Friday 31 August 2012

Citizen Adelson - On The Media



Friday, August 31, 2012

(Mike Clarke/Getty/Getty)

Turns out Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and, as of late, Mitt Romney supporter, also owns Israel’s most popular daily newspaper, Israel HaYom. Freelance Jerusalem-based journalistMatthew Kalman says the free, aggressively pro-Netanyahu paper has quickly come to dominate the market while its competitors downsize and slash staff.  


 Matthew Kalman


 Brooke Gladstone

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Israel court rules it was not at fault in 2003 death of U.S. activist killed by army bulldozer


DAILY MAIL, 28 August 2012

An Israeli judge has ruled that the death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 was an accident

An Israeli judge has ruled that the death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 was an accident
An Israeli judge has ruled that the death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 was an accident that she had brought on herself by entering a closed military zone at the height of the second intifada.
Corrie was 23 when she was killed in March 2003 as she and other members of the International Solidarity Movement acted as human shields to prevent the bulldozing of Palestinian homes in Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border.
The Israeli army said the buildings were being used to attack Israeli soldiers and as covers for entrances to weapons smuggling tunnels beneath the border.
Judge Oded Gershon dismissed a civil lawsuit brought by Corrie’s family against the state of Israel claiming symbolic damages of $1. 'I reject the suit,' the judge said. 'There is no justification to demand the state pay any damages.'
Reading from his 162-page verdict, the judge told the Haifa District Court that Corrie’s death was a 'regrettable accident' but could have been avoided if she had obeyed warning signs and a travel ban on the Gaza Strip issued by the US to its citizens.
The area had been formally declared 'a closed military zone' by the Israeli army, banning all civilians from entering.
'She did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done," he said.
He rejected the claim of negligence, saying the driver of the bulldozer could not see her. 'She consciously put herself in harm’s way,' Gershon said.
The driver testified that he did not see Corrie or even know he had hit her until after the accident.
The judge slammed the International Solidarity Movement, saying it 'abuses the human rights discourse to blur its actions which are de facto violence.'
The judge continued: 'This included an army of activists serving as 'human shields' for terrorists wanted by Israeli security forces, financial and logistical aid to Palestinians including terrorists and their families.'

Activist: Rachel Corrie is seen confronting an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah in 2003
Activist: Rachel Corrie is seen confronting an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah in 2003
Her mother, Cindy Corrie, who was in court to hear the verdict with her husband and surviving daughter, said the family would appeal to Israel’s high court.
'I am hurt,' Mrs Corrie said after the verdict. 'We are deeply saddened and troubled by what we heard today in the court. This was a bad day, not only for us, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and the country of Israel.'
'We believe Rachel Corrie was seen. Everything through this process confirmed at least one soldier saw her.
'We believe the bulldozer driver had the ability and responsibility to see what was in front of his machine,' she said.
The Corrie family said the judge had effectively whitewashed an earlier military investigation that was not the 'thorough, credible and transparent' probe promised by the Israeli government.
US diplomats, who were in court to hear the verdict, had also complained that the Israeli army had failed to properly investigate the incident.
'We believe the decision does not comply with international law,' said the Corrie family’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, vowing to appeal the verdict to Israel’s highest court.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Israeli inquiry into Rachel Corrie death insufficient, US ambassador tells family

US government does not believe military inquiry was 'thorough, credible and transparent', as family await verdict in civil suit

  • Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem
  •, Friday 24 August 2012 15.45 BST
Rachel Corrie
Rachel Corrie died trying to stop an Israeli army bulldozer from destroying Palestinian houses in Rafah in 2003. Photograph: Denny Sternstein/AP

The US ambassador to Israel has told the family of an American pro-Palestinian activist who was killed in Gaza in 2003 that the US government remains dissatisfied with the Israeli army's decision to close its official investigation into the incident.

Rachel Corrie, 23, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, was crushed to death as she tried to stop an Israeli army bulldozer from destroying Palestinian houses in Rafah, on the Egypt-Gaza border.

In 2005 Corrie's family filed a civil suit in the Haifa district court against the Israeli government over the incident. A verdict is expected on Tuesday.

