Sunday, December 24, 2006

Palestine remembered?

Remember when there was this idea of a Palestinian state? And Palestinians wanted to work together to make this happen and build their country?

Ok, so neither do I. But things are just getting stupid now. On December 23rd, a couple of days before Christmas while christians the world over were spreading the Good News, and Jews were addign a little light to their houses as Chanukah candles were lit and children played with dreidles... in the hopeful state to be of Palestine, a seven year old girl was shot by Hamas. Ofcourse the news headline don't make a big deal about this. That would break media taboos. But it is mentioned towards the end of articles that talk about the other person who was shot, a senior security official loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Frankly, the kid deserves better, and the Palestinians are going to have to learn to stop the shooting, at least during the holiday season. Tourists don't like being shot at, or seeing the poor Palestinians shoot at other poor Palestinians. It shatters the world view of many pro-Palestinian activists.

Here's hoping civil war can be avoided in 2007, and that the Palestinian people get a decent government that wants peace and prosperity for all in the middle east.

Source: ZOTW forums

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The following are two article I wrote for a paper

In the Middle of it all – Part 1

On July 9th I left the UK for Israel. A week before my father had called and asked “Are you sure you want to go? You know it looks like there’s about to be a war there.” I replied “Yes Dad”. As one does. A week later I was a stone’s throw away from the Egyptian border (surrounded by 50 Israeli Troops), wondering whether our program director (a former Israeli ambassador to South America) still intended taking us to the Lebanon border. At this stage, the Highland Whisky from Heathrow was just about finished – Scottish Whisky being the most English thing I could find in duty free to share with the rest of my group. The group included people from 24 countries from across the globe. I recently got an e-mail from one of them apologising for not understanding my British accent. I obviously had to apologise to him… on two counts; not being understood and not being British.

The 50 Israeli Troops were not usual. On the way to the Negev Desert (the Sinai Desert when it hits the Egyptian border) we had to pull over. It was somewhere near Ashkelon. After twenty minute we stopped for lunch. Our director looked worried as we got off the bus, a few minutes later rounded everyone up and told us we’d stop somewhere else to eat. A quick head count as the bus pulled out showed us 3 short. The driver reluctantly turned off the engine. An American and I, went to find the stragglers, two Australians were casually eating an ice cream without any idea the rest of the group had left. They returned to the bus. Five minutes later we found our Indian colleague. He was casually chatting to some locals, we pulled him away and asked if he’d like to return with us. We obviously weren’t clear, as he asked if we wanted some tea first, while urging us to calm down. Ten minutes later we were on the bus. The next day we learned the initial stop was due to a missile landing near Ashkelon, in one of the villages we’d passed through in fact.

Soldiers, our bus and new directions

The soldiers? It turns out the border with Egypt was destroyed in one spot while we were in a research station right alongside it. With the open border, hundreds of people crossing illegally into Egypt, missiles and who knew what else, someone decided the stations security wasn’t up to scratch, and the Army was sent in. The old research station also serves as an absorption centre. They teach new immigrants about the Israeli culture and language. School children visit and learn about the environment, recycling and self sufficiency in the desert. Under normal circumstances security is not particularly high. We were there over the Jewish Sabbath and there was only one other group. The other group was made up of British high school students. It was agreed to try and ignore the conflict on the day of rest. No news. No interruptions. As a hundred or so foreigners tried to ignore the conflict, fifty soldiers wondered around carrying their weapons at all times.

We returned to Jerusalem. Specifically, we returned to the Crown Plaza hotel and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The hotel was full. The language in the hotel had switched from a mix of English, French and Spanish to Hebrew. A group of kids were riding the lift. Up and down, up and down. When I came to dinner and hour later, they were still riding the lift. Families fleeing northern Israel were everywhere. To their credit the hotel increased provisions for the kids’ entertainment, but at night you could hear the crying and complaining of children who just wanted to go home.

The ministry was another story. Other than losing our seminar room (the Press Centre you will have seen on the news), life seemed to be going on as normal… at least with a pretence of normalcy. We heard a lecture about Civil Rights in Israel from a former head of the Israeli civil rights movement. We heard from a former High Court Judge, Hadassa Ben-Itto, who quite the bench to write a book on “the protocols of the Elders of Zion”, a well established forgery that incited violence from Tzarist Russia to Nazi Germany. It’s available in a new edition each year with a new foreword. The latest problems the world faces are always somehow blamed on the Jews in this foreword. Judge Hadassa said the book is available in London. All I could think of was NUS conference two years ago when fliers referring to the protocols as fact were distributed (leading to three officers resignations). Both of these lectures took place in the auditorium as the British, French and German foreign ministers met in our lecture room in front of the world’s media. We had to get back to the hotel and turn on CNN to find out what had happened.

