Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the resistance movement’s success in forcing Israeli forces out of Lebanon’s soil 15 years ago was a victory for all Lebanese and Muslims.
Nasrallah made the remarks in the southern town of Nabatiyeh on Sunday during a televised speech celebrating the anniversary of the Israeli forces’ withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
He paid tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to bring victory to the resistance movement.
The Hezbollah chief added that if the the resistance movement had not risen against the Tel Aviv regime Israel would have occupied Lebanon.
Hezbollah forced the Israeli military out of the southern parts of Lebanon on May 25, 2000, after more than two decades of occupation.
People in Lebanon consider May 25 as a beginning of dramatic change in the region.
The Lebanese commemorate the day as a national holiday and see it as a transformation that changed the regional equations for good, and put an end to the invincibility myth of the Israeli military.
Nasrallah said after the Israeli regime attacked Lebanon, some groups in Lebanon hesitated to stand against the Zionist regime and even communicated with “the Israelis and considered them allies and friends.”
But, he added, some other Lebanese “did not wait for the Arab League, the United Nations Security Council, the UN, the US or the West. They rather relied on their capabilities, men, heroes and friends in Iran and Syria, and the resistance was launched.”
“This victory was achieved by some of the Lebanese who believed in resistance,” said Nasrallah.
“From the very first day, the resistance believed that it was defending all Lebanese,” he said, adding that “backstabbing and treason did not prevent it from dedicating its victory to all of Lebanon, the Arabs and the world.”
Nasrallah called on the international community and especially on the Lebanese authorities to step up fight against ISIL Takfiri group which is threatening mankind.
Nasrallah said “history is repeating itself” and a scheme spearheaded by ISIL Takfiri group is threatening the Middle East region.
“We are before a danger that is unparalleled in history,” Nasrallah said referring to ISIL terrorist group, adding, “We must understand the threat.”
Nasrallah stressed that all people in the region are facing the threat of the terrorist group, adding, “We are before a threat that does not tolerate the existence of others. All people in the region are facing this barbarous situation.”
The Hezbollah chief stated that remaining silent against the Takfiri threat would be unproductive, adding, “Those who believe that their silence would protect them and their sect are delusional. It is unacceptable to wait and we must take the initiative” against the Takfiri threat.
Nasrallah stressed that those refusing to counter the terrorist group will suffer a lot.
He said the US-led coalition allegedly fighting the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria has not been instrumental in putting an end to the brutalities of the Takfiri group.
“What has the US-led coalition done? The number of their airstrikes throughout a year is much less than the number of Israel’s raids on Lebanon in the  July war or its raids on Gaza,” Nasrallah added.
He urged the Christians in Lebanon to fight the Takfiri group, asking, “Who will protect your women from enslavement and your churches from destruction?”
“We call on everyone in Lebanon and the region to shoulder their responsibilities in the face of the threat and to end their silence and neutrality,” he said, adding, “We call on you to defend your land, sovereignty and people.”
Nasrallah noted that people in the Lebanese city of Arsal are feeling the threat of the Takfiri group every day, calling on the Lebanese government to take action to save the people.
“We are ready to stand by Arsal’s people, but the state must shoulder its responsibility,” he said.
Nasrallah said Hezbollah fighters are present in Syria combating against terrorists, saying, “We are fighting alongside the Syrian army and popular resistance based on our vision that fighting there is aimed at defending everyone in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.”
He also called on Saudi Arbia, which has been pounding Yemen since March 26, to stop bombarding the impoverished Arab country.
Press TV has interviewed two journalists and political commentators Hafsa Kara-Mustapha from London and Maxine Dovere from New York, to discuss the United States’ rejection of a proposal made by Arab countries to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli interrogators are using “oppressive and brutal” methods to frighten Palestinian detainees and force them into confessing to attacks against Israel, a Palestinian official said Sunday.
Issa Qarage, who heads the Palestinian Authority prisoners’ affairs committee, made his comments during a visit to prisoners’ families in the northern West Bank village of Qusin in Nablus district, where he met with former detainee Noor Muhammad Hilmi Hamamrah, 15.
Hamamrah told him that during his interrogation in the Etzion detention center, Israeli interrogators had made him open his mouth while they used pincers to forcibly pry out part of his braces, causing bleeding.
