Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spanish Goverment's and media's double standard.

One of the most acclaimed TV programs in Spain is Tengo una pregunta para usted (I have a question for you), broadcasted by TVE's (Televisión Española, Spain's public TV) channel La 1. It gives citizens an opportunity to ask politicians about those issues they consider important or of a special interest. And on January 26, 2009, Spain's President of the Government and secretary general of the P.S.O.E. (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or Spanish Socialist Workers' Party), José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was the politician invited to be questioned by ordinary citizens.

Rafael Lafuente Blanco, 29 years old, from the city of Granada, was one of those ordinary citizens. He chose to ask Zapatero about the Spanish arms trade, which makes Spain one of the main exporters of weapons globally, as well as about the hypocrisy behind Zapatero's cabinet, publicly committed to peace while veiledly committed to supply Israel and Colombia with weapons (please notice that, according to Lafuente, Israel and Colombia are countries which usually violate human rights).

Spanish President of the Government answered by explaining that the total amount of weapons sold to Israel by Spain equals just about 1,000,000 €, and that such a quantity means that Spain is not one of Israel's main suppliers of weapons. Then, Lafuente interrupts Zapatero's answer by asking: "Do you have any idea about how many Palestinian civilians have been killed by our weapons?" Zapatero answers by telling that Spanish war material sold to Israel was not used by the Jewish State to kill Palestinian civilians.

Another argument provided by the Spanish socialist leader is the fact that Spain is a pioneer country on the erradication of cluster bombs.

Well, on Friday, April 15, 2011, Público published an article, based on another one published by Europa Press (a Spanish news agency), regarding Libya. Both of the articles reveale that Muammar al-Gaddafi's forces used cluster projectiles against Libyan rebels in Misrata. Those cluster projectiles were made in Spain in 2007 (a year before Spain signed an international agreement which banned this kind of weapons), and later provided to Libya. This issue was also covered by The New York Times, and can also be read in El País, in English.

Público's and Europa Press' articles also deal with the fact that al-Gaddafi's forces used Grad rockets during their operations. The two articles provide explanations about these type of rockets regarding their use by al-Gaddafi's forces, including civilians killed and locations attacked by them, as well as their design and technical data.

Now please notice that:

i) The P.S.O.E. has been very critical towards Israel, especially during the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008-2009 operation Cast Lead. Spain's socialist leader, who is the President of the Goverment since 2004, admitted to have provided Israel with weapons, and justified it by explaining that those weapons were not used to kill innocent civilians. But at the same time, the socialists, while governing the country, sold nothing less than cluster ammunitions to the Libyan regime.

ii) Público and Europa Press explained in detail how the Grad rockets have been used by al-Gaddafi's forces, how these rockets affected civilians and infrastructures in Misrata and how these rockets were designed. But at the same time, neither Público nor Europa Press depicted in such detail how Israel has been being attacked with al-Qassam and Grad rockets, as well as mortars, during the last months.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eugenio García Gascón on the religion in Israel (I).

Yoram Cohen was appointed new Shabak director. The Shabak (an acronym for Sherut haBitahon haKlali or General Security Service), formerly known as the Shin Bet, is Israel's security service for operations inside the State of Israel itself and the Palestinian territories.

Público's Eugenio García Gascón wrote an article about the issue, published on Wednesday, March 30, 2011, under the title Kipot y uniformes (Kipot and uniforms). The journalist describes how religious Jews are taking the control over the State of Israel, putting Yoram Cohen as an example. On what grounds did Eugenio García Gascón base his theory? Yoram Cohen usually wears a kippah (whose plural form is kippot). This means Yoram Cohen is a religious Jew, and for Eugenio García Gascón this is enough to think that "a doubt concerning his professional behaviour will always exist."

He also wrote that many appointments recently made in Israel fell on religious Jews, as well as there are many religious military high commanders. On these grounds he argues that Israel is becoming a more nationalistic and religious country.

Well, he seems to forget that, in spite of the presence of religious Jews in Israel, Israel's Supreme Court sentenced against imposed gender segregation in mehadrin buses, used precisely by religious Jews; that Israeli homosexual couples are granted the right to adopt children and take paternity or maternity leaves, being the homosexuality a sin according precisely to the Jewish religious law or halakha; that religious Jews can be arrested for having committed hate crimes based precisely on religious laws; and that in Israel there is a free press legally able to criticize precisely religious Jews.

Please notice that the aforementioned facts happened during the last years, being Israel under Netanyahu-led coalition Government, usually portrayed as too much nationalistic, too much religious and of a right-wing extremist nature by the Spanish media. So, is there a regression in Israel, as Eugenio García Gascón literally wrote? Should we be alert, as he recommends us?

Should somebody tell Público's journalist that protraying Yoram Cohen as he did just because the new Shabak chief usually wears a kippah is an anti-Semitic argument in nature?