Monday, December 31, 2012

Manawatu Online Mag - Swamp Thing!

I went to Downtown Cinemas this week - I saw an ad for Swamp Thing -

This is an online, free Magazine, all things Manawatu.  It has film and TV reviews, arts, events.  It's designed for the iPad and very nicely done.

I'm not sure who is running or funding it.  I hope it keeps going!  It's got a nice Facebook page too.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why I Blog

Honest Reporting published this graphic which shows nicely the reasons why I Blog

Myth Busting - 2000 Intifada was deliberately planned by Arafat

I like myth busting.  A popular myth is that the 2000 Intifada was started randomly due the extreme incitement by Ariel Sharon touring the Temple Mount.

Well, interesting that Suha Arafat has now come out and explained how it was all planned by Arafat himself.

Given the level of violence had been rising for some time, it is often made out that the violence just started.

I had a debate with Nigel Parsons (of Massey University) at the time.  Himself a one-eyed reporter who was actually in Ramallah at the time.  But thankfully the truth has now come out.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Israeli Election graphic for the perplexed

NU Campaign posted this graphic - a guide to the Israeli election.

It's a joke, but I think a worthy one to post here.  It shows all the players in the Knesset, but also what a complicated minefield Israeli Politics is.  Also worth noting the top topic is the West Bank - technically not even part of Israel!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Beautiful Poem

I was tidying up and found this, which I had kept from 2004.

Tommy Lapid was then Minister of Justice in Israel.  His son, Yair, is running in the upcoming election and polling strongly

They Say there is a land
by Joseph (Tommy) Lapid

Sometimes I wonder, what it would be like to live in New Zealand.

To be born on an Island in the ocean, in a country which is hard to even locate on the map.

To stroll through a green field and watch the farmer who's shearing his white sheep.

To grow in the house that my Grandfather has built, to be Grandson, to a Grandfather who died from old age.

To learn a 220 year history, from a long thin book, to obtain wine from a barrel in the basement, which is not a bombshelter.

To anxiously follow the local football team season, to voluntarily join the army, since there isn't any compulsory service, and to resign from this army in aspiration for a life involving some action.

To read a newspaper in New Zealand and not to understand what's going on in the holy land:

Why are people getting killed for every little piece of dry land, when the world is so big and life is so precious?

To believe that all men are brothers and that with a bit of kindness and goodness every human problem can be solved.

To be a New Zealander and to know that a cannon only fires on the Queen of England's birthday.

To know that a "Rimon"** is a fruit that can stain a white shirt, to know that a sleeping bag is only meant to be used on camping trips, 

To know that a widow is an old woman, and that if a parent is talking about his son who has fallen, to be polite and ask him if his son is OK, and did he hurt himself?

To be a small and petty New Zealander, who shuts himself within his own four walls, and is not a part of any cosmic experience, is not accountable to anyone, and no one accounts to him, and no man is his guarantor, he is not expected to make any human sacrifice, and no one expects him to sacrifice himself.

To be a little New Zealander whom cats do not bother and that the rackets of the world do not attack.

Elokim!  Who has chosen us over all peoples, I am not complaining to you, 

I am accepting my fate, humbly, lovingly, proudly, 

I would never exchange Jerusalem with Washington, the hard life in Israel with an easy life anywhere else on Earth!

This is my country, the homeland of my children, this is our destiny and we shall overcome it!

But please don't be mad, Ribono Shel Olam, if sometimes, just somtimes, 

I wonder; 

Is it fair that New Zealanders die from Boredom???

** In hebrew the exact translation is a pomegrate, but also refers to a Hand Grenade.
Article translated by Sharon Avis, not a formal translation from Hebrew

Scottish Professor responds to "Boycott Israel" on Campus

A great article on "Israel Frontline": Denis MacEoin, a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly, addresses The Committee  Edinburgh University Student Association

The Edinburgh Student's Association made a motion to boycott all things Israeli since they claim Israel is under an apartheid regime.  Dr. Denis MacEoin (a non-Jew) is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs.  
 But I'm not talking about ordinary criticism of Israel. I'm speaking of a hatred that permits itself no boundaries in the lies and myths it pours out. Thus, Israel is repeatedly referred to as a "Nazi" state. In what sense is this true, even as a metaphor? Where are the Israeli concentration camps? The einzatsgruppen? The SS? The Nuremberg Laws? The Final Solution? None of these things nor anything remotely resembling them exists in Israel, precisely because the Jews more than anyone on earth, understand what Nazism stood for. It is claimed that there has been an Israeli Holocaust in Gaza (or elsewhere). Where? When? No honest historian would treat that claim with anything but the contempt it deserves. But calling Jews 'Nazis' and saying they have committed a Holocaust is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Zealand Super Fund "Divests" from Israel

The New Zealand Super Fund (the government fund, also known as the "Cullen" fund) have announced that they have 'divested' from 3 companies linked with the Settlement Activity in the West Bank.

