Raday
Raday. “If loosening the blockade did not affect our advantage or our military needs negatively before the flotilla − then why was it not done earlier?” Photo by Nir Kafri
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Prof. Frances Raday heads the Concord Research Institute for Integration of International Law in Israel at the College of Management. The center, which seeks to encourage the local assimilation of norms of international law, counts among its members some of the leading researchers in Israel in the field, including Profs. Ruth Lapidoth, Orna Ben-Naftali and Yuval Shany, as well as the former member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Thomas Buergenthal.

A few months ago, the center sent a report to the Turkel committee with its own analysis of the flotilla events last May, in which it stated, among other things, that imposing an embargo on Gaza did not conform to international humanitarian law from the point of view of both length and scope.

Raday is also one of the leading figures in the feminist struggle in Israel.

Prof. Raday, were you surprised the Turkel committee gave legal approval to Israel's blockade on Gaza and to its military actions during the events surrounding the Turkish flotilla?

No, I wasn't surprised, but I was pleased that the Israeli government understood that it was necessary to hold a serious and independent probe into the claims that international humanitarian law had been violated. We also thought, even before the Goldstone report, that Israel should begin an independent investigation into complaints about violations of international law with regard to (Operation ) Cast Lead, beyond the internal investigation of the Israel Defense Forces.

Did the committee achieve its aims in this respect?

In this respect, yes, but also in terms of the fact that the international observers serving on the committee agreed that they had no doubt that the Turkel committee was an independent body that carried out an in-depth probe of what it was charged with dealing with.

But at the same time, you don't agree with one of the central components of the report, which approves of the blockade of Gaza on the basis of international law?

That is correct, because according to international law - and the committee relates to this - if the suffering that is caused the civilian population is excessive, as opposed to the direct military and concrete advantages that are accrued, then the embargo is illegal. According to the report, the committee reached the conclusion that the State of Israel acted in accordance with the law in imposing the blockade. But my problem is that the committee, in effect, sees that if there is no hunger and no damage is done to the basic essentials of life in Gaza, then no illegal damage has been done to the civilian population. In my opinion, this statement is in dubious in terms of international humanitarian law. It is possible also that a maritime blockade which begins in a non-excessive manner, becomes excessive in time - as we felt happened here.

We are of the opinion that the length of time of the blockade, as well as the conditions it imposed, did not meet the demands of proportionality vis-a-vis the military advantage of the blockade, because after three years we saw that the Hamas government had not fallen and we also did not see a change in the policy of Hamas as a result of the blockade.

In which way do you think, contrary to the Turkel report, that the blockade has not met the rules of international humanitarian law?

It would have been possible to allow the organizations that wanted to build educational institutions to bring building materials into Gaza. It would have been possible to make it easier for food products to enter, and toys for children ...

Does the committee's report not relate to this?

Turkel is of the opinion that the change in the government's policy, in the direction of alleviating the blockade after the flotilla events, was welcome. I ask why this change would not have been welcome even earlier, before those events? If loosening up on the blockade did not affect our advantage or our military needs negatively before the flotilla incident - then why was it not done earlier?

It is clear that it was necessary to be strict about preventing the entry of weapons into Gaza, but why prevent the entry of equipment for everyday, essential needs? Why not prevent daily suffering from the population in Gaza? Years of blockade on a scope like this are questionable from the point of view of military advantage and, therefore, unlike what Turkel stated, it does not accord with the rules of international humanitarian law, in our opinion. Again, Turkel doesn't explain in the report why the welcome change brought about by alleviating the blockade after the flotilla events would not have been welcome if it had taken place beforehand.

From the point of view of international law, do you think, contrary to Turkel, that the blockade should have been shorter and more restricted in scope?

They should have decided very soon that its aim was to prevent the entry of weapons to Gaza, as something that harms us from the military point of view, and then our position in the international arena would have been different; there would not have been a pretext for the claim that it was necessary to bring humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza.

So how will such declarations stand the test of the international legal community?

