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Compulsory Arabic for Israeli pupils 25, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Authorities in Israel are introducing a programme making it compulsory to study Arabic in state schools. The test will run in 170 schools in Northern Israel.

It is hoped that it can foster something of a ‘cultural bridge’ to promote tolerance between Jews and Arabs. The BBC further notes that Arab students are required to learn Hebrew.

IDF poser: “gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them” 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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The IDF soldier whose photos posed with humiliated, bound Palestinians caused international outrage and criticism from the IDF itself, has allegedly posted numerous hateful statements about Arabs and Palestinians on her Facebook page.

Haaretz  reports that she apparently wrote, only last Thursday, that she would

gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them

because

in war there are no rules.

forgetting, somewhat conveniently, that in fact there are a cornucopia of rules governing war. Moreover, if, as Israel, one of your prime complaints is the illegality of the tactics used against you, surely you’d want to stick to the letter of the law to highlight the opposition’s transgressions? (Obviously this doesn’t work…)

Also, she is not what one might call contricious.

I can’t allow Arab lovers to ruin the perfect life I lead. I am not sorry and I don’t regret it.

Yes, heaven forfend that your perfect life might be impinged by gross human rights violations. Imagine the Israeli outrage if this were the other way around…

When asked about how this might harm Israel’s image abroad she said that

We will always be attacked. Whatever we do, we will always be attacked.

Well, yes you and your country will indeed be tarred if you continue to ignore the most basic of human rights, as seemingly evidenced in these photos.

Hitting the nail squarely on the head, Ishai Menuchin, the head of the Public Committee Against Torture commented that

these terrible photographs reflect a norm in the way Palestinians are viewed, as an object and not as humans. It is an attitude that ignores their feelings as humans and their individual rights.

The Guardian helpfully compiled an album of IDF holiday snaps of similarly horrid photos, surely each and every one violating the Geneva Convention not to mention simple standards of decency.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I also read a diatribe against the Guardian in the right-wing MERIA journal on the apparent tinge of rabid, anti-Zionist feelings among commenters. What a shock: people that comment on newspaper stories on the internet are of the lunatic fringe…ground-breaking conclusions there.

IDF holiday snaps 17, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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What a delightful photo to put on facebook or to send to your mom. This photo emerged from an album entitled: “The IDF…the best time of my life.”

You’ve got to think that when the Israeli army describes your behavior as “ugly and callous” then you’re really far out in left (perhaps that should be right) field…

Is it just me or do examples like this not really seem to hit on one of the key cruxes of the issue: an institutionalized lack of respect? Obviously, I am sure [desperately hope, rather] that most IDF soldiers are not like the delightful Eden Abergil here, but the simple, every day banality of the measures – from arrests to roadblocks to detentions – can only foster such deep hatred on a personal level. How routine, for example, are the detentions in the above picture? To say that this would build a simmering, burning resentment would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Qatar, Saudi and Israel in investment venture 15, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
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An Israeli conglomerate will be joined by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to invest together in emerging markets.

Under the auspices of Credit Suisse (in whom the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) are the largest shareholders: 10%) the troika will launch a $1 billion fund for investment. The Saudi side, the FT reports, that it is led by the Olayan Group, one of the longest established Saudi business families. QIA is leading the Qatari end and IDB controlled by Israel’s “most powerful businessman” Nochi Danker who has a 3% stake in Credit Suisse, plays the Israeli role.

It appears as if this has been led by Credit Suisse and is not some kind of ‘statement’ by Qatar and Saudi Arabia in choosing to work with an Israeli partner. A QIA spokesman, for example, gave the refreshing answer that he had “no idea” about any of this.

Whilst Qatar has been seeking to reopen the Israeli trade office in Doha in recent months in a quid pro quo for access to Gaza and might well look for other opportunities to work ‘with Israel’, the same cannot be said for Saudi Arabia. Israeli relations for Saudi Arabia are a taboo. Whilst there have been mooted meetings at conferences and summits, these are usually pleasantly deniable.