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund today announced that it had excluded three companies from its $20 billion investment portfolio on responsible investment grounds.
Findings by the United Nations that the Separation Barrier and settlement activities were illegal under international law were central to the Fund’s decision to exclude the companies, said Manager, Responsible Investment Anne-Maree O’Connor.
The Fund also factored in votes by New Zealand for UN Security Council resolutions demanding the cessation and dismantling of the Separation Barrier, and the cessation of Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Fund also viewed the companies’ activities to be inconsistent with the UN Global Compact, the key benchmark against which the Fund measures corporate behaviour.

The companies in question are Elbit Systems Ltd, Shikun & Binui and Africa Israel Investments and subsidiary Danya Cebus.

They have quoted a few things from the UN, but there is no mention exactly as to what these companies are doing, or how they were contacted for response.

This is quite concerning, as they seem to have done this purely to get rid of some nuisance noises being made.  This smells of Lois Griffiths' crew - who are continual agitators in New Zealand.  This was announced in September - does it sound similar?

Petition 2008/143 of Lois Griffiths
and 382 others
Report of the Commerce Committee
The Commerce Committee has considered Petition 2008/143 of Lois Griffiths and 382
others, requesting “that the New Zealand Parliament ask the Guardians of the NZ
Superfund to disinvest the Fund from Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, G4S and three major
Israeli banks: Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank”, and has no matters
to bring to the attention of the House.

Jonathan Young

So you see, they were actually trying for a period of 18 months to get the Cullen fund to divest from all Israeli companies.

This got very little attention in New Zealand.  The amounts were very small (and it Elbit's case, no money at all).  But I think it sets a bad precedent.

The only recognition I saw was from the Green Party, and from Russell Norman, not the usual spokesperson - Kennedy Graham. While they "welcomed" it, it appears they were not involved in the action.

Taking back the definition of Zionism

David Zwartz has a letter in the Dominion Post on Friday.  It must have been in response to other correspondence that I missed:

Zionism is the national expression for the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland (Letters Dec 11). The Jews needed Zionism to survive into the future after centuries of Arab oppression outside their homeland led to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947, and its subsequent development.  I am proud to be a Zionist.
David Zwartz
I think it's important that we repeat this.  The extreme left and other ignorant parties continue to redefine Zionism.  This definition should be kept for future reference.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hanukah in the Square with Klezmer Rebs

This past wednesday saw the Wellington Community Channukah event.  It was a non-denominational event organised by the Israeli Embassy.  I was able to attend the same event last year, and it was great.  Being non-denominational, it is the only event that attracts the full spectrum of the community.  This year was also open to the general public, and was a fundraiser for Wellington Free Ambulance.

Last year was so good, I was considering to rearrange a business trip so I could attend with my daughter.  Events like these act as great shmooze fests, that you get to catch up with everyone you haven't seen all year.  A similar event in Melbourne is organised by Chabad - an Orthodox Jewish group.  It also attracts the full spectrum of people.  Chabad hardly have a presence in New Zealand, but they are very active in outreach and organising events for everybody.

The Klezmer Rebs are a Left Wing band, who play in a traditional style.  Four of the band members attend Temple Sinai in Wellington.  During their performance, Dave Moskovitz made the following statement directed to the Ambassador:

Mr Ambassador, I’m glad you implored people earlier today to pray for peace, but we need more than prayer – we need action.  Praying, singing and dancing for peace aren’t enough; bringing about peace, and overcoming decades of counterproductive attitudes and actions is very hard work and requires individual and collective leadership and commitment from everyone including the Israeli government.  The time has come to tell your Government to show that leadership, put down your weapons, and seriously negotiate in good faith to bring about peace.  Bombing civilians and building settlements on land whose ownership is in question is not good faith.  Fulfil the words of Isaiah, and show that Israel is called into righteousness as a light unto the nations.  The time is now.
Many people who attended felt uncomfortable with this, on multiple levels.

It was also reported in the Dominion Post the next day.  Rather than mention the event, the announcement was the only thing reported, along with a statement from the band.


It should be noted that now the band are requesting that we ask them questions in private face to face, rather than publicly in the forums.  But when did they give any of the public a chance to debate or challenge the statement that they made at the event? 

There are some distinct questions being asked by a wide spectrum of members in the community, that the band would prefer not to answer.

Was it appropriate for the event?

