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Thursday, 29 October 2009

Israel Deports a Bethlehem U. Student Because She Is From Gaza

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
October 29, 2009

By Matthew Kalman
Jerusalem

A student in her final year of work at Bethlehem University was deported last night to her home in Gaza by Israeli authorities, despite appeals by the university and human-rights groups after she was arrested on Wednesday at a military checkpoint near Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

Berlanty Azzam, who is 21 and has been studying business administration and translation at Bethlehem since 2005, was stopped at a roadside checkpoint in the West Bank and detained because she is a resident of Gaza.

The Israeli military has banned Palestinian residents of Gaza from studying at Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Two years ago, it began arresting Palestinians with Gaza identity cards and sending them back to the embattled coastal strip.

Ms. Azzam told The Chronicle that she was handcuffed, blindfolded, and driven to an unknown destination by Israeli security forces. It wasn't until they removed her blindfold that she discovered she was being dumped across the border into Gaza at midnight, with no warning and no means of finding her way home in the dark. She said she was "terrified."

Israeli officials said she had "cynically used permission given to her in 2005 to stay for four years illegally in Bethlehem."

But human-rights lawyers said the Israeli army had broken an understanding not to deport her before her case could be brought before a judge. Noting that another Gaza resident arrested at the same time at the same checkpoint was not deported, they accused the Israeli army of "a naked attempt to evade judicial review."

Bethlehem University administrators urged supporters on Wednesday to contact the Israeli military authorities to protest the arrest. "Let them know that you demand that they release Berlanty Azzam immediately so that she can resume and complete her last year of studies," the university said in its message.

Ms. Azzam, who is due to complete her bachelor's degree in December, began her studies in Bethlehem in 2005 after the Israeli authorities granted her a permit to travel across Israel from Gaza to the West Bank. The travel permit has not been renewed, so she has stayed in Bethlehem since then to finish her degree and has been unable to see her family for four years.

In August 2007, Israel's Supreme Court upheld Israeli military policy denying Gaza residents the right to stay in the West Bank but asked the army to consider exceptions. Trying to take advantage of that ruling, Bethlehem University created a scholarship program for 16 students from the Gaza Strip, but in the current academic year, all 16 candidates were refused entry by Israel.

Enforcement of the deportation policy had seemed to halt after protests from human-rights groups, but it has intensified again in the past few weeks, according to Gisha, an Israeli human-rights organization that campaigns for freedom of movement for Palestinians.

"I spoke to her today for about 10 minutes until the army took away her cellphone," Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha, told The Chronicle. "She's terrified. She's 21. She has never been in detention and doesn't know what's happening to her."

In the past, when human-rights groups have interceded before detainees have been deported, Israel's Supreme Court has ruled against the army and allowed Gaza residents to remain in the West Bank. In most cases, however, Palestinians are deported before anyone hears about their arrest, and it has proved almost impossible to get them out of Gaza once they have been returned there.

According to Ms. Bashi, Ms. Azzam's case is the sixth in less than two weeks involving Gazans arrested at the same checkpoint, the only passage permitted to Palestinians between the southern and northern sections of the West Bank.

This policy of deporting people to Gaza because of their identity cards is pending before the Supreme Court, said Ms. Bashi. "We have asked the military to stop doing this at least until the court rules. Instead we end up playing cat and mouse with the military."

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Israel Detains a Bethlehem U. Student Because She Is From Gaza

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
October 28, 2009
By Matthew Kalman
Jerusalem

Bethlehem University and human-rights groups are appealing to Israeli authorities not to deport a final-year student back to her home in Gaza after she was arrested on Wednesday at a military checkpoint near Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

Berlanty Azzam, who is 21 and has been studying business administration and translation at Bethlehem since 2005, was stopped at a roadside checkpoint in the West Bank and detained because she is a resident of Gaza.

The Israeli military has banned Palestinian residents of Gaza from studying at Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Two years ago, it began arresting Palestinians with Gaza identity cards and sending them back to the embattled coastal strip.

