“The Argentine government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state within the borders defined in 1967,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said, adding that this decision was made after a general agreement between the South American and Mercosur trade blocs.
Uruguay went a step forward as its Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Conde vowed to open a diplomatic representation in Palestinians’ Ramallah region after announcing to recognize it as a state next year.
The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is now extending to immigrant policy. Last weekend, Israel moved to deport the children of migrant workers, children born and Israel and children who do not know their parents’ country of origin. Peep the rhetoric coming from the Prime Minister and see if you can make the connection.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move was made because the country faced increasing illegal migration, which was a threat to its Jewish character,” the BBC reported. Netanyahu also implied that the children were a drain on state-funded education and health care benefits, according to the Los Angeles Times. For years, the country encouraged foreign workers to cross its borders and take the low-paying jobs that Israelis wouldn’t do. Now that the government is looking to reduce its dependence on foreign labor, Israel is kicking out those workers who came to the country legally—and the families they’ve been raising. “It’s unfair and unjust,” said one parent of the deportation plan. “These children are born here and speak the language. Israel should recognize their birthright.”
I’m often attacked and accused of being anti-Semitic, usually by one person, because I write about Palestine and draw connections among various occupied territories including Puerto Rico. Even when I wrote about the attack on a synagogue in Venezuela early this year, I was accused of not covering the story, or at least not in a way that some agreed with. Turns out that there was more to the story than met the eye. From NACLA:
In the early morning hours of January 31, vandals broke into Tiferet Israel, a Sephardic synagogue in Caracas. They strewed sacred scrolls on the floor and scribbled “Death to the Jews” and other anti-Semitic epithets on the walls, before making off with computer equipment and historical artifacts. Understandably, the incident frightened and upset many in the Venezuelan Jewish community. Right away, U.S. news outlets, including The New York Times and The Miami Herald, linked the incident to Venezuela’s increasingly strained relations with Israel, after the two countries suspended diplomatic relations two weeks earlier over Israel’s bombing of Gaza, then still under way.
A Herald editorial went so far as to describe an “official policy of anti-Semitism” in Venezuela and implied that Chávez’s foreign policy had unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic violence in the country, culminating in the assault on the synagogue.1 Some international NGOs were no more nuanced. Just hours after the break-in, the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was already implicitly comparing the Chávez government to the Nazis, calling the synagogue attack “a modern-day Kristallnacht.”2
But the Caracas police investigation bore out a different story. Authorities quickly realized that the synagogue’s security fence had been cut from the inside, prompting detectives to investigate the break-in as an inside job. Within the week it became clear that the attack had in fact been a robbery disguised as anti-Semitic vandalism, carried out by the synagogue’s privately contracted security team. Eleven men were arrested for their role in the plot, and their statements to the police indicated that the graffiti and desecration were intended to throw off investigators.3
My posts regarding the Pope normally criticize whatever brand of hate, divisiveness and false morality he happens to be brewing up for us at the moment. But this one won’t, simply because I don’t know what to make of his stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. While the previous Pope spoke about importance of peace in the region, this one is outright supporting Palestine’s right to exist, which seems crazy coming from such a conservative figure. This week on a trip to Israel, Pope Benedict addressed the Palestinian people in Bethlehem:
“In a special way, my heart goes out to the pilgrims from war-torn Gaza. I ask you to bring back to your families and your communities my warm embrace, and my sorrow for the loss, the hardship, and the hardship, and the suffering you have had to endure,” he said.
Israel granted permits to about 100 Christians to leave the Gaza Strip and attend the Mass in Bethlehem.
The enclave is under tight restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt on the movement of people and goods, by land, air, and sea. The embargo, which Israel says is due to security reasons, has resulted in shortages of supplies, including construction materials needed to rebuild from the recent war.
In his homily, the pope said he is praying for an end to the closure.
“Please be assured of my solidarity with you in the immense work of rebuilding which now lies ahead, and my prayers that the embargo will soon be lifted,” he said.
I’ve liked the L.A. group Quetzal for awhile now pero now I may love them a little mas.
