Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holocaust Survivor meets Pope Benedict XVI

Among the attendees to Pope Benedict XVI's general audience today was Cacilie Peiser, an 87 year old survivor of the Holocaust, accompanied by Salesian Father Norbert Hofmann, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews. Zenit News has the story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Open Letter to Justice Goldstone

CAMERA -- Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America -- publishes "A Formal Letter to Justice Goldstone":
Dear Justice Goldstone,

You've frequently accused critics of presenting ad hominem arguments against you instead of dealing with the substance of the Report prepared by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict which you headed. I have several specific questions about the substance of the report arising from statements made there and from your own subsequent comments on November 5th at Brandeis University. I hope that you will clarify these points and address my concerns.

The Mission concluded that Israel may be guilty of war crimes based on the assumption that the country's military forces and leaders deliberately targeted civilians. In order to reach this conclusion, the Mission ignored or discounted available evidence that contradicted that assumption while ignoring the weaknesses in testimony and evidence that imputed to Israel the motive of targeting civilians. This gives rise to the following questions. ... [More]

Read the rest.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Violent protest cancels Israeli film

(Via Elder of Ziyon) -- Violent left-wing protests have prohibited the showing of a documentary film, Why Israel, about the role of the Jewish state as a homeland for refugees:
In late October, the 1973-produced film was scheduled to be shown at the B-Movie cinema, but roughly 50 left-wing activists from diverse anti-Israel groups affiliated with the anti-Zionist International Center B5 barred visitors from entering the movie house.

In Why Israel, Claude Lanzmann - perhaps best known for his groundbreaking documentary Shoah - depicts Israelis who found refuge in Israel after the Holocaust.

The movie house said in a statement that it had been compelled to cancel the film screening and a podium discussion because "we were threatened with violence."

According to eyewitness reports in the German media, left-wing protesters ranging in age from 16 to 70 shouted "Jewish pigs" and "faggots" to the cinema attendees.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Untold Stories of Israel's Martyrs

The Untold Stories of Israel's Martyrs: "For the first time ever, in a book, depictions of the victims of Islamist hatred. Young and old, men and women. Struck down in a bus, at a bar, at the market. Killed solely for the 'fault' of being Jewish"

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Visa Restrictions -- a response to "the Western Confucian"

The "Western Confucian" posts the following query:
News that "[t]he Israeli Ministry of Interior is refusing entry visas to priests and members of religious orders and is also reducing their period of stay in the Holy Land," including "not only figures from the Arab world, but also well-known personalities and biblical experts from Europe and Africa" — Israel restricts visas for priests and religious. What say you, Catholic Friends of Israel?
The cited article fasserts that "the return of the Fundamentalist party Shas to control of the powerful Interior Ministry in the present Israeli government has brought with it renewed trouble for clergymen and members of religious orders." As far as approaching this matter, I'm personally inclined to agree with Fr. Jaeger's approach mentioned in the same article:
... In seeking to persuade the State to take back control of visa policy from the fundamentalists, Church officials can rely on the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel (1993). There, in Article 3, Paragraph 2, the State recognises the right of the Church to "deploy" its own personnel to Israel.

Reached by AsiaNews, the noted expert on Church-State relations in Israel, Franciscan Father David-Maria A. Jaeger, who was part of the bilateral team that wrote the Agreement, confirmed that this was understood on both sides as being the meaning of that treaty provision, and the precise reason for the otherwise unusual use of the word "deploy" in reference to Church personnel.

“Of course - he adds - later in that text, the Church recognises the right of State to ensure the safety of its people, and that this means, in the present context, that the State can in good faith decline to permit the entry of individuals who might pose a risk to public safety, but that the State may not otherwise substitute its judgement for that of the Church with regard to the personnel the Church may wish to 'deploy" from anywhere in the world to its own institutions, for its own purposes, in Israel”.

Father Jaeger has clarified that he cannot comment on the facts and violations here reported. But that as jurist he says he is “confident that the key to resolving any difficulties in the matter lies in the 1993 Fundamental Agreement”.

