JNS news briefs: October 26, 2012
(JNS.org) The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) plans to release a report calling for a boycott of companies doing business with Israel, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
The Free Beacon obtained an HRC report (http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/UN-Report-Sept-2012.pdf) targeting Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, Veolia Environnement, Group 4 Security, the Dexia Group, and the Volvo Group. According to the report, “all companies that operate in or otherwise have dealings with Israeli settlements should be boycotted.”
“The costs to companies and businesses of failing to respect international humanitarian law are considerable, including damage to a company’s public image, impact on shareholder decisions and share price and could result in employees being criminally responsible for rights abuses,” the report says.
The Obama administration decided to join the HRC in 2009 after the U.S. did not participate in that body’s activities during George W. Bush years. The HRC has a “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” a post currently held by Richard Falk. Last year, Falk posted an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog.
(JNS.org) The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) blasted the European Union (EU) for foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s recent comment that Israel’s plans to build 800 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.” Ashton did not place any blame on the Palestinians.
“The European Union consistently ignores the Palestinian refusal to resume direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, wrote in a letter to Ashton. “Considering the EU’s emphasis on the need for negotiations to put an end the conflict, we would hope that the EU would clearly and publicly say to the Palestinian Authority that its intransigence is unacceptable and that this type of conduct will not lead to a resolution of the conflict.”
Gilo is located beyond the 1949 Green Line in the southern portion of eastern Jerusalem, and was land won by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Some 40,000 Jews live there. Ashton said Oct. 19 she “deeply regrets” Israel’s plans to construct new housing there. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed Israel would not “impose any restrictions on housing projects in our capital.”
Foxman’s letter to Ashton noted that Israeli government policy does not distinguish between different parts of Jerusalem because it is Israel’s undivided capital. Ashton, however, had called Gilo a “settlement” that is “illegal under international law.”
(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that they are merging their respective parties—Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, ahead of the January general elections.
“We are before difficult challenges and it is time to unite powers for the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “One ticket will strengthen the government, it will strengthen the prime minister, and it will strengthen the state.”
The formation of the new “mega-party” with the ultra-nationalist Lieberman may raise concerns over the direction of Netanyahu’s leadership, especially on negotiations with the Palestinians, which Lieberman has been vocal critic of. However, Netanyahu’s advisors quickly dismissed those reports.
“Netanyahu hopes that in his third term this will be possible,” the advisor said. “He is ready for a discussion of all the core issues with the Palestinians, and is ready to engage with Abbas.”
Israel’s Opposition Leader Shaul Mofaz, who temporarily joined Netanyahu in a coalition last spring, was highly critical of the move and suggested that Israel’s left and centrist parties join together.
“This is a wake-up call for the entire center to unite and put ego aside,” Mofaz said.
“Likud and [Yisrael] Beiteinu formed an extremist party that has no hope.”
A poll conducted by a Lieberman campaign advisor suggests that the new party could gain 51 seats in the new election; currently both parties hold a combined 42 seats.
(JNS.org) A Catholic group has expelled Bishop Richard Williamson, a known anti-Semite and Holocaust denier who sparked an international crisis in Jewish-Catholic relations in 2009, the Religious News Service reported.
The Swiss-based Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), an ultra-traditional group which opposes the liberalizing reforms made by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, including improvements in Jewish-Catholic relations, said it expelled Williamson over his refusal to “show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors.”
During a January 2009 television interview for a Swedish documentary program, Williamson denied the existence of gas chambers and questioned if six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. His comments came shortly before Pope Benedict XVI lifted his excommunication. The Vatican claimed it was unaware of his comments at the time of his ban being lifted.
The SSPX is attempting full integration with the Vatican after its leaders, including Williamson, were excommunicated from the church between 1988 and 2009. Williamson’s comments on the Holocaust caused a rift between the group and the Vatican, and may be one of the motives behind his dismissal.
Jewish leaders welcomed Williamson’s dismissal, but felt it was long overdue.
“This is a decision the SSPX leadership should have taken years ago,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder said. “The reasons now given for Williamson’s dismissal do not mention the damage this man has caused by spreading invective against Jews and others.”
(JNS.org) A study released by The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), “Israel and the Campus: The Real Story,” shows that 97 percent of North American college campuses report no anti-Semitic or anti-Israel activity, meaning that the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) effort has largely failed on those campuses.
The study tracked 674 anti-Israel events at 108 U.S. and Canadian universities during the 2011-12 academic year. Most of the anti-Israel events were organized by only two groups, the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine. So far no American university has officially divested from Israel.
“Rather than weaken the relationship between US colleges and Israel, the BDS movement has largely backfired and ties are stronger than ever and continue to grow,” wrote Mitchell Bard, AICE’s executive director, and Jeff Dawson, AICE’S campus liaison, the authors of the report.
The report also showed a significant decline from a 2011 AICE survey with The Israel Project that found 78 percent of Jewish students had witnessed or were personally subjected to anti-Semitism. The new report shows only 43 percent, “a significantly lower, but still a disturbing figure,” the authors wrote.
Preceding provided by JNS.org and reprinted with permission
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