An interrogator then told Hamamrah that he would pull out all of his teeth if he didn’t confess to throwing stones at Israeli vehicles, Qarage relayed.
Qarage said that the boy eventually made the confession.
Hamamrah was detained from his family home on April 15 at 3:00 a.m. and was taken in a military truck to the nearby Beitar Illit settlement where he was held for three hours before being taken to the detention center.
An Israeli prison spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Hamamrah’s account.
Prisoners’ rights group Addameer has long reported that treatment of Palestinian detainees by Israeli forces tantamount to torture is “widespread and systematic.”
In 2014, international rights group Defense for Children reported that 93 percent of children detained by Israeli forces were denied access to legal counsel, while others endured prolonged periods of solitary confinement for interrogation purposes, a practice that amounts to torture under international law.
Israeli officials have backed off from a plan to bar Palestinians from West Bank bound buses, protesting in loud terms that this would smack of “apartheid,” and The New York Times has devoted much space to letting these spokespersons have their say.
We hear from Mark Regev, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s preferred mouthpiece, from opposition leader Isaac Herzog, and—at considerable length—from Israeli president Reuven Rivlin. We also hear indirectly from Netanyahu himself. Palestinians, who bear the brunt of segregated transportation policies, are represented by a single voice—politician and physician Mustafa Barghouti.
The plan would have forced Palestinians working inside Israel (those few who manage to get permits) to use designated entry points on their return. It was put forth by settlers who objected to riding on the same buses with Arabs and was originally announced last fall but put off until after the election.
The author of the Times story, Isabel Kershner, quotes the settlers along with the officials who denounced the plan, but in spite of many column inches devoted to this debate, she omits a significant detail: Although she writes that the plan has been “shelved” or “ended,” it is actually on hold.
Where the Times story failed to take note of this, others spoke up. The newspaper Haaretz states that it is “frozen,” and the Israeli liberal advocacy group Peace Now has said that “the defense minister must announce the cancellation of the bus segregation plan rather than settle for a suspension.” Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam predicted that “apartheid buses are what the government wants and will eventually get” and when this happens “the world be damned.”
Kershner’s story, however, leaves readers with the impression that the plan was withdrawn and skims over the inconvenient fact that it is not dead but merely in suspension. At the same time she emphasizes the rhetoric of denial emanating from Israeli officials.
Rivlin said it could have caused “an unthinkable separation between bus lines, for Jews and Arabs,” an idea that “goes against the very foundations of the state of Israel.” Herzog called it “a stain on the face of Israel and its citizens.”
Both men emphasized the harm it would cause to Israel’s image in the world, and to many observers this is precisely why the plan was put off at this moment. Its announcement came as Israel was in negotiations to prevent a suspension from the world governing body of soccer over the country’s discriminatory policies and as European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrived to meet with Palestinian and Israeli officials.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a press release noting that the temporary hold on the bus segregation plan was “probably due to the negative fallout for Israel’s public image,” and Silverstein wrote that the plan had been in the works for two years but was going into effect when “the time wasn’t right.”
B’Tselem also states that suspension of the bus plan leaves in place a longstanding “policy of segregation and discrimination against Palestinians that has existed on the ground.” It cited the two separate legal systems in the West Bank—one for settlers and another for Palestinians—separate roads for use by Palestinians and settlers and an “official policy of separation in downtown Hebron, and elsewhere.”
The organization notes that Palestinians who ride the buses now are already forced to arrive early in the morning to go through check points and that these are workers who have been lucky enough to get permits to enter Israel.
In the Times story the reality of segregation and discrimination in the West Bank only finds brief expression in a direct quote by Mustafa Barghouti, thus placing it in a context where readers could dismiss it as little more than rhetorical claims coming from a Palestinian opponent. The bus riders who would suffer most from the segregation plan have no voice at all.
The emphasis is on Israeli denials. We hear at length from those who are outraged by charges of apartheid, who speak in lofty terms of Israeli standards and show a sudden fit of indignation over a bus plan that has been in the works for over two years.
Readers would benefit from a look behind this rhetoric. Times reporters know, for instance, that Israel maintains separate roads and separate legal systems in the West Bank, but here we find no challenge to the official efforts to claim the high road, even in the face of obvious facts on the ground.
