Posts Tagged ‘IOF’

The Rotten Orchard


(there are many important hyperlinks, the colour of which is very close to the text colour.) On March 19th, two months after the 22-day devastation of Gaza and the slaughtering of over 1,400 Palestinians, the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz published harrowing testimonies by numerous Israeli soldiers who had participated in “Operation Cast Lead.” The soldiers, all recent graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory program, were speaking at an open academic forum about their recent military experiences and, as Sarah Anne Minkin of Jewish Peace News reports, “confessed that they’d knowingly shot civilians to death in Gaza, that they’d intentionally vandalized Palestinian homes, and that the rules of engagement in the war – rules handed down from above – were exceptionally permissive.”

In response to these testimonies, the Israeli military denied the claims made by their own personnel, stating that even if some of the allegations and anecdotes were true (since the troops had “no reason to lie”), they were isolated incidents and did not represent the IDF as a whole. Nonetheless, the IDF promised to conduct “intensive and comprehensive inquiries” and an investigation was launched.

Eleven days later, on March 30th – half the time it took the Israeli air force, navy, and army to murder 313 children, 116 women, 497 civilian men, and 255 non-combatant police officers, wound over 6,000 more, and leave tens of thousands homeless – the Israeli military concluded that the soldiers’ stories of gross misconduct and war crimes were baseless, that they were “based in hearsay” and “rumors,” and declared an end to the probe. Even though the pre-military program’s own founder and leader, Danny Zamir, who is himself a deputy battalion commander in the IDF, described the soldiers’ testimonies as “dismaying and depressing” and concluded that the stories reveal the truth about “an army with very low norms of value,” the IDF investigators disagreed. Luckily for the IDF, the “investigation” by the IDF found that the IDF was still, in fact, according to the IDF, “the most moral army in the world.” What a relief that must have been.

Apparently, the claims of intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians, of shooting women and children, of the wanton destruction of civilian infrastructure and personal property, even if they are true, are only, we are told, the misguided actions of a few bad apples.

In fact, we are told that, in Israel, any evidence of military or political misconduct, human rights or international law violations, or racism and oppression are mere aberrations from normality, simple – however troubling – deviations from the peace-loving, ethnically tolerant, democratically representative mainstream. We are told not to judge an entire society by the misdeeds of some bad apples. These bad apples don’t represent the whole Israeli orchard, which, we are told, thrives on justice and equality. (The fact that the Israeli orchard was planted atop a bulldozed Palestinian orchard is, we are told, irrelevant. Even broaching such a topic is anti-Semitic…we are told.)

We are told that the Jewish Rabbinate distributed books and pamphlets, indoctrinating Israeli troops headed for Gaza with claims that they are holy warriors fighting to expel the Palestinians (collectively called “murderers”) who are “interfering with our conquest of this holy land.” The rabbis preach that there is a “a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter” of Israel to non-Jews and the literature they hand out states that “when you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral.” We are told that these rabid rabbis are just a handful of overzealous, extremist apples.

Even though in the first nine hours of the recent Gaza assault the Israeli Air Force dropped over 100 tons of bombs on one of the most densely populated areas on Earth – an area blockaded to ensure that no one penned up inside could escape Israeli missiles, shells, and bullets, we are told that the atrocities that occurred in Gaza must have been perpetrated by a few bad apples.

In three weeks of devastating bombings and ground assaults, the Israeli military destroyed over 4,100 homes, 25 schools and hospitals, two bridges, 1500 factories and shops, and numerous government offices and buildings in Gaza. Ten water and sewage arteries, ten electricity-generating stations, and 80% of all agricultural properties, including all farms and crops, were also destroyed. Damages to Palestinian infrastructure exceed $2 billion. Who is being held responsible for this destruction? Is it the Israeli government that authorized the operation, the military brass that planned and ordered the attacks, or the pilots, sailors, and soldiers that carried them out? We are told that the bad apples of Hamas are to blame.

We are told that “for the most part, someone who belongs to Hamas’ civilian welfare organizations is treated the same way as a member of its military wing” and is a legitimate target as dictated by Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security force. We are told that many of the Israeli attacks on Gaza were carried out via remote control. An Israeli reservist is quoted as saying, “It feels like hunting season has begun…Sometimes it reminds me of a Play Station game. You hear cheers in the war room after you see on the screens that the missile hit a target, as if it were a soccer game.” Have we lost count of bad apples yet?