At a meeting at the US embassy in Tel Aviv last week, the ambassador, Dan Shapiro, told Corrie's parents and her sister that the government did not believe the Israeli military investigation had been "thorough, credible and transparent", as had been promised by Israel. The investigation concluded that Corrie's death was an accident and that she had endangered herself by entering a combat zone.

"The lawsuit is just a small step in our family's nearly decade-long search for truth and justice," said Craig Corrie, Rachel's father. "The mounting evidence presented before the court underscores a broken system of accountability.

"We're responsible as a family to do whatever we can to get at the truth of what happened to Rachel and to try to get some accountability. It's been a very difficult process for us. The testimony by the defence witnesses has been erratic. Their stories never agreed with each other. We hope the judge will reach a reasonable conclusion."

Thursday 23 August 2012

Casino Mogul Sheldon Adelson accused of bringing 'ruin' to newspaper industry in Israel

Loyal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today) is bringing competitors to their knees. Iconic Ma'ariv close to bankruptcy and Yedioth Ahronoth had laid off dozens



American businessman Sheldon Adelson, who has said he will donate millions to Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign, is seated before Romney delivers a speech in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


Billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson's free daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom has been accused of bringing ruin to Israel's newspaper industry.

JERUSALEM — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who is one of the largest donors to Mitt Romney and the Republican party, has been accused of bringing “ruin” to Israel’s newspaper industry.

The American owner of the Sands Casino in Las Vegas has poured money into a free daily newspaper called Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today) that shows a slavish loyalty to Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.

Aggressive marketing and popularity among Netanyahu supporters has rocketed the paper to the top of Israel’s newspaper industry, bringing competitors to their knees.

The iconic Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv is close to bankruptcy — and is likely to soon become an online-only publication except on weekends.

Another paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, which used to command about 60% of the Israeli market, recently laid off dozens of its staff.

Haaretz, the left-leaning intellectual broadsheet, announced 70 layoffs this month.

“Yisrael Hayom has finished Ma’ariv, and it is now finishing Ha’aretz,” a senior Yedioth Ahronoth executive told the Israeli financial daily Globes. “The fact that a billionaire has come here and pours money on to the streets, destroying newspapers like Ma’ariv and Ha’aretz is an issue that has not received sufficient discussion. Adelson has simply brought ruin to the Israeli newspaper market, and the Israeli politicians who benefit from its flattering coverage have allowed this unprecedented phenomenon to occur.”

Sensing the danger in 2009, politicians of all stripes — encouraged by Yedioth and Ma’ariv — united in a failed bid to disqualify foreigners from owning a controlling stake in an Israeli newspaper.

“I don’t know what his motives are, but he’s touching Israeli democracy’s holy of holies — he’s molding the face of Israeli society,” said Daniel Ben-Simon, a Labor Party legislator. “Personally, I feel badly that a man who made most of his money in casinos or by means of casinos, who doesn’t know a word of Hebrew and doesn’t live here, should hold such a key.”

The bill was also supported by Miri Regev, a leading member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, who said it was essential “to preserve pluralistic discourse in the media and in the public.”

Executives at Yisrael Hayom declined to comment.

A spokesman for Adelson did not respond to a request for comment.

Israel accused of interfering in Palestinian affairs after letter to EU

Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli foreign minister, wrote calling for elections to replace the president, Mahmoud Abbas

  • Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem
  •, Wednesday 22 August 2012
Avigdor Lieberman
Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, accused the Palestinian president of having a 'weak standing' among his own people. Photograph: Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of interfering in internal Palestinian affairs and launching "a deliberate campaign of distortion, hatred and incitement", after the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called for elections to replace the Palestinian president,Mahmoud Abbas.

In a letter to EU foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton, and other members of the Middle East quartet, Lieberman accuses Abbas of heading "a despotic government riddled with corruption" and "personally acting to undermine attempts to renew the peace process, despite Israeli gestures and confidence building measures."

Lieberman accuses Abbas of having a "weak standing" among his own people and being "uninterested or unable … to reach an agreement which would bring an end to the conflict".

"General elections in the PA [Palestinian Authority] should be held, and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership should be elected," Lieberman writes.