I think that what will work in Israel's favor is that there was no unambiguous resolution on the part of the international community about the legality of the blockade before the flotilla event. Before the event, the international community had not established that the blockade was contrary to the rules of international law. Even though there was criticism about basic commodities not being supplied - there was no explicit condemnation of the blockade. Therefore, I think the Turkel committee's statement with reference to the blockade gives Israel the chance to claim that its action was not a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, even though in my eyes there is a flaw in the committee's conclusions since the blockade was too widespread, unfocused. Plus, there are complaints that its objective was not merely military, but also political.

Do you accept the committee's conclusions about the soldiers' actions on the ship?

I think that in this respect the committee's work constitutes a strong statement vis-a-vis the conclusions of the UN Human Rights Council, which issued a decision saying that the military response on the ship was disproportionate.

Do you think that the panel's conclusions would have been different if there had been a woman member?

It is possible that if the committee had had a woman or man with a feminist outlook among its members, that person would have attached greater seriousness to the significances of the blockade, the prevention of educational materials from entering Gaza, the entry of building materials for constructing schools and apartments, the prevention of entry of toys. A person with a feminist approach would have understood that a prolonged blockade on a scope like that leads to suffering that is perhaps not proportional to the military advantage it embodies.

How do you relate to the shouts of joy in the military and political echelons in Israel following the approval granted by the Turkel committee?

(Laughing ). Look, I don't like the demonization of Israel, but I think we have a responsibility to behave at a high level. I think we don't see the difficulty in the lives of our neighbors, for which we are partly to blame. I think we must restrict the harm done to the Palestinians in any way possible. I think it's preferable for us to direct our steps in a humanistic way, while taking care of our security needs so as not to reach situations of the kind that occurred here. As the Turkel committee stated, it would have been possible to reduce the scope of the blockade and I think that it would have been worthwhile for that to have happened a few minutes earlier.

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BYLINE11

OIn 1996, for the first time, a slate of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, headed by Natan Sharansky, was elected to the Knesset. The slate was elected mainly thanks to its social-welfare slogans: the construction of inexpensive public housing, assistance for elderly new immigrants, for immigrant scientists, for immigrant teachers, and so on. But from the time he was elected, Sharansky preferred positions with lofty names but void of any real content, such as minister for Jerusalem affairs or minister for Diaspora affairs.

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Plastic 20-shekel bill, coming soon to a wallet near you

In a month and a half the Bank of Israel is introducing a new NIS 20 note, made not of plastic exactly, but of polymer. One advantage of the new bill is that it's durable. The Bank of Israel says that 26 countries have begun issuing plastic money. The new NIS 20 bill will appear nearly identical to the old one, aside from minor changes such as the transparent window through which payers may peer at payees, if they wish to, to view the number "20" etched into the window. (Tal Levy )

Lev Leviev letting Ofer Kotler go, now

Lev Leviev's real estate empire Africa Israel moved faster than expected to the announcement by Ofer Kotler that he was leaving his job as CEO of group company Danya Cebus, and taking the helm at rival company Housing & Construction. Kotler's contact requires 90-day notice, but Leviev decided to truncate the cooling-off period and allow Kotler to leave within days. Capital market sources say that Shari Arison's H&C competes directly with Danya Cebus in many areas in Israel and abroad, and there are sticky issues of insider information. Africa Israel refused to comment. (Avi Bar-Eli )

Fundtech sale, profits rise

Nasdaq-listed Fundtech, which provides payment, real-time settlement and cash management software for banks and financial institutions, reported fourth-quarter sales of $29.4 million, up 27% from the parallel, when it brought in $23.1 million. But in the previous quarter sales were 10% higher at $26.6 million. it netted $2.7 million or 16 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2007, up from $1.6 million in the parallel quarter. Revenues for the year were $104.6 million, up 22% from 2006. It netted $7.1 million in 2007. (Shmuel Shuster )

AFSK unit in Congo power plant project

A.F.S.K. Industries yesterday announced that its fully owned subsidiary Compax International has signed a contract with Bateman Energy Luxenburg, to carry out 25 million euros worth of electrical works. The project includes planning, manufacture, installation and operation of a new power plant in the Republic of Congo. The AFSK unit will also engage in work on the high-tension electrical system. The contract term is about two and a half years, the company says.

