The Third Intifada is underway

The Third Intifada is underway
February 9th, 2014  

Topic: The Third Intifada is underway

The Third Intifada is underway
Thomas L. Friedman: The Third Intifada is underway
February 9, 2014 12:00 AM

By Thomas L. Friedman


For a while now I’ve wondered why there’s been no Third Intifada. That is, no third Palestinian uprising in the West Bank, the first of which helped to spur the Oslo peace process and the second of which — with more live ammunition from the Israeli side and suicide bombings from the Palestinian side — led to the breakdown of Oslo.

You get many explanations from Palestinians: They’re too poor, too divided, too tired or they realize these uprisings, in the end, did them more harm than good, especially the second one. But being here, it’s obvious that a Third Intifada is underway. It’s the one that Israel always feared most — not an intifada with stones or suicide bombers, but one propelled by nonviolent resistance and economic boycott.

But this Third Intifada isn’t really led by Palestinians in Ramallah. It’s led by the European Union in Brussels and other opponents of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank across the globe. Regardless of origin, though, it’s becoming a real source of leverage for the Palestinians in their negotiations with Israel.

Secretary of State John Kerry was recently denounced by Israeli leaders for warning publicly that the boycott and campaign to delegitimize Israel will only get stronger if current peace talks fail. But Mr. Kerry is right.

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid told Israel Army Radio on Monday that if no two-state solution is reached with the Palestinians, “it will hit the pocket of every Israeli.”

Israel’s economy depends on technology and agricultural exports to Europe and on European investments in its high-tech industries. According to Mr. Lapid, even a limited boycott that curbed Israeli exports to Europe by 20 percent would cost Israel more than $5 billion a year and thousands of jobs. That’s why he added: “Israel won’t conduct its policy based on threats. But to pretend that the threats don’t exist, or that they’re not serious, or it’s not a process happening in front of us, is also not serious.”

Just recently, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the Netherlands’ largest pension fund management company, PGGM, “has decided to withdraw all its investments from Israel’s five largest banks because they have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements.” And The Jerusalem Post reported that Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, has decided to boycott Israel’s Bank Hapoalim for “legal and ethical” reasons related to its operating in the settlements.

This Third Intifada, in my view, has much more potential to have a long-term effect because, unlike the first two, it is coinciding with the offer from the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as part of a two-state deal, to let Israeli troops stay for five years as they make a phased withdrawal from the West Bank to the 1967 lines and to then let U.S.-led NATO forces fill in any strategic void to reassure Israel.

To put it differently, the Third Intifada is based on a strategy of making Israelis feel strategically secure but morally insecure.

The first two intifadas failed in the end because they never included a map of a two-state solution and security arrangements. They were more raw outbursts of rage against the occupation.

You cannot move the Israeli silent majority when you make them feel strategically insecure and morally secure, which is what Hamas did with its lunatic shelling of Israel after it withdrew from Gaza; few Israelis were bothered by pummeling them back. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, though, got all he wanted by making Israelis feel strategically secure but morally insecure about holding any of his land.

This Third Intifada is also gaining strength because of the passing from the scene of two key leaders: Nelson Mandela and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

For Israel, Mr. Ahmadinejad was the gift who kept on giving: an Iranian president who denied the Holocaust and rebuffed global efforts to get Iran to stop building a nuclear bomb. He was hard to love. The replacement of Mr. Ahmadinejad by the negotiation-friendly, Holocaust-recognizing Hassan Rouhani is much more problematic for Israel.

But my gut also tells me that the death of Mandela has left many of his followers looking for ways to honor his legacy and carry on his work. On some college campuses, they’ve found it: boycotting Israel until it ends the West Bank occupation.

Israelis are right to suspect some boycotters of using this cause as a cover for anti-Semitism, given how Israel’s misdeeds are singled out. But that doesn’t mean that implanting 350,000 settlers in the West Bank and turning a blind eye to dozens of wildcat settlements — that even Israel deems “illegal” — is smart or in Israel’s interest.

If Israel really wanted to slow down the boycott campaign, it would declare that as long as John Kerry is trying to forge a deal, and there is hope for success, Israel will freeze all settlement activity to give peace its best chance.

Unlikely, I know. But one thing I know for sure: This incessant trashing of Mr. Kerry by Israeli ministers, and their demand that Palestinians halt all “incitement” — but that Israel be free to keep building settlements in their face — is not winning Israel friends in Europe or America. It is only energizing the boycotters.

