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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lille : Des incidents perturbent le match face au Maccabi Haifa

Lille : Des incidents perturbent le match face au Maccabi Haifa, L1 / LILLE, euro 2012

Si Lille a remporté son match amical face au Maccabi Haïfa (2-0), ce match amical a été marqué par des violences avec des militants pro-palestiniens qui s'en sont pris aux joueurs du club israélien.

Le conflit israélo-palestinien semble avoir déteint sur le football. Disputé sous une pluie battante sur le stade de Bischofshofen, en Autriche, le dernier match amical de préparation du LOSC face au Maccabi Haifa a vu le club nordiste signer sa première victoire de l’intersaison (2-0) après trois défaites. Mais, si le match a pu aller à son terme, il a été émaillé d’incidents assez violents.

En effet, des supporters turcs ont pris place en nombre dans les travées du stade et, s’ils ont été calmes une bonne partie du match en ne montrant que des banderoles demandant la libération de la Palestine, une frange moins calme est entrée sur la pelouse en toute fin de rencontre. Ces individus s’en sont pris directement aux joueurs du Maccabi Haïfa sur la pelouse même obligeant l’arbitre a stopper la rencontre à la 86eme minute le temps de retrouver le calme avant de se résigner à mettre un terme prématuré à la rencontre.

Avant ces incidents malheureux, le LOSC avait fait la différence dans ce match sur des buts de Ryan Mendes (21eme) et Simon Kjaer (54eme) sur un coup franc. Les Lillois assurent un résultat leur apportant de la confiance à une semaine de leur entrée en lice sur la scène européenne avec le troisième tour préliminaire de la Ligue des Champions face au Grasshoppers Zurich.


Hamas rejects Gaza truce unless blockade lifted


Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal speaks at political conference on Palestine on April 4, 2013 in Cairo

Hamas rejects Gaza truce unless blockade lifted

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Doha (AFP) - Hamas Wednesday rejected a ceasefire to end 16 days of deadly fighting with Israel unless the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted, its chief Khaled Meshaal said in Doha.

"We reject today and will reject in the future" a ceasefire before negotiations on Hamas's demands, which include lifting years of blockade against the Palestinian enclave, Meshaal told reporters.

Gaza conflict: As a British Jew, I am now scared to talk about Israel and Gaza

   
It’s perfectly valid to oppose Prime Minister Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza, even if you’re an Israeli yourself
It’s perfectly valid to oppose Prime Minister Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza, even if you’re an Israeli yourself
Picture: EPA

It is terrifying to see those who oppose Israel’s war in Gaza turn against all Jews

It’s not often that I wish I could unhear Radio 4’s Today programme. But yesterday morning, that’s exactly what I found myself wishing I could do.

The final item before the 8am news bulletin tried to explore how Israeli Jews in the UK feel about the situation in Gaza. The discussion also rather messily strayed into how British Jews feel about the conflict.

In one corner you had Mira Bar-Hillel, representing self-loathing Israelis; in the other, the worried-sounding reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, wringing her hands. Bar-Hillel, a freelance writer who usually specialises in pieces on property, was lent the ears of seven million people to explain why she wants to burn her Israeli passport. “Not in my name,” she said in a breathy, mock-dramatic tone – to enforce just how much she loathes Israel’s latest military operation.

Fair enough: it’s perfectly valid to oppose Israel’s actions in Gaza, even if you’re an Israeli yourself. But it was what Bar-Hillel went on to say that really had me seething. She claimed to have “a lot of evidence” that many of Britain’s 260,000 Jews won’t speak up against Israel out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from their local community. Some of these mysterious people, whose names she couldn’t possibly provide, had told her that should they voice a dissenting view, they would be blocked from their local synagogues, their children would be bullied and they would even be denied a Jewish burial.


The magnificent Sarah Montague pushed Bar-Hillel for proof of this breathtaking accusation, at which point she said she didn’t want to “emphasise” the point too much – and also admitted that she wasn’t part of a Jewish community in Britain. At this point my usually mild-mannered husband, who, like me, happens to be Jewish, has lots of Israeli family members and is extremely concerned about the rising tide of anti-Semitism being disguised as anti-Israel sentiment, stood up and left our breakfast table in disgust.