Azorim in talks to sell Ir Hayamim land

Azorim-Investment, Development & Construction begs to note, following reports in the press, that it is in preliminary stages of negotiations with a third party not associated with the company, to sell its share of land in Ir Hayamim, Netanya. Azorim says the land is zoned for the construction of 310 apartment units and emphasizes that the terms of the deal have not been finalized. (TheMarker )

Given Imaging gets Israeli OK for colon-cam

Given Imaging may have had a spot of trouble with the United States Food and Drug Administration, but here at home the Yokneam-based company has received Health Ministry approval for its PillCam Colon. After you swallow the miniaturized video camera in a capsule, It travels the road of all foodstuffs, taking pictures of your digestive tract, before leaving the body in the usual manner. "Colon Cancer is preventable if detected early, but less than 25% of Israelis over the age of 50 are screened," said Homi Shamir, president and CEO of Given Imaging, said. Now they can be, non-invasively. (TheMarker )

Taro releases 2007 estimated results

Taro Pharmaceuticals yesterday released preliminary, unaudited figures for 2007. The company hasn't released official financial statements for 2006 due to issues regarding provisions in previous years - in short, the company is suspected of channel-stuffing and providing fishy figures for years. Meanwhile, Taro estimates that year 2007 sales were $313 million, on which it netted $21.1 million. Gross profit was about $168 million, or nearly 54% of sales.

*5800 www.easy-forex.co.il

Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, will be the guest of honor at Real Madrid's opening Spanish league soccer game, according to the AS Web site yesterday. The Jamaican sprinter - who established new world records for the 100 and 200 meters at the world athletics championship in Berlin last week - accepted Real's offer to appear at the August 29 Liga opener at home to Deportivo Coruna. Bolt confessed last year to being a Real fan, though this will be his first visit to the club's legendary Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (DPA )

Michael Vick showed no signs of rust after serving time in prison during the Philadelphia Eagles' practice yesterday, throwing tight spirals with plenty of velocity. "How does Michael look in the offense? He looks pretty good," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "It was a fairly seamless transition, even though he hadn't played for two years, because of the terminology. It's very similar. Now, many of the details are different... but the terminology is coming very easily to him." Mornhinweg said coach Andy Reid will probably make a decision tomorrow on whether Vick will make his preseason debut Thursday at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. (AP )

Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix yesterday to claim his first Formula One victory in five years. The 37-year-old Brazilian took advantage of a costly pit-stop error by Lewis Hamilton's McLaren team to record his 10th career win - his first since the 2004 Chinese GP - and boost his championship hopes. Hamilton finished second ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen after having started the Valencia street race from pole position. Jenson Button finished seventh to have his championship lead cut to 18 points over teammate Barrichello. "It's going to be a good fight. But at least it's going to be a fair fight between ourselves," said Barrichello. (AP )

Some 100 owner-fans who arrived yesterday to Hapoel Ussishkin's first practice ahead of the Artzit (third tier ) basketball league season, delighted in the sight of the gift that had landed in their laps. At age 28 and after 10 Premier League seasons, Matan Naor signed with the team. "In light of the economic situation, I got offers this summer that made me decide to take a step back and seek a creative solution," said Naor yesterday. "So, I chose Hapoel Ussishkin." He added, "I made a personal sacrifice to be where I want to be. The goal is to get promoted to the Premier League." Naor will make half of the salary he made last season. (Arie Livnat )

Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, will be the guest of honor at Real Madrid's opening Spanish league soccer game, according to the AS Web site yesterday. The Jamaican sprinter - who established new world records for the 100 and 200 meters at the world athletics championship in Berlin last week - accepted Real's offer to appear at the August 29 Liga opener at home to Deportivo Coruna. Bolt confessed last year to being a Real fan, though this will be his first visit to the club's legendary Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (DPA )

Michael Vick showed no signs of rust after serving time in prison during the Philadelphia Eagles' practice yesterday, throwing tight spirals with plenty of velocity. "How does Michael look in the offense? He looks pretty good," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "It was a fairly seamless transition, even though he hadn't played for two years, because of the terminology. It's very similar. Now, many of the details are different... but the terminology is coming very easily to him." Mornhinweg said coach Andy Reid will probably make a decision tomorrow on whether Vick will make his preseason debut Thursday at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. (AP )

Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix yesterday to claim his first Formula One victory in five years. The 37-year-old Brazilian took advantage of a costly pit-stop error by Lewis Hamilton's McLaren team to record his 10th career win - his first since the 2004 Chinese GP - and boost his championship hopes. Hamilton finished second ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen after having started the Valencia street race from pole position. Jenson Button finished seventh to have his championship lead cut to 18 points over teammate Barrichello. "It's going to be a good fight. But at least it's going to be a fair fight between ourselves," said Barrichello. (AP )

Some 100 owner-fans who arrived yesterday to Hapoel Ussishkin's first practice ahead of the Artzit (third tier ) basketball league season, delighted in the sight of the gift that had landed in their laps. At age 28 and after 10 Premier League seasons, Matan Naor signed with the team. "In light of the economic situation, I got offers this summer that made me decide to take a step back and seek a creative solution," said Naor yesterday. "So, I chose Hapoel Ussishkin." He added, "I made a personal sacrifice to be where I want to be. The goal is to get promoted to the Premier League." Naor will make half of the salary he made last season. (Arie Livnat )

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

b Thu. 21:45, Ch. 1: Euroleague Basketball, Bologna vs. Maccabi TA

In response to "The Gang of November 4," January 19

Sefi Rachlevsky, in a piece I am grateful to him for writing, says the men of action have now begun taking action against their fellow citizens. This is an important step in the logic of his piece, which defends the necessity of thinking.

It is an easy moment to rethink one's "place in the struggle," as Bob Marley encourages us to do. How hollow is the left wing of Zion? By which I mean the specter of coexistence between Palestinians and Jews, including Arab Jews, inside the State of Israel.

"Fellow citizens" seems not to mean Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, for the turn against them isn't what is new - and what is new is serious indeed, considering the damage being done to a political culture that might have been shareable beyond its present confines. A similar concern is - why on earth doesn't Haaretz carry many more articles about life and politics as experienced by the Arab and non-Jewish fifth of Israel's citizenry?

Mark Joseph

Jerusalem

 

Several weeks ago, I lost my faith in Gideon Levy when he wrote a piece praising Dr. Orly Innes [who last November filed sexual harassment complaints against former Public Security Minister director general Hagai Peleg and police Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev].

Unlike Levy, I believe she harmed the cause of abused women by taking all the attention on herself. A woman with such vast life experience as Dr. Innes should have been able to take care of herself. Instead waking up three years after her "experience" with Bar-Lev, she seems to have gone out of her way to destroy his career, his marriage and his reputation.

Bar-Lev, a charismatic, attractive, appealing man who has done a great deal for his country, did not deserve her venom.

Levy redeemed himself in his brilliant piece "The sad case of Einat Wilf" [published January 20]. I met Einat while working as a volunteer for the Labor Party during the last elections - and I was very impressed. But during the last two years, I haven't see any positive activity on her part, unlike the amazing Shelly Yachimovich.

I regret giving her my voice during the election, and am disgusted with her recent actions. But maybe she did the Labor Party a favor, as they have now found out sooner rather than later where her loyalties lie - obviously with Einat Wilf. I can only hope that the combination of Isaac Herzog, Avishay Braverman and others will bring back the Labor voters. I for one renewed my membership today, after having canceled it because of Ehud Barak.

