Palestinian medical sources in Bethlehem said that a child was seriously injured, on Tuesday evening, when an explosive device, dropped by the Israeli army during training, detonated near him as he was herding the family sheep.
The sources said Malek Abu Dayya, 12 years of age, was injured in the al-Manshiyya area in Teqoua’ town, southeast of Bethlehem.
He was first moved to a local clinic before he was moved to a hospital in Bethlehem due to the severity of his injuries.
The area is frequently used by Palestinian shepherds for grazing, while the army largely uses it, as well as other areas in the West Bank, for military drills using explosives and live ammunition.
There have been dozens of similar incidents, many leading to fatalities, mainly in the Plains area of the Jordan Valley, where the many military bases are located, and the soldiers use the surrounding areas for training.
Many Bedouin communities have been repeatedly displaced for settlement activities, and for the army to build bases, and conduct live fire training.
NABLUS – Israeli military forces on Monday destroyed an electricity network in the Nablus village of Aqraba, a Palestinian official said.
Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma’an that Israeli military bulldozers raided the Khirbet al-Tawil area of the village and demolished the main power line established in 2004.
Israeli soldiers destroyed over 80 electricity pylons and wires, he added.
Israel is using demolitions to “pressure residents to leave their houses for the sake of nearby settlements.”
In August, Israeli forces demolished four houses in the al-Tawil neighborhood, some of which were over 100 years old.
The al-Tawil neighborhood is on the outskirts of Aqraba and locals say Israeli forces have targeted several properties in the area under the pretext that they were built without a permit.
An article in Middle East Quarterly, a pro-Israel publication, reports that support for Israel is eroding among American evangelical Christians, with only 30 percent in a recent survey stating support for Israel above Palestinians.
This trend is even more pronounced among youth, according to an article by David Brog, Jewish-American executive director of “Christians United For Israel (CUFI), a major pro-Israel organization. Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has called CUFI “a vital part of Israel’s national security” and columnist Charles Kauthammer has said, “I do not know of an organization in the world more important to Israel than CUFI.”
Brog’s article, “The End of Evangelical Support for Israel?” is largely pitched as a wake-up call to Israel partisans who, according to Brog, “must take this threat seriously.” (For more on Brog, see below.)
Brog quotes a journalist reporting in 2012 about the “the largest gathering of young evangelical leaders in America,” the Catalyst convention: “In dozens of random conversations, I noted that Millenians … expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and annoyance with Israel. This is a seismic shift in the American church and a serious threat to Israel’s one traditional area of support.”
A decade ago, Brog reports, “As if out of nowhere, a block of fifty to one hundred million friends of Israel were poised to enter the national debate and safeguard the U.S.-Israel relationship for generations to come.”*
Today, however, Brog describes a significant reversal. As more and more evangelicals learn the facts on Israel-Palestine (Brog calls such information an “anti-Israel narrative”) they are dropping their unconditional support for Israel.
While evangelical support for Israel has often been attributed to their theology, Brog’s article indicates that the significant factor in the shift is learning the true situation in Israel-Palestine.
Brog states that there is a precedent for such an about-face. While many mainline Protestant churches used to support Israel, he states that today “to the extent the mainline denominations act corporately in connection with the Jewish state, it is to divest from it.”
Similarly, as evangelicals learn more about the issue, Brog reports that “more leaders of this generation are moving toward neutrality in the conflict while others are becoming outspoken critics of Israel.”
Brog writes, “Questioning Christian support for the Jewish state is fast becoming a key way for the millennials to demonstrate their Christian compassion and political independence.”
Today, Brog writes, many of those 18 to 30 are “rebelling against what they perceive as the excessive biblical literalism and political conservatism of their parents. As they strive with a renewed vigor to imitate Jesus’ stand with the oppressed and downtrodden, they want to decide for themselves which party is being oppressed in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Brog cites a 2010 Pew survey of evangelical leaders attending the Third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization that “contained two bombshells. It showed that only a minority of those evangelicals polled sympathized primarily with Israel. And it demonstrated that American evangelical leaders were actually less inclined to support Israel than evangelical leaders in general.” The survey found that 49% of American evangelical leaders sympathize with both sides equally and 13% sympathize primarily with the Palestinians.
Brog also notes that the survey indicated that evangelical support for Israel was “never as universal as was commonly believed.”
Much of the increased awareness of the situation, Brog reports, comes from evangelical experts on the Middle East who are speaking and writing widely on this issue, producing documentaries, organizing trips to the region, and creating conferences to inform Christians on the facts.
In the last few years three documentaries were made by Christians specifically for Christians to inform them on Palestine: With God on Our Side, Little Town of Bethlehem, and The Stones Cry Out. They were created by, respectively, Porter Speakman, a former Youth with a Mission member, Mart Green, chairman of the board of trustees of Oral Roberts University, and Yasmine Perni, an Italian journalist. Brog also names evangelicals such as Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Serge Duss and sons Brian and Matt, and Palestinian Christians such as Sami Awad and Naim Ateek as among those educating Christians on Palestine.
Christian Universities and Palestine
Brog reports that while numerous people are aware of the work on college campuses for justice in Palestine, “many observers do not realize that such efforts are also “being waged on America’s Christian campuses.”
