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Greetings from Israeli BDS activists

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Fwd: Support from an Israeli Citizen
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 00:59:43 +0200
From: Ofer N <ofern321@gmail.com>
To: e-mail@israel-academia-monitor.com
Reply-To: ofern321@gmail.com

please forward to M. Sherman as well

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ofer N <ofern321@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Dear Dr. John Kelly

Greetings from Israeli BDS activists. Your correspondence with people like Martin Sherman is a waste of your precious time. I am afraid these pseudo-intellectuals are nothing more than McCarthyite zealots.  

You need not have any doubts as to the justification for a comprehensive boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign on Israel, including an institutional academic boycott (as opposed to an unfair personal boycott).

Regarding your polite letter, there is not much to appreciate about IAM. They are certainly not the equals of Btselem.
To illustrate this point about Sherman, IAM and their cohorts, here is a link to a review of some of their pearls of wisdom:


You are invited to have a look at the Israeli BDS group's website circulate the info and support the BDS campaign against policies of apartheid and racism:


Fear not the Shermans!

Best wishes

Ofer Neiman
West Jerusalem


Note: you can always put these zealots on the defensive by asking them to specify a single Israeli war crime...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: IAM e-mail <e-mail@israel-academia-monitor.com>
Date: Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Subject: IAM Friday Special: IAM responds to Dr. John Kelly - An Israeli Response to Irish Invective

(IAM offering daily, weekly, or monthly update services for your convenience)


IAM received an email (below) from Dr. John Kelly, Professor Emeritus, University College Dublin, including his Irish Times article with a request to disseminate it.  IAM agreed but given its content we could not do so without a response from our side first.

An Israeli Response to Irish Invective



To Professor John Kelly,


I have just read your communication with the Israel Academia Monitor (IAM) in which you state that you would strongly endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions if you believed it would be effective; and your accompanying 2006 article in the Irish Times


Both are deeply offensive documents.  Indeed, it is difficult to decide which is more outrageous:


(a) Your wildly biased and partisan account of realities in the Palestinian areas; or

(b) Your highly unpersuasive and pompous attempt to establish the authenticity of your humanitarian credentials, by the self-righteous and condescending remark to the effect that "some of your best friends are Jewish". 


Criticism the Jewish State or Demonization of the Jewish People?


You admit that, "I am oft times condemned to being anti-Semitic…"  Indeed, on reading your diatribes this is not difficult to understand.


For while it is undoubtedly true that criticism of Israel is not in itself evidence of anti-Semitism, the pervasive and enduring application of double standards against the nation-state of the Jewish people makes anti-Semitism an increasingly plausible explanation which cannot be perfunctorily dismissed.


This observation is highly pertinent to the attitude you adopt and the animosity you express – despite your protestations to the contrary.


You claim that you are, "passionately sympathetic to the plight of the people of Palestine". Sadly however, your evident empathy for the Palestinians to seems to reflect your enduring enmity for the Jews; your compassion for them matched only by your callousness for us


Thus, you portray the plight of the Palestinians as the incomprehensible consequence of mindless malice on the part ofIsrael, and all security measures undertaken by Israel as acts of arbitrary aggression against a peaceful, passive population.


Conspicuous by its absence is any reference to the brutality of Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians. You make no mention of the Arab assault on the Jewish state which began long before Israel held a square inch of territory now presented as "Palestinian".


The worst kind of anti Semitism


Can such omissions be anything but deliberate distortions?


Indeed, perhaps the worst kind of anti-Semitism is the expectation – as appears to be the case on your part - that Jews consent to die meekly.


The worst kind of anti-Semitism is to portray – which you appear to do  - every coercive measure undertaken by the IDF to protect the lives of Jews against those striving to kill them, just because they are Jews, as "disproportionate war crimes".


The worst kind of anti Semitism is to consider – as you appear to do – that  preventing Palestinian inconveniencefar more important than preventing the loss of Jewish lives (or limbs)


The worst kind of anti-Semitism is to decry, dismiss and delegitimize – which you appear to do - as callous cruelty or mindless malevolence, any action taken by Israel to defend itself and its civilians against manifestly Judeocidal assaults – whether  these actions be defensive responses or offensive initiatives; whether preventative strikes or punitive retaliation.


The worst kind of anti-Semitism is to demand – as you seem to be suggesting - that the Jews should allow their attackers to assault them with absolute immunity from any reprisal, with total impunity from all retribution, and unhindered by any fear of unpleasant consequences at all.



