Israeli apologists would like us to believe that Zionism, the political ideology guiding Israeli policies and practices since its establishment of Israel in Palestine in 1948, is God’s chosen national movement for the re-establishment and maintenance of a “Jewish homeland” in “biblical lands”. Moreover, they want us to accept that Zionism is Judaism and that present-day Israel is the Jewish “promised land”. As a religion, Judaism considers the return of Jews to Palestine before the coming of the Messiah a sacrilege.
God has never been involved in real estate transactions; neither has the Bible ever been considered a source of International Law governing relations between modern states nor a reliable source of human history or archeology. If the world were to be reestablished according to the Bible, the United States, Europe and most modern states would not exist. Furthermore, there are no eyewitness accounts or scientific evidence linking current Israeli Jews to the ancient Hebrews. Some historians and archeologists even dispute that Jews ever had a significant presence in the area.
A Brief Analysis
Israel was established by a European racist and settler colonial ideology through the use of carefully and deliberately fabricated myths. Unlike classical settler colonialism, Zionism and Zionists do not maintain an umbilical cord to a mother European country nor plans to exploit local natives and resources. Zionism and Zionists argue for close cooperation with disposable surrogate superpower(s), complete control of resources, and the expulsion of the indigenous population, the Palestinians. Zionism and Zionists claim that Palestine was desolate and the Palestinians never existed. The clear motive behind the myths is to justify the establishment of Israel in Palestine as a Jewish state and the gathering of Jews therein. Myths that are often repeated give way to delusional mindsets. Zionism and Zionists concluded that Palestine will become a home for the Jewish state regardless of the wishes of the Palestinians and in order to achieve this objective, the inhabitants will be ethnically cleansed. There are two main lies that the Zionists regurgitate: Palestine was desolate and there is no such a thing as Palestinians.
Was Palestine desolate? Did the Palestinians exist in history?
Zionism, as practiced by Israel since 1948, is a racist ideology manifested in several ways. It is an archaic political ideology that holds and promotes Jewish racial purity and divine entitlement to Palestine. It is a military occupation enabling and supporting colonialist settlers. It practices ethnic cleansing through the confiscation of land and the expulsion of indigenous Palestinians. It exercises political domination and exploitation through the denial of basic human rights under the guise of divine entitlement and the spread of Western values. In short, Zionism in Israel today practices political, economic, cultural domination and persecution through control, systematic destruction, ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous presence and heritage.
In Israel, the historical record shows that:
1. Zionism is a segregationist movement founded on the premise that all Jews, regardless of cultural differences and religious observance, are one nation, and cannot be secure except in a state of their own, because the non-Jewish world is inherently hostile to Jews. Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, argued that the key to establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine was to harness European anti-Semitism for the realization of the Jewish State by encouraging European governments to rid their countries of Jews. “Herzl regarded Zionism’s triumph as inevitable, not only because life in Europe was ever more untenable for Jews, but also because it was in Europe’s interests to [get] rid [of] the Jews and [be] relieved of anti-Semitism: The European political establishment would eventually be persuaded to promote Zionism. Herzl recognized that anti-Semitism would be HARNESSED to his own–Zionist-purposes.”(1) Many years later in Rome, Ariel Sharon as prime minister of Israel, stated: “If Israel is weakened … the Jews worldwide will not be able to live the lives they live today … We are witness to a great wave of anti-Semitism, and apart from the usual anti-Semitism against Jews, there is today the added hate of the collective Jew, which is Israel… The best solution to anti-Semitism is immigration to Israel. It is the only place on Earth where Jews can live as Jews.”(2)
2. Zionism practices a racist colonial-settler ideology which claims that historical Palestine was desolate and uninhabited and that the Palestinian people never existed. Before Palestine had been selected by the Zionists to be the site of their new state, Theodor Herzl himself acknowledged in his 1896 book, “The Jewish State”, that both Palestine and Argentina were populated, saying that “[i]f the Powers show themselves willing to grant the Jewish people sovereignty over a neutral territory, the Society [of Jews] will negotiate for the land to be taken. Two regions are possibilities: Palestine and Argentina. Noteworthy experiments in colonization have been made in both places, although they have been based on the mistaken principle of a gradual infiltration of Jews. Infiltration is always bound to end badly. For there invariably comes a moment when the government, under pressure of the native population–which feels itself threatened–bars any further influx of Jews. Consequently, emigration will be pointless unless it is based upon our guaranteed sovereignty.”
Leo Motzkin, another Zionist leader, wrote of his disappointment upon visiting Palestine and, finding the country densely inhabited and its fertile land utilized by its Arab natives, wrote: “One has to admit that the density of population does not exactly put the visitor to Palestine in a joyful mood. In large stretches of land, one constantly comes across big Arab villages, and it is a well-established fact that the most fertile regions of our land are occupied by Arabs.”
The fact that Palestine was inhabited and fertile did not deter the Zionists from perpetuating the big lie that it was desolate and uninhabited. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Zionists, as an integral part of their scheme to colonize Palestine, began using the slogan ‘A land without a people for a people without a land’ referring to Palestine.
The British Zionist Israel Zangwill, who visited Palestine in 1897, became so obsessed with this slogan that he consequently authored several versions of it to the point where it is often attributed to him. In using this slogan, the Zionists were deliberately trying to convince themselves and the world that Palestine was desolate and uninhabited and thus it was permissible to colonize it. This myth continued to be repeated to deceive the world, such that in 1969 Prime Minister Golda Meir stated in public that “There was no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”
In the few instances where Zionists conceded the existence of the indigenous population, they were labeled as “savages”, “barbarians” or “terrorists”. Zangwill wrote: “…the people living in Palestine were not a people with a history, culture, and legitimate claim to national self-determination of their own; to the extent than any of this existed, it was regarded as inferior in value to the history, culture, and claim of the Jewish people. Put differently, Palestine contained ‘people’, but not a people’. There were people who (possibly) had their homeland there, but they lacked a national identity and thus had no claim to national self-determination, let alone a state.”
The denial of the very existence of the Palestinian people and the process employed to demonize them enables Israel to this day to justify its brutal practices against them. Even when one finds some ‘humane’ Zionists who advocate some rights for the Palestinians, their advocacy never amounts to granting Palestinians the same rights enjoyed by Jews. This fact was not missed by David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, who ridiculed ‘humane’ Zionists when he said; “You cannot have humane Zionism, it is a contradiction in terms.”
According to Israel’s Basic Law, Jews, regardless of their country of origin or ethnicity, can settle in Israel on land that was confiscated by force after the expulsion of the majority of the indigenous Palestinians. In an essay titled “Judea and Galilee,” Ben Gurion describes the Zionist settlers in Palestine as “conquering, conquering a land. We were a company of conquistadors.”
Such ideological discourse prompted the late professor Israel Shahak to conclude: “It is my considered opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term: In this state people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried out today mainly in co-operation with the institutions of the Zionist movement.”(11)
3. Zionism distinguishes between Jews and Palestinians on various levels and its laws and practices are designed to keep them apart. All Jews in the world are considered ‘nationals’ of Israel, whereas a mere portion of Palestinians are considered citizens. Through the enactment of several laws, including but not limited to the Absentee Property Law 1950, the Land Acquisition Law 1953, and the Basic Law: Israel Lands 1960, Israel has confiscated lands belonging to those Palestinians who were uprooted and expelled from their properties and later declared as absentees and prevented by Israel from returning to it and from Palestinians who remained under its control. Israel established various schemes to keep, manage, and utilize Palestinian confiscated land for the benefit of Jews only.
According to the Israel Land Administration Authority (ILA), the Israeli government agency responsible for managing this land, Israel owns approximately 93% of the total land “… that is, either property of the state, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) or the development Authority.”(12) The land is comprised of 4,820,500 acres. Ownership of land according to ILA means leasing rights for 49-98 years. Palestinians, therefore, are treated merely as tillers and tenants on Jewish land and it is only a matter of time before they are completely expelled as were their predecessors. After expelling the majority of the Palestinians from Palestine in 1948-49, Israel concentrated on cleansing the Galilee of its indigenous people.(13)
4. Zionism is, in its campaign to segregate the Jews and to establish an exclusive Jewish state, derived from the narrow tribal understanding of Judaism that the cosmos is divided into five parts: plants, vegetables, animals, human beings and Jews – Jews being the noblest and the closest to God. This fanatic religious view is clearly reflected by Rabbi Yosef Ovadia, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, who advocates the annihilation of the Palestinians on the basis that they are not Jews. “It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”(14) Unfortunately, the views of the Chief Rabbi on non-Jews are not only shared by some Jews, but it is becoming a central belief of American Christian-Zionists. “Gentiles were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.”(15)
5. In addition to annihilating the Palestinians, the Zionist advocacy regarding the indigenous population is centered on four options:
a. A systematic attempt at purchasing the land of Palestine from the Palestinians and colonizing it through Jewish immigration for the benefit of Jews only. The Israeli historian Benny Morris described this thinking when he said: “The early Zionists had been aware of the Arab presence in the country–there were just under half a million around 1882, the year the first Zionists came ashore in Jaffa. And there were, at the time, some twenty-five thousand Jews in the country.”(16) Writing in 1882 Eliezer Ben-Yehuda wrote: “The thing we must do now is to become as strong as we can, to conquer the country, covertly, bit by bit . . . buy, buy, buy [the land from the Arabs].”(17) Writing decades before the holocaust in Europe, Ben-Yehuda and many other Zionist leaders believed that the country’s demographics would be changed through Jewish immigration which would ultimately alter its future to favor the Zionist scheme to colonize Palestine. Early Zionist leaders were not fully convinced that the Palestinians would sell their land and cooperate in their own colonization. Accurately predicting the swift and predictable reaction of the Palestinian Arabs to the Zionist colonial scheme through immigration, Herzl warned in 1896 that their objection and resistance could bring Jewish immigration to an end. Vladimir Jabotinsky, writing in 1923, argued that the consent of and agreements with Palestinian Arabs to hand over their country to the Zionists was not necessary: “There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs. Not now, nor in the prospective future. I say this with such conviction, not because I want to hurt the moderate Zionists. I do not believe that they will be hurt. Except for those who were born blind, they realised long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting ‘Palestine’ from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.” (18) He continued: “We cannot offer any adequate compensation to the Palestinian Arabs in return for Palestine. And therefore, there is no likelihood of any voluntary agreement being reached. So that all those who regard such an agreement as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say ‘non’ and withdraw from Zionism. Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population.”(19)
b. “[B]eing crushed like grasshoppers,” as Israel’s former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir wrote in Hehazit: “We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: ‘Ye shall blot them out to the last man’.”(20) This genocidal view has been shared by many in Israel including several Prime Ministers such as Begin, Sharon, and Netanyahu.
c. There is no room for non-Jews in the Jewish state. Rehavam Zeevi, then Israel‘s Minister of Tourism, described Palestinians as living “illegally” in Israel. He is quoted as saying: “We should get rid of the ones who are not Israeli citizens the same way you get rid of lice. We have to stop this cancer from spreading within us.” In 1983, Raphael Eitan, then Israel’s military chief of staff, speaking of plans to increase Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, said: “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle.” This racist ideological view in Israeli governing Zionist circles is widespread and determines Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinians.
