Sunday, 30 March 2014
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday slammed the United Nations Human Rights Council for “absurdly” condemning Israel in five resolutions last week while censuring Syria and Iran only once.
“This march of hypocrisy is continuing and we will continue to condemn it and expose it,” he told his cabinet at the start of its weekly meeting in Jerusalem.
“The UN Human Rights Councilcondemned Israel five times, this at a time when the slaughter in Syria is continuing, innocent people are being hung in the Middle East and human rights are being eroded.
“In many countries free media are being shut down and the UN Human Rights Council decides to condemn Israel for closing off a balcony. This is absurd,” said Netanyahu.
On Friday the UNHRC ended its 25th session by almost unanimously, voting 46-1, on four resolutions condemning Israeli treatment of Palestinians. It also condemned Israeli human rights abuses against Syrian citizens of Israel who live on the Golan Heights, voting 33 to 1, with 13 abstentions.
Out of the 42 resolutions adopted by the council on a wide range of human issues only 10 censured the actions of a specific country, out of which five of the condemnations were leveled against Israel.
A resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar was approved by consensus.
But none of the condemnations of other countries, including those of Iran and Syria, on the issue of human rights received the same level of support from member states as the charges against Israel.
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted 21-to-9, with 16 abstentions on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
It voted 23-to-12, with 12 abstentions on “reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.”
It voted 30-to-6 ,with 11 abstentions on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
It voted 32-to-4, with 11 abstentions on the grave deterioration of human rights and the humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. This resolution strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons. It also condemned the “bombardment of civilian areas, in particular the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs, ballistic missiles and cluster bombs and other actions which may amount to war crimes against humanity.”
An Israeli official said the fact that Israeli actions on the Golan Heights garnered slightly more support, with 33 countries approving it, was “almost a bad joke.”
It was particularly upsetting, the Israeli official said, that the UNHRC approved such a resolution at a time when hospitals in the north of Israel are treating scores of Syrian victims from the civil war in their country.
The Israeli official also took issue with the strong united stance against Israel by nine member states of the European Union including: Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Austria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Ireland.
All nine EU countries supported the four resolutions which condemned Israeli treatment of Palestinians, supporting the Goldstone Report on Israeli actions in Gaza and encouraged a boycott of West Bank settlements and Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. They abstained but did not reject the resolution condemning Israeli violations of of human rights against Syrian citizens of Israel on the Golan Heights.
“It’s a pity that some western democracies choose to jump on the automatic anti-Israel band wagon at the UNHRC,” an Israeli official said.
“It is a pity they did not use that moment to demonstrate moral leadership, instead of that they became part of the travesty. They became partners in a cynical one sided farce,” the official said.
But the official lauded the United States, which was the sole country to stand with Israel and reject all five resolutions.
“They showed moral leadership,” the official said.
The Palestinians, however, welcomed the almost unanimous support at the UNHRC and said such resolutions showed Israel that it could not “flout” international law.
“This vote confirms the world’s clear condemnation of the systematic human rights violations committed by Israel, the occupying power, against the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights,” said Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki.
The Foreign Ministry was not present at the UNHRC's meetings this week, due to its ongoing strike against the government over equitable wages.
Saturday, 29 March 2014
Around 200 families fled the villages of Ras al-Maarra and Flita in the strategic Qalamun region into the border town of Arsal after the Syrian regime controlled the area amid the governments absence.
Arsal deputy municipal chief Ahmed Fleiti said in comments published in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday that the 200 families crossed the border.
“Most of the families that arrived in Arsal have resorted to relatives residing in homes or tents,” he pointed out.
Fleiti said that “one tent is now containing two or three families.”
The Bekaa town of Arsal witnessed on Saturday a surge in Syrian refugees fleeing the region of al-Qalamoun.
Around 700 refugees arrived in the town up until noon on Saturday amid the heavy deployment of the Lebanese army in the area, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Arsal residents support the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the town already hosts tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.
Smuggling routes used by opposition forces to move fighters and weapons between Lebanon and Syria pass through the Arsal area.
