rabbi Cooper told me.
“We monitor anti-Semitic statements, the activities of the neo-Nazis,
Arab
activities, whatever:” ….
Heir: “Our focus is on the defense of Jews in America and
abroad…..The threat is everywhere and we will fight for the rights of
Jews anywhere.”……..
“This kind of ambition requires big money, and the Wiesenthal Center

has been especially successful in raising it. Like A.B. Data*in
Milwaukee, the
center operates mostly through direct mailings, a technique that brought
in 350,000 individual contributions in 1986, according to Rabbi
Cooper.” But not all of the center’s money comes from ten-dollar gifts.
“Who runs the biggest fundraising dinner on the West Coast Jewish scene
with all the big mukhers in attendance?” Heir demanded rhetorically.
“We do, that’s who. Why do they
come? Because we are effective.” Marvin Hier’s carpetbagging has
excited the anger and jealousy of fellow Jewish leaders.”
“Marvin Hier, David Arnow, and Israel Singer are self-appointed
Jewish leaders. Singer’s choice of Juan Peron as his model is apt; like
the late Argentinian statesman, he and his colleagues function in a
world without democracy. The American Jewish community has no electoral
process, no constitution, and no publicly chosen representatives. It
is, if anything, a
plutocracy—anyone with enough money can buy into the leadership
business.”
“The closest thing to a central organization is the Conference of
Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. But the conference is only an
umbrella group, and it deals exclusively with foreign affairs, such as
Israel or Soviet Jewry.” ….
“The real power in the Jewish community is vested not in the
presidents or the Peronistas, but in local Jewish federations around the
country. The federations are the definitive expression of the communal
consensus in America. Although they reflect the values and ideas of the

prosperous, respectable Jewish middle class, they are dominated by
millionaires. Edgar Bronfman and David Arnow may be wealthy enough to
own separate organizations, but most of the heavy hitters are connected
to the federations and, through them, to Israel by way of the United
Jewish Appeal.”

*Ze’ev writes:
“AIPAC deals in political retail but there is another, mass market
approach to Jewish political activity” located in the Milwakee suburb of
Fox Point, Wisconsin.
A.B.Data, a specialty operation founded by Bruce Arbit and Jerry
Benjamin. is American’s leading Jewish direct marketing firm.
…..they “know more than anyone else about where American Jews are and

how they can be reached.”
… their agenda is based first on “zionism.”
…much of their work “is done for politicians who want to appeal to
Jews for support and financial contributions.” They have 2 conditions
for working with politicians:
“They have to be pro-Israel” and “liberal on American issues.” (Their
power of the purse was demonstrated when they raised $4 million for
Allan
Cranston in $20.00 checks.) Barney Frank, Lowell Weicher, Jin Humt Carl
Levin
and Paul Simon were cited as some of their political clients.

_________________________________________________________________
No Return = No Peace March and Rally, New York City, 7 April 2001,

Home


___________________________________________________________

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:04 EST 2001
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The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of
Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH)

Press Release: 12/3/2001

MIFTAH Strongly Condemns Israeli Multiple Siege Policy

The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and
Democracy (MIFTAH) expresses serious concern regarding Israel’s multiple
siege policy on the Palestinian territories. Since late September 2000,
Israeli authorities have intensified their siege on the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians stranded in
various cities, towns, and villages.

Most recently, Israeli authorities have carried out a complete closure
on the city of Ramallah, the nucleus of Palestinian economic, political,
and social life. Israeli soldiers have closed off the main road from
Ramallah to Jerusalem by placing barriers and checkpoints just outside
Qalandia refugee camp.

Earlier last week, Israeli soldiers destroyed the main road from
Ramallah to Birzeit, leaving 35 neighboring Palestinian villages
completely isolated from Ramallah and from each other. Israeli soldiers
dug 3 different trenches on the main road, making it almost impossible
for commuters to travel in and out of Ramallah, and disrupting the
education process of Birzeit University, home to almost 5,000
Palestinian students.

