Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yesh Din

I've just found, probably years behind everyone else a source of news from Israel, with particular reference to Human Rights abuses: Yesh Din. Here's a news report:
Over the last year, “Yesh Din” has received a number of complaints of settlers seizing private Palestinian agricultural lands. Today “Yesh Din” exposes for the first time that a meeting was held after the signing of the Oslo Accords, in which senior figures among the northern West Bank settlements decided to take measures to expand into lands surrounding the settlements, although these lands were not under their jurisdiction. Under the method chosen for carrying out this plan, the local councils of settlements appointed individual settlers to seize plots outside their jurisdiction, restrict access to the Palestinian landowners of the plots, and after a few years demand that the army declare them ‘state lands.’ According to “Yesh Din's” information, in some of the cases the army did in fact agree to this demand and the lands were declared state lands and officially made part of the settlements. This method was exposed during discussions held by the military appeal committee in Ofer camp, while reviewing an appeal of a Civil Administration order submitted by Michael Lesence, a settler from Kedumim. Lesence was given an eviction order from a plot of land belonging to Palestinian residents of Qadum, after the local council agreed to “Yesh Din's” demand they do so. During the discussions over the appeal, the Kedumim Council’s land coordinator, Ze'ev Moshinsky, and a former Council security officer, Michael Bar Neder, both gave testimony. Both confirmed that the Kedumim Council's practice of seizing lands surrounding Kedumim was used to expand the settlement's municipal lands. Moshinsky confirmed that the meeting of senior figures from the northern West Bank settlements took place, and that it was decided to map and seize "uncultivated" plots surrounding the settlements. Moshinsky even confirmed that the Kedumim council had the settlers sent to man the plots sign contracts avowing that they would not claim ownership of them. Bar Neder confirmed that the objective was the turn the plots into state lands by designating them as lands in use by the settlements. According to Moshinsky and Bar Neder's testimonies, Kedumim seized at least seven plots, some of which have already been declared state lands and became part of the settlement. From “Yesh Din's” information and testimonies by army representatives at the appeal committee, it is revealed that a central component in the "method" is to forcefully prevent Palestinians from reaching their lands and therefore legally ensure the declaration of the plots as ‘state lands’ by claiming "non-cultivation." Over the last year “Yesh Din” received seven complaints by Palestinians of seizure of their lands through this method.

Ban Flechettes

Knee-jerk response time.

There may be a case for justifying some armaments. But don't expect me to make that case. How does anyone make a case for flechettes? Let's fire in an area and kill and maim people indiscriminately. There again, is discriminate killing and maiming ever justified? Ethics 101 I'll leave for now.

BT'Selem argue against flechettes:

Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana’a was killed by a Flechette shell. This is the result of B’Tselem’s investigation, as well as the results of Shana’a’s autopsy, as reported in the media. B’Tselem demands that the Israeli Army’s Judge Advocate General order the immediate cessation of the use of this prohibited weapon in the Gaza Strip, and open a criminal investigation of the event.

The flechette shell is an anti-personnel weapon that is generally fired from a tank. The shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of small metal darts, which disperse in a conical arch three hundred meters long and about ninety meters wide.
According to B’Tselem statistics, at least 18 Palestinians were killed over the past 7 years due to the use of Flechette shells. Of them, 11 did not participate in the hostilities when killed, 2 were taking part in the hostilities when killed, and as to the additional 5, B’Tselem does not know whether they participated in the hostilities.

Circumstances in the Gaza Strip render the use of Flechette shells illegal. This is because to the wide area of dispersal of the darts shot out of the Shell makes its use in populated areas a type of indiscriminate firing which endangers innocent civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law.

B’Tselem is continuing its investigation into other civilian deaths as part of yesterday’s events in Juhor a-Dik village, southeast of Gaza City.


I'm in Glasgow on a weeks's course.

On Monday saw Mike Leigh's entertaining Happy Go Lucky. It's not filled with conflict or action but it leaves you feeling up. The moments of emotional depth are when it deals with bullying - by a primary school kid and also the after effects of childhood bullying on the racist, conspiracy theorising driving instructor.

Channel 4 quotes Mike Leigh:
"It's important to reject the growing fashion to be miserabilist, the growing fashion to be pessimistic and gloomy because the world is in a bad way. Everywhere there are people on the ground getting on with it and being positive."
And says
Poppy is the incarnation of Gandhi's words, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'

But what was most important was that I saw it in the coolest cinema: the Glasgow Film Theatre as featured in the opening chapter of the splendid Lanark (if I recall correctly) when Duncan Thaw meets his mates.

Tonight I'm off to see Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Get down with the Pipettes or whatever.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Here's Robert Burns' epitaph to his "ever honoured father".

O YE whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near with pious rev’rence, and attend!
Here lie the loving husband’s dear remains,
The tender father, and the gen’rous friend;
The pitying heart that felt for human woe,
The dauntless heart that fear’d no human pride;
The friend of man-to vice alone a foe;
For “ev’n his failings lean’d to virtue’s side.”