We are told that Parash Hill, near Sderot, with views across lush green fields to Gaza City with the Mediterranean Sea beyond, was full of Israeli sightseers during the Gaza assault. They came with their families, binoculars, cameras with zoom lenses, and picnic baskets to watch Israeli F-16s, Apache helicopters, and unmanned drones fire missiles into residential neighborhoods, destroying buildings and slaughtering their terrified inhabitants. They gather on this “Hill of Shame” to view the carnage in the distance, celebrating the death and destruction, justifying the killing of children by saying, “When they grow up they’ll also probably be terrorists.” These Israelis, for whom watching genocidal air raids is a spectator sport, must be bad apples.

The Israeli military used banned and experimental weaponry such as white phosphorous and Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME) in heavily-populated civilian neighborhoods of Gaza. These weapons cause severe burns, dismemberment and mutilation to their victims. Numerous other atrocities have been well documented by Israeli and international organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild, and B’Tselem. We are told that the perpetrators of such blatant war crimes must surely be bad apples, but for some reason the International Criminal Court has yet to charge anyone for misconduct.

The Israeli army used flechettes, which are “anti-personnel weapons designed to penetrate dense vegetation…4cm long metal darts that are sharply pointed at the front, with four fins at the rear. Between 5,000 and 8,000 are packed into 120mm shells which are generally fired from tanks.” Wafa’ Nabil Abu Jarad, a 21-year-old pregnant mother of two, was killed by flechettes in Gaza. Who would fire such heavy weaponry at a civilian? Probably just another bad apple.


Testimonies from Israeli soldiers reveal that it was common practice to storm an apartment building in Gaza and open fire upon anything that moved. Women and children waving white flags were gunned down. Soldiers “break down doors of houses for no reason other than it’s cool,” take over homes, write “Death to Arabs” on the walls, spit on family pictures, urinate on piles of the residents’ clothing, smear shit on the walls, and receive orders to “clean out the whole house. We threw everything, everything, out of the windows to make room. The entire contents of the house went flying out the windows.” Palestinians who try to run away must be terrorists, just as those who stay where they are must be terrorists. The pilot who makes a minor mistake like bombing a school and killing 40 Palestinian children is forgiven while the Israeli squad commander who says, “That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him. With us it was an old woman, on whom I didn’t see any weapon. The order was to take the person out, that woman, the moment you see her…I simply felt it was murder in cold blood” is yet another bad apple.

The sharpshooter who shot and killed a mother and her two children because they misunderstood orders (to turn right instead of left), given to them by Israeli soldiers who had invaded and occupied their home for days, holding them captive in one room before releasing them, was just a bad apple who made a mistake. According to the sniper’s squad leader:

“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 our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way.”

Maybe he wasn’t such a bad apple, actually. After all, he was just following orders.

The non-commissioned officer who revealed that when the Israeli army “entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up storey by storey…I call that murder. Each storey, if we identify a person, we shoot them,” must just be talking about orders given by a bad apple or two and carried out by some more bad apples.

We are told that the Israeli soldiers who have custom t-shirts designed and printed for their units at end of training or field duty that bear such images as dead Palestinian babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques are just bad apples.

The snipers who wear shirts depicting a dead Palestinian baby with a teddy bear and his weeping mother beside him, accompanied by the inscription “Better use Durex,” the soldiers wearing shirts with a drawing of a Palestinian boy and the words, “Don’t bother running because you’ll die tired,” those who wear shirts depicting an Israeli soldier raping a Palestinian girl and the inscription “No virgins, no terror attacks,” the sharpshooters from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion who wear T-shirts showing a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, and the slogan, “1 shot, 2 kills,” these, we are told again and again, are just some more bad apples.

We are told that troops in Gaza engaged in a military practice called the “Neighborhood Procedure,” wherein Palestinian civilians are forced, often at gunpoint, to enter homes and ask the inhabitants to come out. This practice has been rejected by Israel’s own Supreme Court due to the ruling that using civilians in military operations violates not only IDF protocol but also international law, such as the Geneva Conventions that guarantee immunity to all civilians. So what is happening to the bad apples in the IDF who are using Palestinian civilians as human shields?

We are told that the IDF commanders who ordered their troops to shoot at Palestinian and Red Cross paramedics, rescuers, and ambulances in Gaza, preventing evacuation and treatment of the wounded, resulting in the deaths of an unknown number of Palestinians, in another unequivocal breach of international law, are most likely just some bad apples.