To Whom It May Concern:
Quetzal will not be performing at the Fiesta Shalom on May 17th. When first presented with this performance, it was presented as “an opportunity to improve Jewish and Chicano relations”, which we are certainly in accordance with. When we received the contract, we noticed it was sponsored by the Israeli Consulate. For Quetzal to perform for the Israeli Consulate would mean that we ignore the following:
• Decades of zionist occupation of Palestinian lands and the historically ironic holocaustic genocide of the Palestinian people
• The Israeli/US relationship that has permitted the creation of “permanent” war against people throughout the world.
• Decades of Chican@ solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for Self-determination.
• Decades of solidarity with the non-zionist, non-imperialist peace-loving Jewish community.
• Over 500 years of genocide, enslavement, and abandonment of all people of color as well as poor whites including all the victims of the Jewish holocaust.
Quetzal is but a small part of a massive community of artists that is committed to using art as a tool to redefine and reconstruct our neighborhoods. We hope that elected officials (barrio pimps) such as Jose Huizar begin to see the light of accountability.
There has been one reported case of the swine flu in Israel so far, but Israeli officials aren’t calling it that. Ultra-orthodox Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman says that calling the disease by its name is “religiously sensitive”:
“We will call it Mexican flu. We won’t call it swine flu,” said Mr Litzman, who belongs to the ultra-religious United Torah Judaism party.
Pigs are considered unclean under Jewish dietary laws. Muslims also do not eat pork for similar reasons.
That’s all well and good, but calling it Mexican is no good either. The BBC reports that scientists in Israel are concerned that the term will “stigmatize Mexico”.
A few weeks back, after initially having exercised some restraint with regard to Israel, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gave diplomats from that country the boot, effectively closing up shop on Israel-Venezuela diplomatic relations. Now it’s Israel’s turn; not to be outdone, they’ve given Venezuelan diplomats walking papers as well:
Venezuelan head of mission Roland Betancourt and two other diplomats were given until Friday to leave.
“Due to the decision of Venezuela to cut relations with us a few weeks ago, we told the Venezuelan charge d’affaires that he and his staff should leave Israel,” Foreign Ministry official Lior Hayat said. “We told them they are declared persona non grata in Israel.”
…in bombing a neonatal clinic? So that Palestinian babies who need medical care can’t get it. So that will die and not tell the story of you are doing?
The charity Christian Aid says a clinic for mothers and babies in Gaza, which it funds along with the EU, has been destroyed in an Israeli air strike.
The clinic, which was run by the Near East Council of Churches, was struck by a missile after a 15-minute warning was sent to the building’s owners.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical equipment was destroyed by the strike, which happened on Saturday.
Christian Aid said the destroyed clinic, which was located in a two-storey building in the Shujaiya district of Gaza City, provided free primary healthcare to the local community, including mother and child clinics, neo-natal care, family planning.
The family living in the apartment on the floor above the clinic managed to get out just before a warning shot was fired by an Israeli air force jet, it added.
Moments later, the building – which the charity said was clearly marked with the insignia of the Red Cross and had ambulances parked outside – was struck by a missile fired by the aircraft.
The clinic was completely destroyed in the attack, along with valuable medical equipment, including ultrasound machines, laboratory apparatus, and computers, which are not freely available in Gaza.
Constantine Dabbagh, executive director of the NECC in Gaza, said another of its clinics had been closed for two weeks because the owners of a neighbouring building had received repeated warnings from the Israeli military that it was about to be bombed.
The horrors in Gaza continue unabated. The following is a segment from an interview a Palestinian professor who is living in Gaza right now gave:
I STRONGLY believe the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League–really, the international community at large–have failed the Palestinian people.
I think the example of the United Nations Security Council resolution issued yesterday, that called for a durable and respected cease-fire, is a good example. It treats the whole issue as if there are two sides–as if you have two equal armies at war.
Israel has killed more than 830 people and injured more than 3,000 people so far. Israel is a colonizing power. It is based on deep-rooted racism, and it has reoccupied parts of the Gaza Strip. And the Security Council acts as if there are two equal parties that have to declare a cease-fire.
That is why I strongly believe we can’t count on the international community any longer. I think the UN Security Council and the international community in general reflect the balance of power, and that balance of power is still in favor of the U.S. and Israel.
I can’t separate the United States and American imperialism from Israel and Zionism. And that’s why I see the war conducted against us now as part of the Bush Doctrine. This is part of what Condoleezza Rice called “the birth pangs of a Middle East” out of what she called “creative destruction.” I think that’s exactly what is happening right now.