Thomas L. Friedman is a syndicated columnist for The New York Times. David M. Shribman’s column this week, on the death of Joan Mondale, was published Wednesday. You can read it online at

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February 9th, 2014  
Here are some other facts.
- the Netherlands’ largest pension fund management company, PGGM (it is not the largest but the second largest BTW) is withdrawing 9 million euro.
- Intel is planning to invest 15 billion USD in Israel. (Israel builds 1 billion chips a year for intel)
- HP en Google have chosen Israeli company Altair to build their newest chips for superfast mobile internet.
- The Chinese are building a railroad from Eilat to Asjdod which will cut the dependence on the Suez canal.
- Qoros, a joint venture Israel-China car company is starting to sell cars in Europe. Is the EU willing to block China too?
- Li Kay Shing, the richest man in Asia was looking for the best university worldwide to invest in. He chose Technion, an Israeli Institute of Technology wich won 4 Nobel prizes in the past 10 years.

But there is more. The US has lost most of it allies in the ME and are now on the verge to lose the last two, Saudi Arabia and Israel. China is very keen to take the place of the US and they have two very good reasons. The Chinese and Saudi Arabia have cash and Israel technology that China despeartely want. China understands Israel's trouble with the muslims because they themselves have troubles with it. Saudi Arabia needs a new protector now that they do not trust the US anymore and who better than Israel can do the job? They are nearby and not affraid to do want has to be done, no matter what. You can bet they are already talking.

But this is not all, also Israeli and Russian ties are improving, even military cooperation. And you know Putin, if he can show his finger to the US he will do it and it seems that Obama is a very attractive target for such gestures.

Europe? As always, they will shoot themselves in the foot.


daddy, why are we living in a cave?

Well my dear, once upon a time we started a boycot of products of Israel and ... one thing led to another...
February 10th, 2014  
I am pretty sure the 40 billion in trade with the EU means more to Israel than it does to the EU after all it is one sixth of Israels GDP, further to that the cut of 600 million to the Palestinians will cripple their economy and as Israel is the occupying power they will have to maintain them as well.

They have already lost $30 million in exports from the Jordan Valley as a result of their land grab but hey why listen to me when you can hear it from Israeli industry leaders themselves...

Israel's captains of industry fear boycott

Leaders from Israel's tech and banking industries will fly to Davos economic forum to support Kerry's peace effort, urge Israel and Palestinians to reach deal to save Israel's economy from looming boycott
Telem Yahav
Published: 01.20.14, 13:28

A hundred of Israel's leading businessmen and businesswomen will fly to Davos next week, armed with a poignant message for the prime minister: Maintaining a growing and stable economy requires Israel to make peace with Palestinians, the sooner the better.

Leaders and businesspeople ranging from Strauss Group Chairwoman Ofra Strauss to Google Israel CEO Meir Bren and former UN ambassador Dan Gillerman will descend on the Davos Economic Forum to urge Israelis and Palestinians leaders to reach a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Livni at Davos. Archive (Photo: AP)

An a-political group of Palestinians and Israelis, which includes names such as Palestinian energy mogul Munib Masri, tech mogul Yossi Vardi, Amdocs founder Maurice Kahan, Bezeq CEO Avi Gabai, industrialist Gad Propper, Israeli low-cost supermarket magnate Rami Levy and former ambassador to the US Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, have signed on an initiative called Breaking the Impasse (BTI).
"Israel must reach a diplomatic solution – urgently," a statement by BTI said. The group, led by Masri and Vardi, believes that a political solution, based on the two-state solution, is vital for the survival of both Israelis and Palestinian.
The economic forum convenes in Davos once a year and invites the biggest names in politics and business from around the world. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will lead the Israeli political delegation. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Arekat will join Masri in leading the Palestinians.
The group of Israeli businesspeople will come to Davos at the invitation of the forum's chairperson Prof. Klaus Schwab, who intends to dedicate a day of the forum's proceedings to discuss the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Leaders from Israel's business community will meet world leaders to convey one simple message: "The conflict harms everyone's pockets."
BTI stressed that they are not attempting to deal with the details of any agreement, but only in what they understand – economics.
"We know that if Israel wants a stable economy, a good future and continued growth – we must reach an agreement.
"The world is beginning to lose its patience and the threat of sanctions is becoming more imminent from day to day. We have a small window of opportunity with (US Secretary of State John) Kerry's arrival in the region, and it should be taken advantage of."
According to daily Calcalist, a week ago, some members of the group met Netanyahu in his office in preparation of the Davos meet. During the meeting, they warned him of the looming threat posed by boycotts.