Throughout history, defeated aggressors have suffered the consequence of their defeated aggression.


By way of illustration:

  • Would you have expressed the same "passionate sympathy" for the plight of destitute Germans at the end of World War II?
  • Would you accuse the Allies of treating the starving German civilians – whose plight was immeasurably more desperate than that of the Palestinians today (see below) – "with utter contempt as lesser mortals, and as prisoners in their own lands"?
  • Would it be appropriate to describe their terrible tribulations without any mention of what precipitated the destruction and devastation they suffered?
  • Would you blithely gloss over any reference to German aggression and brutality that predicated the Allied response?
  • Would any account of the post-War realities on the ground in Germany, be even vaguely accurate in terms of their historical context, without a single word regarding that antecedent aggression and brutality?


To depict the current Palestinian predicament as anything other than a consequence of their failed attempt to eliminate the Jews and their state, is to disingenuously distort the truth. 


Indeed, when you declare that, "The treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government is very difficult to understand. It makes no sense, except if the aim is the annihilation of the Palestinian people", one can only shake ones head in bewilderment and wonder whether you are woefully misinformed or willfully misleading.


Overtly Declared Judeophobia, and Actively Pursued Judeocide


In fact, the plight of the Palestinians, which you so bewail, is demonstrably the consequence of overtly declaredJudeophobia, and actively pursued Judeocide on the part of both Palestinians and the wider Arab world – ostensibly on behalf, and in the name of, the Palestinian cause. 


Should you doubt the veracity of this assertion – or the aptness of the allusions to the Germans - kindly click here to view a comparison of the portrayal of the Jews in the Arab press today and Nazi press in the past.


Should you doubt the Palestinians' Judeophobic intentions, kindly refer to the Hamas Charter which unabashedly states (Article 7) that:

The hour [of redemption] would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and the stone or the  tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him

It was of course interesting to note that you describe the Hamas as a "so-called terrorist partyleaving the reader to wonder what would, in your eyes, qualify an organization as a genuine bone fide terrorist group


Should you believe that the, "more moderate Fatah party" – to use your words - has significantly more peaceable aspirations, kindly refer to the organization's constitution which stipulates its goal (Article 12) and the method (Article 19) by which this goal is to be achieved:

Goal: Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence lsic]

Method: Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated. 

Significantly, this document was compiled in 1964, years before Israel held a square inch of what today is referred to as "Occupied Territory", leaving one to ponder on what "Palestine" they were thinking of "liberating" by means of "the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution".


Should you believe that the written letter no longer reflects the views of the current leaders, here is a quote fromMuhammad Dahlan, a senior Fatah leader, on Palestinian Authority TV (March, 16, 2009)

I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all of my fellow members of the Fatah movement: We do not demand that the Hamas movement recognize Israel. On the contrary, we demand of the Hamas movement not to recognize Israel, because the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel, even today.

This echoes precisely the sentiments expressed previously by Mahmoud Abbas who you describe as, "the very moderate president of the Palestinian Authority", on Al-Arabiya, Dubai & Palestinian TV (Oct. 3, 2006):

Hamas is not required, Hamas is not required to recognize Israel... It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel       

Both Dahlan and Abbas admitted that the Palestinian Authority, as distinct from the Fatah, was compelled to feign recognition of Israel in order to obtain financial benefits.


Should you, however, still have any doubt as to what the Palestinians mean when they refer to "Palestine", kindly click here for the Fatah emblem and those of the other Palestinian organizations – whether Islamist or not – including the PLO itself, which as you will see, all depict the entire area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea as Arab Palestine – clearly implying a denial of any semblance of political sovereignty for the Jews.


Should you still be plagued by lingering doubts that this reflects an obdurate refusal to recognize the establishment of a Jewish state within any borders whatsoever, kindly refer to the Palestinian National Covenant formulated in 1968, and currently available on the PLO UN website , which in Article 19 states that:

The partition of Palestine in 1947, and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal,regardless of the passage of time…[sic]

Interestingly enough this is virtually a verbatim restatement of   Article 17 of the 1964 version  of the Covenant, which clearly was not motivated by the post-1967 "Occupation", the "separation barrier" or the check-points you so berate.