The letter, dated 20 August, was published on Wednesday by the Israeli daily Haaretz, sparking a storm of protest from Palestinian officials.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh described the text as "incitement" liable to create an "atmosphere of violence and instability".

"Lieberman's comments regarding elections in the PA constitute meddling in internal Palestinian affairs," he added.

Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the PLO, which handles diplomatic contacts with Israel, said the letter demonstrated Israel's "arrogance, manipulation of facts, and outright racism. Rather than complying with international law and signed agreements, the Israeli government has launched a deliberate campaign of distortion, hatred and incitement."

Israel has complained previously about Abbas's refusal to restart peace talks over the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, but he has always been described as a potential peace partner.

Officials representing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly distanced him from his foreign minister's remarks. An aide to Netanyahu told the Guardian that the prime minister was not aware of the letter before it was sent.

"The letter by the foreign minister does not reflect the view of the prime minister, nor of the government as a whole," said the official. "Palestinian president Abbas has created difficulties preventing the restarting of negotiations, but Israel nevertheless remains committed to continuing to try to engage with the Palestinians and of course we don't interfere in the election cycles of others."

Observers of Israel's byzantine coalition politics said it was possible that the letter was released for internal political purposes, to boost the government's rightwing credentials and domestic popularity ahead of an imminent general election.

"This letter was not written overnight," said Gerald Steinberg, professor of politics at Bar-Ilan University. "The letter says very explicitly what Lieberman has been saying to Israeli audiences, and what many Israelis believe. Lieberman has often played the role of saying things that Netanyahu may think but as prime minister is reluctant to say."

But Steinberg also recalled that differences between prime ministers and foreign ministers are a long-standing Israeli tradition.

"This is very much part of Israel's political system," he said. "The most blatant example was when Shimon Peres as foreign minister promoted the Oslo peace process behind the back of the prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin."

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Building Bridges, A9 TV, Turkey

Building Bridges program with WTPN with their guest Matthew Kalman, Jerusalem correspondent for the London Daily Mail (August 20, 2012)

Israel 'planning to attack Iran before US election'

PM could order strike on nuclear targets within weeks

  • Iranian TV announces upgrades to short-range missiles and more powerful naval engine
  • Fateh-110 missile with range of about 180 miles included in upgrades
  • Israel has said it is contemplating air strikes on Iran's nuclear sites


DAILY MAIL 21 August 2012

Israel is planning a military strike against Iran’s nuclear programme before November, security sources in Israel have claimed.

British officials say prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has begun a process of ‘sounding out’ his voters to gauge support for airstrikes and build a case for military action.

Alon Ben-David, the well-informed military correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10 News, claimed on Monday that the country was ‘closer than ever’ to a strike against Iran.
Iran unveiled upgrades to six weapons today, including the Fateh-110 missile, which boasts a range of about 180 miles
Iran unveiled upgrades to six weapons today, including the Fateh-110 missile, which boasts a range of about 180 miles

He said Nr Netanyahu was ‘determined’ to attack Iran before the US election on November 6 – just 11 weeks away.

Israeli leaders believe that President Obama, locked in a close election battle with Republican Mitt Romney, would be forced to back an Israeli strike – even though US military chiefs are against it – for fear of alienating Jewish voters in key swing states such as Florida.

Tensions grew yesterday when Iranian leaders displayed a new arsenal of Fateh-110 short-range missiles designed to destroy targets within 180 miles, including US warships in the Persian Gulf.

Western intelligence agencies are watching the regime in Tehran closely after senior figures described Israel as ‘a cancer’ that should be ‘wiped off the map’ at the weekend.

The hardware was presented at a ceremony attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Yesterday Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: ‘I have no doubt that our defensive capabilities can stand up to bullying and put a halt to their plans.’

Mr Netanyahu has described the Islamist country’s nuclear ambitions as ‘an existential threat’ that could be used to destroy the Jewish state.
But British and American security chiefs believe military action would spark a lethal Middle East conflict.

Last week, US defence secretary Leon Panetta and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff,  Martin Dempsey, held an unprecedented briefing at the Pentagon to warn against an Israeli strike.

‘They could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities,’ General Dempsey said. This week he added that the US and Israel had reached ‘different conclusions’ about the imminent threat from Iran.