Alice Krieger

Tel Aviv

 

One Saturday night this month I went to Tel Aviv's Meir Park to demonstrate against racist laws and ideas that have recently infiltrated public discourse in the country. The protest was against admissions committees in small communities, the establishment of a parliamentary committee to investigate the funding sources of left-wing human rights organizations, and the tacit support of rabbis who oppose Jews renting apartments to Arabs.

I assumed that this demonstration would be staged by all forces that support equality, democracy and free speech from the right and left sides of the political spectrum, or at least from all parts of the left.

Instead, when I reached Meir Park I saw mainly flags belonging to small left-wing non-profits, the Hadash party and the Palestinian Authority. I did not see members of the Hashomer Hatzair, Hanoar Haoved or Hamahanot Haolim youth groups; nor did I see an adequate number of Israeli flags, or flags belonging to the Kadima and Labor parties; nor were right-wing supporters of equality and democracy anywhere to be found.

I went to this demonstration as a Jewish protester who supports the Jewish state, not to express support for a Palestinian state or for the partitioning of Jerusalem. I did not want to march behind a Palestinian flag and chant "One, two, Jerusalem's division is long due." I wanted to demonstrate in favor of democratic discourse in Israel, and for the cessation of racist legislation.

Is the torch being carried today solely by pro-Palestinian groups? Is Hadash the country's main proponent of democracy? The left has lost its way. Instead of focusing on one, unifying social message, protesters jump straight to the diplomatic-political issues in a way that alienates would-be protesters from both the right and the left who thirst for a social, Jewish, democratic message.

The Labor party, which has now gone from eight to four Knesset mandates, must raise this banner. As "the party that established the state," Labor must guarantee that the state does not slip from its fingers. Its focus should not be on foreign affairs and diplomacy, but rather domestic issues and the demand for equality and democracy.

Dror Katsav

Tel Aviv

 

A true story: One winter, the corridors in the internal ward of the hospital where I worked were, again, flooded with patients. Due to the overcrowding, it was hard to provide partitions and protect the privacy of each patient.

Making the rounds one morning, I spotted in the hallway an old, cheerful woman whose bag, with all her personal items, was perched on her bed. When I explained, apologetically, that the department lacked cabinets for each patient, she replied "No problem, doctor, I also didn't have a cabinet in Bergen-Belsen."

I stood, stunned.

Dr. Amalia Baumgarten

Soroka Medical Center

Be'er Sheva

Letters should be exclusive to Haaretz and must include the writer's name, address and telephone number (an e-mail address is not sufficient). Please note that letters are subject to editing.

Equipped with an extra pair of glasses, I went to the village of Maghar near Ramallah, on Route 60. In order to make the location clearer to the Israeli reader, I shall mention that it is east of the settlement of Shiloh and its subsidiaries. "Shiloh gave birth to five," as they say in the village, referring to the unauthorized outposts there whose names are Shvut Rachel, Kida, Adei Ad, Givat Harel and Esh Kodesh.

What has brought me four or five times to Maghar and the neighboring villages (Krayot and Jalud ) since 1998 are the incidents of tree uprooting. One time the Israel Defense Forces uprooted a number of trees, for security reasons of course, and the remainder were uprooted by unidentified parties. Different perpetrators, yet the scene looked the same - large stretches of bare tree trunks, chopped close to their roots. Their nakedness was touching, and the mourning of the villagers, heartrending. Complaints were registered with the police but, to the best of my knowledge, no guilty parties were ever found.

This time around it was a planting event that took me back to Maghar. Shomrei Mishpat - the indefatigable Rabbis for Human Rights - decided to mark the holiday of Tu Bishvat (Jewish Arbor Day ) there, alongside the villagers, by planting olive saplings. A fitting and humane response to "a wave of harming and stealing olives such as we have not known since 2005," as their invitation read.

