Saturday, January 31, 2009

Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement - By Uri Blau

"...The defense establishment, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, steadfastly refused to publicize the figures, arguing, for one thing, that publication could endanger state security or harm Israel's foreign relations. Someone who is liable to be particularly interested in the data collected by Spiegel is George Mitchell, President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, who came to Israel this week for his first visit since his appointment. It was Mitchell who authored the 2001 report that led to the formulation of the road map, which established a parallel between halting terror and halting construction in the settlements.

The official database, the most comprehensive one of its kind ever compiled in Israel about the territories, was recently obtained by Haaretz. Here, for the first time, information the state has been hiding for years is revealed. An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements - about 75 percent - construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued. The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police
stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents...

Click here for full article as it appears in Haaretz.

When Strategic Paradigms Clash: Why Israel's National Security Strategy is a Recipe for Disaster - The Gaza Case in Point

Security and socio-economic development are inter-related paradigms that profoundly impact our international geo-political relationships. Security and economic wellbeing are powerful human needs and represent forces that must work in concert or they will clash with disastrous consequences. Israel's national security strategy, particularly as it has come to play itself out in Gaza is a case in point. Based primarily on overwhelming force and repressive military action, collective punishment and economic blockades that reduce millions of innocent men, women and children to impoverishment and starvation, refusal to negotiate, destruction of Palestinian social and economic infrastructure - Israel's security is actually being undermined by these tacks, with dire consequences to millions of innocent people and future generations who are becoming hardened and radicalized as enemies.

For anyone interested in analyzing security, it is worth noting that Israel's national security doctrine runs in marked contradiction to US National Security Strategy (one may Google those two phrases to see for yourself or check out the link below) which recognizes the strategic interdependence of diplomacy, development, and defense as foundational to an integrated national security strategy. I am convinced Israel must reexamine these dynamics to forestall the powerful political forces now playing against her.

When Strategic Paradigms Clash: Why Israel's National Security Strategy is a Recipe for Disaster - The Gaza Case in Point.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sir Gerald Kaufmann, Jewish Member of Parliament speaks out about the Israeli assault on Gaza

Conversation with Senator Jim Webb on Gaza

January 28, 2009
Dear Mr. Kreider:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the conflict in the Gaza Strip. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me.

As you may know, on January 8, by unanimous consent, the Senate passed Senate Resolution 10, expressing the Sense of the Senate on the conflict in Gaza. While the resolution affirms U.S. support for Israel's security and condemns the Hamas rocket attacks, I believe it presented an incomplete response to the situation in Gaza.

I am very concerned about the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Reports from the United Nations and from humanitarian organizations citing lack of access for humanitarian assistance in Gaza are very troubling. We here in the U.S. should be insisting that the situation be rectified immediately and permanently. Israel indeed has a right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks, but in my view a meaningful ceasefire must be brokered to stop the escalation of violence, followed by a serious conflict resolution process that involves all parties in the region.

To state the obvious, a lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East is critical to global peace and security. Without an inclusive, diplomatic process that effectively addresses the core interests of both Israelis and Palestinians, the cycle of violence will obviously continue. It is my strong belief that the United States and the international community must place stability in this region as a top priority. As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, please be assured my staff and I are monitoring this serious situation very closely and will work with the incoming Obama Administration toward bringing such stability into reality.

I would also invite you to visit my website at for regular updates about my activities and positions on issues that are important to Virginia and our nation.

Thank you once again for contacting my office.

Jim Webb
United States Senator

An Open Reply:

"Dear Senator Webb,

I want to express my thanks for your response to my letter regarding the humanitarian and political crisis in Gaza. I agree that this situation is dire, and indeed urgent from a humanitarian standpoint as well as from a strategic national security standpoint. I agree that it relates to the root causes of our 'global war on terrorism'. Israel's unbalanced national security strategy based primarily on overwhelming force, repressive military leverages, collective punishment on a defenseless population, her persistent refusal to negotiate directly and inclusively with elected Palestinian leaderships, and her de facto strategy of de-development to weaken Palestinian social and economic infrastructure are a recipe for disaster. This runs in explicit contradiction to the spirit of our own US National Security Strategy which recognizes the strategic interdependence of diplomacy, development, and defense as integral to just peace and human security. Israel must change this untenable approach and take this opportunity to initiate a smarter and more comprehensive security strategy based on social justice to resolve this melee of compounding frustration and injustice that constitutes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I appreciate your recognition of this as a primary international concern, and your work to engage it from your position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

