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Tag Archives: jewish
Cyber encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture that covers everything from anti-Semitism to Zionism.
Coordinates: 31N 35E / 31N 35E / 31; 35
Israel, officially the State of Israel (/zril/ or /zrel/; Hebrew: , Mednat Yisr’el, IPA:[medint jisel]( listen); Arabic: , Dawlat Isrl, IPA:[dawlat israil]), is a parliamentary republic in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank in the east, Egypt and the Gaza Strip on the southwest, and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south, and it contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel is defined as a Jewish and Democratic State in its Basic Laws and is the world’s only Jewish-majority state.
Following the adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 29 November 1947 recommending the adoption and implementation of the United Nations plan to partition Palestine, on 14 May 1948 David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel, a state independent from the British Mandate for Palestine. Neighboring Arab states invaded the next day in support of the Palestinian Arabs. Israel has since fought several wars with neighboring Arab states, in the course of which it has occupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Portions of these territories, including east Jerusalem, have been annexed by Israel, but the border with the neighboring West Bank has not yet been permanently defined.[neutrality is disputed] Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but efforts to resolve the IsraeliPalestinian conflict have so far not resulted in peace.
Israel’s financial centre is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is the country’s most populous city, and its capital (although not recognized internationally as such). The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2012 to be 7,869,900people, of whom 5,923,500 are Jewish.Arabs form the country’s second-largest ethnic group. The great majority of Israeli Arabs are settled-Muslims, with smaller but significant numbers of semi-settled Negev Bedouins and Arab Christians. Other minorities include various ethnic and ethno-religious denominations such as Druze, Circassians, Samaritans, Maronites and others.
Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage. The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel’s unicameral legislative body. Israel has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. It is a developed country, an OECD member, and its economy, based on the nominal gross domestic product, was the 40th-largest in the world in 2011. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East.
Upon independence in 1948, the new Jewish state was formally named Medinat Yisrael, or the State of Israel, after other proposed historical and religious names including Eretz Israel (“the Land of Israel”), Zion, and Judea, were considered and rejected. In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term “Israeli” to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett.
The name Israel has historically been used, in common and religious usage, to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel or the entire Jewish nation. According to the Hebrew Bible the name “Israel” was given to the patriarch Jacob (StandardYisrael, Isrl; Septuagint Greek: ; “struggle with God”) after he successfully wrestled with the angel of the Lord. Jacob’s twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob, led the Israelites back into Canaan in the “Exodus”. The earliest archaeological artifact to mention the word “Israel” is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE).
The area is also known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bah’ Faith. Prior to the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence, the whole region was known by various other names including Southern Syria, Syria Palestina, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Iudaea Province, Coele-Syria, Retjenu, Canaan and, particularly, Palestine.
The notion of the “Land of Israel”, known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael (or Eretz Yisroel), has been important and sacred to the Jewish people since Biblical times. According to the Torah, God promised the land to the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people. On the basis of scripture, the period of the three Patriarchs has been placed somewhere in the early 2nd millenniumBCE, and the first Kingdom of Israel was established around the 11th century BCE. Subsequent Israelite kingdoms and states ruled intermittently over the next four hundred years, and are known from various extra-biblical sources.
The northern Kingdom of Israel, as well as Philistine city states fell in 722 BCE, though the southern Kingdom of Judah and several Phoenician city states continued their existance as the region came under Assyrian rule. With the emergence of Babylonians, Judah was eventually conquered as well, significantly shifting the demographics in the 6th century BCE.
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West Bank, territory, formerly part of Palestine, after 1949 administered by Jordan, since 1967 largely occupied by Israel (2005 est. pop. 2,386,000), 2,165 sq mi (5,607 sq km), west of the Jordan River, incorporating the northwest quadrant of the Dead Sea. Since mid-1994 limited Palestinian self-rule has existed in portions of the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority. Israelis who regard the area as Jewish territory often refer to it by the biblical names of Judaea and Samaria. The largest and most historically important cities are Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, and Jericho. East Jerusalem is regarded as part of the West Bank by Arabs; however, Israel has incorporated it into the larger Jerusalem economy and municipality. In addition to the Palestinian population, some 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem or other West Bank territories that Israel has annexed to Jersusalem. Sections in this article:
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
We hear disturbing reports this year from southern Israel. The Israeli government proposes to relocate some 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their present homes to government-approved townships. This is called the Prawer Plan, and Israels parliament approved it by a three-vote majority in June.
The Prawer Plan would destroy 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) region and extinguish Bedouin claims to land seized from them after the foundation of Israel. The government denies basic services to these villages. Right beside them, in many cases, are new, modern, fully serviced communities for Jewish settlers.
Supporters of the Prawer Plan say that it will compensate the Bedouin for their lost lands and improve their economic status. Unconvinced, the European Parliament has condemned the plan and demanded its withdrawal. So has the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Office for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.
