My friends at the Italian-Palestinian youth group “Wael Zuaiter” shared this incredible new creative initiative that was partly organised by the Italian NGO “Vento di Terra” (http://www.ventoditerra.org/). It’s the first Web TV program from the refugee camp of Qalandia and these kids ready to share pieces of their daily experiences with us. Armed with one camera (and they need more, so anyone who can help, please do!) we’ll get a child’s view of things, which is just as important a view as an adult’s if not more important! It just went on line two days ago, a few bugs need to be worked out before it is up and running to full capacity but it looks promising!
Archive for March, 2009
Tags: Kalandia Children, Palestine, Qalandia refugee camp, ventoditerra, Video, Wael Zuaiter
Tags: anti-Semitism, Christian, Israel, Jewish, Muslim, Palestine, US foreign policy, Zionism
Nobody, even the hawks and tyrants themselves, would deny the fact that the majority of the world’s decisions are made by a group of certain leaders who lead certain countries of some certain regions! Our world’s population approaches 7 billion as of 2008, with people living in 203 sovereign states and countries, and there are just something around 30 people who decide the destiny and prospect of this “flock” of 7 billion, and this is exactly what we expect of the 21st century’s democracy; a revolutionized form of a then-sublime concept that the conscious human would enthusiastically long for.
Perhaps the extraordinary and outlandish ethnic cleansing and systematic massacre of civilians, committed habitually by the state of Israel, is something instinctive to the very existence of the 60-year old “country”, and as said by Gilad Atzmon in an interview which I had once conducted with him, you can not expect benevolent, human and lawful treatment of downtrodden people by the Jewish state.
However, what makes me astonishingly baffled and bemused is the approach of European and North American states to the long-standing punishment of Palestinian people by Israel. Once you dare appear and criticize Israel for its illegal actions, a bunch of mainstream personalities set off to mobilize and accuse you of the famous ‘anti-Semitism’, ‘anti-Judaism’ and such libels.
Interestingly, those who expound these accusations are either really uneducated and unaware about the historical facts or pretend to be ignorant and uninformed. Etymologically, Semitism refers to the adherence of Semitic languages or ancient Semitic religions. In the former case, Semitic languages are a group of intertwined languages which comprise Arabic, Aramaic, Tigrinya and Hebrew. Arabic is the most widely spoken among the Semitic languages. So anti-Semitism, in its etymological foundation, should more than likely signify the notion of being opposed to Arabic and Aramaic languages, and this is basically unwarranted and meaningless.
If one considers the latter case, Semitic religions are Christianity, Islam and Judaism; Christianity and Islam rank first in the world by number of adherents, namely 2.1 billion and 1.5 billion respectively. The total number of world Jews, however, does not surpass 14 million, which is comparatively insignificant in comparison with the two other faiths. So anti-Semitism, again does not represent the school of being opposed to Judaism, as a monotheistic religion.
Those who consciously employ this term to demoralize the critics of Israel know well that they can potentially embroil Arabs, Muslims (as all of the Arabs are not necessarily Muslims), African speakers of Semitic languages, Christians and Jews in an erosive conflict with one another.
They want to portray Israel as the symbol of Judaism and intimidate the dissidents of Israel thereby, so that they retract and pull back from criticizing the genocidal policies of Tel Aviv and its allies.
Issues are really complicated in this field; because you cannot argue with and convince the ordinary people to believe that a “country” cannot be the representative of a religion, as Saudi Arabia can not be the representative of Islam. Religion is the intuitive incorporation of moral, ethical, human and decent values in the hearts and minds of people, and no governmental system can claim that it symbolizes the absolute, supreme incarnation of the official religion which it clings to. Maybe, for example, Iran’s name is officially mingled with the name of Islam, and the governmental system is theocratic, even so, that would be irrational to judge on Islam and its reality based on the situation of Iran. Perhaps Iran might be impoverished someday due to the financial meltdown, so would it be then practicable to conclude that Islam is the religion of poverty and shortage?
In the same way, you cannot evaluate religion by considering the majority. The majority of American people (around 75% of the population as of 2002) are Christians, while the governmental system is secular; nonetheless, you cannot assess the authenticity and veracity of Christianity on the grounds of American people’s lifestyle, behavior, contemplation and manner. Even the practicing Christians of the U.S. are quite far away from the fundamental pillars of their religion.
Similarly, Israel is not the manifestation of Judaism. Judaism denounces terrorism, killing of the innocent, occupation and trespassing. Israel introduces itself as a Jewish State, while it’s not really what it maintains; it does not practice what it preaches, and unfortunately is wrongly blending the expansionist, interventionist and reactionary notion of Zionism with Judaism as a religion.
However, these lexical, etymological and methodological differences aside, what is worth the most is that resistance against bulling and oppression is a cultural heritage that Palestinians have used to nurture during times. I believe that the bastion of resistance against aggression which the Palestinian people have long formed, examines the moral and ethical genuineness of our personalities, thinkers, rhetoricians and theoreticians.
I don’t want to give an ultimate declaration; yet I believe that the unconditional support of Israel which is extensively prevalent among the hawkish conservatives and warmonger hardliners with the pretext of defending “Israel’s right to exist” or recognizing its right to “self-defense” merely indicates an advertent blind eye to one of the most striking realities of our era.
Thousands of people are ousted from their lands, being slaughtered usually as an entertaining activity for its perpetrators and live under the harshest threats one can undergo.
We don’t request anything. We just want the ‘international community’, if that’s not a linguistic equivalent for the U.S. and its European friends, to act, and fulfill the content of 22 UNSC resolutions which have been issued so far, to condemn the unusual actions of Israel. Israel is called the “occupying power” by the UNSC, and we want somebody to end this occupation.
I want, as a citizen of the world, to breathe in clean, pure and unsullied air. I want to wake up one morning and hear from the radio that occupation of Palestinians’ lands, massacre of Palestinian people and violation of Palestinians’ rights is eventually ended. May I experience that day?
Tags: Palestine, Palestine map, Strange Maps, West Bank
Thanks to Miguel for forwarding this incredible map. (Strange Maps) The Bible contains at least two stories equating the aquatic with the amoral. As Red Sea pedestrians, Moses and the Israelites didn’t even get their sandals moist, while the Lord did some expert smiting on the pursuing Egyptians, by way of the gurgling waters closing in on them. And a few thousand years earlier, Noah kept his binary boatload afloat while all the rest of humanity (and the now extinct species of the animal kingdom) met their watery grave.
Even though this map of L’archipel de Palestine orientale (‘The Archipelago of Eastern Palestine’) is set in the same area and uses a similar theme, the cartographer behind it refutes any allegation that it is meant to reflect the same Biblical dry = good, wet = bad analogy. “The map is not about ‘drowning’ or ‘flooding’ the Israeli population, nor dividing territories along ethnic lines, even less a suggestion of how to resolve the conflict,” gasps Julien Bousac, the Frenchman who created this map.
A small excerpt of the map (focusing on the Greater Jerusalem area) was published a bit earlier on this blog, but the map in its entirety (sent in by Mr Bousac but also earlier by Baptiste Hautdidier) merits a separate entry, not only because “without a legend, it […] gives ground to various misinterpretations, due to the high sensitivity of the subject,” as Mr Boussac relates – but also because it just looks so nice. And strange, of course.
“Maybe posting the full map would help to take it for what it is, i.e. an illustration of the West Bank’s ongoing fragmentation based on the (originally temporary) A/B/C zoning which came out of the Oslo process, still valid until now. To make things clear, areas ‘under water’ strictly reflect C zones, plus the East Jerusalem area, i.e. areas that have officially remained under full Israeli control and occupation following the Agreements. These include all Israeli settlements and outposts as well as Palestinian populated areas.”
Mr Boussac took advantage of the resulting archipelago effect “to use typical tourist maps codes (mainly icons) to sharpen the contrast between the fantasies raised by seemingly paradise-like islands and the Palestinian Territories grim reality.” The map does have a strong vacationy vibe to it – but whether that is because of the archipelago-shaped subject matter, or due to the cheerful colour scheme is a matter for debate.
Those colours, incidentally, denote urban areas (orange), nature reserves (shaded), zones of partial autonomy (dark green) and of total autonomy (light green). Totally fanciful are of course the dotted lines symbolising shipping links, the palm trees signifying protected beachland, and the purple symbols representing various aspects of seaside pleasure. The blue icon, labelled Zone sous surveillance (‘Zone under surveillance’) has some bearing on reality, as the locations of the warships match those of permanent Israeli checkpoints.
Some of the paradisiacally named islands include Ile au Miel (Honey Island), Ile aux Oliviers (Isle of the Olive Trees), Ile Sainte (Holy Island) and Ile aux Moutons (Sheep Island), although the naming of Ile sous le Mur (Island beneath the Wall) constitutes a relapse into the grimness of the area’s reality.
Tags: Holocaust, IDF, Israel, Jewish, Jewish Identity Politics, Jihad, Judaism, Palestine, Resistance, Zionism
Palestine– a piece of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. For many years Palestine was the home of the Palestinian people: Muslims, Christians and Jews who lived in peace and harmony for hundred of years. In the late 19th century, in the light of emerging European nationalism, a few Jews had decided that Jews should not be left out. They then invented the notions of: ”Jewish people”, ”Jewish history” and ”Jewish nationalism”. They decided to settle the majority of world Jewry in Palestine. Throughout the years the Jewish national project, i.e., Zionism, had become more and more sinister and ruthless. In 1949 70% of the indigenous Palestinian population had already been ethnically cleansed. Nowadays the majority of Palestinians are living behind barbed wire in a state of terror guarded by Israeli soldiers.
Jews– the people who happen to identify themselves as Jews. Jews are not a race, they do not follow a single belief system either. I made myself a rule. I categorically refrain from dealing with ”the Jews” as a collective or an ethnic group. Instead I restrict myself to criticism of Jewish politics, Jewish ideology and Jewish identity.
Judaism– one of the many religions practiced by the Jewish people (Jews for Jesus, Jews For Buddha, Jews For Allah and so on). Though Judaism contains some non-ethical aspects and teachings, the one and only peace-seeking collective amongst the Jewish people is actually a religious orthodox sect, namely Torah Jews. This fact is enough to make me very careful when criticising Judaism as a religion. When dealing with Judaism, I would restrict myself to criticism of interpretations of Talmudic racism and the biblically orientated Zionist genocidal plunder of Palestine.
Jewishness– Jewish ideology, the interpretations of the meaning of being a Jew by those who regard themselves as Jews. Jewishness is the core of Jewish identity, it is a dynamic notion. It is hard to pin down. While refraining from criticising Jews (the people) and Judaism (the religion), elaborating on Jewishness is a must, especially considering the crimes committed by the Jewish state in the name of Jewish people. As long as the Jewish state is shelling civilians with white phosphorous, it is our ethical duty to question: Who are the Jews? What does Judaism stand for? What is Jewishness all about?
Palestine vs Israel– Palestine is a country, Israel is a state.
Palestinians– currently the longest lasting sufferers of racist colonial abuse and state terrorism. Palestinians are the only true indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. 4,300,000 Palestinian refugees are scattered in the Middle East. There are Palestinians who managed to hold onto their land yet are denied equal civil rights, others live under military occupation. The Palestinian cause is largely the ethically grounded demand of the Palestinian people to return to their own land. The land that belongs to them and to them alone. The Palestinian cause is the demand to dismantle the Jewish state and to form a State of its Citizens instead.
Zionism– the national colonial practical interpretation of Jewish ideology. It asserts that Jews are entitled to a national home in Zion (Palestine) at the expense of the Palestinian people. Zionism is a colonial racist philosophy that practices genocidal tactics. It is a biblically orientated precept. Although Zionism portrayed itself initially as a secular movement, from the very beginning it transformed the Bible from a religious text into a land registry.
Israel– the Jewish state is a racist political concept. It is a place where Jewish supremacy is celebrated in an institutional manner. Israel is a place where 94% of the population supports dropping white phosphorus on innocent civilians. Israel is the place where Jews can pour their vengeance on the Goyim.
Palestinian resistance– the exercise of the ethical right to resist an invader, an ethnic cleanser and a racist.
Demographic bomb– Israel possesses many bombs, cluster bombs, petrol bombs, atomic bombs, WMD bombs, etc. The Palestinians have only one bomb, the demographic bomb. The Palestinians are the majority of the people between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. This fact itself defines the temporal quality of the Idea of Jewish state in Palestine.
Zionism vs Jewishness– it is difficult or maybe even impossible to determine where Zionism stops and Jewishness begins. Zionism and Jewishness establish a continuum. As it seems, Zionism has become the symbolic identifier of the contemporary Jew. Every Jew is identified by himself and others in reference to the Zionist compass (Zionist, anti-Zionist, oblivious to Zionism, love Zionism but hate Israel, love Israel but hate falafel and so on).
Secular Judaism and Jewish Secular Fundamentalism– secularity has been a very popular precept amongst Jews in the last two centuries. The Jewish form of secularity is very similar to rabbinical Judaism. It is fundamentally monotheistic, it believes in one truth (God is dead until further notice). It is supremacist, it is extremely intolerant of others in general and Muslims in particular, it even promotes wars in the name of enlightenment, liberalism, democracy and even in the name of the victims to come.
Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder– the kind of mental state that leads 94% of the Israeli population to support air raids against civilians. Within the condition of the Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre-TSD), the stress is the outcome of a phantasmic event, an imaginary episode set in the future; an event that has never taken place. Within Pre-TSD, an illusion pre-empts reality and the condition in which the fantasy of terror is itself becoming grave reality. If it is taken to extremes, even an agenda of total war against the rest of the world is not an unthinkable reaction. Unlike the case of paranoia, wherein the sufferer is subject to his own symptoms, in the case of Pre-TSD the sufferer actually celebrates his symptoms while others are left with the role of the audience or even victim. The sufferers of Pre-TSD within the press and media lobby for global conflict. Once they are in power they just spread death around. They manage to see a threat in almost anything. The Pre-TSD sufferer would call to flatten Iran, he would defend the IDF military campaign in Gaza for his own existential fears. The Pre-TSD sufferer is rather predictable and for one reason or other always to be found in the non-ethical cause.
Jihad– the struggle to improve one’s self and society. Jihad is the attempt to reach a harmony between the self and the world. It is there to bridge the gap between self loving, loving self and the love towards others. Jihad is the answer to chosenness.
Holocaust– an overwhelmingly devastating chapter in recent Jewish past. It would be difficult to imagine the formation of the Jewish state without the effect of the holocaust. Yet, it is impossible to deny the fact that Palestinians ended up paying the ultimate price for crimes that were committed against the Jews by other people (Europeans). Hence, it would make sense to argue that if Europeans feel guilty about the Holocaust, they better take extra care of its last victims, i.e., the Palestinians.
It must be mentioned that due to some legislation that restricts the scrutiny of the holocaust in an open academic manner, the holocaust is no longer treated as an historical chapter. Instead it is regarded by many scholars as a religious narrative (namely, Holocaust Religion). Those who do not obey the religion or follow its restrictions are chased, excluded and jailed. The failure to maintain the holocaust as a vivid historic chapter turned Jewish history into a Pandora’s box sealed by prohibitions, legal restrictions and different forms of threats. In an ideal ”free world”, we would be able to look into the holocaust, to regard it as an historical chapter and to draw some lessons out of it. That would mean also questioning its meaning. In an ideal (free) world, we may as well be allowed to wonder how come, time after time, Jews ended up despised and detested by their neighbours. In an ideal (free) world Jews may have a chance to learn from their mistakes in the past. For the time being, as long as we want to keep free, we better avoid questioning the past.
The Meaning of the Holocaust– the Holocaust provides the Jews and others with two obvious lessons. One is universal and almost simplistic, it says: ”NO to racism”. As some Jewish intellectuals predicted after the war, Jews were supposed to lead the fight against racism. Seemingly, it didn’t happen. Not only did it fail to happen, but the Jewish state had become the ultimate form of racist practice. Three years after the liberation of Auschwitz the newly formed Jewish state brutally ethnically cleansed the vast majority of indigenous Palestinians. As time goes by, the Jewish state doesn’t try to disguise its racist agenda, i.e., Jews only state.
