Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Jerusalén, 23 nov (EFE).- Una secta radical judía, cuyas mujeres van complemente cubiertas de la cabeza a los pies y son conocidas como "mujeres-talibán", mantiene en alerta a las autoridades israelíes, preocupadas por las condiciones de vida de sus hijos.
Se trata de un grupo de fundamentalistas, muchas de las cuales procedían de familias seculares antes de abrazar la religión, que han cosechado incluso el repudio de sectores ultra-ortodoxos al considerar que su modestia sobrepasa todos los límites.
Aunque las autoridades no cuentan con cifras exactas de cuántas mujeres siguen esta corriente, pues muchas apenas salen de casa para lo estrictamente necesario, se calcula que son entre 200 y 500 repartidas entre la localidad de Bet Shemesh, núcleo duro de la secta, y barrios ultra-ortodoxos judíos de Jerusalén.
En los últimos años, los medios israelíes comenzaron a denominar al grupo como "mujeres-talibán", pues visten con varias capas de ropajes generalmente de color negro, guantes y fundas que cubren sus cabezas completamente, con lo que van incluso más tapadas que las afganas con el burqa.
Hana Slutzki, trabajadora social jefe para la protección del menor en el Ministerio de Asuntos Sociales, destaca a Efe que este fenómeno es cada vez más visible en las calles.
"En un país democrático cada uno tiene derecho a vestirse como quiera, pero debemos proteger a sus hijas que no van al colegio, no reciben tratamiento médico o sufren abusos", explica.
La secta fue descubierta hace tres años cuando una mujer de Bet Shemesh compareció ante un tribunal completamente cubierta.
Su caso conmocionó al país al tratarse de una madre de 54 años y 12 hijos, seis de los cuales sufrieron serios abusos y llegaron a protagonizar relaciones incestuosas.
En los últimos meses, la justicia israelí han tenido que lidiar con expedientes en los que se decidía si pertenecer a la secta era legal, a fin de proteger a menores en el seno de estas familias.
Se debate si la práctica de forzar a menores -incluso algunas con edades comprendidas entre los seis y diez años- a ir cubiertas hasta los pies, negarles una educación formal y obligarlas a contraer matrimonio a una edad temprana, es constitutivo de delito.
En la última década, los servicios sociales han incorporado rabinos en sus equipos de trabajo para lidiar con casos extremos en comunidades fundamentalistas.
Debido al rechazo que suscitan las "mujeres-talibán", ningún colegio de la comunidad ultra-ortodoxa desea acoger a niñas cubiertas, por lo que la propia secta ha establecido escuelas clandestinas cuyo currículo no está sujeto a supervisión del Ministerio de Educación.
"Estas mujeres educan a sus hijos de una forma muy radical, desconectándolos de la comunidad y la sociedad en general", sostiene a Efe Dorón Agasi, director de la organización "Shlom Banaij", que ayuda a las víctimas de abuso sexual y violencia en la comunidad ortodoxa.
Al igual que otros sectores ultra-religiosos, esta corriente judía es extremadamente cerrada, recelosa del Estado y de todo lo que considera sionista, al estimar que Israel no debería existir antes del advenimiento del mesías.
El último y extremo caso destapado por la prensa fue el de una madre perteneciente a la secta, que dio a luz en su casa a fin de evitar hacerlo en un hospital "sionista" y "contaminado", pero, finalmente, dejó a su pequeño a las puertas de un centro médico de Jerusalén tras presentar complicaciones y se negó a revelar su nombre o identidad, así como la del recién nacido.
Previamente salió a la luz el caso de dos hermanas de 13 y 15 años cuyos padres se sumaron al brazo israelí del grupo Lev Tahor (Corazón Puro) -cuyas mujeres se cubren por completo- y las enviaron a Canadá para formarse en unas prácticas declaradas ilegales en Israel y EEUU.
El carismático líder de la organización, que se hace llamar Shlomo Elbarnes, lleva años formando a menores e incluso obliga a niñas de 14 años a casarse.