The truth is that up and down this island, Jews are arguing, debating, crying and worrying about what’s going on in an even smaller country across the ocean. Some British Jews are fasting for peace; some are angry at one or both sides; but many are just scared – scared not just about events in Gaza, but events in Europe. These include reports about gangs of Muslims chanting “death to Jews” on the streets of France, and attacking synagogues and setting fire to Jewish-owned stores. Eighteen people were subsequently arrested in the suburb of Sarcelles, just outside Paris, where this particular outpouring of violence happened. The stunned local mayor says the Jewish community is now living in fear.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Germany, too. In Essen, 14 people have just been arrested, accused of plotting an attack on a synagogue. Protesters at a rally in Berlin turned on two Israeli tourists (identifiable by the man’s skull-cap) so viciously that they had to be protected by the police. The city’s authorities have also had to ban pro-Gaza protesters from chanting anti-Semitic slogans and are investigating a sermon last week by Abu Bilal Ismail calling on worshippers at Berlin’s Al-Nur mosque to murder Jews. Jews, not Israelis.

The situation is so bad that the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy have issued a joint statement condemning the rise in anti-Semitic protests and violence in response to the Gaza conflict – and saying they will do everything possible to combat it. “Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” they felt compelled publicly to state.

Yet since the start of the latest conflict between Hamas and Israel, protesters marching in anti-Israel demonstrations have regularly held up anti-Semitic slogans, shouting for Jews to be gassed, invoking the Holocaust’s chambers of doom. The situation in Britain hasn’t been much better. Last week’s major pro-Palestine rally, which stopped London’s traffic, was littered with placards comparing Israel’s – and Jews’ – actions to the Nazis (“Well done Israel – Hitler would be proud”, read one such sign, accompanied by a swastika). This casual interchange of “Israel” for “Jews” is not just ignorant but often terrifying, especially when linked to references to past atrocities. Indeed, what other group of people get the worst experience in their – or anyone’s – history launched at them like a hand grenade?

Last Sunday thousands of people – Jews and non-Jews – gathered at the Israeli embassy in London to take part in a peaceful pro-Israel rally, which unsurprisingly garnered very little mainstream press attention. Anti-Jewish remarks were lobbed at the crowd by the pro-Palestinian opposition groups who turned up, leading to a few being carried away by the police.

Where is the hand-wringing from the liberal Left about this new wave of anti-Semitism? To Mira Bar-Hillel, and others, I’d say this: British Jews aren’t scared to talk to each other about the situation in Israel. We’re becoming scared to talk at all.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lib Dem Voice: David Ward MP “if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”

A year ago David Ward, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, had the party whip temporarily withdrawn after he accused “the Jews” of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel”. Though he apologised for blanket-labelling he said he would “continue to make criticisms of actions in Palestine in the strongest possible terms” and has tonight lived up to his word on his Twitter feed:

david ward tweets

His tweet, “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”, has echoes of Jenny Tonge’s 2004 comments that she could consider becoming a Palastinian suicide bomber. She was sacked from the front bench by Charles Kennedy for that remark, and eventually resigned the whip in 2012 after testing the leadership’s patience to snapping point.

David Ward’s defenders will say his tweet is, at worst, a clumsily worded attempt to empathise with the plight of Palestinians. But he must know there are far better ways of empathising than by appearing to condone the murder of Israeli citizens.

He must also know that his words, this empty ratcheting up of the rhetoric, achieve nothing for the cause of peace in the Middle East.

He should apologise, but I doubt he will. If he doesn’t, he’ll leave Nick Clegg with little choice but to withdraw the whip, permanently this time. David’s comment wasn’t an off-the-cuff ad lib in a public meeting, this was a deliberately worded tweet. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion he’s spoiling for a fight, trying to out-Galloway Galloway, the neighbouring Bradford MP.

I’ll leave the last word to the New Statesman’s George Eaton who put it best tonight:

(As ever when the topic involves the Middle East, all comments will be pre-moderated before they appear.)

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tankCentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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Will Israel Re-Occupy Gaza?

Published Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Will Israel Re-Occupy Gaza?

Some See Ceasefire With Hamas as Path to Nowhere

By Ben Sales

(JTA) — The air war has become a ground war. The Israeli population, always on edge, has become a nation in mourning.

And a military operation that nearly ended after eight days has become a bloody invasion of Gaza that could last weeks and has Israeli officials divided over how it ought to end.

With the death toll rising on both sides – more than 600 Palestinians and 30 Israelis were reported killed as of Tuesday – some Israeli leaders are calling for a cease-fire. But others argue that the only way to address the Hamas threat is to reoccupy Gaza, a step that would be very costly to the Israeli military and Israel’s international standing.