Israel’s bases for apartness and discrimination
Israel is a state of Jews, by Jews, and for Jews. Its practices against non-Jews are racially motivated and designed to keep citizens apart, the meaning of ‘apartheid’ in Afrikaans.
Israel has laws but it does not have a constitution. Specifically, it has a Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel and a Law of Return. Said Declaration was signed on May 14, 1948, by thirty-seven colonists, none born in Palestine and only some who were recent colonial settlers. It consists of two pages which clearly define Israel as a ‘Jewish state’, although to this day Israel has failed to define who is a Jew. The document stresses that sovereign authority in Israel belongs to the Jewish people only: “This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.” It repeatedly uses phrases to emphasize this point such as: “Jewish people…in its own country,” “Jewish people to rebuild its national home,” “Jewish state,” “right of the Jewish people to establish their state,” “Jewish people in the up building of its state,” and “sovereign Jewish people”
In contrast, the American Declaration of Independence does not establish the United States as a Christian state, nor as a republic for whites only; neither does it appoint Christians or whites as the builders of the state and sovereign in the republic, nor does it expropriate property for the exclusive use of and benefit to Christians or whites. Furthermore, even though the United States adopted and enforced racist laws for many decades, it eventually and democratically dismantled such practices and institutions, giving life to the words of its own Declaration:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.
Before, during and after the establishment of Israel as a ‘Jewish state by European Jewish colonial settlers, a substantial majority of the indigenous people of Palestine were not Jews. The Israeli Declaration makes a clear distinction between Jews, who are to be the sovereign authority in Israel, and non-Jewish citizens of the state. Although Palestinians who remained in their homeland in 1948 are not necessarily denied certain privileges such as citizenship or the right to vote and hold office, the laws upholding said privileges are such that they do not dilute the character of the Jewish state and the bias toward Jews. Whatever is accorded to the non-Jewish citizens of Israel is done so with the explicit recognition and understanding that Israel is a country for the “Jewish people to rebuild its national home.” No democratic processes or alternatives are possible under Israel’s existing basic laws.
Israel’s Law of Return was adopted in 1950 and states that: “Every Jew has the right to immigrate to the country.” The indigenous Palestinians who were and continue to be deliberately uprooted and expelled are denied their right to return to their homes and properties and declared as ‘present absentees’ or ‘absentees’, their properties seized by Israel and in the possession of Israel’s Custodian of Absentee Property, who puts the property at the disposal of and for the benefit of Jews only.
Prior to and after the establishment of Israel, certain Israeli private organizations (non-governmental or non-profit) with quasi-governmental authority were created and empowered to formulate policies and oversee the affairs of non-Jews. The Jewish Agency is one of the major organizations in this category. The Jewish Agency shares many jurisdictions and overlapping functions with the Israeli government. It describes itself as “the agency for Jewish interests in Eretz ['the land of’] Israel … [it’s] role is defined…as a voluntary, philanthropic organization with responsibility for immigration, settlement and development, and coordination of the unity of the Jewish people.”(21)
The Israeli Citizenship Law aims to separate Jews and Arabs on a personal level. For example, a Jew and an Arab cannot legally marry in Israel and such marriages, if performed outside the country, are not recognized under Israeli law. The Citizenship Law even restricts the ‘family reunification’ of Israeli citizens with certain foreign partners. It denies entry or residential permits to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and citizens of enemy countries or from areas involved in long-term conflict with Israel. The law affects mainly Israeli Arab citizens and their families from the West Bank and Gaza. In January 2012 Israel’s Supreme Court upheld this law banning Palestinians who marry Israel Arabs from gaining Israeli citizenship. (22)
Section 7A (I) of the Basic Law of Israel explicitly prevents Israeli citizens – both Arab and Jewish – from using the ‘democratic’ system of Israeli elections to challenge the inferior status of Arabs under the law or the exclusive Jewish character of Israel and restricts who can run for political office. This law states that: “A candidate’s list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if among its goals or deeds, either expressed or implied, are one of the following: (1) the negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish People…”. In 1989 Justice Levine of the Israeli Supreme Court, speaking for the majority, ruled that this law meant that a political party could not run candidates if it intended to achieve the cancellation of one of the fundamental tenets of the State — namely “the existence of a Jewish majority, the granting of preference to Jews in matters of immigration, and the existence of close and reciprocal relations between the State and the Jews of the Diaspora.” (23)
According to ADALLAH, Israel has more than 30 laws that discriminate against its non-Jewish citizens. (24) It is easy to lose track of the exact number of laws and regulations pertaining to the Palestinians who remain under Israel’s military occupation, siege, and control. For the purpose of this paper, I deal with seven basic Israeli laws that discriminate against non-Israeli-Jews who are supposedly citizens of Israel:
(1) Law of Return 5710-1950- Right of aliyah – a term that means to ‘go up’ as opposed to ‘go down’ implying that immigration to Israel is the right thing to do. This law states in part:
1. Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh (M) olah (F) — terms in the Hebrew language that mean someone who immigrates to Israel. This law states:
2. (a) Aliyah shall be by oleh’s visa.
(b) An oleh’s visa shall be granted to every Jew who has expressed his desire to settle in Israel, unless the Minister of Immigration is satisfied that the applicant
1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or
2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.
3. (a) A Jew who has come to Israel and subsequent to his arrival has expressed his desire to settle in Israel may, while still in Israel, receive an oleh’s certificate.
(b) The restrictions specified in section 2(b) shall apply also to the grant of an oleh’s certificate, but a person shall not be regarded as endangering public health on account of an illness contracted after his arrival in Israel.
4. Every Jew who has immigrated into this country before the coming into force of this Law, and every Jew who was born in this country, whether before or after the coming into force of this Law, shall be deemed to be a person who has come to this country as an oleh under this Law.
(2) The 1949 Discharged Soldiers (Reinstatement in Employment) Law, amended in 1970 [Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 3, p. 10 (1949) and art. 1, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 24, p. 126 (1970)]:
This Law makes an additional child support payment to ‘soldiers’. The amendment defines ‘soldier’ as “a person who is serving or has served in the Defense Army of Israel, the Police or the Prison Service”, or who served in one of the Zionist military formations (Haganah, Irgun, or LEHI) prior to the establishment of Israel. Since Israeli citizens who are not Jewish or Druze do not get called to serve in qualifying organizations, and since the qualifying organizations from the past were clearly selected so as to exclude non-Jews, this law gives to Jewish citizens of Israel rights that it denies to non-Jewish and non-Druze citizens of Israel.
(3) State Education Law, arts 2, 4, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 7, p. 113 (1953),
This law states that the purpose of elementary education is to teach “the values of Jewish culture’ and “loyalty to the State and the Jewish people”. This covers even “non-Jewish educational institutions”, whose curriculum is prescribed by the Minister of Education. The state funds an Orthodox Jewish private school system but does not fund schools for other religions, according to Izhak Englard’s “Law and Religion in Israel,” in the American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 35, p. 201 (1987). This law gives Jewish citizens of Israel the right to have their children educated in conformity with their religion, and denies this right to non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
(4) The Jewish Religious Services Budgets Law of 1949 arts. 1-2, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 3, p. 66 (1949) and the Jewish Religious Services [consolidated version] Law of 1971 Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 25, p. 125 (1971).
These laws call for local religious councils to submit budgets to the Minister of Religious Affairs. The budgets are financed one-third by the central government and two-thirds by the local government. There are no such statutes for other religions. Although funds are allocated for Muslim and Christian religious services, they are at a level far less than their proportion in the population, and without a legislative mandate.
(5) Chief Rabbinate of Israel Law arts 2(2), Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 34, p. 97 (1980),
This law gives legal status to the chief rabbinate and empowers and obligates it to undertake “activities aimed at bringing the public closer to the values of [Jewish religious learning] and mitzvot [Jewish religious duties]”. No other religion has a body with similar legal status, empowerment, or obligations.
(6) Specified Goods Tax and Luxury Tax Law [art 26, Laws of the State of Israel, vol. 6, p. 150 (1952),
This law authorized the minister of finance to designate classes of persons for favorable treatment when they bring goods into Israel after residence abroad. Under this authorization, the minister issued the Purchase Tax Order (Exemption) 1975, [Definition 15 (returning resident), Definition 20 (returning national), Collected Regulations] which calls for a lower import duty to be collected from a returning national than from a returning resident. The order defines ‘returning national’ to include only a person who, ‘if the person were not an Israeli national the Law of Return would apply to him.’ Thus, only a Jewish person is a returning national with the right to favorable treatment when bringing goods into Israel after residence abroad.
(7) Nationality and Entry into Israel Law 5763 (Also known as the Citizenship Law) passed in 2003 and prevents non-Jews in the Occupied Territory from entering Israel to be with their Israeli citizen spouse. As noted above, this law was upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court in January 2012.