HEBRON – A Swedish-owned church compound between Bethlehem and Hebron has not been sold to settlers contrary to media reports on Friday, the church’s lawyer told Ma’an on Saturday.
Israeli news source Haaretz reported Friday that right-wing Israeli Aryeh King had purchased the abandoned church compound from the church’s owners three years ago in order to build a settlement outpost.
However, local sources refuted the report, saying that such a sale had not been made and that the current owners are in fact carrying out refurbishments to turn the compound into a hostel.
“The church owns the compound, and is fixing up the existing building to serve as a hostel for Christians, Muslims, and Jews who are passing through,” the church’s Swedish lawyer Ari Souko told Ma’an.
The lawyer also reportedly told Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a spokesman of a local popular committee in nearby village Beit Ummar, that the church “has not been sold to settlers,” and that the Haaretz report was “far from the truth.”
Awad told Ma’an that the compound had been built decades after the owners bought 35 dunams (9 acres) of land from Beit Ummar resident Abd al-Latif Jabir Ikhlayyil.
The building then served as a hospital offering free medical treatment to local residents. The hospital continued to operate until the early 1980s but closed due to financial difficulties. Since then the building has been deserted, Awad said.
While Haaretz reported Friday that Aryeh King had recently started to refurbish it ahead of establishing a new settlement outpost in the area, Souko told Ma’an that such refurbishments were being carried out and funded by the church for the planned hostel.
Although the church remains in Swedish hands, the Haaretz report reflects a current trend in Israeli settlement practices, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem.
Aryeh King is founder and director of Israel Land Fund, an organization that buys Palestinian property and homes for resale to Jews with the aim of ‘Judaizing’ occupied East Jerusalem as well as Palestinian neighborhoods in Israel.
The church lies in a sensitive location, which if settled, would see Israeli settlements stretch all the way from the Gush Etzion settler bloc south of Jerusalem to the cluster of settlements around Hebron.
Currently Karmei Tzur is the only large settlement between the two.
Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem face ongoing threat of being pushed out by groups such as Israel Land Fund.
While Israeli government policies make it nearly impossible for Palestinian residents to obtain building permits, Jewish residents frequently take over Palestinian buildings with the protection of Israeli security.
Washington has blocked the final document of a UN conference that reviewed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, accusing Egypt of manipulating the gathering to target Israel. Moscow has slammed the US for rendering the four-week meeting futile.
The 9th international conference was held in New York from April 27 until May 22. A total of 162 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) participant states were in attendance. These conferences are held every five years to assess the worldwide disarmament process.
The blocked document included a plan to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. To do this, Egypt, who first proposed such a zone in 1980, suggested a regional UN conference on banning weapons of mass destruction. The gathering would have no pre-determined agenda and would go ahead with or without the presence of Israel.
This was stonewalled by the US, with Washington representative Rose Gottemoeller saying the final document reviewed on Friday was “incompatible with our longstanding policies.”
She accused Egypt and other Arab supporters of the nuclear-free zone of being “not willing to let go of these unrealistic and unworkable conditions,” AP reports.
Israel, which is an observer, but not a participant of the NPT, is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, which it has neither confirmed nor denied. It is also a close ally of the US.
Egypt expressed its disappointment and said: “This will have consequences in front of the Arab world and public opinion.”
Washington’s position was backed by the UK and Canada, ultimately sinking the proposal which had to be approved by all countries.
Russia, for its part, said it was committed to nuclear non-proliferation and saw similar commitment from most other participants.
“The vast majority of the delegations have noted that the treaty remains a ‘cornerstone’ of international security and stability, and serves their interests,” a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said. “Participant countries have confirmed their readiness to comply with their obligations under the NPT.”
“We regretfully acknowledge that because of the positions of the US, Britain and Canada, we could not adopt the final document which included provisions on fulfilling the 1995 resolution on creating a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction.” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
It added, however, that Russia still has faith in the Treaty: “Despite such an outcome of the conference, the Russian Federation is ready to continue cooperating with other countries to help strengthen the NPT, provide its wholesomeness and viability.”
The failure of this conference means the next one can only be held in 2020.
Israel’s newly appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely yesterday told ministry employees that all of the land of Israel belongs to Jews only.
Israeli media quoted Hotovely as saying that Israeli diplomats around the world need to begin acting according to the principle of “being right and not just smart”.