David Kreider

Keywords:Gaza,Israeli-Palestinian,conflict,security strategy,diplomacy,development,Foreign Relations,humanitarian crisis,disaster,collective punishment,repressive military,occupation,de-development,war on terrorism

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Justice No Peace in Palestine

My wife and I grew up across the lines between Israel and Gaza. For us to watch the growing anger and frustration between blood kindred, who as Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God, trace their roots to Abraham, and share a love for this sacred land, has been heartbreaking. The prophets we revere - Isaiah (58:6-12), Jeremiah (7:3-7), and Micah (6:8) - call us to live together with justice, mercy, and humility before God. We must find the way to do so, wherever the lines fall.

Over 1250 people have died over the three week War and thousands more are injured and dying in Gaza. Israel’s attack on this besieged population has compounded what was already a humanitarian crisis. Gaza has endured what Desmond Tutu has called the equivalent of apartheid, even before this onslaught.

People are now living without food, medicine, clean water, electricity, and heat in Gaza, utterly dependent on aid. Hospitals are overwhelmed. Mothers and their traumatized children are walking through the rubble of their devastated homes and city to piece together their lives. The United Nations estimates that 90,000 people were displaced in the War. Many have little to go back to, or money to buy what they now need to survive.

I was struck by this Letter in the Sydney Morning Herald January 17: "Nearly 70 years ago, in a small eastern European city, an oppressed and occupied people were under siege, living under atrocious and brutal conditions, lacking food, medicine, electricity, water, and slowly being strangled in the hope they would just disappear. Warsaw Ghetto 1941 - Gaza 2008. Israel, you are a disgrace. - Zaid Khan.”

Cutting words, but sadly fitting. Sir Gerald Kaufmann, a Jewish Member of British Parliament echoed the same sentiments ( click here to watch). This is a demoralizing realization for Jews who see in the faces of Palestinians, images of themselves 68 years ago.

I understand Israel’s fears of rockets; I experienced them myself in Israel in 1967 and 1973. But despite our fears we must realize that violence will solve nothing - guns, missiles, rockets, bombs, and tanks do not settle injustices. They only add grief and anger to the festering grievances in peoples’ minds, and fuel to the fires.

Of the 1.5 million people in Gaza (72 percent are women and children, 47 percent are under the age of 14), most just want to live a peaceful and productive life. They have been caught between Israel’s increasingly oppressive occupation and a leadership over whose militancy they realistically have no control.

Palestinians have lived for 60 years with injustices that were foisted upon them in the wake of a holocaust they had no part in creating and have been demonized as a people for their efforts to reclaim the homes and lands they lost. Tragically, resorts to violence have led to more violence. It is time to resolve these injustices, difficult and painful as that will be. Jews are not the only victims of history in this sad state of affairs. Unfortunately, Palestinians are victims too.

Our unilateral sympathies for Israel have served neither party to forge a just and meaningful peace. This peace cannot be achieved as a zero-sum game, where one wins at the expense of the other. Everyone deserves the terms of justice – apart from that, there is no justice, and there will be no peace.

Israel's war on Lebanon in 2006 was a horrific tragedy that only consolidated Israel’s extremist adversaries. Analysts at Israel’s highly-regarded Reut Institute responded with an assessment concluding Israel’s national security strategy was in crisis, calling for political rather than military action. It is unconscionable that this has just been repeated in Gaza. It is time to address the root causes of this conflict through dialogue. This is in Israel's interests, Palestinians' interests, and America's interests, to engage these issues that also lie at the heart of our “War on Terror.”

Playing blame games with each other is not helpful. We must address these injustices head-on, and recognize our own culpabilities in them, if we are to diffuse them. The human spirit, as Desmond Tutu has said, does not tolerate injustice - they cannot coexist in peace.

David Kreider lived in Israel from 1953-1974; his wife Mary Ann lived in Gaza 1956-1974. David is completing an MA in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He can be reached at