The rules of engagement in Gaza, as defined by the Israeli military, state that a Palestinian need only be in a “problematic” location for him to be “incriminated” and thereby automatically be “sentenced to death. Often, there is no need for him to be identified as carrying a weapon. Three people in the home of a known Hamas operative, someone out on a roof at 2 A.M. about a kilometer away from an Israeli post, a person walking down the wrong street before dawn – all are legitimate targets for attack.” According to the IDF, the bad apples here are the “suspicious” Palestinians, stupidly living their lives without seeking permission from Israel, and not the soldiers shooting unarmed civilians.


In Gaza, Israeli soldiers entered the home of a woman and her ten children and told her she had to choose five of her children to “give as a gift to Israel.” After ignoring the screams and pleas for mercy and repeating their demands, the soldiers said they would choose for her and murdered five of the children before her eyes. These soldiers are apparently bad apples.

A senior Israeli reserve officer, after hearing about some of the barbarity of the Israeli troops in Gaza, said it was important to “bear in mind what sort of values inductees have when they come to us these days. Every year, the education system produces a significant number of little racists.” That sounds like a significant number of bad little apples.

Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is one such bad apple. Lieberman, leader of the openly fascist Israel Beteynu party, ran for Prime Minister in Israel’s recent elections under the banner of “No loyalty, no citizenship” with the hopes of implementing oaths of allegiance to a Jewish state in order for Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish critics of Israeli policies toward Palestinians to maintain their citizenship. Lieberman even led a call to ban two Arab parties from Knesset elections – a move that was approved by the Central Elections Committee but subsequentally overturned by the Supreme Court. Undeterred, Lieberman said, “We will not give up. In the next Knesset we will pass the Citizenship Law, which will put a border on the disloyalty of some of the Israeli Arabs.” He is also a confessed and convicted child abuser, is under investigation for money-laundering and fraud, was a proud member of Meir Kahane’s Kach political party, which was outlawed due to its overt racism, and lives in an illegal Israeli settlement in the Palestinian West Bank.

As Minister of Transport in 2003, Lieberman, in response to the news that 350 Palestinian prisoners were to be given amnesty by Israel, declared that he would be happy to provide buses to take the prisoners to the Dead Sea and drown them there.

Of the thirty-three parties running for the Knesset in the recent elections, Israel Beteynu came in third. In mock elections held in 10 high schools prior to the official vote, the party came in first, followed by the hard-right Likud. The left-wing Meretz party came in dead last. Lieberman’s rabid teenage supporters wave Israeli flags and shout “Death to the Arabs” outside Israel Beteynu conferences, openly call for a fascist dictatorship in Israel, and explain their support for such beliefs by drawing connections to their mandatory military service this way:

“It gives us motivation against the Arabs. You want to enlist in the army so you can stick it to them. The preparation gives you the motivation to stick it to the Arabs and we want to elect someone who’ll do that. I like Lieberman’s thinking about the Arabs. Bibi doesn’t want to go as far.”

So, how many bad apples does it take for Israel Beteynu to finish third in parliamentary elections?

Lieberman’s predecessor, Tzipi Livni, is seen as being more of a centrist in Israeli politics. As leader of the Kadima party, founded in 2005 by war criminal Ariel Sharon, Livni supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in order to transfer Arab citizens out of Israel. Speaking at a Tel Aviv high school a week before the Gaza attacks, she said, “My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic State of Israel is to have two nation-states with certain concessions and with clear red lines…And among other things, I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, ‘your national solution lies elsewhere.'” Is someone who limits national identity and the full spectrum of rights to only Jewish citizens of Israel, thereby excluding nearly one fifth of the population, a good apple or a bad apple?

Benyamin Netanyahu is Israel’s new Prime Minister and head of the Likud party. The 1999 party platform, more than a decade newer than the constantly-pointed-to Hamas Charter, confirms Likud’s unabashed support for illegal Jewish settlements in Palestine:

“The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

The document also states that “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem” and wholly rejects any semblance of a sovereign Palestinian state:

“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”

If we are told that Hamas leaders Khalid Meshal and Ismail Haniyeh are bad apples for consistently offering 30-year-long truces and accepting (and recognizing) Israel as a legitimate political entity within its 1967 borders, then what exactly are Bibi and his Likudniks?

