Archive for January, 2009

Moderator: I’m David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post and I’m going to moderate this afternoon’s discussion of Gaza. Our discussion of Gaza follows a war there that has reminded all of us of the burden of history in the Middle East and also has reminded all of us of the fragility of the peace process. Tonight I hope we’ll put a little more substance to that process by discussing where we go now, how we put the pieces back together. We have a most distinguished panel to discuss these issues with us tonight. Let me first briefly introduce them. To my immediate right (sic) is the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. To his left is the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. To his left is the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and to his left is the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. I’m going to ask Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from the United Nations who has been particularly focused on the humanitarian aspects of the Gaza crisis to lead off tonight with his remarks for the next five minutes. Secretary General.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: (Simultaneous translation from original Turkish) First of all, before replying to the question as to what needs to be done, I think it’s also important that we analyse the current situation because we need to do a proper analysis of the current situation in order to determine what steps need to be taken.

I’m not going to start from 40 years ago in making the situation analysis, I am just going as far back as June 2008. If we look at back then, June 2008, there was a ceasefire which was stated [agreed to] and there was no problem to the ceasefire that was to last for 6 months, but when the ceasefire ended, 6 months later there were no rocket attacks at that point, in the meantime the Israeli side was to lift the embargo, the situation had to change in Palestine, however, the Palestinian Territories are like an open air prison because it is completely isolated from the rest of the world, so it is very much isolated, sealed, so if you try to bring in a case of tomatoes from any crossing into the Palestinian territories you must get the permission of the Israeli side because it is not possible otherwise so [Looking at this,] I look at this from a humanitarian point of view and I will also say a few words as Prime Minister, I visited Israel some time ago and then I went to Palestine and as the Prime Minister I waited for half hour with my wife in the car [for about half an hour] to be able to cross into the Palestinian territories from Ramallah.

But never has a diplomat coming from Israel had to wait for that long at our borders. I think we have to look at these aspects of the situation there on the ground. I also ask Mr. Olmert if there were any deaths as a result of these rockets attacks and he told me that there were no deaths, but that the attacks were a fact, so these rockets are being used but, they don’t kill anyone, so I’m told that it’s about the rockets themselves, they are of not very good quality, but in the meantime, there were more that 24 Palestinians who were killed during the ceasefire since last June, and the power was cut off, there was no food, the electricity didn’t exist in hospitals, so there were quite a number of difficult issues and we had already started as Turkey to send humanitarian aid to Palestine, so there was already a humanitarian issue then. And let me say, I have always been a leader who expressly stated that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity, Islamophobia too, is a crime against humanity.

For me the person being Christian, Jewish or Muslim is not important if the person is under stress, to me, the common denominator is that they are all human beings and so my approach is a humanitarian one, and that has been what I have taken as the basis of my efforts, for example we tried to send humanitarian aid the Turkish Red Crescent, tried to provide aid, but it took quite a while, two weeks sometimes, to have the trucks cross the crossings. I don’t know if President Peres is aware of this but it has taken us quite a lot of time, our diplomats have had to work very hard to make sure that the aid will flow into the Palestinian Territories. Even more interesting, is that the Israeli Prime Minister was in Turkey, Mr. Olmert was in Turkey four days before the war in Gaza started. as you have mentioned, we as Turkey have taken up an intermediation role between Israel and Syria for indirect talks and there were already four rounds of talks, which have taken place, indirect talks, and the fifth round was actually carried out with Prime Minister Olmert and myself present and our special envoys present in Ankara and we sat together for five to six hours and we were discussing the issues between Syria and Israel. I was on phone conversation with President Assad and my envoy was talking to the Foreign Minister Moallem and our goal then, to see if we could move to the next phase which was direct talks between Israel and Syria, so that was what we were trying to do and our goal in trying to do all this has been to achieve peace in the region and we have been trying to bring together officials from two countries which to date have not come together. We were making quite good progress, so much so that we were having problems with a few words only, in the language that we were talking. It was decided that a few days should lapse until a final decision could be reached and in the meantime, I was talking to Mr. Olmert with my Foreign Minister with me and our special envoy and Prime Minister Olmert had his advisers as well and I said that we could work to release the captured Israeli soldier who was held by Hamas but I said, and I also made the request, I said that the reforming change Party won the election in Palestine. We are talking about democracy, we would like to see democracy take root, so if we would like to see democracy take root then we must respect, first of all, the people who have received the votes of the people of the country they are running in, so we may not like them, but we have to respect the process. And I said to Prime Minister Olmert that they held the Ministers and Members of Parliament of Palestine. I suggested also, that there could perhaps be a gesture made, similar to the gesture made to President Abbas before, they could be released perhaps. But Prime Minister Olmert said that this would make things very difficult for President Abbas. But then I said, perhaps it would be possible to release some of the women and children and that could perhaps that be done as a gesture. President Olmert told me that he would talk to his colleagues and respond back the next day, but we got no response and in about 4 days after that, by December 27 we saw the war in Gaza. What happened was more than 1,200 people were killed including women and children. More than 5,000 were wounded and this was a disproportionate use of force, so if you look at all this from a humanitarian point of view and think of the military power of Israel including weapons of mass destruction and whether or not there is anything that is similar in Gaza, whether the Palestinians have any of that kind of military power, they don’t have that kind of power. The UN Security Council met and the resolution was announced but Israel did not recognize this resolution of the United Nations Security Council as Secretary General Ban Ki Moon mentioned, the UN centre was also hit during the course of this war. Schools, mosques were also hit, but mankind or humanity as a whole did not really act as quickly as it should have to try to help people there. In the case of Georgia people acted rather quickly, I include ourselves in that effort because we too worked very hard to help Georgians as well in a difficult time. So, what I am trying to say is that we should not be judging anyone by their race or religion if they are in distress. Our goal, everyone’s goal, is to try to help people in difficulty. I visited Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and I talked to many leaders, European leaders on the phone, unfortunately this whole thing lasted 3 weeks it was covered from the very beginning, television channels, BBC for example predicted that it would take about 3 weeks, indeed the whole process or the whole war took 3 weeks and this has lead to the destruction of the infrastructure. And the figures that the UN Secretary General mentioned are not sufficient to solve the problem, we need much more, not even 1 billion or 2 billion dollars would help in trying to restore the structures there because these people there do not have any means to rehabilitate their infrastructure and they now have to be burdened.

There is a lot of talk about Hamas, but Hamas are not the only people in Gaza, there are also civilians. Hamas is also a different face of the change and transformation party. The problem here is that their democratic rights have not been recognized, respected. Where we are now, the unilateral ceasefire was announced by Israel and then Hamas the next day announced a unilateral ceasefire as well. One is talking about a year-long ceasefire process, the other one proposes a year and a half. Another issue is of course to end the isolation of the Palestinian People. Will it be possible for Israel to do that, in other words, will the crossings be open for people to come in because how will those people survive where they are, under the conditions that they are in? If we respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Conventions that are internationally accepted, those crossings, first of all, must be opened so people can experience their rights, the rights of life. There is also the issue of arms being smuggled into the area. If one end of the tunnel is in Egypt then Egypt must stop this illicit arms flow. But if we consider Palestine as a State, and I think that there is also a question there, perhaps some question marks in peoples minds, this issue of the division within Palestine, and how to breach the differences between Fatah and Hamas. If we are trying to bridge that gap then we have to consider all the parties. And I said this to Mr. Olmert too, because if it’s only Fatah who is present on the Palestinian side, that is not going to be sufficient to project the results to all of the Palestinian people, Hamas has to be taken into consideration as well because they are a part of that society, they have won an election, so they too must be included in this equation. If it’s the UN who is going to take the lead, that’s the way it should be, I hope that the UN puts it weight behind these efforts and/or the United States under the Obama administration can take an important role. I hope, I expect, President Obama to be the voice of the silent masses and to put his weight, his administration’s weight, behind a solution. He must do this not within the agreements that have been previously made by the previous administration, including the last one that was made between the then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mrs. Livni. There’s got to be a new opening and Hamas must be considered in this process. If Turkey is asked to play some sort of a role, we too would be willing to be involved, but we must be careful and we must think of the whole process when we try to define the parties involved and we must definitely achieve peace in the Middle East because that is important and necessary for global peace. If the Middle East peace process does not yield a positive result, that means that we will not have peace in the world as a whole. So I think that in the National Unity government to be established in Palestine this party of Reform and Change must be there, and that is how the National Unity government has to be established then elections have to take place and once the new government is in place, whether we or not, like them will be and should be the government of the Palestinian people because we have to respect the will of the Palestinian people.

 

Moderator: Thank you Prime Minister Erdoğan for a very comprehensive and I must say quite newsy response. Let me turn out to Secretary General Amr Moussa the same question: how do we put this peace process back together after Gaza and perhaps you could address the two things that Secretary General Ban focused on.

First, how to achieve unity among Palestinians? And second, what this new American administration can most usefully do as George Mitchell begins making his way around the region? 

Amr Mussa: Well thank you very much. Let me begin by thanking the Secretary General of the United Nations for the forceful position he has taken and for the actions he is calling for in order to save the situation in Gaza, to save Gaza after the carnage that has been committed against its people. Also I wish to commend the role played by Turkey, a very positive, courageous and clear role that Turkey, a member of the Middle East family of nations, wants to help establish peace and to help deal with the major mistakes that have been committed against the Palestinians and to ask for, work for a fair, a just peace in order for peace to be durable. Now, David, you asked me to talk about the future and how we would address it. This cannot make me sweep things under the carpet, things that belong to the near future and also to perhaps distant future. The situation in Gaza was not a reaction, the assault against the Gazans was not just a reaction for some rockets being launched against Southern Israel. And here I would open some brackets to say that we are against anything that would affect children, women, civilians be they Palestinians or Israelis. And then I continue to say that this situation in Gaza and in Palestine is a situation of foreign military occupation. So people […] and siege, a blockade. Gaza is living within a blockade, a very severe one. The West Bank is under military occupation with barriers, with colonies, that’s settlements, so the Palestinians are trying to express themselves to find a future for themselves. You cannot ask people in Gaza living in starvation and hunger because of the blockade, the very sinister blockade, and then ask them to be calm, and ask them “why do you throw stones against your occupiers?”. It is against the nature of people, against the nature of people, you strangle them, you starve them and then ask them to be quiet? And then, as has been discussed now, the question of smuggling, of course smuggling is illegal, illicit trade, illicit movement of things, commodities and so on, including perhaps arms. You strangle them, not a single window of opportunity, and then talk to them about illicit trade? If you want to prevent this, you have to open the crossing points, you have to give them food, you have to give them water, to give them medicine. It is a miserable life that the Palestinians have lived and until now are living in Gaza because of the blockade that Israel has imposed on them for three years now. Number two. Another fact: the Palestinians believed the call for democracy. There were some policies, international policies, at certain times, calling on the Middle East: “apply democracy, democracy is the solution for everything!” – and it happens that I agree with that. The Palestinians believed the advice, had elections, Hamas won, and half an hour, twenty-five minutes after the announcement of the results of the election, Hamas was served notice that aid would be suspended and then came the blockade, a severe blockade, and hence Hamas was put on the defensive. But very much as Prime Minister Erdoğan has said, the people in Gaza are not only Hamas, it as such is only an organization among other organizations, but the people, 1.5 million people of women, of children, of all people, they were attacked and they paid the price for this game that is going on between Israel and Hamas and the game that has been caused, that is being caused until now by the military occupation.

Why Hamas was listened to in the Occupied Territories, within the Palestinian ranks, in the Middle East, within the Arab world? Why? Because it has a logic. They said all right, president Abu Mazen, go and negotiate, and if there is something useful coming out of your negotiations we will certainly support you. And in fact they are on record as having said we are ready to accept the Palestinian State within the borders of 1967 but we are not going to sign any paper until we see what is the result of that. So, President Abu Mazen didn’t bring anything. Did not bring anything. Out of one full year of negotiations with the current Israeli government. That’s what he said. He is on record as having said that and in fact he said it, on this stage, last year. I believe it was the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. So this is the situation. It is not a question of Israel reacting to some rockets, it is much deeper than that, it is an action of occupation, an action of blockade, then a reaction of resistance, then the reaction of destruction carried out by Israel. Okay. That has happened. Are we going to stop here and the end of the world will occur? No. Perhaps all of us now are called upon to save the situation. As the Secretary General has just said, there are three or four thing that have to be done: a ceasefire, a strong ceasefire, sustainable ceasefire, opening of the crossings, stopping the illicit traffic, and the conciliation between the Palestinians. That we have to do, and I want you to know that I do not absolve ourselves on the Arab side from also committing mistakes, but no mistakes, no mistake we have committed can compete with the major mistake that has been committed by Israel in destroying Gaza and killing all those people in only twenty days. Again, we tried to involve the United Nations rather than to involve shooting and more bloodshed. Unfortunately in the last several years up until this January and it was before January 28th, the philosophy was “no, keep the Security Council away, give Israel a chance to reach, to do what they were set to do”. We have witnessed that back in 2006 in Lebanon, and we witness that back in January in New York, but this is a long story I don’t think the time will allow us to do so, to explain it in full. Now, what should we do? We have a new administration in the United States. What President Obama has said is reassuring. Change. He addressed the Arab world through one of our major channels called Al Arabiya, from Dubai, addressed us, and told us. We listened, we heard, we understood. He sent his special envoy, Senator Mitchell, who is a very reasonable man, we discussed with him, we are going to discuss again with him, and I believe there are those prospects of the United States returning back to the role of honest broker, which we missed for the last several years. This is a key point for the future, that the United States gets back to the role of honest broker that listens to the sides and says “yes you are right on this but you are wrong on that”, and to the other side too, the same. This we have not seen in the last several years. Ok. Now, this is the first positive point, we hope that we are right in our assessment and in our hopes. The second is the Arab initiative. We are ready. Formally, officially, at the highest level, all of us are committed to establish peace with Israel. To recognize Israel, to normalize with Israel, and to carry on all our commitments in accordance with Security Council resolutions, the Madrid Conference decisions and whatever agreements we have signed, that have been signed between any Arab country and Israel. We are ready for that. But the point is that we have not received any answer from Israel for the last seven years. President Peres is a very eloquent man, he says that we accept, but this is just a good expression of words, there is no authorized decision taken by the government of Israel to respond to the most authorized message sent by an Arab summit held back in 2002. So our position is fully authorized, we haven’t gotten any answer, any answer whatsoever except some addresses here, we read it in some newspapers or translation from. So we call on Israel now: what is your position on this initiative? Formal position. Formal position. Not just a statement here. Formal position. As our position also was formal. If there is an acceptance, authorized acceptance, by Israel then we are on the right track. Therefore the second point is for us to receive a formal reply about the acceptance of the Arab initiative which calls on us Arabs to turn the page, turn the page of the conflict, recognize Israel, normalize with Israel and have Israel as part of the family of nations in the Middle East which until now Israel is not. But if Israel also withdraws, allows the Palestinian State to be established, withdraws from the other Territories, we see no obstacle for us and for the Israelis to live together and get our act together. When are we going to receive this message? A question mark. The third point… 

Moderator: Secretary General, we have a chance to get a response from the President of Israel and maybe this is the good time to do that since we’re running short of time… 

Amr Mussa: I know that the president is going to take all his time. So give me two more minutes, please. 

Moderator: I don’t want to bargain. [We have to have a ceasefire] We’ll be all ears to listen to President Peres. …let’s do a wrap up. 

Amr Mussa: Now. The year 2009 we lived the year 2008 with a lot of promises. And it ended up in a bloodshed. For us, to move from one administration to the other from the year 2000 to the year 2008, then 2009, then 2010, then 2011, this is a gimmick that we are not going to accept. That is why: now we are in 2009, if there’s real intention, a real work done by an honest broker, the political will will be expressed by Israel in favor of peace and progress will be done, will be made, then we are on the right track. If this year ends – we reach the day 31st of December as we did in 2008, without any result, then we’ll have to reconsider. There are a lot of other alternatives. But I believe in what Turkey is saying, Prime Minister Erdoğan has said. We cannot reach and Israel cannot reach any of its goals through military means. We need to have a political settlement, but a fair one and in the year 2009. Tank you very much.

 

Moderator: Thank you, Secretary General Moussa and now President Peres of Israel. No one has worked longer or harder on this thing we call the peace process than you have, and tell us how you think we can put it back together.

 [A woman pats down Peres’ hair. Laughter.]

Hairfalls [?]

Shimon Peres: Well, thank you Mr. Chairman, I heard the distinguished speakers talking about Israel and I couldn’t recognize the picture of the country that they know. I want to tell the beginning. It’s very difficult when a democratic country has to confront an illegal terroristic group. Whatever we do is being photographed; whatever they do, nobody sees. For example, when you throw a rocket on a settlement in Israel, it’s not being photographed. You cannot see the mother trying to defend her child the whole night, and their sleepless night. Did you ever see on television a sleepless night?

I must respect for you Mr. Prime Minister, but I must put things as they really are. Let me start with democracy. First of all, who was elected by the Palestinians, but Mr. Abbas, who is called Abu Mazen. Sixty-two percent of the Palestinians voted for him to be the President of the Palestinian people, and we negotiate with him. Hamas participated in the elections but have a very unique idea about democracy. They think a democracy is a story of one day in four years you go through the election. After the elections you can start to shoot and kill and threaten. Finish. Democracy is not a matter of elections. It is a civilization and I want to conflict to your words by quoting from the Hamas; I won’t be going to interrupt the stories? But Hamas concerns us; Hamas published a charter; let me just read two lines, three lines from it, from the Hamas Charter. “The day of judgment will not come about until the Muslims kill the Jews, when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, there is no solution for peace initiative, proposals, international conferences are all a waste of time.” This is an official charter. I don’t know about which Hamas you are talking?

Now about the proportions. In the last eight years, well I mean, I hate to say it, but since you mentioned it, let me give the other picture, too. Israel lost hundred, thousand hundred sixty-seven lives from terrorists, eight thousand five hundred were wounded. It wasn’t done in twenty days, it was done in several years. We restrained all the time. And then since the last four years when Hamas took over Gaza, 5500 rockets, and 4000 mortars, shells were fired upon civilian life in Israel at random: they didn’t care if it was a kindergarten, if it’s a [ ]we didn’t answer. For that reason, the ceasefire idea, Mr. Prime Minister, was very strange in our views. We never started fire. And we told the Palestinians time and again, “Don’t fire, and there won’t be fire; we are not doing we never started!” And who broke…and oh by the way, we didn’t have a formal agreement about the ceasefire, they announced, and the Palestinians said, “It’s over.” They broke it. And when the Prime Minister was at your place four days before the operations started, the government of Israel didn’t yet to decide to take actions against it.

Now let me… I want you to listen because you watch all of your television, I can understand your feelings.

“Israel left Gaza completely, no occupation. We took out all of our soldiers from Gaza, all of our civilians. People are talking about settlements, we took out from Gaza all the settlements and all the settlers, fifteen thousand of them. Nobody forced us, it was our own choice. We had to mobilize forty-five thousand policemen to bring them back home, at the cost of 2.5 billion dollars.

I want to understand why did they fight rockets against us? What for? There was not any siege against Gaza. All the passages were open. Not only that, we participated in investing money in Gaza, to develop a, an agriculture. We at Peres Center, we ourselves put in twenty thousand dollars, twenty million dollars, sorry, to build green houses, to develop strawberries, the export of strawberries, excellent strawberries, flowers.

