Al-Tadamun human rights organisation said on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation has renewed the administrative detention of 11 Palestinians, including a former hunger striker and two Palestinian lawmakers.
The administrative detention order against Samer al-Barq, 39, from Jayous village in Qalqilya was renewed for six months. Al-Barq went on a hunger strike in April 2012 for 120 days. On November 23, 2012, he ended his hunger strike after he was promised he would be released and deported to Egypt.
With the renewal of the order against al-Barq’s, Al-Tadamun advocate, Osama Maqboul, accused the Israeli occupation of breaching pledges of release and deportation. Others whose administrative detention orders have been renewed include members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mahmoud al-Ramahi and Basim al-Za’areer. Both were detained at November, 2012.
The Israeli occupation renewed the administrative detention of another eight Palestinians from various cities and villages across the occupied West Bank. Many Palestinian prisoners have recently gone on hunger strike in protest against administrative detention which is a military detention order issued on no apparent basis.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian prisoner from Gaza, Ashraf al-Sabbah, announced the beginning of his hunger strike in protest at the poor health conditions he must endure as a result of the Israeli prison services’ refusal to give him proper medication.
- Call to Action: Join Addameer’s Global End Administrative Detention Campaign! (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Administrative detainees to start a hunger strike at the beginning of June (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
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)
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces demolished two homes in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Tuesday, having earlier destroyed two Palestinian homes in al-Tur.
Witnesses said that a large Israeli police force surrounded the buildings in Jabal al-Mukabbir and closed off the area before demolishing the buildings.
One building belonged to the Abu al-Dabaat family and consisted of three floors housing four families. The second building was home to the al-Qaq family and housed three people.
The al-Qaq family built the property 13 years ago and received a demolition order in 2002 for lacking a building permit. The demolition order was halted and an Israeli court ordered the family to pay 80,000 shekels ($21,800) as a penalty.
The family then tried to obtain a building permit, but were unable to do so.
Earlier, Israeli forces demolished two houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur, leaving seven people homeless.
According to the UN, 33 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement.
Figures from Israeli NGO Bimkom show that 95 percent of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected.
Since 1967, the Israeli authorities have demolished some 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem. Over 1,630 Palestinians were made homeless in house demolitions carried out by Israel between 2004-2012, B’Tselem says.
- Israel demolishes West Bank homes, water wells (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Kidnap Two Children In Jerusalem (imemc.org)
- Israeli court rules to allow mosque demolition in Jerusalem (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
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 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.
Many tourists hoping to visit the West Bank are finding it impossible to do so – because Israel requires certain visitors to have an entry permit. Obtaining permission is anything but easy, because Tel Aviv doesn’t explain the process, Haaretz reported.
The requirement for military entry permits reportedly began at the beginning of 2013. However, not everyone is required to obtain the special pass – and no information has been published surrounding the selection process.
Clerics from the US reportedly had to sign a declaration at Ben-Gurion International Airport recently, promising not to enter Area A without permits from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Area A includes all Palestinian cities and their surrounding areas, with no Israeli settlements. The area is fully controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
COGAT is a military office which coordinates civilian issues between the Israeli government, the Israel Defense Forces, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian Authority.
“I understand that in the event that I enter any area under the control of the Palestinian Authority without the appropriate authorization all relevant legal actions will be taken against me, including deportation and denial of entry into Israel for a period of up to ten years,” the English-language version of the declaration reads.
The clerics signed the document, but were not told how they could obtain the special permission.
The clerics told Haaretz that they had been sent from their church to work with Christian communities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. But their mission ended before it ever began because they were not told how to obtain the military entry permit.
One of the clerics sought help from the US Consulate in Jerusalem – but none of the employees were aware of the restictions. The spokesman for the US consulate declined to answer whether Israel had informed the American authorities about the obligation to sign a statement, and did not explain the viewpoint of the US Department of State.
According to Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for Israel’s Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, the Entry into Israel Law authorizes the interior minister to decide on the entry of foreigners to the State of Israel. In the case of Judea and Samaria, the Israel Defense Forces chief of general staff makes the determination with a permit from the coordinator’s office.
“When a tourist or foreign national arrives at the international border crossings and it is believed that he wants to enter Judea and Samaria, he should be informed [of the procedure] and asked for his promise to receive a permit from the coordinator’s office before his entry – a permit that constitutes an essential condition [of entry to the Palestinian Authority controlled areas],” she said.
But there is no mention of the existence of such a procedure on COGAT’s English website. The spokesman for the coordinator’s office said the matter of the procedure and the form is being examined.
Meanwhile, lawyers are questioning the legality of the declaration. According to the Oslo Accords, citizens of countries which have diplomatic ties with Israel need only an entry permit for Israel and a valid passport to enter Palestinian Authority territories, Attorney Adi Lustigman said.