“A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can,” former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror told JTA. “Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.”

Operation Protective Edge, which began July 8 with a week and a half of Israeli airstrikes, expanded into a ground operation late last Thursday night, July 17. The Israeli government says the invasion is aimed stopping the wave of violence against Israeli civilians.

Destroying the network of tunnels Hamas uses to transport arms and personnel is part and parcel of that. In heavy fighting in Gaza City, Israel has uncovered dozens of Hamas tunnels, including some that lead into Israeli territory. On Saturday, two squads of Hamas militants attempted to use those tunnels to infiltrate Israel but were driven back by Israeli troops. At least six Israeli soldiers have been killed in fighting following infiltration attempts.

“We will carry it out to achieve the goal of restoring quiet to Israel’s citizens for a prolonged period while inflicting a significant blow on the infrastructures of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address Saturday night. “We are not deterred and we will continue to act as necessary.”

Nineteen months of relative quiet followed Israel’s last conflict with Hamas in November 2012, which ended with a U.S.-brokered ceasefire. Last week, Israel accepted an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire that would have reverted to the 2012 status quo, but Hamas rejected the deal.

Now a number of right-wing Israeli politicians – several of them close Netanyahu allies – are saying such an agreement would provide only temporary reprieve and are calling instead for Israel to reconquer Gaza, which Israel withdrew from in 2005.

“We’ll need to make a very complex decision to return to the Gaza Strip and take back security responsibility for the Gaza Strip,” Ze’ev Elkin, the head of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, said last week. “If we do not do it, the result is obvious. We can recover from Hamas, but if you want to bring real security to the people in Israel’s south, there is only one way to do it.”

A range of experts from across the political spectrum say such a step is unrealistic. It would mean Israel taking responsibility for almost 2 million Palestinians and would invite international condemnation.

“Eradicating Hamas and the subsequent political engineering of Palestinian society is not something outsiders can do,” Ephraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir, analysts at the right-wing Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, wrote in a recent policy paper. “Even if Hamas rule can be terminated, the alternatives are Israeli rule, the rule of more radical groups, or chaos. None are good options.”

Some analysts predict that a cease-fire like the one reached two years ago would now yield a longer period of quiet because Israel has inflicted more damage on Hamas than previously. Eighty-seven rockets fell on Israel on Sunday, the lowest single-day tally since the operation began, though the number jumped back to 139 on Monday.

In addition, Egypt’s government has kept its border crossing with Gaza mostly closed, making Hamas’ import of new weapons more difficult.

“Every rocket that’s fired, there’s no way to replace it,” said Nitzan Nuriel, the former director of the prime minister’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau. “So when we talk about the next round, it can’t be so close if there’s nothing to fire.”

Israeli Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog sees a cease-fire as an opportunity to strengthen the hand of the more moderate Palestinian Authority. Herzog wants an agreement to give the Palestinian Authority control of Gaza’s border crossings, a step he hopes will lead to full P.A. rule in Gaza.

“We can move on to an international effort to broker a deal with this weakened Hamas whereby there can be a change in Gaza,” Herzog said last week.

Amidror said reoccupation of Gaza would be difficult, but as long as Hamas remains in Gaza, a future conflict is all but inevitable – sooner or later.

“As long as there’s fire from Gaza, the public will support forceful action against Hamas,” he said. “As long as Hamas doesn’t change its nature, we’ll need an operation.”

Return to Breaking News →

The last Christians in Iraq


     
RTX16A57.jpg

An old damaged Orthodox Church is pictured in the besieged area of Homs.Reuters

Car by car, family by family, frightened Iraqi Christians by the thousands fled their ancient Iraqi homeland over the weekend. With broken hearts and little more than the clothes on their backs, they’ve left behind their houses, businesses, and churches – everything they’ve known.

The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group announced through their mosques on Friday afternoon that local Christians must either convert to Islam, pay an exorbitant Muslim tax – the jizya, which amounts to protection money – or leave the city. If they did not conform to these demands by noon on Saturday, July 19, there would be“nothing for them but the sword.”

Christianity is not new to the region. It was introduced by two of Jesus’ own disciples – St. Thomas and St. Thaddeus (also known as St. Jude) in the 1st Century.

But the ancient roots of Iraq’s Christianity have now been violently ripped out of the country’s spiritual soil.

'Convert, pay the jizya tax, or die,' means, quite simply, that there is little alternative but to flee.