However, the Palestinians' enmity towards Israel and Jews is not limited merely to rhetoric and symbolism.  Their bloodcurdling declarations have translated into equally bloody deeds – stretching back for decades –see for example Terrorism deaths in Israel- 1920-1999Indeed, in this regard allow me – somewhat immodestly - to refer you to The Israel-Arab Conflict: "Root Causes" and "Red Herrings"


To Illustrate the point, allow me one citation from this article - from Ahmed Shukairy, Arafat's predecessor, as Chairman of the PLO, on June 1, 1967 before Israel had any presence in the territories now claimed by the Palestinians:

This is a fight for the homeland. It is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road. The Jews ofPalestine will have to leave. We will facilitate their departure to their former homes. Any of the old PalestineJewish population who survive may stay, but it is my impression that none of them will survive....We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors - if there are any - the boats are ready to deport them.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions



Trivializing the Value of Israeli Lives



The Oslo Accords, and Israel's willingness to terminate its control over the Palestinians, served only to fuel their attacks – see Fatal Terrorist Attacks in Israel Since the DOP (Sept 1993) and Victims of Palestinian Terror  - in which Palestinian terror resulted in almost 1,500 fatalities (equivalent to 60,000 dead in the USA – or over twenty "9/11"s). 


Almost 1200 of these (equivalent to almost 50,000 US deaths) occurred since Ehud's Barak’s unprecedented offer to Arafat for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian response was a massive wave of violence – including a dramatic surge in suicide bombings (see Fig 1 below) that culminated in the 2002 Passover massacre , triggering the public outcry which resulted, among other things, in the construction of the separation barrier in 2003.

kelly fig small.jpg

The construction of the barrier brought about a steep decline in terror attacks which have in effect been halted almost completely – saving the lives (and limbs) of hundreds of Israeli citizens – both Jews and Arabs, who you will recall, also fell victim to indiscriminate Palestinian terror.


These figures make a mockery of your baseless claim that "…the election of the Hamas government has been the wall's major achievement to date…" unless of course you consider the saving of Israeli lives a minor achievement.


Conflating Cause and Consequence


So quite contrary to your distasteful suggestion, Israeli policy – which admittedly may not always be without fault or be yond criticism – is clearly a response to Palestinian attempts to annihilate Israelis, rather than an unprovoked Israeli initiative  to annihilate Palestinians. Indeed, your statement that :


 The wall is a bizarre and absurd course of action and has succeeded only in being the prime and very effective recruitment strategy for Hamas, thereby getting them elected and replacing the more moderate Fatah party.


exudes intellectual dishonesty. For any informed and impartial observer of events can readily discern, it was Hamas terror that brought about the "Wall", not the "Wall" that brought about Hamas terror.  Only the hopelessly biased and partisan would dare to suggest such a reversal of causality and deny that Israeli actions (including the construction of the security barrier) are the result of, rather than the reason, for Palestinian enmity,


You complain that often "no reason is given" when Palestinians are stopped at check points and conclude that, "It would appear that the instructions given to the Israeli guards on these checkpoints are simply to humiliate the Palestinians and make life as awkward for them as they can."  Surely even you must be aware these checkpoints have led to the apprehension of hundreds of potential terrorists, including suicide bombers and weapons smugglers, not infrequently masquerading as those in need of medical attention. Likewise, ambulances, vehicle belonging to international organizations and even unwitting children have been used in attempts by terror groups to smuggle in both personnel and matérielClosures are typically imposed on the basis of intelligence – admittedly not always accurate - regarding possible action by terrorist groups. When you protest that "no reason" is given for closures, are you seriously suggesting that the soldiers at the checkpoints share this intelligence regarding such impending action –  assuming they themselves are even apprised of it -   with the general Palestinian public?? And given the deadly consequences of terror, would you advise Israel to err on the side of caution, or on the side of cavalier abandon?


It would be one thing if you were to acknowledge Israel's dire security exigencies and focus your criticism on how to make them less onerous for the Palestinians.  It is quite another to brand Israeli security measures as needless and deliberate malevolence whose only purpose is to torment the Palestinians.


Detached from Reality or Determined to Distort It?


Moreover your expression of concern loses any vestige of moral authority when you allege:

It is extraordinary that Israel has the policy of treating its Palestinian neighbours as less than human and giving them lesser privileges than they give to their domestic animals.

This is of course a statement so preposterous that it totally eliminates any claim to credibility on your part.