American Support for Israel
The Constitution of the United States clearly declares that “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” The opening phrase, “We the people”, is universal and encompasses men and women, white and black, Christians and Muslims, rich and poor, etc. Although the interpretation of the phrase was not put into practice in the early stages of the Republic, the intent and hope of some of the founding fathers was that the US would evolve and keep changing in order to achieve that more “perfect union” by providing ways and means in the Constitution to encourage and achieve such transformation. The Israeli Basic Laws do not allow for such transformation to be achieved.
The Constitution further states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This prohibition is iron-clad and prohibits the US government from establishing or aiding in the establishment of a state religion. In addition, the Constitution allows for a process to change, amend, or challenge the political system. What was permissible in the past can therefore be changed, allowing for the unthinkable fifty years ago to become a reality, such as the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. The Israeli system on the other hand does not allow for such change. It would not permit a Samir Abed-Rabbo who was born in Jerusalem but who is not Jewish to become the President or the Prime Minister of Israel. In order for equality to prevail, the Israeli system must be dismantled as in the case of the institution of slavery in America or Apartheid in South Africa.
George Washington, in his Farewell Address, referred to the “passionate attachment” of one country to another, in which the national interest of the one is betrayed by a “virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption or infatuation.” Those who dare to work against such an attachment “are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.”(25) This explains why in America today the supporters of a U.S./Israel relationship hypocritically acclaim a “democratic Israel” in which Israel’s victims become the “terrorists” while Israel itself, the violator of domestic and international laws and obligations, is rewarded with billions of our tax dollars and the military tools to maintain its racist policies and practices.
American recognition of and support for Israel occurred minutes after Israel declared itself independent. Initially, this support derived from a desire to settle Jewish refugees, displaced persons and survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, but rather than settling such persons in a vast and population-starved America, the United States succumbed to the Zionist political plan of settling Jews in Palestine and to establishing Israel on its ruins. The Holocaust was one of the rationales, if not the rationale, for a shift in Jewish support for the establishment of Israel, which began to grow particularly among the American Jewish community. The motivation for the support by a significant segment of the American Christian community was based on, once again, biblical convictions: some Evangelical Christians see the establishment of a Greater Israel as a sign for the Second Coming of Christ and the harbinger of Armageddon when approximately 86,000 people will survive and the blood of those who do not consent to their version of theology (including Jews) will be condemned. This significant American support has been augmented by a general identification with Israel as being a “democratic” society as well as “shared strategic goals” in the Middle East, the latter effecting nothing but the continual aiding and maintaining of ineffectual, tyrannical, corrupt, and inept Arab regimes. Another reason for American unconditional support of Israel is the US government’s contempt for Arab national aspirations for unity, freedom, independence, accountability and transparency.
US military support for Israel has transformed its military into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world and enabled Israel to develop its own military technological base and to retain the balance of power in the Middle East. US aid has subsidized and helped Israel develop and build an advanced arms industry that is equipped with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and is ranked among the world’s top ten exporters of weapons and. Economic aid has served a similar purpose. Up to the early 1990’s, US economic aid has stimulated and subsidized the lackluster Israeli economy. Starting in the 1990’s the US and Israel entered into scientific cooperation to build Israel’s hi-tech sector. As a result, Israel is now considered a fully industrialized state with an economy on a par with Western European countries.
American aid to Israel is channeled through various means, but two are of importance to us as taxpayers. First is direct aid offered by the United States Government and, second is indirect aid emanating from American institutions, organizations, companies and individuals. Israel is an advanced, industrialized and technologically developed state. The World Bank places Israel among the top fifty richest states in terms of per capita income. It enjoys one of the world’s highest per capita incomes of $32,351 in 2011.
The U.S. Government is the largest donor to Israel. All aid provided to Israel in recent years comes in the form of grants and subsidies, that is, money that need not be paid back. The term “aid” is not accurate, however, but is used to mean the same. Since 1948 the United States has provided Israel with a largess of approximately $115 billion in direct military and economic aid. Economic aid alone from 1949-2013 totals approximately $48 billion and military aid $67,423.4 billion. (Table 1) Unlike other recipients of American aid, Israel receives its share within 30 days from the enactment of the bill. Additionally, from 2006-2008 the US provided Israel with $426 million to develop its missile systems and $420 million for the settlement of Jewish refugees. Between 2003-2010 the US made guaranteed loans for economic recovery available to Israel in the amount of $11 billion. U.S. indirect aid to Israel, for the same period, is estimated at more than $60 billion. In recent years, annual direct aid exceeds $3 billion and indirect aid totals $1.5 billion, of which $1 billion comes through tax-deductible donations and $500 million from the sale of Israeli bonds. Israel is the only government in the world that receives American tax-deductible donations. In addition, Israel obtains an estimated $1 billion annually in short- and long-term commercial loans from American banks.
Writing on March 20, 2013 in Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, Ora Coren and Nadan Feldman estimated American aid to Israel to be $233.7 billion. Others, including this author, think that American aid to Israel is higher than the published figures taking into account many obvious factors including fluctuation in the rate of inflation and the interest paid by the US on money given to Israel. From 1949-2013 American subsidy of Israel ranged from 1.2-14.2% of Israel’s GDP. (Table 2)
In one of his last acts as president of the United States, G.W. Bush, oblivious to the looming economic crisis, proposed a military aid package for Israel in the amount of $30 billion over a 10-year period. Not to be outdone and without consideration to sequestration and record national deficits and even though Netanyahu treats the President of the United States as the head of a Banana Republic, President Obama is considering a $40 billion military aid package to Israel over ten years.
Israel’s lobby and its domestic supporters make certain that American aid to Israel keeps flowing. American domestic supporters consist of an amalgam of strange bedfellows: professional politicians who need the organizational and financial backing of Israel’s supporters; a potent Israeli lobby, AIPAC, that understands, manipulates and influences the American political system on behalf of Israel; the potent and valuable support of the established, well-organized and well-positioned American Jewish community and its unconditional commitment to maintaining an exclusive “Jewish state” in Palestine; and the ever-increasing power of the Christian evangelical right on the American political scene. The evangelical right opposes any peaceful arrangement for fear of delaying the Second Coming of Christ and ferociously believes in establishing Israel in all of Palestine and in-gathering all Jews into Israel. Each group, for its own reasons, pours in their resources to keep and increase levels of American support for Israel. Evidence exists, moreover, that the collaboration between Israel, AIPAC, the established American Jewish community and the Christian evangelical right is giving rise to anti-Islamic frenzy in the United States. Is this the beginning of a war between civilizations?
Since 1948, the US has been the main supplier of Israel’s military equipment and its main diplomatic and economic backer. Without American support, Israel would not have been able to maintain its Apartheid system, current economic advancement and military development and posture. Israel possesses approximately 500 nuclear warheads, in addition to an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. It is ranked as the 4th military power in the world. By law, the 1952 US Mutual Defense Agreement and subsequent arms agreement between the US and Israel limit the use of American supplied equipment to “legitimate self-defense”. Also, the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, section 116, states: “No assistance may be provided under this part to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of persons, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country.”
US money is enabling Israel to maintain its occupation of Arab lands, violating the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, killing innocent civilians, destroying their property and ignoring all United Nations Resolutions that call on Israel to abide by International Law. American financial support subsidizes and enables Israel to build colonies and settle its citizens in Arab occupied lands–activities that are considered war crimes. American support maintains an archaic racist governmental structure and funds its brutal practices. Certainly, US aid to Israel is not used for legitimate self-defense or for benefiting the needy in that country or in the service of the American national interest and its democratic values.
Three examples to illustrate the brutality of Israel practices
Between September 29, 2000 and December 26, 2008, Israel, under Prime Ministers Sharon, Olmert, and Netanyahu has been waging a relentless war against the civilian population of Palestine and the so-called peace process. During this period Israel killed 4,904 (26); between September 29, 2000 and April 29, 2003, 41,000 Palestinians were injured with 2,500 made permanently disabled (27); destroyed and damaged 12,273 homes (including twelve churches and thirty mosques); uprooted 34,606 olive and fruit trees; bulldozed, razed or burned 7,585 acres of cultivated land; and confiscated 291 acres of Palestinian land for the exclusive use by Jewish colonial settlers. In addition, Israel attacked hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medical staff; hindered and attacked journalists; imposed partial and total curfews on Palestinian towns and cities as a form of collective punishment; detained approximately 15,000 Palestinians without charge; disrupted, raided and closed Palestinian colleges and schools; and disrupted and damaged the economic infrastructure of Palestine causing the loss of approximately $3.2-10 billion.
On July 13, 2006 Israel, under the leadership of Olmert, Livni and Barak, attacked Lebanon, with the Israeli Air Force launching more than 12,000 attack missions. The Israeli Navy fired more than 2,500 shells and the Army more than 100,000. As a result, large parts of the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon was destroyed, including more than 400 miles of roads, 73 bridges, and 31 other civilian targets as well as Beirut’s International Airport, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical grids and facilities, 25 fuel stations, 900 commercial structures, more than 350 schools, and two hospitals. Fifteen thousand homes were destroyed and more than 130,000 more damaged. On July 15, 2006 the Israeli Air Force bombed the Jiyeh power station, resulting in the largest-ever oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea. The plant’s damaged storage tanks leaked more than 4 million gallons of oil into the eastern Mediterranean. Israeli bombing also caused significant damage to the world heritage sites of Tyre and Byblos. In Tyre, a Roman tomb was damaged and a fresco near the center of the site collapsed. In Byblos, a medieval tower was damaged and Venetian-period remains near the harbor were dramatically stained by the oil slick. Damage was also caused to historic ruins at Bint Jbeil and Chamaa and to the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek.