The event was a non-denominational religious event, which attracted Jews from a full spectrum of backgrounds (from Orthodox Religious to non-affiliated), and non Jews as well.  In these situations, you do not want to be dividing the people, nor making them feel uncomfortable so they will not return.  The Jewish community is too small to hijack events to push your own agenda - that kind of action is selfish.

Additionally, it is very rude to your host, who is effectively doing the community a service by organising the event.  Would they prefer there was no event at all?

Who did they represent when they made this statement?

The band have stated that "Many People feel the same way", but there is no Wellington Jewish Peace group, no other mandate other than the band members. 

However, they were the ones holding the microphone, there was no statement of the capacity or 'moral majority' they are claiming.  There was no opportunity for anybody to put opposing views.

Dave Moskovitz is actually quite prominent in the media - he has been interviewed on National Radio by Kim Hill.  He's also been a president of Temple Sinai.  How would an unaffiliated  person attending know what capacity he is making his statements in - especially when he is making demands in such an authoritative way.

Was the statement correct?

It was solely directed at the Ambassador, and Israel.  It also only contains "abstract" complaints, no concrete arguments.  The biggest issue people have are with the statements "Put down your weapons" and "Bombing Civilians".   It gives no mention of the weapons that have been raised against Israelis, or empathy with the situation where they are forced to pick up weapons.  There is no mention that Palestinians refused to meet Israel, even during a settlement freeze.  The band has not really justified their position (other than stating that "many people agree"), but given any concrete facts, they seem to fade away.

There is no mention that Israel is a democracy, and what the will of the people might be.  No attempt to talk to the people rather than the government they elected.  Was the 2000 Camp David negotiations "In Good Faith?".  If so, why did they fail?  If so, aren't the same people in government?

I would also be interested to know if the band make similar statements towards the Palestinian authority, or to Hamas.  I have seen none by the band.  Israel can hardly make peace without it.  I sincerely doubt it.

The band quoted Isaiah, but I think by making such statements they are in fact in danger of breaching the 9th of the 10 Commandments.

Was there other courses of action the band could have taken?

The band could have made an impassioned plea to both the Israelis and Palestinians at the same time, openly, without directing comments to the Ambassador.  Tell everybody to put down their arms.  There would have been roars of approval. 

One of the band's complaints is that there was no other place to discuss this in the community.  However Mr Moskovitz runs two internet forums for discussing events in the Jewish community, and brought up no issues in either one.  Additionally after the event, he is also refusing to discuss or answer questions on these forums.

The band could have raised their feelings and concerns with the embassy before the concert.  That way, it could be discussed whether it was appropriate for them to continue, or how to work their concerns into the event in an appropriate way.  They could also have raised these concerns with the community at large beforehand, because it was the community that the event was serving.  To talk beforehand is preferable to what was essentially a stunt with all the subtlety of an FM radio station.

The band could form their own peace group, and make statements on behalf of their members in the public forum.  The group could organise their own community events, however I doubt they would be able to attract the spectrum that the embassy attracts.

The band could have requested a private session with the Ambassador, or quietly sought him out at the event.  Why need to do it from the stage?


I know the band members.  They are good people, active within the community, and self proclaimed Zionists.  Their actions were inappropriate to a community event, and only do damage to an already wounded community.  The comments achieved nothing positive.

The members are welcome to their views, but should express them in an appropriate forum, which is probably best in a separate group.  They will also find they achieve more sympathy within the community if they attempt to add some kind of balance to their statements.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

7 Countries which execute Atheists

Washington Post has an article - 7 countries where being an Atheist can get you executed by the State.

The 7 Countries are:
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Iran
  • Pakistan
  • Afghanistan
  • Sudan
  • Mauritania
  • The Maldives
If Palestine is an Observer state, I would suggest it should also be listed.

Note also countries where you can be imprisoned:
  • Egypt
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
This doesn't list countries which execute you for changing religion.  For example, it is punishable by death in many Islamic countries if a Muslim person decides to convert to another religion, such as Christianity.

The United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt accepted the report, according to Reuters, noting that there is little global awareness that atheism is protected by international human rights law.
Correct.  No mention at the UNHCR, as they are too busy defending the nations listed to attack Israel.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gaza is NOT the most densely populated place on Earth

I've been hearing non-stop the last month that "Gaza is the most densely populated place on Earth".

No it isn't.  Not even close.  (Thanks to 5mfi)
Tom Scott is just one who should take note.