For the hard facts are that from the late 60s to the early 90s, Israel lifted Palestinian living standards from the virtually medieval levels under the Hashemite regime into those of the 20th century. Under Israeli administration:

·         GDP per capita soared by over 10-fold to overtake nearly all non-oil producing Arab countries.

·         Life expectancy climbed from barely 40 to over 70,

·         Infant morality (deaths per 1000 births) plummeted from 60 to 15 (18 for Gaza) - far better than nearly all African nations including South Africa, many South & Central American countries including Mexico & Brazil, several European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, many Arab and Muslim states such as Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran, numerous Asian countries including India, China and Indonesia – and far better than the World average of over 40.

  • Access to safe water grew by 500% with only 50 villages connected to running water in 1967 compared to 260 by 1991, while the percentage of households with safe water grew by from 15% in 1970 to 80% in 1996

·         Supply of electricity grew by a similar rate from about 20% to about 90%.


Similarly, Palestinians were given access to due process within the Israeli judicial system, which arguably more often than not ruled in their favor, including on many issues relating to the location of the security barrier.


Your reference to the ravages wrought on Palestinian agriculture shows you are either completely detached from realityor determined to distort it. Indeed, even B'Tselem (who you quote) acknowledges that almost 95% of Palestinian agriculture is unaffected by the security barrier.  And while it is true that a small percentage of Palestinian farmers have been adversely impacted by the barrier, which has at times forces them to make time consuming detours, one cannot help wondering how long a detour by a Palestinian olive grower is – in your mind – commensurate with the loss of one Israeli life (or limb).


In fact, the Israeli administration brought about huge advances in Palestinian agriculture.  As one well known expert pointed out:

The Israeli occupation changed local agriculture profoundly. It introduced modern technology, including mechanization, precision tillage, pest control, plastic covering of crops for temperature control, high yielding varieties, postharvest processing of produce, marketing, and export outlets. It also introduced efficient methods of irrigation, including sprinkler and especially drip irrigation. Consequently, output increased greatly, and farming was transformed from a subsistence enterprise to a commercial industry.

Daniel Hillel, Rivers of Eden(Oxford University Press, 1994)

Ah – those dastardly Israelis!! Totally undermining the traditional way of life of the Palestinians. Can't seem to do anything right – damned if the do and damned if they don't.


Let me conclude with a quotation from Israel's former Foreign Minister Abba Eban:


the  Jewish nation seeks an authentic fulfillment of itself The question is at what point Arab nationalism, with its prodigious glut of advantage, wealth and opportunity, will come to terms with the modest but equal rights of another Middle Eastern nation to pursue its life in security and peace.


If you understand this, perhaps you too will understand the events that comprise the history of the Arab Israel conflict – including its Palestinian component.  Perhaps then, you will desist from your diabolical, distorted and deceitful diatribes against the Jewish nation state.


Dr.  Martin Sherman is on Israel Academia Monitor Academic Advisory Board.


Please let me know if you will reprint this letter and article which I wrote in relation to the situation with Bethlehem University and which still applies now more than before


From: John Kelly [mailto:jjkelly@ucd.ie
Sent: 28 December 2010 11:47
To: 'e-mail@israel-academia-monitor.com'
Subject: Jews and Israel

Dear IAM,
It is impossible to say anything new about the situation in Israel/Palestine, especially with the knowledge that whatever one says or writes, it will not persuade anyone to change their opinion.  I am passionately sympathetic to the plight of the people of Palestine. I have no doubt that when the history of these times is written, it will be with astonishment and criticism that the EU and the rest of the world stood bye and did nothing when the Israeli Government, ignoring United Nations' resolutions and over whelming world opinion, continued its illegal occupation of the West bank & Gaza and treated its Arab neighbours with utter contempt as lesser mortals, and as prisoners in their own lands.
Like many people here in Ireland, and I am sure the world over, I have a great respect and admiration for the Jewish people, have many great friends, family relations and academic colleagues over the years who are Jews, but I condemn totally the cruelty, arrogance and I believe stupidity, with which the Israeli Government treat their Palestinian neighbours. This criticism is reinforced when I am oft times condemned to being anti-Semitic when I have occasionally spoken out about the situation which I have witnessed in Bethlehem ( see attached).
I do not know if an academic boycott of the Israeli Universities by the university world would have any impact on bringing about a resolution of the situation there, but If I thought it would, I would campaign for it with all my strength for what its worth. I have debated this strategy with academic colleagues in Palestine and elsewhere without coming to a conclusion. On one hand it is argued that if such a boycott was successfully achieved, the academic community in the Israeli universities would rapidly move to resolve the situation, as was the case, it is often said, in bringing about the end of apartheid in South Africa. On the other hand, it is argued that it is vital to keep all lines of communications open between Israel and the outside world, and that eventually, the intelligent voice of international academe might bring about a solution. It is appreciated that many academics in Israel universities have spoken out loud and stridently against the policies of the Israeli Government and the practices of the IDF, but sadly, not one of their universities as an institution has come out and publicly supported such condemnations. The recent protest by Israeli students against their professors suggests that academic freedom is fine in Israel as long as you agree with what is being said. 
 I appreciate what the IAM is doing, as I do B'tselem, and pray that some day soon, persons with vision, common sense and humanity will come to power in Israel, and finally succeed in bringing about  an end to the illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine.
With my best wishes,
Dr. John Kelly
Professor Emeritus
University College Dublin