Smadar Barber Tsadik, CEO of the First International Bank of Israel, said at the meeting that "the largest investment fund in Holland has already announced that it will not invest in Israel anymore because of its treatment of the Palestinians – and that's a problem.",7...478838,00.html

But hey I am sure you will claim to know better than everyone else.
The Third Intifada is underway
February 11th, 2014  
Seems a few in Britain may want to get in on the act as well, comments by Sir Gerald Kaufman the House of Commons the other day...

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): I once led a delegation of 60 parliamentarians from 13 European Parliaments to Gaza. I could no longer do that today because Gaza is practically inaccessible. The Israelis try to lay the responsibility on the Egyptians, but although the Egyptians’ closing of the tunnels has caused great hardship, it is the Israelis who have imposed the blockade and are the occupying power. The culpability of the Israelis was demonstrated in the report to the UN by Richard Goldstone following Operation Cast Lead. After his report, he was harassed by Jewish organisations. At the end of a meeting I had with him in New York, his wife said to me, “It is good to meet another self-hating Jew.”Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification. That is unacceptable.
The statistics are appalling. There is fresh water for a few hours every five days. Fishing boats are not allowed to go out—in any case, what is the point, because the waters are so filthy that no fish they catch can be eaten? The Israelis are victimising the children above all. Half the population of this country is under the voting age. What is being done to those children—the lack of nutrition—is damaging not only their bodies and brains; it will go on for generation after generation.
It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away. The right hon. Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) quoted the Prime Minister as saying that Gaza is a prison camp. It is all very well for him to say that, as he did, in Turkey—he was visiting a Muslim country—but what is he doing about it? Nothing, nothing, nothing!
5 Feb 2014 : Column 116WH
The time when we could condemn and think that that was enough has long passed. The Israelis do not care about condemnation. They are self-righteous and complacent. We must now take action against them. We must impose sanctions. If the spineless Obama will not do it, we must do it—even unilaterally. We must press the European community for it to be done. These people cannot be persuaded. We cannot appeal to their better nature when they do not have one. It is all very well saying, “Wicked, wicked Hamas.” Hamas is dreadful. I have met people from Hamas, but nothing it has done justifies punishing children, women and the sick as the Israelis are doing now. They must be stopped.
As has been pointed out, there is a time limit for what we are talking about. The idea that things can go on, while we wait for a two-state solution, is gone. Sooner or later, the Palestinians will say, “We are dying anyhow, so let us die for something.” Let us stop that: I do not want a war. I do not want violent action, but the action that the international community takes must be imposed, otherwise hell will break loose.

February 11th, 2014  
Why don't those speakers go an live for a few weeks in Sderot. I guarantee you they'll change their mind. But they won't go there because they know the jihadis wil bomb anyway. In Gaza they are safe because they will not be targeted by the IDF.

Please read this story.

Philip Jacobson was there in 2008 but his story can happen any time:

Code Red in Sderot: Living in the most heavily bombed place in the world
Last updated at 17:58 15 February 2008

On a parched strip of the Israeli/Palestinian border, a dustbowl frontier town has a unique boast: per head of population, it is the most heavily bombed in the world. Philip Jacobson spends time in Sderot
A bright winter's morning, and nothing is stirring in the barren stretch of no-man's-land that separates the little Israeli town of Sderot from the turbulent Gaza Strip one mile away.
On the Palestinian side of the frontline, sunlight glints off the windscreen of a truck parked beside a crumbling farmhouse where the washing has been hung out to dry.
Twittering birds circle above a nearby reservoir.