Ms. Azzam is being held at a detention center inside Israel pending her deportation.

"We need your help," Bethlehem University administrators wrote in a message to supporters on Wednesday, urging them to contact the Israeli military authorities to protest the arrest. "Let them know that you demand that they release Berlanty Azzam immediately so that she can resume and complete her last year of studies," the university said.

Ms. Azzam, who is due to complete her bachelor's degree in December, began her studies in Bethlehem in 2005 after the Israeli authorities granted her a permit to travel across Israel from Gaza to the West Bank. The travel permit has not been renewed, so she has stayed in Bethlehem since then to finish her degree and has been unable to see her family for four years.

In August 2007, Israel's Supreme Court upheld Israeli military policy denying Gaza residents the right to stay in the West Bank but asked the army to consider exceptions. Trying to take advantage of that ruling, Bethlehem University created a scholarship program for 16 students from the Gaza Strip, but in the current academic year, all 16 candidates were refused entry by Israel.

Enforcement of the deportation policy had seemed to halt after protests from human-rights groups, but it has intensified again in the past few weeks, according to Gisha, an Israeli human-rights organization that campaigns for freedom of movement for Palestinians.

"I spoke to her today for about 10 minutes until the army took away her cellphone," Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha, told The Chronicle. "She's terrified. She's 21. She has never been in detention and doesn't know what's happening to her."

Ms. Azzam is being detained illegally, Ms. Bashi said. "We asked the army to let her go," she added, but "they said no. They did agree to wait until after our lawyer visits in the morning. They won't deport her pending an opportunity for our lawyer to file a court petition."

In the past, when human-rights groups have interceded before detainees have been deported, Israel's Supreme Court has ruled against the army and allowed Gaza residents to remain in the West Bank. In most cases, however, Palestinians are deported before anyone hears about their arrest, and it has proved almost impossible to get them out of Gaza once they have been returned there.

According to Ms. Bashi, Ms. Azzam's case is the sixth in less than two weeks involving Gazans arrested at the same checkpoint, the only passage permitted to Palestinians between the southern and northern sections of the West Bank.

This policy of deporting people to Gaza because of their identity cards is pending before the Supreme Court, said Ms. Bashi. "We have asked the military to stop doing this at least until the court rules. Instead we end up playing cat and mouse with the military."

Lawyers plan to petition the Supreme Court on behalf of Ms. Azzam on Thursday.

Israeli officials were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Hundreds of Palestinian Students Are Blocked From Travel to Foreign Universities

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
DAILY NEWS TICKER
22 October 2009
With the 2009-10 academic year under way, 838 Palestinian students are still waiting for the authorization that will enable them to leave the Gaza Strip for overseas universities. The Israeli human-rights group Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement says that 1,983 such students have been accepted into educational institutions abroad and registered for permits to exit via the Rafah border crossing since the start of the year, but only 1,145 have managed to pass through the crossing because of Egyptian restrictions. Approximately 50 other students have left via Israel through the Erez crossing.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Israel's Illegal Immigrants — and Their Children






By Matthew Kalman / Tel Aviv Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

Two Filipino women in the flat they rent in Tel Aviv. Like many other Filipino migrant workers in Israel, the two women work are care givers to the elderly.
Two Filipino women in the flat they rent in Tel Aviv. Like many other Filipino migrant workers in Israel, they work as caregivers to the elderly Judah Passow / Getty

Mila Valdez, 40, lives near the central bus station in Tel Aviv. It is thousands of miles from where she was born, in the Philippines. She and her 7-year-old son live a cramped existence in three small rooms plus kitchen and bathroom — plus eight other people. But she is fighting for the right to stay in Israel.
Valdez is among 200,000 foreign workers from East Asia, Africa and Latin America who have found their way to Israel. About half of them are illegal, as Valdez is now. She went to Israel legally but her visa lapsed at about the time she gave birth to her son Jerry. Her apartment is among the Eritrean caf├ęs, Sudanese restaurants and Filipino bars in the streets around the old central bus station — underneath a police advertisement inviting residents to inform on their neighbors' visa status. "I am working as a house cleaner because I'm now illegal," Valdez tells TIME. "My husband was caught in 2007 and he was deported. My son Jerry loves Israel. We're hoping to stay."