The second lesson that can be drawn out of the holocaust is far less abstract, it is actually very pragmatic. It suggests to Jews ”to be aware of their deed”. It suggests to Jews ”to act ethically, or at least to pretend to do so”. Seemingly, this lesson is totally ignored. In the Jewish state young IDF soldiers wear T-shirts depicting pregnant Palestinian women caught in the crosshairs of a rifle, with the disturbing caption “1 shot 2 kills”. In the Jewish state, civilians had been caught picnicking watching their army dropping unconventional weapons on their Palestinian neighbours. The Israeli reality and the forceful Jewish lobbying around the world portray a complete dismissal of any ethical judgment or moral conduct. Whether it is the genocidal practice against the Palestinian people or the lobbying for more and more global conflicts. If the meaning of the holocaust would have been internalised, different appearances of such inhuman behaviour would have been addressed and tackled.
However, within the prohibition to re-visit our history we may still be entitled to reflect over Nazi brutality towards Jews in the light of the Jewish state’s crimes in Palestine. Seemingly, there is no legislation that prohibits us from doing that as yet.
Hamas– political party that was elected in 2006 by the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. Since then Israel has withheld payments owed to Gaza, causing the Palestinian economy to collapse. It has blockaded Gaza for months, starving the civilian population. And yet, Hamas proved once again that the Palestinian people are resilient. In spite of Israel’s genocidal tactics, in spite of the IDF targeting children, women and the elderly, Hamas’ popularity increases by the day and more so especially after the last Gaza conflict. It has now become clear that Israel does not possess the means of combating Islamic resistance. In other words. Israel’s days are numbered.
Gatekeepers– for many years the Palestinian solidarity discourse had been shattered by those who claimed to know what is right and what is wrong. They also claimed to know what should be discussed and what subject must be dropped. Initially, gatekeepers tried to recruit the Palestinian movement to fight antisemitism. Another bizarre agenda was to use the Palestinian people as another Guinea pig in a dogmatic socialist exercise.
Due to the growing success of Palestinian and Islamic resistance, the power of Gatekeepers is now reduced to none. Though gatekeeping operators still insist upon exercising their powers, their influence is totally restricted to primarily Jewish cells.
Antisemites– in the old days, antisemites were those who didn’t like Jews, nowadays, antisemites are those the Jews don’t like. Considering the growing chasm between the Jewish state and its lobbies and the rest of humanity, we have good reason to believe that before not too long, the entirety of humanity will be denounced as antisemitic by one Jewish lobby or another.
Antisemitism– a misleading signifier. Though it refers largely to anti-Jewish feelings, it gives the impression that these feelings are racially motivated or orientated. It must be clear that Jews are not a race and do not establish a racial continuum. Thus, no one hates the Jews for their race or their racial identity.
Bearing in mind Israeli crimes and Jewish lobbying around the world, anti-Jewish feeling should be realised as a political, ideological and ethical reaction. It is a response to a criminal state and its institutional support amongst world Jewry. Though resentment to Zionism, Israel and Jewish lobbying is rather rational, the failure to distinguish between the ”Jew”, and Zionism is indeed very problematic and dangerous especially considering the fact that many Jews have nothing to do with the Zionist crime. However, due to the extensive Jewish institutional support of Israel, it is far from easy to determine where the ”Jew” ends and the Zionist starts. In fact, there is no such demarcation line or spot of transition. The outcome is clear, Jews are implicated collectively by the crimes of their national project. One obvious solution for the Jew is to oppose Zionism as an individual, another option is to oppose Zionism in the name of the Torah, it is also possible for the Jew to shun the tribal ideologist in himself.
Self loving– the belief that something about oneself is categorically and fundamentally right, moral and unique. This is the secular interpretation of being chosen.
Self Hatred– the belief that something about oneself is categorically and fundamentally wrong, immoral and ordinary. This state of being may also be a point of departure of a spiritual ethical quest.
Chicken Soup– is what is left once you strip Jewish identity of Judaism, racism, chauvinism, White Phosphorous, supremacy, cluster bombs, secularity, Zionism, Israel, intolerance, Nuclear reactor in Dimona, cosmopolitanism, genocidal tendency, etc. The Jew can always revert to chicken soup, the iconic symbolic identifier of Jewish cultural affiliation. The Jew is always more than welcome to say: ”I am not religious nor am I a Zionist, I am not a banker, nor is my name Madoff. I am not a ”Labour friend of Israel” nor I am a Lord or look like a cash machine. I am just a little innocent Jew because my mama’le used to feed me with chicken soup when I was slightly unwell.” Let’s face it once and for all, chicken soup is not that dangerous (unless you are a chicken). My grandmother taught me that it was very healthy. In fact I tried it once in winter 1978, I had the flu then. It helped, I feel better now.
Tags: Hasbara, Israel, Jenin, Khalid Amayreh, Palestine, Palestinian musicians, Zionism
By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem
29 March, 2009
It is really hard to write on this subject without getting angry. We all know the extent to which Israel can be evil and satanic. After all, we Palestinians have been on the receiving end of Israeli savagery for decades.
In fact, being thoroughly tormented and killed by the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the holocaust has always been and continues to be “the” Palestinians’ way of life.
However, for some Palestinians to allow themselves to be duped to sing and play music to their oppressors and child-killers is simply beyond the pale of human dignity.
It is at least as insulting and humiliating as some Jews were forced or duped to play music to SS, Gestapo and Wehrmacht soldiers during the Second World War. In both cases, the act was meant to humiliate the victims and rob them of the last visages of human dignity.
And now, Jews in Israel are doing the same thing to Palestinians, Nazism’s vicarious victims.
Last week, a few innocent kids from the Jenin refugee camp were surreptiously taken to Tel Aviv to “cheer up and take part in peace-promoting activities.”
However, once there the kids were unceremoniously driven to a reception where they were made to play music and sing to “holocaust survivors,” some of them are former members of the Hagana and Irgun terrorist gangs who had taken part in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and expulsion of Palestinians form their homeland.
God knows how much Palestinian blood did these so-called “holocaust survivors” shed in 1948 and subsequent years. Certainly, Deir Yasin, Tantura, Dawaymeh, and the numerous other massacres were not committed by UFOs. They were committed in cold blood by these very people our children are now cheering up.
Shame on us a thousand times!
Some of the kids were instructed to utter words that should never be uttered by the victims of Zionism. One of the participants reportedly dedicated a special song to Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian fighters in Gaza nearly three years ago. No mention, not even an allusion, was made of the estimated 10,000 Palestinian political and resistance prisoners languishing in Israeli dungeons and concentration camps.
But the kids apparently felt they had to say anything they were asked to say in order to show gratitude for the Jewish “peace contractor” who got them out of the ghetto, otherwise known as Jenin refugee camp, even for a six-our outing in Tel Aviv.
I am not against showing genuine sympathy with the victims of the holocaust. However, a sympathy that is manipulated to justify, rationalize or even extenuate the crime against humanity that is Israel is worse than a crime if only because it serves to promote and perpetuate oppression.
As human beings, we Palestinians do sympathize with all victims of Nazism, Stalinism and imperialism, the wept, the over-wept, and especially the unwept who constitute the vast majority of victims.
Having said that, however, I strongly believe that no honest person under the sun has the slightest right to demand that we pay the price for what the Nazis did or may have done to European Jews nearly 70 years ago.
We didn’t send Jews to the ovens. The Germans did. We didn’t starve Jews to death as Jews are doing to us today in the Gaza Strip.
We didn’t incinerate Jews in Gas chambers as Jews have recently incinerated Palestinian children with White Phosphorus.
Hence, of all people in this world, Palestinians must never be made to feel guilty for what the Nazis and other Europeans did to Jews. I say so because a feeling of guilt, even a modicum of guilt, on our part, would be construed or misconstrued as a vindication of Zionism, the Nazism of our time.
There are additional reasons that make the latest insensitive manipulation of Palestinian suffering especially ugly and dishonorable.
First, nearly all the young musicians who were taken to Tel Aviv came from the Jenin Refugee camp. For those who have forgotten, this is the very same refugee camp that Israeli tanks pulverized in 2002. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli tanks and bulldozers destroyed homes right on top of innocent civilians, including the physically handicapped, while dozens of innocent civilians were systematically massacred, very much like Jews were at Ghetto Warsaw. The massacre at the camp was so hideous that Israel refused to allow UN officials to access the camp to inspect what happened.
Well, again the Nazi analogy is inescapable. Just imagine surviving Jewish children from Treblinka or Bergen Belsen made to sing to SS soldiers!!
Second, the disgraceful concert in Tel Aviv comes on the heel of Israel’s genocidal assault in Gaza where Israeli warplanes showered the children, women and men of coastal enclave with White Phosphorus and other missiles and bombs of death while Israeli Jews were gleefully celebrating the “victory on Hamas” and Israeli rabbis preoccupied with classifying gentiles into “children of light” and “children of darkness.”
In Gaza, the Zionist Jews exposed their shame to all the people of the world by acting like primitive barbarians and murderous savages.
Hence, the utter shamefulness of sending Palestinian children to Tel Aviv to help Israel’s hasbara efforts whitewash Israel’s pornographic barbarianism in Gaza.
Finally, it is obvious that the PA bears much of the blame for this disgraceful event. The PA should never allow so called “cultural exchanges” and “cultural normalization” with the murderers of our children, the very state whose leaders and military commanders view us as “scum, vermin and animals” that ought to be exterminated.
Unfortunately, the PA itself encourages some demoralized Palestinians to endear themselves to Israel, even in the cheapest of manners.
The often cordial meetings and exchanging of kisses between Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert, the butcher of Gaza, leave one and only impression, not only on the children of the refugee camp in Jenin, but also on TV viewers around the world.
Perhaps the Israel artillery and war planes were showering Gaza with candy, not White Phosphorus!!!
This is probably the main message the organizers of the Jenin-Tel Aviv tour wanted to communicate to these miserable kids who are obviously having a hard time recognizing their fathers’ killers.
Reham Alhelsi – They can't take that away from me: "settlers" stealing Palestinian land from under our feetPosted: 03/28/2009 by editormary in Culture and Heritage, Features, Newswire, Palestine, Resistance, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, Uprooted Palestinians\' Testimonies, Zionism
Tags: Arab Homeland, Israel, Jerusalem, Land Grab, Palestine, Settlements, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, Zionism
As I stood on the roof and watched Jerusalem stretch in front of me, with the sun reflecting on the golden Dome, I felt angry and felt how unfair the world is. I was born in Jerusalem, went to school there and practically grew up there knowing almost every corner, every street and every alley in it. I have more memories in Jerusalem than any other place in the world, all cherished ones. But now, I am not allowed into the city anymore because I am Palestinian. As I stood there, with tears in my eyes, I envied every Palestinian with an American or European passport, because they can come and visit Jerusalem. I envied every foreigner who can visit the city whenever they choose. I even envied the birds singing on the cypresses before me, because they could fly over Jerusalem and fill their eyes with its beauty and their lungs with its air. In my childhood, Jerusalem was the only major Palestinian city I knew well and loved. In the eyes and mind of a child, to me Ramallah was a cold city, Bethlehem was the “village” nearby, Nablus and Hebron were the places “to visit my uncles in Israeli prisons” and Jericho was too hot. Only Jerusalem was perfect: with its bustling Old City, the old bus station, Salah Al-Deen Street, Al Musrarah, the walk to the Notre Dame, the walk down Wadi Al-Joz and up to Al-Tur and the walk up to Ras El Amoud. I walked on the roof and saw the mountains on the Jordanian side, clearly visible during mild weather. Late afternoons, coming back home from school, one would witness a breathtaking sight going down the steep street in Sawahreh: a marvellous mixture of simple houses, some with old traditional domed roofs, barley fields or olive groves spreading against a curtain of mountains. Between the mountains and the last of the houses a strip of blue was visible. We always thought it to be the Dead Sea. Well, I personally still like to think of it as the Dead Sea. It was a combination of colours that rarely showed itself, but when it did, it was truly breathtaking.
To the south I could see Mount Herod in the distance. I have watched this artificial mountain since my childhood and always wondered at its shape. It always looked far away to be reached, but at the same time so close, an integral part of the view surrounding my home. I used to think about the impossibility of climbing that mountain, because it had steep sides, one would keep slipping and would never reach the top. I did “climb” that mountain years later, during the work on a TV documentary on Bethlehem. During the 2002 IOF invasion of the West Bank, my parents told me that Israeli fighter jets used to pass over Sawahreh on their way to Bethlehem. After a few minutes, the sound of explosions would rock the sky, as the IOF bombarded Bethlehem and the surrounding towns, villages and refugee camps. Since hearing this, every time I see Mount Herod I can’t help thinking of Israeli jets on their way to destroying yet another part of Palestine and kill innocent unarmed civilians. In Sawahreh, Israeli jets roaring in the sky were always a common thing. Some of Sawahreh’s vast lands had been confiscated for so-called “security reasons” and were used as a training area for the IOF. We would often hear sounds of explosions and the house would shake, or hear Israeli jets coming and going. One time, my sister, my brother and I thought that they were preparing for war, and since we had no army of our own, had no jets or tanks or bombs to protect ourselves, we held a meeting to decide on the best way to protect the family. The only solution we could think of was to build an underground shelter. I don’t know where we got the idea of a shelter from, since Palestinians have no shelters, but most probably from one of those WWII films the Israeli TV kept showing. We did start digging, using our hands and small pointy stones, but realized after a while what a lengthy and hard process that was, and instead decided that in case a war does break out we would use the water well as a shelter, i.e., after removing all the water.
One would think what a beautiful view, Jerusalem on one side, Bethlehem on the other with mountains and an imaginary sea in the background. Unfortunately, this scenery is interrupted by the Jewish illegal settlements Maale Adumim and Kidar, spreading themselves on Palestinian hills. Many Palestinian villages and town are surrounded by illegal Jewish settlements. Some are surrounded by settlements from one, two or three sides. Others are surrounded by illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall. Sawahreh is surrounded by the illegal settlements of Maale Adumim from the northeast and Kidar from the east and by the Apartheid Wall from the west. Kidar settlement is the closest to us. Before the first intifada, Kidar settlers used to come and walk through our main street, among Palestinian houses. So sure they were of themselves, acting as if the land belonged to them. I remember once we were playing in the land, when a group of settlers walked up the street. We stopped playing and just watched them. I didn’t understand settlers and settlements much at the time, but I remember knowing that these people had no right to walk on our streets. We used to spend our holidays in Dheisheh refugee camp, where the IOF would shoot to kill little children, and then we would come back to Sawahreh, where settlers were walking our street. Those close to Kidar used to sell home-made white cheese and yoghurt to the settlers, who thought us too quiet and peaceful, so they called us “Kiryat Shalom” or the village of peace. It was something I always felt ashamed of, knowing that the settlers thought us too peaceful to bother with, while their army and their fellow fanatic settlers were attacking Dheisheh and killing people there. If the illegal settlers of Kidar were so very interested in peace with us, why did they steal our lands to expand their settlement, knowing that our livelihood depended on these lands? You can’t have peace with your occupier, because the only peace they will offer you is a masquerade, not a real and just peace. In Palestine, power cuts are a regular thing, and whenever we had no electricity and had to study using candle light, which often hurt our eyes, I used to look through the window and watch Sawahreh, Abu Dees and Ezariyyeh drown in complete darkness, while Kidar and Maale Adumim would be lighted like a Christmas tree. Even as a child this made me think of how unfair the situation was and that these settlers and these settlements don’t belong here.