We are told that the Israeli government has banned Palestinian political activity in Jerusalem. At one recent event, celebrating the Arab League’s designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture for 2009, Israeli authorities broke up a children’s march at an East Jerusalem Catholic school and when the teenage girls present at the gathering “released a few dozen balloons in the red, white, green and black colors of the Palestinian flag over the walled Old City…Israeli military police and soldiers quickly moved into the schoolyard and popped the remaining balloons.” Obviously, these balloon-poppers and party-poopers are just some local bad apples enforcing the law.

A recent poll by Israel’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies shows that 46% of Israel’s Jewish citizens favor the “transfer” of Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza, 31% favor the “transfer” of Israeli-Arabs out of the country altogether. Moreover, 55% say that the state should encourage Arab emigration, only 49% support the establishment of a Palestinian state, 61% believe Israeli-Arabs pose a threat to Israel’s security, and around 80% are opposed to Israeli-Arabs being involved in important decisions, such as delineating the country’s borders. Another poll, conducted by the Israeli Association for Civil Rights, found that 78% of Jewish Israelis are opposed to Arab parties being part of a coalition government, 56% believe that “Arabs cannot attain the Jewish level of cultural development,” 75% agree that Arabs are inclined to be violent (54% of Arab Israelis feel the same way about Jews), and 75% of Israeli Jews say they would not live in the same building as Arabs.

By contrast, the United Nations Development Program reports that nearly 70% of Palestinian young adults over the age of 17 oppose the use of violence to resolve the conflict with Israel and only 8% believe that violence is an important tool. The study also found that 42% were depressed by their current conditions and 39% were “extremely” depressed (55% in Gaza).

We are told that the barbaric destruction of Gaza had the support of 90% (if not 94%) of Israelis. Assuming this percentage excludes all Palestinian citizens of Israel, we’re only talking about 5 million or so bad apples.

When the seeds of a society are cultivated on a steady diet of historical falsehoods, bogus founding mythologies, unabated colonization and rampant militarism, some bad apples, infested with hatred, racism, and convictions of divine right, ethnic supremacy, and perpetual victimization, will surely grow.

But with so many bad apples, it is clear: the entire orchard is rotten.

Nima Shirazi is a writer and a musician. He was born and raised in Manhattan. Now living in Brooklyn, he writes the weblog Wide Asleep In America under the moniker “Lord Baltimore.” He can be reached at wideasleepinamerica (at) gmail (dot) com.

 


صلح با عدالت
Peace with justice

Lord Baltimore
Wide Asleep In America
Brooklyn, NY
http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com

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WRITTEN BY Anis Hamadeh

 

With amazement the world public has noticed in recent weeks that war crimes had apparently been committed in Gaza. (1) Even Israeli soldiers and military staff now report about their own cruelties against the Palestinian population, cruelties that we do not even know from movies. (2) The stylish T-shirts, that promote the shooting of pregnant Palestinian women by indicating that in this way you can kill two human beings with one bullet, appeared strange to people abroad, too. (3) Moreover, the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Israeli foreign minister horrifies the public. (4) There would be further reasons to be disgusted, like the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, the plans for expanding the illegal settlements, some killings, the abduction of Gazan fishermen and so on, but these details do not enter the global discourse, because, well, because they never did. The question is: how genuine is the amazement about what happened in Gaza?

 

Did anything change in Israeli politics? Are those really completely new phenomena, suddenly coming up in the discourse, out of thin air? Or do we only witness the consequences of a continuing strategy that had begun more than sixty years ago? There are good arguments for the latter alternative, especially when you look at the facts. Let us, for example, revisit the year 1948 …


Deir Yassin and the Human Rights

 

1948 was a special year. It was marked by Plan D, the Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine. (5) Jewish troops expelled about 700,000 people from the indigenous population of the country and killed many of the men in combat age. Even in 1936, after the Palestinian revolt, the Palestinian elite had been persecuted. This was shortly after the first Palestinian party was founded which was to represent the interests of the native population in the two fronts struggle against the British occupation and the Zionist conquerers. “Punishments” like the demolition of residence houses were firstly used by the British and were adopted later by the Zionists. In 1948, several Jewish terror groups were known, like the Haganah, Irgun, the Stern Gang, Lechi and others. They killed, took the land away from the local people and later contributed several prime ministers who were accepted by the world public without any difficulty – very similar to today.