Fleiti told the newspaper that the Lebanese state has so far failed to establish any plan to organize and contain the Syrian refugees fleeing to Lebanon.
“Mosques and tents can no longer accommodate the refugees,” the official said.
He urged the state to swiftly take the necessary measures to relieve the residents of Arsal and the Syrian refugees “who are fleeing death.”
The Syrian refugees now make up 32 percent of Lebanon's population.
The country has in the past three years become home to nearly one million people who have fled Syria's brutal war. Many now live in desperate poverty and rely on overstretched agencies and NGOs for assistance.
Déportés et internés dans les camps du Sud durant la décennie, les “Irradiés de la République” adressent ce vendredi une lettre ouverte au six candidats à l’élection présidentielle.
Ils s’estiment lésés, oubliés, marginalisés. Mais dans la course à la présidentielle, les anciens déportés des camps du Sud durant la décennie noire veulent faire entendre leur voix. Ce vendredi, le Comité de défense des internés des camps du Sud a ainsi publié un courrier dans lequel il interpelle directement les six candidats, qui briguent le poste de Président de la République.
Dans ce courrier, le Comité reproche aux six candidats de n’évoquer nulle part dans leur programmes et leur discours le cas des ex-déportés Algériens, enfermés après le coup d’Etat militaire du 11 janvier 1992 dans des camps établis au Sud, dans des zones irradiées par les essais nucléaires français. “Les victime de cette injustice survivent aujourd’hui sans droit, surtout sans couverture médicale conséquente, malgré les pathologies radio induites cancéreuses, résultat du placement calculé en zones dangereuses pour la santé”, s’indigne le Président du Comité de défense des internés des camps du Sud, Nourredine Belmouhoub, dans cette lettre ouverte. Il écrit encore : “Les veuves et les enfants de nos co-déportés, qu’un cancer a arraché à ses proches, sont eux livrés à un état d’abandon inhumain, sans précédent”.
Rien dans les programmes électoraux
Que proposent les candidats en course pour el Mouradia ? Comment Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Louisa Hanoune, Ali Benflis, Abdelaziz Belaïd, Moussa Touati et Ali Fawzi Rebaïne comptent réparer cette “injustice” et indemniser les familles des quelques 80.000 Algériens, qui ont été envoyés dans ces camps radioactifs, s’ils sont élus le 17 avril prochain ? Le comité de défense des internés des camps du Sud attend des engagements clairs de la part de ces six candidats à la présidentielle. Les proches et les amis des ex-déportés “aimeraient connaître ce que votre programme politique prévoit au sujet de la question des déportés car jusqu’à présent aucun candidat à la Présidence n’a évoqué le drame des “Irradiés de la République”", interpelle Nourredine Belmouhoub.
Friday, 28 March 2014
Members of Russia's Jewish community are voicing concern about tolerance of anti-Semitism in the media and other areas of public life, amid patriotic fervour generated by the Sochi Olympics and annexation of Crimea.
One state TV presenter even accused Jews of helping to bring about the Holocaust.
In his speech on 18 March proclaiming incorporation of Crimea into Russia, President Vladimir Putin said the "coup" that ousted former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had been engineered by "neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites".
"They are the ones who to a large extent continue to dictate what goes on in Ukraine today," he declared.Pseudonyms
All through the crisis in Ukraine, Russian TV channels have been hammering home the same message.
At the same time, say leading members of the Jewish community, some pro-Kremlin journalists have themselves been feeding anti-Semitism in Russia, in the language used to attack Mr Putin's opponents, who are being branded as "traitors" and "fifth columnists".
Outing Jewish writers who had adopted Russian-sounding pseudonyms was one of the tactics used in the anti-Semitic campaign unleashed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in the late 1940s.
According to the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), state TV presenter Dmitry Kiselev was guilty of a similar ploy in an attack on 16 February on writers Viktor Shenderovich and Igor Irtenyev, who had both likened the Sochi Winter Olympics to Hitler's Summer Games in 1936.
Kiselev rejected Irtenyev's contention that the only significant difference between the two events was that Nazi Germany had a higher standard of living, and he told Rossiya 1 viewers that the poet's real name was Igor Moiseyevich Rabinovich - leaving little doubt as to his ethnicity.