I remember as a child how “far away” Maale Adumim seemed. But as I grew up, so did the illegal settlement. The danger of this expansion never really registered in my mind until one night I dreamt that I opened the window of my bedroom to find myself looking into the courtyard of a Jewish house. The settlement had eaten the land all the way from where it stood till our house, and our house and the land surrounding it was next. I woke up sweating and my heart beating fast. So real was the threat, I realized at the time, that I knew it was not a mere nightmare. The next day I went at the back of the house to the spot where one could get a direct view of Maale Adumim and tried to calculate how much time we had before my nightmare became reality. I thought we still had time to act, but I was mistaken. Since the 1990’s the settlements have been expanding and are eating more Palestinian land at an unprecedented pace. In this area there are several illegal Jewish settlements such as Maale Adumim, Alon, Almon, Kidar, Kefar Adumim and Mishor Adumim, with a combined population of some 40,000 settlers. The largest, Maale Adumim was established in 1975 on confiscated Palestinian land and lies 14 km to the east of Jerusalem. It has a population of 35,000 illegal Jewish settlers and a jurisdictional area of 50 km². Road networks have been also established to connect Maale Adumim and neighboring settlements with Jerusalem and with the Jordan Valley. Palestinian land would be confiscated, declared a “closed military zone” and later used for illegal settlement expansions.
On the day of my arrival to Palestine for a short visit, I watched in shock as I passed Maale Adumim at how huge it has become. Within the space of two years, since my last visit, it had doubled in size, to say the least. Standing there on the mountain top, with a wall surrounding parts of it, it reminded me of a fortress from the middle ages. Although I am a fan of fortresses, this one brought only anger and disgust. The lands opposite it, which I distinctly remember were planted with olive trees, had become bare land, the trees uprooted and the land destroyed to make way for more illegal settler houses and roads. At the entrance to Maale Adumim stood a single olive tree, as huge as life and older than any illegal settler on this land. It was clear that this tree had been uprooted from some Palestinian field, maybe even from our confiscated land, and replanted here. Macabre, I thought and could only shake my head at the sad view of that lonely olive tree. Olive trees are like Palestinians, they grow in groups, surrounded by family and friends. That tree stood there alone, a reminder to every Palestinian that this is what the so-called peace process had done to us, and that if this process is allowed to go on, every single Palestinian will end up like that tree, alone and uprooted.
The plan to expand Maale Adumim, known as the “E-1” Plan, which was initiated by Rabin in 1994 and approved in 1999, led to the confiscation of yet more Palestinian land. This Plan is an important part of the “Greater Jerusalem” scheme, which includes Maale Adumim, Beitar, H´Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion, the Ariel bloc, the Hashmonain bloc and the Jordan Rift, and aims at annexing large areas of the West Bank to Jerusalem. This plan expands the jurisdictional boundaries of Maale Adumim and its satellite settlements to the Israeli Jerusalem municipal boundaries, linking Jerusalem with surrounding settlement blocs and linking the Maale Adumim bloc with with other settlement blocs such as Pisgat Ze’ev, Pisgat Omer, Neve Ya’acov and the French Hill. Also, a wall is being built around Maale Adumim and its satellite settlements, which will completely encircle East Jerusalem and 61 km² of Palestinian land. The “E-1” Plan aims to completely cut off Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian Territories, disconnecting the geographic contiguity of Palestinian Territories by dividing the West Bank into two parts, thus ensuring that no viable Palestinian state would ever come to existence. Last year, roads were paved and a bridge, main junctions, public squares, police stations, checkpoints and side walls were built in the “E-1” area. This area will cover some 13,000 dunums confiscated from Palestinian villages around Jerusalem and is to house an additional 15,000 illegal settlers. Two Israeli-only roads will connect settler roads southeast of Bethlehem with roads to the northeast, including connecting Maale Adumim and other Jerusalem settlements with the Ramot Ashkol settlement. For the construction of these roads, tens of houses in Sawahreh, Abu Dees and Al Tour are to be demolished. To prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem or using Road Nr. 1 that passes through the E-1 and Road Nr. 60 that passes through East Jerusalem, an “alternative” road is being constructed for Palestinian use and is to connect the Southern West Bank with its Northern part. For the construction of this road, the IOF issued a military order in 2007 confiscating 1,128 dunums of Palestinian land from villages between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, i.e. Sawahreh, Abu Dees, Nebi Musa and Al Khan Al Ahmar.
Blocking the southern entrance of Sawahreh is the “Container” checkpoint, which is now being expanded to become a permanent border-like crossing. Passing the checkpoint, one would not imagine what beautiful landscape lies behind the Israeli stone blocks and control tower. Locally, we call it “Barriyeh”, the wilderness or the prairies. Green meadows decorated with red poppies wherever one looks. My favourite spot there is a low area, surrounded by hills and naturally-formed stone structures. Here, running was not possible because of the tall vegetation that covered the place. We would imagine ourselves swimming and race each other or play hide and seek. Then, when we would feel hungry, we would have something to eat under the olive trees. Relics of family history decorate caves in that area and cherished memories of childhood lie behind the checkpoint, making them off-limit to us. The last time I went there was just before leaving for Germany and I had not set foot again. Our lands there, including the olive fields, which were a source of income for my family, were confiscated in 2003. Today, only those few who originally had their houses behind the checkpoint are allowed in, but no one knows how long before their houses will be demolished for some reason or other so as to close the area completely.
The “Container” checkpoint is a passage between the north and the south of the West Bank. It is one of more than 630 Israeli checkpoints and road barriers all over the West Bank, aiming to restrict Palestinian movement on Palestinian land. Travelling to the south, one would have to take the “Wadi Al-Nar” road. Wadi Al-Nar, the Valley of Fire, is most probably called so because of its steepness and the danger of driving there. It was a dirt road connecting Sawahreh with Ubediyyeh, rarely used except maybe by villagers travelling on donkeys. With the signing of the so-called peace process, Jerusalem was closed to most Palestinians and this road was used instead as a link left between the south and the north. If one is stuck behind a truck on that road, the meaning of “Valley of Fire” becomes clear, for when driving up the road, one has the continuous feeling that the truck will turn over any minute and everything behind that truck would be squeezed underneath it. As children we would follow the shepherds with their herds whenever we could. We would eat figs, search for snake nests in caves and play at the old ottoman stone circles. Every time we were there on the hills, we would go exploring a bit further. It was mostly steep hills, where we learned to slide slowly down a hill, using our left foot as a break. Here, there were no illegal settlements and no IOF soldiers, or at least they were not visible. When it was time to go home, instead of taking the direct way, we would go all around the hills, passing the “sacred river” to the old Sawahreh houses and further back home. The “sacred river” as we called it, was a small “river” running through the Wadi Al-Nar. Greenery was along both sides of this river, giving it a genuine river look, like those we used to see in cartoons. The vegetables growing around the riverbanks were double the size of the ordinary vegetables we would buy from the supermarket. Later, and to our great disappoint, we found out that the reason for the extraordinary growth of these vegetables was the waste water. This “sacred river” was actually the flow of waste water from Maale Adumim and other settlements in the area. Not only was their waste water contaminating our lands, their solid waste was being dumped and burned on our lands as well. Several studies have shown that illegal Settlements comprise a major environmental threat. Waste water and industrial waste from settlements is dumped on Palestinian lands, contaminating the soil and the water supply. Palestinian plans to treat waste water are usually rejected by Israel, and in one incident Israel insisted that a treatment facility for Tulkarem be built on the other side of the Green line, for no other reason than to use the treated water for its own interest.
During my last visit to Palestine, I wanted to see these hills again and enjoy the beauty of a Palestine that was free of illegal settlements and IOF checkpoints. It was late afternoon and as I looked around me I saw Mount Herod in the distance, with Palestinian villages decorating the hills all the way from there to Jerusalem. And opposite them, Palestinian hills extended all the way to meet the Jordanian mountains in the horizon. There was no Apartheid Wall, no IOF checkpoints and no settlements. Although I knew they were there, breaking the natural bond between Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, they were not visible from where I stood. I saw the old stone houses with the traditional domed roof, a herd of sheep with a shepherd who was playing the flute, the sunset adding a magical touch to the whole landscape, and there, at that moment I felt what it would feel to live in a truly free Palestine. I started taking photos and wondering how long before the Israelis would wipe out this landscape and all traces of Palestinian existence here. I went home, thinking that the Palestine I grew up in is not the Palestine of today. The Palestine of today is the rest of the so-called peace process with its illegal settlements, the Apartheid Wall, the IOF checkpoints and “Herrenstraßen” that are eating Palestine from inside, like a cancer, destroying the land piece by piece. I remembered that lonely olive tree in front of Maale Adumim and hoped that those still disillusioned by the “peace process” would wake up and act before it was too late.
Tags: Israel, Palestine
Racial discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people who became citizens of the State of Israel was formalized and institutionalized through the creation by law of a “Jewish nationality”, which is distinct from Israeli citizenship. No “Israeli” nationality exists in Israel, and the Supreme Court has persistently refused to recognize one as it would end the system of Jewish supremacy in Israel. The 1950 Law of Return entitles all Jews — and only Jews — to the rights of nationals, namely the right to enter “Eretz Yisrael” (Israel and the OPT) and immediately enjoy full legal and political rights. “Jewish nationality” under the Law of Return is extraterritorial in contravention of international public law norms pertaining to nationality. It includes Jewish citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether they wish to be part of the collective of “Jewish nationals,” and excludes “non-Jews” (i.e., Palestinians) from nationality rights in Israel.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Martin Luther King, Jr
Tags: Body on the Line blog, Hasbara, Israel, Marcy Newman, Occupied Palestine, One Voice, Palestine, Zionism
Without a shadow of a doubt, Marcy Newman is one of the best bloggers on Palestine. It’s hard to top her sensitivity, observant eye, humour, culture and humanity. I wanted to write again about One Voice, but she did a much better job than I ever could, so please read this incredibly informative article about this “grassroots movement” (sic) that is really just the cover for Zionist exclusion of Palestinians from their homeland and continued denial of their rights. http://bodyontheline.wordpress.com/ Marcy is da girl!
here is a group i would love to silence. it is called “one voice.” i say: how about no voice! apparently it is old, but someone tweeted it today so i just learned about it. this group is quite skilled in masking who they really are about (this is the first clue that it is a hardcore zionist organization dedicated to preserving the racist, zionist, colonist, terrorist state). to start with the term “one voice” is a sort of euphemism, i think, for some sort of unified solution and masks their goal of continuing the zionist colonization of palestinian land. you can get some idea of who they are from their faq page:
We are dedicated to conflict resolution. Israelis and Palestinians at a grassroots level want to find a resolution to this conflict and agree in broad terms on the parameters for that resolution. They do not necessarily like or love each other, but they recognize that to guarantee their own freedom, security, and viability, they have to assure the same for the other side. We are committed to mobilizing people behind this belief to effect real change. We are a grassroots, non-partisan, joint Israeli-Palestinian organization – not imposing ideas from above, but helping people on the ground to find and frame their own answers.
Why do you believe in a two-state solution?
OneVoice does not have its own views on how a peace agreement should look – we are simply codifying the views of the masses, and building off of the groundwork laid by past agreements and proposals, which are accepted by the majority of Israelis & Palestinians as the basis for negotiating a two-state solution. The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, according to all major polls, agree that a two-state solution is the only way to end this conflict.
Is it really a parallel movement? Are both sides really represented?
This is the most commonly asked question by people on both sides. Each side perceives that the other lacks a contingent of moderates willing to lead their people to compromise. Exactly the same amount of money goes into programming in Israel as it does in Palestine.
What many people are unable to see, which we uniquely can, is that whether on the left or on the right, Israeli or Palestinian, the overwhelming majority on each side would choose co-existence and mutual respect over co-extermination and mutual ruination. In spite of any apprehension or skepticism they share, they ultimately express a commitment and desire to participate with us.
Is this an attempt to impose a Western solution on a uniquely Middle Eastern problem?
The OneVoice solution is coming from the Middle East; it is not being imposed on anyone. Hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis were involved in its inception and now more than 600,000 are members. OneVoice is shaped according to what people who live in the region believe will work. In this regard, we provide a neutral gateway towards consensus that is not linked to any existing entrenched power. OneVoice is a non-biased, grassroots platform that derives its legitimacy from popular participation.
first of all, the notion that this is some sort of grassroots movement that palestinians support is 100% hooey. sure, maybe they have a few collaborators on board (read: those who support american-zionist colonialism here), but that does not mean that the majority of palestinians support this initiative. i can tell you point blank: they do not. there is no clear position on the most important issues, like the right of return, for instance, and they treat palestinians here as if these are only people who live in the west bank–not in 1948 palestine, not in refugee camps in lebanon, jordan, syria, not in the diaspora. of course they cannot because if they were to do so they would have to deal with the right of return. and they do not.
but what is most telling, i think, is the page that lists the board members. the “honorary board” lists palestinians who normalize and who are completely discredited and disrespected among palestinians like saeb erakat. he is as bad as his cohorts on this list like zionnazis martin indyk and dennis ross. it also lists jim zogby who, like ziad asali who sits on the trustees advisory council, do a great job promoting the zionist agenda in the u.s. the rest of the names, one can safely assume, are there to do the zionists’ bidding to ensure that palestinian refugees never have the right of return and that their bantustan situation will continue to increase. make no mistake about it: if indyk and ross are on board we can expect a disastrous outcome for palestinians. period.
then you look at their “parners” page you will notice that they have all sorts of organizations that masquerade as “neutral,” but are really fronts for zionist propaganda–organizations like middle east web as well as arab american organizations that are complicit with the zionist agenda in the u.s. like american task force on palestine. and, perhaps, the real clue is in the organizations that promote normalization (read: force palestinians to be as submissive as possible in their own oppression so zionists can steal more land and murder more palestinians); these groups include: the geneva initiative and ipcri.
how these groups got on the website is another question–whether they support its work or not, for instance. apparently, when the organization began they just put various groups on the website without asking for permission first. they did this with the middle east children’s alliance (meca), and as soon as people at meca found out and requested that they remove their name and logo. apparently, they did not understand that meant meca was not interested in their so-called “peace” initiative and someone at this “one voice” group asked them to send out some email to meca’s list. when they said no, meca got this email, which i quote with permission:
Thank you for your elaborated answer. I find it hard to understand why would you choose not to support an organization that calls for a non violent solution based on 2 states and rapid negotiations, but I guess it is your choice.
PS. Children not living under occupation are also bedwetting and have nightmares, whether it is because of missiles flying over their heads and on their houses for the last 7 years or because of suicide bombers and terrorism. Life and the reality in the Middle east is not as one sided as you portray. The apartheid analogy is nothing more then a propaganda tool, that has nothing to do with reality, and is used to take advantage of peace-seeking people, with historical guilt, by demonizing Israel and the Israelis. What you see in the media is only the bloody stories that sell. They are not always true, and more importantly they are far from being all the story or even a big part of it.
typical zionist answer: the think that the bias is against the them. yet another way of deflecting attention from the reality of their daily thieving and murderous colonial project. ben white had an excellent critique of this pseudo-”peace” initiative in the guardian two years ago, which is worth reading:
We’ve had Live 8 and Live Earth, and this week, albeit on a smaller scale, we almost had One Million Voices. Organised by the OneVoice group, the declared aim was to bring together Palestinians and Israelis in simultaneous events in Tel Aviv, Jericho, London, Washington and Ottawa to voice support for the “moderates” and call for a negotiated two-state solution.
The plans fell through, amid bitter claim and counter-claim, as artists lined up for the Jericho event cancelled, and the Tel Aviv concert followed suit. This followed grassroots pressure by Palestinians who objected to what they see as yet another attempt to promote a false peace that fails to address the structural injustices driving the conflict.
Indeed, despite the peace rhetoric – and the claim that they represent a unique popular call – OneVoice’s approach suffers from the same flaws that have bedevilled official “peace” efforts from Oslo to the Quartet. Such errors were amply demonstrated in Seth Freedman’s column, which implied that the main obstacle to peace is the “extremism” that exists on both sides.
This interpretation of the situation in Palestine/Israel is only possible through a heavy airbrushing of history and a fundamental misreading of the present. Strikingly, the Tel Aviv concert was scheduled to take place in Hayarkon Park – the same location where, almost 60 years ago, the Palestinian village of Jarisha was wiped off the map by Jewish armed forces.