The attack resulted in a huge financial setback for Lebanon to the amount of $5 billion or approximately 22% of its GDP. The Lebanese top police office and the Lebanon Ministry of Health, citing hospitals, death certificates, local authorities, and eyewitnesses, put the death toll at 1,123 of whom 37 were soldiers and police officers; 894 were identified as civilians, 192 were unidentified. The Lebanon Higher Relief Council estimated the numbers of Lebanese injured to be 4,409 of whom 15% were permanently disabled. The death toll does not include Lebanese killed since the end of fighting by land mines or unexploded Israeli cluster bombs.
On December 27, 2008 Israel under the same leadership waged a criminal war against the civilian population of Gaza. The total areas of 360 square kilometers and with a population of 1,500,202 were subjected to sustained ground, sea, and air Israeli military attack. No safe haven or bomb shelters existed for the civilian population of Gaza. The Israeli air force carried 2,360 air sorties dropping bunker buster bombs and white phosphorus bombs in densely populated civilian areas. Before the ground invasion began, Israeli artillery bombarded the coastal strip which is considered the most densely populated area in the world. More than 400,000 Palestinians were left without running water; 1,370 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured; and 4,000 buildings were ruined. Damage to Palestinian economic infrastructure is still being tallied.
The above three examples are just the tip of the iceberg of Israel’s brutality and criminality since its inception in 1948.
Even if the US were to move, on moral grounds, to end Israeli racial policies and curtail Israeli brutal practices, Israeli politicians have taken certain measures to resist by blackmailing the US. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, the father of the French nuclear bomb and a major collaborator in establishing Israel’s nuclear program, wrote: “We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say: ‘if you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us. Otherwise, we will use our nuclear bombs”‘. Simha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington during the Middle Eastern war of 1973, said, “If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and… we will draw very serious conclusions. . .” The ambassador’s veiled threat to use weapons of mass destruction to reverse Israel’s misfortunes on the battlefield did not fall on deaf ears. President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger ordered a massive airlift to aid Israel in the war. But who should we hold responsible for allowing America to be held hostage?
During the last three years, Israel has escalated its genocidal war against the civilian people of Palestine and Lebanon, their properties and economic infrastructure. Entire refugee camps, towns and sections of cities have been destroyed by American-supplied weapons systems. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the most gruesome and despicable ways; entire families have been buried under the rubble of their homes by Israeli army bulldozers that are manufactured by Caterpillar and paid for by American taxpayers; civilian residents have been shelled by Israeli missiles and tank fire; Palestinian leaders and prisoners have been assassinated; and 15,000 civilians have been detained without charge. In return, the US announced a military aid package for Israel totaling $30 billion for ten years to be followed by another more generous one in the amount of $40 billion. Are these actions conducive to achieving peaceful and structural changes in Israel/Palestine or a recipe for prolonged conflict?
The US government is making sure that Israel’s war machine is well financed by our tax money and equipped with the best of US military weapons while Americans are left to face the consequences of the piling national debt with devastating impact on the elderly and the prospects of American children going to bed hungry and lacking health care and insurance.
This passionate attachment is an affront, a burden and a liability on America. Israel’s structure, laws, policies, and practices are in violation of the American Constitution, laws and mores. The continuation of this relationship is a harbinger for more Israeli brutality and oppression. Working for the ending of racism and brutality will usher in justice, peace and tranquility for the region and the world. This is the choice that the US and the world should pursue.
Whatever the rationale for American aid to Israel, American support helps Israel maintain its racist character and practices, aggressive military posture and its violations of international law. The amount and intensity of American assistance signify an active American partnership with Israel against the aspirations of the people in the region for self-determination, justice, peace, and development. By alienating the Arab and Muslim peoples, America is exacerbating and fomenting conditions that are ripe for social upheaval–the intensity of which threatens to engulf the region and impact US interests worldwide.
Israel’s supporters in the US should not be permitted to achieve their goal of igniting a clash of civilizations emanating from the region. Continuous war will not provide a tranquil place for the Second Coming of Christ, nor for justice, hope, and peace for the people of the region. The region needs a vision that values human dignity, equality, and justice for all, instead of aircraft, bombs, and bullets.
America can no longer hide its involvement in the region under the guise of worn-out ideas. People in the region are watching and weighing America’s every move. If history is a guide, Americans should not underestimate the damage that disenfranchised and alienated individuals, groups, and countries could bring to bear.
Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo is a Palestinian-American who was born in a refugee camp in Jerusalem.Completed college and university studies in the US where he obtained a Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Miami. Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo is the author/editor of several books and articles on US Aid to Israel, Palestine, Zionism, International Law and Islam. From 1995-8 he served as the Dean of The Jerusalem School of Economics and Diplomacy.
- Take It From the Rabbi’s Mouth (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Church of Scotland Report Challenging Jews’ ‘Divine Right’ to Palestine Unchanged (alethonews.wordpress.com)
As the Syrian army and rebels fight for control of Qusair, it is necessary to realize why the town is strategically important and vital for Shias on both sides of the border, making it a military and media battleground.
There are far more elements surrounding the situation in Qusair than first meet the eye, RT’s Nadezhda Kevorkova reveals.
The army’s advance to Qusair is a key strategic operation. Qusair is near Homs, which is located on the road connecting Damascus with the Mediterranean seaport. And Qusair itself is the closest town to the Lebanese border. So taking control of it allows the forces to control the Lebanese border with the Shias living on both sides. There is an important high point between Qusair and the Lebanese village Al-Qasr. The Syrian army was forced to leave this area in the fall of 2012, so locals lost their protection. Opposition fighters took over the region and tried to chase out the Shias and take control of the high point – there were severe battles here in April 2013. (I was in Lebanon’s Al-Qasr at the time – the village came under heavy fire). But the rebels lost to the fighters from the Syrian People’s Committees. They were able to hold the high point.
Had the opposition forces won over this rather small and seemingly insignificant area, there would’ve been major consequences. The war would’ve spread to Lebanon, and Hezbollah would’ve been obligated to get involved. Jihadists would’ve been able to get into Syria from Lebanon and attack Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in the Beqaa Valley.
But fighters from the Syrian People’s Committees didn’t let them do it and held the high point.
Thanks to their effort, the government forces were able to deploy troops here and start the Qusair counter-offensive on May 19.
Thirty-thousand Syrian Shias live on the Syrian side of the border (not the Alawites – the Shias). As we know, the border between Syria and Lebanon is relative – the Shias have lived here for ages. When colonial powers drew border lines between countries, they didn’t take the traditional settlement patterns of ethnic groups and communities into account. Many of the local residents have Lebanese passports.
In the fall of 2012, rebels and foreign mercenaries began to sweep Shia villages with fire. They also intimidated people and conducted ethnic cleansing operations. In mixed communities they would go into Shias’ houses telling people to get out, drew “outlaw” signs on the buildings, snipers shot at those who tried to exit these houses. If a family left a home, it was burned down. Rebels planned to drive all Shias out of the area near the border.
Opposition propaganda resources in major mass media and social networks have deployed a campaign in the Islamic world aimed at bolstering the idea that all the Shias are apostates – they are not Muslims, not native to these regions and are simply a tool that is used for proliferating Iranian policy across the Middle East. That is why jihad regards killing a Shia as noble. A number of propaganda resources that different sheikhs were using to broadcast anti-Shia sermons, were involved with the campaign.
Moreover, the mass media are thus instilling the minds of Muslims with the idea that all the Shias, including ordinary peasants, are Hezbollah militants, and Hezbollah, in its turn, is a supplement to the ‘dreadful thugs’ of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.
Such an approach, which is used by the opposition and backed by the world’s major mass media, has a precise analogy.
The scorched-earth policy was first used in the region by the Irgun Jewish settlers in April 1948, when several Palestinian villages were wiped off the map (Deir Yassin is the most well-known). The goal was simple: the news about the massacre of 254 Palestinians – kids, women and old people would terrify all the rest so much, that they would run away voluntarily. The news about such unprecedented atrocities as, for instance, disembowelling pregnant women did strike terror into people: unarmed and unskilled in terms of war 740 thousand Palestinians fled from their home villages becoming refugees. Zionist ideologists still claim that the Palestinians are not native to Palestine and they were invited there as migrant workers, so they are either Bedouins, or nomads, or Gypsies from the Middle East who didn’t have any skills in agriculture and didn’t know how to farm.
This is also the reason that has been driving the mass-media campaign to discredit Hezbollah that has been accused of allegedly fighting against the Syrian people. Video footage and photographs of fallen Hezbollah fighters dating back to the 2006 Lebanon War have been circulated as “proof” that Hezbollah is involved in Syria and suffering losses. Back in 2006, 800 Hezbollah fighters put up resistance to the ground invasion of Lebanon by Israel, and these numbers were officially announced by the party leader Hasan Nasrallah.
I met with families that were forced to flee Syrian villages by the border. These were mostly large families who feared that their women, wives and daughters, would be raped by the opposition fighters and criminals that accompany them. Many also said that it was their strategy to intimidate the local population on purpose to have the houses vacated. Nonetheless many stayed and organized community defense volunteer squads to protect themselves from the rebel forces and mercenaries with arms in their hands.
The battle of Qusair has been of strategic importance, but not only that – Qusair is the only town, however small (with 50,000 people of population ) that had been given up by the government forces in the past – while the rest of the towns in Syria are under the government’s control. Mass-media that are telling their audience that the purpose of the battle of Qusair was “to regain control over the Mediterranean coast” and “re-deploy the government forces to Aleppo” are lying. The army is already in full control of the coast. Last Sunday, the army launched a massive offensive on all transit routes for weapons and supplies coming into the country.
As of today, Qusair is surrounded by the Syrian army, which is also in control of the downtown area. An escape corridor is being kept open for the fleeing population. The militants who fail to use it are contained in town’s quarters.
As for the losses, all the numbers cited are pure speculation and part of the propaganda attack on Syria. For example, the opposition initially reported online that they had killed “90 Hezbollah militants,” yet after a while changed the number to 30, and that’s in addition to the Syrian army’s losses of 20 soldiers reported by the army itself.
Passengers on the Mavi Marmara were attacked by heavily armed Israeli commandos.