Israel’s policy of economic and social strangulation is causing serious
and irreparable damage on the Palestinian people across the West Bank
and the Gaza Strip. As a result of the closures, several Palestinian
villages and towns are suffering from serious shortages in food and
medicine, 274 schools (90,000 students) are unable to operate, basic
humanitarian and emergency services have been completely paralyzed from
reaching various Palestinian towns and villages, and the very
functioning of key Palestinian institutions has been seriously
disrupted, posing detrimental effects on the Palestinian nation-building
process.

MIFTAH strongly condemns Israel’s multiple-siege policy on the
Palestinian people, and calls upon the international community to take
immediate and concrete steps to end the ‘imprisonment of an entire
nation’.

For further information, please contact:
Public Information Department
MIFTAH
Tel: 00972-2-585 1842
WWW.MIFTAH.ORG

_________________________________________________________________
No Return = No Peace March and Rally, New York City, 7 April 2001,

Home


_________________________________________________________________

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:05 EST 2001
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Israel’s attack on Christianity

Hassan Tahsin, guest contributor

June 13, 1997, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

This article appeared in the Saudi Gazette, for which the author is a
senior
columnist

http://www.arab.net/arabview/articles/tahsin7.html

Most political observers believe that the hard-line policy being
followed by
the hawkish Israeli government is likely to do anything but further the
peace process. Aside from occupying Arab lands and carrying out what can

only be called ethnic cleansing, Israeli religious extremists have
entered
both the political and religious arenas. They believe that they are free
to
violate the principle of freedom of worship. They have attacked Islamic
sanctuaries in occupied Jerusalem but, fortunately, these moves have
been
fully exposed by the international media, including even the American
media.
Jewish religious extremists have not only attacked Muslims; they have
gone
beyond this in attacking Christians and denying them the right to
perform
their rituals.
At one time, it was difficult for the Jews to attack Christian shrines
directly. They were very wary of the possible reaction from the Western
Christian community. They abstained from any moves against Christians
because they feared losing their Western support. In fact, however, it
has
been the West which effectively helped the Jews to establish their
Zionist
identity on Palestinian Arab land. As they extended their influence,
they
did not hesitate to seize a building belonging to a Christian monastery.

They expelled the monks from the building under the pretext that it
belonged
to the Jews.

A few days ago, they intensified their attacks against Christianity and
the
Bible. The attacks on the New Testament — that part of the Bible
dealing
with Jesus, his teachings, his followers and their doings — were
particularly strong. Two Knesset members who also belong to an extremist

religious party presented a draft banning the possession of the New
Testament. The draft reads: “The circulation of any materials that
promote
Christianity will be treated as an illegal action.” Thus the possession
of
the New Testament by any person would be considered a missionary
activity
which is against Israeli law. Those who illegally own, print or
distribute
articles and items that are used to tempt people to other religions
would be
liable to one year’s imprisonment.

Every action by Christian missionaries, for example, would be considered

illegal and would be summarily banned. By reading the new law closely,
we
see that it is far tougher than the one currently effective in Israel.
The
new law would act as a deterrent to Christianity and Christian worship.
Surprisingly, the Christian reaction from within Israel has been very
weak.
The spokesman for the pro-Israeli International Christian Embassy in
Jerusalem said, “All the churches of the world have observed fasting and

performed prayers against this law.” The question of course is whether
this
will be enough.

The spokesman expressed a fear that this law will result in a reduction
of
support for Israel among Anglican Christians. He did not, however, seem
afraid of the prosecution which might be faced by Christians in Israel;
he
seemed much more concerned about the interests of Israel itself. This
new
law against Christians is seen as a part of the settling of accounts
between
Jews and Christians whose differences and disputes go back many
centuries.
One of the Knesset members who presented the draft law said, “The Jewish

nation has suffered throughout its history from attempts at altering its

creed… what is the value of freedom of expression in comparison with
what
the Jewish people have suffered?”

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Note that Israel killed one young Palestinian in this march.
ISRAEL IS A HORRIBLE COUNTRY!
RLA

Birzeit University and Community March for an End to Collective
Punishment
Peace Must Be Built on Justice, Not on Ruin and Destruction

12 March 2001

Birzeit University faculty and staff are greatly heartened by the
community and international solidarity shown in the wake of the
Israeli army’s destruction of the only road linking the University
and thirty-three surrounding rural communities to Ramallah. On
12 March, on a bright spring morning, hundreds of Ramallah
citizens, community leaders, representatives of NGOs,
legislators and governmental officials joined Birzeit faculty and
staff in a peaceful march and civil protest from Ramallah to the
trenches gouged out of the road – the new “borders” in which
Ramallah, Birzeit and surrounding villages are imprisoned and
separated from each other. Today, communal action is brought
into the forefront of the national agenda.