Its residents shared the same fate as almost 800,000 other Palestinians, expelled from what became Israel and prevented to this day from returning home, their land confiscated. Yet official OneVoice material gives the impression that the conflict only began 40 years ago, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).
Condemning the “extremist minority” of both sides sounds laudable. Of course, “both sides” use violence, and of course, there is hatred and religious extremism among both Palestinians and Israelis. The crucial point, however, is that Israel has all the power. Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, not the other way round. Palestinian cities are besieged by a modern, hi-tech Israeli army and subjected to closure, raids and bombardment – not the other way round.
Zionist colonisation is not the preserve of a fanatical fringe in Israel – it is fundamental to the state’s identity and practice. As Martin Luther King said: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Since Israel continues to show no intention of relinquishing its role as colonial overlord, it’s no good to condemn “both sides”, as if there is equality between occupier and occupied.
Unsurprisingly, those with intimate firsthand experience of this apartheid are under no illusions about the usefulness of toothless “peace processes”. Earlier this week, the UN human rights envoy for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, condemned the Quartet for failing to safeguard Palestinian rights. The BBC’s Tim Franks noted that many diplomats and officials based in the region “would agree with Mr Dugard’s political analysis” yet refrain from agreeing publicly.
The language of moderation is all the rage, from OneVoice to Condoleezza Rice, from the aborted peace concerts to the forthcoming November peace conference. It’s a seductive dichotomy; on the one side are those who light the flame of peace, who strive for a “mass awakening” to the “forces of light and friendship and love”. On the other side are the extremists who threaten, smear and mislead; they are wickedly intransigent – they stifle, snuff out hope and burn flags.
But what is a “moderate”? In recent times, “moderate” has been applied to some rather unlikely characters in the Middle East. For the US, UK and Israeli governments, these include states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. None of these permit much genuine freedom of expression; all of them oppress opposition movements. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
It seems “moderation” has nothing to do with whether you refrain from the torture of political activists or the flogging of “deviants”, and everything to do with your obedience to US policies and Israeli interests. That is what unites the Saudi royals, the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king.
Meanwhile, groups like ISM, and Another Voice are condemned by Freedman and OneVoice as “extremists” out to “eradicate the other side”, and accused of making unnamed and unspecified threats. Yet these groups are committed to the defence of human rights and international law, and are made up of tireless Israelis, Palestinians and internationals. Their categorisation as “extremists” then, is actually a reflection of their refusal to accept sugar-coated apartheid or well-meaning platitudes that serve the status quo.
It may be an uncomfortable truth, but peace for both peoples comes no closer if the fundamental power disparity between Israel and the stateless, occupied and dispossessed Palestinians is obscured. Confronting the vested interests that perpetuate Palestine’s conquest may not win you awards from Jordanian monarchs or praise from the US state department; but it ultimately brings you a lot closer to peace.
as for kedmi thinking that apartheid does not apply, i think we would do well to look at omar barghouti’s recent article on the subject, which i quote from, in part, below:
Israel’s repressive and racist policies in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory have been recognized as constituting apartheid by a host of opinion leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US president, Jimmy Carter, and former UN Special Rapporteur for human rights, Prof. John Dugard, among others. In the same vein, former Israeli Attorney General, Michael Ben-Yair, wrote in a 2002 article in Ha’aretz describing Israel’s regime in the OPT, “We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. … In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories….” 
However, the applicability of the crime of apartheid as defined in UN conventions to Israel itself has, for the most part, been either inadvertently glossed over or intentionally ignored as an explosive subject that has every potential to invite the vengeful wrath of powerful pro-Israel lobbies. Regardless, one cannot but examine the facts and analyze Israel’s system of governance accordingly.
The strongest argument given by — sometimes well-meaning — experts who dismiss the apartheid label for Israel is that the analogy between Israel and South Africa is not exact and, in many respects, Israel’s oppression is even more severe, demanding a different designation altogether. The problem with this argument is that it assumes, quite incorrectly, that apartheid is a South African trademark and, therefore, that every regime accused of practicing apartheid must be shown to be identical to South Africa’s apartheid regime of yesteryear. Apartheid, however, although brought to world attention and given its name by the racist regime in South Africa, has been recognized by the UN for decades as a generalized crime with a universal definition.
The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1976 defines apartheid  as “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa” which have “the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them, in particular by means such as segregation, expropriation of land, and denial of the right to leave and return to their country, the right to a nationality and the right to freedom of movement and residence” (Article II). The similarity to South Africa is cited not as a condition but in recognition of its status as a historic precedent.
As a recent in-depth strategic position paper  published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee states, Israel’s origins, laws and policies against the Palestinian people fit to a large extent the definition of apartheid. The conceptual origins of Israel’s unique form of apartheid are found in Zionism, a racist European ideology that was adopted by the dominant stream of the Zionist movement (World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, among others) in order to justify and recruit political support for its colonial project of establishing an exclusive Jewish state in historic Palestine. Political Zionists dismissed the indigenous population of Palestine as non-existent in the famous Zionist slogan of “a land without a people;” making this a self-fulfilling prophecy, Zionist forces forcibly displaced 750,000-900,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroyed hundreds of the depopulated Palestinian villages in an operation termed “cleaning the landscape” that lasted until 1960. 
Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people amounts to apartheid precisely because it displays many of the main features of the crime as defined by international law:
1. Racial discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people who became citizens of the State of Israel was formalized and institutionalized through the creation by law of a “Jewish nationality”, which is distinct from Israeli citizenship. No “Israeli” nationality exists in Israel, and the Supreme Court has persistently refused to recognize one as it would end the system of Jewish supremacy in Israel. The 1950 Law of Return entitles all Jews — and only Jews — to the rights of nationals, namely the right to enter “Eretz Yisrael” (Israel and the OPT) and immediately enjoy full legal and political rights. “Jewish nationality” under the Law of Return is extraterritorial in contravention of international public law norms pertaining to nationality. It includes Jewish citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether they wish to be part of the collective of “Jewish nationals,” and excludes “non-Jews” (i.e., Palestinians) from nationality rights in Israel.
2. The 1952 Citizenship Law  has created a discriminatory two-tier legal system whereby Jews hold nationality and citizenship, while the remaining indigenous Palestinian citizens hold only citizenship.  Under Israeli law the status of Jewish nationality is accompanied with first-class rights and benefits which are not granted to Palestinian citizens.
3. The Israeli Status Law of 1952 authorizes the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency and its subsidiaries, including the Jewish National Fund, to control most of the land in Israel, for the exclusive benefit of Jews. In 1998, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CESCR, expressed  grave concern about this law and stated that large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination, because these agencies by definition would deny the use of these properties to non-Jewish citizens of the State.
4. Return of Palestinian refugees and Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs), as required by international law, has been prevented by means of force and legislation on racist grounds. Simply because they are not Jews, Palestinian refugees were excluded from entitlement to citizenship in the State of Israel under the 1952 Citizenship Law. They were “denationalized” and turned into stateless refugees in violation of the law of state succession. Their land and other property were confiscated by the State. The approximately 150,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 Nakba were placed under a military regime (1948 – 1966) similar to the regime currently in place in the OPT.
For decades, racial discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel in every vital aspect of life has been the norm. From land ownership to education to health to jobs to housing, the indigenous Palestinians have been denied equality by the State’s laws and policies. For instance, they are not allowed, to buy or rent land in about 93% of the state lands of Israel.  To this date, polls consistently show overwhelming majorities of Israeli Jews standing in opposition to full equality with the indigenous Palestinians in the state.  So the fact those Palestinians can vote, unlike their black African counterpart under South African apartheid, becomes almost a formality, a tokenism of sorts, clearly designed to project a deceptive image of democracy and fend off well-justified accusations of apartheid. 
Even in cancer research , Israeli apartheid is strongly present. In June 2001, the Health Ministry published a map of the geographical distribution of malignant diseases in Israel during the years 1984-1999. The report did not include a single Palestinian community in Israel, with the exception of Rahat, ostensibly due to “budgetary problems.” This research is particularly important because, in Israel, only when a correlation is shown between the presence of polluting sites and the incidence of malignant disease is it possible to prevent installation of new hazards, or demand tighter environmental standards. By intentionally omitting Palestinian towns in its extensive cancer mapping, the Health Ministry has indirectly given a green light to polluters to relocate to Palestinian towns inside Israel — not to mention in the OPT. The results of such health apartheid are ominous. In the past three decades the rate of malignant diseases in the Palestinian population in Israel has risen 3 to 4 times higher than among the Jewish population. A spokesperson for the Israeli Center against Racism commented, “The report has produced two different groups. One, an overprivileged group, whose lives are dear to the state and to the Health Ministry; a second, whose lives are of no importance to the state.”
This discrimination must be seen in the wider context of Israel’s perception of Palestinians by leading Israeli politicians, intellectuals, academics and mass media outlets as a “demographic threat” that needs to be dealt with resolutely; thus the rise of openly fascist parties in the recent parliamentary elections. Echoing a popular view in Israel, a ranking academic, Major General (reserve) Shlomo Gazit from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, preaches: “Democracy has to be subordinated to demography.” And now, the fanatic right Israeli leader, Avigdor Lieberman, and his supporters are saying democracy has to be subordinated to loyalty to Jewish supremacy.
The complicity of Western governments in all this horrific violation of international law and basic human rights has led many analysts to view the role of the West as profoundly flawed, both morally and legally. The comprehensive impunity enjoyed by Israel has allowed it to project itself and to act as an uncontrollable “mad dog” — an image advocated by Moshe Dayan decades ago and endorsed most recently by Israeli military historian, Martin Van Creveld  — in an attempt to make the Palestinians submit to its colonial will, to accept slavery as fate.
This criminal impunity and categorical denial of rights, more than anything else, were the main motivation behind the Palestinian BDS campaign.
Since 9 July 2005, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions have been advocated by virtually the entire Palestinian civil society everywhere as an effective form of solidarity that has a real potential to bring about an end to Western complicity with Israel and, therefore, to Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid. During and ever since Israel’s criminal war on Gaza, Palestinian civil society has stood more united than ever in urging people of conscience all over the world to hold Israel accountable for its crimes by treating it as South Africa was under apartheid rule. In response, unions, academic groups, faith-based organizations, political parties, social movements and others have adopted creative, context-sensitive and sustainable BDS campaigns, from South Africa to Norway, from Australia to Canada, from Britain to Venezuela, and even from the podium of the President of the UN General Assembly. 
Israel’s state terrorism in Gaza, enabled by virtually unlimited support from the US and Western governments in general, was a key catalyst in spreading and deepening BDS around the world, prompting advocates of Palestinian rights to feel that our South Africa moment has finally arrived. Israel is now widely perceived, at a grassroots level, as an international pariah that commits war crimes with impunity and that needs to be held accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights.
for readers who are too racist to take the word of a palestinian, how about a jewish south african man who lived through apartheid in south africa and who has witnessed it in palestine as well? ronnie kasrils also published a piece this week comparing the two regimes:
It is by no means difficult to recognize from afar, as Verwoerd had been able to do, that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. Verwoerd’s successor, Balthazar John Vorster visited Israel after the 1973 October War, when Egypt in a rare victory regained the Suez Canal and Sinai from Israel. After that Israel and South Africa were virtually twinned as military allies for Pretoria helped supply Israel militarily in the immediacy of its 1973 setback and Israel came to support apartheid South Africa at the height of sanctions with weaponry and technology – from naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes to assistance in building six nuclear bombs and the creation of an arms industry.
For the liberation movements of southern Africa, Israel and apartheid South Africa represented a racist, colonial axis. It was noted that people like Vorster had been Nazi sympathizers, interned during World War II – yet feted as heroes in Israel and incidentally never again referred to by South African Zionists as an anti-Semite!. This did not surprise those that came to understand the true racist nature and character of Zionist Israel.
Time and space does not allow further elaboration, but it is instructive to add that in its conduct and methods of repression, Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith – even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents, collective punishment and the aggression against neighboring states.
Certainly we South Africans can identify the pathological cause, fuelling the hate, of Israel’s political-military elite and public in general. Neither is this difficult for anyone acquainted with colonial history to understand the way in which deliberately cultivated race hate inculcates a justification for the most atrocious and inhumane actions against even defenseless civilians – women, children, the elderly amongst them. In fact was this not the pathological racist ideology that fuelled Hitler’s war lust and implementation of the Holocaust?
I will state clearly, without exaggeration, that any South African, whether involved in the freedom struggle, or motivated by basic human decency, who visits the Occupied Palestinian Territories are shocked to the core at the situation they encounter and agree with Archbishop Tutu’s comment that what the Palestinians are experiencing is far worse than what happened in South Africa, where the Sharpeville massacre of 69 civilians in 1960 became international symbol of apartheid cruelty.
for those of you who want to know what palestinians want and what serves their interests you can check out these websites:
PS: i meant to post this last night but it slipped my mind. the reason this old organization is on my mind now is because it is in the news:
Sir Paul McCartney officially joined the International Board of Advisors of the OneVoice movement, a grassroots organization aiming at broadcasting the views of what it calls the “overwhelming majority” of moderates in both Israel and Palestine.
The Board of Directors already includes actors Danny DeVito and Jason Alexander, as well as international dignitaries and political figures like Dennis Ross.
McCartney met with OneVoice Israel Chairwoman Irit Admoni Perlman during his visit to the region in September and was later asked to join the board, according to the statement.
“They told me that the vast majority of people in both societies are moderates and simply want a better life for their families and themselves,” a statement from the organization quoted McCartney as saying, “This gave me great hope that, one day, people like them will help to bring about a peaceful resolution to the troubles in the area. I am, therefore, happy to lend my support in this way to the cause of peace.”
notice that not only did mccartney ignore the boycott and come to the israeli terrorist state, but he also ONLY met with an israeli terrorist, not any palestinians. but his group represents both sides–as if there can be two sides when you have the colonizer and the colonized.
Tags: Cartoon of the day, Jerusalem, Palestine
Tags: Abbas, Arab culture, Israel, Jerusalem, Khalid Amayreh, Palestine, West Bank, Zionism
In its increasingly rabid efforts to consolidate control of traditionally Arab-East Jerusalem, Israel this week moved to suppress Palestinian cultural activities associated with the city being declared the capital of Arab culture for 2009.
On 19 March heavily armed paramilitary police violently dispersed a meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem, confiscating posters, leaflets, placards and computers.
Israeli police also raided schools, social clubs and community centres to foil activities celebrating Arab culture in the occupied city which Israel considers its “united and undivided capital”.
Several organisers, including East Jerusalem lawmaker Hatem Abdel-Qader, were arrested on charges of disturbing peace.
Israeli security forces cordoned off East Jerusalem by deploying soldiers at all entrances to the city. They turned back visitors, including several delegations from Arabian Gulf states, including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Frustrated by the draconian Israeli measures the Palestinian Authority, the main organiser of the festivities, decided to transfer the main event to Bethlehem, a few kilometres south of Jerusalem. Hundreds of PA officials, foreign dignitaries, religious leaders and diplomats arrived on 21 March to listen to a speech by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas reasserted his commitment to establishing a viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, on all Palestinian land Israel occupied in 1967.
“We will continue to reject the Israeli policy of Judaising Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem]. And we will not hold peace talks with any Israeli government that rejects the two-state solution,” said Abbas, alluding to Israeli designate-Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
The Palestinian leader, who recited a few verses of the Quran pertaining to the status of Jerusalem in Islam, pointed out that Jerusalem was the key to peace in the region and the world, saying that peace will not prevail unless and until the Israeli occupation ends completely.