Three years ago, the Free Gaza movement was wrapping up final preparations for a flotilla of eight ships to head out to Gaza, determined to break Israel’s illegal siege on 1.5 million Palestinians shut into an open-air prison. Most of us were already in Cyprus or Turkey or Greece, as we were the primary organizers, having already sent eight voyages, five of them successful in 2008.
Why a flotilla of boats?
During Israel’s horrific massacres against the people of Gaza (called Operation Cast Lead) in December 2008/January, 2009, our boat, the DIGNITY, had been rammed off the coast of Lebanon as we were taking medical personnel into Gaza. The boat later sank in a storm off the coast of Cyprus.
Then, in July 2009, Israel brutally attacked the “Spirit of Humanity,” even though Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, and former Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney were on board. The Israeli government stole the boat, threw passengers into Israeli prison and, laughably, deported them eight days later, because “passengers had illegally entered Israel.” It was the first time the Israeli commandoes had actually boarded one of the boats as opposed to ramming them or trying to sink them.
We realized a new approach would have to be designed, one that would include more vessels, more passengers and more media exposure to the brutal closure of Gaza. Sailing one boat at a time was not going to get the message out to the world that Israel was blockading the people of Gaza and committing crimes against humanity.
It took Free Gaza a year to organize. We traveled to Sweden, Norway, France, Turkey, Greece, many Middle Eastern countries, Tunisia, Spain, Malaysia, the UK, the US and Germany. We helped Palestinian support groups raise money and send out the message that the next voyage would have to be organized with worldwide support. We succeeded beyond our wildest imagination, as organizations and individuals got on board the mission, raised money from people around the world, and bought the boats… eight in all, from the boats purchased by the Turkish charity, IHH, to the boats ready to go from Greece, Sweden, Ireland, Malaysia and the U.S.
Our own boats, Challenger 1 and Challenger 2 plus the cargo ship, the Rachel Corrie, were on their way to the meting place off the coast of Cyprus. The Rachel Corrie, bought with money from a charity in Malaysia had finally left Ireland, its propeller pin suspiciously dropping out just days before leaving, causing the ship to be delayed for days. Had the final inspection not caught the problem, the propeller would have flown off, damaging the boat and putting the passengers and cargo at risk. The Rachel Corrie would not make it in time to join the flotilla but would try to get into Gaza five days later, only to be boarded by Israeli commandos, the passengers brutalized and left in the sun, then thrown into prison.
The six of us in the media office in Cyprus were fielding calls, trying to keep track of passengers and where they were going to board…and also trying to pacify the Cypriot authorities, who were no longer willing to have our boats leaving their shores… too much Israeli money had come into Cypriot departments over the year, and the doors that had been so welcoming to us, were beginning to close.
As the boats headed out to the meeting place, our two yachts were suddenly dead in the water, clearly a result of sabotage, as the Israelis bragged about it.
After the pin had come out of the Rachel Corrie propeller, it was obvious that one way Israel was going to shut down the flotilla was to make sure boats never left port (during Freedom Flotilla II in 2011, that’s exactly what Israel accomplished, thanks to outsourcing the occupation to Greece and shutting down the entire flotilla of nine boats).
Now, both of our yachts had the same gasline problem at the same time in the middle of the Mediterranean. One was never able to join the flotilla (after taking months to repair, it finally became the Irish ship, Saoirese, that sailed with the Canadian boat, the Tahrir and was violently boarded in November, 2011 by Israeli commandos who tried to sink them with water canons).
We could not have imagined in the days running up to the murderous attacks on our passengers on May 31, 2010 that the Israeli government, in spite of ordering the ramming of the DIGNITY and the vicious boarding of the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, they would actually send armed commandos onto all six boats, beating up many passengers, wounding over 50 of them, and murdering nine, all while the boats were in international waters.
Shutting Us Up
In an attempt since then to make the attackers look as though they are the victims, the Israeli PR machine has been working overtime to spin the story. Here are just three of the many lies told by PR shill, Mark Regev and top Israeli military men.
1. The flotilla was Turkish or was run by the IHH and was full of Turkish jihadists.
The flotilla was organized and run by the Free Gaza movement with help by every initiative that joined, from IHH to the Swedes to the Irish to the Malaysians. We were all members of civil society who were protesting at Israel’s brutal behavior regarding the Palestinians, and we took no money from governments. All money was raised through donations from average people outraged over Israel’s behavior.
In fact, we had an international passenger list of over 600. Turkey made up half of the passenger list. Australia 3; Azerbaijan 2; Italy 6; Indonesia 12; Ireland 9; Algeria 28; United States 12; Bulgaria 2; Bosnia 1; Bahrain 4; Belgium 5; Germany 11; South Africa 1; Holland 2; United Kingdom 31; Greece 38; Jordan 30; Kuwait 15; Lebanon 3; Mauritania 3; Malaysia 11; Egypt 3; Israel 6: Macedonia 3; Morocco 7; Norway 3; New Zealand 1; Syria 3; Serbia 1; Oman 1; Pakistan 3; Czech Republic 4; France 9; Kosovo 1; Canada 1; Sweden 11; Turkey 380; Yemen 4.
Every one of these passengers had filled out an extensive application. Although Free Gaza was not responsible for the Turkish passengers, they used our application process. Every person who boarded every boat was searched. Even one of the crewmembers on board the Mavi Marmara had to relinquish his Swiss army knife.
2. Passengers attacked heavily armed Israeli commandos, forcing them to shoot in self-defense.
Passengers on all six boats testified to being beaten, their bones broken, and most of them tied up on ships that were in the Mediterranean, a direct violation of maritime law and the treatment of civilians.
As the UNHCR report clearly states, of the nine passengers who were murdered on board the Mavi Marmara, six of them were assassinated, none of them had weapons. In fact, the only weapon in their hands was a camera.
Even the whitewashing Palmer report, a panel set up to counter what UNHRC had issued and co-chaired by that famous human rights abuser from Columbia, Uribe, reluctantly concluded that Israel overreacted. Their finding that the blockade was legal has no standing according to many maritime lawyers (there were none on the panel), since they were only tasked to mend relations with Turkey, something they failed abysmally to do.
3. Israel ‘kindly offered’ to take the supplies loaded on the boats and transfer them to Gaza.
First of all, our missions have never been about delivering supplies. They have always been about breaking Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza. We took in supplies, because we could, and because we often loaded the boats with medical equipment and construction equipment that Israel refused to allow into the besieged enclave.
Second, there is no method of transporting anything from Ashdod to Gaza. It is a seaport with no facilities for transporting 10,000 tons of supplies that were on board the boats. Free Gaza’s lawyers and representatives in Israel spent months working on getting the supplies from the Rachel Corrie into Gaza. When they finally were delivered, the battery operated wheelchairs were minus the batteries, as Israel determined they might be used to make rockets, the same reasoning they gave to us on the first trip about hearing aid batteries.
Third, every piece of cargo, every piece of equipment and every supply that was going to Gaza had already been inspected at the point of departure. That’s the way it’s supposed to be handled, not by some paranoid country that thinks it can break all the conventions of the sea and demand that cargo that was already inspected get hauled into its port. Imagine what a mess it would be if every country in the world decided they had the right to inspect cargo coming in from every other country. It’s what cargo manifests and inspectors are for.
Those three constant lies have been trotted out at every opportunity to shut up the activists and prevent additional voyages. It has not stopped us, as evidenced by the most recent initiative, sailing a boat out of Gaza (www.gazaark.org), nor will it stop us from continuing to hold Israel accountable for the wellbeing of the people it occupies.
The best news on this, the third anniversary of the murders of eight Turks and one American, is that the ICC is going to consider the complaint from the Cormoros Island, the country where the Mavi Marmara was flagged.
In an attempt to shut in the people of Gaza, shut down the voyages and shut up the people who advocate for freedom of movement for the 1.5 million people imprisoned there, the Israelis have failed…. Miserably.
- Greta Berlin is one of the five co-founders of the Free Gaza movement (www.freegazamovement.com) and was on one of the first two boats to arrive in Gaza in August, 2008. She was the primary spokesperson for Freedom Flotilla 1 in May 2010, appearing on international media in Europe, the Middle East and the United States when the flotilla was attacked by Israeli commandos. She is the co-author of Freedom Sailors, a book about that first trip and how activists made it to Gaza in spite of huge obstacles.
The publication date of two different books, to be released on May 31 2013, is a coincidence that could turn out to be a fortuitous one for each, in that both deal with the same topic, the secret war in Laos that took place during the 1960’s, and whose geographical focus is the same area of northern Laos. One is a novel, The Plain of Jars, while the other is a reprint of a 1972 anthology of bombing survivor stories, Voices from the Plain of Jars.
It has been just about fifty years since undeclared war was waged in Laos, the tiny country sandwiched between Vietnam and Thailand. Although the roots of this war were entangled in the complex and reckless politics of US foreign policy at that time, the results are clearer: after nine years of war, seven billion dollars, three and a half million tons of bombs, a half-million dead, and 750,000 homeless, the US had failed to achieve any of the objectives it had aimed for.
There are several grave aspects of this war which still have relevance today. The most tragic was the bombing of unarmed civilians, the worst case of this having taken place in the plateau known as the Plain of Jars, its name derived from two thousand year old stone urns made by a forgotten civilization. Here, a scorched earth policy was carried out by the US Air Force, with the objective of population removal. Firsthand accounts of the horrors of the bombing campaigns are given in Voices from the Plain of Jars, where those who had made it to refugee camps told their stories to a young American volunteer, now a freelance columnist, Fred Branfman, who subsequently compiled the narratives and children’s drawings into this classic book.
As a consequence of the air war, there are still millions of live cluster munitions lying in the ground, which have caused more than 50,000 casualties, including 30,000 dead, and still continue to kill and maim 100 people each year. More than half of the victims are children who pick up the brightly colored, yet deadly little balls.
