Israeli Rabbis Ban Marriage for Jewish “Untouchables”

Two immigrants from the former Soviet Union staged a very public wedding in the streets of central Tel Aviv this week to highlight the plight of hundreds of thousands of Jews barred from lawfully marrying in Israel.

Nico Tarosyan and Olga Samosvatov chose to tie the knot in a special ceremony on Tuesday — watched by family, friends and curious passers-by — after Orthodox rabbis had denied them the right to wed.

The rabbinate says that Mr Tarosyan cannot prove he is Jewish according to its strict standards and therefore should not marry Ms Samosvatov, who is considered a proper Jew.

Mr Tarosyan, aged 34, who moved to Israel from Moscow in 1995, called his treatment by the rabbis “humiliating”.

“In Russia we were hated because we were Jews, and here in Israel we are discriminated against as Russians,” he said.

An underclass of Jews has emerged in Israel since the early 1990s, when more than one million immigrants began pouring into Israel following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Many were entitled to emigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, which requires only that they have a single Jewish grandparent. But the authorities — keen to bolster the number of Jews in Israel’s demographic battle with the Palestinians — also allowed some to arrive with little documentation or faked papers.

This set the new immigrants on a collision course with Israel’s Orthodox rabbis, who regard themselves as guarding the Jewish people’s ethnic and religious purity, said Ofer Kornfeld, the chairman of Havaya, an organisation that officiates at unrecognised weddings like the one conducted in Tel Aviv this week.

“Civil marriages are not possible in Israel,” he said. “So the rabbis get to decide who can marry and who cannot.”

Israel has passed control of all matters relating to personal status — births, marriages and divorces, and deaths — to rabbis belonging to the strictest stream of Judaism, Orthodoxy.

Havaya, said Mr Kornfeld, offered unrecognised, secular and non-Orthodox Jews the chance to marry in a ceremony that retained Jewish rituals while tailor-making the event to their own convictions.

Official figures show that as many as 350,000 Jews are classified by the rabbinate as having “no religion”, and are therefore unable to marry in Israel. Their only option is to wed abroad — the marriage is then recognised on their return.

These immigrants face major hurdles in seeking to prove their Jewishness to the rabbis’ satisfaction. They must produce evidence that they have a Jewish mother or grandmother in a procedure that can be upsetting to those affected, said Mr Kornfeld.

“Many don’t even try because they know it’s a difficult and humiliating process that can take months or even years to complete and there is no guarantee of success.”

For a man, the rabbis demand that he prove he is circumcised and produce a birth certificate stating that his mother was a Jew, a proof many immigrants from the former Soviet Union have difficulty providing.

“It may help if you can prove that your mother spoke Yiddish or, if she is dead, supply a photo of her gravestone with a Magen [Star of] David,” said Mr Kornfeld.

Mr Tarosyan, a computer engineer, said that, although he failed to impress the rabbis, both his parents were considered Jews in Russia. In Moscow, he said, neighbours had daubed anti-Semitic graffiti on the family’s door.

Ms Samosvatov, 29, who immigrated from Ukraine with her mother when she was 15, said although the couple considered this week’s wedding in Tel Aviv to be the true ceremony, they were saving to travel to Prague later in the year to conduct a recognised wedding.

Mr Kornfeld said they would be following in the path of a growing number of Israelis. “About 6,000 couples wed abroad each year, often in eastern Europe. That’s about a fifth of all marriages.”

It is not only Jews classified as without a religion who are forced to leave the country, he said. Many recognised but secular Jews, who do not wish to submit to an Orthodox ceremony, tie the knot abroad, as do those marrying across religious divisions.

Israel’s Muslim, Christian and Druze citizens — comprising nearly a fifth of the population — have their own separate religious authorities who are given exclusive oversight of weddings.

Demands to reform the law have been growing for more than a decade, but every parliamentary bill on civil marriage has been defeated, usually following stiff resistance from the religious parties.

However, a new bill, approved by a ministerial committee last month, seems more likely to become law. It allows for a limited form of civil marriage that applies only to couples where both lack a religious status. Mr Tarosyan and Ms Samosvatov would not qualify as the rabbis consider one of them a Jew.

The religious parties were forced to agree to the Civil Marriage Bill as a condition for entering the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in the spring. The compromise was needed because civil marriage was the key platform of another coalition partner, the far-right Yisreal Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, who is now facing corruption charges. The party draws heavy support from the Russian-speaking population.

The liberal Haaretz newspaper welcomed the bill as a “first crack in the religious monopoly” on marriage, but other observers have doubts.

Avirama Golan, writing in the same paper, warned that the law would apply only to a tiny number of couples and would in practice entrench the power of the rabbis, who before approving a wedding would still force couples to submit to lengthy and humiliating investigations to ensure that neither was a Jew.

She added that such couples would be forced into a ghetto, giving “birth to their shunned children who will marry among themselves and be registered separately in the communal records”.

The rabbis’ agreement to the reform, analysts point out, was possible because the bill maintains barriers preventing assimilation between the majority designated as real Jews and those the rabbis consider “without religion”.

Mr Kornfeld said the rabbis’ grip on marriage has continued even though nearly 70 per cent of Israeli Jews defined themselves as secular. Even among the religious, some regard themselves as belonging to the more moderate Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism.