He went on to say that under Hitler both Shenderovich and Irtenyev would have perished.
The RJC condemned Kiselev's remarks, saying it was "unacceptable when the ethnicity of an opponent is used as an argument in debate, or as additional grounds for criticising him".
Dubbed by The Economist "Russia's chief propagandist", Kiselev is one of the targets of EU sanctions imposed in response to the annexation of Crimea.'People without a homeland'
The suggestive use of Jewish-sounding names also seems to have featured in an article by Aleksandr Grishin in pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda about the opposition March for Peace on 15 March.
Headlined "Russia's 'true shame'" the article listed a number of people at the Russian march who, it said, applauded Ukrainian nationalists with alleged Nazi sympathies: "Makarevich, Bykov, Kats, Shats and Nemtsov" - all of them known to be Jewish or having Jewish-sounding names.
But, said RJC president Yuri Kanner, one of those listed - TV presenter Mikhail Shats - was not even there. "Why was he included? Because he is a Jew," said Kanner.
Kanner also took issue with the article's description of the marchers as "traitors" and "people without a motherland". The latter, he said, was a coded phrase for Jews.
This is not the first time that Komsomolskaya Pravda has faced accusations of anti-Semitism. Last May, another of its columnists, Ulyana Skoybeda, wrote on its website: "Sometimes you are sorry that the Nazis did not make lampshades out of today's liberals - there would be fewer problems."
The sentence was quickly removed and Skoybeda reprimanded. But editor Vladimir Sungorkin refused to sack her.'Brown plague'
Evelina Zakamskaya, a presenter on state-owned news channel Rossiya 24, also got into a Holocaust controversy over a remark she made in an interview with Aleksandr Prokhanov, editor of the nationalist newspaper Zavtra.
Speaking about Jews who supported the "fascist" opponents of Mr Yanukovych in Ukraine, Prokhanov said: "Don't they realise that with their own hands they are hastening a second Holocaust?"
To which Zakamskaya replied: "They also hastened the first one."
This little exchange went largely unnoticed when it was first broadcast on 23 February. It was only when Zavtra quoted Zakamskaya on Twitter a month later that it got wider attention.
One of those who spotted the Zavtra tweet was a top Russian blogger and Israeli citizen, Anton Nosik, who delivered the following damning verdict: "The descent of state propaganda into total, undisguised Nazism is a logical and predictable process. But the pace at which the brown plague is currently creeping around the byways of state TV and radio is impressive."
Two deputies from the St Petersburg municipal assembly urged Rossiya 24 to take Zakamskaya off the air. So far, though, the station has refused to comment on the incident, says the Jewish.ru website.Stereotypes
According to Kanner, Zakamskaya's Holocaust comment was a direct result of the state broadcaster's failure to take action over Kiselev's attack on Irtenyev. "Acquiescence was taken as a hint and became a signal," he wrote on a blog on Ekho Moskvy's website.
It is not yet clear how this "signal" was received by society at large, he added. But, according to Jewish.ru, there is now a sense of a "shift in Russian public national politics towards openly anti-Semitic rhetoric".
A further example of this trend, it said, was a speech by controversial St Petersburg deputy Vitaly Milonov on 19 March calling for the feast of a Russian Orthodox saint to be made a public holiday. Milonov took pre-emptive aim at "neo-liberals", accusing them of having a "2,000-year-old tradition" of dishonouring saints going back to their "calls for the Saviour to be crucified".
Milonov is best known for his strong support for laws banning the promotion of homosexuality among minors.
The Federation of Russia's Jewish Communities condemned him for deploying "anti-Semitic stereotypes".
The Board of Deputies condemns the shameful scenes last night when the Student Union of King’s College London voted to support BDS of Israel.
"The Board strongly supports the courageous students from KCL Jewish Society and UJS who ran a strong campaign against the vote and stood up to the atmosphere of intimidation that has become the hallmark of the BDS bullies.”
UN Human Rights Council passes resolution warning companies to ‘terminate business interests in the settlements’ or face possible criminal liability