The Plain of Jars, a novel by N. Lombardi Jr., is an adventure story about a sixty-four year old widow trying to unravel the mystery of her son’s fate, a pilot who was shot down over Laos twenty two years earlier, and in the second part of the book, about a mysterious man who becomes a local legend as he clears the cluster bombs with the aid of an elephant and a self-designed flailer, a device that whips the ground and detonates the little ball-like grenades. The novel uses entertainment value to educate people about a military conflict that only few today know had ever occurred. Using action, suspense, even humor, and other fictional devices, the author has created a vehicle to convey a strong anti-war message without beating the reader over the head with it.
Does recalling the events of that time and place have any contemporary significance? Both authors feel that indeed it does, for the secret war in Laos had set the precedent for tactics used in making war today, such as aerial bombardment of civilian targets, CIA involvement in military operations, the use of proxy armies, and the testing of new aerial weapons in combat situations.
Both books are available at all major outlets, both online and many brick and mortar shops.
Voices of the Plain of Jars, Life under an Air War, Edited by Fred Branfman, University of Wisconsin Press
The Plain of Jars, by N. Lombardi Jr., Roundfire books
For more information on the history and culture of the Laotian people, and an introduction to the secret war, visit http://plainofjars.net.
There’s a contradiction built into every campaign promise about transparent government beyond the failure to keep the promises. Our government is, in significant portion, made up of secret operations, operations that include war-making, kidnapping, torture, assassination, and infiltrating and overthrowing governments. A growing movement is ready to see that end.
The Central Intelligence Agency is central to our foreign policy, but there is nothing intelligent about it, and there is no good news to be found regarding it. Its drone wars are humanitarian and strategic disasters. The piles of cash it keeps delivering to Hamid Karzai fuel corruption, not democracy. Whose idea was it that secret piles of cash could create democracy? (Nobody’s, of course, democracy being the furthest thing from U.S. goals.) Lavishing money on potential Russian spies and getting caught helps no one, and not getting caught would have helped no one. Even scandals that avoid mentioning the CIA, like Benghazigate, are CIA blowback and worse than we’re being told.
We’ve moved from the war on Iraq, about which the CIA lied, and its accompanying atrocities serving as the primary recruiting tool for anti-U.S. terrorists, to the drone wars filling that role. We’ve moved from kidnapping and torture to kidnapping and torture under a president who, we like to fantasize, doesn’t really mean it. But the slave-owners who founded this country knew very well what virtually anyone would do if you gave them power, and framed the Constitution so as not to give presidents powers like these.
There are shelves full in your local bookstore of books pointing out the CIA’s outrageous incompetence. The brilliant idea to give Iran plans for a nuclear bomb in order to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear bomb is one of my favorites.
But books that examine the illegality, immorality, and anti-democratic nature of even what the CIA so ham-handedly intends to do are rarer. A new book called Dirty Wars, also coming out as a film in June, does a superb job. I wrote a review a while back. Another book, decades old now, might be re-titled “Dirty Wars The Prequel.” I’m thinking of Douglas Valentine’s The Phoenix Program.
It you read The Phoenix Program about our (the CIA’s and “special” forces’) secret crimes in Eastern Asia and Dirty Wars about our secret crimes in Western Asia, and remember that similar efforts were focused on making life hell for millions of people in Latin America in between these twin catastrophes, and that some of those running Phoenix were brought away from similar sadistic pursuits in the Philippines, it becomes hard to play along with the continual pretense that each uncovered outrage is an aberration, that the ongoing focus of our government’s foreign policy “isn’t who we are.”
Targeted murders with knives in Vietnam were justified with the same rhetoric that now justifies drone murders. The similarities include the failure of primary goals, the counterproductive blowback results, the breeding of corruption abroad and at home, the moral and political degradation, the erosion of democratic ways of thinking, and — of course — the racist arrogance and cultural ignorance that shape the programs and blind their participants to what they are engaged in. The primary difference between Phoenix and drone kills is that the drones don’t suffer PTSD. The same, however, cannot be said for the drone pilots.
“The problem,” wrote Valentine, “was one of using means which were antithetical to the desired end, of denying due process in order to create a democracy, of using terror and repression to foster freedom. When put into practice by soldiers taught to think in conventional military and moral terms, Contre Coup engendered transgressions on a massive scale. However, for those pressing the attack on VCI, the bloodbath was constructive, for indiscriminate air raids and artillery barrages obscured the shadow war being fought in urban back alleys and anonymous rural hamlets. The military shield allowed a CIA officer to sit behind a steel door in a room in the U.S. Embassy, insulated from human concern, skimming the Phoenix blacklist, selecting targets for assassination, distilling power from tragedy.”
At some point, enough of us will recognize that government conducted behind a steel door can lead only to ever greater tragedy.
In an email that Valentine wrote for RootsAction.org on Monday, he wrote: “Through its bottomless black bag of unaccounted-for money, much of it generated by off-the-books proprietary companies and illegal activities like drug smuggling, the CIA spreads corruption around the world. This corruption undermines our own government and public officials. And the drone killings of innocent men, women, and children generate fierce resentment.. . .Tell your representative and senators right now that the CIA is the antithesis of democracy and needs to be abolished.“
The Church of Scotland’s revised report ‘The Inheritance of Abraham?’ has now been released ahead of their Assembly.
The Church felt obliged to change some of it after Jewish leaders sought to interfere, one complaining that it was “an outrage to everything that interfaith dialogue stands for… and closes the door on meaningful dialogue”. Another said “it reads like an Inquisition-era polemic against Jews and Judaism.”
The Israeli ambassador moaned that it belittled the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which was “truly hurtful”.
So do the changes amount to a caving-in to Zionist meddlers?
I soon gave up comparing the two versions word for word to spot the difference. The press release gives no clues either. In it, Convener Sally Foster-Fulton simply says: “We believe that this new version has paid attention to the concern some of the language of the previous version caused amongst the Jewish community whilst holding true to our concerns about the injustices being perpetrated because of policies of the Government of Israel against the Palestinian people that we wanted to highlight. The views of this report are consistent with the views held by the Church of Scotland over many years.”
Cool under fire, this lady.
The report’s key conclusion remains that “the Church of Scotland does not agree with a premise that scripture offers any peoples a divine right to territory”. At least they stand firm on that.
They also recap on what they already believe, and here’s where disagreements might flare up. For example,
- “Israel is a recognized State and has the right to exist in peace and security.”
Yet Israel’s right to exist seems somehow inconsistent with the Church’s statement that scripture does not bestow a divine right to someone else’s land. Even if the Church believes that the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan was morally and legally right, what does it say to the Jewish terror groups that were driving Palestinians from their homes before the ink was dry and before the state of Israel was declared? What about the hundreds of towns and villages not even allocated to the Jewish state in the UN Plan but erased by Israel in order to implant itself. What about the systematic ethnic cleansing and the criminal occupation of additional Arab territories in the 1967 war? Perhaps the Church should remain silent on the ‘right to exist’ question, at least until Israel declares its internationally recognized boundaries and halts its illegal expansion.
- “There should be a Palestinian State, recognized by the United Nations that should have the right to exist in peace and security.”
Israel doesn’t recognize the Palestinians’ right to a state.
- “We condemn racism and religious hatred.”
The Jewish state is a racist entity.
• “We are especially concerned at the recent actions of the Government of Israel in its support for settlements, for the construction of the security barrier or ‘the Wall’ within Occupied Territory, for the blockade of Gaza and for the anti-Boycott law.”
“Recent” actions? Israel has been building illegal settlements since 1967. Gaza has been blockaded since 2006. The West Bank has lived under permanent blockade for decades.
- “We assert our sincere belief that to be critical of the policies of the Israeli Government is a legitimate part of our witness and we strongly reject accusations of anti-Semitic bias. We regularly engage with and critique policies of all Governments, where we deem them to be contrary to our understanding of God’s wish for humanity.”
Central to the Church’s discussion is this excellent passage,
“To Christians in the 21st century, promises about the land of Israel shouldn’t be intended to be taken literally, or as applying to a defined geographical territory; The ‘promised land’ in the Bible is not a place, so much as a metaphor of how things ought to be among the people of God. This ‘promised land’ can be found or built anywhere.”
The report’s key conclusions appear the same as before. Christians should not be supporting any claims by any people to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory… It is a misuse of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) and the New Testament to use it as a topographic guide to settle contemporary conflicts over land.
And regarding Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory the Church remains committed to the following principles (previously set out and agreed by the General Assembly):
That the current situation is characterized by an inequality in power, therefore reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of Gaza, are ended.
The Church of Scotland condemns violence, terrorism and intimidation no matter the perpetrator
The Church of Scotland affirms the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live within secure and fixed boundaries in states of their own.
The Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under international law.
The Church of Scotland should do nothing to promote the viability of the illegal settlements on Palestinian land.
That human rights of all peoples should be respected, and this should include the right of return and / or compensation for Palestinian refugees.
That negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority about peace with justice must resume at the earliest opportunity and the Church of Scotland should continue to put political pressure on all parties to commence such negotiations, and asking all parties to recognize the inequality in power which characterizes this situation.
That there are safe rights of access to the sacred sites for the main religions in the area.
This stance seems pretty robust to me, and the Church’s support for refugees’ right of return is very welcome. However it also raises questions. Why, having already emphasized that the crisis in the Holy Land is characterized by “an inequality of power”, call for the two sides to be thrown together again in fruitless negotiations? Negotiate what? Freedom? Is that negotiable? The return of stolen lands and property? Is that negotiable? These matters are already decided by international and humanitarian law and numerous UN resolutions waiting to be enforced. How can the Church approve so-called ‘negotiations’ while one party is still under illegal occupation with a gun to his head? What justice is likely to come out of that? The Church does urge the UK Government and the European Union “to do all that is within their power to ensure that international law is upheld”, but that surely must come first, rather than relying on discredited talks.
The report going in front of the Church’s Assembly appears unchanged in substance and has cleverly sidestepped objections. The only caving-in, so far, has been the senior clergy’s agreement to listen to the Zionists’ impertinent demands in the first place.
I can only wish the Assembly an enjoyable week ahead and, on this issue, firm judgment.
- Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can now be read on the internet by visiting http://www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.