A gust of wind sends dust devils whirling across the sandy track used by Israeli army jeeps for round-the-clock border patrols.
I have been here before and I know what is about to happen.
Nonetheless, my guide has insisted on talking me through the local ground rules again:
1. I am not to fasten my seat belt. This is the only place in Israel where seat belts are forbidden. Buckling up prevents drivers and their passengers getting out of a vehicle quickly.
2. I am not to play my car radio. It may drown out the warnings.
3. I am not to have a shower if there is nobody else in the house to hear the alarms. Last month, a woman who ignored this rule was washing her hair when she was blown off her feet.
4. Be extra vigilant when it's misty. It can confuse the laser-activated warning systems.
And suddenly it comes, a noise like the slamming of a heavy door as a sleek, six-foot-long Qassam rocket bursts into the cloudless blue sky.
Its trajectory is marked by a trail of white smoke as it curves towards the town. Almost simultaneously, sirens begin to wail.
A woman's urgent voice repeats the words, "Tseva Adom, Tseva Adom," over public address loudspeakers.
In Hebrew this means, "Code Red".
It signifies a missile is on its way.
Sderot's jittery residents have no more than 15 seconds to take cover before the rocket hits.
On this occasion, they will have to wait there for a long time.
For the next 72 hours Code Red alerts will sound almost continuously; Islamic militant groups in Gaza have begun raining the first of more than 100 rockets on to the town during a terrifying three-day attack.
Most miss or fizzle out.
But there's always a few that find a target.
The streets empty as families hunker down under the bombardment.
The emergency services can barely cope.
One veteran paramedic, Haim Ben-Shimol, is on duty when he hears that his five-year-old granddaughter, Lior, has been wounded as she and her mother scrambled for cover.
Later, he will tell me how he found her covered in blood.
"I had to wash her face to see where she was hurt, then I bandaged her and raced to hospital in the ambulance," he recalls.
Doctors removed shards of metal from Lior's body and put a cast on her fractured arm and leg.
When the attack finally peters out, people emerge from the shelters, some deep in shock, to discover wrecked homes, shops and offices, freshly cratered streets and jagged lumps of shrapnel embedded in the concrete "life shields" that double as bus stops.
Miraculously, nobody has been killed.
Yet, as they count their blessings, many residents wonder aloud how much longer they can endure life under fire in what some describe, with gallows humour, as "the biggest bull's-eye on the map of Israel".
Because of its proximity to the border and the concentration of Hamas-led amateur bomb-makers on the other side, Sderot has a unique civic claim: on a rocket-per-head-of-population basis, it is the most targeted town in Israel, indeed the world.
It is more than six years since the first rocket was launched from Gaza.
Since then, well over 2,000 Qassams ? named after a fiery Muslim preacher ? have landed in or around the town killing 13 people (including four children) and injuring several dozen more.
Since the beginning of this year, at least 300 rockets have been fired.
Last Saturday, two brothers were badly wounded when a rocket caught them in the open in the centre of town.
Eight-year-old Osher Twito lost a leg, and Rami, 19, suffered multiple shrapnel injuries.
To be sure, over the same six-year period, a lot more innocent blood has been shed in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other communities, as Palestinian suicide bombers strike at crowded buses, hotels and cafés.
Even the brief war in Lebanon during the summer of 2006 claimed the lives of some 40 Israeli civilians along the country's northern border.
But beyond the grim arithmetic of body counts, Sderot is a special case because nowhere else in Israel do ordinary people face the draining pressure of coping day in, day out with the fear that a rocket could fall at any moment.
"Everybody here lives on the very edge of their nerves," says Noam Bedein, a young Israeli journalist who moved to Sderot several years ago.
"The peak time for Qassam attacks is while people are going to and from work and at the beginning and end of school.
"Believe me, that really grinds you down, mentally and physically."
While the psychological fall-out from the rocket attacks affects young and old, poor and prosperous alike, the cruellest impact has been on Sderot's children.
A recent survey concluded that almost one-third of those aged between four and 18 now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, while many more exhibit the symptoms of severe anxiety and feelings of helplessness that warn of more serious problems to come.
The fact that ten-year-olds receive daily tranquillisers demonstrates how they are being robbed of a normal childhood.
Only in Sderot will you find school runs conducted with military precision, as security guards rush children to and from coaches and parents' cars at staggered intervals to guard against a Qassam falling among a crowd.
Such a disaster was narrowly averted late last year at the Haroeh School, a two-storey building covered by an enormous metal "umbrella" protecting the roof.
At 8am one day, as pupils were filing into the school for assembly, the Code Red alarm sounded.
Footage shot by a video crew who happened to be there showed terrified children running for their lives towards the school entrance.
Seconds later a rocket slammed into a clump of trees beside the school, narrowly missing a kindergarten.
"We just heard a big explosion next to us and the glass in the windows shattered," says music teacher Asia Weissenberg.
Aware that Qassams are often fired in salvoes, she and colleagues quickly shepherded the shaken children into the school's reinforced shelter with a minimum of fuss.
"They do get scared, of course," Weissenberg says, "but if they can see that we are calm, that helps to reassure them."
For many, this precarious existence has become too much: at least 3,000 of Sderot's population of 24,000 have already left, most of them for good. Many more would do so if they could sell their houses.
The sensation of living in and moving about Sderot is unique.