Addressing the Arab-Muslim world, Abbas said: “I urge our Arab and Muslim brothers to come to the rescue of Jerusalem, protect Jerusalem from the act of rape to which the city is being subjected… Jerusalem is being Judaised by force, its Arab identity is being obliterated, its history is being falsified, its people are being oppressed and tormented. Its homes are being demolished. Jerusalem is the beginning and the end, it is the ultimate address of peace. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”
Addressing Israel, Abbas said: “Peace can’t be made through the building and expansion of settlements, brute force and military insolence. What happened in Gaza recently reflects the Israeli mindset, and with such a mindset, it is clear there can be no peace.”
Abbas’s desperate but defiant words epitomised the situation across the occupied Palestinian territories but especially in Jerusalem, where Israel is planning to destroy hundreds of Palestinian homes.
The planned destruction of the Silwan neighbourhood in the heart of the city has been described by PA officials as “demographic decapitation”.
“They are indulging in ethnic cleansing in broad daylight. They are chasing Palestinians out of their homes. They are trying to decapitate Arab existence in East Jerusalem, step by step, home by home, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, while they continue to lie about their desire for peace,” said Rafiq Al-Husseini, a senior aide to Abbas.
Asked by Al-Ahram Weekly what the PA was going to do to prevent Israel from carrying out the wholesale destruction of the Silwan neighbourhood [the goal is to build a park and recreational facilities for Jewish settlers in the surrounding areas], Al-Husseini said the PA would try to mobilise the international community to stop Israeli crimes.
During her recent visit to the occupied territories US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the planned demolitions as “unhelpful” and “incompatible with Israeli commitments under the roadmap”.
Israeli officials were unimpressed by Clinton’s warnings. Jerusalem’s Jewish mayor, Nir Barkat, described her words as “a lot of air”, claiming she had been misled by the Palestinians.
Barkat, an extreme right-winger, vowed to destroy Arab homes en masse, saying that “what we do in our capital is none of America’s business”.
Israeli efforts to obliterate the Arab-Islamic-Christian identity of Jerusalem began immediately after 1967. Four days after seizing the city Israeli army bulldozers razed the Maghariba and Sharaf neighbourhoods. The Palestinian inhabitants of the two neighbourhoods were expelled at gunpoint. Two mosques, two religious schools or Zawiyas and 135 houses were destroyed.
Several months later Israel seized the Harat Al-Maghariba for “public use” and built a large plaza in front of the Buraq — the Wailing or Western — Wall. The heart of Al-Maghariba and the adjacent, smaller Harat Al-Sharaf were both Islamic Waqf (religious endowment) properties dating back to the time of Salaheddin Al-Ayoubi (Saladin).
According to Palestinian sources Israel has demolished as many as 700 homes in the old town alone, forcing many inhabitants to seek shelter outside the boundaries of the city, e.g. in the West Bank.
Since 1967 Israel has confiscated 34 per cent of East Jerusalem for “public benefit” and designated 44 per cent of the occupied Arab town as “green space”. Nine per cent of the city was confiscated for the purpose of building settlements, leaving only 13 per cent of the original, built up Arab area, for the Palestinians.
In addition Israel has adopted a number of aggressive measures aimed at forcing the town’s Arab inhabitants to leave. These include imposing excessive taxes on real estate, including homes, withholding vital municipal services from Jerusalem’s Arabs in order to force them to relocate and denying residency rights to as many as 20,000 Arabs living in the city.
The Israeli authorities have continued to deny Arabs building licences, exacerbating a housing crisis in the Old Town and surrounding Arab neighbourhoods.
The systematic destruction by Israeli municipal authority of “illegally-built” homes pushed thousands of Jerusalemites to the brink of despair.
Adnan Al-Husseini, the nominal Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, described Israeli measures in Jerusalem as a “full fledged demographic war”.
“The Israeli goal is very clear. It is to force as many Palestinians as possible to leave the city and sell their property to Jewish interests.”
Al-Husseini said Israel was following a variety of tactics to achieve its strategy, including psychological and economic pressure, heavy taxation, physical coercion and harassment and financial incentives to force Arabs to sell their properties. Jerusalemite Arabs were clinging to their city, he said, despite Israeli efforts to curtail Arab demographic growth.
The Palestinian population of Jerusalem has grown extensively since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. Today, the total population of Jerusalem (East and West) is estimated at 720,000, including 475,000 Jews (66 per cent) and 245,000 Arabs (34 per cent).
As many as 260,000 of the Jewish population of the city (54.7 per cent) are living in 34 colonies established in and around East Jerusalem since 1967.
Maali Adomim, Pisgat Zeev, Har Homa and Gush Itzion are among the largest of these settlements.
Israeli demographic experts predict the Palestinian population will make up 40 per cent of the town’s total population by the 2020. It is to forestall this possibility that Israel has been making frantic efforts to confiscate more Arab land in order to build Jewish settler units.
According Israeli sources tenders for building more than 25,000 settler units have been issued since the Annapolis conference in 2007.
Earlier this month the Israeli group Peace Now revealed that the Israeli government was planning to build more than 73,000 units in the occupied West Bank, most of them in existing settlements surrounding East Jerusalem.
The group, which monitors settlement expansion in the West Bank, said the new plans would lead to the doubling of the Israeli settler population and scuttle any prospects for the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.
Among the most dangerous and explosive aspects of Israel’s efforts to Judaise East Jerusalem is the ongoing excavation and digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.
According to Waqf officials, digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque is seriously undermining the foundations of Islamic shrine and the nearby Dome of the Rock.
Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem, warned that it was only a matter of time before a “major disaster” occurred as a result of Israeli diggings in the vicinity of the Haram Al-Sharif (Al-Aqsa Mosque) esplanade. He accused the Israeli authorities of constructing subterranean tunnels beneath Islamic holy places without any consideration for the safety of Islamic shrines. “I can say without the slightest exaggeration that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing the danger of collapse as a result of these excavations.”
Islamic Palestinian leader Raed Salah was even more dramatic in voicing his concerns. “The Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing urgent danger. A medium earthquake could cause the collapse of the mosque.”
Salah was arrested by Israeli police on Monday, 23 March, charged with “disturbing the peace” and “inciting against Israel”.
In recent years the Israeli security authorities have allowed extremist Jews to enter the Haram esplanade and perform Jewish prayers and other rituals.
In 1967 the Israeli army chief rabbi, General Shlomo Goren, tried to convince a commander of the conquering forces, Uzi Narkis, to blow up the mosque “once and for all”.
The story was told by Narkis shortly before his death in 1997 and quoted by Avi Shlaim, an Israeli historian, in The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.
“There was an atmosphere of spiritual elation. Paratroopers were milling around in a daze. Narkis was standing for a moment on his own, deep in thought, when Goren went up to him and said ‘Uzi, this is the time to put a hundred kilograms of explosives in the Mosque of Omar and that’s it, we’ll get rid of it once and for all.’ Narkis said ‘Rabbi, stop it.” Goren then said to him, ‘Uzi, you’ll enter the history books by virtue of this deed.’ Narkis replied, ‘I have already recorded my name in the pages of the history of Jerusalem.’ Goren walked away without saying another word.”
Two weeks later the Israeli occupation army seized the key to one of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Moroccan Gate).
Numerous efforts by Jewish extremists to destroy the Islamic shrine have been reported over the years.
Tags: Israel, nuclear weapons, US foreign policy, Vanunu
The Army has let slip one of the worst-kept secrets in the world — that Israel has the bomb.
Officially, the United States has a policy of “ambiguity” regarding Israel’s nuclear capability. Essentially, it has played a game by which it neither acknowledges nor denies that Israel is a nuclear power.
But a Defense Department study completed last year offers what may be the first time in a unclassified report that Israel is a nuclear power. On page 37 of the U.S. Joint Forces Command report, the Army includes Israel within “a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east.”
The single reference is far more than the U.S. usually would state publicly about Israel, even though the world knew Israel to be a nuclear power years before former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu went public with facts on its weapons program in 1986.
Several years later investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published “The Samson Option,” detailing Israel’s strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened. Israel’s nuclear arsenal has been estimated to range from 200 to 400 warheads.
Yet Israel has refused to confirm or deny it’s nuclear capabilities, and the U.S. has gone along with the charade.
As recently as Feb. 9 President Barack Obama ducked the question when asked pointedly by White House correspondent Helen Thomas whether he knew of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons. Keeping the blinders on is necessary politically in order to avoid a policy confrontation with Israel.
By law, the U.S. would have to cease providing billions of dollars in foreign aid to Israel if it determined the country had a nuclear weapons program. That’s because the so-called Symington Amendment, passed in 1976, bars assistance to countries developing technology for nuclear weapons proliferation.
Given the U.S.’s long history of selective blindness when it comes to Israeli nukes, it’s unlikely that the Joint Operating Environment 2008 report compiled by the Army amount to much more than a minor faux pas.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in a March 8 article on the report, observed: “It is virtually unheard of for a senior military commander, while in office, to refer to Israel’s nuclear status. In December 2006, during his confirmation hearings as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates referred to Israel as one of the powers seen by Iran as surrounding it with nuclear weapons. But once in office, Gates refused to repeat this allusion to Israel, noting that when he used it he was ‘a private citizen.'”
— Bryant Jordan
Tags: Azmi Bishara, gaza, Israel, John Kerry, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Resistance, US foreign policy
We had thought that the train of events from the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to its invasion of Gaza, the impression these events created in people’s minds and the growing disillusionment with forces favouring the current settlement process offered sufficient inspiration and impetus to revise official Arab approaches to that process. However, one remains compelled to wonder just how prepared the forces opposed to this approach are to seize the historic opportunity to put an end to that process, rather than to succumb to the current drive to contain them. After all, the US and its allies in the East and West are haunted by this very spectre — the fear of losing the settlement legacy — for which reason they have been waging a sustained diplomatic assault on the region since the Sharm El-Sheikh conference on the reconstruction of Gaza.
The previous US administration had come to the conclusion that the Palestinian leadership, alone, was incapable of reaching a permanent deal with Israel on Israeli conditions, or of keeping the internal Palestinian situation under control. It therefore encouraged its Arab allies to play a more active and determined role in supporting the current negotiating process, strengthening the PA security agencies and countering the resistance in Palestine and elsewhere. Although the allies did as asked, in Annapolis and later, Washington did not take their interests into account. Instead it drove them into a state of permanent self-defence in the face of their own public opinion. Take, for example, their stance during the war on Lebanon in 2006, their incomprehensible boycott of the Damascus summit in March 2008, their complicity in the siege on Gaza, and their position during the summit on Gaza in Doha. To every season its men and its governments: in these regimes there emerged politicians, intellectuals and media figures of the sort that are ready to take part in the “struggle” to resist the resistance, alongside Israel and the US. Of course, the structure and culture of these regimes and their adherents is totally at odds with the concept of resistance and its corollaries of self-sacrifice and risk. They are not constructed to struggle, whether for themselves or for the US and Israel. This is borne out by the failure of the coup against the national unity government and the elected legislative majority in Gaza and in Beirut in March 2008. It is this difference that distinguishes them, for example, from rightwing Lebanese forces of the past. These were fascist forces engaged in a “struggle” against the Palestinian resistance, sectarian militias prepared not only to fight and commit massacres, like the current anti-resistance forces, but also to die for the sake of a sectarian cause, as did fascist forces in Italy, and in Spain during the Spanish civil war in the 1930s. Such dedication is no more. It has been replaced by a type of commitment that has no compunction when it comes to committing crimes but speaks the language of rent and deference to money and material gain. In the latest phase of dialogue and containment on which the Obama administration has embarked these forces, too, find themselves in crisis.
The new US administration has stated repeatedly that it views the region from a perspective of Israeli security when it comes to Iran and uranium enrichment, as well as to resistance against Israeli occupation. It believes that Israel’s right to security is not connected with ending the occupation, that it has the right to be an occupying power and at the same time be safe and that it is the Arabs’ duty to sit quietly in their camps, under the conditions of the occupation and the economic boycott, watch the news bulletins on negotiations and rejoice at the Mitchell appointment.
The new administration has also decided that the PA proved itself by keeping the security situation in the West Bank under control during the Gaza crisis. Israel thinks likewise, regarding this as its first real harvest from the Oslo process, a vindication of its earlier claims that Arafat was never serious about security coordination. The nature of the Palestinian leadership has, indeed, changed since the assassination of Arafat. The nature and creed of the PA and the level of coordination of its agencies has changed since Israel stopped being the enemy and became a true partner. In US and Israeli eyes, this type of PA merits support. However, such support stops way short of meeting the demands of the Palestinian people and remains confined to financial and security support, which is what is meant by the term “capacity building”.
The new administration in Washington maintains that support for the PA leadership goes hand in hand with weakening the resistance axis. This has conditions:
– Taking the interests of subordinate Arab states into account.
– Holding talks with Iran to convince it to halt uranium refinement activities while seriously hinting at sanctions before resorting to the military option. This requires building an Arab-Israeli front against Iran which, in turn, requires talking with those Arab countries that “fall under Iranian influence” and, perhaps, taking these countries’ interests into account to a level worked out beforehand.
– In order to identify the interests of these countries within the framework of a cooperative arrangement against Iran for the sake of Israel and to resolve the Palestinian problem comprehensively a new regional roadmap must be drawn up.
– This regional roadmap would support and fortify the already existing Palestinian “roadmap” but it would be much broader and comprehensive, taking into account the interests of countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria in exchange, obviously, for abandoning Iran, and the resistance movements in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq (with special consideration paid to the existing reality in Lebanon).
The region can thus expect a new “roadmap” for years to come, whether or not it appears in text form or under this title. This is where Washington’s actions are meant to lead us, not to a settlement, permanent or otherwise, or to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights. This is what will keep us occupied for a long time unless something momentous intervenes, such as a resurgence of the resistance or another war.
In order to flesh out the hypothesis outlined above I will turn to a critical discussion of the lecture delivered by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry at the Saban Centre of the Brookings Institute on 4 March 2009. Senator Kerry is a former presidential candidate and a leading Democratic Party figure who came out early in favour of Barack Obama. His lecture followed a recent visit to the region, covering Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. By way of introduction, I will say that the new administration in Washington has taken on board the conclusions of the Baker-Hamilton committee, supported by the Defense Secretary Bill Gates, which is precisely why the Obama administration kept him on in this capacity. The US establishment has absorbed everything that needed to be deduced from the failure of the war policy that the Bush-Cheney administration pursued throughout Bush’s two terms, which is why that establishment backed Obama. Let us turn now to Kerry’s conclusions following his visit to the region.
In his opening remarks Kerry welcomed the election of Obama as an extraordinary chance to signal a new approach to the region because of his pragmatism and “willingness to listen and lead”. He pauses to recount the “emotional” impact of the visit, which effects are presented with carefully calculated selectivity. He felt compassion for the suffering of the settlement village of Sderot over the past eight years and also “deeply moved” by the sight of “little Palestinian girls playing in the rubble” where once an American school stood. (I must admit I have a problem with liberals who want to show how fair and even-handed they are. They make the victims look nice when they want to support some of them and a little girl playing in the ruins of a bombarded American school serves the purpose admirably. As for the occupying power, it is taken for granted in their camp that it is the real victim for perpetuity.). He then proceeds to enumerate four causes for hope, in spite of the election of Netanyahu and all the wars. As we shall see, he does not hope for a solution but he is very optimistic about reaching a new “roadmap”.
The first cause is a “tectonic shift in Middle East geopolitics”.
“The rise of Iran has created an unprecedented willingness among the moderate Arab nations to work with Israel. This re-alignment can help lay the groundwork for progress towards peace.”
Otherwise read, strategic cooperation between the Arabs and Israel precedes peace, which begs the question as to why Israel would need to work towards a solution with the Arabs when it is already cooperating strategically with them against a common enemy.
Second, he says, “the Arab Peace Initiative has emerged as the basis on which to build a Regional Road Map that enlists moderate Arab nations to play a more active role in peacemaking”.