And it is Jerry who may be key to her chances. He and another 1,200 children are at the heart of a political battle that cuts across traditional political loyalties, raising fundamental questions about the mission of the Jewish state. Interior Minister Eli Yishai, leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas Party, wants to expel the foreign workers, many of whom are devout Christians, like Valdez, a Roman Catholic. Yishai says their presence "is liable to damage the state's Jewish identity, constitute a demographic threat and increase the danger of assimilation." The government says the illegals and their children must leave Israel once the school year ends in June.

A new police unit, Oz (from the Hebrew for "strength"), has been rounding up illegals and shipping them home. Since July, 800 have been deported while more than 2,000 have left voluntarily. But the government decision to expel children born in Israel has split the ruling Likud party. "Those 1,200 children that were born in Israel and didn't ever know another country are not to be blamed. They should stay here and we should resolve their status," Likud minister Limor Livnat tells TIME. The government is still debating the order and it may yet be countermanded or changed. It has happened before. In 2006, Israel naturalized 567 families with school-age children.

The municipality of Tel Aviv, where most of the immigrant workers live, together with about 17,000 refugees mainly from Darfur and Eritrea, provides free health care and day care for children, including vaccinations and education. Adult health services are provided by Physicians for Human Rights. The Hotline for Migrant Workers has people on call 24/7 to provide welfare and legal advice. "Whoever is in our territory deserves our services," deputy mayor Yael Dayan tells TIME. "It's not a question of grace, it's really a question of right. It's not doing them a favor and it's not how moved we are by these little children. They have added a lot to Tel Aviv society in many ways."

The uncertainty of residency and the constant threat of arrest takes its toll on the children. Parents report nightmares, bed-wetting and clinginess. "I've been there in that situation they are going through right now. I was illegal and I was afraid whenever I saw men in uniforms," says Jenalyn Zuno, 22, a Filipina granted permanent residency in 2006.

The problem may be becoming cyclical. Israel started recruiting workers from East Asia 20 years ago, after the first intifadeh ended the flood of day laborers from the West Bank and Gaza. The migrants support entire families back in their home countries. Noa Kaufman of the Israeli Children pressure group, says Israel encourages deporting workers after five years or when they have children. But then those departing workers are simply replaced by new arrivals who go through the same turmoil. "The recruitment companies only get money for new workers. If a worker moves jobs once he's here, the recruitment company doesn't get any money," she says. "It doesn't make sense that there is no naturalization process for someone who was born here or someone who lived here as a refugee for 10 years. They are people, not machines. You can't expect them not to fall in love, not to give birth."

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

'You're a terrorist': Tony Blair taunted by young Palestinian in West Bank mosque

DAILY MAIL
21st October 2009

By Matthew Kalman

Tony Blair had to be rescued by bodyguards as he visited a West Bank mosque yesterday when a Palestinian man approached him shouting: 'You are a terrorist!'

The security breach occurred as the former prime minister was visiting an ancient mosque during an official trip to the city of Hebron.

The protester, a local man carrying a bag who was praying when Mr Blair and his entourage entered, was backed into a corner by guards who tried to shut him up.

A bodyguard (L) scuffles with the Palestinian man after he shouts 'You are a terrorist' at Tony Blair

Taking no chances: A bodyguard (left) scuffles with the Palestinian man after he shouts 'You are a terrorist' at Tony Blair

'He is not welcome in the land of Palestine,' the man shouted before he was dragged away by Palestinian security forces.

The man, a supporter of the Islamic Liberation Party Hizbut-Tahrir, was released after Blair left.

