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Articles Archives - March 2010
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Saturday, March 6, 2010
The harlot’s grave
Uri Avnery, Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2010
      Some weeks ago, Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in Rome, was released after serving 28 years in prison.
     The motives for his act have never been clarified. But a Palestinian leader once told me his version: God appeared to Agca in a dream and told him: "Go to the Holy City and kill that damn Pole. But the Turk misunderstood, so instead of going to Jerusalem and killing Menachem Begin, he went to Rome…”
     Which just goes to show that holy cities are a pain in the neck.
     The late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an observant Jew and a resolute opponent of the religious establishment, used to praise a deed of the Wahhabis, the radical sect that arose more than 200 years ago to cleanse Islam of impurity. The first thing they did upon conquering Mecca was to destroy the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad. The sanctification of graves was, to their mind, a pagan abomination. Leibowitz lauded this act and poured his wrath on religious Jews who sanctify “holy” sites.
     ....During the first years of the state, an official of the Ministry of Religions (as it was then called), a certain Shmuel Zanwill Kahana, toured the country and discovered holy sites right and left. He found graves of Muslim sheikhs and announced that they were, actually, the tombs of our forefathers. They were declared holy places and taken over by his ministry.
     That aggrandized the ministry and its budget, attracted tourists and “proved” that Jews had deep roots in the country. Secular Israelis smiled in derision, and some religious Jews, like Leibowitz, were furious.
     But after the Six-day War and the beginning of the occupation, the worship of holy places assumed a much more sinister character. It became an instrument of the settlers.
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Israel must change to change its image
Abdaljawad OA Hamayel, Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2010
      Israel has come out with several different schemes to sharpen its image on the world stage of late. Trying to develop a stronger and more comprehensive media strategy is one of the ways the country seeks to attract support in the West and internationally.
     Palestinians and their international supporters, however, have thus far been able to sustain a somewhat ‘conspiratorial attack’ on Israel. This attack has severely undermined the Israeli image of a liberal democratic haven amidst a sea of dictatorial states.
     The Israeli image, however, has been less damaged because of Palestinian efforts to expose its machinations, and much more based simply on the inherent political injustice, inequality and discrimination that an occupational regime such as Israel exercises.
     Israel is a country that boasts of its freedoms and democracy, while maintaining an occupation that contradicts those same pillars. The reality on the ground, images of dead children that circulated after the war on Gaza, were worth more than any essay written about the conflict.
     The new youth culture in the West of ‘seeing before believing’ and of seeking alternative sources for information has added to the degradation of the Israeli image, out of the control of its spindoctors who have until now controlled the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More than ever, westerners are traveling to the Palestinian territories and Israel to witness the circumstances in which Palestinians live. The rise of the internet and the challenges it poses to mainstream media is another piece of the puzzle.
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Canada’s aid politics fuel Palestinian division
Jesse Rosenfeld, Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2010
      In a uniquely Canadian way - politely, subtly - the Conservative government has made a clear statement in support of Israel’s divide-and-conquer rule over the Palestinian Territories.
     By slashing funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and instead pumping money into the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) judicial sector - specifically toward training police, prosecutors and judges - Canada is playing politics with aid.
     Canada is continuing its support for the UNRWA emergency fund this year, but is cutting funding for the UNRWA general program, which focuses on development and education. On the surface, it appears as though the Conservatives have simply redirected aid from an international organization that supports Palestinian refugees to a Palestinian-run body. However, scratch the surface and you find a brutal, Machiavellian reality.
     UNRWA is the main aid and relief agency for Gaza’s 1.5 million locked-in residents, most of whom are refugees stemming from Israel’s creation in 1948. The organization is charged with providing services for the refugees until a just solution to their forcible exile is found. Canada’s decision to cut core funding to the agency effectively scraps Canada’s historic support for UN Resolution 194, which supports the right of return for all Palestinian refugees of 1948. The larger ramifications of the move, then, make the Conservative cuts one of the government’s most succinct reversals of Canadian foreign policy in the region.
     This is not simply an example of Stephen Harper’s diplomatic posturing for Israel. In an article subsequently reprinted in the Jerusalem Post, Treasury Board President Vic Toews told the Winnipeg Jewish Report that there was no cut in funding - just a reallocation to the PA judicial system, to bring aid in line with ’Canadian values.’
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