Conversion to Orthodoxy is tightly restricted by the rabbinate, with only a few hundred people approved each year. Those converting are forced to adopt a strictly observant lifestyle for themselves and their children.

A general lack of sympathy for the problems of recent Russian immigrants was reflected in a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute this week. It found that half of all Israelis polled believed that only those born in Israel could be a “true Israeli”. Conversely, only 28 per cent of Russian-speaking immigrants in their 30s saw their future in Israel.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

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  1. Michael Kenny said on August 6th, 2009 at 12:39pm #

    An amusing little thought: the definition of a Jew in the Law of Return is the nazi definition!
    An interesting little thought: very few young, Russian-born Jews want to remain in Israel. One third of Israel’s Jews are foreign-born and for many, I would guess, it’s the Israeli passport they want. It’s easier to get into many countries on an Israeli passport than on a Russian one. I think that’s the pattern for the future. Israel will just “waste away”. The old will die off and the young will leave. Another bit of encouraging news for Palestinians!

  2. Ike said on August 6th, 2009 at 1:38pm #

    Somebody ought to remind all who subscribe to “purity” traditions and practices that exclusivity breeds contempt!

  3. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on August 6th, 2009 at 2:39pm #

    if socalled jews [meaning an amalgam of hundreds of ethnicities] want to establish a state for ‘jews’ only, there appear about two ways to do it: expulsion of pal’ns or treat them like dogs so that they wld leave the doghouse.

    otherwise, both an israel or a ‘jewish state’, wld evanesce. Expulsion, as far as israeli wishes go, wld have been done long time ago, if it wasn’t for the west!

    and now that US has a presence in iraq and afgh’n, strategic importance, and of tactical not even to talk, further decreases.
    and having jordan onside, egypt, s. arabia, emirates, maghreb onside, renders israel even less significant.

    ‘jewish’ peculiar cultishness is another heavy burden to carry since world plutos only worship money.
    If the ‘jewish’ supranaturalness wld in any way impede ‘free’ trade, that alone may doom it.
    oh, yes, its a passing fancy even in this century let alone in infinity of time!
    and once iran and syria get puppetized, still one more nail in israel’s coffin.

  4. Annie Ladysmith said on August 6th, 2009 at 10:32pm #

    So if i take a picture of my grandmother’s grave with a Magen chiseled on it, and i get my friend Maria to utter a few words of broken yiddish into a recorder, sounding like a phlemy old lady, about her daughter who can’t speak yiddish, but is nonetheless a real Jew, and maybe throw in a few pictures of myself at the doorway of a Beth Israel with a yamaka on, does it sound like i have a good chance of being a Jew too. i’d jump at the chance to be in the army and then maybe i could get a few square feet it to squat in on the left bank
    Those Russians are just soo very desperate!

  5. jon s said on August 7th, 2009 at 4:56am #

    Michael Kenney,
    Sorry, you’re wrong: The definition of a Jew in the Law of Return is a person who :
    (a)was born to a Jewish mother
    (b) or converted
    (c) and does not belong to another religion
    The Nazi definition was purely racial.
    You’re wrong on your other point, too. Having an Israeli passport is no advantage, Israel isn’t part of the EU, and in some countries it would even be risky to use. Non-Jews come to Israel mainly because of Jewish relatives, or for economic reasons, for employment opportunities. Israel is certainly not “wasting away”.
    What’s a “Magen”? Do you mean a Magen David?
    What’s a “yamaka”? Do you mean a yarmulka? (It’s not required for women anyway)
    What’s the “left bank”? Do you mean the West Bank?
    You really should avoid writing about topics that you know very little about , as was evident from your previous posts.

  6. sal said on August 7th, 2009 at 6:21am #

    “The definition of a Jew in the Law of Return is a person who :
    (a)was born to a Jewish mother
    (b) or converted
    (c) and does not belong to another religion
    The Nazi definition was purely racial.”

    Hmmm.. so, you mean the “Law of Return” is really a typical piece of Israeli up-side-down BS. Israelis are just not great at logic are they, just very good at utter BS. How/where do u “return” to if u “converted”? And maybe you could define race for us, oh clever boy.

  7. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on August 7th, 2009 at 9:05am #

    in reality the word “jew”, being a symbol and we being a symbolic class of life, we must evaluate it correctly: it does not symbolize a human being- it symbolizes a cultist, supranaturalist, mosheist, talmudist, etc.

    it does not symbolize ethnicity/nationality as chinese, american, italian, brazilian, et al labels do.
    so, ‘zionists’ cannot fool anyone. They are desperate for cannon fodder that wld kill and die for their pipe dreams. But it seems that even intended victims are onto this fact.

    law of return is just another ‘jewish’ fiction. And that’s why people are leaving the hell that israel is. tnx