This plan has not been negotiated with the Bedouins and does not have their agreement. It is to be imposed on them. Many have called it ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic cleansing has been defined by the UN Security Council as the forcible removal by one ethnic or religious group of another such group in a geographic area. When I think of ethnic cleansing, I recall my own experience in France under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
Six months before I was born, the French government of the time passed laws excluding Jews from the civil service, education, the media and other professions. They repealed the law against anti-Semitism and started a massive anti-Jewish hate campaign. Large numbers of Jews were rounded up and put in concentration camps.
Much of France was then under Nazi occupation, but the Nazis didnt ask for these measures. The French authorities volunteered and did it on their own. But soon the Nazis got into the act. They had a vast project to clear 10 million Jews out of all European countries not to deport but to exterminate them.
Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale.
The French police handed over to the Nazis tens of thousands of Jews and other French people to be sent to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where they were almost all slaughtered. French authorities tore children from the arms of their mothers, and handed over the mothers to be exterminated.
Then, weeks later, the children were packed into a death train and sent to Auschwitz to also to die there. Among the adult victims was my mother, killed in Auschwitz in 1943.
A Jewish settler holds the Israeli flag as she argues with a Palestinian villager in the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Foreign Affairs Ministry has condemned the Israeli governments plan to build hundreds of new settlements in occupied territory.
The plan includes 800 new units in Givat Salit in the West Bank and 256 in Nofei Prat to the east of Jerusalem. The decision to build more settlements was taken at a meeting of various Israeli officials, including Police Commander Avi Bitton, Vice President of the Knesset Moshe Veglin, the Likud Rabbi Yehuda Glick, and representatives from the Office of Homeland Security. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry slammed the plan as an attempt to further colonize Palestinian territory and said it laid bare the false claims of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he had frozen settlement projects in the West Bank. The ministry called on the international community, and the Quartet comprising the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia, to censure Israel. It said that such decisions are bound to destroy all attempts at negotiating a two-state solution. The ministry called on the Islamic and Arab world to support the Palestinian people in defending the holy sites in the region, particularly the Al-Aqsa mosque. The ministry also denounced the request of Miri Regev, the chairperson of the Knesset interior committee, for the Israeli police to provide protection for dozens of Jewish extremists who planned to be at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the Hanukkah celebrations, which started on Thursday, Nov. 28. It appealed to regional and international organizations to document and monitor Israels breaches of international laws and various Geneva conventions, and to prosecute the criminals in international courts.
(Source / 27.11.2013)
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This review of Max Blumenthals book Goliath appeared in longer form at Jerome Slaters site. He gave us permission to excerpt. Ed.
In my own work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I start from two premises. The first is that in light of Israeli intransigence, there is no chance of attaining a two-state settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without strong and sustained pressures from the American government, very probably including making its military, economic, and diplomatic support of Israel conditional upon the end of the Israeli occupation and repression of the Palestinians and the creation of a viable and genuinely independent Palestinian state.
The second premise, however, is that there is no chance of these essential changes in U.S. policies occurring unless a majority of American Jews become convinced that such actions are required by Israels own best interestsindeed, without exaggeration, required in order to save Israel from itself, and not only in its relations with the Palestinians but in its domestic political and societal health as well. Of course, it would be far better if Jewish support for American pressures on Israel were motivated at least as much by moral anger at Israels behavior and sympathy for the Palestinians; but, sadly, except for a small minority of the American Jewish community, that is not going to happen.
Given those two premises, I have mixed feelings about Max Blumenthals new work, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israelthe result of over four years of on-the-ground research and reporting, as Blumenthal writes in his preface. On the one hand, it is a powerful and impressive work by one of Americas most astute and courageous young journalists, a highly detailed and vividly written compendium of Israels criminalno other word will dooccupation and repression of the Palestinian people. In persuasive detail, Blumenthal reviews and exposes not only the criminal behavior of Israel towards the Palestinians, but also the variety of ways in which Israel is becoming increasingly rightwing, anti-democratic, and even fascistic (a term increasingly used by Israels own dissenters)in its schools, in its courts, in its racism (against both the Palestinians and African refugees in Israel), in its police repression, and in its growing restrictions against free speech and protest by Jewish Israelis, let alone by its own Palestinian citizens.
Blumenthal quotes Akiva Eldar, one of Israels greatest journalists, who sums up the findings of Israeli public opinion surveys: Israeli Jews consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians, and insensitivity to their suffering. As even Eric Altermans blast at Goliath in Nation (one of the few reviews in the mainstream media) concedes, the book is mostly technically accuratean absurdly backhanded way of admitting that he cant challenge the detailed evidence laid out by Blumenthal. In a rational world, then, Goliath should convince the American Jewish community as well as non-Jewish pro-Israelis to support the necessary changes in US policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It wont, howeverprimarily because so many Jewish and other American pro-Israelis, like Alterman, are impervious to the facts. But Blumenthal must also bear at least some share of the responsibility for the hostile reception that Goliath is receivingeven from liberal Zionists, let alone from the majority of Israelis and American Jews who are well to the right of that small and increasingly beleaguered group.
