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What Israelis read about international grassroots pressures
1) Hagit Klaiman: British academics ask Elton John to read Goldstone
Ynet: 02.09.10, 08:28
LONDON – ”Political or not political, when you stand up on that stage in Tel Aviv, you line yourself up with a racist state,` wrote a group of British academics in an open letter to Elton John on Monday. The group, the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, seek to convince the singer to cancel his upcoming performance in Israel this June.
`Dear Elton John: Like much of the world, we think you’re a good bloke. You came out when it was difficult; you admitted your addictions were stronger than you were; you’ve poured money into AIDS research. Oh, and then there’s the music – not bad at all.
`But we’re struggling to understand why you’re playing in Israel on June 17. You may say you’re not a political person, but does an army dropping white phosphorus on a school building full of children demand a political response? Does walling a million and a half people up in a ghetto and then pounding that ghetto to rubble require a political response from us, or a human one?` they quipped.
`You’re behaving as if playing in Israel is morally neutral – but how can it be? How can the cruelties Israel practices against the Palestinians – fundamentally because the Palestinians are there, on Palestinian land, and Israel wants them to go – be morally neutral?` claimed the authors of the letter.
The pro-Palestinian British academics continued on to say: `Okay, you turn up in Ramat Gan, and it gets to that ‘Candle in the Wind’ moment, and thousands of lighters flicker – but there won’t be any Palestinians from the Occupied Territories swaying along with the Israelis – the army won’t let them leave their ghettoes.
The organization, which includes Israeli and Jewish members among its ranks, called upon Elton John to read the Goldstone Report as well as reports from human rights groups regarding the decades of what they labeled `crimes committed against the Palestinians.`
Head of the organization, Prof. Haim Bresheeth, said, `The letter we published is on Elton John`s homepage and is already posted on all of his fan sites on the internet, and has drawn responses that we hope will influence him not to come to Israel.`
According to Bresheeth, a similar initiative resulted in the cancellation of guitarist Santana`s Israel show about two weeks ago.
Prof. Bresheeth, who spearheaded the demand to place an academic boycott on Israel more than two years ago, added, `Unfortunately, we did not succeed in convincing Paul McCartney from canceling his concert, but we will continue to take similar action in order to prevent these respectable artists from arriving in an occupying country that breaks international law. The decision ultimate is in the hands of the artists themselves.`
2)Hagit Klaiman: UK assures Ayalon he won`t be arrested
Ynet: 02.08.10, 18:17
LONDON – Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon arrived in London on Monday after receiving an official invitation from the British Foreign Office, as well as a promise that he would not be arrested for alleged war crimes during the visit.
During the visit, Ayalon was expected to discuss the issue with senior British officials, who have expressed their desire to change the kingdom`s arrest procedures following the warrant issued against Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni in December.
The deputy foreign minister addressed the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London on issues relating to the Middle East. A pro-Palestinian protest was held outside the building during his speech.
At the start of his address, Ayalon attempted to ease the tension between Israel and Syria, which escalated following remarks made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
All war chatter is futile, Ayalon said, `at least in the near future.` he added that Iran was the source of all the problems in the region. `If the Iranian issue is solved, the region will only be the better for it,` he said. `Iran uses its nuclear ambitions as the means to create a regional hegemony.`
Referring to Syria as a gateway for Iran into the region, the deputy foreign minister said that `there are confusing and contradictory statements emanating from Damascus. However, at the end of the day we will judge Syria by its actions and not its words. Syria is dependent on Iran and provides Hezbollah with long-range missiles aimed at Israel as well as supporting and hosting ten terror organizations in Damascus.
`The latest heightened rhetoric with Syria is because of Iran. Only Iran benefits from heightened tension in the region to deter attention from its nuclear weapons program. It is clear that when the Iranian issue is resolved, Syria will become more amenable.`
According to Ayalon, Israel will not strike in Syria. Iran will benefit from a conflict between Israel and Syria and Hezbollah, and we will not fall into that trap, he added.
The deputy foreign minister added that Iran was a weak country working to strengthen itself through its ties with Syria and Hamas. He said that Iran was unable to stop the international economy from imposing sanctions against it, and added that the Islamic Republic may have additional nuclear facilities which have yet to be exposed.
As for the negotiations with the Palestinians, Ayalon rejected claims that the settlements were an obstacle to peace. `We proved it in the past with Egypt and with Gaza,` he said, adding that the main problem was the need for a partner on the other side.
`The settlements are something which can be changed,` he said. `The matters are complicated and urgent, and so we much sit at the negotiating table immediately.`
Ayalon noted that Ehud Barak, during his term as prime minister, had offered the Palestinians 92% of their demands. Ehud Olmert, he said, accepted 95% of the demands. `And yet, we are still willing to sit at the negotiating table without preconditions,` he noted.