Hotovely, 36, who served as deputy transport minister in the previous government said: “Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasising the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically.”
“But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right,” she added.
She went on quoting late settler leader, Uri Elitzur, saying for “the last 40 years, while the Palestinians were demanding their lands, Israel responded that ‘we have strategic interests and security concerns’.” According to her, those arguments are the arguments of a robber.
“If I wear your coat because I’m cold, and I can prove pragmatically and analytically that it really is cold for me, the world will ask a primitive and analytic question: Who does the coat belong to? In this context, it is important to say that this coat is ours; this country is ours, all of it. We didn’t come here to apologise for that,” she said.
Hotovely claimed that the world understands Israel’s security needs, but arguments based on justice and morality always trump those dealing with security concerns.
“If the Jews were convinced in the righteousness of their path, and that is their land, they would manage with the world,” she said.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said several diplomats and ministry employees disapproved of Hotovely’s remarks.
TEHRAN – Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Gholam Ali Khoshrou lashed out at Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for raising the possibility of using atomic weapons against Iran, and asked the UN Security Council to condemn the remarks as a threat against the international peace and innocent civilians.
“Moshe Ya’alon’s recent remarks and the Zionist official’s implied reference to the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Islamic Republic like what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also his threats against the Lebanese civilians, including the women and children, shows more than ever the regime’s aggressive nature,” Khoshrou said in a letter on Wednesday to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, whose country holds the rotating UN Security council presidency this month.
He underlined that the Israeli minister’s comments are evidence showing that the regime possesses atomic weapons and isn’t afraid of using them against other countries.
“The impudent remarks have challenged the primary principles ruling the armed conflicts and the international humanitarian rights and weaken the international peace and security and therefore, the UNSC is expected to condemn these irresponsible remarks and clear threats of using nuclear bomb and massacre of civilians,” the letter added.
Khoshrou also called on the UNSC president to release the letter as the Council’s document.
Ya’alon claimed last week that Israel would attack entire civilian neighborhoods during any future assault on Gaza or Lebanon.
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Ya’alon threatened that “we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion … we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”
The Israeli official also appeared to threaten to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, although he said “we are not there yet.”
In response to a question about Iran, Ya’alon said that “in certain cases” when “we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations” Israel might take “certain steps” such as the Americans did in “Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000.”
As if the Mideast weren’t troubled enough, we now learn from Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times that Saudi Arabia has apparently “taken the ‘strategic decision’ to acquire ‘off-the-shelf’ atomic weapons from Pakistan.”
This and many recent similar stories blame the emergence of Saudi Arabia’s alleged nuclear ambitions on President Barack Obama’s perceived failure to check Iran. “Saudi Arabia is so angry at the emerging nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers that it is threatening to develop its own nuclear capability — one more indication of the deep differences between the United States and the Persian Gulf Arab states over the deal,” commented The New York Times in an editorial on May 15.
Saudi Arabia has been playing the nuclear card for years, however. In 2003, the Saudis leaked a “strategic review” that included the option of acquiring a “nuclear capability” as a deterrent. The Guardian, which broke the story, called it a “worrying development” that reflected “Riyadh’s estrangement from Washington” and “worries about an Iranian nuclear programme.”
In 2006, Saudi Arabia announced its interest in developing a nuclear energy program with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. As journalists reported at the time, “Few observers doubt that promoting the idea of a joint atomic energy program between the predominantly Sunni Arab states is a way for Saudi Arabia to send a message to the United States that the Arab state will match Tehran’s nuclear power if it needs to.”
Years have passed without the Saudis making good on these threats. And, there are strong reasons to question the veracity of leaks about Riyadh’s nuclear intentions now. Many experts seriously doubt whether the Saudis really intend to break their treaty obligations and risk international sanctions by trying to acquire nuclear weapons, particularly when they have lived with a nuclear-armed Israel for years.
Saudi Arabia would require many years to build nuclear weapons from scratch; the country has only a very modest atomic energy research program, not a single nuclear power reactor, and no known enrichment facilities. Thus Riyadh’s nuclear ambitions only make sense if Saudi Arabia has, as often claimed, arranged with Islamabad to obtain fully armed nuclear weapons in exchange for financing Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Such claims, while not totally implausible, remain “speculation,” according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a leading NGO devoted to proliferation issues. Stories about the Pakistan connection originated with a former Saudi diplomat who defected to the United States in the 1990s. He also claimed that Saudi Arabia provided almost $5 billion to Saddam Hussein to finance an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.