Mr Blair - the Special Representative in the Middle East for the 'Quartet' of the UN, EU, U.S. and Russia - gave a tight-lipped smile and tried to wave the incident off, but his Palestinian hosts were visibly upset by the lapse.

'You know, he made his protest and that's fair enough,' Mr Blair, 56, told reporters after the man was arrested.

'I think it's important for you guys as well to not always mistake the protest for the general view of the whole population.'

The man, who is clutching a bag in his left hand, raises his right arm as he shouts towards Tony Blair in the Hebron mosque

Verbal attack: The man, who is clutching a bag in his left hand, raises his right arm as he shouts towards Tony Blair in the Hebron mosque

Still shouting, the man raises his bag as he struggles with guards, who quickly surround him

Still shouting, the man raises his bag as he struggles with guards, who quickly surround him

The guards push the shouting man backwards before eventually pinning him up against the wall behind him

The guards push the shouting man backwards before eventually pinning him up against the wall behind him

Verbal attack: Tony Blair, right, tours the Patriarchs Tomb in the West Bank town of Hebron today. He was verbally assaulted while on the tour by a Palestinian man who labelled him a 'terrorist'

Mr Blair, right, continued the tour through the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron

Mr Blair (centre) is joined by Middle East dignitaries as he tours the Ibrahimi Mosque

Mr Blair (centre) is joined by Middle East dignitaries as he tours the mosque

The incident took place at the Ibrahimi Mosque, the sanctuary marking the location of the tombs of Muslim worshippers were gunned down by an Israeli extremist in the mid-1990s.

Mr Blair's spokesman Matthew Doyle said that at no time was the former prime minister in any danger, adding: 'He was on the opposite side of the mosque and he was just shouting. Mr Blair is used to being heckled.'

The fracas comes just days after Mr Blair was accused of being a war criminal by the father of a British soldier killed in Iraq, while attending a service at St Paul's Cathedral to remember the war dead.

brierley
shaun

'You've got blood on your hands': Peter Brierley, left, also verbally attacked Mr Blair over the death of his son Shaun, right, who was killed while fighting in Iraq

Security has been a constant concern-since Mr Blair's appointment two years ago.

The Daily Mail last Saturday

The Daily Mail last Saturday

Last month, the head of a Palestinian group in Gaza that supports Al Qaeda revealed they had tried to assassinate 'the infidel' Mr Blair and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter but the plots were foiled by Gaza's ruling group Hamas.

Mr Blair is accompanied by a permanent four-man security detail from the Metropolitan Police Diplomatic Protection Unit.

He travels in a bullet-and bomb-proof jeep provided by the United Nations.

Palestinians say Mr Blair has little to show for more than two years as the Quartet envoy.

He is also hated by many Arabs for supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq as then U.S. president George W. Bush's 'puppet', for declining to speak out against Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon against Hezbollah and for what they perceive as his pro-Israel bias when prime minister.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ken Loach film money to promote Israeli cinema

Matthew Kalman Blog,
October 11, 2009
Ken Loach, the British film director who has become a leading light of the campaign to boycott Israel, will see the profits from his new film used – to promote Israeli cinema.
Nurit Shani, the cinema distributor who handles Loach’s films in Israel, announced before the Israeli premiere of his new movie “Looking for Eric” that she would dedicate the profits to distributing Israeli films worldwide.
Recently, Loach has led cultural boycott campaigns against Israeli films in Canada, Australia and the Edinburgh Film Festival. Loach’s ultimatum that he would withdraw from Edinburgh unless festival organizers return an Israeli travel grant for a young Israeli film director drew criticisms of blackmail.
Even Vanessa Redgrave, the outspoken pro-Palestinian campaigner who was filmed brandishing a Kalashnikov in a Palestinian refugee campaign, this week denounced Loach’s boycott tactics in a letter to the New York Review of Books.
"If attitudes are hardened on both sides, if those who are fighting within their own communities for peace are insulted, where then is the hope? The point finally is not to grandstand but to inch toward a two-state solution and a world in which both nations can exist, perhaps not lovingly, but at least in peace," said Redgrave's letter.
"I believe it is any artist's right to express his opinion, and I have therefore always given his films a screen,” his Israeli distributor told the “Looking for Eric” premiere audience at the Haifa Film Festival on Sunday. “Unfortunately, in the past year I discovered that Ken Loach himself does not share my views. The original artist, who I considered a great humanist, has turned out to be a man who does not believe in freedom of expression for people whose opinions oppose his own."