  8. jon s said on August 7th, 2009 at 11:59am #

    In this case I was simply setting the facts straight as to the definitions in that law. If it was up to me I would probably change it.
    The Nazis didn’t care whether you had a Jewish mother or father, and it didn’t matter to them whether the person had converted away from Judaism. You could have been a practising Christian all your life, but if you had “Jewish blood” – you were condemned. That’s what I meant that the Nazi definition was purely racial (which is, of course, nonsense).
    And I don’t see what the problem is with the logic. A people return to their ancestral homeland, and one can join those people by converting.
    There’s a problem only if you accept the racist definition.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 7th, 2009 at 5:49pm #

    jon, its not a question of ‘ A people return to their ancestral homeland,..’, it is a question of a group of influential Europeans, with tenuous links to the region, two millenia past, asserting their right to launch a typical European colonial enterprise with the usual killing, dispossession and dispersal of the ‘two-legged animals’, the indigenous, who get in their way. Of course the Judaic colonial effort, Zionism, was complicated by the Judaic belief that their colonial project was divinely ordained, that they were a superior people in every way,that God was behind them and that the indigenous, if they resisted might be dealt with in the manner outlined in the ‘Holy Torah’ in the Book of Joshua, ie genocidally. That the Nazi Judeocide occured before the Zionist project had been realised no doubt partly explains the intractability and the extreme cruelty of Zionism in practice,the sheer sadistic racism, the utter refusal to treat their indigenous victims as other than ‘two-legged animals’.
    The sad truth jon is that the two-state solution will only be realised if the Palestinian state is a true state, with its own army, like Israel, its own foreign relations with whoever it chooses, like Israel, and total control of its airspace and electronic media, like Israel. The electronic zoo proffered by Netanyahu, as a ‘state’ was a coldly calculated, racist, insult, by an individual who, I am certain, regards himself and his tribe as a higher type than his victims.
    Moreover the two-state solution must include the Right of Return of the Palestinians ethnically cleansed in 1948. I simply do not accept that international law and basic decency must apply to everyone but the Israelis. Ethnic cleansing is a crime-there is no exemption for Israel or when the victims are Palestinian ‘two-legged animals’ in Zionist parlance. Of course all this tends to make a multi-ethnic state over all of Canaan an eventual inevitability. The only alternative seems to be tragically coming to pass. Israel is descending into clerico-fascism, its politics becoming even more brutal, racially supremacist and exclusivist, its treatment of the Palestinians ever more barbaric, its foreign aggressions even more belligerent and dangerous and its exercise of its political, media and business power through Judaic money power in the West ever more unrestrained, authoritarian and repressive of any opinion that questions Israel’s divine prerogatives. In other words a recipe for disaster, an apocalypse of violence. The Christian Zionists are no doubt slavering at the prospect.

  10. Suthiano said on August 7th, 2009 at 6:29pm #

    “The Nazis didn’t care whether you had a Jewish mother or father, and it didn’t matter to them whether the person had converted away from Judaism. You could have been a practising Christian all your life, but if you had “Jewish blood” – you were condemned.”

    Gypsies, Poles, Slovenes and Serbs were all to be targeted for extermination. More than 6,000 Karait jews were spared because of their special background. In addition, according to Donald Kendrick and Gratton Puxton, “Certain classes of Jews with mixed parentage were retained in the armed forces throughout the war”.

    It’s dishonest to frame the Second World War as the Evil Germans attempting to exterminate all “Jews”. It may be acceptable in school and the media, but it is not acceptable in a discussion at a place like Certainly not when such frameworks are being used to butress the Zionist cause.


  11. jon s said on August 8th, 2009 at 4:50am #

    Mulga , I wish you would stop referring to the Palesinians as “two-legged animals”. You do so repeatedly -3 times in this post alone- and it’s quite offensive. And don’t say that your attributing the term to me or any other Zionist.
    The rest of your post is the usual Anti-Semitic hatred. By the way the book of Joshua is not part of the Torah, it’s part of Prophets, not that it makes much difference to you.

  12. jon s said on August 8th, 2009 at 5:03am #

    The Poles, Gypsies , Serbs and Slovenes all suffered greatly at the hand of the Nazis, but the Jews were singled out for total annihilation.
    The Karaites were spared only because the Nazis decided that they were not Jews by race.
    Yes indeed , the evil Nazi Germans did attempt to exterminate all Jews.
    If you deny the reality of the Holocaust – that’s what should not be acceptable here on DV.

  13. mary said on August 8th, 2009 at 6:09am #

    On June 8, 1982, Begin addressed the Knesset in response to a no-confidence motion over Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. He talked about defending the children of Israel, and according to a June 9, 1982 AP report, “his voice quaver[ed] with anger and sadness.” According to the minutes of the session, Begin stated:

    The children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington, in Moscow, and in Peking, in Paris and in Rome, in Oslo, in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. The fate of… Jewish children has been different from all the children of the world throughout the generations. No more. We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off, and our children will grow up in joy in the homes of their parents.


    He did not mention the Occupation then 34 years old nor the IDF terrrorism. The construction of the Wall was not started until 1992.

    He sounded almost as good as Moses.