“Riyadh has denied the veracity of Khilewi’s statements, and most experts dismiss their credibility,” according to NTI. “Most analysts believe it highly unlikely Pakistan would ever follow through with such an agreement, were it to even exist, given a host of disincentives.”
The story has been kept alive over the years by Israeli intelligence leaks. As BBC news reported in 2013, “it is Israeli information – that Saudi Arabia is now ready to take delivery of finished warheads for its long-range missiles – that informs some recent US and NATO intelligence reporting. Israel of course shares Saudi Arabia’s motive in wanting to worry the US into containing Iran.”
Pakistan called the claim of a nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia “speculative, mischievous and baseless.” Of course, Islamabad would say that even if the deal were real. But Pakistan would face “huge disincentives” against transferring nuclear weapons, including the threat of international sanctions and the loss of military aid from Washington, notes Philipp Bleek, a proliferation expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
“Moreover,” Bleek writes, “Pakistan is locked in an arms race with archrival India, and New Delhi’s long-term nuclear weapon production capabilities significantly exceed those of Islamabad, so the latter can ill-afford to spare a meaningful number of nuclear weapons.” Pakistan’s recent refusal to send troops to support Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen is further evidence that it is no puppet of Riyadh.
Bleek observes that the very frequency of leaks about Saudi Arabia’s nuclear intentions weighs against the seriousness of that threat:
“History suggests that while some states have trumpeted their potential desire for nuclear weapons — think Germany in the early years of the Cold War, or Japan more recently — they tend not to be those that later went on to actually acquire them. And for good reason: calling attention to proliferation intentions is counterproductive if one is intent on actually proliferating. Instead, states tend to draw attention to their potential proliferation in the service of another goal: rallying others to address the security concerns that are motivating potential proliferation, and especially securing protection from powerful allies.”
Saudi Arabia’s latest nuclear leaks may be having their intended effect of bolstering the Arab monarchy’s bargaining leverage with Washington. Although President Obama stopped short of promising a formal military alliance at the recent summit with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, he reaffirmed America’s “ironclad commitment to the security of our gulf partners,” and promised more wide-ranging military aid, including creation of “an early-warning capability for a regional missile defense system.”
The Obama administration should stop making such concessions in the face of dubious Saudi proliferation warnings. It should simply stick to its course of seeking a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. Such an agreement remains the best guarantee of Saudi Arabia’s long-term security. And in the short term, the Saudis have no legitimate reason to fear Iran’s nuclear program, which is one of the most closely inspected on Earth.
Iran has no known nuclear weapons capability and has enriched uranium only to levels useful for medical or peaceful atomic energy applications. The International Atomic Energy Agency has uncovered no substantiated evidence of Iran attempting to break out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Saudi Arabia is also a signatory.
If the Saudis ignore such evidence and really do seek nuclear weapons from Pakistan, the White House should take a hard line and follow the example set by the Ford administration in 1976, which warned South Korea that it would “review the entire spectrum of its relations” if Seoul moved to develop nuclear weapons.
Ideally, the United States should also begin exploring a more productive strategy for reassuring both Saudi Arabia and Iran without making concessions to either one. Instead of selling more arms, reaching new defense pacts, or cracking down further on Iran, why not get behind Saudi Arabia’s longstanding support for a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East?
That goal was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2012. It may be a political non-starter for now in Washington, but the surest way to reduce the risk of proliferation in the Middle East would be to inspect, control, and eventually eliminate the region’s one existing nuclear arsenal — in Israel.
An Israeli oil company has been ordered by a Swiss court to pay $1.1 billion to Iran in compensation in a long-standing legal battle related to a joint venture before the Islamic Revolution, the IRNA news agency says.
Citing an “informed source” at Iran’s Presidential Center for Legal Affairs, IRNA said the ruling relates to the Israeli company’s sale of Iranian oil and withholding the money.
Iran has been conducting three arbitration suits against Israel at French and Swiss courts in a legal tussle estimated worth several billion dollars.
The case relates to a joint venture established in 1968 under the defunct shah of Iran to ship the country’s oil to the Israeli port of Eilat in the Mediterranean for export to Europe.