In his article Brog describes activities on four of America’s major Christian colleges:
Brog reports that Wheaton College in Illinois is “commonly referred to as the “evangelical Harvard,” noting, “Some of the most prominent church leaders in America have graduated from Wheaton, including the Rev. Billy Graham, Sen. Dan Coats (Republican, Indiana), and George W. Bush’s former speechwriter Michael Gerson.”
Today, Wheaton is the home of Professor Gary Burge, an author who speaks widely on Israel-Palestine. “When Christians United for Israel (CUFI) announced plans to hold an event at Wheaton in January 2009, Burge went on the offensive,” Brog reports. “CUFI’s student members came under such intense pressure that they moved their event off-campus: There would be no pro-Israel event at the evangelical Harvard.”
Oral Roberts University
Brog writes that Oral Roberts University “has deep conservative Christian roots.” “Oral Roberts himself was a Pentecostal televangelist and a strong friend of Israel,” a number of major preachers in America graduated from the school, and pro-Israel preacher John Hagee has been on its board of trustees.
Today, however, the chair of the board of trustees chair is the aforementioned Mart Green, whose film is a powerful depiction of the Palestinian nonviolence movement. The university’s current president is Dr. William “Billy” Wilson, who was named as a speaker for what Brog calls “the leading anti-Israel Christian conference,” Christ at the Checkpoint, held at Bethlehem Bible College in March 2014.
Brog writes that Bethel is “representative of the direction that America’s Christian colleges are taking.” He notes, “Like many Christian schools, Bethel emphasizes racial reconciliation and cultural openness and has accordingly developed numerous opportunities for its students to study abroad.”
In 2010 Bethel’s president Jay Barnes and his wife visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to explore establishing a study abroad program in the area. During the trip they visited Bethlehem.
Upon their return Barnes posted a poem on the university’s website:
Incredible conflict exists in the land of Jesus’ birth/ I believe God mourns.
The wall is a constant reminder of many lost freedoms/ I believe God mourns.
For more than 60 years, people have lived in poverty in refugee camps/ I believe God mourns.
Apartheid has become a way of life/ I believe God mourns.
Extreme disproportional distribution of resources, such as water, exists/ I believe God mourns.
Hundreds of villages have been demolished to make room for settlements/ I believe God mourns.
Human rights violations occur daily/ I believe God mourns.
The Christian population is declining as many are leaving to avoid persecution/ I believe God mourns.
In 2012, Brog reports, President Barnes hosted a “Hope for the Holy Land” evening at Bethel, featuring “long-standing Christian critics of Israel.”
A growing trend
A similar transformation involves the son of leading evangelical publisher Steven Strang, who has been a regional director for CUFI. The younger Strang, Cameron, has his own publishing organization, Relevant, whose website says it reaches over two million twenty- and thirty-something Christians a month.
Less than a decade ago Relevant was extremely pro-Israel. But then, Brog writes, Cameron Strang visited Israel and the Palestinian territories, “and everything changed.”
Relevant’s May/June 2012 cover featured prominent author Donald Miller. In 2008 Miller had been chosen to deliver the first night’s closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention, and, according to Brog, Miller “is considered a rising star among America’s 20-something evangelicals.”
After visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories with Strang, Miller began to discuss the situation in Palestine, writing:
“In September a group of journalists and I visited Israel and stood on a hill overlooking the wall separating Israel from Gaza. From our viewpoint, we could see the controversial territory where 1.6 million Palestinians have been walled in and secluded from the outside world. They are, essentially, imprisoned.
“The walls erected around the West Bank and Gaza separate families from families. Many mothers will not see their children again. Millions will never return to the homes their families had occupied for hundreds of years. … Thousands of Palestinian students at American universities will never see their families again.
“Israel gives most Palestinians fresh water once each week. … In Gaza, Israel also rations their food, allowing only so many calories per human being.”
The beginning of the end?
Brog warns that Israel partisans “must take this threat seriously,” despite the fact that the pro-Israel side “is still far ahead in the battle for the hearts and minds of America’s evangelicals. Just one pro-Israel organization, Christians United for Israel, has over 1.6 million members, chapters on more than 120 college and university campuses, and sponsors thirty-five pro-Israel events across the country every month. Anti-Israel Christians do not come close to matching CUFI’s size, activity, or influence.”
He writes, however, that the long-term trend described above presents a challenge, stating that what he calls “anti-Israel Christians” are “on a roll” and “are reaching an ever expanding network of evangelicals in the United States.”
Brog warns: “The day that Israel is seen as the moral equivalent of Hamas is the day that the evangelical community—and by extension the political leaders it helps elect—will cease providing the Jewish state any meaningful support.
He continues: “Those who reject such facile moral equivalence must take this threat seriously. They cannot let the evangelical community go the way of the mainstream Protestant leadership.” Their “lies,” he says, “must be confronted early and often.”
Brog’s article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Middle East Quarterly.
A few months later Israel launched its August 2014 “Protective Edge” invasion of Gaza, killing 2191 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians – 521 of them children and infants. During the same period Hamas resistance fighters killed 71 Israelis, the large majority of them soldiers, one a child.
During its massive invasion, Israeli forces destroyed 61,800 homes, damaged or destroyed 62 hospitals, 220 schools, and caused $7.8 billion in damage to Gazans – and this was the third major invasion in five years.