The Tel Aviv beach and life pretending to go on as normal, as helicopters fly overhead

We may have been in the middle of it all, but you only really know what you see yourself.

In the Middle of it all – Part 2

Jerusalem, July 22. My birthday. We were on a free weekend. Our program director had nipped home to a wife that had been calling him with increasing worry as the situation developed. “She’s not from Israel” he had explained. I’m not sure if he expected a group of people not from Israel to get that. Maybe we’d been there too long and were now able to push the situation to back of our minds (for whole hours at a time) as we got on with life. The first question on meeting someone after a break, or seeing someone arrive late was still “what’s new?” the answer was usually “nothing yet, the same”. Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the most common greetings in Israel is “Mah Nishmah?” loosely translated as “What’s new?” but literally “what have you heard?” After almost 2 weeks of crisis it was starting to make sense.

The David Citadel. Well, not really. Our Director (who it turns out was a tour guide before joining the civil service) had arranged for us to visit the citadel early one morning before it opened to the public. That was three days ago as we saw workers putting together a high tech installation around the old stone walls. The director had explained how this wasn’t actually the citadel of King David (it wasn’t possible since it was in the wrong place). The citadel was actually built by Herod the Great and the tower everyone recognises as “The Tower of David” is actually a Turkish addition to the citadel. The only connection with King David is a bronze copy of Verrocchio's "David", a Renaissance sculpture gifted to Jerusalem by the city of Florence. But back to the present. Tonight the new summer entertainment at the Citadel opens. We have opening night tickets. My purple card actually got me a student discount (fancy that). The giant mechanical instruments were lit up and sound began to filter across the old stone walls. We climb the stairs and walk along the parapet, peeking through the arrow slits and between the turrets, then someone’s phone began to ring.

Sound and lights at the David Citadel

It was America on the line, then France, other countries followed. Did we know there was an attempted suicide bombing in old Jerusalem? Umm… we look around at the stonework, okay, we’re at the edge of old Jerusalem, right next to one of the cities seven gates, definitely in the old city. We eventually decide to leave and head to Ben Yehuda street. The street is named after a man who single-handedly revived the Hebrew language, from one solely for prayer, to one of daily life. The street is a pedestrian mall, much like the centre of Lancaster on market day, only far busier and with trendy caf├ęs lining the pavement. A few steps after entering the street the same thought hits all of us, Ben Yehuda street has been the target of suicide bombers not once but thirteen times. Most recently in 2001 when ten people were killed, mostly children, and 188 injured. We had dinner, where I bumped into a friend from St Andrews and heard Flora Hoori was also in Jerusalem. Some places really do seem to be at the centre of things, for better or worse.

The group split after dinner, some of us staying to watch Israeli kids break dancing in the middle of the street. Only in Israel. The key organiser appeared to be a religious chap who couldn’t have been older than 16. We’re talking black suit and hat. Next to him a kid in ripped jeans and another in a tracksuit. And they’re off. Absolutely amazing. Classes were announced for Wednesday, I’m sure they’ll have some takers. The onlookers, mostly kids, keep rushing over to greet each other as they saw school friends from else where in Israel suddenly gathered to this little spot. Laughs ring in the street. We’re half waiting for something to happen. But nothing does. We may have been in the middle of it all, but thankfully you only really know what you see yourself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"Team-Evil Arab hackers" go anti-Zionism

It's easy to argue over names. But I'm not going to. If "Team-Evil Arab hackers" is what these guys want to call themselves, that'll do for me. This group have taken down over 750 Israeli servers, and not content have now started targetting Jewish servers mentioning Zionism. Jerusalem Post and Haaretz each have articles on them. Their connection with Zionism on the Web started when the the European Union of Jewish Students server was taken down. ZionismOnTheWeb was included in the initial round of e-mails and helped assess the risk and severity of the problem.

We then backed up our servers. 48 hours later, we were hit. Having found multiple scripts runing on the server, we began disabling them before the site was defaced. Removing all those we found and upgrading some software left us feeling relativly safe. It didn't last. A few hours after reporting the site cleaned up, our forums, blogs, and photo gallery were defaced exactly the same way as WUJS.

Through the night we battled with Team Evil. We plugged gaps and restricted access, they opened a new gap and injected php scripts. Eventually with the aid of our ISP we restored completly from the back up and rapidly reimplemented fixes. This threw them, but only for an hour or two. Soon the blogs were down again.

