Category Archives: Israel

Toronto’s ROM Facing Controversy Over the Dead Sea Scrolls

In June the Royal Ontario Museum is planning on exhibiting the Dead Sea Scrolls. That showing is being blasted by the Palestinians as they say the scrolls were acquired illegally by Israel when the Jewish state annexed East Jerusalem in 1967.
For six months the museum plans to exhibit what has been hailed as one of the greatest historical finds.

That’s a problem for top Palestinian officials. This week they declared the exhibit a violation of international law and has demanded that Canada cancel the showing.

Letters have been sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the top brass at the ROM with senior Palestinian officials arguing that the scrolls are theirs and not the property of Israel.

The Toronto Star reports:

“The exhibition would entail exhibiting or displaying artifacts removed from the Palestinian territories,” said Hamdan Taha, director-general of the archaeological department in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. I think it is important that Canadian institutions would be responsible and act in accordance with Canada’s obligations.”

The Palestinians are saying that both Canada and Israel are signatories to all agreements.

The protest letter sent to Harper was signed by Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority and its second-in-command while the letter sent to the ROM was signed by Khouloud Daibes, minister of tourism and antiquities.

The scrolls were discovered in 11 caves lining the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1957. Who owns them has been loudly disputed since that time.

Lauren, a spokeswoman for ROM, told Digital Journal there is no further information at statements being given until the matter has been fully investigated.

Omar from the General Delegation of Palestine in Canada was also unable to release an official statement at this time.

The Consulate of Israel in Toronto is closed until next week for Passover.

The planned exhibition at the ROM is called the Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World. It is set to run from June 27 to Jan. 3.

A Song For Peace

On Wednesday a group of teenagers performed for a special audience. They begin with We Sing for Peace for their elderly audience who looked on smiling.
what makes this concert special was the choir was made up of teens from the West Bank and their audience was made up of Holocaust survivors.

The enemy sang for the enemy. Only this time there were no enemies. Only songs of peace.

The thirteen children aged 11 to 18 had no idea who their audience was. They belong to Strings of Freedom. The orchestra was put together in Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

The adults in the audience also were unaware that the children that were entertaining them were Palestinian.

The choir was formed seven years ago to help the children overcome war trauma.

War trauma is something both groups understand.

The group was even late for the event because of the war. They were held up for thirty minutes at a military check point just outside the town they live in.

The event took place in the Holocaust Survivors Centre at Holon, Israel on “Good Deeds Day.” The yearly event was started by billionaire Shari Arison, Israel’s richest woman.

The New Zealand Herald reports:

“I feel sympathy for them,” said Ali Zeid, an 18-year-old keyboard player who said he was shocked by what he learned about the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed 6 million Jews in their campaign to wipe out European Jewry.

“Only people who have been through suffering understand each other,” said Zeid, who said his grandparents were Palestinian refugees forced to flee the northern city of Haifa during the war that followed Israel’s creation in 1948.

Tristan Anderson Fighting For His Life After Israeli Attack

*warning video is very graphic

Tristan Anderson’s parents are demanding that a full investigation be launched by Israel on why their son is fighting for his life.
On March 13 Anderson was shot in the head with a tear gas canister round at a Arab-Jewish demonstration at the West Bank village of Ni’lin. The American peace activist was with three or four other activists when the attack took place. The canister that was fired has a range of more than 400 metres. It was fired from a mere 60 metres at Mr. Anderson. Those with him at the time say that he was not involved with the main protest.

Tristan was shot by the new tear-gas canisters that can be shot up to 500m. I ran over as I saw someone had been shot, while the Israeli forces continued to fire tear-gas at us. When an ambulance came, the Israeli soldiers refused to allow the ambulance through the checkpoint just outside the village. After 5 minutes of arguing with the soldiers, the ambulance passed.

Teah Lunqvist (Sweden) – International Solidarity Movement

Anderson is lucky to be alive at all. The canister caused a multiple fracture to his skull, severe injury to the frontal lobe of his brain, and a collapsed eye socket. Anderson has already underwent three operations. One of those surgeries involved removal of portions of his frontal lobe. He remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma at Israeli hospital Tel Hashomer.

Nancy Anderson, mother of the 37-year-old man, flew from California with her husband Michael to be with her child.

The Independent

“We want the Israeli government to publicly take full responsibility for the shooting of our son,” she said.

“I don’t carry any negative feelings towards the soldier who shot our son. All I feel is love for Tristan and fear for his recovery.”

Anderson works seasonally with a trade union in Oakland, California setting up conventions. This was his first time to Israel where he was vacationing with his girlfriend.