Israelis divided over Dachau as sister city: Tel Aviv suburb Rosh Ha-Ayin's mayor is son of survivor

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, October 11th 2009

By Matthew Kalman
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

JERUSALEM - Of all the towns in the world, an Israeli mayor wants to take as a sister city a Bavarian burg whose name sends chills up the spines of Holocaust survivors: Dachau.

Even more astounding, Mayor Moshe Sinai of Rosh Ha-Ayin, a Tel Aviv suburb of 40,000, is the son of a Dachau concentration camp survivor.

Sinai says the German town shouldn't be shunned for its infamous past. "The majority of people in Dachau weren't yet born when the Holocaust happened," he said.

Besides, said Sinai, the Nazis "beat Jews and murdered Jews everywhere."

Still, Sinai's move has outraged many Israelis - especially the remaining survivors.

"I don't understand how they could do something like this, because of the symbolism," said Moshe Zanbar, a prominent Israeli politician who was a teenage Dachau inmate. "A special agreement between Dachau and an Israeli town is too much for me."

Noah Kliger, a historian and Holocaust survivor, said reaching out to receptive Germans is fine, but embracing Dachau is an "act of disturbing stupidity."

"Can a few apparent friends of Israel erase the name and the past of Dachau?" he asked.

In New York, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League took the opposite view, adding "I applaud the mayor."

"I think it's a positive sign of moving forward," Foxman said. "I want the new generation of kids in Dachau to know there is a special relationship with Israel. That doesn't mean you forget the past."

Located near Munich, Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp and a prototype for death camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka. About a third of the estimated 30,000 prisoners murdered there were Jews.

When U.S. forces liberated Dachau in 1945, they made local residents come see the emaciated prisoners and the gas chambers operating downwind of them.

"I have nothing against the new generation of Germans, and we must not hate all of them, but their parents who lived through that era saw us and knew what was happening," Zanbar said. "We were worked to death there."

Sinai said Dachau Mayor Peter Brgel suggested twinning their cities in an effort to bring young people from around the world to Dachau to study the Holocaust.

"When I visited Dachau and the mayor accompanied me to the concentration camp, I saw his face," Sinai said. "I saw how much he regrets the past and I saw his willingness to build a new future for the youth in his city."

Sinai said their aim is "to build new bridges for the future, to build a connection between the children of both towns, learn about the past and guarantee that maybe in the future we will have another world, and draw the lessons from the past."

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A Palestinian Brewery Grows in the West Bank






By MATTHEW KALMAN / TAYBEH
Thursday, Oct. 08, 2009

A vendor draws pints of Taybeh Golden draught beer during the Palestinian brewery's annual Oktoberfest on October 3, 2009 in Taybeh in the West Bank.

Madees Khoury draws pints of Taybeh Golden draught beer during the Palestinian brewery's annual Oktoberfest in Taybeh in the West Bank

Madees Khoury's favorite days are the ones where she wakes at 5 A.M., slips out of the house, enters the huge shed in the yard and, still in her pajamas, climbs the ladder to the top of the stainless steel tanks to begin brewing beer. A graduate of Hellenic College, Boston, Khoury, 24, is the only woman brewer — or brewster — in the Middle East. She is being groomed by her family to take over the Taybeh brewery, home of the only Palestinian beer.