In a last ditch effort, we disabled the blogs. The forums (which now seemed secure) went as well while we checked them (and manually disabled code that had a security flaw). The Zionism On the Web forum is now back online. Our blogs at Zionism On The Web are disabled, so it's just as well we have this extra external blog going. For more info on Team Evil or to post your own experience... see the Hacked Topic in our Zionism forums.

For those that are interested, all the attacks originated from the Saudi Network Information Center, ISU, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. The Internet Services Unit (ISU) is the department of King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) responsible for providing Internet services throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Food to Gaza

Despite what the media (and Palestinian activists) seems to be saying about a crisis in Gaza, Red Cross officials have deemed the need for medical supplies to be "not urgent", and reports from the border show that between the 2-6 July, 239 trucks with suplies crossed into Gaza. This included 105 trucks of aid and goods which passed into Gaza on the 4 July alone.

The trucks have brought basic food items, including: wheat, corn, cooking oil, meat, fruit and milk. The transfer of medicines was also approved but the transfer was delayed by the Red Cross.

The following quantities of fuel and natural gas were transferred to the Palestinians: 1,480,000 liters of diesel fuel; 180,000 liters of gasoline; 407 tons of natural gas (for cooking).

This suggests claims of a crisis being talked up by Palestinian presure groups is no more than political propoganda.

Friday, June 30, 2006

From Israel to Egypt and back

Dr Ginosar has posted an account of his family's trip from the Israel (then part of the Ottoman Empire) to Egypt in the 1800's. He recalls how his father returned to Israel (now part of the British Mandate) in 1922 (aged 22). He recalls how his father loved Israel immensely, and how this love motivated his brother Pinhas, and him, to join the Lechi underground to try to liberate Israel from the duplicitous British occupation. He notes how Israel was indeed liberated andhwo the British have not forgiven Israel to this day.

A long but very interesting read!

An Old Family Story at Dr Ginosar Recalls

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Boycott Palestinian Academia!

Can I propose a boycott of Palestinian Academics for not speaking out against kidnappings and terrorism?

I don't think a single Palestinian University has policy again the Hamas state sponsored terrorism. I don't care which state (Syrian, Iran or the PLO) are sponsoring it. Academics should be at the forfront of speaking out.

I will consider exceptions for those Palestinian Academics who sign a statement denouncing their government (Hamas).

p.s. yes, this is satire.

Gaza, Hamas and the Israeli Operations

From what I've heard / read, the hope is that Hamas will return those it's kidnapped and the current Israeli operation in Gaza can be called off.

Mean time... here's some of the quotes I've come accross from the media so far:

One way or another, the Damascus-based Khaled Meshaal, with his Syrian and Iranian backers, has clearly emerged as a more powerful figure in Gaza than either Haniyeh or Abbas.

Source: yossi alpher on comment is free

Is this even anything to do with Palestinians any more, or is it part of Hamas's stratagy for global Islamism? There is a lot more to this than meets the eye, for some background see: Palestine, Hamas, Fatah and civil war

Think of the Children, oh please, won't someone think of the children?!

Israeli war planes flew low overhead, setting off sonic booms that smashed windows and frightened children. "The bombardment of civilian infrastructure, vital and central bridges and the lone power plant in the Gaza Strip is a war crime," said Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri."

Source: AlertNews (Reuters)

What do you think? When you're complaining about the noise of aircraft scaring children during a war... there's not too much going on in my opinion.

Incidently, Israel is just too small for this problem to be isolated to Gaza, whatever the people in Gaza were suffering (in terms of noise polution etc from the planes), the Israelis must be suffering too. Summary: War is not nice. It should be avoided. In this case there is a way out... HAMAS SHOULD TAKE IT!

"For sure, he's in hands that will protect him and treat him well. Our morals and our religion dictate that we do this to every prisoner," Abu Marzouk said.

Source: JPost

Do you buy this? Are Islamic states the way forward? I agree that this IS what Islam says, but since when has that made any difference to Hamas? There is a difference between Islam, and the corrupted version called Islamism that wants everyone to convert and all countries under Sharia Law. See the next quote as well!

Abu Abir, told Al-Jazeera satellite TV earlier Wednesday that Asheri would be butchered in front of TV cameras" if the IDF operation in Gaza did not stop. "Our patience is running out," said Abu Abir.

Source: JPost

What? How does this follow from the previous statement? Palestinians want convicted terrorists released in exchange for returning the soldier or his body. They want about 500 people released from Israeli prisons.