Never before in the history of Venezuela has a politician been so promoted and supported by the media as Henrique Capriles has been, and now more than ever. Never before has a politician received so much coverage, and such fawning attention from the media, especially given that we are talking about someone who isn’t even president.
If we were to look to the past we would find Rómulo Betancout, Rafael Caldera, and Carlos Andrés Pérez—all presidents with great media influence. But they were already president when they received so much coverage and still it was not even comparable to what Henrique Capriles receives today.
The fact that the press gives so much coverage to someone who isn’t even the president is unprecedented in our country. Not even in the case of famous opposition leaders of the past like “Tigre” Eduardo Fernández or the very Caldera and Carlos Andrés Pérez before they were presidents, has so much attention been given to a candidate.
Every single day the businessman Capriles appears in national and international media. Only those who are very naïve could believe that someone with so much support is an “independent” politician.
In the case of President Chavez, he didn’t get nearly as much attention from the media when he was a rising leader and presidential candidate. And when he did it was always with a certain slant, from an angle that attacked, criminalized and delegitimized his struggles and his ideas. Chavez couldn’t dream of having the media be so openly servile when he was candidate or when he was president.
Even the politicians named above, like Caldera or Carlos Andrés Pérez, who had a lot of support from the media, always had some journalists that were critical. But with Capriles, those same media outlets won’t even touch him with a rose petal.
Capriles the “leader”
Objectively speaking, Henrique Capriles as a politician is rather mediocre: he is not a good speaker, he is not a great leader, he is not politically well-educated, he does not have a clear political platform, and he has little charisma. His rhetoric focuses on the daily problems of average Venezuelans, assuring that he can solve them, but without ever saying how. With so few real abilities, it is obvious that without his money and the media’s support he would not go anywhere as a political leader.
The fact that the media and the international press have converted such a mediocre politician into the “leader” of a large part of the Venezuelan population is something that should be studied by sociologists and marketing experts alike.
Conscious of the limitations of their candidate, ever since the 2012 elections the rightwing leadership has prohibited him from speaking openly with any media outlet that is not completely supportive of his candidacy: in other words, no community, alternative, leftist, or state media in any part of the world, no media that is not “normal” for the communication logic of big capital. On the other hand, Capriles speaks freely to any journalist or media outlet that is at the service of big capital. He speaks freely because he knows that they will never ask him an incisive question.
In his most recent campaign, Capriles’ fear of incisive questions was so great that he invented a new technique as far as electoral campaigns go: the “private” press conference. These are press conferences where only media that are supportive of his candidacy are allowed to enter. Every journalist that attends these “private” press conferences knows that the state media is not allowed to enter, and that no one can ask incisive questions, but not one of those journalists and none of the media outlets where they work has said anything about this censorship occurring among those who supposedly support democracy.
Lately, not only Capriles but also high up members of his campaign like Carlos Ocariz, mayor of Sucre municipality, have taken to ignoring any questions from reporters that they do not like, no matter how polite. But in spite of all this, they are presented by the private media, domestic and internationally, as being the bearers of democracy. If this kind of censorship can occur while they are in the opposition, we can only imagine what would happen if they were in power.
A Political Birth Bought And Paid For
Henrique Capriles does not come from a background of grassroots party leadership or community activism. Far from representing a “new kind of politics”, Capriles represents the exact same kind of politics that existed before, or perhaps even worse because he is disguised as something else.
He began his political career with an obvious political negotiation in the heart of the social-democratic party Copei, a party that nominated him as a representative in Congress for the state of Zulia. From there he was elected to represent a state in which he had never lived before, and above hundreds of regional leaders from a party that had had previous governors from Zulia. But Copei preferred to run the son of a business leader and disparage the merits of so many local leaders.
With the backing of Copei, as a Congressman he immediately became the president of the Congress, as the old political system attempted to recover its losses from the hurricane that Chavez’s new leadership represented. In this way, the young businessman-made-politician rapidly took over one of the most important posts in the Fourth Republic [as the pre-Chavez era from 1958-1999 is known]. With enough financial backing anyone can be elected to any post.
However, as president of Congress, Henrique Capriles did not hesitate to throw Copei to one side, declaring that he “does not respond to political pressures from any party”. It is very easy to say something like that when you’ve already been elected, and much easier when you have an economic empire backing you.
That is how the rightwing creates their prefabricated politicians.
The Communicational Strategy of the Parallel Government
The strategy underway on the part of big capital, its political actors and its media outlets in Venezuela is that of a parallel government. With the argument that Capriles lost by a very narrow margin, and therefore the country is divided in “two halves”, Capriles doesn’t receive the media coverage that he should as the governor of Miranda, or as a defeated candidate, but rather he is treated by the media as if he were the very president of the country. Whatever he says, whatever interview he does, whatever comment he makes on Twitter, it is immediately covered by all the private media that are constantly waiting to report on everything he does or says.
Instead of having an equitable distribution of the news priorities, this posture by the media is clearly a strategy of aggression against our country. There have been recent cases such as Calderón in Mexico with a narrow victory over López Obrador, or that of Bush over Al Gore in the United States. In both cases the defeated candidates were given media coverage for the first few days after the elections, but afterwards they were treated as everyday politicians again, receiving little media coverage. Only here in Venezuela do they keep giving more coverage to the losing candidate than they give to the very President.
Translation by Chris Carlson for Venezuelanalysis.com
- Presidential Candidate Henrique Capriles: Leading to Nowhere (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Capriles Falsifies Evidence in Order to Claim Fraud in Venezuela’s Elections (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
That now hold our brothers
In Angola, in Mozambique,
In subhuman bondage
Have been toppled,
Everywhere is war…
The USA, once one of the most free countries on earth, is no longer free. It is rapidly becoming a militarized gulag society – a giant open air prison.”
Nearly 1,000 American military bases occupy every corner of the planet. US troops have killed more than a million people in various countries during the past decade. Officially, this is all being done in the name of “freedom.”
Yet the USA, once one of the most free countries on earth, is no longer free. It is rapidly becoming a militarized gulag society – a giant open air prison.
The faster Americans lose their freedom, the louder their leaders chant empty, Orwellian freedom slogans. And the loudest and most Orwellian symbol of American unfreedom is the new World Trade Center skyscraper officially named the Freedom Tower, which might more appropriately be called the Unfreedom Tower.
Appropriately enough, the new Unfreedom Tower will be surrounded by $40 million dollars worth of “security infrastructure” including bollards, dual-barricades, street barriers and 11-foot-tall security booths. New York Business Journal lamented the situation in its recent headline: “World Trade Center or armed camp?” According to the New York Times, Lower Manhattan will become “a fortresslike environment” featuring “a fortified palisade of guard booths, vehicle barricades and sidewalk barriers.” New York Magazine quoted one of the planners: “You have these checkpoints that make it look more like an armed camp or a gated community.”
Or an Israeli-occupied territory.
The Unfreedom Tower is the architectural symbol of the new, post-9/11 world. The contradiction between its ostensible symbolic meaning – “freedom” – and the reality on the ground around it is not an accident.
George Orwell famously explained how those who set out to crush freedom do so by violating logic and language. By flooding the airwaves with slogans like “freedom is slavery,” Big Brother’s dystopian government in Orwell’s novel 1984 paralyzes the public’s capacity to think clearly and logically. Once clear thinking is paralyzed, Big Brother can do whatever he wants. As Orwell put it: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
By building a “Freedom Tower” surrounded by an armed camp, symbolizing the loss of liberty that 9/11 was designed to catalyze, the architects of Philip Zelikow’s post-9/11 “whole new world” are systematically and intentionally destroying the American public’s capacity to think.
Zelikow, Wolfowitz, and the other architects of this Orwellian “whole new world” have been using their controlled corporate media to attack the American mind with Orwellian “freedom equals slavery” slogans, beginning just minutes after the Twin Towers were demolished. Practically before the North Tower had finished its ten-second-freefall, the television was blaring that Bin Laden and his friends did it because “they hate our freedoms.” The utter absurdity of this statement was rarely remarked on.
The television then repeatedly told Americans that in order to preserve their freedom, they would have to give up some of their liberty. The fact that freedom and liberty mean the same thing makes this an absurdity. By forcing Americans to internalize such absurdities, the mind-controllers created a whole nation of unthinking automatons, ready to march off to war on transparently ridiculous premises… and to systematically slaughter civilians, rape children in front of their parents as an “interrogation technique,” commit unspeakable sexual crimes at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, poison much of the Middle East and Central Asia with depleted uranium, murder thousands of innocent people with cowardly drone strikes, and generally perpetrate unspeakable acts on a daily basis.
As Voltaire put it: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” If Voltaire were alive today, he would tell us that people who believe three skyscrapers can disappear at free-fall acceleration through the path of most resistance, due to modest office fires ignited by only two planes, will commit the most hideous atrocities imaginable.
The Unfreedom Tower now looms over an unfree land.
In today’s America, executive-branch death panels oversee a “disposition matrix” in which computers decide which people will be murdered by the government, which ones will merely be disappeared without charges into the global sex torture gulag, and which ones will be arrested and tried in a courtroom. This despite the clear Constitutional statement that in the USA, no one may be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” And the phrase “due process of law” is clearly defined: It means a public, transparent trial by jury, beginning with presumption of innocence, under various safeguards.
The pretext for this annihilation of liberty is the “war on terrorism.” Big Brother tells us that terrorists are likely to strike us all dead at any moment, so emergency measures are necessary. But in reality, terrorism barely even exists. Americans are more likely to drown in their bathtubs, or be hit by lightning, than be killed by terrorists. The whole terror scare is a paranoid hallucination that was carefully scripted and inflicted on the American people by the most depraved and demonic mind-controllers who have ever lived.
Anybody who can see that two plus two make four, not five, can see that the current rulers of the USA are not the Constitutional government. They are treasonous usurpers.
When will Americans break through the checkpoints, overturn the guard booths, overwhelm the barricades, and overthrow the demons-in-human-form who have paralyzed their minds and destroyed their freedoms?