British diplomats and intelligence chiefs believe Mr Netanyahu is preparing the ground for possible military action but stress they have no foreknowledge of any attack.

‘We would not expect to know anything about it in advance,’ one official said. ‘It is not even clear whether they would tell the Americans until very close to the act itself, or possibly slightly after it.’

Western intelligence agencies doubt whether an Israeli strike alone would be enough to destroy the Iranian nuclear programme, but they acknowledge that Israel believes even delaying it might be a price worth paying.

‘It looks like Netanyahu is having a very vocal conversation about this to build the case for action or to test the ground with his own electorate, or possibly both,’ the official said.

Iran has also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the neck of the Gulf through which 40 per cent of the world's sea-borne oil exports pass
Iran has also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the neck of the Gulf through which 40 per cent of the world's sea-borne oil exports pass

President Obama has sent a series of senior officials to Israel in recent months, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to try to persuade Mr Netanyahu that the crippling sanctions regime now in place will force Iran to abandon its nuclear programme.

The UK has also sent the message that an escalating roster of economic sanctions against Iran should be used to encourage them to back down.

Even senior Israeli defence and intelligence figures, including the recently-retired head of the Mossad spy agency, have opposed an Israeli attack.

Military analysts have warned that, without US bunker-busting bombs and other vital armaments, Israel cannot destroy Iran’s well-defended nuclear installations.

But Mr Netanyahu appears determined to strike.

‘From the prime minister’s point of view, the time for action is getting ever closer,’ Ben-David said.

Behind the scenes, a shadow intelligence war appears to be escalating. Key Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated or disappeared and Iran’s computer networks have been infiltrated by a series of sophisticated viruses apparently designed to sabotage control systems at its nuclear research facilities.

Saturday 18 August 2012

West Bank facing blackout over unpaid £63m electricity bills


Matthew Kalman
Saturday, 18 August 2012

Electricity supplies to the West Bank could be cut off next week unless the Palestinian Authority pays the Israel Electric Corporation more than £63m in unpaid bills.

The debts include more than £12m owed by the Palestinian Authority itself, and £38m from consumers in refugee camps.

A stay of execution until after the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, which ends the Islamic holy month of Ramadan this weekend, was agreed in an emergency conference call earlier this week between the Israeli company, the president of the Palestinian Power Authority and the director of the Palestinian-controlled Jerusalem District Electricity Company, Hisham al-Omari.

Mr al-Omari warned there would be a "real crisis" for electricity supplies in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho if the Palestinian Authority did not pay its debts to Israel. The bills from Hamas-controlled Gaza have been paid. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency pays for water, education and health in the refugee camps, but does not pay for electricity.

Last week, the Israeli Electric Corporation announced it would begin procedures to cut off electricity supplies and start legal measures to take control of the Palestinian company's assets and bank accounts unless the debts were paid.

Mr al-Omari warned that power cuts would all but halt the struggling Palestinian economy and are liable to trigger severe political unrest and even violence against both the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Israel supplies electricity to the Palestinian Authority under the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. It has experienced its own power problems this year with the repeated bombing of a gas pipeline supplying gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan and unusually hot weather that has sent domestic demand soaring to nearly 95 per cent of Israel's total generating capacity.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Israeli PM 'backs Jewish settlers'

Matthew Kalman

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Israeli settlers in the West Bank dismissed reports yesterday that the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was planning to bury a controversial report urging the legalisation of unauthorised outposts in the territory seized from Jordan in 1967.

The report was not discussed at a meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs on Tuesday, raising suggestions in the Haaretz daily that the Prime Minister "has decided to bury the Levy report".

A committee chaired by Edmond Levy, a retired Supreme Court judge, concluded earlier this year that Israel's presence in the West Bank was not "occupation" in the accepted legal sense and that the relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding transfer of populations did not apply to the 350,000 settlers there. The report, warmly welcomed by Mr Netanyahu, was harshly criticised by legal experts and others in Israel and abroad, including the Obama administration.

David Ha'ivri, a settler spokesman, said he was unaware of any indications that Mr Netanyahu was trying to distance himself from the report.