Iran cancelled the contract after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 because the country doesn’t recognize Israel.
Tel Aviv, instead, expropriated Iran’s assets and launched its own litigation offensive against the Islamic Republic, which has been dismissed at international courts.
According to IRNA, the latest ruling pertains to a case related to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)’s delivery of 14.75 million cubic meters of crude oil worth $450 million to Israel’s Trans-Asiatic Oil Ltd. or TAO.
In 1989, the Swiss court initially ordered TAO to pay $500 million to Fimarco Anstalt, a company registered before the revolution in Lichtenstein by NIOC.
The court put off proceedings for interest claims then, issuing a final ruling only this month, which ordered TAO to pay $1.1 billion in addition to $7 million in legal fees, IRNA quoted the source as saying.
The source said Iran has also launched a case against TAO in Panama’s courts for implementation of the ruling and original claims against the Israeli firm.
Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court has reportedly allowed Iranian clients to file an arbitration claim for $7 billion against Israel.
The original claim is related to Iran’s shares in the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. (EAPC), as well as two oil ports and storage facilities, and a fleet of tankers which have been expropriated by Israel.
The Tel Aviv regime has issued a secrecy order under which any information about the company’s operations and news of arbitration is subject to military censorship.
The EAPC, part of TAO, is one of the most secretive companies in Israel, operating under a special legal force since 1968.
The company enjoys immunity from public control and regime supervision including its comptroller as well as the Knesset and the media.
The Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. was built in the aftermath of the Sinai operation of 1956 against Arab armies.
During the years that Israel controlled Sinai, Israel stole pumps and pipes from Italian and Belgian firms operating oil fields in the peninsula and built the pipeline from Eilat.
Ayelet Shaked, justice minister in the new Israeli government, gets a pass today in a “Saturday Profile” by Jodi Rudoren. Although Shaked is noted for her extremist rightwing views, it seems she faced no challenges in her interview with The New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief. The story we find here is all about style and personality.
Rudoren makes a quick run through some of the most disturbing elements of Shaked’s agenda, noting that she favors annexing most of the West Bank, deporting African asylum seekers, limiting the power of the Supreme Court, punishing Israeli groups that criticize the occupation and creating laws that enshrine the rights of Jews over other groups.
There is no discussion of what this means for the future of Israelis and Palestinians apparently no attempt to engage the new justice minister over these issues. We learn that Shaked has drawn heated criticism (some of it sexist) and that she is “the most contentious appointment” in the new government, but we get no deeper look into her motivations.
Only one of her critics, the Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, is identified by name in the article. She is quoted briefly as saying that Shaked’s appointment is a “threat to peace and security” and “generates a culture of hate and lawlessness,” but Rudoren fails to examine the factors that inspire these fears.
Instead, the focus here is on Shaked’s reaction. We learn that she responded to the criticism that accompanied her appointment with a “this-too-shall-pass shrug,” a characteristic attitude according to those close to her. They have called her a “robot” and “the computer,” because she is not given to emotion. Her style is analytical and methodical, Rudoren tells us, and she is “disciplined” and “a doer.”
We also learn that Shaked studied ballet as a child, joined the Scouts and did well in math. In the same paragraph, as if this were one more dab of color in her resume, Rudoren informs us that Shaked served as an instructor in the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade in Hebron and “grew close to the religious Zionist settlers.” Her experience there “cemented her stance on the right.”
This bit of information calls for more discussion. Hebron settlers are noted for their violence against the indigenous Palestinians, and it would serve readers well to know why Shaked identified with them so closely.
Shaked is a member of the extremist Jewish Home party that opposes any kind of autonomy for Palestinians. One of its members is the racist rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, who has said that Palestinians “are beasts; they are not human” and that “a Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile even if he is a homosexual.” (Rabbi Dahan has been named as head of the Civil Administration, the Israeli army agency in charge of the West Bank.)
This is the company that Shaked keeps, but the extremism of her party is off topic in this article. Although we get hints of her ultraconservative stance in the story, Rudoren skips over these clues quickly, preferring to dwell on style and trivia.
Rudoren should be asking what Shaked’s appointment means for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and what it means for dissident Palestinians and Jews in Israel, but this not in her sights. Her aim here, it seems, is to conceal the grim reality of Israel’s racist government, to make light of an ominous turn in Israeli society.