Then within two weeks after a ceasefire had been agreed to, Israeli forces had already killed at least two Palestinians, one sixteen years old; kidnapped several dozen Palestinians, including two seven year olds and an eight year old; confiscated 1,500 acres of Palestinian land; destroyed dozens of homes and buildings; and committed numerous other violations of human rights. During the same period Hamas forces had not not fired a single rocket, attacked an Israeli target, or committed any actions to break the terms of the ceasefire.***
Brog’s concern is justified. Many Americans who are finally learning such facts are beginning to suspect that Israel is not morally equivalent to Hamas. It is inferior.
Brog’s article suggests that the coming months will see a renewed propaganda effort from CUFI and other members of the multi-billion dollar Israel lobby.
However, as a leader of the lobby once said, a lobby thrives in the dark. As Brog reports, numerous people from across the religious and political spectrum are now turning on the light.
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: How the U.S. was used to create Israel.
* This wasn’t entirely “out of nowhere.” Groups and individuals working to create Israel during the first half of the 20th century had specifically undertaken efforts to influence Christians to support this project. For more on this see Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the US Was Used to Create Israel.) After Israel was established through its 1947-49 founding war, Israel and its partisans continued such efforts, including providing a jet plane to Jerry Falwell, facilitating his ability to reach Christians with a version of theology that benefited Israel.
** For more information and additional statistics on the August 2014 Israeli invasion of Gaza and its aftermath see http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/violence-gaza-14.html
Two articles discuss David Brog and his influential role in “Christian” Zionism:
1. An article by journalist Troy Anderson in Charisma magazine, “Where Your Israel Donation Really Goes,” reports:
“Brog is the powerhouse behind the Christian organization, yet he’s also a conservative (non-Messianic) Jew. He brought two other Jews on board: Shari Dollinger from Atlanta as one of his coordinators and Ari Morgenstern as communications director. Morgenstern ensures CUFI’s messaging is consistent with what Brog wants—which is to convey that evangelical Christians support Israel, yet (to his Jewish supporters) are also “safe” because CUFI will never proselytize.
“Brog, who was chief of staff to liberal Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania for seven years, is said to run CUFI like a political campaign. He has talking points, stays focused and rallies his constituency. He’s well liked by those who work with him and known for being a brilliant strategist. But one by one, the higher-profile Christian leaders who helped Hagee start CUFI are dropping off as the organization becomes more focused on political lobbying.
“It’s no secret that one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, D.C., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has long wanted a “Gentile arm,” and some believe they now have it in CUFI. Jewish leaders and philanthropists love to attend CUFI’s events to see the genuine enthusiasm and love expressed for Israel. Though there’s still rousing Christian music and prayer at these events, there’s most certainly no proselytizing. As a result, many wealthy Jews have pumped tens of thousands of dollars into CUFI.
“Like Hagee, Brog has learned how to straddle the line between the evangelical and Jewish communities, and it shows in CUFI’s growth. The organization boasts of having more than 1 million “members,” though insiders know such membership consists of nothing but CUFI having your email address. There’s nothing to pay, nothing to sign. And even if you drop out, you’re still counted as a member. Given this, insiders say the number of actual donors is closer to 30,000 to 50,000.
“Meanwhile, little is known about CUFI’s finances other than funds raised. The organization says neither Hagee nor his wife, Diana, receives any compensation from CUFI. Yet when Charisma asked CUFI the same questions asked of other organizations in this report—particularly about administrative costs, leader salaries and budgetary breakdown—Morgenstern declined to comment…”
2. The excerpts below are from “How Christian is Christian Zionism? An Update on its Uneasy Interaction with Jewish Missions and Evangelism” by David Brickner, Executive Director, Jews for Jesus [a pro-Israel organization.] Presented at the 26th Annual Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism-NA, March 2-4, 2009, Phoenix, Arizona
“This century has seen the rise of two powerful organizations… They are the most sophisticated, financially powerful and prominent Christian Zionist organizations today. They, more effectively than their forebears in the ’80s and ’90s, have diluted the gospel message, diverted gospel resources and discouraged a balanced perspective toward the Israeli/Arab conflict. In fact, unbelieving Jewish men run both organizations.”
The two organizations are “International Fellowship of Christian and Jews” and “Christians United for Israel” (CUFI)
Regarding CUFI, Brickner writes:
“Though headlined by well-known charismatic pastor and preacher John Hagee, CFI’s executive director is David Brog, an unbelieving Jewish attorney who served in various positions in the Senate including chief of staff to Senator Arlen Specter. Brog, author of Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State, has been quite plain about Christians United for Israel’s rejection of evangelism…
“Brog made it clear in an interview in the Washington Jewish Week that ‘all Christians United for Israel events are strictly non-conversionary and that the group will have no Jewish converts as speakers at events or on the organization’s Board.’ Brog went on to say; ‘The group tells people that if you cannot put aside your desire to share the gospel with Jews there’s the door.’
“Of course this would be expected policy coming from any organization run by unbelieving Jews. The fact that the organization states that it is Christian yet excludes fellow Jewish Christians from participation is both racist and unchristian. Tuvya Zaretsky tells the story of having been invited apparently accidentally to a program sponsored by Christians United for Israel and the Israel Christian Nexxus, a pro-Israel lobby group. When he called to confirm participation, Patricia Johnson, who was working on the event, told him that he was invited by accident and because he was a Jewish believer in Jesus was not welcome. Said Zaretsky,
“’Somehow these Christians do not realize that if they want to bless Israel, they must extend that blessing to all of Israel – including those within the Body of Messiah and those who still need to be introduced to Him.’