The first problem concerns the disjuncture between the audience that Blumenthal wants to reach and his strategy for doing so. It is clear that Blumenthal agrees with the two premises I describe above, for in his preface he writes: it is Americans tax dollars and political support that are crucial in sustaining the present state of affairs. I want to show what they are paying for, the facts as they really are today, in unadorned and unsanitized form, without sentimentality or nostalgia.Readers may not agree with all of my conclusions, but I hope they will carefully consider the facts that appear on these pages. They are, after all, the facts on the ground.
However, Goliath is not likely to succeed in terms of its own purpose. For those who already have some knowledge of, and are increasingly disturbed by, the realities of Israeli policies and the U.S. collaboration with them, Blumenthals detailed reporting, analyses, and conclusions will be entirely convincing. But since that is still a small minority of American Jewish community, the problem is that Goliath is likely to end up as merely preaching to the choir. To be sure, that is far from pinning most of the responsibility for such an outcome simply on problems within Blumenthals book: the right wing in Israel and the U.S., Jewish or not, cant be convinced by any evidence, period. The only hope, then, are Israeli and American centrists, who are unaware of the full truth but who are open, in principle, to reconsidering their position when the factspowerfully presented by Goliathare overwhelming and irrefutable.
For several reasons, however, Goliath is not likely to have much of an impact on the mainstream centrists in America, the most importance audience for any work seeking changes in the status quo. Given Blumenthals overall argument, however justified by the facts and evidence he presents, reaching that mainstream would have been an uphill battle in any case. However, Blumenthal has made the hurdles even greater because of the general tone of his writing and the loaded language and even outright contempt that he occasionally indulges inmostly not without good reason, I should add, but a serious mistake nonetheless.
The Chapter Headings
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The West Bank (Arabic: , a-iff l-arby, Hebrew: , HaGadah HaMa’aravit) is a landlocked territory on the west bank of the Jordan River and on the west side of the Dead Sea in the Middle East. To the west, north, and south the West Bank shares borders with Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River and Dead Sea, lies Jordan.
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has a land area of 5,640 km2 and 220 km2 water, the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea. It has an estimated population of 2,622,544 (June 2012). More than 80 percent, about 2,100,000, are Palestinian Arabs, and approximately 500,000 are Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, including about 192,000 in East Jerusalem, in Israeli settlements. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
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BETWEEN THE WARS During the interwar period, France was one of the more liberal countries in welcoming Jewish immigrants, many of them from eastern Europe. After World War I, thousands of Jews viewed France as a European land of equality and opportunity and helped to make its capital, Paris, a thriving center of Jewish cultural life. In the 1930s, however, unnerved by a significant influx of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and the Spanish Civil War, the leaders of the French Third Republic (1870-1940) began to reassess this open-door policy
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Cyber encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture that covers everything from anti-Semitism to Zionism. It includes a glossary, bibliography of web sites and books …
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Are the West Bank and Gaza occupied territories as Palestinian Arabs assert?
With the division of a new Jewish state of Israel from other portions of the mandate Palestine as a result of the 1949 armistice, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip became much highlighted geographical units. From the period of 1948 to 1967, the West Bank was under Jordans control which it took in 1950, giving citizenship to the Palestinians residing there. On the other hand, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control during that period. Israel took control of all of Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Sinai and the Golan Heights after the 1967 war.
Forming a military establishment in these occupied territories, Israel denied Palestinians of their basic civil and political rights, liberty as well as freedom of expression. Palestinian nationalism was degraded to the extent that even display of the Palestinian national colors became an act worth punishing. There were more aspects from the Palestinian life that was forbidden by Israeli military administration, going as far as banning the use of wild thyme, a common Palestinian cuisine element.
Israel started to build settlements and allowed Jewish citizens to move into the West Bank and Gaza, having no regard of the fact that it is a breach of the international law. The unjustified practices of Israeli military in the occupied lands include curfews, demolitions and closure of Palestinian schools, roads and institutes. Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned around three hundred thousand Palestinians and that too, without a trial. Many of these prisoners died of the torture and neglect from the Israeli prison administration. In their clarification, Israeli officers claim that harsh measures are required to put a leash on terrorism. According to them, all sorts of opposition from Palestinians, including non-violence, counts as terrorism and hence should be thwarted.
Falling under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, Palestinian Arabs regarded these as the occupied territories. Palestinian spokesmen speak about the Israeli military action as an infringement of the Palestinian sovereignty and an invasion of their lands. Israel persistently resisted the efforts of the international treaties to define West Bank and Gaza as occupied territories. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court asserted that since the convention is based on the assumption that there had been a sovereign who was ousted and that he has been a legitimate sovereign; therefore there is no applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. Therefore, Israel regards itself as a legal administrator of these territories and not as a foreign occupier.
Regardless of Israels claims, it is widely regarded as the foreign occupier of Gaza Strip and the West Bank. International community has disapproved the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands on more occasions than one; however, no sufficient steps have been taken to enforce the international law or to account Israel for its violations of geographical boundaries.
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