  14. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on August 8th, 2009 at 7:03am #

    suthiano, with respect,
    slovenes, who were once part of austrian empire and later Austro-hungarian empire, feared assimilation by austrians.
    Slovenes, to the best of my knowledge, were not targetted for eilimination by nazis.
    Slovenia had been puppetized by germany and in spite of its partizan forces, i know of no report of atrocities committed against slovenes by germans or slovene ‘gov’t’.

    germans, austrians, croats, and hungarians have held serbs responsible for the outbreak of WW1.
    even so, serbs were not marked for extinction by any of the above-mentioned peoples.

    croat’n puppet ‘gov’t’ wanted to slay/expel as many croat’n serbs as they cld.
    and they have slain about 120K serbs, 30K croats, and 20K ‘jews’ and romas . Also may have expelled some serbs, who later returned to chetnik- or partizan-controled areas.
    however, it can be noted that croat’n puppet ‘gov’t’ had controlled little or next to nothing of bosnia and littoral croatia.
    littoral croatia was controlled by partizans and italy. Neither deported serbs or ‘jews’.
    thus at least some ‘jews’ left parts of croatia controled by Ustashe for littoral croatia.
    according to partizan history, of 11 partizan corps situated in ex-yuga, 5 were in croatia. tnx

  15. jon s said on August 8th, 2009 at 7:21am #

    Thanks for the exact date, I did remember that it was Begin’s term. As you can see , the “2-legged animals” referred to terrorists who deliberately target children. Such people -from whatever nationality or political side -are in my view beyond humanity, and the term is perhaps an insult to animals.
    In any case no one attributes the term to the entire Palestinian people, except Mulga.

  16. Annie Ladysmith said on August 8th, 2009 at 8:50am #

    The evil Germans and the evil Zionists plotted and collaborated together to bring about the Zionist state. If you were a jew who didn’t want to go to a sandbox the desert then the Zionists disowned you, did nothing to help you. The Nazi’s and the Zionists got along, they had similar goals, they talked the same language.
    Let’s just say there are Jews who can trace there heritage back to the middle east but there are also a LOT of Wesrern Europeans who can do the same thing.(Nat. Geographic Genotype Project). Perhaps they are the long lost Israelites, perhaps they should kick the Jews out and move in? After all most of it is there ancient land.
    Jon, you miss the point about the little hats and the sides of the divide,
    the point is it is all so ridiculous. No one in Israel can be certain of their ancestral tree, not after 2000 years, using this choosen race thing is stupid, especially since you all look english.
    And Jon, Joshua was a judge not a prophet, please don’t write about things you have little knowledge of. Bye-bye.

  17. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on August 8th, 2009 at 9:03am #

    annie, with love [btw, are you for sale or on sale?] Sounds to me, you cannot be bought? I cld! But have day off, so b’bye!
    it is a fact that noone can foretell any event; thus, the word “prophet” is just another shamefulness by talmudniks, mosheists, or judaists. tnx

  18. jon s said on August 8th, 2009 at 9:19am #

    Any comparison of Nazis and Zionists is an obscene lie. The Nazis wanted to murder the Jews, the Zionists wanted a Jewish state. How are these similar goals? They are contradictory!
    Of course noone can be sure of an ancestral tree ,and it doesn’t matter , unless you’re a racist.
    We all “look english”? How can you be so ignorant?. Have you ever visited Israel?

  19. Annie Ladysmith said on August 8th, 2009 at 10:14am #

    Dear Jon, with all love and respect but the Nazis and the Zionists trully did collaborate during WWII. In the pictures from that time it is hard to tell which is which they are so intently studying the data together.
    The Zionists wanted the rich German Jews to migrate to Palastine with all their wealth and money. If the people didn’t want to go live in Tinbukktu, then their money was split up and the Zionists could have cared less what happened to those Jewish families. It was about the wealth all along. The Jewish families on the Spirit of St. Louis could simply have sailed to Palastine but they didn’t want to live in a dessert with no education for their children so they traveled the world hoping someplace would take them in. Isn’t it ironic that the US has been a haven for Jews from every nation but they wouldn’t allow a boat load of educated German Jewish families to drop anchor and come immediately ashore? There had to be an order from the top, and the people on the St. Louis were an example to hold up to all the rich Jews of Europe. The Zionists aren’t interested in poor or ethnic Jews, that’s why they make these rules to keep out the poor rift-raft from Russia.

  20. dan e said on August 8th, 2009 at 11:35am #

    cf. Lenni Brenner, “51 instances of nazi-zionist cooperation”, just google Lenni Brenner, lots of other good bks by Lenni

    Nazism & Zionism both rooted in Bismarck’s “Blut und Boden” (blood and soil) mythology.

  21. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on August 8th, 2009 at 12:22pm #

    in at least one aspect nazis can be compared with ‘zionists’.
    nazis have offered ‘jews’ a place in madagasscar but ‘zionists’ wld have none of that; for obvious reasons. Few if any ‘jews’, wld have gone to madagascar.

    ‘zionists’ are offering pal’ns jordan; pal’ns will have none of that as well.
    so, ‘zionists’ can establish a ‘jewish’ state, only by slaughtering or expelling pal’ns.
    it is mostly US which is stopping ‘zionists’ from realizing their fervent hopes/will.
    thus, in this aspect ‘jews’ are exactly the same as the nazis have been.
    nazis believed in their superiority to slavs, romas, and ‘jews’; ‘jews’ think their superior to all goyim and also openly declare their supranaturalness. this far exceeds even nazi sick thinking.
    no cult had gone this far! tnx

  22. mary said on August 8th, 2009 at 2:20pm #

    Re another charge of anti-Semitism from a Jewish lobby group.

