The Day in Israel: Fri Mar 6th, 2009

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Israeli officials have decided to reinforce the police presence in Jerusalem next week, in the wake of yesterday’s tractor terror attack that left two police officers lightly wounded.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)



4:18PM: Mauritania has ordered the Israeli embassy to leave the capital Nouakchott within 48 hours.

12:26PM: Here is Shaykh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi, head of Italy’s Muslim community, explaining to whom Israel belongs, and the origins of the “palestinian people.”

11:44AM: Inspired.

Inspired by a controversial “Israeli Apartheid Week” poster, two local artists released a spoof they dubbed “Hypocrisy Week.”

The poster created by David Guy and Guy Gurfinkel

The original Canadian poster was an advertisement for an annual series of anti-Israel events held on campuses around the world.

It shows a gunship bearing the word “Israel” firing at a kaffiyeh-clad boy holding a teddy bear.

The poster was banned from two Ottawa universities over complaints that it displayed Israelis as child-killers.

The spoof shows the same boy being used as a shield by militants launching rockets at Israel, while journalists film the boy.

It was created by Australia-born David Guy, 54, from Rehovot, and his son’s best friend, 23-year-old Guy Gurfinkel from Shoham, who will begin studies at the Bezalel Academy of Arts next year.

“I’ve arranged the pieces, but Gurfinkel’s the real artist,” David Guy told Haaretz.

Here’s the real Apartheid Week poster and the Israeli spoof.

israeli-apartheid-week

11:23AM: The Age reports that the Gaza conflict has stunted the growth of palestinian children.

A two-year international investigation has revealed an increase in the number of stunted children in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It found conditions so extreme that Palestinian women have sometimes been forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints.

A series of articles published yesterday by the medical magazine The Lancet concludes that the occupation, the recent conflict in Gaza and inter-Palestinian fighting are undermining the health and development of the population.

The best solution to health in the territories is peace and security under a sovereign Palestinian state, say the authors, who are doctors and academics from Birzeit University in Ramallah and Oxford, with assistance from international health scientists, the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies.

Rita Giacaman, from Birzeit University, and colleagues say that since 2000 “life for Palestinians has become much harder, more dangerous and less secure”. There was evidence that health gains during the 1990s were being eroded.

A humanitarian crisis had emerged in the Gaza Strip, “intensifying as a result of the Israeli military invasion in December 2008 and January 2009, and because of destruction of homes and infrastructure, the death and injury of civilians and shortages of food, fuel, medicines and other essentials”, they say.

Infant mortality dropped between 1967 and 1987, but stalled between 2000 and 2006 at 27 per 1000 live births. (The rate in Israel, the authors note, is 3.9 per 1000).

The rate of stunting — the failure of children under five to grow as they should — has gone up. In 1996, 7.2 per cent of young children had stunted growth, but by 2006 it had risen to 10.2 per cent. “Stunting during childhood is an indicator of chronic malnutrition and is associated with increased disease burden and death,” the authors say.

It can also result in damage to mental development and link to obesity and chronic diseases in adulthood.

Between 1999 and 2003, rates of tuberculosis rose by 58 per cent and meningococcal meningitis by 53 per cent. Despite substantial funding and efforts, the Palestinian health ministry has been unable to build up the health systems.

Restrictions on the movement of goods and labour between the West Bank and Gaza and within the West Bank have been a problem, as has the emergence of two Palestinian authority health ministers, one in the West Bank and one in Gaza. The problems have been compounded by the political divide between Fatah and Hamas.

The absence of Palestinian control over water, land and the environment has made public health strategies difficult, if not impossible. Dysfunctional political systems, corruption and cronyism are among the other factors that “have adversely affected an already fragile health service”.

The second article in the series, by Hanan Rahim of Birzeit University, with colleagues from Qatar, Glasgow and Yale universities, finds that movement restrictions in the occupied territories have made it harder for women in labour to get to a maternity unit.

“Between 2000 and 2006, the ministry of health reported 69 cases of Palestinian women giving birth at Israeli checkpoints,” they say. Ten per cent of women in labour were delayed for two to four hours on the way to hospital.

Yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israel’s demolition of Palestinian houses in east Jerusalem was unhelpful and a breach of the American-led road map for peace.

Mrs Clinton met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank yesterday.

You can find the articles here (you will need to register to be able to read them).

I take issue with The Age using the headline Gaza conflicts stunt children’s growth, as if this is a fact.

For a start, the so-called “international investigation” was conducted by an assortment of palestinian doctors and academics, the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies. Not to mention Jimmy Carter. If you read any of the reports, you will notice the abject anti-Israel bias on display.

You also have to ask yourselves why a report on the health situation of palestinians would not mention things like Hamas’ well publicized diversion of funds earmarked for humanitarian aid, and the selling of expired food and medicine within the palestinian areas. (Of course, children being recruited to be suicide bombers and honor killings are also adverse to their health and wellbeing, but let’s assume for a minute that the study is supposed to focus solely on medical issues).

I won’t even bother bringing up the fact that The Lancet did not see fit to talk of the health situation in places like Sderot, with people treated for shock on an almost daily basis, since their lack of objectivity is not in the slightest bit hidden. My main gripe is with The Age, a mainstream media news outlet that should strike for objectivity.

6:05AM: Freedom of speech at Toronto University.

Tonight at the U of T [Israeli Apartheid Week] event, two Jewish students were assaulted by the Palestinian “Security” team for being “disruptive” (asking a legitimate question “does Israel have a right to exist”) The Palestinian “security” smacked a student in the head and grabbed him by his neck, while another “security” officer told a second Jewish student to “Shut the F**ck up or he’ll saw his head off”…All of this was done in a crowded lecture room with over 100 witnesses!!

I was there, there are no pictures, filming and taking pictures was prohibited (they seem to have a problem with the general public hearing what they say) it was reported to the police who chose (as usual) to do NOTHING…

And here’s a statement from one of the assaulted students.

A few people have asked me this morning about what happened last night at UofT. I attended the Israel Apartheid Week event with a few friends and was prepared to ask a couple questions. The girl sitting next to me asked a question to one of the speakers about the problems with Hamas’s Charter. The speaker answered the question by discussing occupation and Israel’s “racist” policies, etc, instead of actually addressing the issue of Hamas’s Charter and denial of Israel’s right to exist. A couple people in the crowd, including myself, shouted out to the speaker “answer the question!” (It is generally fair game at these events where there are more activists present than observers to request that the speaker focus on the question asked). At this point, one of the (probably unlicensed) private security guards hired by SAIA approached me from behind. When I turned around in my seat to look at him, he grabbed and squeezed the back of my neck and growled at me from about 10 inches in front of my face “you shut the fuck up! shut the fuck up!” At this point I kept my cool moved back and I was like “get away from me bro, don’t touch me!” One of the event organizers called for someone to ask the police standing outside in the hallway to come in to remove me for “causing a disruption” at which point I encouraged the police to come in to record the name and identity of the individual who assaulted me. I left the room promptly and reported the incident to the police. I will be filing a formal report later today with Metro Police.

I personally believe in freedom of speech and that students should be allowed to book lecture halls to present speakers who express radical, even extreme views. The presence, however, of (probably) unlicensed, private security gaurds wearing bullet proof vests and leather jackets who physicaly assault people who speak up against those radical, extreme views, must be confronted. SAIA must not be allowed to bring hired goons onto campus to intimidate people who oppose their views. I feel ashamed as a UofT alumnus.

More, including photos, here.

5:46AM: Here is City of Jerusalem surveillance video of yesterday’s terror attack.

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