Academics boycott Peace

Andrew Bolt uncovers the hyposcrisy of Boycotting Israel

The dean of the university’s arts and social science faculty, Duncan Ivison, yesterday wrote to Jake Lynch spelling out that “he does not speak for the faculty on visiting scholars and cannot make decisions about who comes here”.
Associate Professor Lynch caused outrage after he rejected a bid for assistance by Hebrew University of Jerusalem academic Dan Avnon, credited with developing Israel’s only state program in civics written for Jewish and Arab students, on the basis of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Isn't it disgusting when the anti-Israel brigade boycott those that act for peace and unity?  It shows that being Academic (supposedly 'intelligent') doesn't mean you can reason logically without being bent by bias or hate.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ethnic Cleansing of Jews

I received a good graphic regarding the state of Jewish people in Arab lands.

The graphic does not include Iran.

Apparently Jews that migrated from Arab lands are "traitors" according to Hamas.  Also they are expected to return to the Arab lands after Israel is destroyed.  Of course they would have no homes, Synagogues, freedom.....

5mfi on Palestinian Right of Return

A good blog post from 5 minutes for Israel on the Right of Palestinians to return.

One of the ironies of Right of Return is that of the almost five million registered refugees, some almost two million of them (1,895,043 from a total 4,797,723†), a smiggen under forty percent (40%) live in Gaza and the West Bank. That’s right. They live in the area that Mahmud Abbas worked so hard to gain recognition as the Palestinian State. Abbas is a case in point. Despite being the President of the Palestinian Authority; a presidential palace in Ramallah (Hamas ‘cooperation’ has made his Gaza residence currently off-limits) and an estimated personal wealth of  $100 million he retains refugee status. 
A $100 refugee.  To be fair, he said he didn;t want to return to Sefad
If there is a real Apartheid in the Middle East it is in Lebanon. Despite sixty years of residence Palestinian refugees do not have Lebanese citizenship, are legally barred from owning property or legally barred from entering a list of desirable occupations. Employment requires a government-issued work permit, and, according to the New York Times, although “Lebanon hands out and renews hundreds of thousands of work permits every year to people from Africa, Asia and other Arab countries… until now, only a handful have been given” to Palestinians. AND THE SITUATION HAS IMPROVED FROM WHAT IT WAS TWO YEARS AGO!
People forget very quickly how "Palestinians" have been treated by other Arabs.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Palestinian Statehood at the UN

The vote on upgrading Palestinian statehood at the UN to "Observer" status like The Holy See (Vatican city) has happened.  Full details here.

Ironically on the same day in 1947 there was a similar vote.  It would have given Palestinians full statehood.  They rejected it, because it would have meant living side by side with a Jewish state.

Here is the full transcript of Mahmoud Abbas' speech at the UN.  He appears to be proactively making peace with statements like this:

I am here to say on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestine Liberation Organization: We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peace-making. I say to them: Let us urgently build together a future for our children where they can enjoy freedom, security and prosperity. Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equity between two neighboring States - Palestine and Israel - instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other.
But there are also references to try and appease Hamas, such as referencing "Apartheid", without stating what he means by that.  Apartheid is a South African term, where Whites and Blacks were separated in Parks, Buses, Workplaces and rights by law.  There can be no comparison to what Abbas is complaining about here (settlements?).
The vote doesn't really change anything, as peace cannot be achieved until peace talks are completed.  Hopefully this means that the Palestinians will resume peace talks, elections and eventually responsibility for rehousing people they are keeping stuck in refugee camps.

More news from our region:

New Zealand voted for the motion.

"New Zealand is a long-standing supporter of the two state solution. We believe that Israel and a Palestinian state should exist side by side, each respecting the other's right to peace. And we believe that they should arrive at that conclusion through direct talks.
"As I stated in my address to the UN General Assembly earlier this year, we have never regarded a UN resolution as an adequate substitute for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That is the only way of achieving a durable solution to this question."
However McCully said the UN resolution was "a poor substitute for direct negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"We remain frustrated that two leaders who live half an hour up the road from each other cannot meet to resolve these matters directly."
Mr McCully said officials have discussed the proposed text of the resolution with Palestinian representatives, who have "delivered a resolution that is moderate, 
constructive, and reflects our commitment to a two-state solution".
"In our explanation of vote to the UN our Permanent Representative Hon Jim McLay will make clear our absolute commitment to Israel's right to safety and security, and condemn the actions of Hamas extremists in recent weeks," Mr McCully said.
"However, we will also assert our support for the moderate leadership of President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad and others who are working to make a two-state solution a viable goal.
"The New Zealand Government is under no illusions as to the utility of a UN resolution. It will solve nothing. But in the absence of the direct talks we have called for, we will deal with the UN resolution on its merits."
Australia abstained, although not without controversy.  Julia Gillard wanted to vote against, but was rolled by her own party.

This satirical article is worth a read also.  Palestinian Statehood is granted, but victimhood status is downgraded