I think any nation has the right to regulate the entree of foreign parties (religious or otherwise) for reasons of security, and this right should be granted to Israel just as it is to any other nation. Obviously, this may also be subject to abuse. (Not knowing the particulars of the cases referred to in the article, I won't venture an opinion).

I completely understand why this is a point of contention between the Church and Israel; at the same time, I don't think that clergy, simply by virtue of their being religious, are automatically exempt from such regulation.

(Thanks to The Western Confucian for the query and the link to our site!)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recommended Reading

  • No way home: The tragedy of the Palestinian diaspora - A special report by Judith Miller and David Samuels. The Independent [UK] discovers, contrary to their expectations: "You might think Palestinian refugees would be welcomed by their Arab neighbours, yet they are denied basic rights and citizenship."

  • Goldstone Fallout: A Break in HRW's Ranks Robert Bernstein, who serves as chairman emeritus for Human Rights Watch, joined the group's critics in a very public way -- in a post to the New York Times' op-ed page.

  • CAMERA's Preliminary Response to Editorial in Jesuit Magazine ("Snapshots" September 29, 2009):
    The editors of America, a Catholic newsweekly owned by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) recently published an editorial that invokes the Goldstone Report and the Mishneh Torah. This editorial, which amounts to an indictment of Israel, typifies the magazine's troubling double-standard when covering the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the pages of America, violence against Israel is unremarkable, while Israeli efforts to bring this violence to an end are subjected to intense, and unfair scrutiny. Documentation of this tendency can be found here.

    CAMERA has submitted a brief, preliminary response to the magazine, but it is unclear whether it will be published on the magazine's website. [Consequently, it has taken to publishing the text on its own blog, "SnapShots"].

  • Understanding the Goldstone report - offering critical analysis of the claims of Judge Richard Goldstone's 575-page "Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict".

  • Humorous in any other context, this is just ... sad: Goldstone Endorses Palestinian Witness Who Claimed Israel Distributed Aphrodisiac Gum CAMERA "Snapshots" September 29, 2009.

"Understanding the Goldstone Report" - New Resource

On September 15, 2009, Judge Richard Goldstone and his Commission presented their 575-page Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict to its mandating authority, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). From the beginning, observers raised serious questions about the Commission’s propriety. These involved its mandate and terms of reference, the sponsoring body’s domination by dictatorships that regularly abuse human rights in their own countries, the biases and prejudices of members of the Commission itself. And yet, the report will play a key role in the effort to specifically target Israeli troops in both boycott movements and lawfare attacks, and more broadly to establish a reigning paradigm of international law as applied to 21st century asymmetrical conflicts.

Those of us who have constructed Understanding the Goldstone Report, have been following the claims under contention since the events themselves almost a year ago, and have read the report in detail. We offer a wide range of analysis, from careful examination of specific incidents and controversies to broader legal and conceptual issues. In so doing, we have come to the following conclusions:

  • The report violates international standards for inquries, including UN rules on fact-finding, replicating earlier UNHRC biased statements. The Commission systematically favored witnesses and evidence put forward by anti-Israel advocates, and dismissed evidence and testimony that would undermine its case.
  • The commission relied extensively on mediating agencies, especially UN and NGOs, which have a documented hostility to Israel; the report reproduces earlier reports and claims from these agencies.
  • At the same time, the Commission inexplicably downplayed or ignored substantial evidence of Hamas’ commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of terror, including specifically its victimization of the Palestinian population by its use of human shields, civilian dress for combatants, and combat use of protected objects like ambulances, hospitals and mosques.
  • The Commission openly denies a presumption of innocence to the Israelis accused of crimes (while honoring Hamas’ presumed innocence) and acknowledges that it made accusations of crimes without proof that would stand up in court.
  • The report contains numerous gratuitous digressions into issues beyond the purview of a fact-finding commission that are inaccurate and profoundly hostile to Israel and Jews.
  • The Commission distorted legal standards, imposing on Israel standards that reverse their generally understood and applied meaning, while ignoring important rules of international law that put the onus of responsibility on an organization as base, by Goldstone’s own standards, as Hamas.