“Sadly, it is not just that Jewish believers are not welcomed in Christians United for Israel. Neither is the gospel. And not just because of the Jewish unbelievers. The well-known figurehead of CUFI and perhaps the most prominently known Christian Zionist today is John Hagee…”
“Unfortunately it’s not easy to tell what the scope of resources is behind the Christians United for Israel group. They have not filed a form 990 with the IRS. Hagee’s Global Evangelism Television Inc. does have filings, but only as recently as 2004. At that time they had an annual income of over $10,000,000 and Hagee’s compensation from the company was $500,000 a year. Of course the 18,000-member church that he pastors, Cornerstone, is separate from the television ministry. One presumes he receives a salary from the church as well as whatever royalties his more than a dozen books provides.
“Christians United for Israel, as I said, has not registered any financial information, although news articles can give us an indication. In October of 2007, according to the Jewish News Weekly, CUFI raised 8.5 million dollars for Israeli causes at Hagee’s “Night to Honor Israel” event. If you look on the CUFI website you will see several “Night to Honor Israel” events scheduled each month.
“CUFI does identify its regional directors, some of whom are well known political Christian Zionists. One of the better known is Robert Stearns of Robert Stearns International Incorporated, doing business as Eagles’ Wings Ministries. Stearns’ organization is best known for organizing the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. It reported income of $2,800,000 for the year 2007, and states its purpose is to “promote the message of Christianity.” However, Eagles’ Wings Ministries does not encourage prayer for the salvation of Israel, the only true hope for peace…”
The United States has informed Syria that it will conduct airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) for three years, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Saturday.
“They [the United States and its allies] said they will strike for three years. They informed us but this doesn’t mean they have our acceptance,” Muallem said.
Earlier in September, the United States announced the formation of an international coalition aimed at fighting IS militants. Washington and its allies have already conducted a number of airstrikes on IS positions both in Syria and Iraq.
The United States has been carrying out airstrikes against the IS on the Syrian territory without any formal permission from Damascus.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that the coalition should seek consent of the countries, in which the airstrikes are conducted.
Along one of the roads in the city of Ariha in the north of the occupied West Bank, merchants Khaldoun and Hassan regularly receive 30 tons of dates produced in the neighbouring Israeli agricultural settlements, in preparation for their transfer to one of the packaging factories built on the outskirts of the city, Anadolu news agency reported.
Inside the factory, about 13 minors are working on “screening” the dates and repackaging them in bags that read “dates of the Holy Land” in both Arabic and English and “Made in Palestine” in order to market them locally, in the Arab states and in Europe.
This is what one of the farms that is owned by Israeli settlers does in order to market its produce of dates to customers of European Union countries after the enforcement of a decision earlier this year to boycott any products of settlements in the West Bank.
Anadolu cited a statement issued by the Palestinian national economy minister saying that members of the ministry have found dozens of tons of produce coming from the settlements in this way, on its way to either the local market or to the packaging factories in the city of Ariha and the neighbouring villages.
Merchant Khaldoun, 45 years, told Anadolu’s reporter, “We do trade in dates of the settlements, which we buy at prices that are 40 per cent lower than the market price. And in order to be able to market the dates, we clean and re-package them and choose the best in preparation for selling them in the local market, as well as the Arab and European markets.”
He added that the annual volume of his seasonal sales of dates is nearly 350 tons, pointing out that other merchants who work in this field and in other varieties of vegetables and fruits, such as citrus fruits, nuts, and medical herbs have similar practices.
His fellow trader Hassan said that he has a licensed company that is registered officially. The export process takes place after the official bodies check the quality and specifications of the product, ensuring the product’s conformity with European specifications and international standards. It is then exported under the “Made in Palestine” label.
The minister of economy said in its statement that any truck carrying dates must also be carrying a transfer permit to move the dates from inside the farm of production to the factory that will process the packaging, noting that it has begun to take stricter steps over the trade of dates through listing the names of the farmers who grow dates, the number of trees they own and their annual average production.
Palestine enjoys customs exemptions and export-related facilities in trade with the countries of the European Union, so the Israeli companies cooperate with Palestinian merchants to export the dates produced in the settlements illegally established in the West Bank to the European Union, while benefiting from such exemptions.
In the beginning of 2014, the European Union announced its decision to boycott economic, scientific and academic relations with institutions, factories and farms that have any investments or presence in the Israeli settlements established in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Earlier, the ministry of economy confiscated more than 20 tons of corrupt and damaged dates coming from the Israeli settlements while on their way to one of the factories for repackaging to later sell them as a product of Palestine.
JERUSALEM – Israeli police on Tuesday morning deployed heavily at all gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound imposing restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers ahead of the Jewish New Year.
A Ma’an reporter in the holy city said Israeli police denied Palestinian men aged under 45 and all women entry to the mosque. Women and men under 45 had to perform dawn prayer in the streets outside the compound, she added.
In addition, police kept all gates closed except the Chain gate and the Council gate where police officers deployed heavily and scrutinized ID cards of worshipers.
Dozens of young men and women who were barred from al-Aqsa gathered outside the gates and chanted slogans denouncing Israeli police procedures and affirming it was their right to access the holy place.
Director of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian ministry of endowment Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma’an that Tuesday’s closures of the compound were in preparation for Jewish holidays.
He said Knesset member Miri Regev from the Likud party who chairs the Knesset’s interior and security committee had asked the police to prepare the grounds for visits by Jews during holidays.