At the open-air market, there is none of the cheerful hubbub found in other Israeli towns, no blaring radios or raucous stallholders.
An underwear salesman who used a megaphone to advertise his bargains has been silenced by popular demand.
"Almost every time I come here, rockets have fallen really close," says Esa, a nonchalant Bedouin youth presiding over a blanket spread with cut-price household goods.
The recent attacks, which knocked out power supplies, have done wonders for sales of torches and candles.
"Nobody wants to have to shelter in the dark," he says.
As we pass a square where people are taking advantage of unseasonally warm weather to dawdle over pavement coffee tables or gossip on park benches, Noam Bedein points out how nobody has strayed more than a few yards from the nearest shelter.
"Everyone's nightmare is being caught in the open when the alarm sounds," he observes.
"You find yourself calculating how long it will take to get to safety."
If you can't make it, he advises, head for the nearest stairwell or kneel beside a solid-looking wall, your head down and hands behind your neck.
Since Qassams sometimes arrive in salvoes, it is risky to get up immediately after one has exploded.
Bedein explains how the Code Red system, triggered when a network of lasers detects the sudden increase in heat generated by a rocket launch, is by no means infallible.
In certain weather conditions, particularly heavy ground mist, attacks can go undetected.
In May last year, 32-year-old Shirel Feldman died of her wounds after a Qassam that fell without warning riddled her car with shrapnel.
At the height of the recent three-day bombardment, Shlomi Argon's house was hit just as the alarm began to sound.
His wife and a five-year-old boy who had been playing with his son were both sprayed with shrapnel.
"Neither was badly hurt, as it turns out, but it's like Russian roulette around here," Argon recalls shakily.
"Who knows if we'll be so lucky next time?"
February 11th, 2014  
You can tell from the pile of cigarette butts in Dr Adriana Katz's ashtray that it has been another difficult day at the Hosen Centre, where she is in charge of treating victims of shock in Sderot.
Every Qassam attack brings a batch of new patients to her cluttered office, many in tears, shaking uncontrollably, barely able to get their words out.
A middle-aged woman in the waiting room sits with her head in her hands, legs trembling.
When I met her last year, Dr Katz, a striking figure with a mane of grey hair and rings on every finger, confided gloomily that the mental-health situation in Sderot was deteriorating fast.
Today, she says, it is "catastrophic and getting worse".
The symptoms of distress don't change, but become more intense with every direct hit.
"Mobile phones start ringing after each attack and in this little place bad news spreads fast."
The greatest challenge Dr Katz faces is preventing shock victims developing full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder.
"The text-book treatment is group therapy or one-on-one counselling that will prepare patients for a return to some sort of normality," she says.
"But all we can do here is send people back to their houses and offices to await the next Qassam, which just creates fresh circles of despair."
It's hardly surprising, Dr Katz suggests, that many people in Sderot opt to get by on heavy doses of tranquillisers and "of course, smoking like chimneys". (Israel's ban on lighting up in public places is comprehensively flouted by the people of Sderot.)
Many of the mothers waiting to collect children from the school tell strikingly similar stories of regular nightmares, bed-wetting and a pervasive sense of insecurity caused by the attack.
Hava Gad's son Yanai, nine, was a bright and forward child, out of nappies before his second birthday, but he is now paralysed by fear whenever the Code Red alert sounds and insists on sharing his parents' bed.
"Imagine what that does for a normal married relationship.
"He won't leave the house without us, even to play with friends next door, because he thinks a rocket will hit him."
During a recent attack, a Qassam exploded not far from Gad's home.
"My son began to hyperventilate, then he soiled himself," she recalls.
"That happens almost every time now."
Yanai's anxiety was compounded when another rocket hit the factory where his father, Tsfania, works.
"He worries about being too far away from the protected safe room in our house or something terrible happening at his school."
Unsurprisingly, Gad, 42, has herself been affected by the constant tension and uncertainty, taking Valium regularly and attending Dr Katz's clinic for therapy.
Dina Hoori, 44, head teacher at the local primary school for the past ten years, knows all too well how the dangers affect Sderot families.
"It's particularly tragic that parents often feel they've failed children because they can't do anything to stop the rockets," she says.
Located in an area where rockets have struck quite often, the school is only partially protected against Qassam attacks and the playground is usually out of bounds.
"The Government won't provide funding to reinforce the entire structure," Hoori observes with a grimace.
On one occasion, a Qassam fell close by just as the school opened in the morning, injuring one of the youngest girls.
"Happily she's back with us, but you feel it's only a matter of time before there's a direct hit when the children are in the open."
Another head teacher, Liora Fima, finds it heartbreaking to watch pupils gradually becoming "normalised by terror", seemingly resigned to a life under the rockets.
"One five-year-old girl who suffered panic attacks told her mother, ?Mama, I think I want to die.? The poor woman was crying her eyes out in her child's classroom."
I asked Fima if she ever spoke to her pupils about the suffering of school children in Gaza, whose lives are constantly distorted by bloody clashes between rival Palestinian factions and terrifying raids by Israeli troops.
She was silent for a moment, then said: "I know there are good people in Gaza who dream of peace as we do, but their leaders are fanatics, happy to sacrifice the lives of their own children. The school books over there are full of hatred for the Jews."
