Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israeli Airstrike Kills 4 at UN Compound and the "Grapes of Wrath"

BBC reports that "Israeli Bombs Kill UN Observers", quoting Kofi Annan as calling the attack "apparently deliberate." The BBC does not include Israeli officials statements about the matter that "'We do not have yet confirmation what caused these deaths. It could be (Israel Defense Forces). It could be Hezbollah,' he said." Of course Danny Ayalon, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. was not there and cannot really know what happened.

CNN took up the story as a he-said-she-said headline "Accusations Fly After UN Observer Killed."

I am a little curious to why BBC did not include statements like the one in CNN, but I trust they have good reason to believe UN representatives. Indeed, it seems clear that Israel, rather than Hezbollah, hit the UN compound with an airstrike. The only question is whether the UN is the deliberate target.

Perhaps Israel thought they saw rockets being loaded into UN ambulances, though it "might have been a stretcher rather than a rocket." Kofi Annan called the claim "malicious propaganda" before Israel retracted it. So perhaps Kofi Annan and the IDF have some bad blood already.

The real curiosity is that the media does not mention that Israel has bombed UN outposts in Lebanon before, in the 1996 bombing campaign nicknamed after a John Steinbeck novel, the "Grapes of Wrath Campaign" in which 100 civilian refugees were killed at a UN compound that was targeted in Qana. That mass killing is described by Robert Fisk here.

That bombing might have been the reason the UN has turned away refugees this time around, some of whom were killed in Israeli airstrikes on their fleeing convoy.

A LA Times story carried the statement by Daniel Ayalon that "accused Hezbollah militants of positioning rocket launchers beside U.N. sites, a practice reported by U.N. officials in recent days." Though the syntax made it unclear if the paper confirmed that U.N. officials had reported this practice.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Calls for End to Israeli Apartheid

Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined a growing list of South Africans who have called for an end to Israeli aprtheid in peice called "Against Israeli Apartheid."

Quoting That Article:
"Divestment from apartheid South Africa was fought by ordinary people at the grassroots... Eventually, institutions pulled the financial plug, and the South African government thought twice about its policies.

Similar moral and financial pressures on Israel are being mustered one person at a time.

These tactics are not the only parallels to the struggle against apartheid. Yesterday's South African township dwellers can tell you about today's life in the occupied territories. To travel only blocks in his own homeland, a grandfather waits on the whim of a teenage soldier. More than an emergency is needed to get to a hospital; less than a crime earns a trip to jail. The lucky ones have a permit to leave their squalor to work in Israel's cities, but their luck runs out when security closes all checkpoints, paralyzing an entire people. The indignities, dependence and anger are all too familiar.

Many South Africans are beginning to recognize the parallels to what we went through. Ronnie Kasrils and Max Ozinsky, two Jewish heroes of the antiapartheid struggle, recently published a letter titled "Not in My Name." Signed by several hundred other prominent Jewish South Africans, the letter drew an explicit analogy between apartheid and current Israeli policies. Mark Mathabane and Nelson Mandela have also pointed out the relevance of the South African experience. "

Veteran South African journalist Allister Sparks also recently compared Israeli Apartheid to the South African struggle.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

An Open Letter to Hillel

Dear Hillel representatives at U of MD,
I was very disturbed to receive an email from the University of Maryland Hillel. The email urged students to sign a petition to Kofi Annan of the UN available online. The petition asked the UN to "join us in clearly and immediately reaffirming the right of Israel to defend its citizen."

Though apparently benevolent language in itself, this letter came in the context of an Israeli invasion and bombardment of Lebanon that has disproportionately affected civilians. Furthermore, as Kofi Annan and other UN representatives have been pushing for an immediate ceasefire, this petition can only be seen as a lobbying effort against the ceasefire to allow the Israeli military to continue the bombing and invasion of Lebanon.

While we no doubt agree about the immorality of Hizbollah's attacks on civilians., Israeli attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Lebanon (including civilian convoys, ambulance convoys, pharmaceutical factories, dairy facilities, apartment buildings, entire neighborhoods, and power plants) have killed 20 times as many civilians as Hizbollah has.

From all evidence, it appears that the Israeli military is purposefully targeting civilians in order to scare them out of Southern Lebanon. They are terrorizing the civilian population. This is terrorism. Bombing a civilian convoy, an ambulance or a hospital from tanks and plans is just as morally repugnant as strapping a pack of explosives on to bomb a bus, or launching an unguided missile into an Israeli city. Despite what the US representative to the UN John Bolton says, the killing of Lebanese civilians is every bit as immoral as the killing of Americans or Israelis.

This is not Tikkun Olum, this is not Tzedekah, this is not Mitzvot.

This does not represent Judaism, and I think it undermines the credibility of our religious leaders when they support the murder of God's children.

For photographic evidence of the carnage in Lebanon, please visit

Please ask, or better yet demand, that Hillel stand for peace, rather than war. Justice rather than vengeance.

Simon Fitzgerald
of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
U of MD class of 2005

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Is this for real?

Sabbah's blog shows photos credited to the Associated Press with the caption

Israeli girls write messages on a shell at a heavy artillery position near Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel, next to the Lebanese border, Monday, July 17, 2006.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Is this for real?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rally For Immediate Cease-Fire in the Holy Land

Join the Rally for Peace to Protest Ongoing Violence

Washington, DC | July 14, 2006 | The American Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee (ADC) will be holding a rally for peace to protest Israeli
military action in Lebanon and Gaza on Tuesday, July18, from 5-7pm in front
of the White House.

We invite you to join ADC and other organizations as we call for an
immediate ceasefire and for peace in the region. This rally is open to all
peace loving persons and organizations. Contact ADC to add your organization
to the list of participants.

WHAT: Peaceful Rally to Protest
Ongoing Israeli Violence in Gaza and Lebanon

WHEN: July 18, 2006 from 5-7pm

WHERE: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW --in front of the White House
Take Metro to McPherson Square

HOW: To add your organization to the list of participating
organizations, contact