Is 18 year old Eliyahu Asheri being treated as a political prisoner? He hasn't actually done anything wrong besides being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is he getting at least the same level of support, rights etc as convicted murderers in Israeli jails? If not, why not? What about 19 year old Gilad Shalit? He's a soldier in the Israeli Army, true... but that means he is a POW. Is Hamas complying with it's obligations under international law re: POWs?

Hamas is the government now, they have a responsibility just like any other government. Their
security forces are now government security forces... the rules of international law and the international community should apply just as much to them as to any one else. Has anyone even raised this point?

Is the NGO community putting pressure on Hamas about their lack of complaince? Are grass roots movements pringing up to boycott Palestinian goods?

Why not?

Monday, May 29, 2006

NATFHE boycott is on!

The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) has this morning decided to boycott Israeli Academics who do not demonstratively oppose their government. The Union also congratulated Hamas (a proscribed terrorist organisation [Home Office]) on their electoral victory which has brought the Palestinians close to civil war [Aljazeera 5/18/2006 and Reuters 21/5/2006). There was significant opposition to the motion with the final vote being recorded as 106 for, 71 against with 21 abstentions.

While they may think of themselves as a powerful force of the British elite, in really British academics, or at least their unions, seem able only to create and foster divisions in society - both at home in the UK and in the Middle East. This boycott may only last until the merger in a few days time, but unless people speak out it will set an agenda of division and conflict for the UK, and promote War and the death of innocents on both sides in the Middle East.

With the merger British Academics can choose to put these Israel bashing attacks on academic freedom behind them. The question is, will they?

Please see the Academic boycott resource center for more information:

Friday, May 05, 2006

Impersonating Jews to be antisemitic

The idea of impersonating Jews in order to be antisemitic is not new. Infact this is a very well known tactic of antisemites made famous by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion... a publication allegidly by Jews, but actually put together by the Russian Secret service in order to trigger pogroms and other antisemitic actions.

On a student forum in the UK we've had someone by the handle of "People of the Book" pretending to be Jewish for quite some time. He (though they later suddenly claimed to be not only Jewish but female as well) took an extremely anti-Israel line and assured people Israel had nothing to do with Judaism. All this while claiming to be very religious and shomer shabbat... while posting just before midnight on a Friday evening. After a couple of long threads pointing out where this imposters posts contradicted, where they didn't know certain basic facts about Judaism etc they changed their handle.

Now (on the same forum) we've got a much more devious poster. This one is going for the Protocols approach. They've picked the name of an outspoke defender of Israel amd included details of the student Jewish Society in the handle just to make sure everyone got it. The real person they are impersonating has been persecuted both by anti-Zionist students and by an anti-Israel lobby group. What makes this so interesting is that now one of these people is literally putting works into this student's mouth. They start off with some rather blunt comments that are within the realms of possibility, then rapidly start saying Islaophobic things and justifying the position with very right wing material that is is likely to make almost all members of the forum (who are almost by definition left winger) see red. They start by having the "Jewish student" say:

"Jewish student": This is nonsense. Muslim students on campus have been responsible for hatred and attacks on Jews. It is a shame that the MCB who are the moderates are backing the extremists in our midst

This results in someone called "Muslim Sympathiser" saying

"Muslim Symapthiser":
well well well! look what the cat has dragged in. The Islamophobic student in Britain! I hope you are still enjoying your nomination for UK Islamophobe of 2005. Pity you didn't win, although the opposition was tough How are your friends at Front Page Magazine and The American Thinker btw?
The references are ofcourse to articles on the antisemitism at the real students university which these websites reported on. Luckily I managed to get an early post in...

Me: The person concerned has a personal policy of not posting on
here... so I would be very suprised if he's suddenly broken that to comment on
THIS story while ignoring all the other Israel related threads. So... which of
you clowns decided to post as him, and why didn't you at least put more effort
into it?
The impersonator now tries to neutralise this. They post as the Jewish Student again (no mention of their university Jewish society this time as every one will have seen that sign posting already):

The impersonator:
Shalom, Yes it is me posting! I just could not take this s*** no more about Muslim persecution at colleges. We Jewish students are being attacked: its disgusting. How dare anyone attack our right to defend our state and people? As you know from our personal discussions Muslims are evil and the biggest threat to Israel. Anyone who disagrees should read the link below Israel forever.