Third, reiterating what every mid-level Israeli Labour Party activist has said and Olmert himself stated in his farewell interview with Yediot Aharanot of 13 October 2008, Kerry holds that “the outlines of a final status agreement are in fact clearer than ever”. In his opinion, the challenge is how to get there and his answer is “to move simultaneously on capacity-building in the West Bank and final status talks”. One can fail but notice that as clear as the outlines of a final status agreement are said to be, Kerry does not venture to spell them out. This is largely because to him the road to get there is what counts. Back to the process is everything, the goal nothing. Life is one never ending negotiation.
The fourth cause was the election of Obama. His administration presents an opportunity for “charting a new path that will empower moderates on all sides who have been lacking political cover and losing political ground”. This was intended as a criticism of the Bush administration which showed no appreciation for the particular circumstances and interests of the Arab “moderates” and failed to provide them sufficient support, thereby keeping them under constant pressure and in perpetual conflict with their political environment.
Somehow the Arab position has done a 360 degree turn. There was a time when the Arab nationalist position held that to separate the Palestinian cause from its Arab hinterland was to collude with designs against the cause. The cause was, in fact, severed from its greater Arab nationalist dimension in Camp David, and even more so in Oslo; however, the Palestinian leadership was incapable of reaching a solution with Israel. Then suddenly it was realised that the cause would have to be restored to its regional dimensions, not because of pressures from Arab nationalism but because Arab nationalism no longer presented a threat, and also because the official Arab order had long since abandoned any Arab nationalist dimension to the Palestinian cause. Now that is a complete reversal. This is why Kerry can be so confident in his assertion that the Palestinian cause was a regional problem that needed to be handled in a plan that covered other regional influential issues, contrary to the customary tactic of dealing with these issues separately. The approach is possible in Kerry’s view because, “Whereas once the Arab world voted unanimously for the three no’s — no dialogue with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no peace with Israel — there are now three very different no’s which dominate many discussions in the region: no Iranian nukes, no Iranian meddling, and no Iranian hegemony”. Then he adds, quite explicitly, that because of this perceived common threat, the moderate Arab states and Israel “are now cooperating in ways that were unimaginable just a couple of years ago”.
Kerry goes on to say that the Bush administration drew many red lines that it could not enforce (he was referring to that administration’s prohibitions against talking with Iran and Syria, among others). The Obama administration would change that. It would focus on what can be done and leave side issues alone. The regional aim is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. Therefore, without foregoing the military option, we must move beyond the old red lines. According to the senator this entails talking with Iran about mutual interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and bringing Iran back into the international fold with recognition of its regional role in exchange for halting uranium refinement activities. There would also be talks with Syria, with the purpose of isolating and weakening Iran and its instruments such as Hezbollah. China and Russia would naturally be asked to help, though Kerry does not spell out how and what the US would have to pay in return. Russia has demands and interests extending from the Baltic in the north to Serbia in the south, and around the Caspian and Black Seas. China has an equally vast scope of interests. Would the US alienate and sacrifice the interests of its other allies in the world in order to please Russia and China, and all this in order to isolate and bring Iran to heel for the sake of Israel? Kerry did not bother following through on the questions his proposals beg.
Kerry supports dialogue with Syria and believes its goals realistic. Syria has negotiated with Israel before, in the face of Tehran’s objections, he observes. Of course Syria will try to “play both sides of the fence for as long as it can” but ultimately “I think that President Assad understands that, as a secular Arab country with a Sunni majority population, Syria’s long-term interests lie not with Iran but with its Sunni neighbours and the West”.
But if this is where Syrian interests lay what has been keeping it from this realisation for so long? Could it be that Kerry had not made it as plain to Damascus as his lesson to it on the Syrian demographic composition? Or could it be that there is a meeting between Syrian national security and the concept of Arab national security that the policies of the US, Israel and their Arab allies helped enhance? That question too is left unanswered. But this is why the US has not opposed the attempt on the part of its Arab allies to embrace Syria and avoid angering it.
However, this is not enough. There are Syrian and Arab demands and interests that the US and Israel lack the flexibility to meet. But Syria apparently will be glad just to talk. It will play the game because it has a political and economic interest in breaking the blockade against it. Of course, there might be some among Syria’s ruling elite, though not yet in the highest decision making echelons, who have more to gain from dialogue. Kerry is aware of this, which is why he stressed linking Syria to the Western economy.
“How do we begin?” Kerry asks midway through his speech. The starting point is to encourage the Arabs to adhere to the Arab Peace Initiative which “bold step never received the focus it deserved when the Saudi King Abdallah proposed it in 2002”.
He sums up this initiative as essentially based on the formula of land in exchange for Arab recognition and normalisation with Israel. However, like Israel he still gives normalisation precedence over peace. For example, although there is the already existing Quartet “roadmap” for the Palestinian track, there is a need for a “regional roadmap” that will “require a sustained multilateral effort like the one that followed the first Madrid Conference in 1991”.
It is odd how everyone likes to recall that burst of activity, even though it brought the Arabs no closer to the solution of their demands. The “moderates” will also, according to Kerry’s vision, be expected to pressure Hamas into halting missile fire from Gaza and agreeing to a national unity government that conforms to the Quartet’s set conditions. In addition, Egypt has the task of stopping arms smuggling across its borders while Jordan will continue to train PA security agencies.
The only measure that Kerry offers the Arab allies in exchange for everything they are expected to do is to demonstrate “with actions rather than words, that we are serious about Israel freezing settlement activity in the West Bank”. At least, for once, there is some recognition that to all previous US administrations the position that settlement activity is an obstacle to peace was, indeed, mere words.
Perhaps the Kerry vision, as presented in his Saban Centre lecture, offers some insight into the current American diplomatic offensive in the region and some of the current Arab reconciliation movements. However, this leads us back to the question we asked at the beginning of this article. What are the supporters of a reconsideration of the entire settlement process doing at this moment? Do they have a strategy to counter the US diplomatic offensive? Until very recently conditions were favourable to them rather than to the pro-settlement process forces.
Sami Jamil Jadallah – We Will Not Forgive The Jews For Their Silence; for Turning Israel Into a Racist, Criminal State.Posted: 03/26/2009 by editormary in Features, Newswire, Palestine, Religion, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, War, Zionism
Tags: gaza, Israel, Jewish Identity Politics, Lebanon, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Racism, Unconventional Weapons, US foreign policy, War, Zionism
The Jewish War on Gaza and its resultant destruction of the Gaza Strip and the horrible killings of innocent women and children in cold blood and as reported in series of articles in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and in statements made by UN officials were not surprising since Jewish soldiers are educated and trained to do that, simply kill. And so the total silence of the Jewish community around the world and especially the US Jewish community should not come as a shocking surprise but was and is expected and so their dancing in the streets of New York City as their army was leveling Gaza, destroying homes, schools, hospitals, clinics, and UN supply depot and so their successful push for a an overwhelming resolutions in both House and Senate supporting Israel’s crimes in the name of “self defense”.
Ehud Barak, the Jewish Defense Chief in charge of the War on Gaza had the Chutzpah to declare the Jewish Army as “the most moral army in the world” as he went about justifying the killing and mayhem in Gaza. Of course Ehud Barak is right. The war on Gaza and the War on Lebanon, the many wars on the Arabs, and the crimes committed by his Jewish army are part of a culture, religious and value system that makes killing and murder of Arabs, a moral thing. For sure neither Ehud Barak nor the Jewish communities around the world and especially in the US seems to have heard of the word of the late Chaim Weizmann, the first Jewish president as he warned “ I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs”. Chaim Weizmann had good reasons to worry about how these Jewish settlers of Palestine and how they treat the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinians.
The Jewish State was not founded by peaceful new immigrants seeking refuge and escape from the Pogroms of Russia; it was founded by angry, racist militants committed to ethnically cleansing Palestine from its Arab inhabitants by all means, preferably by military means and cold blooded murder. That philosophy of the past continues today some 100 years later. The Jewish Occupation of 67 not only inspired the Jewish communities around the world, it was the rallying cry of Jews energized and drunk with victory giving Israel total unconditional and unquestionable support for all of its actions and the many wars initiated and engaged in by the Jewish state since 67.
The political, theological and social ideology that inspired the killings in Gaza, is the same that inspired the force expulsion of 700,000 Arabs, the total demolitions of 550 Arab villages, the killings in Deir Yassin, Qibya, Lod, Sabra and Shatilla, Qana I and Qana II, and the same that inspired the dropping of high explosive bombs over the school in Dir Albaqr in Egypt, the same that inspired the dropping of 1.5 million cluster bombs over civilian targets in Lebanon, the same that inspired the dropping of phosphorous bombs over civilian targets in Gaza and bombings of hospitals, schools, homes and mosques. Such a theological value system also inspired the American Rabbi Baruch Goldstein to gun down dozens and injure more than a hundred Muslim worshipers as they kneeled in early Morning Prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque (the Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. This theological philosophy was well explained in an essay titled “Ideology behind the Hebron Massacre” by the late Professor Israel Shahak.
For many Jews, secular or religious, believe that true redemptions comes about through murder and killings of Arabs, such were the views of the late American Jewish Rabbi Meir Kahane proponent of “ extermination of the Arabs as the surest way to bring about “True Redemption of the Jews”. Rabbi Kahane calls on the Jews not fear Gentile but fear God only as “they go about expelling all Arabs from the land of Israel”. This view remains the rallying cry of the Jewish Settlers movements and the Hill Top Jews.
That religious and theological philosophy is the prevailing philosophy of the Gush Emunim, the Jewish Settlers movement benefiting from the large generosity of American Jews especially philanthropic Jews engaged in gambling, prostitution, liquors and Bingo Games and Gods knows what else? According to Ian Lustic, Gush Emunim believe that “Jews are not and cannot be normal people” due the covenant made with God in Mount Sinai. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner one of their leader believes “while God requires other normal nations to abide by abstract codes of “justice and righteousness” such laws do not apply to Jews”. Rabbi Israel Ariel was quoted as saying “a Jew who kills a non-Jew is exempt from human judgment, and has not violated the prohibition of murder” Such religious philosophy prevails among the leaders of the Gush Emunim the likes of Rabbi Aviner, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, Rabbi Ariel all of whom are of the views that” Arabs living in Palestine are thieves because the land was once Jewish all the property to be found on that land “really” belongs to the Jews”. As such the Arab-Israeli conflict must not be seen as political conflict but a theological conflict that justifies the crimes in Gaza.
Eric H Yoffe in an article titled “Promoting Racism in Israel” provides a very similar and frightening interpretation of the prevailing views among leading Rabbis especially the explanation of the commandment in Deuteronomy 25:17 where quoting from February 26,1980 article published in Bat Kol, the student paper of Bar-Illan University and titled “ The Mitzvah of Genocide in the Torah” written by Rabbi Israel Hess where theological justifications for are found for “Killing of babes and sucklings, and forbid the showing of mercy”. This theological view comes from “milchment mitzvah” or war of religious obligations “Jewish Jihad”. Unlike the views held by suicide bombers that God provides them with 70 virgins for killing innocent people, the Jews believe that God Him Self comes down on the side of Jewish soldiers as they engage in cold blooded murder of non-Jews. This view was recently confirmed by Grand Rabbi Joseph Ovadia who claimed as reported in Haaretz that God interfered on the side of the Jewish soldiers during the War on Gaza and telling them where the terrorists were hiding.
In the same article Eric H. Yoffe, reports of exchange between Rabbi Shimon Wiser and one Yeshiva student who is also a member of the Jewish Army where the later (student) concludes “during wartimes I am permitted, even obligated to kill every Arab man and woman who happens across my way. I am obligated to kill them even if this leads to complications with military codes”. It seems this was the prevailing views not only of soldiers, but commanders and civilians leaders as well. It should not be so shocking for American Jews who secured congressional support for their Jewish Army to note the recent testimony of soldiers who reported in certain instances the cold blooded murder of an old Palestinian woman as she drudged alone on a lonely road, or the killings of a women and her children as she confused the orders of going left rather than right. I am sure such acts of cold blooded murder made those who prepared and shoved the congressional resolutions down the throat of members of Congress very proud and is part of the value system prevailing among Israeli supporters.
This racist and criminal attitude goes toward the views that Palestinians Arabs do not belong and should not belong in Jerusalem, in Jewish towns and cities and certainly not in Israel. Thus the views of politicians the likes of Avigdor Lieberman who is committed to “transfer” of Arabs out of Israel/Palestine, and leading scholars such as Rabbi Elieser Waldenberg, the winner of the 1976 Israel Prize who is of the view that Palestinians, Muslims and Christians should not be allowed to live in Jerusalem and if the Jewish State to follow the covenant with God “it must expel all non Jews from Jerusalem, in like manner, it is forbidden to us to permit non-Jews to be a majority in any cities among the cities of Israel” (Haaretz, May 9, 1967). Thus the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Jerusalem has nothing to do with security as claimed, and the recent demolitions of Arab homes in Jerusalem has nothing to do with city regulations and housing codes, but has every thing to do with a theological and religious fatwa’s that forbid non-Jews to live in Jerusalem.
I always wondered why there is so much enmity between the Jewish State and the Arabs, between the world Jewish community, especially the American Jewish community and the Arabs, since the Arabs never committed the kind of crimes the Jews had to face for thousands of years, from the expulsion to Babylon, to the Inquision of Catholic Spain, to the Pogroms of Orthodox Czarist Russia to the Holocaust of Protestant Germany and the defamation of the Protocols of Zion. The Arabs and Muslims never did commit the kind of crimes that makes the Jews hate the Arabs so much. The golden age of Jews was during the periods of Muslims empires. However now I understand. It must be part of a religious, theological and cultural philosophy that must have been dormant for thousands of years and was dusted off and given a new life with the founding of Zionism and founding of a Jewish State to be a light among all nations.
With very few exceptions there is a defending silence among “Diaspora Jews”, as if a conspiracy of silence exists and in fact it does exist, especially in the US where very few Jews dare to speak out against the racist and criminal acts of Israel, against the Jewish Occupation, against the more than 500 “security” check points where Palestinians of all ages are subject to the most demeaning of human humiliations on daily basis. There is absolute silence against Israel Apartheid policies and practices, against the Jewish settlements on stolen Arab lands (including mine), against the Apartheid Wall, against the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Jerusalem, against the destruction of farms and uprooting of hundreds of thousands of trees, against house demolitions, against targeted killings, against arbitrary arrests, against the use of civilians as shields for the very brave Jewish soldiers and against the siege of Gaza and against war crimes committed by the Jewish Army in Gaza. Those brave Diaspora Jews (very few) who dare to speak out find themselves in the cold, out on the streets, dismissed from jobs and denied tenures and otherwise blackmailed by a Jewish community that prides itself to be among the first to support the Civil Rights movement, the first to stand up against the late Senator Joseph McCarthy and his “un-American inquisition”. Yes we have every right to be angry at “Diaspora Jews” and we have every right not to forgive them for turning what would and should have been a safe heaven for Jews that turned to a racist and criminal enterprise called the State of Israel. Of course no one expect Jewish leaders, commanders and soldiers to ever face war crimes, since Jews are not subject to abstract codes of justice and righteousness.
This essay was inspired by:
“The Ideology Behind Hebron Massacre” by Professor Israel Shakah.
“Promoting Racism in Israel” by Eric H. Yoffe.
“On the eve of destruction” by Ari Shavit
IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism and lax rules of engagement: Haaretz 19/03/2009.
ANALYSIS/ Can Israel dismiss its own troops’ stories from Gaza? Haaretz 19/03/2009.
IDF orders probe into allegations over Gaza war. Haaretz 19/03/2009.
Barak seeks legal okay to move civilians from homes. Haaretz 04/03/2008
Judges, scholars call on UN to probe war crimes by both sides in Gaza. Haaretz 20/03/2009.
Reserve IDF generals: Ethics probe necessary but difficult to carry out. Haaretz 20/03/2009.
UN envoy: Gaza op seems to be war crimes of greatest magnitude. Haaretz 19/03/2009.
Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques- IDF fashion 2009. Haaretz 20/03/2009.
Special Note: The Jewish State in addition to banning pasta, it also banned jam, biscuits, tomato paste, tea, sweets, and date bars, as security items from going into Gaza.