In the courtyard of Sderot's police station, where scores of rocket casings are stacked on shelves, each numbered and dated, a young woman officer of Ethiopian descent displays the scorched and twisted remains of a Qassam launched the previous day.
Sara Vavshet points out the slogan in Arabic painted on its fuselage, explaining that "each of the terrorist organisations uses its own colours and emblems, and they sometimes send threatening messages in Hebrew" (the Hamas faction that now rules Gaza favours the red, green and white of the Palestinian flag).
Vavshet was friendly with the families of two children, aged two and four, who were killed by Hamas rockets within a few days of each other in 2004.
Most Qassams are assembled in Gaza's little machine shops, using lengths of iron drainpipes or lampposts (including, it has been rumoured, a consignment donated by the EU) with crude metal fins soldered on to provide stability in flight.
Propelled by a combustible fuel blend of oil, raw alcohol, sugar and fertiliser, early models had a maximum range of five miles and packed just one pound of explosives to scatter the payload of nuts, bolts and scrap metal.
Launched from metal racks and lacking a guidance system, they were highly inaccurate, but served the purpose of keeping Sderot's residents permanently on edge.
According to journalist Noam Bedein, the rockets' destructive capacity has steadily increased over the past couple of years.
"We know the terrorists experiment continually with fuel mixes and shrapnel payloads.
"That's already led to the development of missiles that pack more than 20lb of explosive and can travel more than 15 miles."
Several such rockets have already struck the industrial city of Ashkelon, which contains one of Israel's largest oil terminals.
"Qassams are also becoming more accurate," Bedein says.
"The militants learn from Israeli radio reports where a particular rocket has landed, then adjust the angle of launch next time."
Despite heavy electronic surveillance of the border zone and regular strikes, Israel's military still cannot prevent hit-and-run attacks.
From a vantage point on the edge of Sderot, Bedein once watched a Qassam team setting up on the roof of a Palestinian apartment building.
"Those guys were really slick," he recalls.
"By the time I heard the explosions, they were already making a getaway." After ducking into a police station during yet another Code Red, I visit a family living nearby whose home was hit the previous day.
"Luckily we were at a friend's party when it happened," Shlomo Ben-Zaken, 46, tells me, "but the effect this had on my son Eliran was disastrous."
A gangling, expressionless 22-year-old, Eliran seems to be lost in a world of his own, padding silently behind us from room to room as we inspect the damage.
"He had psychiatric problems before the Qassams began to fall, but over the past 18 months he has become deeply depressed.
"He spends all his time on the computer and is scared stiff of leaving the house."
Encouraged by his father, Eliran produces a treasured Manchester United replica shirt, whispering something in Hebrew.
"He wants to know if you can help him attend a game at Old Trafford." For 15 years, Ben-Zaken worked side-by-side with Palestinians in Gaza's industrial zone, making several close friends.
One saved his life when he fell into a diabetic coma.
Terrorist attacks ended cross-border economic co-operation, but Ben-Zaken still keeps in touch by mobile phone.
"They're ordinary working guys, just like me, and they also suffer when Israel retaliates."
February 11th, 2014  
With few exceptions, Sderot residents believe that their Government couldn't care less about their plight.
"If Qassams started hitting Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, it would be a national emergency," says one shopkeeper, whose business is clearly failing.
"The politicians drop in for a quick visit, tell us to stay brave and resolute, then disappear.
"They don't want to know about the 800 houses that still lack properly protected safe rooms, or the endless problems people have claiming compensation for rocket damage."
When the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, came to town in his armoured limousine last month, accompanied by TV cameras, he was greeted by posters declaring: "Olmert's Government. No Security. No Protection. You've Failed. Go Home."
Yet for all that, something akin to the spirit of the London Blitz persists in Sderot, whether it is the elderly Russian immigrants drinking tea in the cafés and insisting that they will stay put, or the proprietor of the Shufan Ladies Hair Salon, whose latest creation resembles a Qassam rocket.
One afternoon while I was in Sderot, a battered truck pulled up in the town centre and disgorged several Orthodox Jews in their trademark long black coats and broad brimmed hats.
A sound system was quickly erected and started blasting out Israeli folk songs at top volume while they capered around on the pavement, curly side locks swinging.
Pausing for breath, their leader told me that it was their mission to bring a little light relief to Sderot's residents.
"Aren't you worried that the music is so loud you could miss a Red Alert?" I asked.
He smiled broadly, then said: "We leave that in the hands of the Almighty."
And then there is the mayor, Eli Moyal, a fast-talking lawyer who was born and bred in the town and likes to recall that when he took the job a decade ago, "I thought I'd be dealing with stuff like schools, leisure centres and rubbish collection."
An accomplished self-publicist, Moyal announced his resignation last December in protest against Government inaction, then allowed himself to be persuaded to stay.
He has staged "Solidarity with Sderot" demonstrations all over Israel, and once led a march of residents to the border with the Gaza Strip to brandish mocked-up Qassams at the Palestinian side.
When a TV reporter informed him that Hamas leaders had threatened to drive the Jews out of Sderot, he seized the microphone and announced: "I am Eli Moyal, looking straight into the eyes of the terrorists to tell them that we've been standing firm against their rockets for the past seven years.
"We will do so for the next seven hundred."
February 11th, 2014  
No need to read it as I have read it 1000 times, basically it is the usual "poor me I am the victim" stories we get every time.

