Thursday, March 13, 2008

U.S. Report Biased

The U.S. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, is out.

Here's from the section on "Israel and the occupied territories":-

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading

...according to the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens of Israel (Mossawa).

...On March 6, the NGO B'Tselem alleged....

...In a report released December 10, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) cited...

...The NGO Hotline for Migrant Workers reported...

So, no independent research?

So, who else can provide material?

In the second report (below), I found in this regard:-

Israeli activists reported numerous examples in which PA television shows invoked messages that activists considered anti-Semitic or that attempted to de-legitimize Jewish history in general.

Notice that, some nebulous "activists". No name. Not like the above respectable groups which aren't necessarily tained by being "Israeli" (although they are).

And a parallel report has this to say about the Temple Mount, inter alia:-

...The Haram al-Sharif is administered, however, by the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian-funded and administered Muslim religious trust for East Jerusalem with ties to the PA. The Israeli police have exclusive control of the Mughrabi Gate entrance to the compound and limit access to the compound from all entrances. The Waqf can object to entrance of particular persons, such as non-Muslim religious radicals, or to prohibited activities, such as prayer by non-Muslims or disrespectful clothing or behavior, but lacks effective authority to remove anyone from the site. In practice Waqf officials claimed that police often allowed religious radicals (such as Jews seeking to remove the mosques and to rebuild the ancient temple on the site) and immodestly dressed persons to enter and often were not responsive to enforcing the site's rules. During Passover in 2007, Israeli police escorted more than 100 activists affiliated with the right-wing group "The Temple Mount Faithful" to enter the compound on two consecutive days, the second day while carrying a model of the Second Temple[!!!].

The Israeli Government, as a matter of stated policy, has opposed worship at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount by non-Muslims since 1967. Israeli police generally did not permit public prayer by non-Muslims and publicly indicated that this policy has not changed in light of the renewed visits of non-Muslims to the compound. However, Waqf officials contended that Israeli police, in contravention of their stated policy and the religious status quo, have allowed members of radical Jewish groups to enter and to worship at the site, including during Passover 2007. Representatives for these Jewish groups claimed successful attempts to pray inside the compound in interviews with the Israeli media. The Waqf interpreted police actions as part of an Israeli policy to incrementally reduce Waqf authority over the site and to give non-Muslims rights of worship in parts of the compound.

There were several violent clashes during the reporting period between Israeli police and Muslim worshippers on the Haram al-Sharif, which Waqf officials alleged were due to the large police contingent kept on the site. At times Muslim worshippers threw stones at police, and police fired tear gas and stun grenades at worshippers. Muslim worshippers also held demonstrations at the site to protest reported right-wing Israeli nationalist plans to damage the mosques or create a Jewish worship area at the site. Israeli security officials and police were generally proactive and effective in dealing with such threats.

...There were also disputes between the Muslim administrators of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and Israeli authorities regarding Israeli restrictions on Waqf attempts to carry out repairs and physical improvements on the compound and its mosques. Israeli authorities prevented the Waqf from conducting several improvement projects and removing debris from previous restorations to the site, alleging that the Waqf was attempting to alter the nature of the site or to discard antiquities of Jewish origin. Israeli authorities began excavations near the Mughrabi gate, preparing to build a permanent ramp onto the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Waqf officials were not allowed access to the excavations in early 2007 and claimed they were not consulted in any part of the planning process for either the excavations or the ramp that will be constructed to replace the existing ramp. At the end of this reporting period, the excavations were suspended.

And what about Waqf excavations destroying Jewish historical artifacts?

Found this further on in the report:-

There were instances of right-wing Israeli nationalists harassing Muslims. On several occasions, a group known as the Temple Mount Faithful attempted to force their way inside the wall enclosing the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. [that's harrassment or a demand for equal religious freedom?] In addition, the same group periodically attempted to lay a cornerstone for the building of a new Jewish temple that would replace the Islamic Dome of the Rock, an act that Muslims considered provocative and offensive. Members of this organization were allowed access to the Haram a-Sharif/Temple Mount, including access to the Dome of the Rock, during Passover 2007.

And in the section, Abuses of Religious Freedom, we read:-

During Jewish holidays the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) closes to Muslims the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the second most important mosque for Muslims in the Occupied Territories after Al Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount. The IDF reopens the al-Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron to Muslim worship for times other than during Jewish holidays. During the reporting period, Israeli officers at times prevented the muezzin at the al-Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron from sounding the call to prayer when Jews were praying in their portion of the shrine.

But (a) this is the agreement as a result of Oslo; and (b) preventing interference noise is a matter of common courtesy, no?

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