Jimmy Wolfensohn who was representative of the Quartet, took from his own pocket 5 million dollars to participate in it. They destroyed it. Why? They bombed all the passages. Why? Why did they fire at us, what did they want?” We didn’t occupy, there was never a day of starvation in Gaza! By the way, Israel is the supplier of water daily to Gaza, Israel is the supplier of fuel to Gaza, the only thing we didn’t permit to bring in was rockets from Iran! And they build tunnels to do it! And you know, we also have women and children, and they want to sleep at night. Do you know what it means, every day, almost hundred rockets falling at random, a million people have had to be under shelter. They came to the government and said “What happened to you? We want have security, why do you permit to happen it? ” And I want anyone telling me, clearly, what were the reasons for the attack? What were the purposes of the attack? Peace? We make peace with Egypt, not by arms, by agreement and negotiation, and we met all of the requests of Egypt. We made peace with Jordan the same, we gave back all the land and all the water. We opened with the Palestinians, and we told them, that we are for a Palestinian state, I started in Oslo, against the majority maybe, of our people that didn’t agree And all the time, you know Mr. Prime Minister, while you have had to wait, because many busses that came from the West Bank to Jerusalem were full of dynamite. I was then Prime Minister, I saw it with my own eyes, the blood and the bodies. You know, I don’t have to watch television, and when I came in there were thousands of people shouting at me “Traitor, killer, look at what you did to us!” You must, there are many details you have to know. Israel is sixty-years old, do you know any other country, that in sixty-years has had to go through seven wars, two Intifadas, an ongoing boycott? What, why? And in spite of it, we made peace with Egypt. I have the highest respect for President Mubarak. By the way, President Mubarak accused Hamas, not us. And President Mubarak knows the situation not less as you Mr. Prime Minister. And President Abbas knows the situation not less than you do, and he accused Hamas not us. And then mothers and children came to the government and asked what will happen? A million people every night have had to hide themselves in shelters, mothers with sleepless nights, what do you really mean? By the way, I have never saw anyone demonstrating against those missiles! That was ok Nobody said a word. And we didn’t answer, a day in and a day out, a year in a year out, there’s a limit to it. And by the way, I have much respect for the Secretary General, he used to be and I hope we’re still a friend, I appreciate very much the Arab initiative, but there is a problem in it, I don’t want to hide it. The problem is not the Arab world, the problem is the Iranian ambition to govern the Middle East. They supplied the rockets to Hezbollah, they supplied the rockets to Hamas, they are controversially the Arab making, and you know we didn’t have a choice. The leader of Hezbollah, Nasrallah says: “Would I know that Israel will react so strongly, we wouldn’t have started”. Thank you very much. And then come the Mashaal, the leader of Hamas and said: “Israel reacted too strongly.” What did you expect us to do, I don’t understand? What would any country do? What would you do if it you would happen in Istanbul every night ten rockets, a hundred rockets? And we never gave up, all my life as you said, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it, I am fighting for peace, what we did is not…the thing that we wanted to do… It’s not our choice, our choice is peace. What we did is because the lack of a choice, we were threatened with a choice. Would you vote for such a convention, to kill the Jews? OK, those are words, but to kill the Jews and send rockets to kill them. What you want us to do? We started to negotiate with Mr. Arafat, with much respect, it wasn’t simple. The PLO was in the beginning a terroristic organization. Mr. Arafat agreed to stop terror and go on to negotiations. By the way, what ever was achieved peacefully, positively, was achieved not by rockets, not by force, not by power, but by negotiations. It takes time, it takes time. It’s a very complicated country. It’s a small country with three religions, with a lot of history. With different ethnicities, it’s not simple. We made peace, once, twice, now we are negotiating with the Palestinians. There was a crisis among the Palestinians, we don’t intend to be the one that decide that the Palestinians be united or not. As long as Hamas did not rebel against the Fatah, it was not our business, we didn’t say a word. You know what? I am talking about Israel, look what the people, of the Palestinian people, the Secretary General of Fatah is saying about Hamas, three days ago.His name is Yasser Abd Rabbo, a Palestinian, a secretary general of the PLO, of the executive committee, and I quote him, I quote him three days ago: “Hamas has turned Gaza, Gaza schools and mosques, all universities into centers of detention, interrogation and torture and torture. Dozens have been shot in their legs, beaten savagely, and had their bones broken, broken. Hamas plundered trucks bringing …and distributes it only to…the food.. only to the supporters of their movement.” They didn’t give the food to the people of Fatah. They killed hundred leaders of Fatah in full daylight. They throw them from the roofs. What do you really mean? Is that the matter of definitions? Israel does not want to shoot anybody, for us all children are as important as one can think of. I created the Peres Center, all the money we have collected went to the cure of children. Palestinian children. They didn’t have insurance, they didn’t have hospitals, in five years we have brought to Israel 5500 Palestinian children and their mothers to be cured. By the way, there is no hospital today in Israel that does not have Arab doctors, so the children can communicate with the doctors in the Israeli hospitals. That is our choice, to touch a child. But if you put a child, if you put bombs in the kindergarten, and if you hide yourselves behind innocent families, and before we shell, we, before we try to shell anybody, we try and telephone the people, we say, please leave the place. We don’t want to hurt you. We made during those twenty days, 250,000 telephone calls before we shoot. What could we do, what was our choice? And what would any government do?I am very much sorry Mr. Secretary General about the United Nations’ building, according to our records, not by your knowledge, they started to shoot from there, and by the way, Europe, you bombed Kosovo, and you hit the Chinese embassy, did you want to? And hundreds of civilian people were killed in the bombing to, That’s Ok. So please, I want to speak clearly, Israel does not need a ceasefire, because we never started a bullet and we shall never do it.

And we shall never do it, and the minute they stop shooting there will be a ceasefire, we don’t need anything else. Every moment, every day we are not interested in fire; we are not interested in hurting or killing anybody. Now about the peace process. First of all I want to say that it was a great move on the side of the Secretary General of the Arab League to introduce the Arab Initiative. I think that was a very positive move in a bitter history of misunderstanding and confrontations. The problems we will facing well the following: a) we started to negotiate directly with the Palestinians. President Mubarak told me, “Look, finish you negotiations with the Palestinians we shall consider as the first move to an overall peace.” We are negotiating and I think we made headway in extremely complicated issue. They call on this issue of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not a piece of land. Jerusalem is fire. There are three different religions and there are different streams in every religion, and people are fighting about every window, every door. It’s easy to say “make an agreement,” we are trying to find the way. We told the Palestinians that we are ready really to accept [unintelligible], which means ready to return most almost all of the land of the West Bank to them. Gaza we left completely. What is there to fight? So the ceasefire is as far as this is concerned is not a problem for us. We never started, we should never start fire and when they fired against us we replied, but after a great restrain and thousands of people were killed too. They weren’t killed in a concentrated manner. So what? It doesn’t matter. I think that what we have to do, and by the way I’m for the restoration of Gaza, we have nothing there wasn’t a day that we didn’t supply water and oil. I personally read every week a report about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. If something is missing the government and myself we’re intervening to make sure there will be fuel and food. The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it’s Hamas, who decreed a dictatorship, a very ugly one and they build the problem of the crossing, now is not because we want to control the supply of food or building material or medical. They build a tunnels to bring in those missiles and they build an underground system of tunnels, well by the way the leaders hide themselves there and they forgot the people. I think, yes, we would like to see Gaza flourishing- Gaza is a small place with an intelligent people. When I started to talk with Mr. Arafat we took as an example Singapore. Gaza together with the West Bank are nine times larger than Singapore and Singapore there are more people than in Gaza and the West Bank. Today the problem is not land but really education and Gaza is not our enemy, and the people in Gaza are not our enemies, and we want to live with them in peace. We don’t have hatred and we don’t have plans for that reason we left Gaza and we are for restoring the life in Gaza but without dictators and without shooting not only us but the people of Fatah… 

Moderator: We might end there… Just one minute 

Shimon Peres: And then want to renew negotiations with the authorized Palestinian authority. We made headway. We want to start right away, we want to do it with the Quartet, we want to do it straight away, we don’t want to waste time. Our aim is peace not war and when we win a war we don’t consider it as a victory. For us victory is peace not war. We have power we should never use power unless we don’t have another choice and when we have a choice we want peace and I think that Hezbollah has learnt the lesson they stop shooting, nobody stop them to shoot but our reaction. I hope that Hamas will also have lesson they will stop shooting and start talking everything that we can achieve is by talking not by shooting and that was and that is and that will remain the position of Israel.

Thank you sir.

Moderator: This has been a powerful and passionate debate. It’s a debate that tonight can go on for hours but we have already gone well past our closing time. I mean…

Erdogan: One minute.

 

Moderator: Mr. Prime Minister…. with apologies to Mr. Prime Minister Erdogan…

 

Erdogan: One minute, one minute, one minute…

Moderator: Well, I…

 

Erdogan:  One minute! It can’t be! One minute! One minute!

 

Moderator: Ok, but I’m gonna hold you to the one minute please.

 

Erdogan: Dear Mr. Peres, you are older than I am. And you have a very strong voice.  I feel that you feel guilty and that’s why your voice was so loud. My voice is not going to be so loud because you know what I’m going to tell you. You know very well how to kill. I know very well how you killed and murdered children on the beaches [of Gaza]. There are two people, two former Prime Ministers of your country, who said something very significant to me. One of them said: “When I entered Palestine in a tank I was happy.” When the tanks entered Palestine they were happy. That’s how some of your Prime Ministers felt. Here you’re talking about figures.  I can give you names, perhaps some of you feel curious. I condemn the ones who applaud cruelty. Because applauding these people who have murdered children is a crime against humanity. We can’t overlook that reality. Look, here I have taken many notes [about Peres intervention] but now I don’t have the possibility to answer them all. I only will tell you two more things about this issue. The first one…

 

Moderator: Prime Minister, we can’t start the debate again.

 

Erdogan: Excuse me. The first one, the first one…

 

Moderator: I’m sorry…

 

Erdogan: Don’t interrupt me.

 

Moderator: We really do need to get people to dinner.

 

Erdogan: The Torah’s 6th Commandament says: Thou Shalt Not Kill. But they have killed Palestinians. The second thing, look, is very interesting. Gilad Atzmon: “Israel’s barbarity is way beyond cruelty.” He’s Jewish.  Then, there is international relations professor from Oxford University Avi Shlaim, who served in the Israeli army. He has said the following in the English newspaper The Guardian: “Israel is a rogue state”.

 

Moderator: Prime Minister, Prime Minister. I wanna ask to our host. Thanks.

 

Erdogan: I also want to thank him as for me it’s finished. For me, for me Davos is finished. I will not come back again to Davos, you should know, here is finished. You don’t let me speak. He’s been talking for 25 minutes, and I only could talk 12 minutes. It can’t be. [He gets up and goes away, the Secretary of the Arab League shakes his hand]. 

 

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By Akiva Eldar 

A new study of Jewish Israelis shows that most accept the ‘official version’ of the history of the conflict with the Palestinians. Is it any wonder, then, that the same public also buys the establishment explanation of the operation in Gaza?

A pioneering research study dealing with Israeli Jews’ memory of the conflict with the Arabs, from its inception to the present, came into the world together with the war in Gaza. The sweeping support for Operation Cast Lead confirmed the main diagnosis that arises from the study, conducted by Daniel Bar-Tal, one of the world’s leading political psychologists, and Rafi Nets-Zehngut, a doctoral student: Israeli Jews’ consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering. The fighting in Gaza dashed the little hope Bar-Tal had left – that this public would exchange the drums of war for the cooing of doves. 

“Most of the nation retains a simplistic collective memory of the conflict, a black-and-white memory that portrays us in a very positive light and the Arabs in a very negative one,” says the professor from Tel Aviv University. This memory, along with the ethos of the conflict and collective emotions such as fear, hatred and anger, turns into a psycho-social infrastructure of the kind experienced by nations that have been involved in a long-term violent conflict. This infrastructure gives rise to the culture of conflict in which we and the Palestinians are deeply immersed, fanning the flames and preventing progress toward peace. Bar-Tal claims that in such a situation, it is hard even to imagine a possibility that the two nations will be capable of overcoming the psychological obstacles without outside help. 

Scholars the world over distinguish between two types of collective memory: popular collective memory – that is, representations of the past that have been adopted by the general public; and official collective memory, or representations of the past that have been adopted by the country’s official institutions in the form of publications, books or textbooks. 

The idea for researching the popular collective memory of Israeli Jews was raised by Nets-Zehngut, a Tel Aviv lawyer who decided to return to the academic world. At present he is completing his doctoral thesis in the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The study, by him and Bar-Tal, entitled “The Israeli-Jewish Collective Memory of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian Conflict,” examines how official collective memory in the State of Israel regarding the creation of the 1948 refugee problem has changed over time. 

Bar-Tal became enthusiastic about the idea and, with funding from the International Peace Research Association Foundation, he conducted a survey in the summer of 2008 among a representative sample of 500 Jewish Israeli adults. The study demonstrated that widespread support for the official memory testifies to a lower level of critical thinking, as well as belief in traditional values, high identification with Jewish identity, a tendency to delegitimize the Arabs, and support for taking aggressive steps against the Palestinians. 

In a telephone interview from New York, Nets-Zehngut says it is very clear that those with a “Zionist memory” see Israel and the Jews as the victims in the conflict, and do not tend to support agreements or compromises with the enemy in order to achieve peace. This finding, he explains, demonstrates the importance of changing the collective memory of conflicts, making it less biased and more objective – on condition, of course, that there is a factual basis for such a change. 

Bar-Tal, who has won international awards for his scientific work, immigrated to Israel from Poland as a child in the 1950s.

“I grew up in a society that for the most part did not accept the reality that the authorities tried to portray, and fought for a different future,” he says. “I have melancholy thoughts about nations where there is an almost total identity between the agents of a conflict, on the one hand, who nurture the siege mentality and the existential fear, and various parts of society, on the other. Nations that respond so easily to battle cries and hesitate to enlist in favor of peace do not leave room for building a better future.”

Bar-Tal emphasizes that the Israeli awareness of reality was also forged in the context of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens, but relies primarily on prolonged indoctrination that is based on ignorance and even nurtures it. In his opinion, an analysis of the present situation indicates that with the exception of a small minority, which is capable of looking at the past with an open mind, the general public is not interested in knowing what Israel did in Gaza for many years; how the disengagement was carried out and why, or what its outcome was for the Palestinians; why Hamas came to power in democratic elections; how many people were killed in Gaza from the disengagement until the start of the recent war; and whether it was possible to extend the recent cease-fire or even who violated it first. 

“Although there are accessible sources, where it is possible to find the answers to those questions, the public practices self-censorship and accepts the establishment version, out of an unwillingness to open up to alternative information – they don’t want to be confused with the facts. We are a nation that lives in the past, suffused with anxiety and suffering from chronic closed-mindedness,” charges Bar-Tal. 

That describes the state of mind in 2000, when most of the pubic accepted the simplistic version of then-prime minister Ehud Barak regarding the failure of the Camp David summit and the outbreak of the second intifada, and reached what seemed like the obvious conclusion that “there is no partner” with whom to negotiate. 

Bar-Tal: “After the bitter experience of the Second Lebanon War, during which the memory of the war was taken out of their hands and allowed to be formed freely, the country’s leaders learned their lesson, and decided that they wouldn’t let that happen again. They were not satisfied with attempts to inculcate Palestinian awareness and tried to influence Jewish awareness in Israel as well. For that purpose, heavy censorship and monitoring of information were imposed” during the Gaza campaign.

The professor believes that politicians would not have been successful in formulating the collective memory of such a large public without the willing enlistment of the media. Almost all the media focused only on the sense of victimization of the residents of the so-called “Gaza envelope” and the south. They did not provide the broader context of the military operation and almost completely ignored – before and during the fighting – the situation of the residents of besieged Gaza. The human stories from Sderot and the dehumanization of Hamas and the Palestinians provided the motivation for striking at Gaza with full force.

Nets-Zehngut and Bar-Tal find a close connection between the collective memory and the memory of “past persecutions of Jews” (“the whole world is against us,” and the Holocaust). The more significant the memory of persecution, the stronger the tendency to adopt Zionist narratives. From this we can understand the finding that adults, the religious public and those with more right-wing political views tend to adopt the Zionist version of the conflict, while young people, the secular public and those with left-wing views tend more to adopt critical narratives.

The atmosphere in the street and in the media during the weeks of the Gaza war seems to have confirmed the central finding of the study: “The ethos of the conflict is deeply implanted in Jewish society in Israel. It is a strongly rooted ideology that justifies the goals of the Jews, adopts their version, presents them in a very positive light and rejects the legitimacy of the Arabs, and primarily of the Palestinians,” notes Bar-Tal.

For example, when asked the question, “What were the reasons for the failure of the negotiations between [Ehud] Barak and [Yasser] Arafat in summer 2000?” 55.6 percent of the respondents selected the following answer: “Barak offered Arafat a very generous peace agreement, but Arafat declined mainly because he did not want peace.” Another 25.4 percent believed that both parties were responsible for the failure, and about 3 percent replied that Arafat did want peace, but Barak was not forthcoming enough in meeting the needs of the Palestinians. (Sixteen percent replied that they didn’t know the answer.)

Over 45 percent of Israeli Jews have imprinted on their memories the version that the second intifada broke out only, or principally, because Arafat planned the conflict in advance. Only 15 percent of them believe the viewpoint presented by three heads of the Shin Bet security services: that the intifada was mainly the eruption of a popular protest. Over half those polled hold the Palestinians responsible for the failure of the Oslo process, 6 percent hold Israel responsible, and 28.4 percent said both sides were equally responsible.

Among the same Jewish public, 40 percent are unaware that at the end of the 19th century, the Arabs were an absolute majority among the inhabitants of the Land of Israel. Over half of respondents replied that in the United Nations partition plan, which was rejected by the Arabs, the Arabs received an equal or larger part of the territory of the Land of Israel, relative to their numbers; 26.6 percent did not know that the plan offered the 1.3 million Arabs a smaller part of the territory (44 percent) than was offered to 600,000 Jews (55 percent).

Bar-Tal claims that this distortion of memory is no coincidence. He says that the details of the plan do not appear in any textbook, and this is a deliberate omission. “Knowledge of how the land was divided could arouse questions regarding the reason why the Arabs rejected the plan and make it possible to question the simplistic version: We accepted the partition plan, they didn’t.”

However, his study shows that a larger percentage of the Jewish population in Israel believes that in 1948, the refugees were expelled (47.2 percent of respondents), than those who still retain the old Zionist version (40.8 percent), according to which the refugees left on their own initiative. On this point, not only do almost all the history books provide up-to-date information, but some local school textbooks do as well. Even on the television program “Tekuma” (“Rebirth,” a 1998 documentary series about Israel’s first 50 years), the expulsion of the Arabs was mentioned. 

Nets-Zehngut also finds a degree of self-criticism in the answers relating to the question of overall responsibility for the conflict. Of those surveyed, 46 percent think that the responsibility is more or less evenly divided between Jews and Arabs, 4.3 percent think that the Jews are mainly to blame, and 43 percent think that the Arabs and the Palestinians are mainly to blame for the outbreak and continuation of the conflict. It turns out, therefore, that when the country’s education system and media are willing to deal with distorted narratives, even a collective memory that has been etched into people’s minds for years can be changed.

Bar-Tal says he takes no comfort in the knowledge that Palestinian collective memory suffers from similar ills, and that it is also in need of a profound change – a change that would help future generations on both sides to regard one another in a more balanced, and mainly a more humane manner. This process took many decades for the French and the Germans, and for the Protestants and the Catholics in Northern Ireland. When will it finally begin here, too?

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=1060061

By Carlos Latuff

By Carlos Latuff

There are only two powers in the world…the sword of the oppressor and the spirit of the oppressed. In the long run, the sword is always defeated by the spirit.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”
–Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of 14 July 1972.

May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs’ heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them, and cause them to be vanquished and cause them to be cast from the world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them, you must give them missiles, with relish – annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones.”
— Ultra-Orthodox Shas Party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in a sermon discussing Passover and God’s wrath at Israel’s enemies, 8 April 2001. Some months ago he distinguished himself by describing Arabs as “snakes” whom “God regrets having created“.
(more…)

The World Economic Forum at Davos had an incredible moment of truth… After Shimon Peres was allowed to justify the wanton killing that the Jewish State engaged in over the territory they have strangled with their inhumane blockade, (and received applause for it by the men and women waiting for their champaign glasses to be filled after the dinner that of course was more important to them than hearing the words of the Prime Minister of the largest European State with a Muslim majority and one of the most strategic areas on the face of the earth), Tayyip Erdogan begins to respond to the barrage of filth poured out by Peres.