The declaration “is not legal because it was formulated for an improper purpose – isolating the occupied territories – and in an improper manner. It makes the assumption that people who arrive in Israel as tourists, as clerics and for other purposes want to act in contradiction to the law, which may not have been explained to them clearly,” Lustigman said.
“If there really is such a procedure, it should be publicized in a simple, clear and accessible manner…it seems there is no operative procedure, nor any procedure for submitting a request. We are left only with a prohibition, which, as we have mentioned, is invalid,” she added.
The practice of requiring tourists to sign such declarations was first reported seven years ago, but was reportedly discontinued and renewed only at the beginning of this year.
Several years ago, the Interior Ministry also began to limit the freedom of movement of tourists with work and family ties in the West Bank, in order to prevent their entry into Israel by means of a permit with the stamp “For the territories of Judea and Samaria only.”
BETHLEHEM – Israelis from a Negev kibbutz attacked a Bedouin village on Sunday, setting fire to a tent, a Ma’an reporter said.
Residents from the Kibbutz of Retamim attacked the adjacent Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj and set fire to a tent belonging to Eid Abu Habbak, head of the local village council, Salman Ibin Hamid, told Ma’an.
Abu Habbak filed a complaint with Dimona police department.
“The setters of Retamim are acting like they are in the West Bank,” Ibn Hamid added. “These people have the mentality of the occupying settler to attack every Arab.”
Israeli police said that Bir Hadaj residents hurled stones at residents of Retamim, a claim which Ibn Hamid denied.
On May 6, an Israeli government committee approved a draft bill setting a framework to implement the evacuation of “unrecognized” villages in the Negev, most of which existed before the state of Israel.
- Israel lawmakers approve plan to displace Negev Bedouins (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israeli President Shimon Peres says no “compromise” should be made with Iran in the course of the negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of world powers.
At a Friday meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle – whose country is a member of the P5+1 – in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), Peres once again accused Iran of building a nuclear weapon and called for the escalation of pressure against the Islamic Republic in the run-up to the country’s presidential election on June 14.
“Iran is near elections and the sanctions may be having an impact. The sanctions and pressure should be continued in the buildup to the Iranian elections,” the hawkish Israeli president said.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. Iran vehemently denies the allegations, citing religious prohibitions and a firm commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The German foreign minister, for his part, echoed the nuclear accusations against Iran, saying, “I assure you that we stand by our friends, our Israeli friends, and we look forward to continuing this deep and trustful relationship.”
Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers – Russia, China, France, Britain, and the US plus Germany – have held several rounds of talks, mainly over the Iranian nuclear energy program. The latest rounds of the negotiations between the two sides were held in the Kazakh city of Almaty on April 5-6 and February 26-27.
On Thursday, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Sa’eed Jalili, who represents the Islamic Republic in the talks with the P5+1, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, representing the other side, held talks in Istanbul, Turkey, regarding the negotiations.
Using the nuclear allegations as pretext, Washington and the European Union have imposed a series of illegal unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The bans come on top of four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran under the same pretext.
- Canada not to attend UN disarmament talks under Iran presidency (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- US obstructing global disarmament: Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Why the failure in Almaty is a big deal (alethonews.wordpress.com)
“Torching Arabs for education,” was written on the guide’s shirt, families who were picnicking in the north told the Israeli daily Maariv.
Maariv reported that it was not the first time such slogans were seen on T-shirts. A witness told the newspaper that he saw “death to Arabs” written on T-shirts wore by guides affiliated to the same movement.
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)
Pro-Palestine activists are to march on the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) annual congress in London, demanding relocation of upcoming European under-21s championships in Israel.
In a press release on its official website on Tuesady, the Innovative Minds (inminds) campaign group said British activists are expected to take part in the march starting from St. Pancras railway station to Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London on Friday May 24, when delegates from UEFA’s 53 full member associations are due to gather in the UK’s capital.
The protesters will demand the governing body of football in Europe not hold the European Under-21 championships in Israel on June 5-18 and kick the apartheid regime of Israel out of UEFA.
They will also call for the immediate release of the Palestinian footballers Mohammed Sadi Nimer and Omar Abu Roweis who are kept in Israeli prisons.
Both footballers, who were abducted by Israeli forces in February 2012 raids on their homes, have been tortured at the regime’s interrogation centers.
Mahmoud Sarsak, another young footballer from Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, who had played professionally for the Palestine National Football Team, was incarcerated in Israel for three years without charge or trial.
Upon his release in July 2012 after a three-month hunger strike, he called for a sports boycott of Israel, saying, “I call on all those who spoke out for my release and the release of the Palestinian hunger strikers, to once again show their commitment to justice and equality by insisting that UEFA move their competitions away from Israel.”
- Israel, Hawking and the Pressing Question of Boycott (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Move football tournament out of Israel, says growing campaign (altahrir.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)