Most of the Nineveh Plain’s Christians – once numbering more than a hundred thousand – had already fled to Erbil and other destinations in Kurdistan before ISIS’s recent declaration, seeking the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga’s warriors.

Now the rest of the refugees – many of the last Christians in Iraq – have joined them.

It’s not surprising that the vicious tactics of the IS/ISIS terrorists horrify most observers. As is often reported on social media – with substantial videographic evidence – they have beheaded, mutilated, raped, stoned and even crucified those whose behavior is “unIslamic” or whose religious convictions displease them.

The West has managed to muster a tepid response. For example on Sunday, a statement emanating from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesman:

“...condemned in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minority populations in Iraq by Islamic State (IS) and associated armed groups. He is particularly disturbed by reports of threats against Christians in Mosul and other IS-controlled parts of Iraq, including an ultimatum to either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face imminent execution…”

The UN, US, EU and numerous others have all denounced IS/ISIS. 

But the various powers’ “strongly worded” official condemnations seem to be little more than indignant complaints.

President Obama, for example, has demonstrated no inclination to apply American muscle to ISIS. Speaking about their activities in Syria, he explained,

"What we can't do is think that we're just going to play Whac-a-Mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up…."

Rather than fighting fire with fire, western leaders apparently imagine that diplomatic endeavors – including “strongly worded” denunciations – will stop zealous murderers in their tracks.

Really?

Obama and his cohorts seem to have an astonishingly high regard for their persuasive skills.

At the same time, they demonstrate only a dim awareness of the terrorists’ fierce religious fervor.

Devoutly committed to radical Islamist ideology – whether of the Sunni or Shia variety – fanatics like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Iran’s ayatollahs quite sincerely view the West as the primary force of evil in the world.

Why would such “holy warriors” negotiate with western evildoers?

Only, perhaps, to deceive them.

In Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere, it is abundantly clear that such niceties as “dialogue” are of little interest to bloodthirsty savages.

In the meantime, as American strength diminishes around the globe, the dangers posed by radical Islamist groups like ISIS are exploding exponentially.

And where does this leave the Iraq’s Christians and other minorities whose lives are at stake? Sadly, they are well aware that no host of valiant defenders is going to come to their rescue. In fact, the Iraqi Army virtually melted away when ISIS appeared.

So for the Christians, “Convert, pay the jizya tax, or die,” means, quite simply, that there is little alternative but to flee  --  except in a small number of villages over which Kurdistan has extended a protective umbrella.  

Thus, most Christians have fled.

Still, some intrepid Iraqi Christians refuse to give up.  “If we all leave, it sends the message that there is nowhere safe for Christians to live in Iraq — and this worries me,” Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Mouche, told theWashington Post.  “I’m not a vagabond. This is my home, and I will die here if necessary.”

Such fortitude is inspiring. And yet courage and determination cannot eclipse such excruciating losses.  Whether Iraq’s Christians stay or go, nothing can remove the devastating sense of injury and injustice they are experiencing.

 “Many Christians interviewed expressed a sense of utter abandonment and desolation,” the New York Times reported. They remarked that the sound of church bells mingled with the Muslim calls to prayer – a symbol of Mosul’s long-standing religious tolerance – “would likely never be heard again.”


Monday, 21 July 2014

British Labour Party Leader: 'We Oppose The Israeli Incursion Into Gaza'


WASHINGTON -- The British Labour Party opposes Israel's ground invasion of Gaza, the party's leader Ed Miliband told The Huffington Post on Monday.

Miliband met with President Barack Obama and National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House Monday afternoon, and said that Gaza was among the issues discussed.

"We oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza," Miliband said.

Polls show that Miliband is a strong candidate to become British prime minister in next year's general election in May, as his party is currently ahead in the parliamentary race.

Miliband said the incursion into Gaza is likely to help Hamas' recruiting efforts, and undermines Israel in the eyes of the international community. "I don't think it will help win Israel friends," he said. "I don't think this will make the situation better. I fear it will make it worse."

Over the weekend Miliband criticized the loss of innocent lives resulting from the Israeli invasion. "As a party we oppose the further escalation of violence we have seen with Israel's invasion of Gaza," he said. "I defend Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks. But I cannot explain, justify or defend the horrifying deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, including children and innocent civilians."

Miliband told HuffPost that the current violence highlights the dangers inherent in a broken peace process.

ALSO ON HUFFINGTON POST

Gaza Attack