At the moment, our Turkish translators in www.tlaxcala.es are getting a verbatim translation of the intervention, which we will post up here as soon as it is available, but in the meantime,

Here is a translation found here: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/turkish-prime-minister-erdogan-leaves-the-debate-in-davos-translation/3833761515/?icid=VIDURVNWS06

Moderator: There was a heated debate here. This is a discussion that can

last for hours. We are already out of time.
Erdogan: One minute.
Moderator: Mr. President, well, you know
Erdodan: One minute, one minute! No! One minute.
Moderator: Ok, but I want you not to speak more than one minute.
Erdogan: Mr. Peres, you are older than me. Your voice is very loud. I know that you are speaking aloud because of the requirement of a sense of guilt. My voice will not be that loud. About murdering, you know killing very well. I am well aware how you murdered children on beaches. Two former prime ministers of your country had important sayings to me. You have former prime ministers who say When I entered Palestine over armed combat cars, I consider myself more and more pleased. I can give their names, maybe some of you wonder. Besides, I condemn those of you who applaud this persecution. Because applauding these killers who murdered those children, who massacred those people is, I believe, also another crime committed against humanity. Look, we cannot disregard a reality here. Here, I jotted down a lot of notes, but I dont have time to answer all of them. But, I will say you only two things:
Moderator: Excuse me Prime Minister, we can’t start the debate again.
Erdogan: Excuse me. First, excuse me, do NOT interrupt me! First, The Old Testament says in the 6th commandment: You shall not kill! But there is murder here. Second, this is also very interesting. Gilad Atzmon, a Jew himself, says: Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty. Besides, Avi Shlaim, Professor of Oxford who performed his military duty in Israeli army, says in the Guardian the following:
Moderator: Prime Minister, Prime Minister. I wanna ask to our host.
Erdogan: Israel became a gangster state. (to the moderator) I thank you, too. For me, Davos is done for me from now on. I will not come again. You all know this in this way. You are not letting us speak. (Showing Peres) He spoke for 25 minutes, but you let e speak 12 minutes. No way!

********************

Well, we at PTT think several things must be said:
1) More leaders should have the courage to speak out about the atrocities and to isolate Israel from sitting on a stage and endorsing their violence, which has no justification. That Erdogan did this, (and used also as his source writing by one of our editors, Gilad Atzmon), can only encourage us in our belief that sooner or later even people responsible for the guiding of a country numbering almost 63 million people, will stand up to Israel and say enough is enough. We are waiting for other Leaders to follow, the ice has been broken.

2) To state the obvious is no longer verboten. Things have to be called with their names, a State that is a menace to humanity and violent beyond all decency MUST be denounced in the loudest terms possible. We can’t walk on eggshells anymore. For a leader to express the thoughts of his people (finally) rather than to kowtow to some impossible situation of sitting on the fence (and Turkey in many ways is a nation that has a lot to answer for in past and recent atrocities, as well as its position of support for the invasion of Iraq) moves a step in the right direction. It is NOT in the interests of Turkey to acquiesce all horrors and violence just to stay in the club. It is sometimes BEST to walk off when you realise the platform is there to present a justification for what cannot be justified. We believe that this brave action, widely appreciated by millions, is the first of a series. Of the entire Davos Forum, this was the moment cited in the news.. It is food for thought.

3) NO normalisation with Israel until they accept the rules of International Law. Thank you PM Erdogan, for listening to us, for using our words, and for using that international platform for expressing the views that we know millions of humanitarian people hold. You are enabling all of us.
Palestine Think Tank

Erdogan gets hero’s welcome upon his return to Turkey

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE50T20E20090130?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

(excerpt)

By Paul de Bendern

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan received a hero’s welcome on his return to Istanbul on Friday after accusing Israel of “knowing very well how to kill” during a heated debate at the World Economic Forum.

Erdogan stormed out of a debate on Israel’s Gaza offensive on Thursday, and vowed he might never return to the annual gathering of the rich and powerful in Davos.

President Shimon Peres had launched a fiery defense of his country’s offensive in Gaza over the past month, and with a raised voice and pointed finger, questioned what Erdogan would do if rockets were fired at Istanbul every night.

“When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill,” Erdogan, visibly angry, responded as he sat next to Peres at the debate, which also included United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Arab League chief Amr Moussa.

Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but secular country that historically has had good ties with Israel and the Arab world, played a role in helping broker an end to the Gaza offensive this month, particularly by lobbying the Islamist Hamas group to declare a ceasefire.

Thousands of people gathered at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport to greet Erdogan when he returned, waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting “Turkey is proud of you.”

“Our people would have expected the same reaction from any Turkish prime minister,” he told a news conference at Ataturk airport on Friday morning after speaking to the crowd.

“This was a matter of the esteem and prestige of my country. Hence, my reaction had to be clear. I could not have allowed anyone to poison the prestige and in particular the honor of my country,” he said.

“Our reproaches are not against the Israeli people or Jews. Our reproach is totally against the Israeli administration,” Erdogan said.

Rule #1: In the Middle East, it is always the Palestinians that attack first, and it’s always Israel who defends itself. The name of this is “retaliation”.

 

Rule #2: The Palestinians are not allowed to kill Israelis. The name of this is “terrorism”.

 

Rule #3: Israel has the right to kill Palestinian civilians; the name of this is “self-defense” or “collateral damage”.

 

Rule #4: When Israel kills too many Palestinian civilians, the Western world calls for restraint. This is called the “reaction of the international community”.

 

Rule #5: Palestinians do not have the right to capture Israeli military, not even 1 or 2.

 

Rule #6: Israel has the right to capture as many Palestinians as they want (around 10,000 to date being held without trial). There is no limit; there is no need for proof of guilt or a trial. All that is needed is the magic word: “terrorism”.

 

Rule #7: When you say “Hamas”, always be sure to add “supported by Hezbollah, Syria and Iran”.

 

Rule #8: When you say “Israel”, never say “supported by the USA, the UK, European countries and even some Arab regimes”, for people (God forbid) might believe this is not an equal conflict.

 

Rule #9: When it comes to Israel, don’t mention the words “occupied territories”, “UN resolutions”, “Geneva Conventions”. This could distress the audience of Fox, CNN, etc.

 

Rule # 10: The Palestinians are always “cowards” who hide behind a civilian population that “they don’t care about”. If they (militants) sleep in houses with their families, the name of this is: “cowardice”. Israel has the right to annihilate the towns where they sleep using bombs and missiles. The name of this is “high precision surgical action”.

 

Rule #11: Israelis speak better English than Arabs. This is why we let them speak out as much as possible, so that they can explain rules 1 through 9. The name of this is “neutral journalism”.

 

Rule #12: If you don’t agree with these rules or if you favor the Palestinian side over the Israeli side, you must be a very dangerous anti-Semite. You may even have to make a public apology if you express your honest opinion.

 

THIS NAME OF THIS IS: DEMOCRACY!!

(Isn’t democracy wonderful?)

 

Now that you have read the rules (a Spanish language version of them says the author was God, and I’ve translated an Italian version you can read tomorrow on www.tlaxcala.es), see what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lies and Deception has issued in today’s briefing. It’s their denouncement of War Crimes and Death of civilians, of thievery and use of weaponry. Obviously, they project all evil onto their enemies, and here is a classic example of the Hasbara of Israel’s “Good War in a Nutshell”. If you read it, you will see that they are accusing Hamas of all and sundry, War Crimes, even! See how well they apply these rules, going beyond the beyond! They tout about words such as “Truth”, the use of exaggeration and hyperbole alone is staggering, “Eight years of constant rocket barrages”, “I don’t think there’s ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.”,  and the whopper, “…I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be.”

 

Count how many times they use each rule and share your results with the rest of us! Find a few rules that were hidden… in essence, for lovers of science fiction or fairy tales, this genre will be right up your alley.

Behind the Headlines: The truth about Hamas crimes in Gaza

The evidence of Hamas’ war crimes, its exaggeration of civilian casualties and damage to property, its abuse of humanitarian aid and its intimidation of Gaza’s residents are finally coming to light.

Despite Hamas’ best efforts to hide the truth about events in the Gaza Strip, the evidence of Hamas’ war crimes, its exaggeration of civilian casualties and damage to property, its abuse of humanitarian aid and its intimidation of Gaza’s residents are finally coming to light.

Israel knows better than most countries the horrors of war. Eight years of constant rocket barrages targeting Israeli civilians, eight years of trying tactic after tactic to stop these war crimes left Israel with little choice but to invoke its legitimate right of self-defense.

When Israel did strike back against Hamas terror in Gaza, it took unprecedented and innovative steps to try to encourage civilians to avoid Hamas positions, even placing tens of thousands of phone calls warning residents in hazardous areas. As British Colonel (ret.) Richard Kemp commented on the BBC, “I don’t think there’s ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.”

To Israel’s great sorrow, innocent civilians in Gaza have been harmed. However, the figures of civilian casualties have been greatly exaggerated. Most of these figures come from Hamas sources, amplifying the number of civilians killed by including as “children” teenage Hamas fighters and as “women,” female terrorists. According to an Israeli investigation, of the 1,100-1,200 reported casualties, 250 were civilians. The rest are believed to be terrorists or have yet to be identified, but given that most of them are young men in their 20s, it is not unreasonable to assume that they are also members of Hamas or other terrorist organizations.

Hamas is responsible, both morally and under international law, for many of the dead and injured civilians. This terrorist organization deliberately used the local population as human shields, a war crime. Civilian structures were used as launching pads for rockets, a tactic that is extremely hazardous to residents. Civilians were prevented, at gunpoint, from fleeing the sites of battles and even children have been grabbed to be used as living bulletproof vests. Even ambulances were not safe from hijacking attempts by terrorists, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of battle to transport Hamas terrorists to safety.

Property damage, while sizeable, has also been exaggerated. As Tim Butcher, a journalist intimately familiar with the Gaza Strip reported (Telegraph, Jan 20): “There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes… But, in most the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt… For the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be.”

Hamas’ rocket attacks, which continued throughout the operation, constituted a double war crime. Not only were they aimed at about 15% of Israel’s civilian population, they were cynically carried out from locations immediately adjacent to homes, schools, hospitals, relief agency warehouses, mosques, public buildings – as well as from the office building that housed foreign media studios. These reprehensible acts were documented not only in Israeli aerial films, but by the international media.

As Rod Nordland (Newsweek, Jan 20) described one event, “Suddenly there was a terrific whoosh, louder even than a bomb explosion. It was another of Hamas’s homemade Qassam rockets being launched into Israel – and the mobile launchpad was smack in the middle of the four [apartment] buildings, where every apartment was full…”

Lorenzo Cremonesi (Corriere della Sera, Jan 21) relates the testimony of “Um Abdallah”:  “Practically all of the tallest buildings in Gaza that were hit by Israeli bombs … had rocket launching pads on their roofs, or were observation decks for the Hamas. They had also put them near the big UN warehouse, which went up in flames.”

Many of Gaza’s residents are now returning home. Some have found weapons left behind by Hamas terrorists who turned their homes into forward positions against the IDF, or worse, bodies of terrorists killed during the fighting. Many blame Hamas for the loss of life and property damage caused by Hamas’ practice of hiding among the civilian population. However, critical as they are of the Hamas regime in private, few, if any, residents of Gaza will accuse Hamas publically, a move that is tantamount to suicide.

An official Fatah spokesman in Ramallah (Jerusalem Post, Jan 19) reported that 100 of his men in Gaza have been killed or wounded, some brutally tortured, by Hamas. A Fatah leader in Gaza City claimed that members of his faction were being held in school buildings and hospitals that Hamas had turned into make-shift interrogation centers, and as many as 80 were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for allegedly defying Hamas’ orders (see also video of Fatah testimonials about Hamas).

Ulrike Putz (Der Spiegel, Jan 23) managed to interview Palestinians who were not too intimidated by Hamas to speak (as long as their full names were not used): “Hail found out after the cease-fire that the militants had used his house as a base for their operations. The door to his house stood open and there were electric cables lying in the hallway. When Hail followed them they led to his neighbor’s house which it seems Hamas had mined. As Hail, in his mid-30s, sat on his porch and thought about what to do a man came by: He was from Hamas and had left something in Hail’s home. He let him in and the man then emerged with a bullet proof vest, a rocket launcher and an ammunitions belt. An hour later a fighter with Islamic Jihad called to the door, then disappeared onto the roof and reappeared with a box of ammunition.” 

Israel has a strong interest in the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip and will work together with the international community and moderate Arab regimes to improve the lives of Gaza’s residents. However, caution most be exercised to ensure that the aid does not end up in Hamas’ pockets.

This is not unwarranted wariness – Hamas has a long history of stealing humanitarian aid for its own use, even while the operation was ongoing. As Yaacov Katz reported (Jerusalem Post, Jan 12), “Hamas raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders.”     Earlier (Jerusalem Post, Jan 6) Mr. Katz related that “Hamas has set up an independent hospital in the Gaza Strip to treat its operatives wounded in fighting with the IDF – and, according to Israeli estimates, it is pilfering a significant portion of the medicine allowed into the Strip…”  

These reports are not only coming in from Israeli sources. Jordan’s News Agency (Petra, Jan 20) reported on the hijacking of humanitarian aid on its way to UNWRA warehouses in Gaza for distribution to the civilian population: “A number of armed men have seized on Tuesday a Jordanian aid convoy after entering the Gaza Strip… The armed men opened fire at drivers after crossing Karem Abu Salem [Kerem Shalom] crossing point and forced them to head to their own warehouses.”

Hamas’ hijacking of humanitarian aid is not only ethically repulsive, it is extraordinary given that Hamas is attempting to claim that the motive for its  rocket attacks is to force the opening of the crossings. This assertion is, of course, preposterous given that the rocket fire started eight years ago, when there was free trade with Gaza and continued after Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Hamas’ constant and deadly rocket, mortar, truck-bomb and shooting attacks on the crossings are one of the prime reasons for their closing.

The complexities of fighting terrorist organizations are becoming more familiar to democratic states, including NATO forces in Afghanistan. A British soldier who served there analyzed the IDF’s activities in light of his experience and noted (The Spectator, Jan 24) that “I believe that I and other soldiers understand the stress, friction and confusion that combat brings in a way that media commentators and UN bureaucrats never can.”

However, one principle is clear to any unbiased analyst – as long as Israel, and not Hamas, is blamed for civilian casualties and property damage, Hamas will continue to use civilians as human shields and violate every basic rule of international humanitarian law.

As Nir Boms, vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East, and Shayan Arya an Iranian activist, wrote (Jerusalem Post, Jan 28), “War, even when justified, brings much injustice with it. But there is also an important lesson to be learned, and a hope that this time it will not be completely missed by the rioting Arab street… The Palestinian discourse often fails to address the question of responsibility and accountability for Palestinian choices, decisions and leadership.” The Palestinians in Gaza must accept and take responsibility for the consequences of the Hamas leaders they chose.

Fortunately, the truth is starting to come to light. Even a senior European Union official – Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid – denounced Hamas, not only stating (AFP, Jan 26) during his visit to Gaza: “I intentionally say this here – Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such,” but also concluding that: “At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas” for the conflict in Gaza.

Soon after we had seen a unilateral ceasefire from Israel followed by the withdrawal of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) after a 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip, we hear the usual two sides of the story, from both Israel and Hamas, each one claiming that Victory was on its Side and all goals were achieved. Either by “Eliminating Hamas Infrastructures and putting an end to the weapon smuggling through underground tunnels” or by “Showing that Hamas Militants stood still facing the state-of-the-Art destructive ‘American-made’ technology by the hands of the Zionists” and how it was able with it’s humble capabilities to push IDF back with bare hands renewing the memory of Israel Defeat in the minds of those who witnessed the Lebanon War in 2006.

Whether Hamas or Israel won, it would matter no more. After all, thousands of Civilians have paid the price in this war, fed their innocent blood to the barrels of the Israeli machine guns and the Zionist bloodthirsty grenades and missiles.

While War Crimes were committed in Gaza, Countries were silently watching it on the media screens and when they decided to act positively towards this horrible situation, they decided to watch some more. Each country (whether, Arab or non-Arab) carrying its hidden agenda, shutting every spokesmen’s mouth from speaking out the truth supporting the weak Gazans.

It was not a surprise for us to see former President Bush behaving gloatingly, invoking the mendacious mantra that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” No wonder his era was the bloodiest since Roman times. Neither are we expecting Obama to change the unjust statements that come from the White House. Unfortunately, as Khaled Amayreh said, “the American political environment is too morally barren, Zionist soaked to produce truly moral politicians who would be willing, let alone able, to call the spade a spade, especially when the Zio-Nazi state is concerned.”
Neither was it a surprise to see Egypt has, to some extent, used this conflict, certainly seen it, as a means of weakening Hamas and bringing Mahmud Abbas [the Palestinian President, also known as Abu Mazen] back to a ruling position in Gaza. Since he always played the “good boy” role regarding so-called peace talks with the Zionist state. Not to mention on 06/20/07, Hamas gunmen stormed the Fatah security compounds in Gaza discovering something far more valuable than some American-made weapons and grenades — CIA files which purportedly contain “information about the collaboration between Fatah and the Israeli and American security organizations; CIA methods on how to prevent attacks, chase and follow after cells of Hamas and their Committees; plans about Fatah assassinations of members of Hamas and other organizations; and American studies on the security situation in Gaza.” So eventually Israel had created a pretty good doll to play with to eliminate all the pockets of resistance.

On the controversy, Israel with this attack failed to weaken the ties of loyalty between the Palestinian citizens and Hamas; One of its unfulfilled primary goals was to weaken Hamas’ reputation in Gaza, starting with an absolute Siege preventing any basic supplies from entering to the civilians. Then after the siege was met with complete failure and Gazans bravely stood strong and showed the Zionists they are ready to take more for the sake of free Palestine, the military attack started adding more cuts to the unhealed wounds and more Death to the terminally ill.

We saw many Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank and even inside Jerusalem supporting the Palestinian Resistance. With no doubt Gazans are more loyal to Hamas than before.

And this only shows that Israel kept on ignoring THE FACT, that there is a big difference between trying to eliminate a group of rebellious militiamen that could be thrown in the cages of surrender by military force and a movement based on a Religious Ideology which had been planted in Palestinian soil for decades, its roots reach deep inside the hearts of Palestinians. Every time trials are made to remove it, it even grows more strong, blossoming it’s Fruits sweeter than ever. And what Israel also learned is the more it presses on the so-called Moderate Arabic leaders, the more the Gap between them and their streets increase. This street rage in the Arabic world will swallow them before their own leaders like “Youssry Fouda” has mentioned in his recent article.

After this Crisis we have witnessed two major outcomes.

(1) If there is a bright spot of hope for Palestinians in the horrific aggressiveness of the last few weeks, it is that Israel’s deployment of disproportionate and blind, indiscriminate violence in Gaza has revealed the abnormality, brutality and pro-Terrorist nature of the occupation for millions of people, especially in the western world, who previously had been unable to perceive it due to the pro-Zionist Media washing the blood from the faces of the Israeli spokesmen before appearing on the news channels.

(2) It was a reckoning day for the Arab and Western Leaders, Arab and International states where all masks were removed and true faces were revealed regarding their devotion/deception, truthfulness/treason, hatred/hope towards a free Palestine for Palestinians.

 

 

US Media Misreport Latest Gaza Violence

By Carlos Latuff

By Carlos Latuff

Please phone and ask for correction!

[A FLYER about this can be downloaded at: www.IfAmericansKnew.org/download/gazacfv.pdf ]

American media are reporting violence that took place along the Gaza-Israel border on January 27th as, in the words of CNN, “the first incidents of violence since last week’s Mideast cease-fire,” telling the public that Palestinians broke the ceasefire. [1]

The reality, however, is that Israel had already violated the cease-fire at least 7 times, the Israeli military killing 2 Palestinian civilians and injuring at least 5, at least one of them a child:

* Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer in Khuza’a east of Khan Yunis on Jan 18
* Israeli forces killed a Palestinian farmer east of Jabalia on Jan 19
* Israeli naval gunboats shelled the Gaza coast line, causing damage to civilian structures on Jan 21
* Israeli troops shot and injured a child east of Gaza City on Jan 22
* Israeli gunboat fire injured 4-7 Palestinian fishermen on Jan 22
* Israeli shelling set a Palestinian house on fire on Jan 22
* Israeli tanks fired on the border town of Al Faraheen, causing damage to homes and farms on Jan 24

This list does not include two Palestinian children who were killed on January 20th by unexploded ordnance left from Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza.[2] (Additional details about the above cease-fire breaches and citations can be found in the timeline below.)

Media Contacts

Most of the media seem to have reported this wrong. You may check your local newspaper and contact it if it reported the story incorrectly.
(more…)

WRITTEN BY Sarah Gillepsie


‘What impartiality requires is not that everyone receive equal treatment, but rather that everyone be treated as an equal.’ Ronald Dworkin Taking Rights Seriously. Harvard University Press. 1977, p. 227).