Tags: gaza, Israel, Mother's Day, Palestine, Palestinian mothers, Palestinian prisoners, Palestinian Refugees, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance
When the women came and told her to leave what she was doing and come and sit in front of the house with them, my grandmother knew what was to come. They sat outside and didn’t talk much. My uncle had been shot in the chest by the IOF that afternoon, and was at that moment being operated. He was in a critical condition, the doctors had told the men who had brought him to the hospital. Some were sent back home to prepare the family for the news and to prepare the refugee camp to welcome the hero, in case the worst happened. Although hope dies last, it was a necessity to prepare everything for a quick funeral and a quick burial. The Israeli army had been known to take bodies of Palestinian martyrs and steal their organs without the Palestinian family’s consent. The organs would then be given to Israelis who needed them. So a Palestinian killed by the IOF, mostly for no reason at all or for defending his country, would be labelled as terrorist by Israel and the biased media, while his organs would be used to save Israeli lives. In other countries, stealing the organs of dead people is considered a crime, but as usual, it doesn’t apply to Israel.
My grandmother sat quiet the whole time, no tears and no words. It was her youngest son, they said. His elder brothers had one time after another been imprisoned for everything that Israel considered “terror”, that she decided at least to spare the youngest the inside of an Israeli prison. Every day she would tell him to go to school and come back directly. “don’t go here or there”. I heard my mother say one time “she thought this way she was keeping him safe from the Israelis; everyday coming back from school after classes were over, and keeping him at her side most of the time.” Till one day, the boys came and told my grandmother that her son had been arrested. ”Arrested for what?” “he was throwing stones.” He hadn’t even bothered to go to school that day.” One of my other uncles said laughingly when the story was brought up once: but we had prepared him for this. And everyone laughed. I laughed too, because I have been though this process as well. Actually, to us kids, it was just another game. One of those bizarre refugee camp games, like the “UNRWA restaurant” game, where we would play little refugee kids standing in line and waiting for our daily portion of a slice of bread and small slice of tomato with salt, and being shouted at by the “UNRWA employee”. The other game, which was to prepare us for future imprisonment by the IOF was the “confession game”. Each one of us would be “tortured” to strengthen our resistance and prevent us from confessing anything in case we are interrogated by the IOF. There was really no “torture” in this game, because there was no real beating. We would be shouted at in a funny way, and the one among us to act the “IOF soldier” would be mimicking Israeli soldiers trying to be brave, but who are in fact afraid of us, little children. We would laugh while being “tortured”, for it was mostly fun for us. Although the game would not really prepare anyone for the barbaric Israeli interrogation and torture, in some way, the game was educational. It gave us the feeling that we are stronger than the IOF and that despite all their weapons, they feared us. So, we would just play being beaten by the IOF, and the one playing the IOF soldier would ask us continuously to confess and we would refuse. He would slash us, though not harshly, on the soles, and demand we confess. We would refuse, laughingly, because for us it was a game, a game that would prove useful one day.
That day, no funeral took place, for my uncle had made it. He had a strong will to live. But every time I think of that moment, I think about my grandmother. The 60 year old woman, who used to divide her week according to visiting days in Israeli prisons. Before one of them was released, another would be arrested, so that they rarely gathered at a dinner table. We were all used to it, not seeing all my uncles at the same time. I rarely heard my grandmother complain, but it was clear to everyone how much she loved her family and how sad she was that they weren’t all around her. She didn’t have to tell her children to go and demonstrate. It was a natural reaction to what these children themselves saw and went through, and it was the love of the land planted in their heart by my grandmother. She would often talk about Jrash, the village from which she and her family and all the residents were ethnically cleansed by the Zionist terror organizations. They were forced to move from one place to another, until they finally reached what is now Dheisheh refugee camp. There she tried to reconstruct her original home by planting some trees in the small piece of land near the UNRWA rooms they were to live in.
The life of my grandmother is typical of the lives of many Palestinian mothers. She was born in a small picturesque village in Palestine, where she grew up, got married and started a family. She would take care of her home, and help the family with the fields. She would care for her small garden and the apple trees which she loved most and would make marmalade for the winter. When the Zionist terror organizations started implementing their plan of ethnically cleansing the Palestinian population, Palestinian villages were attacked one after the other, and horrific massacres took place. The residents of Jrash were finally forced to leave, but not before they fought heroically. My grandparents often talked about these days. During my last visit to Palestine a couple of months ago, I listened to my grandfather as he talked about the fight with the Zionist groups. With sharp memory, he mentioned such details, that for a few seconds I could feel myself there, with them, 60 years ago.
A number of times my grandmother was beaten by the IOF soldiers, some of whom were younger than her own sons and who didn’t care that she was an elderly woman. When IOF soldiers would attempt to arrest someone in the refugee camp, she would hurry with the other women and try and stop them. When Zionist settlers would attack the refugee camp, she would carry the tree stem she hides behind the couch and go protect the camp alongside the men and women. And in the early mornings of the day, when everyone is still fast asleep, after finishing the morning prayer I would hear her asking God to protect her family, her relatives, her neighbours, the refugee camp, the Palestinians and the whole world. I heard her day after day asking forgiveness for the whole world.
In Palestine mothers are sacred. Every one of us has several mothers: the mother that gave birth to us, the olive tree, the land and the mother of all: Palestine. And a Palestinian mother isn’t just a mother to the children she gives birth to, she is mother to all Palestinians. When a Palestinian is being arrested by the IOF, women of all ages will be surrounding the soldiers within seconds, trying to free the prisoner. And for that, sometimes they pay a heavy price, like the 60 year old Mariam Ayyad from Abu Dees. On the night of 20th of September 2008, IOF soldiers broke into her house. After arguing with her, the old woman was repeatedly hit and thrown on the ground by the soldiers until she died in front of her children and grandchildren. During curfews, it is mostly women who would move carefully from one house corner to another and from one street to the other and distribute wheat and milk. When young masked men wanted to go from one place to another, they would be assisted by these mothers, who would check that the roads were clear of IOF soldiers. And when one of their millions of children gets killed by the IOF, they all gather and mourn as one single mother, that it becomes difficult to figure out which one of these mothers is the martyr’s mother. They are the protectors, the helpers and the witnesses of Israeli brutality, for many of them not only carry the pain of losing their children, they carry the scars of more than 60 years of Zionist terror and destruction.
During the Nakba of 1948, Zionist terrorists massacred Palestinians indiscriminately. Even women and children, who are protected during wars under all human laws, were killed in a brutal way. Accounts of the Deir Yassin massacre mention that among the 254 Palestinians victims were 25 pregnant women who were bayoneted in the abdomen while still alive. Another 52 children were maimed in front of their mothers before having their heads cut off by the Zionist terrorists. After the village of Beit Darras had been surrounded by Zionist terror groups and further Zionist mobilization was on the way to occupy the village, the Zionist terror groups called on the Palestinian residents to leave the village safely from the south side. The villagers decided that it was safer for the women and children to leave, since it was the village the Zionists wanted. Upon leaving the village, all the women and children were massacred by the Zionist terrorists. Kafr Qasim, Qibya and many other massacres carry the same pattern of killing unarmed mothers and their children. Other mothers lost their children, and many their lives, after being forced out of their homes to wander the hills of Palestine in search of a safe spot.
The suffering and pain of Palestinian mothers continues till today. Palestinian mothers, including the elderly and the sick among them, are often humiliated at checkpoints in front of their children, and pregnant women are delayed, causing many to give birth at these checkpoint. Women are not only delayed at checkpoints, they are often prevented from reaching hospitals, causing miscarriages and even the death of some of women and infants. Many unnamed children are stillborn at Israeli checkpoints after unnecessary delays or after their mothers were forced to deliver on the dirt road or inside cars at the checkpoint. A report of the Palestinian Ministry of Health published in October 2006 states that since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000 some 68 pregnant women gave birth at Israeli checkpoints, leading to 34 miscarriages and the death of four women. In 2002, in two consecutive days two pregnant women on their way to hospital were shot and injured by the IOF soldiers at a checkpoint in the Nablus area. One of the women lost her husband who was shot on the neck and the chest. Others are forced to give birth at home, despite fear of complications because they fear they will be stopped at checkpoints and won’t make it in time to the hospital. In Azzun Atma near Qalqilya pregnant women are even forced to take up residence outside the village until they deliver out of fear that they might not be able to get the necessary medical treatment. The village, encircled by the apartheid wall, is separated by a gate from the rest of the West Bank. This gate is not manned at night, making the village a prison to its residents. According to a B’Tselem report, alone during 2006 some 20 out of 30 pregnant women from Azzun Atma were forced to relocate outside of the village because of their pregnancy.
IOF soldiers don’t hesitate in arresting Palestinian mothers to be used as hostages to pressure wanted Palestinians to give themselves up. In its report “Behind the Bars: Palestinian Women in Israeli Prisons” published in June 2008, Addammeer, Mandela Institute and the Palestinian Counselling Centre state that “As of May 2008, over 9.080 Palestinian political prisoners remain in Israeli prisons, detention facilities and camps; of those 73 Palestinian women (including 2 girls aged 16 and 17 of a total of 327 minors, and 24 mothers with a total number of 68 children.” Many of the prisoners are held without any charges, and are subjected to torture, humiliation and intimidation. There were four cases of women giving birth inside Israeli prisons under difficult conditions. These women had their hands and feet shackled to their beds. They remain so until they enter the delivery room and are chained again after they deliver.
Palestinian mothers are not only to suffer the loss of their children, husbands and other family members, they themselves are also targeted by the IOF. According to Miftah 7141 Palestinians had been killed by the IOF during the period from 28th September 2000 till 28th February 2009, 1138 of whom were children and 581 were women. A recent report of the Palestine Centre for Human Rights on Israel’s war on Gaza confirms that “Over the course of the 22 day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, a total of 1,434 Palestinians were killed. Of these, 235 were combatants. The vast majority of the dead, however, were civilians and non-combatants: protected persons according to the principles of IHL. PCHR investigations confirm that, in total, 960 civilians lost their lives, including 288 children and 121 women. 239 police officers were also killed; the majority (235) in air strikes carried out on the first day of the attacks. The Ministry of Health has also confirmed that a total of 5,303 Palestinians were injured in the assault, including 1,606 children and 828 women.” Every single child killed had a mother. Human rights organization talked in their reports about mothers being killed together with their children, others witnessing the killing of their children and not able to prevent it, while others died in front of their children. Some of these mothers lost not only one child, but several. Of the many war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, one horrific story tells the fate of a Palestinian mother of 10. While sitting with her children, the IOF soldiers entered her house and demanded she choose five of her children to “give as a gift to Israel”. After the woman screamed in horror, the IOF soldiers told her they would choose themselves and then killed five of her children in front of her.
Palestinian mothers have been actively participating in resisting the occupation. They are the first to organize sit-ins in front of international organizations and hold marches demanding the release of their children from Israeli prisons or protesting the brutality of the Israeli military occupation. They visit their sons in hospitals and in jails, despite the long wait and the humiliation they endure on the hands of the Israelis jailers. Also, many of these mothers are the supporters of their families. When the father or son is arrested or killed by the IOF, it is the mothers who take on the burden of providing for their families. Those among them who have a piece of land would plant it with vegetables and herbs, to be later sold to neighbours or at the local market. Others use their embroidery skills to stitch Palestinian tradition dresses “thob”, scarves, shawls and pillow covers. They hold their families together, particularly in difficult times.
Biased media, serving only Zionist propaganda, ignores the suffering of Palestinian mothers under Israeli occupation and instead often portrays them as heartless women, who send these children to the streets and encourage them to throw stones so be killed and then celebrate their death. Palestinian parents encourage their children to study and get a good education and build a better future for themselves. Some parents even lock their children inside the house to prevent them from participating in demonstration or any other kind of activity against the IOF because they know the brutality of the IOF and out of fear they might be killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers. Parents work hard to spare their children the suffering they themselves endured under the Israeli occupation. But as long as the Zionists occupy Palestine, Palestinian suffering will continue, and generation after generation will seek to get themselves rid of this brutal occupation, no matter how hard the parents try to keep their children away from it. Living in Palestine, and being confronted with Zionist terror every day, one is not in need of parents or teachers to form an idea about this Zionist state and decide to demonstrate for a better future. That is why many join demonstrations or get politically active without telling their parents. In many cases it is when the children get arrested or are killed that the parents first know of their children’s involvement in resisting the occupation. Palestinian mothers who lose their children often appear composed on TV and in the news, and if asked, most of them talk about their martyred children in pride and calm and without shedding a tear. It is behind the camera that they show their sorrow and anger at the loss of their beloved ones. Palestinians know that these mothers want to send a message to Israel: despite the suffering and the pain, you won’t break us, ever. Few journalists bother to visit these mothers days after their children have been killed. Many of them visit the grave of their killed child daily, and others keep their room as it was when they still lived there. Few reporters bother asking these mothers what memoires they have kept of their children. If they did, they would be shown clothes, hair brushes, notebooks and pictures, all soaked in tears. These mothers would have freely sacrificed their lives to save their children from death on the hands of the IOF and give them a future empty of Zionist occupation.
Mothers are sacred in Palestine because they are the personification of Palestine: the homeland and the mother of all Palestinians. It is the love of this land that is handed over from one generation to the next. Whenever in Dheisheh, we often sat with grandmother as children, listening to her talking about Palestine, the Nakba, the Naksa and the life in a refugee camp. She would talk about her mother and her grandmother, about her brothers and sisters, about my grandfather, and about her children. She was strong and was always there for her family, even at times when she herself was very weak. She was the safe island everyone seeks and the cave that sheltered us from the storm. Even long after her death, I still often think of her and ask for her guidance. She passed down her strength, steadfastness and kindness to her children. My mother continued the tradition of connecting us to the Palestinian landscape. As children, she and my father used to sit with us and tell us stories about Palestine, the history that one would not find in book, the history of the real people who lived on this land and appreciated it. For me, the personal experiences of my grandmother and mother are priceless. I am thankful to my grandmother and my mother for introducing me to a Palestine that was unknown to me, to parts of our history that others work hard to delete, to a heritage that is mine forever. Through our mothers Palestine is celebrated every single day.
In his poem “My Mother”, late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish said:
I must be worth my life
At the hour of my death
Worth the tears of my mother
Tags: AIPAC, gaza, IDF, Israel, Khalid Amayreh, US foreign policy, Zionism
One of the most scandalous aspects of US foreign policy towards the Middle East is the shocking dishonesty inherent in the American approach regarding the Palestinian plight.
The US often watches Israel indulge in pornographic criminal acts against Palestinian civilians, acts that contradict the most fundamental American ideals and norms.
However, instead of condemning these evil crimes, successive American administrations have either kept silent or given Israeli the benefit of the doubt.
Take for example the recent Israeli blitz in Gaza. Everyone under the sun knows by now that Israeli forces committed outrageous massacres of innocent civilians in Gaza.
And every honest person knows that these crimes were carried out knowingly and deliberately, often using American-supplied weapons, such as F-16 fighter planes, White Phosphorus bombs, dart shells and anti-personnel chemical agents that eat through the body, causing indescribable suffering, leading to death.
So, could it be possible that the US, with all its intelligence capabilities, doesn’t really know that Israel committed these massacres against innocent civilians whose only “crime” was their enduring determination to be free from Judeo-Nazi persecution and oppression?
This week, the United Nations human rights investigator Richard Falk pointed out that the Israeli blitz against the Gaza Strip in December and January constituted a clear-cut war crime of the “greatest magnitude.”
Falk said Israel clearly violated the Geneva Conventions which require warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.
“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attack is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law.”
Falk, a Jew, argued convincingly that on the basis of the preliminary evidence available there is reason to reach this conclusion: that Israel carried out deliberate massacres against innocent civilians.
“Some of these criminal violations included the targeting of schools, mosques and ambulances and the use of internationally prohibited weapons such as White Phosphorus, in civilian areas.”