With an Israeli tank and outpost on the hill, hundreds of
marchers climbed over the three trenches severing traffic on the
road holding signs and banners against collective punishment and
for academic freedom and Palestinian independence. Striking a
very personal note, one faculty member with family in the
northern part of the West Bank held a banner with the simple
message: “Open the roads! I want to visit my mother.”

The Israeli army responded in the usual language of excessive
force, hurling tear gas and shooting rubber bullets into the heart
of the march. At some point, and in response, youth began to
throw stones at Israeli jeeps positioned on the interesecting
road. Wave after wave of Palestinian ambulances rescued
marchers overcome by gas or hurt by bullets. Over 80 civilians
were injured. Tragically, it was too late for one young
Palestinian, Abdul Qadir Mohammad Ibrahim, who was killed
by two live bullets that lodged in the chest.

His death is both a grim reminder of the almost 400 lost
Palestinian lives since 29 September 2000 – and a portent of
more bloodshed, loss of life and loss of hope if Israel’s policy of
siege and blockade is allowed to continue.

The national movement has called today for holding national
protest marches targetting the checkpoints of siege on
Wednesday, March 14th at midday. We appeal to you to
organize similar marches and activites worldwide, protesting the
strangulation of the Palestinian people and calling for the end of
Israeli Occupation. . No peace can be built on the destruction
and ruin of another people, their society and their livelihoods.

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:05 EST 2001
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meshehu wrote:

> In article <[email protected]>, “William Black”
> <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> > In fact the only defence against the representative democracies seems to be
> > to adopt democracy.
>
> What’s wrong with democracy?

Nothing. Israel should try it. You’ll like it.
RLA

From [email protected] Tue Mar 13 20:05:06 EST 2001
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Subject: Plowing fields and roads in a life and death Palestinian struggle for
freedom By Ray Hanania
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Plowing fields and roads in a life and death Palestinian struggle for
freedom
By Ray Hanania
Monday, March 12, 2001