 

BBC director general Mark Thomson can not screen footage of Palestinian suffering in Gaza without compromising his cooperation’s impartiality. At the heart of his obfuscation lays a belief that Palestinian pain is not an objective reality. It is, at best, a subjective possibility, one loaded with the potential to burst into a subversive, destabilizing force.  

 

For activists and supporters who are frequently asked why they devote more energy to Palestine than Darfur or the Congo (the implication being of course that they are anti-Semites) Mark Thomson provides the most succinct answer. For Thomson has no problem whatsoever screening Disaster Emergency Committee films on behalf of Darfur and the Congo. The suffering endured by people in these regions is endorsed by the BBC as a universally acknowledged fact. Screening footage of the humanitarian disaster in Palestine though, sabotages Sky and the BBC’s obligation to be ‘balanced.’ If this was indeed a war, and not genocidal attack, then the BBC could counter their depictions of carnage in Gaza with images of the horrors endured in Sderot. But this is of course impossible. The visual impact of a damaged kitchen doesn’t quite cut it next to the apocalyptic hell hole that is Gaza.

 

Problematically, for a Zionist broadcaster who wants to appear ‘fair’, the humanitarian appeal does not come across as ‘balanced’ because the conflict is not ‘balanced’. Again, the Palestinians are collectively punished for this annoying glitch in egalitarian reporting. Rather than responsibly portray a reality that inevitably induces a condemnation of Israel, these corporations re-brand Palestinian reality as’ journalistic bias.’

 

Thus, the BBC’s refusal to air this film suggests that Palestinian suffering is itself a form of propaganda. Through the lens of the BBC, the screams of kids riddled with phosphorus become anti Israeli screams. The piles of burning concrete become anti-Semitic piles of burning concrete. The howls of grief are Islamist and undemocratic. The lives of children snubbed out in an instant by Israeli bombs may have grown into adults who failed to recognize Israel’s right to exist; that is if Israel had not had the foresight to violate their right to grow up.

 

Perhaps the most menacing aspect of this tragic debacle is Mark Thomson himself. A quick bit of research online ploughs up a surfeit of information proving the man is far from ‘impartial’. His Jewish wife, the scholar Jane Blumfeild, hails from an American family that attends Yeshivas. Evidence suggests that she recently signed a petition campaigning against the anti-Israeli content of the Washington Post. In 2005 she traveled together with her husband to Jerusalem to engage in talks with Ariel Sharon in an attempt to build bridges between the BBC and Israel. According to the Independent , this was an unprecedented gesture by any serving BBC director general. ‘He has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors’ a BBC source said. All in all, it is infuriatingly impossible to imagine the reverse; a BBC director general married to a woman from a Wahabi background who petitions news organizations to write pro-Palestinian copy and visits Khaled Meshaal in an attempt to help him out with his PR.

 

The implausible tone of this scenario betrays the catastrophic reality behind Sky and the BBC’s position. It is very clear that, as much as these media institutions champion their Voltaire-esque spiel about covering both sides of every story, at the end of the day their ‘objectivity’ is merely Israeli objectivity.

 

Gerard Kaufman MP elaborates Probably the (BBC’s) attitude has been: ‘Oh this is just too much trouble and it’s too much trouble because of the pressure of the Israelis. This very active and not very pleasant Israeli diplomatic representation in Britain’.

 

With over a million people dependent on aid to survive, the decisions of both corporations, continues the legacy of pathological barbarism carried out by the Jewish state. The Jerusalem Post and some other editorials go slightly further and refer to the DEC film as an ‘advert’ as if just trying to save lives were a sales tactic. Thankfully ordinary human beings are finally able to see through their transparent rhetoric and are doing to their TV licenses what Israel did to Gaza, burning them into obliteration.

http://www.cbs.com/thunder/swf30can10cbsnews/rcpHolderCbs-3-4×3.swf
Watch CBS Videos Online

cartoon of the day

Posted: 01/27/2009 by editormary in Palestine, War
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WRITTEN BY KHALID AMAYREH – The meeting in Cairo on Monday 26 January, between a Hamas representative and Fatah leader Azzam al Ahmed is a glimmer of hope for millions of Palestinians and their allies who are hoping and praying for a speedy end of the enduring rift between the two biggest political camps in the Palestinian arena.

 

Though symbolic and procedural in nature, the meeting shows that the problems between the two sides can be overcome if both sides display good-will and especially if the Ramallah regime ends its ignominious subservience to Israel and the United States.

 

Needless to say, the rift has wreaked havoc on the reputation of the just Palestinian cause and caused many bleeding wounds to our people, the scars of which will take a long time to heal.

 

However, we are still one people, feeling the same pain, languishing under the same hateful occupation, and harboring the same hopes for freedom and justice.

 

But in order to reach a lasting national harmony, we need to be honest and frank, and refrain from trying to negate the other side.  This is so because neither Hamas nor Fatah will go away or evaporate into nonexistence.

 

There is no doubt that a great calamity has hit our people in the Gaza Strip. But by no means was that evil aggression  a victory for Israel unless the Zio-Nazi entity views the mass killing of innocent civilians and the mass destruction of residential homes and public buildings as an act of heroism.

 

Well, if so, then we would have to view Adolf Hitler as the greatest hero of all times.

 

Nonetheless, we should refrain from whipping ourselves too much or trying to score propaganda points one against the other.

 

Israel did try to decapitate Hamas, destroy its legitimate government (legitimate because Hamas was elected by the Palestinian people) and give the Gaza Strip back to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas on a sliver platter.

 

The fact that Israel couldn’t achieve the criminal goal was not due to Israeli magnanimity. Zionists are too thuggish and too criminal minded to know the meaning of magnanimity. After all, magnanimity requires at least a modicum of humanity and Zionism has none of that.

 

In truth, Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions earned this spectacular steadfastness, this legendary resoluteness, in the face of overwhelming criminality, hideousness and firepower.

 

Hence, one can only view with utter contempt the cheap canards and calumnies coming out of Ramallah and accusing the resistance of responsibility for the widespread death and destruction in Gaza, as if the murderous pilots who were raining bombs and missiles and white phosphorous on the heads of our children and civilians were members of Hamas, not Israeli war criminals.

 

To be sure, such cheap accusations are made by two categories of people, ignoramuses who don’t know the facts, and bona fide traitors who are doing Israel’s work.

 

The former can be somehow forgiven by virtue of their ignorance or stupidity. However, the latter are willful Judases who ought to be silenced and punished. And if the time is not conducive to dealing with them the proper way, they should be isolated in disgrace.

 

This should be one of Hamas’s key tasks in the coming weeks and months. Otherwise, the Fifth columnists within Fatah and the PA, the very people who committed national adultery in broad daylight by collaborating with the Shin Beth and the CIA for the purpose of raping the Palestinian people’s will and achieving America’s morbid goals in this tortured part of the world, will continue to create mischief and try to rock the collective Palestinian boat.

 

These must be ejected, isolated, exposed, disgraced, and made to pay for their treachery and perfidy.

 

But Fatah is not a movement of traitors, and it is not in the Palestinian people’s interests to see Fatah catapulted into the laps of the likes of Muhammed Dahlan, Nimr Hammad and al-Tayeb Abdul Rahim who probably were dreaming, even loudly, of an Israeli victory in Gaza.

 

Hence, it is both right and wise for Hamas to get closer to true patriots within Fatah. And the time to do that is now.

 

There is no doubt that despite the enormity of the genocidal Zionist blitzkrieg against our people in Gaza, Hamas has not only managed to remain intact, but has also earned overwhelming respect and admiration from around the world.

 

Hamas shouldn’t treat lightly this earned outpouring of support which many movements, parties and governments even dream of receiving a fraction of.

 

In this light, Hamas should show enlightened flexibility toward re-establishing national unity.

 

It is this national unity that will eventually dump the government of Fayadh into the dustbin of history and do away with the whoring practice known as “security coordination.”

 

The restoration of national unity will also impose an early retirement on people like Keith Dayton and other CIA officers who have taught hundreds, if not thousands, of our beguiled and naïve young sons that the enemy is Hamas, not the Zionist thugs who have just murdered and maimed thousands of our children and civilians in the Gaza Strip and who have been stealing our land and narrowing our horizons.

 

In the Quran, God orders Muslims to refrain from falling into disunity and internal conflicts.

 

In Surat al Anfal, God says: “ And obey God and His Messenger and fall not into disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For God stands with those who patiently persevere.” Of all Palestinian factions, Hamas should understand this best.

 

Amen!

To support Peoples’ Anti-Imperialistic Resistance and the building of Alternatives to Globalisation 

On the initiative of several research centres, associations and socio-political movements, The Beirut International Forum was held on 16, 17 and 18 January 2009, attended by Arab and international delegations and authorities from five continents (66 countries).

 

This Forum, in which South America, Asia and Near East were massively represented, embodied the spirit of the Tricontinental centre.

 

Two major topics characterised the Forum. On one hand, the heroic resistance by the Palestinian people of Gaza and their ability to confront an intense violence and unprecedented barbarity. On the other, capitalism’s global crisis, which is not only financial but also on economic, social, cultural and moral fronts, thus posing a threat to the survival of humanity itself.
Principles and rights

The Forum declares that:

– All Peoples have the right to resist. This right must be inalienable, supported by the entire international community and recognised as such within international law;

– The resistance’s fight against colonialism can’t be detached from the struggle carried out by world revolutionaries and free individuals when facing global capitalism, imperialism, militarisation and destruction of social achievements. These have been the product of the working classes’ tenacious struggles for two hundred years;

– Peoples have the right to sovereignty over their own natural resources. Rights to nourishment, health and education prevail over all commercial stakes;

– Every culture has to be able to help build humanity’s common good with respect for nature, the supremacy of human needs and a democratic management of societies;

– The right to democratic participation must be exerted not only on a political level but also on an economic one and it applies to men and women alike;

– The right to cultural differentiation and freedom of worship without any cultural or racial stigmatisation.

 

Campaigns and resolutions
Concerning Gaza:

The Forum’s attendees declare their support of the Palestinian people’s resistance of Gaza. They condemn the terrorism, crimes, violations of the rule of law and disregard for human value, which Israel has inflicted on these populations.

Moreover, they call for:
1-     Applying severe sanctions against Israel, such as: calling off relations and covenants and forbidding any sale of weapons to this country;
2-     Legal proceedings against states and companies selling weapons to Israel;
3-     Urging the EU to put an end to all economic, political and cultural relations with Israel and to cancel all the covenants and agreements linking it with this country;
4-     Holding an international conference in order to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity inflicted upon Gaza’ s population, as well as economic and environmental crimes, and to bring to court the persons accountable for these actions, as well as for those committed in Lebanon in 2006;
5-     Restoring UN Resolution 3379 which classifies Zionism as racism, and ousting Israel from the UN;
6-     Launching an international campaign for rebuilding Gaza, lifting the blockade and having political prisoners released

Concerning the anti-imperialistic and anti-colonialist struggle
1-     The Forum participants expressed their support for both the Palestinian and Lebanese resistances against Israeli occupation, as well as to the Iraqis’ fight against American occupation. In addition, they back the Iraqi people’s endeavours to preserve their territorial unity.
2-     The participants declare their support for self-determination for the Afghan people and to their struggle against the American and Atlantic occupation.
3-     The participants salute Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales for their support to the peoples’ resistance. They express total endorsement of their fight against US’s interference in South America.
4-     They call for lifting the embargo on Cuba and the release of Cuban prisoners detained in US’ prisons.
5-     They demand the establishment of an international league of Parliamentary members in order to uphold the peoples’ right to resistance and self-determination, in order to restore accords relevant to the defence of civilian populations.
6-     They urge the creation of an international media network that may expose the mendacious propaganda concerning Israel’s character and crimes.
7-     Carrying on the moral imperative to judge war crimes, namely bringing to court the people responsible for the war crimes committed in Lebanon in 2006.
8-     Launching a campaign to enforce the consultative advice by the International Court of Justice concerning the wall’s ethnic segregation in Palestine.
9-     Setting up an international network with the aim of coordination between local delegations during crises and wars.
10-          Refusing threats and provocations by the US against Iran with regard to its right to develop its nuclear program for civil purposes within the context of international laws. Refusing, likewise, the threats of war by the US towards Syria and Sudan.
11-          Opposing American attempts to make international and humanitarian laws ineffective under the pretext of the war on terror.

The participants suggest the following as alternatives to the market’s blackmail:
1-     Excluding agriculture and feeding-related sectors from the international negotiations contemplating the privitisation of markets (GATT, OMC…)
2-     Turning down accords and international policies that allow corporations to control living organisms thus jeopardizing biodiversity.
3-     Setting up a Mediterranean Common Market based on fair trade between customers and producers, from the north and the south of the basin as well as within each country. All this is to be performed within a process for building an area linking Mediterranean basin with Mesopotamia (leaving out Israel until the colonial question in Palestine is settled), in opposition to Sarkozy’s neo-liberal project.
4-     Fighting the excessive exploitation carried out by industrial fishing in favour of artisan fishery.
5-     Preserving the common asset of humanity and the fundamental resources for living. Developing organic agriculture and using renewable energy sources.

 

The Center for Studies and Documentation in Beirut, International Campaign against American and Zionist Occupation (the Cairo Conference), the National Gathering to Support the Choice of Resistance (Lebanon), The International Anti-Imperialist and Peoples’ Solidarity Forum (the Calcutta- India Conference), Stop The War Campaign (London), L’union de la jeunesse démocratique (Liban), Réseau des organisations de la jeunesse Palestinienne, The Party of Dignity (Egypt), The Popular Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza, KIFAYA (le mouvement egyptien pour le changement), Union of Democratic Youth (Lebanon), Egyptian Women Issues Association, Palestinian Youth Organizations Network (Palestine), Fédération des Syndicats marocains, AMCI (The Mediterranean Agency for International Cooperation (Morocco), Arab Youth Council- and the wWalk to the aArab pParliament (Morocco), Data and Strategic Studies Center (Syria), El Badil Regroupement Anti Globalisation (Syria), Campaign Genoa 2001 Greece, l’altra Lambardia-Sulatesta, Anti- Imperialist Camp (Grèce),  Socialist Thinking Forum (Jordan), Organisation des socialistes révolutionnaires (Egypt), To be continued…

TRANSLATED BY DIEGO TRAVERSA AND REVISED BY SAJA RAOOF, MEMBERS OF TLAXCALA. www.tlaxcala.es

I have decided to publish some names and photos of the Israeli military personnel who participated in the so-called “Operation Cast Lead”, the offensive launched by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Gaza Strip between 27 December and 18 January 2009. The names of these criminals called my attention since the first day of their criminal attack against the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. I consider each person who took part in this IOF and each one whose name appears in this report as a war criminal who should be requested by an international court of justice, just like all other war criminals who were persecuted before…Colonel Ron Ashrov.jpgThe Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is conniving with others the war crimes committed in Gaza. These others are Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and his cabinet of criminals, and the military counterpart, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is equally involved in the war crimes in Gaza. The Attorney General of Israel asked his military counterpart to open a quick investigation among the military as an “alternative” measure to hinder potentially “hundreds” of international lawsuits against Israeli officials alleging war crimes against the Gaza population during the operation has been widely anticipated. There is growing concern in the offices of the Israeli justice and war ministries because they expect a massive wave of lawsuits for human rights violations against Israeli officers and politicians.

Colonel Hartzi Halevi – Paratroops Brigade Commander1The criminal intentions of Menechem Mazuz, namely helping to cover up war crimes of the State of Israel by giving an advice to the military, and by opening a “formal and internal investigations” is a clear fraud planned by the Israeli ministry of justice. Such a behavior is not that of a state, it is the behavior of a criminal organization trying to escape their well deserved punishment.

The military censor of Israel is preventing the media from identifying officers who participated in the Gaza Strip IOF, and divulging information about them which could be used in legal proceedings against them in courts of justice abroad. There is great concern at the defense and the justice ministries that Israeli officers will be singled out in a massive wave of suits for human rights violations.

Eyal Eisenberg2.jpgIn recent days the censor has forbidden publishing the full names and photographs of officers from the level of battalion commander down. It is assumed that the identity of brigade commanders has already been made known. The censor also forbids any reports tying a particular officer of battlefield command rank (lieutenant to lieutenant colonel) to destruction inflicted in a particular area.

The Israeli war criminal number one, Ehud Barak, stated that the State of Israel bears the responsibility for sending IOF troops on missions in Gaza, as well as for defending civilians, and as such it is obligated to grant its full support to these officers and soldiers who participated in the IOF in Gaza. Barak said that no harm should come to officers and soldiers as a result of their Commander of the 401st Brigade Colonel Yigal Slovikinvolvement in the operation.

The war criminal Barak ordered the IOF to set up a team of intelligence and legal experts to collect evidence related to operations in Gaza that could be used to defend military commanders against future lawsuits abroad.

 

Here are Some Names of the Israeli War Criminals who Operated in Gaza 

maj-gen-ido-nehushtan-approved-as-new-iaf-commanderMaj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, a war criminal, Commander of Israeli air forces which lead all the operation of destruction with tons of phosphorus bombs.

Colonel Ron Ashrov, a war criminal, Commander of the Northern Gaza, deputy to the Givati Brigade.

Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg – Commander of all the IOF war criminal forces of “Operation Cast Lead” were under his command in Gaza Division. He personally participated in the war. He commanded the operations, in which Armored and Engineering corps units, as well as infantry soldiers were taking part. Eisenberg also commanded a division during the Second Lebanon War.

colonel-yigal-slovikColonel Yigal Slovik, commander of 401st Armored Corps Brigade convoy, entered Gaza in a Merkava tank from Netzarim and he did not stop until it reached the coast. He murdered the Palestinian civilians who raised the white flags, and he destroyed many houses over the head of the people. The brigade units also conducted numerous raids targeting public infrastructure.

destruction-commander-in-gaza-warSho’alay Marom, Brigadier (res.), razed to the ground hundreds of houses in Rafah, and in Jabalia.

Lt. Col. Yoav Mordechai, he served as a commander of the criminal Golani infantry brigade’s 13th Battalion in Gaza and in the “second Lebanon war”. He attacked the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, where hundreds of Palestinian residents who had fled on foot were murdered under his instructions. In one well-known incident, about more 150 Palestinian civilians were gathered by the IOF in a house, and then the house was bombed and shelled. Lt. Col. Yoav Mordechai is a friend of the PA, and it is known that he coordinated his crimes with the PA.

Lt. Col. Oren Cohen, a war criminal, commander of Battalion 13 in the Golani Brigade, who led on night his troops into eastern of Gaza City, they murdered over hundred Palestinian. He was moderately wounded by the Israeli war criminal friends. Cohen and his soldiers operated during the second Lebanon war.

Lt. Col. Avi Blot, a war criminal, commander of the 101st Battalion in the Paratrooper Brigade.

Lieutenant-Colonel Yehuda Cohen, battalion commander in Givati infantry Brigade’s Rotem Regiment, a war criminal in the second war in Lebanon, and a war criminal in Gaza.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ronen Dagmi, deputy commander of the 401st Armored Brigade which operated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Col. Avi Peled.jpgCol. Avi Peled, a war criminal, a commander brigade in Battalion 51 who operated in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead”, and he was operated during the second war of Lebanon.

Brig.-Gen. ( res.) Zvika Fogel, a war criminal, a former deputy OC Southern Command in charge of artillery fire for Operation Cast Lead. Zvika and his son Zivi Fogel participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.
Brigadier-General Yuval Halamish, Chief IOF Intelligence Officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Paratrooper Brigade commander, Hartzi Halevi, during an IDF opeCol. Hertzi Halevy, brigade commander, a former Sayeret Matkal, commander of the Israel Paratroopers’ Brigade in Gaza, committed war crimes in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead”.

Col. Tomer Tsiter, a Givati squad commander from Ra’anana, participated in the massacre in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead”, and previously he participated in the massacre “Operation Defensive Shield” in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002.