Tras una demanda interpuesta por familiares de las hermanas, las autoridades canadienses las deportaron a Israel tras aterrizar en Montreal y su caso está en los tribunales, que analizan si sus progenitores deberían continuar con su custodia.
Pese a las críticas que reciben por su extrema interpretación de la ley judía, las "talibán" defienden lo que consideran unas costumbres ancestrales y, recientemente, empapelaron las calles de barrios ortodoxos con fotografías de mujeres rezando frente al Muro de los Lamentos hace setenta años cubiertas de pies a cabeza, sobre la leyenda: "Así eran nuestras madres".
Sunday, November 20, 2011
On Thursday 17th of November, Mossi Raz , co-director of All For Peace Radio, was summoned to a meeting at the police. There he was questioned under caution for three hours on suspicion of operating an illegal radio. Mossi Raz was released only after he had to sign a statement that "he will stop the broadcasts that are intended for the residence of Israel" and then was forced to make a telephone call which ordered a halt to the station's broadcasts. The police made it clear to Raz that if he does not comply with the demand to sign and perform the call, he would be brought before a judge to remand and to be arrested and that the police will raid the offices of the radio station. Mossi Raz had to fulfill the demands of the police investigators.
Since Thursday, November 17th, the on- air radio broadcast has stopped.
For seven years, All for Peace Radio has broadcasted online and these broadcasts are transmitted by an antenna placed in Ramallah. The broadcasting company that transfers the on-air broadcast is "Biladi", a company registered under the Palestinian Authority law that has legal permission to broadcast radio from the PA. Needless to say that Israeli law does not apply in Ramallah.
All for Peace Radio operates a recording studio in East Jerusalem, next to national headquarters of the police. In that studio radio programs are recorded and uploaded to the Internet. For seven years of operation of AFP radio the radio executives have met several times with senior officials from the Ministry of Communications, among others, with the Minister of Communications, Mr. Ariel Atias. In none of these dealings were the managers asked to cease the radio broadcasts, or have been warned that there is a problem with the existence of AFP or its broadcast.
On November 4th (a symbolic date) the radio received a letter from the Ministry of Communications demanding the immediate halt of all air broadcasts for its illegality. After consultation with the former Attorney General of the Ministry of Communications, the radio executives responded that they express regret for determination of facts in a letter, and will respond in detail to the facts as well as to the demand to halt all broadcasts with in the coming days. The Ministry of Communications CEO's office received the letter on Wednesday the 16th of November. The very next day Mossi Raz was summoned for questioning under caution and the broadcasting was forced to halt.
All for Peace Radio is committed to promoting peace according to a two-state solution and to be a platform for excluded groups in society as well as to promote freedom of expression and democracy in both nations. AFP program schedule include programs dealing with social and economic issues, political discourse, promotion of human and civil rights, programs that constitute social and political criticism as well as music and cultural programs. Most of AFP Radio program editors and broadcasters do so voluntarily out of the belief in freedom of expression freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
It seems that in these days, when the Israeli Knesset is swamped with a wave of anti-democratic legislation, the authorities found it necessary to stop the broadcasts of the only radio station that openly allows discussions and statements that support democracy.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Después de meses de largos calores, sequías interminables llego la lluvia.
Debo admitir que los anios por estos lados me han cambiado los gustos, por lo menos en cuanto a clima.
La llegada de las lluvias me apacigua el alma, enfría los pensamientos,limpia el horizonte..
Ni que hablar de la luz, con la cual creo, que cambia completamente afectando cada uno de los rincones.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The Dead Sea did not win as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders... Now it is time to reverse the destructive, and unsustainable, water management policies in place today.
Now you Dead Sea it...
Donald Macintyre, The Independent
Friday, 11 November 2011
In a moment she will plunge into the little waves thrown up by the desert breeze, and bob effortlessly on her back supported by the planet's most buoyant water, so saturated with salt that it will sting scratches she never knew she had.