Between October 2008 and October 2010, 21 acts of direct assault on Palestinian property were documented in the villages in the area; most of them were directed at the olive trees, but almond and fig trees were also harmed. Trees were chopped down, uprooted (and stolen ), poisoned and burned down. More than 3,000 trees (including several hundred saplings ) fell victim to these acts of destruction. In another eight instances, other violent acts were documented - attacking a farmer, setting a field on fire, slashing tractor tires and stealing crops.

Altogether, between June 2008 and December 2010, 182 cases of attacks on Palestinian agricultural property were documented in five focal points in the West Bank, located close to settlements and outposts. The diligent recording is being carried out by various Israeli human rights groups - the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, B'Tselem, Yesh Din and Rabbis for Human Rights - who are known in this effort as the Olive Harvest Coalition. These organizations are responsible for the 2006 decision by the High Court of Justice, according to which the authorities (the IDF and the Civil Administration ) must ensure that Palestinians can work their fields in peace and security.

Since that ruling, the IDF has tried to provide the Palestinian farmers with protection during the olive harvest and sometimes during the plowing season as well, but these are just a few days of the year. The invitation to last Thursday's event explained that "the tree planting operation is in response to the army's failure to uphold the High Court of Justice's ruling 9593/04, which obliges the army to ensure that there is no attack on trees or property belonging to Palestinian citizens. [The army's explanation] is that it is not able to place a soldier next to every single tree to protect it. We do not expect that the army would arrange guards of this kind, but we do expect that it would raise the level of its forces and put guards in places where it is known that trouble is likely to occur."

Broken glasses

A website known as Hakol Hayehudi (the Jewish Voice - News for Happy Jews ) informed its readers that "this Thursday, which is when Tu Bishvat falls, [Rabbi Arik] Ascherman and his gang are planning to hold a provocative 'tree planting' event on the lands of the settlement of Adei Ad in the Shiloh bloc."

It also reported that the Binyamin region settlers committee had received a police permit to demonstrate on the 14th day of Shvat (the day before Tu Bishvat ) outside the home of Ascherman, the director of Rabbis for Human Rights. The protest was called because of "the continual harassment by his group, Rabbis for Human Rights, of settlements in Judea and Samaria, especially the outposts and the hilltop [settlements]."

Ascherman, who learned about the demonstration from Internet sites and not from the police, announced that he would invite the protesters to pray with him. The five demonstrators who appeared turned down this offer, he said.

According to the site - "For Happy Jews" - there had been a "minyan" [prayer quorum of 10 men], and they had arrived with an announcement signed by the committee. "The time has come," it said, "when all those human rights activists who walk around disturbing us with cameras in their hands, should understand that if they are looking for confrontations, they will get them. But not at our homes - rather at theirs."

(And now is the time for a parenthetical remark about the extra set of glasses. On one occasion, the settlers of Hebron did not like when I asked a policeman why he did not stop Jewish children from throwing stones at the Palestinian homes next to which he was standing. The settlers then attacked me and one of them snatched my glasses. I got them back later - broken ).

A lesson from the kids

Last Thursday, about 80 women and men with skullcaps on their heads and joy in their hearts (as the children's rhyme in Hebrew goes ) arrived in Maghar from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, awaited by men and children from the village. Speeches were made, furrows were dug and a great many saplings were planted.

The children, who had just had their religion-studies midterm exam, moved around among the guests with curiosity, looking for someone with whom to speak Arabic. They also gave us a lesson about the chopped down trees - explaining that one tree, which looked as if it was seven years old, was actually 40, that its new leaves were five years old and that it would bear fruit in another two years. The mutilated tree next to it, they said, was a lost cause. It too was 40 years old, but it would never bear fruit again.

One villager watching from the side said: This perhaps looks good for media purposes, but we can plant trees alone, we don't need help. Let the guests go and plant trees on the hilltop opposite, where settlers have erected two hothouses on land that does not belong to them. But another villager did not agree. The most important thing, he said, was the act itself, "so that our children can learn that there are Jews who are not soldiers or settlers."