    “Letters to the Globe and Mail”

    August 8, 2009

    Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber attacks the United Church for considering resolutions supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions resolutions at its upcoming conference in Kelowna. He characterizes the resolutions, which are designed to pressure Israel to abide by international law and to rectify its disregard for Palestinian rights, as anti-Semitic. (United Church resolution is anti-Semitic, CJC says)

    Although Mr. Farber and the CJC purport to speak for Canadian Jews, this is not the case. Furthermore, it is not anti-Semitic to debate issues and take actions designed to bring an end to the longstanding crisis in Israel and Palestine. At its recent annual general meeting in Ottawa, our organization – which represents a growing number of Jews across Canada – passed its own resolution endorsing boycott, divestment and sanctions as part of a growing international campaign to end the Israeli government’s intransigence.

    Contrary to Mr. Farber and the CJC, we believe that the United Church is to be commended for having the courage to confront this highly important issue.

    Sid Shniad
    Co-chair, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
    Surrey, BC

  23. Suthiano said on August 8th, 2009 at 3:24pm #

    “If you deny the reality of the Holocaust – that’s what should not be acceptable here on DV.”

    What reality? the one that you would try to foist on me and which is not in accordance with the available evidence?

    In “reality” there were too many jews killed during the period referred to as the “holocaust” which actually means burnt offering or sacrifice (Yahweh was moved by Abel and his holocaust). There were also too many gypsies killed, and too many poles, canadians and even germans. You cannot force me to accept any other “reality”.

  24. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 8th, 2009 at 6:46pm #

    Of course jon, Israelis are not all Nazis, or racists or fascists, just as not all Germans were Nazis, racists or fascists. But the Israeli state, its political overlords and its military, intelligence and fundamentalist leadership can certainly be compared to the Nazis. There is the same doctrine of being a ‘Chosen People’ or Herrenvolk, not conceived of as a moral obligation, but as a straight assertion of racial supremacy. Both Nazi states, like that other racist state, apartheid South Africa, saw their assertion of their right to the land of others, to be achieved by driving out the indigenous inhabitants, as non-negotiable. Both Germany and Israel demanded lebensraum in the East, from which the untermenschen would be cleansed without mercy.
    Of course there are many areas where Israel is different from Nazi Germany. The nearest Israel ever got to a Fuhrer was probably Begin or Sharon. Israelis are still free to contest their Government’s evil policies, and many, to their eternal credit, do so. The terror apparatus of a Gestapo, assassination, ‘disappearances’ and routine torture are not visited on Israelis. No, they are kept for the ‘two-legged animals’ as Begin et al called them, the imprisoned Palestinians, assailed by four Gestapos at once-Mossad, Shin Bet, the IDF, the ‘border police’ and I almost forgot, the Judaic Taliban, the murderous ‘settlers’.
    What you really need to do jon is stop pretending. Stop playing the ‘good Zionist’ role. Just admit that your conception of a two-party solution involves a Palestinian state, as outlined by Netanyahu, as nothing more than a glorified internment camp, run by Palestinian sonderkommandoes following Israeli orders. If this is not so, if you really support a proper state on all of the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, with just whatever armed forces and foreign relations it proposes, not what the ubermenschen see fit to grant them, please say so. Then I’ll apologise for misjudging you.

  25. mary said on August 8th, 2009 at 8:25pm #

    It is shameful that the shoah in Gaza has been followed by an even greater siege than the preceeding one. There have been millions of empty words written in scores of reports by international bodies but absolutely no help has been given or building materials allowed in by the Occupiers.

    Not far away in the Mediterranean the Quartet Envoy and war criminal Blair has been sunning himself on a $140 million yacht co-owned by two enormously and obscenely rich Jewish friends of his, Larry Ellison and David Geffen. He has visited Gaza just the once since Operation Cast Lead and was seen scuttling along surrounded by heavies. He too is a sham.

    Crippled academia unable to recover in Gaza

    Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 6 August 2009

    One of the laboratories at the Islamic University destroyed by Israel more than six months ago is yet to be rebuilt. (photo)

    More than six months after Israel’s winter invasion of Gaza, a number of partially or largely damaged universities await reconstruction. Raw materials essential for rebuilding are unavailable in Gaza primarily because of Israel’s 26-month blockade of the tiny territory. Coupled with the wide-scale destruction from Israel’s 22-day onslaught, the siege has crippled most aspects of public life for Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.

    In late December 2008, Israeli operated, American-made F-16 jets bombed Gaza’s Islamic University. The university’s laboratories and several buildings were destroyed.

    Dr. Kamalin Shaath, President of the Islamic University, explained that “The buildings are still demolished, all we did was remove the rubble. We are looking forward to beginning the reconstruction.”

    Dr. Shaath added that “The students of the engineering faculty lost their graduation projects. Other sectors in Gaza were impacted due to the destruction of the laboratories. For example, the agriculture sector used to benefit from the university’s labs for testing soil.”

    Ahmad al-Asmar, a student at the Islamic University of Gaza, explained that he has been “greatly impacted and saddened due to the destruction of our laboratories. However, we are determined to continue our academic life.”

    To cope with the needs of students and faculty the university has created makeshift labs. The university also sent out messages of protest to relevant international organizations like the International Federation of Universities. However, Dr. Shaath stated that “All we received from various bodies were merely message of verbal solidarity. I can understand there must he some kind of political pressure. But I can assure you that we are determined to keep up our academic life, despite such a great loss.”