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Professor John Kelly in the Holy Land

The following is an article written by Professor John Kelly and published on 24 June 2006 in the Irish Times. John Kelly, Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering at University College Dublin, principal author and editor of numerous reports on international co-operation in higher education projects, commissioned by the European Commission in Brussels and by the Higher Education Authority in Ireland. Professor Kelly was one of the 2 professors who conducted the external review of Bethlehem University self-study.

Segregation wall strangles the life out of Bethlehem  

John Kelly (The Irish Times - 24 June 2006 )

One is left with a feeling of senselessness and tragedy on seeing the segregation wall encircling the city of Bethlehem , writes John Kelly

The main highway through Bethlehem was deserted except for a mongrel dog skulking in the dusty shadows. Everything was closed. The tourist shops had shutters up, the hotel's front door was locked and the residences were clearly empty, and some were being knocked to the ground. They were all on the wrong side of, or right in the way of, the eight metre high segregation wall, currently under construction by the Israeli army, whose lone soldier, complete with sub-machine gun, was watching our every move as we nervously took a few photos.

Bethlehem has been cut in half. Families who lived there for many generations and shopkeepers who plied their tourist trade on that road for years were told to get out. No apologies, no reason - just get out, this is now Israeli territory.

The path of the wall conveniently arranges that Rachel's Tomb in the centre of Bethlehem , most sacred shrine for the Jews, is now transferred to Israeli territory. And running right down the main street which heads on to Hebron, the wall veers off the street through an olive grove, cutting that too in half and thereby taking a large part of the livelihood away from its owner whose family has tended it for generations.

Right across the West Bank , the route of the wall deviates from the internationally accepted pre-1967 borders, known as the Green Line, in many cases cutting Palestinian farmers off from their farms so that at this moment, thousands of tonnes of citrus fruits and olives are unattended and destined to rot later this summer.

One example, out of many hundreds of similar ones, tells the sad story of an elderly farmer whose home is some 60m across the road from his olive tree farm. But with the construction of the wall right on his doorstep, he now has to travel 22km over dirt roads to get to it. More often than not, he is not permitted to get through the Israeli checkpoint.

As always when that happens, no reason is given. It would appear that the instructions given to the Israeli guards on these checkpoints are simply to humiliate the Palestinians and make life as awkward for them as they can. Farming is the main source of income for the Palestinians along the fertile route of the wall, and separation from their farms and the lack of mobility is causing enormous hardship.

With its creeping strangulation by the wall over this past year, Bethlehem is now a Palestinian ghetto, so that getting in and out of it for locals is very difficult, and subject always to Israeli checkpoints.

The road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem is some 10km by car, and even allowing for the checkpoint, the driving time for non-Palestinians is about 20 minutes. For Palestinians to make that journey they must have travel permits and it will take up to two hours or more as they are not permitted to use the main roads, but must go on circuitous gravel back-roads, with numerous checkpoints. The result is that for local people, Bethlehem is a virtual prison and locals don't travel unless it's really necessary and they have plenty of time and patience.

Travelling on that road recently with a Palestinian De La Salle Christian Brother, who was dressed in his black and white clerical outfit, we managed to get through the checkpoint waving my Irish passport, with no questions, only dirty looks.

Strictly speaking, he should have been refused passage through that checkpoint and taken out of the car, or alternatively, we could all have been turned back, but this time, the clerical garb and my passport apparently did the trick.