In the past Anderson has taken part in peace demonstrations in Iraq before the US invasion in 2003, and in El Salvador and Guatemala. At the time of the incident Anderson was involved with the International Solidarity Movement, a group that brings internationals to the Palestine to support nonviolent resistance against the Occupation. In the past when international figures are present the military is less likely to use lethal force against unarmed protesters.

Michael Anderson said that his son was curious about the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the Guardian:

“Tristan has always been interested in how societies that go through conflict are able to resolve their issues,” said his father. “He came to understand for himself what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was about. It is ironic that the country in which he was shot is a democracy where it is supposed to be a duty for everyone to follow their conscience. We want to know the truth of what happened and we want justice for our son.”

According to Jonathon Pollack, an activist with the Israeli “Anarchists against the Wall” organisation, the incident took place about a kilometer away after demonstrators had started to leave. In the early portions of the protest it is true stones were thrown but Anderson was not among those being aggressive.

The Israeli military has said that some 400 rioters had thrown a “a massive number of rocks” at the troops. They also state that the protesters threw firebombs and directed burning tyres at the forces. They went on to say that during 2008 73 personnel were injured at or near Ni’lin.

The Guardian

“Israel regrets that the Israeli and foreign nationals co-operate with violent rioters against the building of the security fence, whose purpose is saving the lives of Israeli citizens,” it said. “As such, any Israeli, Palestinian, or foreign national who illegally participates in a violent demonstration takes upon himself the risk of personal harm during the dispersal of these disturbances.”

Press TV says that Israel has offered no sympathy for the Anderson family and in fact have blamed Anderson for participating in the demonstrations as the cause of his injuries.

Attorney Michael Sfard,
working for the Anderson family understands that it is doubtful that an investigation will yield a result. He stated that 90 to 92 percent of all launched investigations do not have a result in Israel. Since 2000 only four out of 110-120 court cases have lead to an indictment. Only one lead to a conviction. That conviction was an Arab-Israeli soldier who killed British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza.

Opinion: New Israeli Indoor Playground Comes With Rocket Warning

Israeli children have a safe place to play in Sderot. Inside a convert warehouse lies a fortified play area complete with soccer field. The play ground also has an alert system giving a 15-second warning if rockets are coming.
Welcome to a new world where children are forced to enjoy playing indoors, not because of the weather but because adults shoot rockets at each other.

The new indoor playground was opened on Tuesday in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. The town is often battered by rockets being fired at it by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Canoe News

“It’s an amazing thing. Until now, only the house and school were safe,” said Pesah Hajbi, a 43-year-old father of three. “It’s cold comfort,” he added. “If they don’t stop firing, at least there is a safe place to play.”

The centre cost $5 million and was funded by the Jewish Nation Fund- United States. The brightly coloured walls are anti-shock wave can comfortably house 500 people.

The building is divided into two sections. One is for the youngest players, the infants and toddlers of the town. The other side of the building will be used by school kids during the afternoon and other residents during the day and night.

The play areas allow the children to be kids, instead of prisoners trapped at home for fear of a bombing.

Parents of the town are grateful and yet a little sad that it has come to this. Kid are meant to be free and enjoy the sun while they run and scream with joy.


“It makes me happy but also sad,” Devora Biton, 43 said. “I’m glad the kids will have a place to go, but it means the kids will have to live under a reinforced roof, rather that play outside as they should.”

At least the children in this one town have a chance to experience a fraction of childhood. Is it wrong though to feel intense sadness that the adults of this world can’t get along well enough that our children have to play in fortresses with reinforced walls?

Israel Admits Use Of Phosphorus Shells

Israel is admitting that perhaps they used white phosphorous shells in areas where civilians were. That announcement comes after international rage over the use of the deadly shells.

On January 15 three white phosphorus shells hit the UN compound in Gaza City. It was later used the same day at the al-Quds hospital.

Army sources are stating that up to 20 of the shells were fired into Beit Lahiya.

The internal inquiry of the use of these shells is being conducted after human rights groups demanded answers. Israel for weeks insisted that the use of white phosphorus was within international laws. They are proving themselves that those claims were deadly wrong.

Doctors treating civilians in Gaza already know that. They have shown dozens of suspected phosphorus burns on their patients.

180 shells were fired on Hamas fighters and rocket launch crews in northern Gaza. 20 more though are being investigated by Alkalai.

The Guardian reports:

“They obviously could not have gone on denying the use of phosphorus,” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty researcher for Israel and the Occupied Territories, told the Guardian yesterday. “There are still phosphorus wedges burning all over Gaza including at the UN compound and at the school.

“It is clear they are not using it as smoke screen as they claimed. They used it in areas where they had no forces, and there are much less problematic smoke screens that they could have used.”

On Monday Amnesty International warned that Israel is facing charges of war crimes from the use of the shells in civilian areas.