If certain actors in the Kingdom decide to pick this story and highlight it, this venture will fall flat quickly. While the erudite, well-traveled Saudi businessmen will have no problem in such a deal (an Israeli’s money is as good as anyone else’s) the accompanying press coverage may be highly unwelcome.

Israelis to sue Al Jazeera 15, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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AP reports that a group of Israelis are suing Al Jazeera for $1.2 billion in New York for aiding Hezbollah. These 91 Israelis were wounded by Hezbollah’s rockets in the 2006 war. They suggest that Al Jazeera intentionally broke Israel’s military censorship rules and reported specific locations of rocket attacks in Israel allowing Hezbollah to more accurately aim their rockets.

I don’t like their chances.

Israeli soldiers dancing on patrol in Hebron 6, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Who says war or patrol needs to be dull?

New Israeli flotilla attack video 16, June 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Some parts of this video are a bit difficult to watch.

Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara, May 31st 2010 // 15 min. from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

This is the latest video from the Israeli flotilla attack. Some things I learned:

  • The boat was a lot larder than I first realised
  • There were SIGNIFICANTLY more people on board than I first realised
  • This video mooching around what I’d guess to be a fair bit of the ship gave no evidence whatsoever of any quasi-militias on board. The worst was a guy – quite literally – flicking something at an Israeli helicopter with a tiny hand-held catapult. A bit pathetic and pointless really.
  • This video shows what I imagine to be a majority of the people on board having nothing whatsoever to do with brandishing any weapons or attacking anyone. Most people seemed to be holding cameras, offering first-aid and generally milling around.
  • The caveat to some of the above points being that this video does not cover any struggles/fighting between Israelis and others. Yet, my point overall has been and still is that the vast majority of people on board wanted no fight to break-out. I’ve no doubt that some were looking for a confrontation, but, I suggest, that such people are not in the majority.

Gulf News’ unadulterated anti-semitism 7, June 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Media in the ME, Middle East.
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The Gulf News out does itself in this example of egregiously anti-Semitic sentiment. As if to try to out perform the host of atrocious newspapers across the Middle East, the Gulf News, a hopelessly bland, emasculated and talentless newspaper, really pulls out all the stops with this classic. Yet another triumph for Arab newspapers.

I think and have said that on this occasion – as many before – Israel was mostly, if not vastly, in the wrong. Yet this kind of pathetic demonization of one side is just really so unhelpful. I truly hate this kind of populist (or purportedly populist) pandering of newspapers to the very lowest common denominator in society. The absolute definition of the gutter press.

Israel to be world’s 4th largest arms exporter 6, June 2010

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The Israeli Defense Ministry has announced that it expects to have sold some $8 billion worth of arms by the end of 2010. This will make it the world’s 4th largest arms exporter after the U.S., Russia and France.

On the flotilla 5, June 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Two quick thoughts on the flotilla saga:

1.  Why doesn’t Obama send a ship filled with humanitarian supplies to Gaza? The U.S. could also, to avoid difficulties, take the aid from the Irish ship currently motoring towards Gaza, verify that it’s all aid and not money or weapons for Hamas and deliver it. The Israelis would thus have a guarantee from the U.S. that no nefarious stuff is getting through and the U.S. could begin to repair their wholly tarnished reputation (and do the right thing).

2. This sort of issue seems to divide and blind people like no other. Why can one side not say that the overwhelming majority of people and cargo were/was there for purely humanitarian reasons. There were, however, some people looking for trouble and some contraband. What can’t the other side say that this was a wholly botched and poorly thought out operation – mea culpa – and that a few chiefs need to go? However, we resolutely stick to the overriding principle that we need to make sure that we check stuff going into Gaza.

Both sides so implacably asserting that they are 100% correct makes them both sound absurd. Though, on this occasion, I’ve got to say that Israel sounds especially daft.