 

Don’t think that the pogroms against the population of Palestine during the execution of Plan D were secret. When the future Prime Minister Menachem Begin had the Arab village of Deir Yassin attacked on April 9 and many of its inhabitants killed (certainly including children and women) in order to terrorize and horrify the people, this was covered in the world press. Begin defended his deed with a typical Israeli bonmot: “The massacre of Deir Yassin not only had its justification – without the ‘victory’ of Deir Yassin there had never been a State of Israel.” (6) Four years later, the same Begin attempted to kill the German chancellor Adenauer (7) and in 1978 he received the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

When Deir Yassin went through the press, the horror about this deed was huge, very similar to today after Gaza. Everybody was surprised and disgusted, even perpetrators like Haganah and the Jewish Agency. A pattern came into being, the pattern of shooting and crying, i.e. killing with subsequent lament. This has worked: there have never been any consequences for Israel. The killings, the expropriations and the humiliation of the local population until today belong to the salient characteristics of Israeli politics. Nothing has changed.

 

At the end of 1948, large portions of Palestine were “Palestinian-free”, much more than the designated part of the land that the international community and the UN had granted to the Jews (with the explicit demand that the local people be treated well). We remember that the international community decided to give some land to the victims of the European genocide against the Jews and everybody was happy with the Palestine decision … except, of course, the people who lived in the region, because it was their land according to all international and logical standards. Weapons and myths (8) silenced them.

 

1948 was also the year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In December, when Israel was established on the blood of the Palestinians, the world celebrated the Human Rights and did not care about Palestinians. The world wanted human rights with exceptions, but this did not work. Now, sixty years later, we begin to understand that.

 

The Aryan state did not work, let’s try a Jewish state …

 

During its history, Israel has continued the Deir Yassin policy, and today there is less than 10 or 5 percent of the land left to the Palestinians. On global refugee days people do not talk about Palestinians, although they are the biggest group of refugees in the world with far over 5 million people. This works because Palestinians (and Arabs and Muslims in general) are needed to fill the role of the anti-Semite which is substantial to the Zionist ideology.

 

It is, as if the world said: the Aryan state did not work, let’s try a Jewish state … Is it really surprising that we witness stunning similarities between the two today? (9) The Israeli population today is exactly confronted with the “final solution” subject now, because Israel cannot make peace on the one hand (this would imply justice for Palestinians, an unthinkable idea in Israel’s decision-making) and needs to end the conflict, on the other. With extremely violent politicians like Netanyahu and Lieberman the “transfer” plan comes closer, an idea to just expel Palestinians en masse like in the old days. Of course, if this happens, it will not mean peace, but more violence and even stronger resistance. So let your imagination fly and think about what a final solution could look like.

 

It is not known how many Palestinians must die before the world recognizes that they are human beings and not anti-Semites. Right now the killing goes on, the Gaza peak did not evoke a real criticism yet. Israel is encouraged to go on to see how far it can go. Do not think that this was it, do not think that Israel will now see that it cannot go on like this. The Zionists have learned that they can do anything with impunity. On March 22, 2009, a total of 14,000 tons of new US weapons arrived in Ashdod on the German cargo ship “MS Wehr Elbe” (owner: Oskar Wehr KG, Hamburg). (10) With these weapons alone, tens of thousands of people can be killed.

 

The Jewish state will collapse, like the Aryan state has collapsed, because both have the seed of self-destruction in them. Both are clearly racist, violent and expansionist in nature. This time it hits Arabs and Muslims instead of Jews. For over sixty years the international community has been blind to this fact, although it is so obvious that ordinary people know it and talk about it – not politicians or journalists or others who need the public.

 

Countries like Germany even have a “reason of state” to secure the persecution of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, calling it a “historical responsibility”. There is no other possible reason to introduce a reason of state if it was not for something highly illegal that needs to be hushed up.

 

We may still save the rest

 

The repressive tolerance of Western countries like Germany and the USA makes it possible to write all this down, because it usually has no “harmful” effects towards change. A lot of people think that – unlike the Nazi state – the Zionist state cannot be overcome by violence and thus will prevail. This is an error. Racist regimes of this ilk end up in self-destruction if they are not overcome from the outside. What is important now: we can still save lives. We cannot save the about 1,500 dead in Gaza anymore. But we may still save the rest.

 

At the end of May, the Free Gaza Movement will organize a flotilla of boats, the Hope Fleet, to break the siege of Gaza. You can support them. (11) The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is present in Palestine to shield Palestinians from the Zionist killers (12). You can support them and save lives. This is a critical phase and every hand is needed, every tongue and every cent. Boycott Zionists now! Take it seriously now! Boycott non-Israeli journalists and politicians who support the killing! Argue with them! Support those Jews who are committed against violence and for peace in Palestine. For the sake of humanity and of yourself: do not take part in this murder.