It goes poor us we get rockets fired at us regularly and all we want to do is live in peace on the land we stole from the guys firing rockets at us who we have locked away in one of the most scenic concentration camps ever built but only after we discovered that there was nothing left worth stealing from the area and demolished any infrastructure they may have used to develop an economy and we just don't understand why they don't like us after all we only sink their fishing boats, deprive them of adequate food, water medicine and electricity and every so often retaliate by firing depleted uranium and white phosphorus shells into areas heavily populated by woman and children.

But we are justified in being here as the land is ours because someone that professed to be of the same religion as I am once lived in the region 3000 years ago and I know this because it is written in many of the history books my parents read in Poland where they and the last 50 generations of my family were born.

But wont anyone please think of the children... err ours not theirs.

F**k off with the crocodile tears and victim crap will ya it wont wash, Israelis know exactly why the Palestinians fight them the only thing Israelis don't understand is why the Palestinians haven't given up and died so they can claim the rest of the area and start on Jordan.
February 11th, 2014  
Anyway back on track... Lets not assume this is a boycott led by nasty smelly "anti-semetic Europeans.

J-Big – the Jews who back the boycott

Tuesday 11th

posted by Morning Star in Features

Brian Precious speaks to DEBORAH FINK and NAOMI WIMBORNE-IDRISSI about their campaign to free the people of Palestine

DEBORAH FINK and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi are co-founders of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-Big), a group which has scored major successes as progressive Jewish people respond to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The pair met through Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), founded in February 2002 in response to the second intifada.

Fink joined in July that year. Coming from a conservative, pro-Israel background, she found it reassuring to meet fellow Jews who were against Israel’s policy in Palestine.

She sees JfJfP as an important organisation.

“It shows the world that Israel does not represent all Jews, that it cannot count on all Jews for support,” she says.

“And to a certain extent it protects non-Jewish critics of Israeli policy from bogus charges of anti-semitism.”

Anti-semitism is often the accusation thrown at Israel’s critics, with the aim of intimidating them into silence.

Fink felt there needed to be a specifically Jewish voice supporting the campaign to boycott Israeli goods, so with Wimborne-Idrissi she founded J-Big in 2006.