Here at the lowest place on earth, in 75 degree sunshine, Olga Alexarkin is sitting on a deckchair in bathing suit and gazing eastwards across the radiantly blue, imponderably deep, Dead Sea towards the Jordanian cliffs 11 miles away.
But first, she talks about why she has come here once a month since emigrating to Israel in 1998; for the view, little changed since pre-historic times, for the air, with its abnormally low pollen and high oxygen count; for the unique health giving minerals of the sea itself, and for the steep walks through the acacia trees and herds of agile ibex along the nearby David spring. This is simply, she sighs, "the best place in the world".
The government of Israel is hoping enough people will agree with Mrs Alexarkin to have voted for the Dead Sea to be one of the "New 7 Wonders of Nature" when the results of an international contest run by a website of the same name are announced this morning.
It has spent some £1.5m on a PR campaign; Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, pictured yesterday in the mass circulation daily Yedhiot Ahronot caked in therapeutic Dead Sea mud, has tweeted a last minute appeal for votes. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said: "A win will transform the Dead Sea as one of the leading tourism sites in the world, contributing not only to us, but to other countries in the region, promoting regional cooperation."
This reflects, at a new low point in Israeli Arab relations, a rare joint initiative between his own government, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, to get the Dead Sea in the final seven, from a shortlist of 28.
All of which is welcome. But it cannot disguise the fact that the Dead Sea is also on the way to becoming a man-made environmental disaster zone. For decades water has been pillaged for agriculture and domestic use from its main water provider, the River Jordan; and secondly from the Sea itself, for the hugely lucrative extraction of its vital minerals.
Now the Sea is shrinking with alarming rapidity. Its level is falling at a rate of 1.1 metres a year. Drive a few kilometres north of here along Route 90 and you arrive at where members of the British Palestinian Exploration Fund in 1917 painted a red line in the primeval limestone cliffs towering above them.
Today, as you stand on the road, you can see the line about 10 feet above you. Behind you the Dead Sea shore is a kilometre's dry walk thought the reeds and shrubs of Ein Feshska. But then the PEF scholars were in a boat, floating at what was until later in that century, and had been for many millions of years before that, the true edge of the Dead Sea.
Back in 1986, when the local kibbutzniks built this spa, the waters lapped at the building's edge. 25 years later Mrs Alexarkin and her fellow-guests are transported to the water's edge on a toytown-like road train. The journey takes five minutes and is 1.5 kilometres long. The lifeguard post is on wheels, to prevent it having to be rebuilt each time the shore moves a metre or two. "We are spending half a million shekels a year just to chase the sea," explains Nir Wranger, the spa's deputy manager.
Less than a kilometre away, the eerily cratered remains of the kibbutz's once highly profitable beachside campsite testifies to the devastation left by the inexorably receding sea. The terrain is now a moonscape of gaping sink holes and yawning fault lines that will turn into more sink holes.
So unstable is the land here that it is fenced off to visitors. The campsite was closed in 1998 when the ground suddenly opened up under a young woman employee and she fell eight metres into the pit, mercifully sustaining only light injuries.
"It's like there's been an earthquake," says beach manager Simon Shukrun as we gingerly step over the cracks in what's left of the concrete flooring. Far above what is now the shore, Mr Shukrun who came to work in Ein Gedi in 1968 at the age of 21, points to the rusting steel supports of a pier that were once underwater and now jut out of the dry land. "It really saddens me to see where the sea was then and where it is today," he says.
The level of the Dead Sea has fluctuated dramatically before. Indeed geologists now think that "slime pits" in the Vale of Siddim, as the Dead Sea Area was called, mentioned in Genesis 14.10, refer to similar sinkholes. But the decline then in levels was created by huge climactic changes. By contrast more than 1,000 sinkholes round the Dead Sea now, says Friends of the Earth Middle East's Gidon Bromberg are "nature's revenge for a man-made catastrophe. Nature is saying that what you are doing is wrong. I am not going to tolerate it and I am not going to keep quiet about it."