Inevitably, the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba – Catastrophe – was overshadowed by calls to exercise refugees’ right of return. Although the vast majority of Palestinians live in forced exile and the focus tends to dwell on their plight, there are now an estimated 370,000 ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) within the Israeli state. They are also denied the right to return to their homes and villages. No Nakba anniversary can pass without remembering them.
Unlike their compatriots in the wider Diaspora, the displaced Palestinians in Israel enjoy little international assistance and far less protection. Ever since the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) stopped providing services for them in 1952, they have remained refugees in their own land and second-class citizens in the state established around them.
From the very first, Israel never intended to accord equal rights to the 150,000 Palestinians who remained on their land as 750,000 of their compatriots were being driven into exile, despite an undertaking given in its ‘declaration of independence’ to ‘uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race or sex’. The Palestinians have always been regarded as a ‘fifth column’ and a threat to the security of the state. As such, they were subjected to military rule from 1948 until 1966.
Under Israeli law, the IDPs are present in so far as they are obliged to pay taxes but absent in terms of their rights to employment, health care, water and education. They were assigned the absurd legal designation, unique to Israel, of ‘present-absentees’.
With no regard for their rights to ownership, the state has used its Absentee Property Law of 1950 to confiscate some 97 per cent of Palestinian land, leaving 1.5 million Palestinian citizens’ access to the remaining three per cent. These are either administered by the state or allocated to Zionist institutions such as the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for the exclusive use of Jews. Priority is given routinely to American Jews, followed by Europeans, Russians and others in that order.
While Palestinian villages which pre-date the state of Israel are denied basic services, newly-established Jewish settlements are granted them unconditionally. In 1992, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the Palestinian villages should be connected to the Israeli national water system. That has still not been done.
On another level, the Regulation and Construction Law prohibits Palestinians from repairing let alone building their homes on land which Israel classifies as ‘agricultural land’ or ‘closed military zones’. Their villages, mostly in the Negev and the Galilee, are ‘unrecognised’ by the state and, therefore, by definition ‘illegal’. The underlying purpose of all these classifications by Israel is to force its Palestinians citizens to leave; it is, in other words, ethnic cleansing by stealth.
If Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including Ramallah, are destroyed with impunity on the pretext that they have no proper licence, one can only imagine what is done to the ‘unrecognised villages’ in what Israel regards as its sovereign territory. Using the Emergency Laws inherited from the British Mandatory government, officials often post notices on homes earmarked for demolition, which are thereafter destroyed within forty-eight hours.
In the Negev, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah – reported the destruction of 2,200 homes and the forced displacement of more than 14,000 people between 2008 and 2011. In these villages women and children die in childbirth because they have no access to basic medical care of a kind accessible by Jewish immigrants the moment they land at Tel Aviv airport.
Nevertheless, the fact that Palestinians in Israel marked this year’s Nakba anniversary across the country demonstrates that after 65 years Israel has failed to erase their sense of identity and link to their land. Nor has it succeeded with its discriminatory laws to break the bonds between them and the rest of the Palestinian people; in fact, this has grown stronger. They all, to this day, share the common aspiration to return to their homes. After all the sacrifices they have made over the past 65 years it is inconceivable that the displaced Palestinians in Israel will submit to further ethnic cleansing.
The problem of the IDPs in Israel differs only marginally from that of the refugees in the Diaspora. Without doubt, they all share the common experience of dispossession and dislocation but because the IDPs didn’t cross international borders they have no access to humanitarian aid from the UNHCR or UNRWA. Though initially recognised and served by UNRWA, that came to an abrupt end in 1952 when Israel assumed responsibility for them not, it transpired, in order to provide for all of its citizens. Quite simply, and very cynically, the Israeli government wanted to divert attention from their officially-sanctioned maltreatment of its Palestinian citizens and prevent them from having access to international legal protection.
The full story of the IDPs in Israel is yet to be told. After 65 years their dream of return remains unfulfilled. Like the generation who were forcibly evicted in 1948 they also have a right to return to their homes. Their living, striving and dying over the past six decades were all with this objective in mind. Israel may delay it for some time but cannot prevent it in the long-term, because no people in history have ever accepted completely the loss of their homeland. The Palestinians’ day will come, with or without the approval of the Israeli government.
- Palestinian Nakba: The Young Will Never Forget (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A new report published in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz describes the information found in a newly-uncovered document in the government archives, which reveals that the first Israeli government, including the first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, worked to re-write the history of Israel’s founding in 1948 to deny the fact that over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled.
The file, number GL-18/17028, was apparently missed by the Israeli military censor, who has sealed all other historical documents related to Israel’s creation in 1948. With the advent of historians like Benny Morris, who went through previously de-classified documents in detail and found strong evidence of massacres of Palestinians by Israeli armed militias as well as the forced expulsion of most of the indigenous population of Palestine in 1948, documents that had been de-classified were sealed again and remain so until today.
There are currently no guidelines or timeline as to when the documents will be unsealed. However, the one file that the government censor missed has a great deal within it on the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), the 65th anniversary of which was marked by Palestinians and their supporters just this past Wednesday.
According to the Ha’aretz expose, “what has been uncovered provides enough information to establish that in many cases senior commanders of the Israel Defense Forces ordered Palestinians to be expelled and their homes blown up. The Israeli military not only updated Ben-Gurion about these events but also apparently received his prior authorization, in written or oral form, notably in Lod and Ramle, and in several villages in the north.”
The file also contains information on the Israeli hasbara (propaganda) campaign that was launched after the expulsion of the Palestinians, to try to re-write what happened and deny that the Palestinian people were forcibly expelled. The Ha’aretz expose says that in the early 1960s, under pressure from the Kennedy administration in the U.S. to address the crisis of the Palestinian refugees, Ben Gurion held a special meeting at the U.N.
According to the authors, “Ben-Gurion was convinced that the refugee problem was primarily one of public image (hasbara). Israel, he believed, would be able to persuade the international community that the refugees had not been expelled, but had fled.”
One of the lies promoted in the propaganda campaign of the early 1960s was a claim that Arab and Palestinian leaders encouraged the Palestinian people to flee during the 1948 Nakba. But the evidence contained in the one unclassified file does not support that claim. Instead, it was the massacres by Israeli militias in places like Deir Yassin, in which over one hundred men, women and children were lined up and shot, that made so many Palestinians fear for their lives and flee.
The rest of the documents on the subject, including government reports and military narratives, remain classified. Many of the original documents have also been destroyed by the Israeli government, some of which (according to researchers who read them) contained accounts of massacres, rapes, brutality and excessive violence that would have been embarrassing to the Israeli state, as well as calling into question the narrative that the Israeli government promotes and the history it teaches its children.
- Palestinian Nakba: The Young Will Never Forget (alethonews.wordpress.com)
I can claim to have had a small hand in instigating the legal complaint to the International Criminal Court by the Comoros Islands against the murders by Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmara. The Washington Post writes:
In a filing, lawyers from the Istanbul-based law firm Elmadag argued that the events that took place on the Mavi Marmari should be considered as having occurred on the territory of Comoros.
As though this were in any sense a matter of dispute. That crimes committed on any ship outside of territorial waters are under the jurisdiction of the flag state of the ship, is both customary international law of ancient standing and a fundamental provision of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, save in exceptional cases expressly provided for in international treaties or in this Convention, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas.
The Comoros Islands are a tiny state off the East coast of the continent. They are part of the disgraceful system where small or failed states lease out their shipping registers – often corruptly – to western companies who run them, enabling major shipping owners to evade safety, conditions, qualifications and pay regulations of more serious states. Liberia has been the most notorious example. The Comoros government therefore deserves huge congratulation for taking its flag state responsibility so seriously, and so bravely, in taking on Israel.
It is a responsibility Turkey deliberately shed just before the Mavi Marmara was attacked.
There is, in this regard, as I reported from my meetings with organisers and bereaved families of the Mavi Marmara in Izmir two years ago, something extremely disturbing about the case of the Mavi Marmara:
Shortly before sailing, the registration was switched from Turkey to the Comoros Islands. This exempted Turkey from the responsibility of jurisdiction. It also made discussion at NATO much easier for the US; if the Israelis had attacked in international waters a ship flying the flag of a NATO state, that would have been a much more difficult thing for the alliance to ignore.
It turns out that the change was made at the insistence of the Turkish Ministry of Transport. They carried out a number of inspections of the Mavi Marmara prior to the Gaza trip and made repeated demands for changes: mattresses and cushions had to have more modern, fire resistant foam. Internal walls had to be upgraded for fire resistance. Whatever changes were then made, the Ministry found new faults. In the end, the Ministry had said that the Mavi Marmara would be impounded unless it changed its registration, as it could not meet the safety requirements for a Turkish flagged ship.
The strange thing is that the Mavi Marmara had been Turkish flagged for years, and had been running tourist cruises out of Istanbul. None of the faults the Ministry found resulted from any changes, yet none had apparently been a problem on past inspections. The family told me that, before the Mavi Marmara sailed, they had been in no doubt the Turkish government had been deliberately obstructive and had forced the change of flag.
Part of the Turkish state was insistent on giving the Mavi Marmara no protection. You have to ask the question, did these people know in advance the Mavi Marmara was to be attacked? The fatal shootings on board were mostly not random - they were targeted shots to the head of selected people. If Israel had planned this, how long in advance, where did they get their intelligence on who was aboard? If they had assistance from within the Turkish state, of course the Turkish state would want to ensure they did not have legal responsibility over the killings.
Let me be plain. I am not accusing the current government of Turkey. But they inherited a bureaucracy and political establishment riddled, especially at the most senior levels, with ultra-nationalists and relatives and connections of the Turkish military. The Turkish Foreign Office in particular is notoriously ultra and completely penetrated and corrupted by Israel. The Turkish government has had a most difficult job in changing the direction of the country without provoking violent nationalist reaction. That has been a process; and the result is that those apparently in power did not in reality get control of all the levers of power at once.
We are a long way yet from knowing the full truth about the Mavi Marmara: and Israel is not the only place to look.