Falk’s remarks have been perfectly corroborated by irrefutable evidence produced and gathered by numerous human rights groups, including Israeli groups such as B’Tselem.
Indeed, even Israeli soldiers and officers who took part in that genocidal onslaught are now making testimonies acknowledging that the Israeli army committed indiscriminate and wanton murder of innocent civilians and that everyone was aware of this reality.
According to these testimonies, published by the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, “Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property.” (Ha’aretz, March 19, 2009)
According to Ha’aretz, the testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an “incident” where an IDF sharpshooter “mistakenly” shot a Palestinian mother and her two children.
“There was a house with a family inside, we put them in a room. Later, we left the house and another platoon entered, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof.
“The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold fire and he…he did what he was supposed to do….!!
“I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to…I don’t know how to describe it….The lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very less important than the lives of the soldiers. So, as far as they are concerned, they can justify it that way.”
Some Israeli officials and mouthpieces of Zionist propaganda would claim that these criminal acts of premeditated murder were merely “individual aberrations.”
This is a big and most likely malicious lie (a malicious lie occurs when the liar knows he is lying). After all, an aberration doesn’t happen 1,500 times in 22 days.
In short, Israeli soldiers and pilots were given clear and unmistakable instructions to murder civilians, to destroy their homes and to thoroughly terrorize them.
Well, things are clear enough for all those honestly interested in knowing the truth.
Regrettably, however, it is amply clear that the Obama administration, along with most European governments, are not really interested in pursuing this matter, not because they don’t know the truth about Israel and its hideous crimes in Gaza, but rather because the truth is too inconvenient for them.
Indeed, it is highly inconceivable that western governments don’t know the truth about the recent genocide that Israel perpetrated in Gaza. They know it, probably too well.
The problem with these military and political powers, but moral midgets, is that they don’t want to act on their knowledge. They don’t want to look Israel in the eye and tell her Nazi-minded leaders that they are murderous thugs and ought to be thrown behind bars or at least be shipped, like drugged wild animals, to the Hague to be prosecuted for their crimes. Indeed, had the Obama administration had a semblance of moral ethics, it would have refused to receive Gabi Ashkenazi, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, the man who supervised all the wanton killings and destruction in Gaza.
That man is a war criminal pursuant the laws of man and the laws of heaven. His hands are stained with the blood of 400 children, many of whom were exterminated with White Phosphorous shells.
However, instead of arresting him, or at least denying him an entry visa, America received him with all the trappings and pleasantries befitting a venerable statesman. Shame on America for prostituting herself before the Nazis of our time.
Well, this is the crux of the matter that the Obama administration is reluctant to face for fear of upsetting the powerful Jewish lobby in America, which is trying apparently successful in forcing the new American leadership to be at AIPAC’s beck and call.
In short, if the Obama administration wants to be sincere and honest about peace in the Middle East, it should stop preoccupying itself with secondary and symptomatic matters such as Palestinian “terror” and Hamas’ “non-recognition” of Israel, and the so-called “Iranian threat.”
The real problem impeding peace and stability in the Middle East is simply the malignant tumor known as Israel, a bellicose, militaristic, arrogant and paranoid state that has lost all claim to decency, dignity and respect, a state whose modus operandi is based on murder, dishonesty and theft.
Hence, it is imperative that the Obama administration abandon, once and for all, its hopelessly impotent stance vis-à-vis Israel and its powerful agents in America.
This is if Obama truly wants to succeed and save his country and the world from the huge turbulence and chaos now looming over the horizon.
The statesman Winston Churchill once was heard to say, “Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.” Surely, his experience in international relations would lead him to have had a clear understanding of who is sitting at the helm in the decision room, and who simply dances to someone else’s music.
Well, Mr. Obama, assume the position of leadership that everyone expects, rather than jumping to the orders of the Jewish lobby. This is how they are accustomed to treating American presidents, from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush.
This is certainly what they want you to be. The way the lobby handled the recent “Freeman affair” is a stigma of shame on America’s forehead. It leaves no doubt as to that lobby’s rapacity, meanness and hell-bent determination to enslave America for Israel’s sake.
Don’t surrender to them. American is too important for the world to be handed over to the Satanic lobby.
Tags: Military spending, Palestine, Vauro, War
Tags: Hasbara Deconstruction Site, IDF soldiers, IOF, Israel, Israeli Army
News has come out, which normal people with eyes have seen anyway, that some IDF soldiers have admitted that killing civilians was routine and they knew it. Haaretz has started a series of the accounts, but I urge you to visit Richard Silverstein’s blog, where he translates the bits the English Edition didn’t really want others to see, the worst parts, obviously… and they are revolting.
Yet, for the moment, I’m not going to address this issue. I’ll wait until the MFA lie factory comes out with their excuses. In the meantime, I present another side to the fun and games that is life as an Israel soldier, and that is, the company unit t-shirts that they wear for bonding reasons. If anyone has any doubts about the Morals of this Moral Army, read this article from Haaretz written by Uri Blau. No Virgins No Terror Attacks shows the utter banality of evil.
‘No virgins, no terror attacks’
The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit’s insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.
Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription “Better use Durex,” next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.” A “graduation” shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, “No matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it.”
There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, “Bet you got raped!” A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies – such as “confirming the kill” (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim’s head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.
In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit’s commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, “We won’t chill ’til we confirm the kill” were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn’t exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.
The slogan “Let every Arab mother know that her son’s fate is in my hands!” had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit’s shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.
“It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town,” he explains. “The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him.”
Does the design go to the commanders for approval?
The Givati soldier: “Usually the shirts undergo a selection process by some officer, but in this case, they were approved at the level of platoon sergeant. We ordered shirts for 30 soldiers and they were really into it, and everyone wanted several items and paid NIS 200 on average.”
What do you think of the slogan that was printed?
“I didn’t like it so much, but most of the soldiers wanted it.”
Many controversial shirts have been ordered by graduates of snipers courses, which bring together soldiers from various units. In 2006, soldiers from the “Carmon Team” course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, “You’ve got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it’s all over.” Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: “And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry.” [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.] Another sniper’s shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, “Everything is with the best of intentions.”
G., a soldier in an elite unit who has done a snipers course, explained that, “it’s a type of bonding process, and also it’s well known that anyone who is a sniper is messed up in the head. Our shirts have a lot of double entendres, for example: ‘Bad people with good aims.’ Every group that finishes a course puts out stuff like that.”
When are these shirts worn?
G. “These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it’s about.”
Of the shirt depicting a bull’s-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: “There are people who think it’s not right, and I think so as well, but it doesn’t really mean anything. I mean it’s not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman.”
What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan “Smaller – harder!”?
“It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller.”
Do your superiors approve the shirts before printing?
“Yes, although one time they rejected some shirt that was too extreme. I don’t remember what was on it.”
These shirts also seem pretty extreme. Why draw crosshairs over a child – do you shoot kids?
‘We came, we saw’
“As a sniper, you get a lot of extreme situations. You suddenly see a small boy who picks up a weapon and it’s up to you to decide whether to shoot. These shirts are half-facetious, bordering on the truth, and they reflect the extreme situations you might encounter. The one who-honest-to-God sees the target with his own eyes – that’s the sniper.”
Have you encountered a situation like that?
“Fortunately, not involving a kid, but involving a woman – yes. There was someone who wasn’t holding a weapon, but she was near a prohibited area and could have posed a threat.”
What did you do?
“I didn’t take it” (i.e., shoot).
You don’t regret that, I imagine.
“No. Whomever I had to shoot, I shot.”
A shirt printed up just this week for soldiers of the Lavi battalion, who spent three years in the West Bank, reads: “We came, we saw, we destroyed!” – alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center.
A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: “If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!”
Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. “You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing,” he explained.
What is the soldier holding in his hand?
Y. “A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque – I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn’t look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, ‘Is that what you’ve got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?’ I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn’t worth it for them to go on shooting. So that’s the idea of ‘we’re coming to destroy’ in the drawing.”
According to Y., most of these shirts are worn strictly in an army context, not in civilian life. “And within the army people look at it differently,” he added. “I don’t think I would walk down the street in this shirt, because it would draw fire. Even at my yeshiva I don’t think people would like it.”
Y. also came up with a design for the shirt his unit printed at the end of basic training. It shows a clenched fist shattering the symbol of the Paratroops Corps.
Where does the fist come from?
“It’s reminiscent of [Rabbi Meir] Kahane’s symbol. I borrowed it from an emblem for something in Russia, but basically it’s supposed to look like Kahane’s symbol, the one from ‘Kahane Was Right’ – it’s a sort of joke. Our company commander is kind of gung-ho.”
Was the shirt printed?
“Yes. It was a company shirt. We printed about 100 like that.”
This past January, the “Night Predators” demolitions platoon from Golani’s Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, “Only God forgives.”
One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: “It doesn’t mean much, it’s just a T-shirt from our platoon. It’s not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt.”
What’s the idea behind “Only God forgives”?
The soldier: “It’s just a saying.”
No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?
“I don’t see what you’re getting at. I don’t like the way you’re going with this. Don’t take this somewhere you’re not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs.”
After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan. S., a soldier in the platoon that ordered the shirt, said the idea came from a similar shirt, printed after the Second Lebanon War, that featured Hassan Nasrallah instead of Haniyeh.
“They don’t okay things like that at the company level. It’s a shirt we put out just for the platoon,” S. explained.
What’s the problem with this shirt?
S.: “It bothers some people to see these things, from a religious standpoint …”
How did people who saw it respond?
“We don’t have that many Orthodox people in the platoon, so it wasn’t a problem. It’s just something the guys want to put out. It’s more for wearing around the house, and not within the companies, because it bothers people. The Orthodox mainly. The officers tell us it’s best not to wear shirts like this on the base.”
The sketches printed in recent years at the Adiv factory, one of the largest of its kind in the country, are arranged in drawers according to the names of the units placing the orders: Paratroops, Golani, air force, sharpshooters and so on. Each drawer contains hundreds of drawings, filed by year. Many of the prints are cartoons and slogans relating to life in the unit, or inside jokes that outsiders wouldn’t get (and might not care to, either), but a handful reflect particular aggressiveness, violence and vulgarity.
Print-shop manager Haim Yisrael, who has worked there since the early 1980s, said Adiv prints around 1,000 different patterns each month, with soldiers accounting for about half. Yisrael recalled that when he started out, there were hardly any orders from the army.
“The first ones to do it were from the Nahal brigade,” he said. “Later on other infantry units started printing up shirts, and nowadays any course with 15 participants prints up shirts.”
From time to time, officers complain. “Sometimes the soldiers do things that are inside jokes that only they get, and sometimes they do something foolish that they take to an extreme,” Yisrael explained. “There have been a few times when commanding officers called and said, ‘How can you print things like that for soldiers?’ For example, with shirts that trashed the Arabs too much. I told them it’s a private company, and I’m not interested in the content. I can print whatever I like. We’re neutral. There have always been some more extreme and some less so. It’s just that now more people are making shirts.”
Race to be unique
Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot, said the phenomenon of custom-made T-shirts is a product of “the infantry’s insane race to be unique. I, for example, had only one shirt that I received after the Yom Kippur War. It said on it, ‘The School for Officers,’ and that was it. What happened since then is a product of the decision to assign every unit an emblem and a beret. After all, there used to be very few berets: black, red or green. This changed in the 1990s. [The shirts] developed because of the fact that for bonding purposes, each unit created something that was unique to it.
“These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable,” Ben-Tzedef explained. “It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction.”
Yossi Kaufman, who moderates the army and defense forum on the Web site Fresh, served in the Armored Corps from 1996 to 1999. “I also drew shirts, and I remember the first one,” he said. “It had a small emblem on the front and some inside joke, like, ‘When we die, we’ll go to heaven, because we’ve already been through hell.'”
Kaufman has also been exposed to T-shirts of the sort described here. “I know there are shirts like these,” he says. “I’ve heard and also seen a little. These are not shirts that soldiers can wear in civilian life, because they would get stoned, nor at a battalion get-together, because the battalion commander would be pissed off. They wear them on very rare occasions. There’s all sorts of black humor stuff, mainly from snipers, such as, ‘Don’t bother running because you’ll die tired’ – with a drawing of a Palestinian boy, not a terrorist. There’s a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, ‘No virgins, no terror attacks.’ I laughed, but it was pretty awful. When I was asked once to draw things like that, I said it wasn’t appropriate.”
The IDF Spokesman’s Office comments on the phenomenon: “Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers’ private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort.”
Shlomo Tzipori, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves and a lawyer specializing in martial law, said the army does bring soldiers up on charges for offenses that occur outside the base and during their free time. According to Tzipori, slogans that constitute an “insult to the army or to those in uniform” are grounds for court-martial, on charges of “shameful conduct” or “disciplinary infraction,” which are general clauses in judicial martial law.
Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of “Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military,” said that the phenomenon is “part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome – the calm that never arrived – led to a further shift rightward.
“This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him.”
Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?
Sasson-Levy: “No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the ‘Screw Haniyeh’ shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs.”
Col. (res.) Ron Levy began his military service in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando force before the Six-Day War. He was the IDF’s chief psychologist, and headed the army’s mental health department in the 1980s.
Levy: “I’m familiar with things of this sort going back 40, 50 years, and each time they take a different form. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the ways in which soldiers project their anger, frustration and violence. It is a certain expression of things, which I call ‘below the belt.'”
Do you think this a good way to vent anger?
Levy: “It’s safe. But there are also things here that deviate from the norm, and you could say that whoever is creating these things has reached some level of normality. He gives expression to the fact that what is considered abnormal today might no longer be so tomorrow.”
Tags: gaza, Google, Israel, Mother's Day, Palestine, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance
On the 21st of March the Arab world celebrates Mother’s Day. On this day also the length of the day becomes equal to the length of the night. Nature is sending us a hint of optimism that everything is possible and as much as we feel despair, there is an equal chance of hope.
I thought of researching some photos from Google to celebrate women and their children. I started with the terms “Mother and child” in a research in Arabic and I found all kinds of mother and child pictures available from every country and animals as well, including chimps and monkeys, but not one of an Arab woman or a Palestinian woman with a child.
I thought of shifting to the English search in Google engine, again the Arab woman was not there at all. Is it possible that thousands of screaming mothers in Gaza next to their children’s corpses have been dropped from the memory of Google? Was this an intentional attempt not to include us as mothers from a general search? Mothers and children of remote areas I have never heard of were there in hundreds of pictures, but not one Arab woman with her child… not even one mother from Lebanon crying over her children during the attacks on South Lebanon, not one woman crying over her killed children in Iraq, not one photo of any Arab woman with a child in Darfur or Iraq.
Have we been condemned sterile? Are we denied the honour of being mothers by Google?
I would like to remind Google on Mother’s Day that Mary the Mother of Christ, who happens to be the most important icon of motherhood in history, is a Palestinian Mother. How come none of almost 2000 pictures of Palestinian Mothers and their killed children on the Net could not manage to find their way to Google’s engine?
Talking about conspiracy, I guess this one example shows how common it must be to manipulate the media. Imagine if every researcher of women and their children stumbled upon photos of thousands of Palestinian Mothers hugging their killed children – what that would that lead to? Yes, it will offer people an extra eye and a great chance to know that there are people oppressed and crying for help, this will move the hearts of people who have a clean conscious that they might spend some time to know why all Palestinian Mothers are stained with blood, and investigate why their children are laying there wounded or killed. People will start to wonder why there is no picture of children playing, drawing, flying a kite, enjoying a meal, smiling or studying. People might wonder why women’s pictures show mothers without homes, mothers cooking on open fires in the wild, mothers inside prisons, mothers who do harvest flowers in black so that another mother from the FIRST world can enjoy mother’s Day and get a beautiful bouquet of flowers gathered by another Mother in Palestine who could not afford to take a day off on Mother’s Day, because she is the sole supporter and provider of her family because men are either dead or in prisoners by Israeli authorities.
Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers around the world, and a special Happy Mother’s Day for my heroines, the Palestinian and Arab Mothers.