Between 60 and 70 per cent of the problem, says Mr Bromberg, results from the rape of the once mighty River Jordan. And of this half, he says, was caused by Israel's pumping, since the 1950s, of 400-450m cubic metres per year of fresh water from the Sea of Galilee, not least for transmission south through the national pipeline to help realise the old Zionist dream of "making the desert bloom".
Syria comes next, at around 26 per cent, by virtually drying up the Yarmouk, the Jordan's main tributary, with around 70 dams; and Jordan, third at 23 per cent, thanks to the King Abdullah Canal, its own dams, and huge water subsidies for water which mean that "half the farmers in Jordan flood their fields" because there is no incentive to drip-irrigate.
The rest is accounted for by the Dead Sea Works – owned by the Israeli Ofer family – and on the Jordanian side the largely Canadian-owned Arab Potash Company, which extracts potash for fertiliser, bromides for pesticides and magnesium for metal manufacturing.
In Mr Bromberg's words, the now dried up southern basin of the sea is "an industrial quagmire of man-made evaporation ponds under licence of the Jordanian and Israeli governments".
Mr Bromberg points to the paradox that Jordan and Israel "are promoting the Dead Sea as one of the seven wonders and encouraging their people to vote for it; so why allow for its demise, one resulting directly from their own decisions?" He will be glad if the Dead Sea qualifies, but adds: "The governments must not greenwash what has been happening. We have to be honest about it and this needs to be followed by the reversal of these decisions."
In fact, Israeli water policy has undergone change in the last five years, some of it due to the tireless advocacy of Mr Bromberg himself. Israel has reduced the subsidies on water, which had massively incentivised the growth of what he calls "water guzzling" crops like bananas. It now has three desalination plants on the Mediterranean coast with a fourth planned, widening the sources of fresh water; it has stopped pouring of raw sewage into the Jordan, and has even agreed to pump an extra modest 30m cubic metres per year of water into the river.
For Mr Bromberg, this is nowhere near enough. He reckons that raising the flow of the Jordan to around 850m cubic metres a year (still much less than the historic 1.3bn) is needed to stabilise the Dead Sea in around 15 years.
He believes the proposed "Red for Dead" scheme – a $15bn canal or pipeline bringing 2bn cubic metres of sea water up from the Red Sea from Aqaba is not the answer. The different chemical mix could fatally disturb the Dead Sea's composition, creating gypsum, which would turn the water white; catastrophic flooding could result from an earthquake in the seismically prone Arava desert; and extracting that volume of the water from the Red Sea could change its temperature and destroy its famous coral reefs. And while welcoming some desalination, he rejects it as a "panacea", partly because of its high costs and massive use of energy.
Instead he will shortly unveil a wide ranging conservation programme across Israel and Jordan, and in the long-run Syria. It would – among much else – lift the Israeli barriers to imports of crops like bananas; and would restore around 250m cubic metres to the Dead Sea by forcing the mineral companies to develop an alternative new membrane technology that would remove the need to pump water out of it.
Simon Sukrun, who has lived on Israel's Dead Sea shore for more than 40 years, hopes it will win today. But he adds: "I'm voting because it's the last hope. I hope that if it gets in the list it will force a change of government policy and they will stop pumping the water out."
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Six Palestinians seeking to emulate the "freedom rides" in the segregated southern United States of the 1960s by travelling in a West Bank-to-Jerusalem bus alongside Jewish settlers were arrested by Israeli police yesterday.
The Palestinian activists managed to board a number 148 bus outside the West Bank settlement of Psagot, near Ramallah, but the bus was halted and the activists taken off near the Hizma entry terminal to Jerusalem.
Three walked off the bus under police escort but another three, including one woman, Huwaida Arraf, resisted and were dragged off it by force amid shouts of "Stop the apartheid", and "I have the right to go to Jerusalem".