Gur Rosenblatt, infantry reserve officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Guy Ohaion, infantry reserve officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Lt. Col. Erez, armored corps, tank commander, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Maj. Nimrod Aloni, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Shlomo Saban, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Capt. Ron Vardi, a war criminal, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

Ashkinazi_terrorist_1Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, IOF Chief of Staff, whose father was a holocaust survivor from Bulgaria and whose mother was born in Syria. This moral degenerate is the engineer of this new  holocaust in Gaza. He committed war crimes in south of Lebanon. Three of his soldiers were captured by the Hizbullah resistance after they illegally crossed into Lebanon as a provocation ordered by him.

Commander of the Shoalay Marom Brigade_destroying Gaza houses.JMajor-General Yoav Galant, southern command chief. He was the chief commander in charge of “Operation Cast Lead”. He personally participated in the massacre against civilians in Gaza.

Richard Awizrat, Senior Warrant Officer, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza, and he also participated in the massacre in Jenin of 2002, during “Operation Defensive Shield”.

Major-General Amos YadlinMajor General Amos Yadlin, Military Intelligence chief, participated in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

War Criminals Preparation Team 

Ehud Olmert, the corrupt Israeli Prime Minster legitimized the War in Gaza together with his cabinet.

Ehud Barak, Israeli War Minister, planned “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in order to improve his chances during the next elections.

Tzipi Livni, Foreign Minister of Israel, who leads the Israeli propaganda to legitimize the massacre and destruction in Gaza, planned and coordinated “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in order to improve her chances during the next elections

Yuval Diskin.jpgThe names of many other war criminals from the infantry, tanks, combat engineers, artillery, and intelligence who participated in the war crimes in Gaza are still unknown. They should not feel safe either. War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are proscribed and prosecuted in all countries of the world in one way or other, and there exists no statute of limitations for such crimes. The “protection” offered by Mazuz and his cronies is weak, first of all because the fact that such “protection” is offered is a implicit admission of guilt, and because national and international statutes specifically address the issue of sham “proceedings which are instituted to protect the guilty”, and because since the Nuremberg proceedings against the German army, following orders is no excuse and does not absolve of culpability. We and others will continue doing whatever is possible to find out the names of as many of the criminals who participated in Gaza as possible, and any information which will put them behind bars.

Read and See more Photos About the Israeli War Criminals here.

Yuval Diskin, Shin Bet security service chief, the organizer of the war in Gaza. Due to his personal recommendation, the IAF bombed the hospitals and the medical centers of Gaza.

Brig Gen Jonathan Locker, head of Israeli air forces which operated in Gaza.

brig-gen-jonathan-lockerhead-of-iaf1My decision is a challenge to the State of Israel, to the Israeli attorney general Mazuz and the military headquarters, who forbade the media from publishing the names of the Israeli officers who lead “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza, murdering 1310, and wounding over 5600, over 90% of these casualties being civilians, destroying public and the private property in many parts of towns and cities, and completely razing several areas completely to the ground.

UPDATE! FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE ARREST WRITTEN BY KHALID AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST! With friends like these – WRITTEN BY SHERINE BAHAA

KHALED AMAYREH, the Al-Ahram Weekly correspondent in the West Bank was arrested Sunday evening by the Preventive Security Forces (PSF) in Hebron. He was released after two days. Amayreh, 52, lives in Dura, 12 miles southwest of Hebron and has worked as the Weekly correspondent since 1997, as well as for a number of other media outlets.

 

He has a BA in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois. For a long time, he suffered, as do all Palestinians in the occupied territories, being confined by the occupation to his home village.

 

Not long ago, he was prohibited by Israeli forces from leaving Hebron at an Israeli checkpoint, detained and released only after being threatened for his courageous articles documenting Israeli crimes in the Weekly.

 

Surprisingly though, this time, Amayreh was not arrested by the Israelis, he was detained by the PSF; the PA police apparatus. This was the fourth time that Amayreh was arrested by the PSF. But this time why was he arrested? He was not in a demonstration, nor was he smuggling weapons to his fellow Palestinians being killed by Israelis on a daily basis.

 

His crime was explaining, during an interview with the Beirut based Al-Quds satellite TV, why there are only a few demonstrations in the West Bank in support of the people of Gaza. Amayreh frankly said that the PA did not allow such demonstrations. Amayreh did not mean to undermine the PA but he said, “the PA has certain commitments towards Israel and they (PA) do not want things to get out of their hands.” Amayreh also said the Israelis do not respect the PA and view the PA as a kind of “servant” to Israeli interests.

 

For the PSF, this was defamation. Amayreh speaking to the Weekly immediately after his release, explained that he only spoke of how Palestinian officials were prevented from moving freely and how Israel added more checkpoints to try to cordon Palestinians in closed areas. In short, they did not like the tone of the interview.

 

“They interrogated me for six hours, then they locked me in a dark cell for two days, where I could not tell day from night.”

 

“I think they released me because of the media and public pressure,” Amayreh said. According to Amayreh, around 15 journalists have been arrested over the past few months and some of them are still in jail.

 

Amayreh, father of nine, was taken from his family home to the headquarters of the PSF in Hebron. His family were denied any access to him.

 

The International Society for Translators and Linguists issued a statement condemning his arrest and asking for his immediate release. “These police units do not represent anything for Palestine except murder, destruction, corruption and chaos,” the statement said. “This apparatus is a disgrace to the history of the Palestinian Authority. Khaled Amayreh has helped the Palestinian cause much more than those people have,” the statement added.

 

In the past three weeks, dozens of Hamas supporters have either been detained or summoned for investigation by the PA’s much-feared Preventive Security Forces and General Intelligence Service. Coordination between the PA police forces and the Israeli occupation forces and Shin Beth has continued even as Gaza is being destroyed, in pursuit of their common goal of uprooting Hamas in the West Bank.

 

Five months ago, Amayreh was invited to attend a media conference in Germany and was granted a visa from the German representative office in Ramallah, the main stipulation being that he had never been arrested or detained by Israeli authorities. In spite of this, the Israeli military authorities refused to give him a permit to leave the West Bank and he was unable to travel. But be it the Israelis or the PA Security apparatus, it is evidently clear that Palestinians are continuously having their civil rights violated.

 

KHALID AMAYREH’S ACCOUNT OF HIS ORDEAL

Source: Islamonline 
http://www.islamonline.net:80/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1232976490385&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs%2FMAELayout 

“Five Minutes” With the PA Interrogators
Muzzling Freedom of Expression in Palestine

By  Khalid Amayreh : Journalist – Occupied Palestine

When the Beirut-based Al-Quds satellite television interviewed me last week on the recent genocidal Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip, it never occurred to me that the few sound bites I uttered would land me in a slimy prison cell at the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Preventive Security Apparatus (PSA) in Hebron.

During that interview, I was asked why the American-backed regime in Ramallah was not allowing large protests in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. I answered that the PA didn’t want things to get out of control and that it didn’t wish to antagonize Israel.

Interestingly, Israel itself had allowed a massive demonstration against the war on Gaza to take place in the Israeli Arab town of Sakhnin where as many as 150,000 people, including some Jewish peace activists, took to the streets to protest the nauseating killings and bombings of civilian targets all over the coastal enclave.

I further pointed out that Israel didn’t really respect the PA and was effectively treating it as a subservient entity serving  Israeli interests.
I  did think, and I still, that I was stating the obvious. However, the PA security establishment had a different idea.

Proverbial Cup of Coffee 
 
I was immediately locked up inside a small room and my mobile phone was confiscated.On Jan. 18, shortly afternoon, someone from the local PSA center invited me to drink a cup of coffee with the head of office for five minutes. Eventually, the “five minutes” were stretched into 55 hours of nightmarish experience.  

I knew they wanted to arrest me since most Palestinians have come to associate the onerous telephone call with imminent arrest by any of the security agencies.

When I arrived there, I was neither asked to meet with the local security chief nor offered the proverbial cup of coffee. Instead, I was immediately locked up inside a small room and my mobile phone was confiscated.

My watch and shoe laces were also taken from me. They must have been awfully worried about my safety!

Half an hour later, I was taken to the PSA headquarters in Hebron, 14 kilometers away. There, I was scolded for “besmirching and distorting the PA image,” “sowing discontent,” and “indulging in incitement.”

I was subjected to four sessions of interrogation which covered a whole set of issues and subjects from the Iranian strategy in the Middle East to the receding chances for the creation of a Palestinian state.

I told my interrogators that what they were doing was against the law, since the Palestinian law stated that “the security apparatus has no right to question, interrogate or detain a journalist in connection to his or her work.”
When I uttered these words, one operative scoffed at me, saying that “we are in Palestine, not in Sweden.”

Small, Semi-dark, Rancid-smelling Room

The interrogators didn’t really abuse me neither physically nor verbally. However, I was thrown into a small, semi-dark, rancid-smelling room with two other inmates, one a political prisoner and the other a common-law prisoner. That in itself was a humiliating form of mistreatment.

Getting dumped inside a slimy cell, with an exposed water circuit, was not exactly the right way to treat a journalist who has spent a lifetime defending the just Palestinian cause in face of Israeli propaganda and lies. But, then, they were probably right in a certain sense. The West Bank is not Sweden, and the PA regime is not the government of Sweden.

On Monday evening, Jan. 20, I was asked to meet with the PSA Chief, Abu Al-Fateh, who explained to me that the overall situation facing the PA was sensitive and delicate and that journalists had to be careful and cautious about what they say and write.

I generally concurred with him. However, I did forcefully argue that suppressing freedom of expression, especially press freedom, was a very harmful idea. I further  explained that when people are made to fear the government, it means that that the government is undemocratic and had a lot of things to hid from the people.

At the end of the conversation, I was told I could go home.

My latest encounter with the PSA is not the first time I am hounded by the PA security establishment. Last year I was subjected to intensive interrogation by the PA Mukhabarat (or general intelligence), also in connection with my professional work.

In 1998, I was arrested and briefly imprisoned for reporting on the prevalence of torture in some PA interrogation centers. I was also interrogated by both the Palestinian and Israeli security apparatuses over an article I had written on the  centrality of the right of return for Palestinian refugees uprooted from their ancestral homeland in what is now Israel.
These days, most Palestinians arrested by either Israel or the PA are rearrested by the other side after their release.

Self-censorship

Self-censorship is the ultimate enemy of healthy journalism.I knew that the main aim behind my brief but unjustified incarceration was to make me exercise “self-censorship” and refrain from calling things by their real names.

However, for journalists, “self-censorship” is not an innocuous word. It actually represents the ultimate enemy of healthy journalism. After all, a journalist ought to be responsible first and foremost to his or her conscience within the frame of the law.

Unfortunately, very few people within the Palestinian security establishment understand the language of human rights and civil liberties.

This condition is made even worse by the persistent power struggle between Hamas and Fateh, which is often used as a pretext and justification for the police-state atmosphere prevailing in the West Bank now.

Hence, one would exaggerate very little by saying that the situation of human rights and civil liberties is the West Bank is probably worse today than it ever has been since the establishment of the PA more than 15 years ago.

Rampant Violations

My latest experience pales in comparison to the more serious persecution haunting non-conformist journalists throughout the West Bank.In truth, my latest experience pales in comparison to the more serious persecution haunting non-conformist journalists throughout the West Bank.

Last week, PA security personnel assaulted and severely beat AP correspondent Majdee Ishtayyeh while filming an “unlicensed” demonstration in Ramallah. Ishtayya reportedly was taken to a nearby building where he was badly beaten, causing a severe hemorrhage from his nose.

The 44-year-journalist had to undergo a surgical operation to fix his battered nose at a Nablus hospital.

Some other journalists, photojournalists, and cameramen were violently assaulted and had their equipment broken or confiscated. 

Last year, as many as 20 Palestinian journalists were imprisoned for relatively lengthy periods for reporting news or views the PA regime considers detrimental to their interests or image. Many of these journalists were beaten and even tortured for refusing to abide by the “official line.”
And in nearly all cases, concocted charges were leveled against them, such as  “sowing division, incitement, and endangering national unity.”

Last year, Awad Rajoub, an Al-Jazeera.net correspondent was detained in a PSA prison cell in Hebron in what he described “harsh and humiliating conditions” for 32 days. Rajoub was forced to sleep inside a bare room, without mattresses or blankets, and had to use his own shoes as a pillow.
Rajoub was accused of interviewing critics of the PA.

Carte Blanch for Law Violation

In fact, there is a widespread impression that the security agencies are granted  a virtual carte blanch to violate the law for the sake of punishing and savaging political opponents of the PA regime, particularly people affiliated with the Islamic camp.

During my brief stint at the Hebron jail, I saw several inmates being subjected to the Shabah (hooding) technique where a prisoner is made to sit down in a small room with his hands tied to his back.

At one point, I heard an inmate crying “why are you beating me, why are you beating me.”

The PA government in Ramallah claims that it is doing its utmost to uphold the rule of law. This is its usual response to criticisms voiced by local and international human rights organizations.

However, it is obvious that the status of human rights and civil liberties under the PA   continues to deteriorate, especially with the virtual paralysis of the Palestinian justice system and especially in light of the conspicuous hegemony the security agencies exercises over civil society. This is why Palestinians do hope that the PA government, which many people view as both illegal and illegitimate, will issue clear and unmistakable orders to the security agencies to stop arresting and mistreating journalists and to respect the basic human and civil rights of Palestinian citizens.

Such a step is crucial for the creation of a healthy society based on the rule of law and respect for human dignity. It is also a sine-qua-non for the success of the Palestinian  national struggle for justice and freedom from the shackles of the colonialist Israeli occupation.

Khalid Amayreh is a journalist living in Palestine. He obtained his MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois in 1983. Since the 1990s, Mr. Amayreh has been working and writing for several news outlets among which is Aljazeera.net, Al-Ahram Weekly, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), and Middle East International.

 

Song by The Dark Bob:

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/3y_nuUMA%2Em4v%5D

 

With George Bush now dumped into the dustbin of history, millions of people around the world are hoping that the new American president Barak H. Obama will make a genuine departure from the conspicuously criminal policies that characterized his predecessor’s gloomy era.

 

Undoubtedly, Bush excelled in the perpetration of evil. He murdered, killed, deceived and lied, thinking he was doing a great service to America and the world.

 

His era was drenched with blood, mostly the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, killed unjustly under the misleading rubric of “the war on terror.”

 

In Palestine, and only three weeks before his unmissed departure, Bush gave the Zio-Nazi state of Israel carte blanche to commit a real genocide in Gaza in which thousands of helpless civilians were brutally massacred and maimed while thousands of homes and other buildings were utterly destroyed.

 

And instead of urging Israel to stop the pornographic bloodletting against the captive and virtually defenseless people of Gaza, Bush behaved gleefully and gloatingly, invoking the mendacious mantra that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

 

We in the Middle East realize quite well that Obama is not going to be the paragon of freedom and justice many naïve people had thought he would be.

 

Unfortunately, the American political environment is too morally barren to produce truly moral politicians who would be willing, let alone able,  to call the spade a spade, especially when the Zio-Nazi state is concerned.

 

Doing so would most likely be tantamount to committing political suicide in a country where Congress, the media, Show business as well as the bulk of the vital financial industry are tightly controlled by Israel’s American gents.

 

Nonetheless, Obama should strive to be more than just a sort of a Bush-lite president. Otherwise, he would be repeating the same mistakes, indulging in the same follies and committing the same crimes, knowingly or unknowingly.

 

I know it is premature to judge the man since he has been only a few days in the White House.  However, the signs are not very encouraging.

 

Obama has refrained from denouncing the recent Nazi-like crimes committed by the Zio-Nazi state in the Gaza Strip. Obama spoke elaborately about Israel’s right to defend itself, but said absolutely nothing about the Palestinian people’s right to defend themselves.

 

He cited the “thousands of rockets” that Hamas fired on Israel, but completely ignored the cruel and deadly aggressions Israel has been carrying out against an imprisoned people languishing under a manifestly criminal siege that has striking similarities with the German siege of Ghetto Warsaw during the Second World War.

 

Obama said the Palestinians needed food, clean water and basic medical care. However, he carefully refrained from uttering the word “freedom.”  That was really mind-boggling, even shocking.

 

Well, Mr. Obama, are you betraying your own history? Your own Afro-American people’s struggle for freedom and justice? Besides, what happened to “give me freedom or give me death”?  Indeed, have you come to think that certain classes of people, the Untermenschen, don’t deserve freedom or can live without it?

 

Obama should understand that the enduring Palestinian cause is not about food, clean water and basic medical care, although these are basic necessities for all human beings. It is also not about border crossings or even terror.

 

What the Palestinians need most, Mr. Obama, is freedom, freedom from the Nazi-like Israeli occupation, oppression and persecution.

 

We want to be free from the evils wrought upon us by the Zionist occupation of our country. This evil occupation is a collective act of rape that robs us of our human dignity, human rights, even our very survival.

 

As human beings, we will not accept trading our God-given freedom for food, clean water and medical care.

 

The White slave masters once viewed your not-too-distant ancestors as only deserving food and water and probably some sort of medical care, but no freedom.

 

So, are you Mr. President trying now to reproduce ancient racism and apply it to our people, long haunted by foreign occupation and oppression?

 

Obama said Hamas would have to recognize Israel in order to qualify for his administration’s recognition.

Well, Hamas doesn’t need your recognition, Mr. Obama. It won’t do it any good. The US did recognize the PLO nearly two decades ago, after the latter recognized Israel.

 

But since then, and instead of pressuring Israel to end its criminal occupation and colonization of our homeland, successive American administrations (under Reagan, George Bush, Sr., Clinton, Bush, Jr.), gave Israel tens of billions of dollars to expand Jewish-only colonies, effectively enabling the criminal state to kill the prospect of any genuine peace settlement of the conflict.

 

So, what would your conditional recognition of Hamas do in real terms? Moreover, why do you think Hamas should repeat the same stupid blunders of the PLO?

 

Luckily, Hamas will not recognize the evil Zio-Nazi entity under any circumstances. Evil and its ramifications and implications must never be granted legitimacy, especially by its victims.

 

A state that commits genocide and exterminates thousands of innocent children and women and old men, by raining on their homes missiles and bombs from high altitudes, using the state-of-the-art of the American technology of death, cannot be a legitimate state. It is rather a criminal state that ought to be destroyed and eradicated.

 

More to the point, is not a state that uses White Phosphorous bombs against school children, worshippers praying to their God in peaceable mosques, and civilians seeking shelter in UN-run schools is a murderous genocidal state not unlike the Third Reich?

 

After all, there is not really a qualitative difference between exterminating people by way of gas chambers as the Nazis did several decades ago and incinerating them by White Phosphorous bombs and F-16 fighters as the great grandchildren of the holocaust survivors have just done in Gaza.

 

In short, Israel is a murderous criminal state which has no legitimacy. This is not a matter of a few rotten people at the helm of Israeli politics. The entire Zionist infrastructure is intrinsically and hopelessly evil.

 

Hence, no Palestinian with a modicum of national dignity and self-respect should lend legitimacy to this satanic entity.

 

One more message to Obama. It has been reported that one of the foreign policy priorities of your administration is to mend relations with the Muslim world.

 

Well, this is certainly a good idea. After all, one of the main causes of Muslim hostility to the US is America’s scandalous and enduring embrace of tyrannical Arab regimes that treat their own peoples as animals or sub-humans.

 

So, Mr. Obama, if you would like to see America respected, not just feared, by Muslims, you hasten to withdraw your country’s support from these rotten and self-worshipping tyrants who torment and savage their own masses on America’s behalf.

 

You certainly did the right thing by terminating some of the ugly practices initiated by Bush, e.g. the renditions and the ghoulish torture techniques such as “waterboarding,” that some of our Arab governments have been involved in obviously in collusion with the Bush administration.

 

Nonetheless, you still have a long way to go. These governments, which the US routinely calls “our allies,” are really tyrannical police states whose political and moral modus operandi represents the exact antithesis of every sublime value and ideal America holds dear.

 

So, please, Mr. Obama, withdraw your support from governments and regimes that don’t allow free and fair elections as well as freedom of expression; don’t court governments that arrest, persecute, torture, and kill political opponents and non-conformist journalists.  Don’t sanction police state practices in the Muslim world under the rubric of such outworn concepts as “the war on terror” or “fighting fundamentalism” or even “preserving America’s interests.”

 

Mr. President, the most effective means of safeguarding America’s interests in the Muslim world is attained by adopting a foreign policy based on justice, morality and respect for our people’s right to freedom and sovereignty.