“We expect very difficult days in al-Aqsa during the upcoming Jewish holidays,” al-Khatib said.
Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
As-Sawia, Occupied Palestine – On the evening of the 10th September, unknown assailants broke into the As-Sawia Secondary School, forced open the door and set the school on fire. Bedouins living close to the school saw the fire and alerted the fire brigade. By the time it was put out, the principal’s office and teachers’ rooms were completely burned.
“We lost six computers, four printers, all the teachers’ books and materials, but most of all, the administrative documents and files of the students and about the school situation over the past years. The whole damage is around 140,000 shekels,” the principle Adnan Hussein told ISM. The school was closed for three days after the arson attack.
As in many schools in the occupied West Bank, the students and staff of As-Sawia Secondary School suffer from constant settler and military harassment. Three days before the arson, armed settlers who called themselves “security” from one of the nearby hilltop illegal settlements stood at the school gates. When the principal spoke to them, they claimed that children threw stones at the settler cars on their way to school.
The school is located by Road 90, which was paved in 1944 and runs across the West Bank. The road is used by Palestinians and by illegal settlers. The children have to walk alongside it to get to school in the mornings and to go home after school.
“Our school is suffering both for the settlers and the army,” explained Hussein. “We constantly have the army at our gates, checking ID’s and bothering children”
On the 3 September, armed settlers stopped in a car marked as the illegal settlement Eli’s “security” at the gate of the school. One of the settlers came out of the car, jumped over the fence and started following some of the children, who have finished their classes and were leaving for home. The principle approached the settler and told him that he is not allowed in the school with weapons, and the settler responded that he was looking for a child who threw stones and shouted at the settler car earlier.
After agreeing to move outside the school gate at the head teacher’s insistence, the settler with the machine gun was joined by another settler and they insisted that the boy in the red T-shirt was brought to them. They also wanted the head teacher’s mobile phone number so that they could call him in the future.
“I had a bad feeling that something horrible will happen and that they will start shooting,” related Hussien. “I left some teachers with the settlers and with other teachers went to escort children through another gate and send them home, when three soldiers appeared. I went to speak to them. I told them that they cannot be in school with their weapons and in their uniforms but they insisted that they wanted to speak to a boy in the red T-shirt for 10 minutes.”
The principal and staff stood between the soldiers and settlers and the pupils to protect them while they were leaving the school. By this time worried parents were at the gate and they took the children away.
Throughout 2013, the army entered the As-Sawiya 51 times and children and the staff had to put up with teargas, sound bombs and arrests of pupils.
Hussein explained, “It is a constant worry that the settlers and the army will come. It is hard enough to control 350 teenagers even in the countries where there is no occupation. It is not easy and we do what we can to try to do our best keep the education for our children going. We have no problem with Jewish people and I can say that many of them are nice and honest, but settlers are generally dangerous people. I know that people should be able to choose where they live, but that does not include taking someone else’s land without permission.”
Now that the dust has settled on the mutilated bodies of Palestinian men, women and children, the world seems able to ignore the desperate plight of those that survived. Apartheid Israel has accomplished its periodic ‘mowing of the grass’, the leveling of Gaza’s infrastructure, the destruction of schools, hospitals and mosques, and the killing of over 2,000 innocent, unarmed and defenseless Palestinians. Business for Israel now continues as usual, with IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) terrorists focusing their murders on innocent Palestinians in the West Bank. There, with complete impunity, they bulldoze homes, shoot unarmed teenagers, arrest and detain children, establish arbitrary checkpoints and steal land, all in violation of international law, law the international community doesn’t seem particularly interested in enforcing.
This is not meant to imply that Israel is ignoring Gaza. No, in violation of the cease-fire agreement, an agreement that apparently only the Palestinians have to abide by, IDF terrorists shoot Palestinian fishermen fishing within the very limited zone that Israel, again in violation of international law, permits them.
Not all countries of the world seem oblivious to Palestinian suffering. Cuba, Venezuela and Turkey have all sent aid to assist people deprived of food, water and shelter. But the U.S., which traditionally showers all kinds of aid on countries that do its bidding, but ignores or terrorizes those, such as Palestine, that don’t, has not responded.
A recent quotation by U.S. President Barack Obama is interesting: “… we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us.” This seems to fit the situation in Palestine. At least hundreds of thousands, and, realistically, millions of people have been affected by Israel’s most recent genocidal activities, and the continued financial aid to that apartheid, racist nation has ‘economic, political and security implications’ for the U.S. A total of $3 billion is sent to Israel annually; Detroit, in bankruptcy, is scrambling to find one third of that amount to get through the year. Yet it receives no taxpayer money from the Federal government, as Israel gets $3 billion.
The political implications are beginning to be felt; more and more of the U.S.’s elected officials (this writer simply cannot bring himself to refer to them as ‘representatives’) are being pressured to look away from the money the Israel lobby grants them for their re-elections campaigns, and focus instead on human rights. This is not easy for these officials to do; such a view does not come naturally to them. Yet the political reverberations are beginning to be felt, and can only increase.
In terms of security implications, hatred for and hostility towards the U.S. grows with every bomb Israel drops on Palestine, with every home demolished, with every checkpoint established, with every unarmed youth shot to death. The U.S.’s elected officials ignore this at their peril.