    There is a similar scene at nearby al-Aqsa University, which was also damaged during Israel’s invasion. The entire community education facility that was under-construction was completely destroyed. Also destroyed was al-Azhar University of Gaza’s agricultural college and its Spanish institute. According to university officials at the al-Aqsa University, financial losses due to the invasion are estimated at more than $1.5 million dollars.

    Ayman al-Derawi, head of al-Aqsa University’s Engineering Department, stated that “There are many essential goods and commodities that are lacking here because of the Israeli siege. We have had to place plastic covers over broken windows in order to cope with the situation.”

    International organizations have been unable or unwilling to assist the university because of Israel’s siege and pressure by the United States. Dr. al-Derawi explained that an organization based in the United Arab Emirates “has offered a small portion of funding for an immediate reconstruction” of several buildings.

    Ahmad Abu Aisha, an undergraduate math student at al-Aqsa University expressed his outrage at the situation, stating that “The Israeli army deliberately attempted to damage our academic life. More than one university was either partially or largely damaged.”

    In addition to the universities, an American school in northern Gaza was totally destroyed by Israel. Moreover, several schools run by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) across Gaza were damaged by Israeli shelling. As the new academic year approaches, the third under Israel’s siege, Gaza’s universities and schools remain in desperate need of reconstruction.

    Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

    PS I agree with Mulga about the phoniness of the ‘so reasonable’ jon S. I don’t buy any goods off his stall. Mebosa Ritchie is at least more transparent.

  26. jon s said on August 9th, 2009 at 5:21am #

    One last note on Joshua : the Book of Joshua is the first book in the second part of the Bible, which is called Nevi’im (“Prophets”). “Torah” is the first part.
    The rest of your post is very confused and self- contradictory. The fact that the people on the St.Louis was not allowed into the US is the fault of the Zionists? They couldn’t come to Israel/Palestine even if they had wanted to because of the British restrictions ,the “White Paper”.
    The Zionists “didn’t want” Russian Jews? “Poor or ethnic Jews”? (Incidentally what are ethnic Jews? Are there non-ethnic Jews?)
    The Zionists made up rules? What rules? The British made the rules in Palestine, the Americans made their rules, what kind of rules did the Zionists make? To keep Jews out? Do you realize how crazy that is?
    You have no idea what you’re talking about! I suggest that you do some studying before you embarass yourself with such nonsense.
    Again: The Nazis wanted to murder as many Jews as possible, the Zionists wanted to save as many as they could and establish a Jewish state. Some basis for “collaboration”. .. And what pictures are you referring to?

  27. jon s said on August 9th, 2009 at 5:38am #

    I don’t need your approval or apology. I note that you repeat your obssesive use of Nazi German terminology, and once again refer to the Palestinians as “2-legged animals”, which seems to be what you really think of them, but I find quite offensive.
    Mary ,
    “Shoah” is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, certainly inapropriate to describe conditions in Gaza.
    There is no real “siege” of Gaza, there are restrictions, which I don’t see being lifted as long as Gilad Shalit is not released, or at least accorded humane treatment as a POW.

  28. mary said on August 9th, 2009 at 8:19am #

    Have you been to Gaza to see the after effects of that inhumanity so sickeningly named Operation Cast Lead conjuring up images of presents for children, namely dreidles for Hannukah? I know several people who have and they say the Warsaw ghetto has nothing on the Gaza Strip and that conditions there are worse than ever.

    The Israelis are now allowing in a one-off consignment of cement, finally bowing to presssure and to divert any attention to the increase in settlement building and evictions.

    How can you possibly pretend to justify such cruelty as the people of Gaza have endured and are enduring still?

    Mr Tamir has been a naughty boy and has been recalled from the US by Bibi for a telling off. Perhaps he will he handed on to Shin Bet for some of their treatment.

    PS Vilnai promised the ‘shoah’. I haven’t invented the word or its use.

  29. mary said on August 9th, 2009 at 2:58pm #

    This is another person I admire greatly.

    Barenboim dedicates concert to Jerusalem, ‘Arab cultural capital’
    By The Associated Press
    August 8th 2009

    Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim brought his troupe of young Arab and Israeli classical musicians to Geneva on Friday for a concert dedicated to the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said and the contentious choice of Jerusalem as this year’s Arab Cultural Capital.

    In a news conference that featured the iconoclastic Israeli conductor’s usual combination of humor and gravitas, art and politics, Barenboim said his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra offered another way of examining ideals of justice, humaneness and understanding that are often lacking in the Middle East conflict.

    /…… continues

  30. jon s said on August 10th, 2009 at 6:10am #

    Rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza, aimed at Israel and at the crossing, when Palestinian patients were being transferred for treatment. Typical of the Hamas:
    The comparison with the Warsaw Ghetto is obscene, you’re just making a fool of yourself. Let’s have a discussion , for once, without referring to the Holocaust in the context of the present situation.
    I’m not sure that allowing a shipment of cement is a good idea, if the Hamas still occasionally open fire and as long as Gilad Shalit is still treated with such cruelty.