The wall has serious implications for the survival of the university in Bethlehem . Founded in 1973 and run by the De La Salle Brothers, Bethlehem University is now a thriving liberal arts and sciences university of some 2,400 students. Heretofore, its students travelled to it daily from all over the West Bank and Gaza , particularly from the nearby towns of Jerusalem and Hebron . But that traffic is now destined to stop, and the university will have to rely for its future student enrolment exclusively on the local Bethlehem area. This, of course, is an impossible situation for a modern university to operate in. The tortuous journey from anywhere else makes it very difficult for students to attend classes, especially when one can never be sure of the checkpoint being open, or of being allowed through even when it is.

Likewise for its professors and administrative staff, many of whom live in Jerusalem , the daily harassment and uncertainty about getting to work each day is threatening their jobs, compounding the crisis.

The future recruitment of academic staff from outside the walled area is now almost impossible. Though formally a Christian institution, Bethlehem University caters equally and without favour for both Christian and Muslim students, the latter being the majority of the student population. The ethos of student life and high academic standards are exemplary. The Brothers do a great job and are highly esteemed by all sectors of the Palestinian community throughout the West Bank .

The treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government is very difficult to understand. It makes no sense, except if the aim is the annihilation of the Palestinian people.

It is extraordinary that Israel has the policy of treating its Palestinian neighbours as less than human and giving them lesser privileges than they give to their domestic animals. It is surely also extraordinary that they are allowed to inflict this appalling suffering and human deprivation by the rest of the world, led by the United States which since 1967 has, with few reservations, given its full support to the Israeli government and its policies towards the Palestinians.

Despite a number of UN resolutions, the Oslo 1 and 2 agreements, the Sharm El-Sheikh agreement, and just recently the agreement on movement and access, brokered by James Wolfensohn after the Gaza disengagement of last autumn, the Israeli government gives them all the two-finger salute, and proceeds with the building of its monstrous settlements and now this segregation wall, further and further into the Palestine lands.

Agreed borders are totally ignored. And just recently, along with the US , and lately the EU, the Israeli government expressed its surprise and criticism at the results of the democratic elections which elected the so-called terrorist party, Hamas.

It beggars belief that prime minister Ehud Olmert, standing alongside George Bush on the steps of the White House on May 23rd, appealed to the Palestinian people to engage in peace talks while at that very same moment, his troops are throwing them out of their homes, destroying their livelihood and treating them like animals.

His appeal is all the more outrageous since, despite becoming prime minister almost six months ago, Mr Olmert has made no attempt whatsoever to engage in dialogue, or even meet, the very moderate president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

It is clear that the Israeli government knows that the US stands behind it, politically and financially, whatever it does, and so it thumbs its nose at all who dare criticise them. The unquestioning support of the US is the rock on which the Israeli state precariously stands, and it is now only in the US that anti-Zionism equates to anti-Semitism, which, of course, is nonsense. But what is most extraordinary is the senselessness of it all.

The ordinary Israeli is, of course, and it is silly to have to say it, a normal and very regular nice person, who loves, hopes, cries, prays and fears like the rest of us, but most seem to have closed their eyes and minds to what their government is doing.

Not all, however - the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights, through its website, www.btselem.org, documents in considerable detail the many breaches of humanrights by its government.

Please visit this website if you doubt what I'm saying here.

What their government is doing is not only tragic and economically disastrous for their Arab neighbours, but it makes no sense.

Who can believe that throwing people out of their homes, taking their lands, ruining their livelihood, prohibiting their freedom of movement in their own land, and closing their shops, hotels, universities and schools are the correct strategies to bring about peace and friendship, and to help them establish friendly relations with their neighbours?

The wall is a bizarre and absurd course of action and has succeeded only in being the prime and very effective recruitment strategy for Hamas, thereby getting them elected and replacing the more moderate Fatah party. Indeed, the election of the Hamas government has been the wall's major achievement to date.

Now, however, there is reason to believe that Israel 's special claim for universal sympathy is waning, as indeed is America 's prestige globally with its overseas policies, and their cosy relationship may not last forever.

For Israel , a radical realignment towards acceptance of the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own, which will have to be politically and economically viable, is urgently called for, before the political cauldron of the Middle East boils over with terrible consequences for everyone involved.

There can be no winners in such a scenario.

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