Unfortunately, the quotation shown above was not said by Mr. Obama in reference to Palestine; it was said about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The president is right on top of this, because doing so in no way offends a powerful U.S. lobby. One can always take the high road when the bottom line isn’t negatively impacted.
Why, one might reasonably ask, does the U.S. ignore the political, economic and security implications of financing a regime that makes South Africa of a generation ago look almost benign? Why ignore some of the most horrific human rights violations being committed on the planet today? What benefit is there in parroting the blatant lie that Israeli oppression of a nation it illegally and brutally occupies is done for its ‘national security’?
The U.S. continues to proclaim that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. This is not surprising, since the U.S. has a very skewed idea of democracy, a concept it has never actually practiced. Yet it is a favorite buzz word, along with ‘freedom’, ‘liberty’ and a few others that officials love to toss around, knowing the lemming-citizens go wild for it. Say them in front of an American flag, with the hand on the heart, and the jingoistic tears will flow. Never mind looking at reality. Ignore the abject poverty in many parts of the U.S.; the suicides (an average of 22 per day) of veterans who have, ostensibly, fought for that ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ (what they were actually fighting for is a topic for another essay); the racism that is so obvious, and occasionally cannot be completely ignored, as in Ferguson, Missouri. Forget about the poor performance of U.S. students compared with those of any other industrialized nation, as schools struggle to hold onto qualified teachers in the face of increasing class sizes and reduced budgets, as military contractors make billions by producing more powerful tools to kill.
So, let us summarize. Israel, a country born through genocide, continues to commit this horrific crime, financed mainly by the U.S., the world’s self-proclaimed beacon of peace and freedom. With one of the most powerful military systems on the planet, it periodically bombs, in the name of its ‘national security’, a nation it occupies, that has no army, navy or air force. When this happens, elected officials of its main financier, the U.S., all echo Israeli talking points, disregarding completely the horrific human rights violations that are perpetrated on a daily basis, and those that are exponentially worse with carpet bombing. Additionally, the U.S. press, with few exceptions, ignores Palestinian suffering and focuses on Israeli inconvenience.
This is the work of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ as financed by the largest pseudo-democracy operating in the west. Both are criminal regimes, looking only for power and wealth, at the expense of common decency. Both must be stopped, and it won’t be their governments, the United Nations or other governments that will stop them. As with all movements for human rights, it will be the will of the people around the world that, eventually, will no longer be able to be ignored.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel | September 10, 2014
The campaign, which started two years ago, asks for support from professionals from the academic and scientific field, and also from associations linked to this field, such as student’s and worker’s unions, research centres, professional associations, etc. From the 1,400 people who have signed the manifesto, 150 are professors, 850 are teachers and 200 are researchers. More than 52 associations linked to the academic field have also signed; among them there are research groups and University departments.
This initiative is part of an international campaign: Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) to Israel. This international calling is a non-violent strategy driven by the Palestinian Society in 2005. It is growing as an effective pressure strategy towards Israel, so that it respects Human Rights and International Law. Last year, the physician Stephen Hawking, the Nobel Peace Prize Desmond Tutu and four American academic associations adhered to the boycott. It’s important to emphasize that this demand is at an institutional level and not at an individual one. On the same line, the European Union has established a de facto boycott to all collaboration with Israeli research centres and Universities placed in the Occupied Territories.
The campaign will keep collecting signatures and foresees to support specific campaigns which will develop in different Spanish universities, such as the University of Vic and the University of Malaga, where the aim is to break ties with the Haifa University and the Tel Aviv University, respectively.
In Catalonia, activists from the above mentioned campaign, occupied on May 15th the Secretary of Universities and Research asking for transparency in all of the agreements signed last November when a delegation of businessmen, councillors and directors of research centres lead by Artur Mar travelled to Israel to tighten economic and academic ties with Israeli institutions.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) yesterday called to hold Israel accountable for its war in the Gaza Strip and to suspend the EU-Israel association agreement, the Anadolu news agency reported.
In a statement, the MEPs declared, “Israel’s direct targeting of civilians and its reckless cause of civilian deaths is a clear breach of international human rights law.”
Member of the Unitarian Left (GUE/NGL) parliamentary group, Martina Anderson said: “You cannot go on with an agreement after you have broken it.”
The European Union condemns the establishment of illegal settlements on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and considers it a violation of international law, but the association agreement with Israel is still valid.
Anderson stressed the Palestinians’ right to sovereignty, freedom and to live with dignity and respect and that they, as parliamentarians, should take responsibility otherwise they will become “partners in crime”.
Portuguese MEP, Marisa Matias said that suspending the association agreement with Israel is not a sufficient step, stressing on the need to apply an arms embargo and start working on a full ban of Israeli products produced in the occupied territories.
Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, former advisor to Palestinian negotiators, and author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (2013) and The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006).
Diana Buttu, Ramallah-based analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators, and Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.
Q – Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently announced a new diplomatic initiative calling on Israel to end its occupation within three years and to allow for the creation of a Palestinian state with borders based on the pre-1967 lines. If Israel refuses, or fails to negotiate in good faith, Abbas says the Palestinians will take action at international forums like the International Criminal Court.
How does this plan differ fundamentally, if at all, from Abbas’ previous strategy, and what is the likelihood that it will succeed, or at least advance the cause of Palestinian freedom in some way?