  31. bozh said on August 10th, 2009 at 6:53am #

    neither US nor world jewry recognize any israel; thus, gazans were firing qassams at own territory which is occupied by aliens; some of which may have been atalmudic; i.e., of no yehudic faith.
    whatever the case, residents of sderot were land robbers; thus, pal’ns are legally and morally obligated to apply military force against them.
    in addition, children under 5, who always are 100% innocent, cld have been moved to safe areas unlike tots of gaza and palestine. tnx

  32. b99 said on August 10th, 2009 at 9:03am #

    From the top:

    Annie: Securing recognition as a Jew in Israel is not so much a matter of flimsy deception. The Orthodox have lots of power, so in return for cooperation on other political fronts, they long ago were given the authority to determine who is a Jew in Israel. The Orthos have seen evey trick, and thus their standards are rigorous. It is, of course, out of keeping with Western Democratic secular standards, but then again, democracy in Israel can be considered well-compromised for other reasons as well.

    Putting marriage law in the hands of religious authorities also enables Israel to minimalize assimilation of non-Jews into Israel. Outmarriage among Jews, Muslims, and Christians is miniscule, as marriage has to go through the religious courts each of which is in the hands of the respective religion. Thus a Jew cannot show up at the Orthodox alter with a Christian or Muslim on his/her arm. For that matter, it is very difficult for Christians and Muslims to intermarry. Its all about social control of the population.

    Sal – The Jews of Europe were largely of the same ‘race’ as the Germans. To be racist does not require there to be actual racial difference. The Nazis were racists even though Ashkenazi Jews may have been primarily European. So too were they racist against Slavs, though genetic differences between most Slav populations and most German populations are minimal.

    Jon S – There is no moral right to return to an alleged ‘ancestral homeland.’ If that were so, we would all have that right. The ‘right’ you refer to is one of ‘might’ – as in ‘might makes right.’ Jews, like people the world over, have migrated to the four-corners. There is no moral right to ‘return’ for those who willingly left – it is mere privilege enforced with armaments. The legal right of return enshrined in international law refers to the right of those forcibly evicted – that would be the Palestinians.

    Menachem Begin’s comments were (and are) racist. As we all know, the objective situation of the Palestinians is that they were violently evicted in 47-49 and again in 67 and are now being removed, dunam by dunam, from what little land they still cling to. As is natural for all self-respecting people, the Palestinians resist. It is this resistance that Begin characterizes as that of ‘two-legged animals’ or has been translated elswhere – ‘two-legged beasts.’ Or as another Israeli notable characterized Palestinians – ‘drugged cockroaches.’ The epithets flow easily from the mouths of Jews. And it should be remembered that it is Jews that target children, the numbers of Palestinian children killed by Jews almost equals the number of all Israelis killed – including soldiers. (And of course, the Palestinian children are killed in Palestine, the Israelis are also often killed in Palestine.)

    Annie – It’s an overstatement to say that Germans and Zionists plotted to bring about the Zionist state. That state is actually the gift of Britain. Not for want of trying! In the early days (pre-Nazi), Zionists DID engage in extensive discussions with Germany as a possible sponsor of a Zionist colony. Germany was heavily involved – as was Britain, France, and Russia – in colonizing the region. After the Nazis came to power, most Ashkenazi Jews quickly came to understand that Hitler and Mussolini (the lesser evil, for he had no intrinsic hatred of Jews) were maximally bad for world Jewry. However, the reactionary Jews – the Revisionists – didn’t get it, and that was because they subscribed to the same racial and ultranationalist politics as did the Nazis. So while the Jews of the West recoiled in horror at Nazism, Jabotinsky and his central European ilk actually collaborated with Nazism. They heard the Nazi message but preferred to ignore it in their attempt to establish a state for Jews in Palestine. The revisionist Jews, a distinct minority at the time, betrayed world Jewry. Ultimately, they triumphed and by 1967 had brought most Jews in the world to their brand of Zionism.
    PS – The early Zionists were French, German, and British Jews. They gave up on assimilation (though largely assimilated themselves), and their effort was to establish a Jewish state stocked with unassimilated Eastern European Jews of the Pale of Russia.

    Mulga – (a comment) – Israeli Jews are *largely* free to contest their governments policies. But those on the margins often find themselves proscribed and under social duress. Ilan Pappe was essentially forced to leave the country. Non-Israeli Jews are often not permitted entry if they espouse Palestinian human rights. And of course, Israeli-Palestinians who contest their Jim Crow plight or that of Apartheid Palestine find themselves spatially restricted and otherwise censured. Attacks by Jews upon Palestinans are permissible, even celebrated, and punishment is minimal to comical.

    Jon S – American Zionists were split on the issue of accepting Jewish refugees. The mainstream fought to have European Jews brought to America. A much smaller, though influential group realized – as did Ben Gurion in Europe – that Jews coming to America would be a subtraction to Jews going to Palestine – and so argued against acceptance into the US.

    Israel controls (in reality, drastically limits) ingress and egress of people, goods, services and money from Gaza. That is a siege. You can call it an embargo or boycott – but the proper word is siege. As you value Jewish life above all others, I understand why you see this Shalit guy as transcendent. But for the rest of us, Marwan Barghouti’s life is just as important, so too the lives of Hamas legislators in Israeli prisons, so too the more than 10,000 Palestinians rouned up in Israeli sweeps and thrown into prison without charge or trial. You have convinced yourself of the Shalit guy’s importance, but for those of us who believe in human rights, he is one of ten thousand plus whose names are never uttered on NPR. Imagine if it were Jews? In fact, what CNN did with the outbreak of the Intifada in 2000 (Actually in 2002) was to develop and devote an entire site to Israeli-Jews who were killed – not the many more Palestinians – just Jews. They felt compelled to do so, because after all, is not the intifada the same as the attacks of 9/11, are not Jews the same as Americans, are not Jews the worthy dead?