Ramallah, Palestine — The hot sun beats down on a hillside field the
size of
a baseball diamond where a Palestinian man in a light shirt and baggy
old
pants tugs on the leather straps that navigates his horse and plow
through
the dry brown dirt and large rocks.
About 20 yards away at an intersection that connects two Palestinian
towns, a thousand Palestinians have gathered to peacefully call on
Israel to
end a three month siege that has imprisoned more than 600,000 civilians
in 33
nearby villages and towns.
The protesters are weary of the blockade which has frozen them from
their
jobs, prevented families from reuniting and forced them to ration food
and
water to stay alive. In the hills above, the Israelis have positioned a
camouflaged tank with its large cannon pointing directly at the protest
leaders. About 5 heavily armed Israeli soldiers position themselves
behind
armored personnel carriers and jeeps, watching as the protesters
approach the
dirt mounds.
They walk slowly but defiantly with their heads up in the air waving
Palestinian flags and banners that decry the new Israeli form of
“collective
punishment.” Using heavy construction plows, the Israelis have dug deep
moats
through any of the roads, piling the crumbled rock, dirt and pavement
into
high mounds that blockade cars and traffic.
It is a cruel form of punishment in a land where cruelty has been
ratcheted up to new precedents in this on-going Palestinian Israel
battle.
When they reach the mounds, a yellow truck with a large plow slowly
drives up to begin pushing the dirt back into the trenches that cut the
roads
in half.
Not all of the Palestinians standing behind the plows that desperately
try to restore the roads to makeshift use are protesters. Many are just
civilians who are forced to walk the five miles between the two towns.
One old woman wearing a worn, colorfully embroidered Palestinian dress
balances a large and heavy burlap wrapped sack of vegetables
precariously on
her head. Her left arm swings nonchalantly while her right hand holds
the
bundle in place. She is followed by two young children drawn to the site
of
the crowds and colorful flags waving in the air above.
It is a bizarre scene, right out of the movie, Apocalypse Now. A boy
waving
one of the flags has a small black cellular phone tight against his
right
ear. Everyone has a cell phone, including the priests and Imams who join
in
the protest, the leaders at the head of the protest, and even the
Israeli
soldiers who watch from above. TV camera crews loiter nearby, waiting
for
“something” to happen. Many of the people there have come to protest.
Others
have come to watch.
No one is shouting. No one is throwing rocks. No one is doing anything,
accept staring as the plows attempt to restore the road.
And that is when you hear the sounds of several deep pops!
A thin trail of white smoke forms an arch of a cloudy rainbow that
shoots out from the muzzle of an Israeli soldier’s mortar. The canister
bounces on the ground among the crowd and then pops again, bursting into
a
large cloud of tear gas burning the eyes of the civilians who duck for
cover.
The civilians scatter, but they quickly reform near the road blocks and
moats as the wind carries the deadly cloud away.
Two more deep pops and the eye follows the trail of smoke from the guns
above landing in the center of the protesters, who scatter again.
No one has thrown a rock. No one has fired a weapon at the Israelis.
Leaders of the protesters argue loudly with several young men who have
perched themselves along the hillside’s rocky ridge, and scream at the
soldiers to stop.
When one young man bends down to pick up a stone, the symbol of the
Palestinian David in his fight against the Israeli Goliath, a new
crackling
sound replaces the tear gas.
And before a stone can even catapulted in the air in the direction of
the
soldiers, the Israelis in their bullet proof vests, wearing thick
helmets
have pulled the triggers on the guns that have been sighting the entire
time.
Many of the soldiers who fire are lining against the cinder block walls
of a Palestinian home whose occupants were removed at gun point and
occupied
by the soldiers many months earlier.
Palestinian ambulances, teetering on the edge of breakdown, race down
the
road from Ramallah through the scattering crowd in a bizarre scene.
Sirens
wailing. Red lights flashing, the white ambulance trucks with the Red
Crescent painted on their sides have an easy time finding victims who
randomly drop all around.
A 27 year old man who stood on a ridge more than 100 yards away from the

Israel soldiers, drops dead like a lifeless doll. Carrying bright orange

gurneys, medical personnel rush to the man’s side and lift him onto
their
stretchers and race back to the cars. His name is Abdul Qadir Mohammad
Ibrahim. But that is all anyone knows.
Several others are rushed out on the shoulders of friends, blood gushing

>from the sides of their heads and shoulders. Steel ball bearings as
thick as
almonds and covered with plastic litter the ground. These “plastic
bullets”
are not plastic at all, and take their toll indiscriminately against
men,
women and even some children in the crowds.
It happens very quickly.
The ambulances drive in and out repeatedly. The Israeli armored carriers

and jeeps with their thick wire mesh across their windows and their blue

lights spinning, rush in to secure the road.
The protesters have run back along the roads and even through the field
where the farmer tries to pull his horse and plow out of danger’s way.
Rock throwers, immortalized in the Biblical battle but cleverly
demonized
by an Israeli propaganda campaign, did not start this battle.
The Israeli soldiers did.
There was no reason to fire with live ammunition. The Palestinians just
wanted to open the roads that have put them in an economic choke hold.
But the local news reports that day and those later broadcast around the

world show three stone throwers in their report.
According to veterans of the first “Intifadah,” or the Palestinian
rebellion, this Intifadah is worse than before. The suffering is
greater. The
Israeli cruelty is more perverse.
When it is all over, and the civilians have returned to their homes,
Israeli bulldozers return to dig out the deep trenches again, crushing
the
vegetables that have spilled from their burlap bag onto the useless
road.
And it isn’t long before the farmer whose leather skin is tanned a deep
brown from the hot sun, returns to his field with his own plow. The
scene
will be repeated again at this intersection. There is very little else
he can
do.

(Ray Hanania’s columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com.)

============================================
We all need to remember that these are alien invaders of Palestine,
trying to drive the Palestinians out, and take it all. Greed is
epitomized
by these greedy guts.
RLA

ISRAEL IS A TRULY HORRIBLE COUNTRY, AND ITS PEOPLE
ARE HORRIBLE.
rla

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