RK – “It appears that it would delay further the possibility of pressure on Israel by the International Criminal Court, and provide further opportunity for Israeli foot-dragging, prevarication and aggression, while settlement building and occupation continue. This Israeli government has never negotiated in good faith, and there is no proper forum or structure for a negotiation in any case, the Oslo process having been revealed as a device for strengthening Israeli occupation control and colonization of Palestinian lands.”
DB – “This plan does not differ, in any way, from previous failed plans put forward by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is one of the architects of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations process known as Oslo. As such, he appears to have only one plan — negotiations — and despite the indisputable fact that this process has failed to bring Palestinians any closer to their freedom after more than two decades, he continues to insist on returning to this same strategy.
“To be clear, Israel has no interest in reaching a fair and lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians, but does have an interest in resuming negotiations. Under the cover of ‘peace talks,’ Israel can continue to build and expand its illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land, and it can continue to maintain a brutal military occupation while at the same time reaping the benefits of increased trade and normalized international relations.
“Therefore, Abbas needs to change course and pursue a different strategy. Instead of demanding more negotiations, he should push the international community to isolate and ostracize Israel for its continued military occupation, colonization, and other violations of international law. This should take the form of advocating for sanctions and boycotts against Israel, and pushing for Israel’s isolation from the international arena. At the same time, he should mobilize large-scale nonviolent resistance on the ground in Palestine, something he has failed utterly to do up until now. Another three years of negotiations will only serve to provide Israel with yet more time to build more settlements, and make even further demands that Palestinians concede more of their territory to accommodate Israel’s criminal behavior.”
Q – According to reports, Israel is refusing to send negotiators to Cairo for follow-up talks to ease its blockade of Gaza and to address other issues, as stipulated in the ceasefire agreement that ended its latest bloody military assault on the occupied and besieged coastal territory last week. If Israel refuses to abide by its word to discuss a loosening of the siege and other matters, what avenues of redress do Palestinians have, and does Israel’s continued intransigence make another war in Gaza inevitable?
RK – “If occupation and settlement continue, and in the absence of international efforts to call Israel to account for its violations of UN Security Council resolutions and international law, there will unfortunately inevitably be more violence. The Palestinians should be actively seeking to reunite their national movement, agreeing on a consensus strategy involving popular mobilization, and expanding international and regional support for their cause in order to put pressure on Israel, which has managed to maintain the status quo of occupation and colonization of Palestinian land for nearly five decades now.”
DB – “Israel has no incentive, whatsoever, to resume discussions over Gaza. Unlike its negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in which a resumption of talks provides Israel with the opportunity to expand its settlement enterprise without international repercussions, Israel is under no pressure to open Gaza. Rather, Israel has been allowed to maintain a seven-year blockade of Gaza, deny Palestinians freedom of movement and the ability to import and export goods, and deny Palestinians access to their fishing rights without any reaction from the international community. Israel has reneged on previous promises to open a seaport and airport in Gaza and to open the crossing points. Yet, it has done so with impunity.
“Given that no people can be expected to sit idly by while being denied their freedom, caged in an open-air prison, and targeted by repeated military attacks, sadly it will only be a matter of time before yet another war in Gaza breaks out. This is why Palestinians have been urgently pressing for the international community’s involvement, and highlights the necessity of a comprehensive approach to address Israel’s military occupation and denial of Palestinian rights and freedoms.”
Q - On Sunday, the Israeli government announced plans to expropriate almost 1000 acres of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank near Bethlehem, in what is reportedly the largest Israeli land grab in three decades. In response, the international community, including the United States and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, condemned the move, with the latter pointing out that all settlement activity is “illegal under international law and runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-state solution.” Even before this latest large-scale Israeli theft of Palestinian land, a growing number of observers had concluded that the two-state solution, which is predicated on the creation of a Palestinian state in territories that Israel continues to aggressively colonize, was dead. What, if any, impact do you think this move will have on the situation on the ground, Abbas’ new diplomatic initiative, and prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict?
RK – “Israel has long since buried the two-state solution with its colonization efforts all over occupied Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly publicly stated that Israel will never give up its control of these territories. It is unclear what more he could do to drive a stake through the heart of the two-state solution, so far without provoking any serious international or regional reaction. The Oslo paradigm is dead, and we seem to be in a new phase, but neither Palestinian and Arab leaders, nor the US and Europe, have yet reacted in an appropriate way, which would be to finally hold Israel responsible for its actions and to impose serious sanctions on this serial violator of international law and norms.”
DB – “Israel cannot claim to favor a negotiated settlement or to support the two-state solution while also expropriating Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements. While Israeli actions like settlement building are blatantly illegal, the international community has failed to hold Israeli leaders accountable or to censure Israel in any way, apart from the occasional toothless verbal condemnation. Unfortunately, Abbas’s ‘new’ diplomatic initiative will only serve to provide Israel with more time to build and expand more settlements while the world sits, watches, and does nothing. Israel killed the two-state solution a long time ago, aided and abetted by the international community’s apathy and inaction. One can only hope that this latest large-scale theft of Palestinian land will lead to a shift in international thinking, forcing world leaders to realize that the only way forward is to hold Israel accountable for its illegal actions — rather than demanding a return to useless, counterproductive negotiations.”
For further reference, see our recently released expert Q&A: Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch on Being Denied Entry to Gaza, and our recently released fact sheets, Putting Palestinians “On a Diet”: Israel’s Siege & Blockade of Gaza and The Children of Gaza: A Generation Scarred & Under Siege.
