Ray Goodlass

Rays peace activism

Month: March, 2013

Israeli gas

I’ve been sick lately, with shingles, and therefor silent over the last few days, but am prompted back to the keyboard after news that Israel is now pumping gas from its Mediterranean (Tamar) gas field. What will be the ramifications for Palestine, denied access by Israel to any part of its nearby Mediterranean coast? There are wider geo-political ramifications in the region, of course, but as Palestine is denied so much by Israel, and is consequently resource poor, it is my main concern. There may be an upside, in that it might mean cheaper electricity for Palestine, but somehow I have my doubts.

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No much to report and comment on today

Not much to report and comment on today. Netanyahu finally apologises to Turkey for the death of 9 of its citizens during Israel’s attack on the Turkish aid flotilla trying to breach the Gaza blockade in 2010, apparently at the behest of Obama. Also news that Ben Zygier was apparently imprisoned by the Israelis because he passed secrets to Hezbollah, which is rather hard to believe, but perhaps he had seen through Israel’s propaganda and militarist behaviour.

‘Be the Change’ and ‘Boxman’, for a change

Busy last week promoting the forthcoming ‘Be the Change’ symposium, on 6 April, and also saw ‘Boxman’ about an African refugee, at the Civic Theatre, both projects dear to my heart.

‘Be the Change’ is a world-wide organisation aiming to promote environmental issues, social justice, and spirituality, which I am keen to get involved in. ‘Boxman’ is by Australian playwright Daniel Keene and is a one man show performed by an African actor about the character’s life and the home he built for himself out of trash in a park. It restored my faith in theatre and is an important play that corrects the right-wing propaganda about refugees.

Meanwhile, back in Israel/Palestine Obama left with a speech saying that neither ‘occupation or expulsion’ are the answer for peace with Palestine. Yes, quite, but what is he and the US Congress going to do about it? Fine words are well and good … 

Disappointment follows Obama’s visit to Israel and his quick side trip to Palestine

As Obama’s visit ends, nothing of any value to progress the Palestinian peace talks from his trip, despite lots of high flown rhetoric.

He did speak of security for Israel and sovereignty for Palestine, but as he argued for no preconditions for renewed peace talks that means Israeli settlements will continue, even though he said they had to be part of the solution.

He referred to the need for compassion for Israel (!) and of the need for compromise from Palestine, which frighteningly echoes Netanyahu’s words.

The US really could move things forward if only it threatened to cut American aid to Israel, but even if Obama had the best will in the world I doubt if Congress would let him, given the power of the Jewish vote, and the mid-terms coming up next year.  

Let’s hope Senator John Kerry’s visit as Secretary of State is more productive. 

In day two President Obama had a five hour visit to Ramallah, the de-facto capital of Palestine, during which he and President Abbas committed to a peace process leading to a two state solution, but do indication from Obama as to how the US would help to bring it about, unfortunately. He did however manage to admit that continued settlement building would not advance the peace process. As they say, “No shit, Sherlock”.

Thankfully many Palestinians saw through the charade, and demonstrated against the visit.

At first I was disappointed to read of a rocket being fired from Gaza into Israel, and still am, though I have since learned that it was provoked by an Israeli attack.

Not much hope so far from Obama’s visit.

Both Obama and Netanyahu are talking about a two state peace solution between Israel and Palestine in the first hours of Obama’s visit to Israel, which superficially sounds hopeful, but the Netanyahu’s talk of an “historic compromise” worries me as I suspect it means that it won’t be a ‘just peace’, especially as he has talked about not returning to the pre-1967 boundaries, claiming that they are “indefensible”. No mention of the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees either – of halting settlement building, for that matter.

Somehow I doubt if Obama’s five hour visit to Ramallah, the de-facto capital of Palestine, for a brief meeting with President Abbas will be of any value either. 

The ‘commentariat’ has also spoken of not expecting anything of any worth coming out of this visit.

Perhaps there will be more meaningful and useful comments when US Secrertary of State John Kerry also visits in a few days time.  

Natanyahu’s cabinet, and more

Israeli PM Netanyahu unveils his new cabinet and unfortunately it includes a ‘Jewish Home’ MP as Housing Minister, which will almost certainly lead to more Israeli more settlements on Palestinian land.

And it doesn’t look like the Obama visit will result in a return to meaningful peace negotiations, unfortunately. Iran and Syria will probably take precedence, regrettably.

In other news, yesterday I promoted ‘Be the Change’ at Rotary and the Greens local group (Riverina) meeting. I also offered, to the local organisers, to become more involved as it is a movement dear to my heart as it includes environmental and social justice.

Some hope of resumed peace talks – perhaps

In Israel PM Netanyahu and his Likud Party finally forms a coaltion government. It includes two parties in favour of peace talks, ‘There is a Future,’ and Tzip Livni’s party, a previous Foreign Minister, but also one that firmly doesn’t, ‘Jewish Home’. So a mixed bag – some hope, but also some worries. I guess it depends how strongly ‘Jewish Home’ can hold Netanyahu to ransom. I’m thinking that the talks might resume, but due to ‘Jewish Home’s’ influence they either won’t make any progress at all, or will be an insult to the Palestinians, more or less confirming the status quo.

Also, President Obama’s office has announced that he will visit the Chruch of the Nativity during his lightening visit to Israel, but not tyhe Al Aqsa mosque, which has picqued some Muslims. Interestingly, the Church of the Nativity is in Bethlehem, which is of course in Palestine! 

And so it goes

Depressing news that Israeli settlers have uprooted 1,000 olives trees near the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Bethlehem, from the Occupied Palestine website. Given how important those trees are in what in some locations is still a largely agricultural peasant economy this is of great concern.

Also, from the same website, a warning about Israeli actions at the Al Aqsa mosque. Given its significance to all Muslims there is a very small chance effective pressure might be brought to bear on the Israelis by other countries with large Muslim populations, perhaps even including those who aren’t Arab?.

Nothing changes, unfortunately

News that Israel has taken remains from Palestine for the ‘Herod the Great’ exhibition in the Israel Museum.Unfortunately more ‘theft’. Once again, nothing changes.

And also news that Israeli settlers are desecrating the Al Aqsa mosque. The Israeli government could easly stop this, but they don’t. As a peace activist I’m worried that this could spark a third Intifada, which is perhaps what the Israeli government wants.