 

Yes, embracing tyrannical police states in the Muslim world might look expedient in the short term. But in the long term, America will only reap the hostility of hundreds of millions of people in the Muslim world.

 

Finally, I would like to point out that Muslims don’t really hate America. I myself received my college and graduate education in the US, and I harbor no hatred or hostility to the American people.

 

Muslims only hate the often pornographic oppression meted to us as a result of America’s unjust policies.

 

And, as always, Palestine remains the most scandalous example.

 

INTERVIEWED BY Kourosh Ziabari

 

Adam Shapiro, the symbol of a courageous, pure peace advocate, has long been under fire for his unconditional and categorical criticism of Israeli occupying state.

Born in 1972, the perseverant and steadfast anti-Zionist campaigner and co-founder of International Solidarity Movement vigorously makes efforts to broadcast the voice of subjugated and downtrodden nation of Palestine.

Following his meeting with Yasser Arafat in his Mukataa (government center) in Ramallah while it was besieged during the March 2002 Israeli military operation in the West Bank and Gaza, Adam Shapiro attained an international popularity and was put under the spotlight of Zionist media thereafter.

Despite enduring a stack of insults and invectives from the side of Zionist campaign in the past years, Adam Shapiro neither has relinquished nor alleviated his stance so far; rather intensified his anti-Zionist statements in the particular situations such as the horrendous 22 days of Israeli incursion into Gaza.

This interview has been done in the midst of Israeli genocide in Gaza as it’s apparent in some points of the conversation; nevertheless, it contains some informative and revealing information which are prone to be read and reflected thoughtfully.

 

Would you please elucidate about the salient and prominent activities which you usually carry out in the International Solidarity Movement? What are your agenda, modus operandi and plans to help the survivors of recent offensive in Gaza?

                  

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) started off in 2001 as an effort to join international solidarity to the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and oppression. This was through the joining of foreign activists with Palestinian activists in civilian-based non-violent active resistance in the west bank and Gaza. this kind of popular resistance has always been part of the Palestinian movement, and we felt that adding the international component would force the world to recognize that the conflict was not about Jew vs. Arab or Jew vs. Muslim, but rather a situation of oppression and discrimination based on ethnicity and religion in a sense similar to the anti-apartheid movement in south Africa.

Nowadays, the ISM role continues in this way, but is also more and more involved with being an eyewitness and reporting on the atrocities of what is happening to the Palestinian people. ISM volunteers spend longer periods of time in the territories and get to know the situation in depth.  

Currently ISM has 5 volunteers in the Gaza Strip, who are responding during this assault on the people of Gaza – they are escorting ambulances and medical personnel who are responding to emergency calls; they are documenting what is happening and reporting out to the world, even as the Zionist government bars foreign journalists; they are assisting in the distribution of food and water as they can and to areas that are under major threat; and they are documenting evidence of war crimes, such as the use of white phosphorous artillery shells.

According to what you said, one effective and impressive choice that could help the progressive flow of Palestinians’ extrication and release from the harsh situation is to promote the notion of imposing sanctions, embargo on Israel. How is it possible to boycott and isolate the terrorist regime in the international stage?

 

There is a call from Palestinian civil society to boycott Israel, and it is for this reason that we are compelled to adhere to this call. That said, sanctions will most likely be symbolic at best, given the penetration of businesses in Israel and the difficulty to render such an impact.  Symbolically, however the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) campaign is very useful, particularly in the west, where it enables us to alter the debate away from spurious charges of anti-Semitism towards pointing out specifically why such measures are necessary.  Additionally, the academic and cultural boycott can have tangible results, forcing Israeli academics, artists and intellectuals to confront the reality of their own position and force them to take a stand.  There are very credible and valuable efforts in this regard, including a recent determination by a UK-based teachers union.  However, in a sense, we need to remember that far more dramatic action is required, given that this situation for the Palestinians has been going on for 60 years, and the scale of the devastation and oppression of the entire Palestinian people is at such a level that symbolic actions – while good – do not meet the urgency of the situation.

 

Nevertheless, US and its European allies flagrantly veto any anti-Israeli resolution which comes on the top of UNSC agenda and don’t allow the international community to express its unequivocal and clear condemnation of Israeli massacre freely. What’s the reason, in your view, and how can that be opposed?


The reason has to do with domestic factors for the US more than anything else.  I think for the European nations it is connected to the lingering guilt over the holocaust, a situation that is exploited by Israel and some of the Jewish organizations in those countries to maintain a code of silence when it comes to clearly calling out Israel for what has been a 60-year effort of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.  For the US, there really is no organized constituency willing to vote or donate to politicians campaigns based on this issue. Those who would are small in number and largely ineffective.  the pro-Israel lobby in the US  is not only among the organized Jewish community, but includes Christian Zionists, the military-industrial complex in the US, the information technology industry, the biotech industry, the medical community and others, all of which have significant relationships with Israel from a business perspective. This all has repercussions in the US political system and set the parameters of the debate in the US around us support for Israel. 
 

That said, I also think the Palestinian leadership has missed opportunities over the years, but most importantly it accepted the framework of peace as a means of addressing the conflict, which helped set up a false sense of parity between the two parties. Instead of maintaining a position of national liberation, or creating a movement based on equal rights or ending oppression/discrimination, the choice for 2 states in the framework of peacemaking has helped allow the us and others to ‘blame both sides’.

All of these inconsistencies aside, neither the American double standards about the Israel’s nuclear case are bearable. They are folding their arms and sitting back relaxed while everybody, even ex-President Carter has confessed that Israel deposits 200 nuclear warheads!

 

Indeed, on this point in particular the hypocrisy reaches the level of absurd. Add to the points you raise in the question to the fact that Israel has been at war more than any other state in the region and almost always as the initiator and aggressor; not only in the formal wars, but also in the cross-border skirmishes, as occurred with Egypt and Lebanon in the past. If any regime in the region was volatile and prone to use military force it is Israel. A s such, there should be great world concern about its weapons of mass destruction, also since we have seen that Israel is willing to use dubious weapons and disproportionate force such as we witnessed in Lebanon in 2006 (cluster bombs) and Gaza today (white phosphorous artillery).

 

Accordingly, it seems that the mainstream media are pusillanimously afraid of the Israeli tyrannical lobby which rules the global corporate media. They censor any kind of news reflecting demonstrations, condemnations and anti-Israeli remarks by the world’s statesmen. How can they justify this unilateral and hostile approach in conveying the information? 

 

I think many of the same factors that influence how the US and European governments act also influence the media’s role. But there is also an element of having a media strategy that requires examination. Israel and its allies around the world have a clear, organized and effective media strategy to promote the messaging and images that they want. Sure, there is media bias, but it would be false to think that that bias is the beginning and the end. After all, I know many journalists who cover the conflict and who seek to promote different perspectives in their newspapers and broadcasts. On the Palestinian side, there really is not an effective media strategy, and certainly not one that is organized. Some of these very practical details can make a very big difference in the coverage of the issue.  While I don’t think this can fully overcome the bias that does exist, it can start making changes in the overall system.

I also think with the advent of new media, including Al-Jazeera and Press TV in particular, mainstream western media outlets are being challenged and being forced to change. Even the BBC’s own Arabic service has forced a certain change in BBC’s English service, which while subtle, nonetheless has important consequences.

Finally, I think it is also somewhat easy to overcount the media, in that worldwide, the Palestinian position of justice and ending occupation and oppression is the majority opinion, despite the media coverage.  It is not world opinion that necessarily needs to change; it is the actions of governments.

So what actions are needed to administer justice about Israel? How could the world’s countries prevent it from committing further, predictable atrocities and seeking adventurous war-games in the region?

 

There needs to be unequivocal action in the international community to force Israel to end is aggression in Gaza.  This should entail full suspension of diplomatic relations (as we have seen in Venezuela and Bolivia); full arms embargo on Israel; and the establishment of a criminal court under the ICC (mandated by the Security Council) to bring forward war crimes charges.  while these maybe long-shots, we have to remember that the Palestinian people, unlike virtually any other people in the world, are wholly dependent on the international community to act to help, both because it is the international community that is responsible for the original partitioning and displacement of the Palestinians and because Palestinians do not have a state, an army or any means of self-defense.  The UN General Assembly can also act and take dramatic action, and it should – and this would be a way to overcome a us veto.

 

And what about an international investigation on the illegal employment of unconventional weapons, mass killing of women and children, beleaguering the densely-populated strip for a long time and killing journalists, media correspondents and representatives of international communities? 

There needs to be a tribunal established to try these crimes committed in Gaza.  But this is truly not sufficient. The crimes of 60 years need to be addressed.  Because of the impunity Israel has enjoyed since 1948, the lesson it learned is that there are no consequences for its actions and no limits. The Palestinians have borne the brunt of that ‘freedom to act’ for 60 years. It is not enough to say what Israel is doing in Gaza today is too much. What was done in Deir Yassin, in Tantoura, in Lid, in the Jenin refugee camp, in Israeli prisons, and hundreds of other places and over the course of years, has been beyond the limit of international law and human rights. Of course, I would welcome justice for the crimes committed in Gaza, but this should just be the beginning.  

WRITTEN BY Henry Siegman

 

Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.

 

I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.

 

Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’

 

The truce, which began in June last year and was due for renewal in December, required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad (even Israel’s intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising effectiveness), and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions. This understanding was seriously violated on 4 November, when the IDF entered Gaza and killed six members of Hamas. Hamas responded by launching Qassam rockets and Grad missiles. Even so, it offered to extend the truce, but only on condition that Israel ended its blockade. Israel refused. It could have met its obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn’t even try. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza’s population.

 

Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process, and largely stuck to it for more than a year. Bush publicly welcomed that decision, citing it as an example of the success of his campaign for democracy in the Middle East. (He had no other success to point to.) When Hamas unexpectedly won the election, Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimise the result and embraced Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel’s leaders as a ‘plucked chicken’. They armed and trained his security forces to overthrow Hamas; and when Hamas ­ brutally, to be sure ­pre-empted this violent attempt to reverse the result of the first honest democratic election in the modern Middle East, Israel and the Bush administration imposed the blockade.

 

Israel seeks to counter these indisputable facts by maintaining that in withdrawing Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005, Ariel Sharon gave Hamas the chance to set out on the path to statehood, a chance it refused to take; instead, it transformed Gaza into a launching-pad for firing missiles at Israel’s civilian population. The charge is a lie twice over. First, for all its failings, Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah’s rule. Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes.

 

The greater lie is that Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was intended as a prelude to further withdrawals and a peace agreement. This is how Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass, who was also his chief negotiator with the Americans, described the withdrawal from Gaza, in an interview with Ha’aretz in August 2004:

 

What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements [i.e. the major settlement blocks on the West Bank] would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns . . . The significance [of the agreement with the US] is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with [President Bush’s] authority and permission . . . and the ratification of both houses of Congress.

 

Do the Israelis and Americans think that Palestinians don’t read the Israeli papers, or that when they saw what was happening on the West Bank they couldn’t figure out for themselves what Sharon was up to?

 

Israel’s government would like the world to believe that Hamas launched its Qassam rockets because that is what terrorists do and Hamas is a generic terrorist group. In fact, Hamas is no more a ‘terror organisation’ (Israel’s preferred term) than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland. In the late 1930s and 1940s, parties within the Zionist movement resorted to terrorist activities for strategic reasons. According to Benny Morris, it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. He writes in Righteous Victims that an upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 ‘triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict’. He also documents atrocities committed during the 1948-49 war by the IDF, admitting in a 2004 interview, published in Ha’aretz, that material released by Israel’s Ministry of Defence showed that ‘there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought . . . In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them, and destroy the villages themselves.’ In a number of Palestinian villages and towns the IDF carried out organised executions of civilians. Asked by Ha’aretz whether he condemned the ethnic cleansing, Morris replied that he did not:

 

A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.

 

In other words, when Jews target and kill innocent civilians to advance their national struggle, they are patriots. When their adversaries do so, they are terrorists.

 

It is too easy to describe Hamas simply as a ‘terror organisation’. It is a religious nationalist movement that resorts to terrorism, as the Zionist movement did during its struggle for statehood, in the mistaken belief that it is the only way to end an oppressive occupation and bring about a Palestinian state. While Hamas’s ideology formally calls for that state to be established on the ruins of the state of Israel, this doesn’t determine Hamas’s actual policies today any more than the same declaration in the PLO charter determined Fatah’s actions.

 

These are not the conclusions of an apologist for Hamas but the opinions of the former head of Mossad and Sharon’s national security adviser, Ephraim Halevy. The Hamas leadership has undergone a change ‘right under our very noses’, Halevy wrote recently in Yedioth Ahronoth, by recognising that ‘its ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.’ It is now ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state within the temporary borders of 1967. Halevy noted that while Hamas has not said how ‘temporary’ those borders would be, ‘they know that the moment a Palestinian state is established with their co-operation, they will be obligated to change the rules of the game: they will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original ideological goals.’ In an earlier article, Halevy also pointed out the absurdity of linking Hamas to al-Qaida.

 

In the eyes of al-Qaida, the members of Hamas are perceived as heretics due to their stated desire to participate, even indirectly, in processes of any understandings or agreements with Israel. [The Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled] Mashal’s declaration diametrically contradicts al-Qaida’s approach, and provides Israel with an opportunity, perhaps a historic one, to leverage it for the better.

 

Why then are Israel’s leaders so determined to destroy Hamas? Because they believe that its leadership, unlike that of Fatah, cannot be intimidated into accepting a peace accord that establishes a Palestinian ‘state’ made up of territorially disconnected entities over which Israel would be able to retain permanent control. Control of the West Bank has been the unwavering objective of Israel’s military, intelligence and political elites since the end of the Six-Day War.[*] They believe that Hamas would not permit such a cantonisation of Palestinian territory, no matter how long the occupation continues. They may be wrong about Abbas and his superannuated cohorts, but they are entirely right about Hamas.

 

Middle East observers wonder whether Israel’s assault on Hamas will succeed in destroying the organisation or expelling it from Gaza. This is an irrelevant question. If Israel plans to keep control over any future Palestinian entity, it will never find a Palestinian partner, and even if it succeeds in dismantling Hamas, the movement will in time be replaced by a far more radical Palestinian opposition.

 

If Barack Obama picks a seasoned Middle East envoy who clings to the idea that outsiders should not present their own proposals for a just and sustainable peace agreement, much less press the parties to accept it, but instead leave them to work out their differences, he will assure a future Palestinian resistance far more extreme than Hamas ­ one likely to be allied with al-Qaida. For the US, Europe and most of the rest of the world, this would be the worst possible outcome. Perhaps some Israelis, including the settler leadership, believe it would serve their purposes, since it would provide the government with a compelling pretext to hold on to all of Palestine. But this is a delusion that would bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

 

Anthony Cordesman, one of the most reliable military analysts of the Middle East, and a friend of Israel, argued in a 9 January report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the tactical advantages of continuing the operation in Gaza were outweighed by the strategic cost ­ and were probably no greater than any gains Israel may have made early in the war in selective strikes on key Hamas facilities. ‘Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal, or at least one it can credibly achieve?’ he asks. ‘Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel’s actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process? To be blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes.’ Cordesman concludes that ‘any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends.’

 

15 January

 

Note

 

[*] See my piece in the LRB, 16 August 2007.

 

Henry Siegman, director of the US Middle East Project in New York, is a visiting research professor at SOAS, University of London. He is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America.

 

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/sieg01_.html

 

LRB contributors react to events in Gaza

 

Tariq Ali, David Bromwich, Alastair Crooke, Conor Gearty, R.W. Johnson, Rashid Khalidi, Yitzhak Laor, Yonatan Mendel, John Mearsheimer, Gabriel Piterberg, Jacqueline Rose (certainly to be published elsewhere), Eliot Weinberger, Michael Wood.

 

January 15, 2009

 

http://www.lrb.co.uk/web/15/01/2009/mult04_.html#tariqali

 

Tariq Ali

 

A few weeks before the assault on Gaza, the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army published a levelheaded document on ‘Hamas and Israel’, which argued that ‘Israel’s stance towards the democratically-elected Palestinian government headed by Hamas in 2006, and towards Palestinian national coherence – ­legal, territorial, political and economic – has been a major obstacle to substantive peacemaking.’ Whatever their reservations about the organisation, the authors of the paper detected signs that Hamas was considering a shift of position even before the blockade:

 

It is frequently stated that Israel or the United States cannot ‘meet’ with Hamas (although meeting is not illegal; materially aiding terrorism is, if proven) because the latter will not ‘recognise Israel’. In contrast, the PLO has ‘recognised’ Israel’s right to exist and agreed in principle to bargain for significantly less land than the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, and it is not clear that Israel has ever agreed to accept a Palestinian state. The recognition of Israel did not bring an end to violence, as wings of various factions of the PLO did fight Israelis, especially at the height of the Second (al- Aqsa) Intifada. Recognition of Israel by Hamas, in the way that it is described in the Western media, cannot serve as a formula for peace. Hamas moderates have, however, signaled that it implicitly recognises Israel, and that even a tahdiya (calming, minor truce) or a hudna, a longer-term truce, obviously implies recognition. Khalid Mish’al states: ‘We are realists,’ and there is ‘an entity called Israel,’ but ‘realism does not mean that you have to recognise the legitimacy of the occupation.’

 

The war on Gaza has killed the two-state solution by making it clear to Palestinians that the only acceptable Palestine would have fewer rights than the Bantustans created by apartheid South Africa. The only acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians with equal rights for all. Certainly it seems utopian at the moment with the two Palestinian parties in Israel ­Balad and the United Arab List – both barred from contesting the February elections. Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of Yisrael Beitenu, has breathed a sigh of satisfaction: ‘Now that it has been decided that the Balad terrorist organisation will not be able to run, the first battle is over.’ But even victory has its drawbacks. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Isaac Deutscher warned his one-time friend Ben Gurion: ‘The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase “Mann kann sich totseigen!” — you can triumph yourself to death. This is what the Israelis have been doing. They have bitten off much more than they can swallow.’

 

Five hundred courageous Israelis have sent a letter to Western embassies calling for sanctions and other measures to be applied against their country, echoing the 2005 call by numerous Palestinian organisations for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the South African model. This will not happen overnight but it is the only non-violent way to help the struggle for freedom and equality in Israel-Palestine.

 

Tariq Ali’s latest book is The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power.

 

David Bromwich

 

Like the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada, the rockets from Gaza were a choice of tactics of a spectacular vengefulness. The spectacle was greater than the damage: no Israeli had been killed by a rocket before the IDF launched their assault. Yet the idea of rockets falling induces terror, whereas the idea of an army invading a neighbouring territory has an official sound. The numbers of the dead ­ as of 15 January, more than 1000 Palestinians and fewer than 20 Israelis tell a different story. Many people remain unmoved by the tremendous disproportion because they cannot get the image of rockets out of their heads.

 

In the United States, since this one-sided war began on 27 December, facts are not suppressed but fiction pervades the commentary. We are offered an analogy: what would Americans do if rockets were fired from Canada or Cuba? The question has been repeated with docility by congressional leaders of both parties; but the rockets are assumed to come suddenly without cause. The choking of the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air, the rejection by the US of the Palestinian Unity Government, the coup launched by Fatah and bankrolled by the US, which ended in the seizure of power by Hamas ­ all of this happened before the rockets fell from thee sky. It is as if it belonged to a prehistoric time.

 

American politicians exhibit an identification with Israel that is now in excess of the measurable effects of the Israel lobby. The blindness of the identification has led the US to respond with keen sensitivity to Israeli requests for assistance and moral support, and to underestimate the suffering caused by the Gaza blockade and by the settlements and checkpoints and the wall on the West Bank. Yet grant the potency of the lobby and the identification ­ even so, the arrogance with which Israel dictates policy is hard to comprehend on the usual index of motives. Ehud Olmert boasted to a crowd in Ashkelon on 12 January that with one phone call to Bush, he forced Condoleezza Rice to abstain from voting for the UN ceasefire resolution she herself had prepared. The depth, the efficacy and the immediacy of the influence are treated by Olmert as an open secret.