There is no question as to how immensely successful the Block the Boat protest at the Port of Oakland, led by Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and arranged with the help of countless organizations, was. Unless you are a supporter of Israel or a journalist at the Oakland Tribune. Thousands of protesters, including an estimated 5,000 who marched on the Port of Oakland on August 16, prevented the Zim Piraeus from unloading by keeping workers from crossing their picket line to enter the port for an historic four days, making it “the longest blockade of an Israeli ship” according to AROC.
The Oakland Tribune, Haaretz, and a number of other outlets, reported that the Israeli-owned Zim Piraeus unloaded its cargo after “delays” but after speaking to a number of distributors whose cargo was being transported by Zim Piraeus I found this to be unmistakably false and misleading.
According to a document from PIERS, a database of US international trade which provides maritime logistics, at least 23 companies are clearly listed as having goods aboard Zim Piraeus – ranging from cucumber pickles and sparkling wine to ceramic tiles and solar swimming pool heaters – with some goods originating in Israel. Though building materials and agricultural produce were listed by PIERS it should be noted that Zim Integrated Shipping Services imports ammunition “manufactured by Israel Manufacturing Industries by Federal Cartridge (Federal Premium Ammunition)” which makes defense ammunition used by U.S. law enforcement and has a weapons contract with the Department of Homeland Security. Federal Premium Ammunition is a subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems, which produces Bushmaster autocannons used by U.S. forces and NATO, the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (an air-to-surface missile), Hellfire missile upgrades, and provides other weapons services to the US military and allies. The import report for Zim shows that the ammunition originated in Israel, at the Port of Haifa and arrived at the Port of Savannah in Georgia.
Zim’s first ship, the Kedmah, was purchased in 1947, before the creation of the State of Israel, and would carry thousand of immigrants to Palestine. In 1948 Zim ships would carry arms and ammunition used to carry out the Nakba, and according to a video published online by Zim Integrated Shipping Services “Zim would play this crucial role every time Israel faced conflict.” Ze’ev Shind, a key Mossad activist who would become managing director of Zim Israel Navigation Co., president of the American-Israel Shipping Co., and Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Defense was a principal figure organizing immigration to Palestine, according to The Canadian Jewish Chronicle. The role of Zim in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is well documented, even by Zim sources.
Esteson Co., a direct food and beverage importer and distributor in California, posted on their Facebook page that their “garlic is now rotting on its way to Russia to be offloaded unto (sic) another vessel,” and when contacted for comment it was mentioned that a container of Zeos beer never arrived due to the Port action. All in all, Esteson Co. has not received any of their products as of September 3.
Good Stuff Distributors, located in San Francisco, California, told Al-Akhbar English that not only did they not receive their shipment of Zadona cucumber pickles as of September 3 they do not know where the cargo is and are still waiting to hear from Zadona as to where the items are. A spokesperson for Good Stuff Distributors informed Al-Akhbar English that not only were they unaware of Zim’s ties to Israel they have made it clear to Zadona, of Sinokrot Food Company, that they are to “find another vessel” as Good Stuff Distributors will no longer be using Zim.
Alfa Omega Co., which has trading partners in France, Spain and Greece, disclosed to Al-Akhbar English that their business was “greatly affected”, as they did not receive any of their products, including olives. The spokesperson was clearly unhappy, stating that the targeting of Zim by the Block the Boat protesters, specifically, is the reason that they will now look for another vessel to use for their products, despite having worked with Zim “for years”.
The sales and marketing manager at Carmichael International Service, a customs broker and freight forwarder with laminated glass aboard Zim Piraeus, told Al-Akhbar English that customers did not receive their products as of September 3, but it was due to “delays” and “port congestion,” which is undoubtedly a brazen spin on what transpired at the Port of Oakland. When examining the vessel schedule for the Zim Piraeus, dating back to July and after August 20, we find that there are no analogous delays as there was in Oakland as the vessels usually left the same day or a day after, unlike at the Port of Oakland where the “delay” was at least four days long.
Cynara Worldwide Sourcing Inc., located in Fresno, California, said that all products on the Zim Piraeus were not only never unloaded but that they were sent to Shanghai and they wouldn’t receive them until at least the end of the month. As a result of Block the Boat, the spokesperson told Al-Akhbar English that they have put an immediate halt to “everything on Zim” and will now be looking for other vessels they can use.
The most curious case in regards to Block the Boat is that of American Metals and Chemicals, located in Hollywood, Florida. A representative told Al-Akhbar English that they did not receive their shipment of alkyl sulfonic acid, and that the cargo was diverted to Russia. When asked who they were contacted by the representative stated that a letter was delivered from an attorney’s office, though they could not find the letter at the time of the phone call so as to disclose which office. The letter stated, in part, that their shipment was “turned away because of the strike” at the Port of Oakland. There was also a follow up telephone call from the same office, letting them know that their products were being diverted.
The remaining consignees listed as having cargo delivered to the Port of Oakland by the Zim Piraeus during the Block the Boat campaign were contacted by Al-Akhbar English but did not immediately return calls for comment on the whereabouts of their goods – based on what was revealed by the 6 companies that did supply information it is not difficult to assume that they faced comparable circumstances. Regardless, Block the Boat was not only successful in keeping the Zim Piraeus from unloading the aforementioned cargo but due specifically to this action a number of companies are now either putting a hold on all products using Zim vessels or reconsidering using Zim, which is not only contrary to what the media has reported but an impressive achievement for the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.