`Waiting for the Palestinians 10 months`
The deputy foreign minister addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s Bar-Ilan speech, in which he accepted the two-state solution, and protested the Palestinians` refusal to return to the negotiating table.
`Considering the background he came from and the political price he is paying for these declarations, declaring a complete freeze – considering the number of people in the settlements today – is unthinkable,` Ayalon said.
`Israel, as opposed to the Palestinians, is not setting preconditions for negotiations. We have been waiting patiently, but urgently, at the negotiating table since the inception of this government over 10 months ago for the Palestinians to join us,` he stated.
Ayalon went on to say that Israel has removed two-thirds of the roadblocks. `We are taking risks and will continue taking risks,` he said.
Addressing the warnings against a demographic threat, he said this was a tool being used by those opposing the peace process. `There is no demographic threat, because there will be a separation between the two states. It will be impossible to put them under the same umbrella. There is essentially no threat for the establishment of a bi-national state.`
Asked by one of the participants about the crisis which followed the humiliation of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, Ayalon said, `When I understood what had happened, I took responsibility and apologized to him. I have respect for him and for Turkey, which is Israel`s ally.`
He added, `I think we must have a little more mutual respect towards each other.`
He mentioned last year`s incident at the World Economic Forum in Davos, when President Shimon Peres was humiliated by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. `We did not demand an apology and did not receive an apology,` he said.
Ayalon concluded by saying that `sometimes Israel has to reciprocate and act like its neighbors where we will not mince words and will react to dangerous rhetoric emanating from our neighbors.`
3) Yitzhak Benhorin: Arab students disrupt speech by Israeli envoy to US
Ynet: 02.09.10, 08:25
WASHINGTON - Some 100 Arab students tried to disrupt a speech by Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren during a speech at the University of California in Irvine Monday.
Oren is currently touring the West Coast giving lectures, and decided to visit Irvine despite the fact that the local campus is considered hostile to Israel, and despite the high likelihood that there would be attempts to disrupt his speech.
The protest against Oren was rather organized. Two groups of some fifty students gathered on both ends of the lecture hall, which contained 700 people. Shortly after Oren began speaking, Arab students got up and started to interrupt him.
One student let out the first outburst, shouting, `Michael Oren! Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!` The man`s yelling was followed by both heavy applause and objections.
Once every minute or so a student would stand up in one of the corners of the hall and shout: `I accuse you of murder`. This continued, and the ambassador`s speech was repeatedly interrupted by students who shouted: `How many Palestinians have you killed?` and `Israel is a murderer`.
At this point Oren had difficulty continuing his speech, and left to the next room while local police entered the hall and detained 10 students. It was later reported that the university was considering taking steps against them.
`This is not Tehran`
The ambassador later returned to the auditorium and continued his speech, stressing that he plans to realize his right to speak: `This is not Tehran,` Oren told the students.
Students disrupting Oren`s speech
Video: Sivan Cohen & Jackie Hartfield:
He went on with his speech and the students continued to interrupt him for an another 10 minutes or so. At this point, the majority of the crowd began cheering for the ambassador, and scoffing at the protesters.
The demonstrators then got up and left the hall in an organized fashion. They continued their protest outside.
The ambassador went on to say that he regretted the departure of the Arab students, since they of all people are the ones who should listen to what he has to say. He spoke mainly of the strategic ties between the US and Israel, and of the Iranian nuclear threat.
Director of the University`s Political Science department, Professor Mark P. Petracca, told the protesters, `This is beyond embarrassing...this is no way for our undergraduate students to behave. We have an opportunity to hear from a policy maker relevant to one of the most important issues facing this planet and you are preventing not only yourself from hearing him but hundreds of other people in this room and hundreds of other people in an overflow room. Shame on you! This is not an example of free speech.`
`We are here to stay`
Moran Cohen, a Jewish student at the university and president of a pro-Israel group on campus who helped organize the event said the group knew protesters were planning to interrupt Oren`s speech, which is why they brought police and security to the event.
She said she was glad the ambassador returned to the stage and finished his speech properly. Cohen added that people stayed until the end of the speech and that the event ended on a good note.
Cohen said that her message to the Arab students of the university was that the group is here to stay, and that they cannot be stopped. She added that the university`s board has said that administrative measures will be taken against the protesters.
Irvine has the second largest concentration of Arabs in the United States after Dearborn in Michigan, and the local university is the most problematic regarding Israel. Each year, around Israel`s Independence Day, a week of anti-Israel activity is held on the university`s campus.
Several months ago an event was held at the university with the participation of British MP George Galloway, a prominent pro-Palestinian activist, in which donations were collected for Hamas.
The local Muslim students union is under federal investigation, on suspicion of gathering funds for terror activity.
[Olga Gouresky contributed to this report]
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