Palestinian residents are forbidden from entering the city without a permit, for what Israel says are security reasons. The restrictions date to the beginning of the second intifada 11 years ago, which included a spate of suicide bombings in Jerusalem up to 2004.
Police had earlier boarded the bus at the checkpoint to persuade the activists to leave of their own accord as supporters waved banners, including one – in an echo of the famous speech by civil rights activist Martin Luther King – proclaiming: "We have a dream."
Two of the activists were told by a police officer: "You are detained. Please get off the bus. If not we will have to use force." One of the Palestinians, Nadim Sharabati, a 33-year-old blacksmith from Hebron, told the officer: "This is racial discrimination between me and the settlers. Why don't you take permits from the settlers when they come to us?"
When the police officer told the men: "I am asking in a civilised way, with respect," the other man, Badiya Dweik, replied: "If you respected us you would treat us like [you treat] the settlers." When the officer asked if he had a permit, Mr Dweik replied: "Why do you not ask the settlers for a permit?"
Another of the Palestinian activists, Fadi Quran from El Bireh adjacent to Ramallah, asked the officers, in an apparent reference to the settlers: "Why are you protecting the Klu Klux Klan?"
Most of the Israeli settlers among the passengers left the bus as it was held up at the checkpoint. There was no trouble during the bus's short journey from Psagot. One Jewish passenger, Hagit Segal, editor of Makor Rishon, a right- wing daily newspaper with a large settler readership, said: "I have no problems with Arabs travelling in a Jewish bus. The problem is that I can't take an Arab bus to go to Ramallah or Nablus."
Mr Segal, who said he had travelled from the Ofra settlement, north of Psagot, claimed that if he went to Ramallah "I would be killed". Another elderly Jewish settler said: "I don't want to go in the same bus as terrorists." He then said he did not object to Arabs travelling on a bus with Jews but to them "raising the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organisation] flag".
Donald Macintyre, the Independent, November 16, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
At the top of an unmarked track leading into the small village of Alsra, in the Negev desert, somebody has placed a triangular road sign barring the entry of bulldozers. They will come, nevertheless, for every family in this village has been served with a demolition order by the Israeli authorities.
By contrast, Jewish families have been encouraged to settle in this part of the country to make the desert "bloom" and small, gated farming communities – fully serviced with water and electricity – have sprung up close to the Bedouin villages.
For the Bedouin, however, worse is to come. Under a sweeping new proposal, dubbed the Prawer report, Israel is seeking to corral 30,000 Bedouin living in the Negev's "unrecognised" villages – some little more than tented encampments – into destitute Bedouin townships, a move that human rights groups say will not only dispossess a people of their ancestral lands but also shatter a disappearing way of life.
Those townships are some of the poorest, most overcrowded and crime-ridden communities in Israel, a far cry from the farms where the Bedouin can tend their livestock.
"It is our second naqba," says Khalil Alamour, a teacher from Alsra. Naqba is the Arabic for catastrophe and refers to the events of 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled their homes or were driven out during fighting as the State of Israel was formed, many of them doomed to become refugees. "There will be no more Bedouin."
Although nobody knows for sure which communities will be affected, the residents of Alsra, that existed long before the creation of the Jewish state, believe it is almost certain to go.
Sitting on the shaded veranda of an attractive brick home, Mr Alamour says that this land has remained in his family's hands for generations. He produces original ownership deeds, stamped by British Mandate officials in 1921. His family paid taxes on the land until the 1950s, when Israel ceased to collect it.
But like every other house in this village, it was built without a permit, permits that are impossible to obtain in light of a 1965 planning law that ignores the existence of the Bedouin villages. The Israeli government says that it wants a solution to the unchecked spread of Bedouin communities in the Negev, with many officials viewing the Bedouin as squatters on state land.
Meeting Bedouin leaders this week, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said they were facing an "historic opportunity".
"The plan will allow the Bedouin, for the first time, to realise their assets and turn them from dead capital into living capital – to receive ownership of the land, which will allow for home construction according to law and for the development of enterprises and employment," he said.