 

To judge by the nomination of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and the likely nomination of Dennis Ross as Middle East envoy, Obama wants to be seen as someone who intends no major change of course. In a televised interview on 11 January, he said he would deal with Israel and Palestine in the manner of the Clinton and Bush administrations. The unhappy message of his recent utterances has been reconciliation without truth; and reconciliation, above all, for Americans. This preference for bringing-together over bringing-to-light is a trait of Obama’s political character we are only now coming to see the extent of. It is an element  -until lately an unperceived element- ­ of a certain native moderation of temper that is likely to mark his presidency. Yet his silence on Gaza has been startling, even immoderate. The ascent of Barack Obama was connected in the world as well as in the US with peculiar and passionate hopes, and his chances of emerging as a leader of the world are diminished with every passing day of silence.

 

David Bromwich teaches English at Yale.

 

Alastair Crooke

 

‘We have to ask the West a question: when the Israelis bombed the house of Sheikh Nizar Rayan, a Hamas leader, killing him, his wives, his nine children, and killing 19 others who happened to live in adjoining houses ­because they saw him as a target, ­was this terrorism? If the West’s answer is that this was not terrorism, it was self-defence ­then we must think to adopt this definition too.’

 

This was said to me by a leading Islamist in Beirut a few days ago. He was making a point, but behind his rhetorical question plainly lies the deeper issue of what the Gaza violence will signify for mainstream Islamists in the future.

 

Take Egypt. Mubarak has made no secret of his wish to see Israel teach Hamas a ‘lesson’. Hamas are sure that his officials urged Israel to proceed, assuring Amos Yadlin, Israel’s Head of Military Intelligence, at a meeting in Cairo that Hamas would collapse within three days of the Israeli onslaught.

 

Islamists in Egypt and other pro-Western ‘moderate’ alliance states such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan have noted Israel’s wanton disregard for the deaths of civilians in its desire to crush Hamas. They have seen the barely concealed pleasure of the regimes that run those states. The message is clear: the struggle for the future of this region is going to be uncompromising and bloody.

 

For all Islamists, the events in Gaza will be definitive: they will tell the story of a heroic stand in the name of justice against overwhelming odds. This archetype was already in place on the day of Ashura which fell this year on 7 January — when Shi’ites everywhere commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson, killed by an overwhelming military force at Kerbala. The speeches given by Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah’s secretary general, were avidly followed; the ceremony of Ashura drove home the message of martyrdom and sacrifice.

 

Islamists are likely to conclude from Gaza that Arab regimes backed by the US and some European states will go to any lengths in their struggle against Islamism. Many Sunni Muslims will turn to the salafi-jihadists, al-Qaida included, who warned Hamas and others about the kind of punishment being visited on them now. Mainstream movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hizbullah will find it hard to resist the radical trend. The middle ground is eroding fast.

 

At one level Gaza will be seen as a repeat of Algeria. At another, it will speak to wider struggles in the Arab world, where elites favoured by the West soldier on with no real legitimacy, while the weight of support for change builds up. The overhang may persist for a while yet, but a small event could trip the avalanche.

 

Alastair Crooke is co-director of Conflicts Forum and has been an EU mediator with Hamas and other Islamist movements. Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution will come out next month.

 

Conor Gearty

 

It is just possible the killings in Gaza may mark the end of Israel’s disastrous plunge into militant Zionism. The key is Obama: will he collapse under pressure like most of his predecessors, or is there more to him? Let us assume he knows how senseless it is for the US to collude in a crime of the kind going on in Gaza. There are ways of marking this without unleashing the pro-Israeli forces against him at too early a stage.

 

Clearly the new administration desires to re-engage with the global community and revive its commitment to international law: the ‘war on terror’ will be reconfigured and Guantanamo closed. A rededication of the US to law should also involve a more consensual approach to the UN ­“Security Council business in particular ­ including (for example) support for UN investigative missions to regions where egregious violations of human rights and breaches of the UN charter have occurred. It should entail the US signing up to the International Criminal Court” and urging its closest allies to do likewise. Framed in this way, a US engagement in the international human rights agenda would quickly lead to a crucial re-empowerment of the rapporteurs, special representatives, committees of experts and so on who have languished on the margins for so long.

 

This reformist energy would then need to be backed by mechanisms along the lines of the MacBride principles or the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act linking US financial and military aid to the newly emerging international legal order. The worst offenders against the new dispensation would run the risk of economic and intellectual boycotts. Since its application would be general, Obama could do all this without any mention of Israel, leaving the consequences to be worked through by various bureaucracies, while the phone calls and special pleas are politely fended off with an easy ‘it is out of my hands’. Were pressure from the lobbies to reach dangerous levels, the president might choose to take the issue to the American people, to discuss openly whether Israel should have an exemption from the system of values to which every other genuine ally and the US itself will by then have signed up. That is not likely to be a debate which the Israeli leadership will want.

 

Conor Gearty, Rausing Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and professor of human rights law at the LSE, has written a number of books on terrorism and human rights.

 

R.W. Johnson

 

The current crisis has probably not changed anything fundamental. As even the more pessimistic Israeli analysts have been noting for some time, the pressure of the crisis has turned many, perhaps most Palestinians into irreconcilable foes of Israel. To that extent the two-state solution, however much the great and good may wish it, gradually becomes less and less of a real solution. The present crisis was probably unavoidable given (a) Iran’s position, (b) the coming Israeli election and (c) the failure of Israel to achieve full-scale victory over Hizbullah last year. That last factor has weighed on all minds, showing Iran how much leverage it had, threatening to turn all Arab-occupied land into rocket-launching grounds and increasing Israeli determination to show that this is a prohibitively expensive option for anyone who opts to host such an exercise. The stalemate seems complete.

 

I doubt whether Obama will make much difference. His chief of staff is an ex-Israeli soldier and his administration will be heavily in hock to the Israel lobby from day one. Israel may be unhappy that he will talk to Hamas but this unhappiness is quite unnecessary. He is not going to soft-talk them into accepting Israel’s existence and laying down their rockets, so what will such talks really change?

 

The real key remains US-Iran relations. This was a period in which many expected an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. The fact that it has not happened is promising and suggests that the CIA is right to say Iran is not close to having nuclear weapons. As it is the US has hugely strengthened Iran by handing Iraq over to Shi’ites and an Obama administration might try to capitalise on that by making a US-Iranian deal the cornerstone of Middle East politics, thus reducing Syrian, Saudi and Egyptian leverage. Iran would obviously be greatly tempted by such a deal. But if Obama and Ahmadinejad really could reach a deal it would probably be very bad news for both Hizbullah and Hamas, who might get cut off from Iranian aid. If that happens, I can’t see much joy for Palestinian militancy. But if it doesn’t and the US under Obama is left to face an unchanged position, he is bound to end up taking Israel’s side as much as Bush did. Which also doesn’t bode well for militant Palestinians. So whatever happens I’d expect the Palestinians to emerge worse off from this conflict and Israel stronger, though probably less popular.

 

R.W. Johnson lives in Cape Town.

 

Rashid Khalidi

 

It is commonplace to talk about the ‘fog of war’, but war can also clarify things. The war in Gaza has pointed up the Israeli security establishment’s belief in force as a means of imposing ‘solutions’ which result in massive Arab civilian suffering and solve nothing. It has also laid bare the feebleness of the Arab states, and their inability to protect Palestinian civilians from the Israeli military, to the despair and fury of their citizens. Almost from the moment the war began, America’s Arab allies ­ above all Egypt ­ found themselves on the defensive, facing accusations of impotence and even treason in some of the largest demonstrations the region has seen in years. Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hizbullah in Lebanon, reserved some of his harshest criticism for the Mubarak regime; at Hizbullah rallies, protesters chanted ‘Where are you, Nasser?’ ­ a question that is also being asked by Egyptians.

 

The Egyptian government and its Arab allies ­ Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco ­ responded to the war much as they responded to thee 2006 invasion of Lebanon: by tacitly supporting Israel’s offensive in the hope of weakening a resistance movement which they see as a proxy for Iran and Syria. When the bombing began, Egypt criticised Hamas over the breakdown of the reconciliation talks with Fatah that Cairo had brokered, and for firing rockets at Israel. The implication was that Hamas was responsible for the war. Refusing to open the Rafah crossing, the Mubarak government pointed out that Israel, the occupying power, not Egypt, was responsibile for the humanitarian situation in Gaza under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Egypt’s concern is understandable: ever since it recovered the Sinai in 1979, it has worried that Israel might attempt to dump responsibility onto it for the Strip’s 1.5 million impoverished residents, a fear that has grown as the prospects of ending the occupation have receded. But its initial refusal to open the crossing to relief supplies, medical personnel and reporters made it difficult for Cairo to deny charges that it was indifferent to Palestinian suffering, and that it valued relations with Israel and the US (its main patron) more highly than the welfare of Gaza’s people.

 

Since Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006, Egypt’s press has been rife with lurid warnings ­ echoed in conservative Lebanese and Saudi newspapers, as well as Israeli ones ­about the establishment in Gaza of an Islamic emirate backed by Iran. Cairo’s distrust of Hamas is closely connected with internal politics: Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brothers, the country’s largest opposition movement; and it came to power in Gaza in the kind of democratic elections that Mubarak has done everything to prevent. (He is likely to be succeeded by his son, Gamal, after sham elections.) When there still seemed hope of a Palestinian Authority (PA) coalition government between Fatah and Hamas (which would have diluted the latter’s power), Egypt was careful to appear balanced. But after the deep split in Palestinian politics that followed the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, Egypt tilted increasingly against Hamas. The division of occupied Palestine into two PAs ­ a Fatah-ruled West  Bank and a Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, both without sovereignty, jurisdiction or much in the way of authority ­ was seen in Cairo as a threat to domestic security: it promised greater instability on Egypt’s borders, jeopardised the negotiated two-state solution with Israel to which Egypt was committed, and emboldened allies of the Muslim Brothers.

 

Egypt has also been alarmed by Hamas’s deepening relationship with its fiercest adversaries: Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. ‘Moderate’ Arab regimes like the one in Egypt ­ deeply authoritarian, at best, but friendly with the US ­ have favoured peaceful negotiations with Israel, but negotiations have not led to Palestinian independence, or even translated into diplomatic leverage. Resistance movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas, by contrast, can plausibly claim that they forced Israel to withdraw from occupied Arab land while scoring impressive gains at the ballot box; they have also been reasonably free of corruption. As if determined to increase the influence of these radical movements, Israel has undermined Abbas and the PA at every turn: settlements, bypass roads and ‘security barriers’ continue to encroach on Palestinian land; none of the 600 checkpoints and barriers in the West Bank has been removed; and more than 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners languish in Israeli jails. The result has been the erosion of support for the PA, and for the conciliatory approach pursued by the PA and Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which reacted by moving even closer to the Bush administration in its waning days. Mubarak, according to Ha’aretz, urged Olmert to continue the Gaza offensive until Hamas was severely weakened – though Egypt has, of course, denied these reports.

 

But Hamas will not be so easily defeated, even if Israel’s merciless assault and Hamas’s own obduracy have brought untold suffering on the people of Gaza and much of the Strip lies in ruins: like Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006, all it has to do in order to proclaim victory is remain standing. The movement continued to fire rockets into Israel under devastating bombardment, and it looks likely to emerge politically stronger when the war is over, although as with Hizbullah, it may have provoked popular resentment for bringing Israeli fire down on the heads of the civilian population: there was little Palestinian popular support for the firing of rockets at Israel in the months before the Israeli offensive. It is doubtful, moreover, whether any Hamas leader will be as shrewd as Hassan Nasrallah after the 2006 Lebanon war, when he admitted that had he known the damage Israel would do, he would not have offered the pretext that triggered its onslaught.

 

Israel began a propaganda campaign several months ago, when it closed Gaza to journalists in what appears to have been an effort to remove witnesses from the scene before the crime took place. Cell phone transmission was interrupted to prevent the circulation of photos and videos. The result, in Israel and the US, has been an astonishingly sanitised war, in which, in a bizarre attempt at ‘balance’, the highly inaccurate rocket attacks against Israel and their three civilian victims since the fighting began on 27 December have received as much attention as the levelling of Gaza and the killing of more than 1000 Palestinians and the wounding of nearly 5000, most of them civilians. But Arabs and Muslims (and indeed most people not living in the US and Israel) have seen a very different war, with vivid images of those trapped in the Gaza Strip, thanks in large part to Arab journalists on the ground.

 

During the large demonstrations that erupted in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan and Yemen, condemnation was directed not only at the usual targets, Israel and the US, but also at the passivity, even complicity, of Arab governments. Stung by the protests and fearing popular unrest, several Arab states sent their foreign ministers to New York, led by Prince Sa’ud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, and forced through a Security Council resolution in the face of American resistance. Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv; Qatar broke off ties with Israel and offered $250 million for the rebuilding of Gaza. At the same time, Egypt made limited concessions, taking some wounded Gazans to hospitals in Egypt, providing medical supplies, and belatedly allowing a few medical personnel into the Strip through the Rafah crossing. Yet the Mubarak regime has otherwise continued to play the role of even-handed mediator.

 

As I write, its proposals for a ceasefire have met with a positive response from both Hamas (which has significantly modulated its criticism of Egypt) and Israel. It is still unclear how Egypt will respond to Israel’s demands that it halt arms smuggling through tunnels into Gaza; when and if the crossings will be fully opened; under what arrangements, and how reconstruction aid will be channelled to the devastated area; and indeed how an Egyptian-brokered arrangement, should it come into force and endure, will be regarded by Egyptian and Arab public opinion.

 

For the moment, the shaky legitimacy of Abbas’s government in Ramallah, and of the authoritarian Arab governments that have cast their lot with Israel and the United States in the regional contest with Iran, appears to have grown shakier still. Should Iran and Syria succeed in rapidly establishing new relationships with Washington under the Obama administration, these governments will be further weakened. Moreover, their inability (or their unwillingness) to do more to resolve the Palestine question, or even to alleviate Palestinian suffering, has been exposed once again. It contrasts starkly with democratic and non-Arab Turkey’s robust support for the Palestinians. Palestine has been a rallying cry for opposition movements in the Arab world since 1948, and in the decade after the first Arab-Israeli war a series of domestic upheavals, revolutions and coups took place in several Arab countries, including Egypt, where veterans of the Palestine war led by Nasser came to power in the 1952 coup against King Farouk. The repressive capacities of a government such as Egypt’s, whose secret police is said to employ more than a million people, should not be underestimated. But several unpopular regimes may face serious consequences at home for having aligned themselves with Israel.

 

Rashid Khalidi is Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia.

 

Yitzhak Laor

 

We’ve been here before. It’s a ritual. Every two or three years, our military mounts another bloody expedition. The enemy is always smaller, weaker; our military is always larger, technologically more sophisticated, prepared for full-scale war against a full-scale army. But Iran is too scary, and even the relatively small Hizbullah gave us a hard time. That leaves the Palestinians.

 

Israel is engaged in a long war of annihilation against Palestinian society. The objective is to destroy the Palestinian nation and drive it back into pre-modern groupings based on the tribe, the clan and the enclave. This is the last phase of the Zionist colonial mission, culminating in inaccessible townships, camps, villages, districts, all of them to be walled or fenced off, and patrolled by a powerful army which, in the absence of a proper military objective, is really an over-equipped police force, with F16s, Apaches, tanks, artillery, commando units and hi-tech surveillance at its disposal.

 

The extent of the cruelty, the lack of shame and the refusal of self-restraint are striking, both in anthropological terms and historically. The worldwide Jewish support for this vandal offensive makes one wonder if this isn’t the moment Zionism is taking over the Jewish people.

 

But the real issue is that since 1991, and even more since the Oslo agreements in 1993, Israel has played on the idea that it really is trading land for peace, while the truth is very different. Israel has not given up the territories, but cantonised and blockaded them. The new strategy is to confine the Palestinians: they do not belong in our space, they are to remain out of sight, packed into their townships and camps, or swelling our prisons. This project now has the support of most of the Israeli press and academics.

 

We are the masters. We work and travel. They can make their living by policing their own people. We drive on the highways. They must live across the hills. The hills are ours. So are the fences. We control the roads, and the checkpoints and the borders. We control their electricity, their water, their milk, their oil, their wheat and their gasoline. If they protest peacefully we fire tear gas at them. If they throw stones, we fire bullets. If they launch a rocket, we destroy a house and its inhabitants. If they launch a missile, we destroy families, neighbourhoods, streets, towns.

 

Israel doesn’t want a Palestinian state alongside it. It is willing to prove this with hundreds of dead and thousands of disabled, in a single ‘operation’. The message is always the same: leave or remain in subjugation, under our military dictatorship. We are a democracy. We have decided democratically that you will live like dogs.

 

On 27 December just before the bombs started falling on Gaza, the Zionist parties, from Meretz to Yisrael Betenu, were unanimously in favour of the attack. As usual ­ it’s the ritual again ­ differences emerged only over the dispatch of blankets and medication to Gaza. Our most fervent pro-war columnist, Ari Shavit, has suggested that Israel should go on with the assault and build a hospital for the victims. The enemy is wounded, bleeding, dying, desperate for help. Nobody is coming unless Obama moves ­ yes, we are all waiting for Godot. Maybe this time he shows up.

 

Yitzhak Laor lives in Tel Aviv. He is the editor of Mita’am.

 

John Mearsheimer

 

The Gaza war is not going to change relations between Israel and the Palestinians in any meaningful way. Instead, the conflict is likely to get worse in the years ahead. Israel will build more settlements and roads in the West Bank and the Palestinians will remain locked up in a handful of impoverished enclaves in Gaza and the West Bank. The two-state solution is probably dead.

 

‘Greater Israel’ will be an apartheid state. Ehud Olmert has sounded a warning note on this score, but he has done nothing to stop the settlements and by starting the Gaza war he doomed what little hope there was for creating a viable Palestinian state.

 

The Palestinians will continue to resist the occupation, and Hamas will still be able to strike Israel with rockets and mortars, whose range and effectiveness are likely to improve. Palestinians will increasingly make the case that Greater Israel should become a democratic binational state in which Palestinians and Jews enjoy equal political rights. They know that they will eventually outnumber the Jews, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This proposal is already gaining ground among Israel’s Palestinian citizens, striking fear into the hearts of many Israelis, who see them as a dangerous fifth column. This fear accounts in part for the recent Israeli decision to ban the major Arab political parties from participating in next month’s parliamentary elections.

 

There is no reason to think that Israel’s Jewish citizens would accept a binational state, and it’s safe to assume that Israel’s supporters in the Diaspora would have no interest in it. Apartheid is not a solution either, because it is repugnant and because the Palestinians will continue to resist, forcing Israel to escalate the repressive policies that have already cost it significant blood and treasure, encouraged political corruption, and badly tarnished its global image.

 

Israel may try to avoid the apartheid problem by expelling or ‘transferring’ the Palestinians. A substantial number of Israeli Jews ­ 400 per cent or more ­ think that the government should ‘encourage” their fellow Palestinian citizens to leave. Indeed, Tzipi Livni recently said that if there is a two-state solution, she expects the Palestinians inside Israel to move to the new Palestinian state.

 

Why would American and European leaders intervene? The Bush administration, after all, backed Israel’s creation of a major humanitarian crisis in Gaza, first with a devastating blockade and then with a brutal war. European leaders reacted to this collective punishment, which violates international law, not to mention basic decency, by upgrading Israel’s relationship with the European Union.

 

Many in the West expect Barack Obama to ride into town and fix the situation. Don’t bet on it. As his campaign showed, Obama is no match for the Israel lobby. His silence during the Gaza war speaks volumes about how tough he is likely to be with the Israelis. His chief Middle East adviser is likely to be Dennis Ross, whose deep attachment to Israel helped squander opportunities for peace during the Clinton administration.

 

In a recent op-ed about the Gaza war, Benny Morris said that ‘it would not be surprising if more powerful explosions were to follow.’ I rarely agree with Morris these days, but I think he has it right in this case. Even bigger trouble is in the offing for Israel ­ and above all ffor the Palestinians.

 

John Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.

 

Yonatan Mendel

 

It’s very frustrating to see Israeli society recruited so calmly and easily to war. Hardly anyone has dared to mention the connection between the decision to go to war and the fact that we are only a few weeks away from an election. Kadima (Tzipi Livni’s party) and Labour (Ehud Barak’s) were doing very badly in the polls. Now that they have killed more than 1000 Palestinians (250 on the first day ­ the highest number in 41 years of occupation) they are both doing very well. Barak was expected to win eight seats in the Knesset; now it is around 15. Netanyahu is the one sweating.