    The siege and occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has nothing to do with alleged rockets fired from Gaza. It has everything to do with the expropriation and annexation of the rest of what little remains of Palestine and the disappearance of the Palestinians as a cohesive people. You should be ashamed of yourself for not acknowledging cause and effect here. Do you think Israel puts settlers on the WB BECAUSE of some rockets? What do YOU think came first – the occupation or the bottle-rockets? The Iron-Wall policy, or the resistance?

  33. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 11th, 2009 at 3:46am #

    I see jon that you are dropping your ‘good Zionist’ disguise and the real jon is shining through. It never takes too long. I’m still waiting for your explanation of your vision of the ‘Palestinian state’. As I said, I suspect, more so now than ever, that it probably is like Netanyahu’s abomination, an electronic zoo, for those people the Zionists, following one of their terrorist demi-Gods, Begin, think of as ‘two-legged animals’. Try twisting that! By the by, what is your opinion of the terrorist former PMs of Israel, Begin, Shamir and Sharon? Or the semi-house trained terrorists like Ben-Gurion. I’d love to know.
    As for your frankly detestable whining on about Shalit, whose capture as a prisoner-of-war so insults your delusions of racial superiority that you see it as justification for the brutal collective punishment of over one million people ( a crime against humanity that I believe you have become complicit in by justifying it), just what is it about you racial supremacists that you see one captured Jew as a tragedy and outrage, but over ten thousand Palestinians, many imprisoned for years, some secretly, some, like Marwan Bhargouti, sentenced to life after show-trials and nearly all, as attested by human rights organs including Israeli ones, tortured, sometimes to death, are a matter of such little concern that you simply ignore it as if it never happened. Let me answer that one for you. In my opinion the answer is plain. Like most Israelis you do believe the insulting rubbish (insulting to the rest of humanity, that is)that the Jews are the Chosen Race set above the rest of humanity, and one Jew is more precious than 10,000 ‘drugged cockroaches’ any day.

  34. jon s said on August 11th, 2009 at 5:15am #

    Here it goes again…Mulga’a pet phrases : “the Chosen people” , “herrenvolk”,”Judaic money”, “Judaic power”…and the Palestinians are “2-legged animals”. Mulga, do you realize how insanely obssessed you are?

  35. bozh said on August 11th, 2009 at 6:24am #

    recall, please, there is no israel nor a talmudic state. Talmudic cult, one of the worst ever, and the talmudic or israeli state is a passing fancy.
    this why, methinks, ‘zionists’ rant, rage, dispair, traduce, etc.

    christo-islamic-plutocratic world will never accept talmudniks. tnx

  36. b99 said on August 11th, 2009 at 6:47am #

    Bozh – Do you type this stuff in a dream state?

  37. Don Hawkins said on August 11th, 2009 at 6:54am #

    Last night watching inspirational TV and this guy was telling people that we need to be different than the rest. Kind of like royalty taught from birth that they are special we to are special like that and we must be different than the rest. This man was so convincing that I may just sent them a check so I can feel like royalty. So cool the way this all work’s and so easy at least for a few more years.

  38. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 12th, 2009 at 2:15am #

    Yes, of course I’m obsessed jon. I’m obsessed by the injustice and cruelty dealt to the Palestinians for seventy years. I’m obsessed by child-murderers who demand that the world worship them, and who vilify and intimidate those who refuse. I’m obsessed by how one tiny tribe can control the global superpower, and turn it on the Moslem world, with millions of casualties so far, and more to come, and still demand total obeisance for their ‘moral superiority’. I’m obsessed as to how these millions of deaths are not simply denied, as with the abomination of Nazi genocide denialism, but simply ignored, as if they were a matter o absolutely no consequence at all. I’m obsessed by a religion that asserts that its tiny tribe of adherents are the supreme beings of the universe, with a soul as different from that of a non-Jew as a non-Jew’s souls is from that of an animal. I’m obsessed with the bitter irony, that says much about humanity in general, that those so foully mistreated by the Nazis, came to treat another people with similar malevolence within the space of only two years, and have kept up the mistreatment for generations. I’m obsessed with the moral and ethical debacle of Western politics, where Judaic money power and media control have purged all political positions but that of total surrender to Israeli policy priorities, even where it involves a wholly unnecessary and evil ‘Clash of Civilizations’ that is propelling the world to religious war. You bet I’m obsessed.

  39. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on August 12th, 2009 at 5:42am #

    mosheism, judaism, or talmudism appear- in infinity of time- passing fancies.
    recall the fate of israelites with the mosheic cult: gone w.o. trace. Yehudim
    and benjaminim largely or also completely vanishing for holding onto mosheism.
    then 3-5 mn talmudniks were slain with ‘zionist’ help by nazis.
    in the vast ocean of christians, muslims, and haters of the ‘jewish’ cult, how long before the cultists either give up on that abomination or go thru the fourth and final shoah?

    i also educe that most ‘jews’ who condemn israeli crimes do so because of the situation i have just described!!
    s’mbody s’mwhen-s’mwhere gotta pay for ‘jewsih’ crimes!!! tnx