But despite a £200m sweetener that accompanies the plan, the Bedouin are incensed that such an important decision has been made without consulting them. "The Bedouin are not against a plan... but the issue is to consult with them and see what their needs are," says Mansour Nsasra, an Israeli Bedouin researching his PhD at Exeter University.
Moving them to townships, he says, "is not a solution".
The Prawer plan envisages a five-year implementation, where Bedouin will be compensated for up to 50 per cent of their land claims. But swathes of Bedouin internally displaced in the 1950s will be ineligible, while those who hope to receive compensation must not only agree to evacuate their lands but also meet complicated criteria, meaning that the eventual payout will be much less, according to Israel's Association for Civil Rights.
Some 160,000 Bedouin live in the Negev, a people whose plight is generally forgotten in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, they live on 5 per cent of the Negev, roughly half of them in designated towns; the remainder in 45 villages, 35 of which are still unrecognised and receive no services from the state.Every Bedouin has closely followed the fate of Al Araqib, an hour's drive away from Alsyra, which has been destroyed 29 times by Israeli soldiers in the past year. The villagers return every time to rebuild, only for the soldiers to knock it down again to make way for the planting of a new forest. Many fear that what is happening in Al Araqib is a "dry run" for the expulsion of Bedouin who resist in other communities. Mr Alamour faces far more than just losing his home if the government's proposals come to fruition. "My only ambition is to maintain my lifestyle, my traditions and values," the teacher says. "This is what I will lose if they transfer my family to the townships."
In the 1970s, Israel built seven designated towns for the Bedouin in the Negev, persuading thousands of Arabs to move through a mixture of force and inducements. Rahat is the largest of these, home to 53,000 people. It is also one of the poorest cities in Israel, with a soaring birthrate, 37 per cent unemployment and 50 per cent of its residents living below the poverty line by the most conservative estimates.
In his office, Rahat's mayor is feeling particularly gloomy. He looks at the map behind his desk of the densely populated city and asks nobody in particular where a new influx of Bedouin can go. "It will create a new intifada in the Naqab [Negev]. It is impossible to transfer 30,000 people," Faiz Abu Sahiban says. "We tell them: 'Stay where you are and ask for your rights'."
Outside the municipality, several Bedouin youths are haring around a parking lot in a souped-up Toyota, a reminder of the lack of opportunity and jobs facing many of the city's residents today. The city has suffered from chronic underinvestment. Rahat receives an annual budget of 153 million shekels (£26.4m) from the Israeli government, less than half of the 380m shekels (£65.7m) that goes to Kiryat Gat, a nearby Jewish town roughly equivalent in size, according to the municipality. If Rahat agrees to take in 3,000 Bedouin living in villages on its immediate outskirts, the Israeli government will give it 100,000 shekels (£17,300) for each one, Mr Abu Sahiban says. "It is a bribe for the city. They refuse to develop [Rahat] until we accept the offer."
Speaking to local residents, there is a sense of hopelessness in this city and the Bedouin are unconvinced that the government has their best interests at heart. The uprooting of the Bedouin in the 1970s was a "huge failure", says Naif al-Tlalka, 65, a resident of Rahat who moved to the city in 1981 when his family was forced from their homes for a second time after being driven off their land in the western Negev in the 1950s.
"We used to laugh at the people who lived in these conditions. We used to say they lived in boxes," he says with a wry smile, as he fondly watches his many grandchildren playing in the yard.
"How I wish I could go back to a time before, where I could hear the sound of the wind, the birds and the animals and smell the clean air."
Caterina Stewart, The Independent November 04, 2011.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Olivos destruidos en Jerusalén, en el lugar se encontró un cartel con la inscripción "Price Tag" o "Etiqueta de Precio" una consigna usada por colonos judíos extremistas que vengan acciones del gobierno en contra de las colonias judías destruyendo propiedad palestina. Más de 2000 olivos palestinos han sido destruidos en el mes de Octubre.