They chose the tongue-in-cheek slogan “it’s kosher to boycott Israeli goods,” highlighting the fact that many Jews are involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, so it’s “kosher” to take part.

Wimborne-Idrissi comes from a left-wing Jewish household. Her father used to sell the Morning Star’s predecessor the Daily Worker, so solidarity with oppressed peoples is something she grew up with.

She discovered JfJfP in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003.

A speaker at a Stop the War demo was speaking, as a Jew, for Palestinian rights. Wimborne-Idrissi signed up there and then.

She felt that JfJfP, while doing great work in the Jewish community, did not go as far as she and others wanted in the boycott campaign. A further step was needed.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had set up a Boycott Israeli Goods campaign and was showing an interest in getting a specifically Jewish voice involved.

Wimborne-Idrissi and Fink pulled together some like-minded people and set up J-Big. A founding statement was published, a banner sporting the “kosher” slogan produced and J-Big set about mobilising support.

Wimborne-Idrissi says it wasn’t long before the expected deluge of venomous accusations flooded in.

They were denounced as “self-hating Jews” and “traitors to the Jewish state of Israel.”

“We had no illusions that the campaign would bring the Israeli economy crashing down,” she says.

“Boycotting avocados and peppers grown on illegally occupied Palestinian land and then sold as Israeli would not bring the country’s economy to its knees, but the immorality of how and where these goods are produced is an important message to get across.”

J-Big became more interested in boycotting Israel at an institutional level — by, for example, boycotting cultural events such as when Israeli musicians come to Britain under the Israeli flag to perform here while Palestinian artists are suffering under the occupation.

Here Fink’s musical training — she’s a bachelor of music and a trained soprano — came to the fore.

Working with others in the BDS movement Fink debuted by interrupting the Jerusalem Quartet at the Wigmore Hall in 2010, singing a parody of Jerusalem, Holy City.

J-Big was involved when the campaign tackled a more high-profile target, encouraging as many as possible to join in the protests when the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra played the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.

There were many disruptions to the orchestra’s performance, the first of which involved 13 activists in a choir led by Fink.

Sue Blackwell, a prominent member of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine who had written the words to the Wigmore parody, wrote a new version of Ode to Joy as Ode to Boycott, including the words “Israel end your occupation, Palestine must now be free, ethnic cleansing and apartheid should belong to history.”

Protesters, who came from as far afield as Edinburgh and Brighton, were strategically seated around the auditorium and their interventions carefully timed.

During a quiet musical passage protesters in vacant choral seats stood up with cloth banners which together spelled Free Palestine.

The protesters were eventually escorted out of the hall, but the protest made global news.

Fink explains the controversial action by pointing to the way the orchestra operated as a cultural ambassador, making Israel appear civilised.

“As a musician I find it hard to disrupt beautiful music,” she says. “But basic human rights are more important.

“It’s not just about influencing the audience at a prom, but about influencing world opinion. You can’t do that by handing out a few leaflets.”

Wimborne-Idrissi adds that the protests were planned to disrupt the beauty of the music as little as possible.

The Bruch violin concerto was part of the programme, for instance. So “free Palestine!” would be shouted when the conductor was raising his baton at the start of a piece, but not once the violin had started playing.

The disruptions were done to be in keeping with the performance, turning it into a weapon for the Palestinians.

The concert was not aborted. It was the BBC that cut the broadcast — which had never happened before in the history of the proms.

It was an even more successful protest than the previous action at Wigmore Hall.

I suggested that what this party of 30 or more people had done that night at the Albert Hall was not so much to disrupt Beethoven, who featured, but to be true to his spirit.

Fink and Wimborne-Idrissi agree: “Beethoven was a revolutionary.”

Wimborne-Idrissi stresses that the global boycott movement, started by the Palestinians themselves, does not target individual Israelis — and certainly not Jews as Jews.

It targets institutions and aims for equality for Palestinians living in Israel, freedom for Palestinians living in the occupied territories and justice for Palestinian refugees, including the right of return for all those forced to flee their homes since the Nakba (“catastrophe”) of 1948.

Together, these movements hope to win justice for Palestinians — something the UN has signally failed to achieve.
February 11th, 2014  
What is the supposed import of this stupid saying, "Self hating Jews"? It is similar to calling Germans who were not pro Nazi, "Self hating Germans"

In both cases it's actually the highest praise one could receive.

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