With just 2,000 residents, Taybeh is the last remaining all-Christian village in the Holy Land. It rests on barren biblical hilltops between Ramallah and Jericho that have barely changed since Jesus stayed here. Madees's father and uncle were born here, and moved to Boston. When they returned to start the brewery in 1995, they met open hostility from the 16 Muslim villages surrounding them. Alcohol is banned by Islam. (Watch TIME's video "West Bank Brew: The Beer That Made Taybeh Famous.")

Today, Taybeh Beer is a potent symbol of the emerging Palestinian state and its tiny Christian minority — which is less than 2% of the population. The brewery turns a tidy profit, produces 600,000 litres a year and is brewed under license in Germany. Half the sales are within the West Bank, 40% go to Israel, and the rest are exports to Japan. Taybeh even had a nearby rabbi certify its product as kosher. Last year the brewery introduced a zero-alcohol brew for Muslims. Taybeh billboards with the slogan "Drink Palestinian — Taste the Revolution" tower over the main street of Ramallah. "Taybeh beer is our way of struggling," Madees Khoury tells TIME. "This is our resistance to the occupation — just to make beer and make people happy." (Read a story about the constraints on doing business in Palestine.)

Christians have fled the Holy Land in recent decades. There are more Taybeh natives living in Michigan than in the village. Madees hopes to inspire others to return. "I hope people look at me as a role model," says Khoury, adding that she supports "any Palestinian that lives here, goes to study abroad, then decides to move back to Palestine and invest their knowledge and their experience into anything in the country."

Last weekend, more than 10,000 visitors thronged Taybeh village for the fifth annual Oktoberfest, a celebration of music, dance, food and beer. Villagers sold more olive oil, honey, embroidery and other items in those two days than in the whole of 2009. But it wasn't easy for Taybeh to learn to thrive — and still isn't. After a promising start, business collapsed during the Palestinian intifada uprising. The Khoury brothers weathered the storm but new restrictions at the Israeli security barrier have now turned what used to be an hour-long delivery to Tel Aviv into an expensive two-day journey. Even the fresh water piped from a spring two miles away is under Israeli control and only flows for half the week. (See a brief history of oktoberfest.)

There are more serious hazards. Days before the festival, a car belonging to Madees's uncle David, who is also mayor, was torched, for still unknown reasons, outside the municipality building during a council meeting. A couple of years ago, he was shot at and someone tried to burn down a new commercial center he was constructing. In 2005, 14 homes were torched and the brewery nearly destroyed when a mob descended on Taybeh after a love affair between a Taybeh man and a Muslim woman from the neighboring village.

But the mayor, who still has a business interest in the brewery, told TIME he was not discouraged. "We are trying to show all foreigners and locals that we are a people that love life and liberty and are willing to live in peace with our neighbors, whether Jews or Muslims, and to show the other face of Palestine, that we are not terrorists," he says. "Some people want to interrupt my giving to my village," says the mayor. "I came after 30 years being in the U.S. in Boston. I left all the wealth. I left all the relaxing on the beaches and everything else and I came because I want to do something for Palestine, to invest in Palestine first. I want to do something for Taybeh. I want to help raise the living standards. I want to help create jobs in this village. I want to clean up the city. I want to put Taybeh on the map."

Video - West Bank Brew: The Beer That Made Taybeh Famous

Palestinian University Is Shut Down Amid Fight Over Control

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
DAILY NEWS TICKER
October 08, 2009

The Palestinian minister of education, Lamis Al-Alami, today announced the closure of Gaza City's Al-Aqsa University after the Hamas government, which controls the coastal strip, fired its president on Wednesday, according to the Ma-an News Agency. The university is one of the last major institutions in Gaza associated with Fatah, Hamas's bitter rival for Palestinian leadership. In a written statement, the minister said that she considered what the de facto government had done to be illegal and that she was closing the university according to the powers given her under the Palestinian Law of Higher Education.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Fatah Accuses Hamas of Seizing Control of University in Gaza City

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
DAILY NEWS TICKER
October 7, 2009

Fatah accused the rival Hamas faction of stealing control of Al-Aqsa University in Gaza City on Wednesday after the Hamas-led government in Gaza fired the university's president and replaced him with a three-member council. In a statement, Fatah officials alleged that "Hamas stormed the university in a barbaric way and took over it by force." The university was one of the last Fatah-affiliated strongholds in Gaza. It suffered some $1.5-million worth of damage during Israel's incursion into Gaza in January.