 


NOTES:
1. E.g. in the German “Spiegel”, “Israelische Armee: Gaza-Veteranen schockieren mit Aussagen über wahllose Morde.” by Ulrike Putz, Beirut,
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,614286,00.html
2.
See e.g. ‘Shooting and crying’, von Amos Harel, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072475.html
3. See e.g. http://news.sky.com 20 March 2009, “Israeli Army T-Shirts Mock Gaza Killings”, by Dominic Waghorn (URL too long)
4. Guardian 25 March 2009, “Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s shame”, by Neve Gordon, http://www.redress.cc/palestine/ngordon20090327
5. Ilan Pappe, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”, 2006
6.
Markus A. Weingardt (2002): Deutsche Israel- und Nahostpolitik. p. 33
7. See e.g. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12 June 2006 “‘Im Auftrag des Gewissens’. Begin war Drahtzieher des Adenauer-Attentats”, www.faz.net/s/RubFC06D389EE76479E9E76425072B196C3/Doc~E35BBCD5A37DA47809AD4F6A865C6332B~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html
8. Myths like “A land without a people for a people without land”, “Arab aggressions/ David vs. Goliath”, “anti-Semitic Arabs/Muslims”, Palestinian Nazi cooperation (it was far less effective than Zionist Nazi cooperation), Arab military superiority (Jordan was the only country with a decent army then, and the Jordanian king was successfully promised a part of the prey, namely the West Bank); also see John Rose (2004), “Myths of Zionism”
9. This comparison is still forbidden in the mainstream, “for the security of Israel”, but it is as obvious as it is founded and necessary. See my essay “The Second Case”, Feb. 5, 2009, http://www.anis-online.de/1/essays/23.htm
10. Amnesty International, Press Release, April 1, 2009, United States Delivers Massive New Weapons Shipment to Israel, Confirmed by Pentagon, Says Amnesty International, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20090402002&lang=e (NB: The German government is co-guilty, cf. (in German): http://www.radio-utopie.de/2009/01/23/Bundesregierung-dementiert-Wissen-ueber-Waffentransport-nach-Israel-Chronologie-der-Wehr-Elbe-Affaere)
11. See press release and updates at www.freegaza.org
12. http://palsolidarity.org

 

SOURCE: http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/804-shooting-and-crying-nothing-new-since-1948–or-is-it

 

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.”

Israeli bullets against Vittorio Arrigoni From Infopal

Written by Vittorio Arrigoni, Translated by Mary Rizzo

One heart, two hands, a beating heart and a mind that is still working. Two eyes deep enough to focus on injustice and aimed at by snipers Two hands that are still working so that they can comfort the little child who is A “dispersed son of a lesser God”, and a heart that is skipping beats and pumping blood for a mind that is not ready to show indifference before a tragedy such as this. I am alive, but this could quite easily have been the video of my execution:

 

When a bullet (even if it may have been a rubber coated one) rushes past your temple, I can assure you it is like you have received a slap in the face by a heavyweight, something so strong to knock you to the ground. This is what happened, two days ago at Khozaa, when we were accompanying Palestinian agricultural workers (they and we are visibly all unarmed civilians) so that they can work in their own fields, at a distance of approximately 600 metres from the confine, Israeli snipers tried to kill me. The bullets struck at less than 50 centrimetres from where I was standing. Several days earlier, despite the presence of internationals, the same snipers had wounded Mohammad al-Buraim, who is deaf-mute:

   

I beg you to look at these videos and to spread them on the internet. They speak clearly as to precisely what the Israeli siege is to those who do not have ears to listen to the cries of pain from these innocent people who are butchered on a daily basis by the “only democracy in the Middle East”. To who hasn’t got a nose to smell the stench of Fascism behind the masks of victims in which these killers dressed as soldiers are manoeuvred from Tel Aviv, by land:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nkcYaqhpng

and by sea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu8lGTPaMzk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTUYivihoTE   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87NrkNV_owM

We’ll be back soon to accompany the Palestinian farmers to their fields, aware of the fact that while dying might be for some a matter of survival, for others it’s just a pastime of target practice.
Let’s stay human
Vik

 SEE ALSO: http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m52185&hd=&size=1&l=e