 

I am terribly sad about all this, and frustrated. On the first day of the operation I wrote an article for the Walla News website and within four hours I had received 1600 comments, most calling for my deportation (at best) or immediate execution (at worst). It showed me again how sensitive Israeli society is to any opposition to war. It is shocking how easily this society unites behind yet another military solution, after it has failed so many times. Hizbullah was created in response to Israel’s occupation of Lebanon in 1982. Hamas was created in 1987 in response to two decades of military occupation. What do we think we’ll achieve this time?

 

The state called up more than 10,000 reservists, and even people who had not been called also travelled to military bases and asked to be sent to Gaza. This shows once again how efficient the Israeli propaganda and justification machine is, and how naturally people here believe in myths that have been disproved again and again. If people were saying, ‘We killed 1000 people, but the army is not perfect, and this is war,’ I would say it was a stupid statement. But Israelis are saying: ‘We killed 1000 people, and our army is the most moral army in the world.’ This says a lot about the psychology of the conflict: people are not being told what to think or say; they reach these insights ‘naturally’.

 

Since I was a soldier myself ten years ago, I worry I might be called up as a reservist. If I were to refuse now, when Israel is at war, I would be sent to prison. But still, I tell myself, that would be so much easier than being part of what my country is doing. Apparently, every single Jewish member of the Knesset, except one from the Jewish-Arab list, believes that killing more Palestinians, keeping the Gazan population under siege, destroying their police stations, ministerial offices and headquarters will weaken Hamas, strengthen Israel, demonstrate to the Palestinians that next time they should vote for Fatah, and bring stability to the region. I have no words. Only one Jewish member of the Knesset, out of 107, went to the demonstration that followed the deliberate bombing by the Israelis of an UNRWA school being used to house refugees, resulting in the deaths of 45 civilians. Once again, the Israeli slogan is ‘Let the IDF win’ and once again everybody agrees. People have short memories. By 2008, two years after the Second Lebanon War ended, Hizbullah had more soldiers than before, three times more weapons, and had dramatically improved its political position. It now even has a right of veto in parliament. The same could happen to Hamas, but once again military magic enchants Israeli society.

 

I have a friend whose brother is a pilot in the IDF. I asked to speak to him. I told him what I thought about Israel’s behaviour and he seemed to agree with my general conclusions. He said, however, that a soldier should not ask himself such questions, which should be kept to the political sphere. I can’t agree. But the second thing he told me was more important. He told me that for pilots, a day like the first day of the war, when so many attacks are being made simultaneously, is a day full of excitement, a day you look forward to. If you take these words into account, and bear in mind that in Israel every man is a soldier, either in uniform or in reserve, there is no avoiding the conclusion that there are great pressures for it to act as a military society. Not acting is damaging to the IDF’s status, budget, masculinity, power and happiness, and not only to the IDF’s. This could explain why in Israel the military option is almost never considered second best. It is always the first choice.

 

Ha’aretz too is a source of unhappiness for me, since in wartime the paper is part of this militaristic discourse, shares its values and lack of vision. Ha’aretz did not criticise Israel when its troops deployed to Lebanon in 2006. Nor did it have anything to say when the same soldiers bombed Gaza’s police, schools and people. Even when there was a demonstration against the war, with more than 10,000 people taking part, both Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Ha’aretz website chose to publish a picture of a counter-demonstration, in which a few hundred participated, waving Israeli flags and shouting: ‘Let the IDF win.’

 

I have problems speaking to my closest friends and family these days, because I can no longer bear to hear the security establishment’s propaganda coming from their mouths. I cannot bear to hear people justifying the deaths of more than 200 children killed by Israeli soldiers. There is no justification for that, and it’s wrong to try to find one. Usually I feel part of society in Israel. I feel that I am on one side of the political map and other people are on the opposite side. But over the last few days, I feel that I am not part of this society any more. I do not call friends who support the war, and they do not call me. The same with my family. It is a hard thing for me to write, but this is how it is.

 

Yonatan Mendel was a correspondent for the Israeli news agency Walla. He is currently at Queens’ College, Cambridge working on a PhD that studies the connection between the Arabic language and security in Israel.

 

Gabriel Piterberg

 

Israel’s onslaught on Gaza may well do permanent damage to one of the most effective tools in its propaganda kit: the image of the morally handsome, ‘shooting and crying’ Israeli soldier.

 

Three weeks after the 1967 War, Avraham Shapira and Amos Oz, then a rising young author, were summoned to Labour Party headquarters. They were asked to make the demobilised soldiers from the kibbutzim break the wall of silence and discuss their war experience. Soldiers’ Talk (Siah Lohamim), the collection of interviews they edited, was a national and international success. The book, which forged the image of the handsome, dilemma-ridden, existentially soul-searching Israeli soldier, was a hymn to that frightening oxymoron, ‘purity of arms’ and the ideal of an exalted Jewish morality.

 

It was also a kind of ‘central casting’ from which Oz drew many of his fictional protagonists. Rabin (when he was ambassador to Washington) and Elie Wiesel read extracts in the US ‘in order to present the Israeli soldier’s profile’; and Golda Meir called it ‘a sacred book’: ‘we are fortunate to have been blessed with such sons.’ The latest version of Soldiers’ Talk, in terms of register and success, is Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir.

 

Given the might of Israel’s warriors and the vulnerability of their targets, now that the country no longer engages in wars against other state armies, the image is hard to keep alive. At the same time it no longer matters in the way it once did: for political and military elites in Israel, and the War on Terror constituency in the US, the killing of Arabs and Muslims no longer requires any weeping or soul-searching. It’s just what freedom-loving people do. The war adulation of the recent pro-Israel demonstrations in Los Angeles is chastening but you couldn’t call it hypocritical.

 

Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, the attack on Gaza will be seen as the action of a colonial power that is running out of ideas; not unlike France in the final stage of the Algerian war.

 

Gabriel Piterberg teaches history at UCLA. The Returns of Zionism was published last year. 

 

Eliot Weinberger

 

1. Who remembers the original dream of Israel? A place where the observant could practice their religion in peace and the secular would be invisible as Jews ­ where being Jewish only mattered if you wanted it to matter. That dream was realised, not in Israel, but in New York City.

 

2. The second dream of Israel was of a place where socialist collectives could flourish in a secular nation with democratic freedoms. Who remembers that now?

 

3. ‘Never again’ should international Jews invoke the Holocaust as justification for Israeli acts of barbarism.

 

4. As in India-Pakistan, blaming the Brits is true enough, but useless.

 

5. A few days ago, to illustrate the Gaza invasion, the front page of the New York Times had a large pastoral photograph of handsome Israeli soldiers lounging on a hill above verdant fields. Unquestioning faith in the ‘milk and honey’ Utopia of Israel is the bedrock of American Judaism, and reality does not intrude on faith.

 

6. Any hope for some sort of peace will not come from the US, even without Bush. It must come from within an Israel where the same petrified leaders are elected time and again, where masses of the rational have emigrated to saner shores and have been replaced by Russians and the American cultists who become settlers. It is hard to believe that this will be anytime soon.

 

7. It is hard to believe that two states will ever be possible. So why not a new dream of Israel? A single nation, a single citizenry with equal rights, three languages­ English as a neutral third­ €“ and three religions, separate from the state. Give it a new name– say, Semitia, land of the Semites.

 

Eliot Weinberger’s recent books include What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles.

 

Michael Wood

 

A New York Times reporter describes the ‘lethal tricks’ of Hamas in Gaza. I don’t doubt the existence of the tricks, but the implication is that the far more lethal directness of the Israeli attack is not only justified but morally superior to the enemy’s underhand modes of action. This is an adaptation of an old paradigm, in which Israel gets to play the role of the rational modern state. The straightforward, civilised West meets the endlessly devious, backward Orient, and takes care of things in its up-to-date efficient way. What’s wrong with that? They are always ‘they’; their deaths don’t count as ours do.

 

When does an invasion become a massacre? How many Palestinians have to die just because they are Palestinians before we recognise another old paradigm? Herzl thought the native population of what was to become Israel would have to be ‘spirited’ across the border; now the very deaths of that population are being spirited off into arguments about the right to self-defence. If self-defence includes the bombing of ambulances and feeling no qualms at killing such an astonishing number of children, then we have entered a moral territory from which there may be no return. Unless of course we have merely returned to the imperial 19th century, a world of brutal and unapologetic conquest, where force was the only argument that mattered and our only choice was whether to be hypocritical about it or not.

 

Michael Wood teaches at Princeton. His most recent book is Literature and the Taste of Knowledge.

 www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/sieg01_.html

I lost my gloves one day in a coffee shop in Geneva, and I tell you, it’s difficult to ride without them when it’s really cold. So as I was paying for a new pair with a credit card, the salesman, whom I knew was from Israel, tried to start some small talk by asking me what my family name means. I told him that it relates to the city of Nablus where my family is originally from.

Suddenly, the most bewildered look was plastered on his face. “Where is Nablus?” he asked, “I’ve never heard of it.” Then, after realizing that I knew he was bullshitting me, he pretended to remember, “Ah, Shkheim you mean?”With my insistence not to learn these ugly names that the deranged Zionists have dug up from oblivion to erase our identity, that name certainly didn’t ring a bell. But now it was my turn. Although I knew where he was from, I asked “And you’re… from?” As he smiled while reminding me, I replicated the same look on his face moments ago. “Israel? Where is that?” Then after a brief pause, “Ah, the land of Canaan you mean. Palestine”.

You see if you want to get biblical on me, there is no such thing as Israel either, and I made that clear to this smartass. Here we were all of a sudden; my family descended from a place called Shkheim, and this guy a Palestinian. God does work in mysterious ways, but I still thanked Him for His small mercies that at least my name was not Zaid Shkheimy. “Have a nice day”, I told my Israeli friend. It was in fact a very cold, but still magnificently sunny day to hit the roads. The gloves warmed up my grip on the bike, but my heart was still frozen. I just cannot stand thieves who steal your gloves, or any other kind of thieves.

It was then that it finally occurred to me. Zionism is a sickness, for it takes much more than just a twisted ideology to make people think like that. It requires a profound leap of immorality of a higher order to instill this mentality in your followers. Zionism is not merely a political movement, but in its essence represents a deeply disturbed view of the world, which is a reflection of a terrible disease of the mind.

Indeed, to deny the existence of a vibrant community such as the Palestinian society in the early twentieth century and describe Palestine as “a land without a people for a people without a land” is a disease of the mind.

To assert property claims over real estate after the lapse of more than 2000 years with the same certainty of title as if one resided there yesterday is a disease of the mind.

To describe the colonial immigration to Palestine of a European people with no proven historical link to the ancient Israelites – and whose great, great recorded ancestors have never set foot there – as some kind of a “return” to that land is indicative of a perverted misunderstanding and misapplication of the verb to “return” and can only be a result of a disease of the mind.

To blame the Palestinians for being unreasonable in rejecting a partition plan in 1947 which gave the Jews, who only owned 7 percent of the land, an astonishing half of Palestine, is a disease of the mind.

To demand of the Arabs at the time to peacefully succumb to such partition, where 86 percent of the land designated for the proposed Jewish state was Palestinian-inhabited and owned land, is a disease of the mind.

To eventually grab 78 percent of Palestine through war and to force the flight of the population through deliberate massacres and then call it a war of independence is a disease of the mind.

To deny the orchestrated massacres and eradications of hundreds of Palestinian villages in 1948 and then denounce the Israeli historians who later exposed this truth as self-hating Jews is a disease of the mind.

To claim that having escaped the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Dachau is a justification for the murder, expulsion, and occupation of another guiltless people is a disease of the mind.

To legislate that any resident of Poland, Hungary, New York, Brazil, Australia, Iceland, or even Planet Mars, who happens to be blessed with a Jewish mother (yet cannot point to Palestine on the map) has a superior right to “return” and settle in Palestine to someone who has been expelled from his very own land, confined to a squalid refugee camp, and still holds the keys to his house, is a disease of the mind.

To blame God for the theft and occupation of someone else’s land by claiming that it was He who had pledged this land exclusively to the Jews, and to seriously promote the myth of a land promised by the Almighty to His favorite children as an excuse for this crime, is a disease of the mind.

To milk the pockets of the world for the atrocities of the Nazis, while stubbornly refusing a simple admission of guilt, let alone compensation or repatriation, for the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people is a disease of the mind.

To keep reminding and blackmailing the world of the plight of the Jews under Hitler 70 years ago, while at the same time inflicting on the Palestinians today the same fate of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, is a disease of the mind.

To impose a collective guilt overshadowing Western civilization for the Holocaust and then to criminalize all legitimate historical debate of the nature and extent of that horrific event is a disease of the mind.

To virtually incarcerate the Palestinian people inside degrading cages, destroying their livelihoods, confiscating their lands, stealing their water and uprooting their trees, and then to condemn their legitimate resistance as terrorism is a disease of the mind.

To believe you have the right to chase the Palestinians into an Arab capital city in 1982 and to indiscriminately bombard its civilians for a relentless three months, murdering thousands of innocent people is a disease of the mind.

To encircle the civilian camps of Sabra and Chatila after evacuating the fighters and to unleash on them trained dogs (while providing them with night-illuminating flares for efficiency) and then deny culpability for the carnage is a disease of the mind.

To publicly declare a policy of breaking the bones of Palestinian stone-throwers to prevent them from lifting stones again and to enact this policy is a disease of the mind.

To have the sadistic streak of exacting vengeance on the innocent families of suicide bombers by punishing them with the dynamiting of their home is a disease of the mind.

To describe the offer of giving the Palestinians 80 percent of 22 percent of 100 percent of what is originally their own land as a “generous” offer is a disease of the mind.

To believe that you have the right to continue to humiliate the Palestinians at gun point by making them queue for hours to move between their villages, forcing mothers to give birth at check-points is a disease of the mind.

To flatten the camp of Jenin on its inhabitants and deny any wrongdoing is a delusional condition which is symptomatic of a serious disease of the mind.

To build a huge separation wall under the pretext of security, which disconnects farmers from their farms and children from their schools, while stealing even more territory as the wall freely zigzags and encroaches on Palestinian land is a disease of the mind.

To leave behind, in the last 10 days of a losing war in Lebanon, more than one million cluster bombs which have no purpose except to murder and maim unsuspecting civilians is a product of an evil disease of the mind.

To believe that the entire world is out to get you and to denounce any critic of the racist policies of the State of Israel as an anti-Semite, the latest victim being none other than peace-making Jimmy Carter, is an acute stage of mass paranoia, which is a disease of the mind.

To possess, in the midst of a non-nuclear Arab world, more than 200 nuclear warheads capable of incinerating the whole planet in addition to having the most advanced arsenal of weaponry in the world while continuing to play the role of a victim is a disease of the mind.

Yes, and for that salesman in peaceful Geneva to be so insecure as to refuse to acknowledge the name of the largest West Bank city under his country’s brutal military occupation is, sadly, nothing but an infectious disease of the mind.

That’s all what it is, ladies and gentlemen: Zionism is an incurable disease of the mind.

Take care, and if you ride, do it safely.

Zaid Nabulsi is a lawyer. He spent many years working for the United Nations in Geneva. He has a passion for (glorious) Harley Davidson bikes.

WRITTEN BY Noah Cohen

As news came out recently that the United States would be sending a new shipment of bombs to “Israel” from the Greek port of Astakos at some point between the middle and end of January, Palestinians sent out an urgent call to organizers in Greece to stop the shipment. Within a day, several organizations and individuals in Greece responded to the call. Perhaps most significant in the current context was that of the Greek Anti-authoritarian Movement, centrally involved in weeks of rebellion against the repressive forces of their own government:

“The Anti-authoritarian Movement calls for a Pan-hellenic gathering on Thursday, Jan. 15th at Astakos at 1:00 p.m. to block the departure of boats with American weapons which are destined for Israel.
DON’T LET THE CARGO OF AMERICAN WEAPONS LEAVE THE PORT
SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
RESISTANCE TO GLOBALIZED STATE TERRORISM…”
As pressure began from below, even members of the parliamentary left began to raise questions. On January 12th, the “US” announced that it had canceled the shipment of arms through Astakos because of “concerns” expressed by the Greek government.

The prefect of Aitoloakarnania (where the port lies) announced that they would be sending instead a ship with material aid to Palestinians and expressed the sentiments of the local people:

“The people of Aitoloakarnania do not accept that Greek ports, and especially this port of Platygiali, constitute places for the transfer of weapons and ammunition which are used in belligerent circumstances and in the slaughter of the peoples of our region. … we are sending medicines and medical material to the beseiged people of Gaza instead of weapons [to Israel]…”

Resistance to Globalized State Terrorism

“Resistance to globalized state terrorism” is a call that relates the rebellion of youth and anti-authoritarians in Greece over the last several weeks to the slaughter of people in Gaza. Their opposition moves beyond the usual limits of “solidarity:” stopping a “US” arms shipment to “Israel” becomes a part of their own struggle.

State terrorism is globalized. The “US,” Greece and “Israel” collaborate not just against Palestinians, but against Greeks. It was the “US” that set up Greece’s repressive police structures: the MAT (Monades Apokatastasis Taxis)–“riot” police–are a special branch of political police that have their origins in “US” police training programs. Through the “Public Safety Program” in the 1960s and 1970s, the “US” supplied Greece with weapons and trained police in methods of repression–including torture–as part of the global “war against communism.” Just before Christmas, it was revealed that “Israel” was supplying Greece with a new harsher form of tear-gas to use against demonstrators. Protestors have described it as “asphyxiating.”

People in rebellion find their solidarity in a struggle against injustice which they know directly. It is solidarity in resistance. One can see this reading the statement of high-school students from the Coordinated Struggle of High-Schools in Athens, who chose to re-organize their national mobilization on education rights in Greece on January 9 into a mobilization for solidarity with Gaza:

“…Everyone must take a position:

–either with the victim or the executioner
–either with the Palestinians or with their murderers
–either with the peoples who fight or with the imperialists

…We are on the side of our student comrades in Palestine who have been murdered over these last days by Israeli fire.
Victory to the Palestinian people!”
Fighting zionism

The ties are concrete that link the police murder of Alexis Grigoropulos in Greece, the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, and the genocidal zionist assault on Gaza. The central role of the “US” and “Israel” in developing a global system of police repression has everything to do with their common history as colonial settler-states. As Aime Cesaire, Franz Fanon and others have written, it’s in the colonies that the methods, apparatus, and ideology of fascism developed. Concentration camps, special laws that expropriate whole populations based on “race,” and the systematic annihilation of peoples: Europe did this to Africa, the Arab world, and the Americas before turning to the interior. It’s in the settler colonies that whole new classes emerge whose livelihood depends on repression: the various military and paramilitary formations of the settler garrison become the police, mercenaries and prison guards of the totalitarian state. Germany, Italy and Spain recruited their own repressive forces from the colonies. The Algerian settlers became the most fascistic bloc of political power within France and threatened to seize control of the country and impose a military dictatorship as France began to back away from its colony.

Wherever the “pioneering frontier” is most active so also is the development of genocidal repressive power. The “US” contracts zionist mercenaries and companies to develop its own domestic security state. Elbit Systems–the “Israeli” company that designed and built the wall that is intended to starve communities in Palestine–was contracted to develop the “US” border wall with Mexico and flight security systems in airlines. Instinctive Shooting International–now renamed Security Systems International–provided “Israeli” mercenaries for “security” in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, and now regularly organizes trainings in “Israel” for “US” police and Homeland Security. Repression is now “Israel’s” most important global industry–all it really has to export.

The failure to confront zionism as ideology and as material power is a failure to confront a bloc of repressive, white-supremacist power within our own society. This has been a major weak point of social justice, anti-racist and anti-war organizing. To take the most obvious example, the strength of zionism within labor unions has been a major force for turning them into pro-imperialist institutions.

Solidarity

The Greeks have understood that solidarity means recognizing the concrete points of intersection where the fight becomes serious.

The US is dead center of the system of genocide and global repression. The physical apparatus is here in every major city and across the country in small towns: munitions factories, military bases, recruiting centers. Virtually every major university has its research institutions to develop instruments of mass murder, and its theoretical institutes to develop strategies of repressive power.

But this extensiveness is also its weakness. The main strategy of security is depoliticization: there is simply no way to defend so many nodes of violence from a movement that is serious about intefering with them.

The Greeks have given a small example of what such a movement might look like. Let’s stop the flow of weapons at the source.