Anger as Israeli mayor plans to twin town with Dachau

DAILY MAIL
7th October 2009

By Matthew Kalman

An Israeli mayor has caused uproar with plans for his town to become the first to twin with a German town which housed a Nazi death camp.

Rosh Ha-Ayin, a middle-class dormitory town about 15 miles from Tel Aviv with a population of 40,000, has twinned with the infamous Bavarian town of Dachau, home of the first Nazi concentration camp about 12 miles from Munich.

More than 200,000 people from 30 countries were imprisoned at Dachau, a third of them Jews. Nearly 60,000 were murdered by the Nazis.

The Israeli town of Rosh Ha-Ayin which is to be twinned with the German town of Dachau

The camp was erected by the Nazis in March 1933 and carried the famous, cynical slogan “Arbeit Marcht Frei” above the entrance to its slave labour camp years before the same sign was placed above Auschwitz in Poland.

SS officers were trained there before being sent to larger death camps in Germany and Poland.

Many Israeli towns are twinned with similar-sized towns in Germany, and since the Jewish state was founded in 1948 the two countries have fostered close diplomatic and cultural ties in an effort to repair the damage done by the Nazi murder of six million Jews under Hitler.

But no Israeli town has ever twinned with those places that hosted the gas chambers and crematoria.

Moshe Zanbar, a prominent Israeli businessman and politician who survived Dachau as a slave labourer after being sent there aged 18, said he was 'appalled.'

'I don’t understand how they could do something like this, because of the symbolism,' he said.

'I have nothing against the new generation of Germans, and we must not hate all of them, but their parents who lived through that era saw us and knew what was happening.

'We were worked to death there. A special agreement between Dachau and an Israeli town is too much for me.'

Noah Kliger, a Holcoaust survivor and historian, described the twinning as an act of 'disturbing stupidity'.

'Can a few apparent friends of Israel erase the name and the past of Dachau?' he asked.

But Moshe Sinai, the mayor of Rosh Ha-Ayin and a former Israeli diplomat, said the twinning agreement honoured the memory of the Holocaust by bringing the next generation of Israeli and German youth together.

'My family are also Holocaust survivors and my family also suffered from the horrors of the Holocaust and many of them perished. But I also think about the future,' said Sinai.

He said it was ridiculous to discriminate between the people of different German cities because a concentration camp happened to be located there a half century ago.

'There was discrimination and the Kristallnacht in every town in Germany. They beat Jews and murdered Jews everywhere,' he said.

'Either we co-operate with Germany and honestly try to open a new page, and try to learn from the Holocaust to try and prevent more Holocausts, or we have to take Germany and divide it into permitted and non-permitted areas.'

'As local leaders we must think of the future of our children. If youth from Rosh Ha-Ayin learn together with youth from Dachau how to prevent future Holocausts, how to prevent future anti-Semitism, it should be welcomed.

'The majority of people in Dachau weren’t yet born when the Holocaust happened.

'They’ ve been told about the Holocaust and they want to learn from it. To co-operate with them in learning about the Holocaust is the best thing we can do,' he said.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Palestinian Students in Gaza Ask Egypt to Allow Entrance to Universities

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
NEWS TICKER
October 05, 2009, 09:27 AM ET

Palestinian students in Gaza have appealed to Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing so they can begin studying at Egyptian universities. Dozens of students with valid Egyptian residence permits who are enrolled in college in Egypt told the Ma'an news agency their classes had already begun but they were unable to reach them because of border restrictions that limit the number of Palestinians entering Egypt to a few hundred each day, even when the crossing is open.