Related link:

At first it looks a little bit stupid to reply to me claiming "we" have had conversation that I know never took place. But this is not the point, he's not trying to convince me. Nor is he trying to convince other people that know the student he is impersonating. The author it trying to make it look like there is an anti Muslim element in the Jewish community. This would not only encourage pro-Muslim groups (like Respect) to turn a blind eye to the anti-Jewish rants of their Muslim allies, it would make at least some of them accept and join in these rants as justified. Further it would provide a degree of protection to some of the more radical and antisemitic Muslim groups (e.g. Hizb ut-Tahrir) as any claims against them will be returned with "But you're just as bad, look at that Jewish student!".

The comment that "Muslims are evil" is ofcourse Islamophobic, but why is it there? Again it's designed to get people's backs up. Particularly those on the left. They now have to side against the supposed Jewish student because he is clearly a "racist" (that Islam is a religion is besides the point). The author adds that Muslims are "the biggest threat to Israel" making his entire argument about Zionism rather than a response to the unrelated and unambigious antisemitism. A similar trick was tried on the forum a few days earlier when another poster accused Jews of being the Richest Faction and Controling the Media. When he was challenged he repeatedly tried to make it look like a disagreement on Israel / Palestine. He claimed the Zionists were trying silence him by calling him Antisemitic just because he critisised Israel. A bunch of leftists jumped to his defence then backed away as it was repeatedly pointed out that NONE of the threads in question had ANYTHING to do with Israel. This sentence like wise is designed to make it look like any critisism of those who will later attack the impersonator are no more than false cries of Antisemitism. "Israel forever" is designed to give the same impression. It also has a ring of Imperialism to it. And the link? The article is called "Why I write hard-hitting articles on Islam". It ends by saying "Aggressive Islam can also be challenged best by a well-explained and thoughtful Christianity" - definitly not something the real student would endorse, but the article is certain to be seen as an attack on Islam associated with them. And sure enough it is...

A poster called Muslim wrote:
ive got to say this is very funny. its the same
old stuff from you. were worse of, were being persecuted. please give us the
sympathy. we want a enquiry, why we never got kosher food, blah blah blah blah.
Ill attack youre so called state any time any where. im not even going to even
bother to comment on your last sentence it just shows what kind of person you
are you know i really feel sorry for the jews. its not the palestinains (muslims
and christians) who have lost most but it is really the jews. there faith has
been hijacked and taken over by a political idioligy. all i can say is freedom
for palestine and god help the jews.
And now the get out. In case Antisemitism is discovered, the left usually refuse to believe it could possibly come from them, with their strong anti-Racism credentials (on everything bar antisemitism in many cases). The best option therefore is to blame the right. The far right. The extreme left antisemitism borrows it's material from the extreme right in any case (a worrying trend in the UK).

I provided the get out by writting:
Dear all, The comments here were planted, there were NOT posted by the person they claim to be from, nor I expect by anyone Jewish. They are being used as an excuse to attack Jews in general. This last post amounts to saying "and now I supose you're going to accuse us of antisemitism" and belittleing the previous discrimination. Like another thread further down, this is again a case intentional antisemitism and intended cover up. Worse, the imposter also appears to be Islaophobic. I do hope
I'm not the only one who can see how serrious this is and can follow what "they"
(who ever these people / person is) are doing. Almost makes me wonder if we
don't have our BNP friends back on the forum.

Now after that we can all unite.

Muslim wrote:
well i gotta to say im glad this has been cleared up. both
sides were offended and its quite sad that somebody went to these lengths to do
so. whoever it was all i gotta to say is this isnt the way to make your argument
i guess we can end this post. peace

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why the questions?

Why all the questions you ask?

Well, actually you wouldn't ask that. That's because you're here. The very fact that you're here means you're likely to belong to one of the interested groups:

1) You are Jewish and a Zionist
2) You are Palestinian and an anti-Zionist
3) You are a left wing activist pushing an agenda on Palestine
4) You are a right wing campaigner looking for arguments against Jews

If not, you're probably here because someone who conforms to one of the stereo types above pointed you here!

Lets face it, most people feel that far to much time is dedicated to the question of the Middle East, while at home problems like education, healthcare and unemployment are lagrely ignored.

On campus students would much rather fight over the Middle East than unite against cuts by the administration. Why is this? Why do some people feel SO strongly about this issue? And why to the "facts" each of the sides above gives seem totally contradictory with each other? It's not as if they are interpreting the same history differently... as if they are from different planets!

This blog will address some of the arguments that come up in conversation, some of the claims made, and some of the "creative" uses of information that confuse so many.

We can't solve the problems in the middle east, but at least we can help people understand them!