Today, DCI-Palestine is launching a short film which tells the story of Jameel, a 16-year-old boy from Tel Rumeida, Hebron. On 13 July 2009, Jameel was detained and beaten by soldiers near his home for no apparent reason, tied and blindfolded at a checkpoint nearby and allowed to be beaten by settlers and soldiers as well as have stones thrown at him, while his parents watched on nearby but were prevented from helping him.
Over the past two years, DCI-Palestine has documented 40 such incidents, in which Palestinian children were shot or physically assaulted, in an unprovoked manner, by settlers or soldiers. None of the victims who filed complaints with the Israeli authorities received notice of whether or not the complaint was followed up. This demonstrates the overall culture of impunity prevalent inside Israel with regards to crimes against Palestinian civilians. According to data released by Israeli human rights organisation, Yesh Din, in 2008 and 2010, respectively, just 8% of investigations into incidents against Palestinian civilians by Israeli settlers led to an indictment, whereas only an aggregate average of 6% of all investigations conducted in 2000-2009 with regard to incidents against Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers or security forces led to an indictment. DCI-Palestine will soon be releasing a report featuring stories of children directly injured or killed during the above-mentioned incidents of settler or soldier violence documented by DCI-Palestine from March 2008-February 2010.
A peace plan brought to the Obama regime is hardly a “bold gesture.” Pete Souza/White House
A new conventional wisdom is rapidly taking shape that the United States can resolve the 130-year-old conflict in Palestine by advancing its own peace plan. Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and former US Congressman Stephen Solarz outlined such a plan in The Washington Post recently, and argued that President Obama could boost its prospects with a “bold gesture” — a trip, to Jerusalem and Ramallah in the company of Arab and other leaders to unveil it (“To achieve Mideast peace, Obama must make a bold Mideast trip,” 11 April 2010).
Strong supporters of Israel have pushed back that “imposing peace” would not work, but few Palestinian voices have been heard. Indeed, from a Palestinian perspective, this idea is dangerously simplistic, and more likely to deepen festering injustices and fuel, rather than resolve conflict.
The “comprehensive solution” Brzezinski and Solarz propose is nothing of the kind because the conflict cannot be reduced to a mere border dispute between Israel and a putative Palestinian state. They propose for example “a territorial settlement based on the 1967 borders, with mutual and equal adjustments to allow the incorporation of the largest West Bank settlements into Israel.”
This is deceptive; the West Bank and Gaza Strip constitute just 22 percent of historic Palestine between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, in which Palestinians formed the overwhelming majority prior to their expulsion and flight as Israel was created in 1948. Official Palestinian acceptance of the two-state solution was a concession unprecedented in the history of any nation because it involved surrendering the 78 percent of the country on which Israel was established. To demand that Palestinians further divide the remainder represents no compromise by Israel. It merely ratifies Israel’s systematic colonization of West Bank land since 1967 in flagrant defiance of international law.
The proposed “land swap” to compensate Palestinians for annexed Israeli settlements is illusory. The majority of the half million Israeli settlers are concentrated in and around Jerusalem — the heart of the would-be Palestinian state. Yet the lands that Israel might consider handing over in compensation are small barren tracts far away from population centers. If there are such lands that could compensate the French for Paris, the British for London or Americans for New York City, then there might be lands that Palestinians could accept instead of Jerusalem.
Even more devastating to Palestinian rights, Brzezinski and Solarz float “a solution to the refugee problem involving compensation and resettlement in the Palestinian state but not in Israel.” This they call “a bitter pill” but argue that “Israel cannot be expected to commit political suicide for the sake of peace.”
Palestinian refugees have an internationally-recognized legal right to return to their homes and lands, but Israel has always denied this on the sole grounds that Palestinians are not Jews. Thus Gaza, where 80 percent of the population are refugees, is essentially a holding pen for humans of the “wrong” ethno-religious group. Would Brzezinski and Solarz be so sanguine about accommodating Israel’s discriminatory character if its grounds for refusing the return of refugees was that they had the “wrong” skin color?
I write from downtown Pretoria, once the all-white capital of the South African apartheid state, which also argued that ending white rule would be “political suicide.” The notion that people of different groups cannot or should not mix is belied by the vibrant multiracial reality in the streets of Pretoria outside my window today.
And precedents for the actual return of refugees abound. Under the US-brokered 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnia war, almost half a million refugees and internally displaced persons returned home with international assistance, to areas that had become dominated demographically and politically by members of another ethno-national community — an enormous achievement in a country with a total population of 3.5 million and deep traumas as a result of recent war.
Other than Israel’s discriminatory aversion to non-Jews it is difficult to see why Palestinian refugees could not also return to their lands inside Israel, the vast majority of which remain uninhabited.
By endorsing Israel’s self-definition as a “Jewish state,” Brzezinski and Solarz not only ratify the violation of the fundamental rights of refugees, but consign another 1.4 million Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent second-class status within an increasingly intolerant and ultranationalist Israel. A more likely outcome than “two states living side by side in peace” is that Palestinian citizens of Israel will come under increasing threat of expulsion to the Palestinian state — in other words, a new round of ethnic cleansing.
The vision of a truncated, demilitarized mini-state in no way fulfills basic Palestinian aspirations and rights and would bring no more peace or dignity than the bantustans which apartheid South Africa tried to establish for its black citizens to forestall and delay demands for equality and democracy. Nor would a trip by Obama do anything to revive shop-worn ideas that have gained little real support either among Palestinians or Israelis since they were first proposed at the failed Camp David summit in 2000.
Margaret Thatcher once said that partitioning South Africa to create separate black and white states would be like “trying to unscramble an egg,” and could lead to tremendous bloodshed. It is time to recognize that this truth also applies to Palestine/Israel and to seek political solutions similar to the one here, or the settlement in Northern Ireland, that embrace rather than attempt to deny diversity, equality and justice for all who live in that land.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.
By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban | May 3, 2010
The rumors spread by Israeli president Shimon Peres in his statement to Mossad-linked media outlets about a Syrian role in providing Hezbollah with Scud missiles and the official American reaction to these rumors bring to mind the spectacle of Colin Powell, who served under both war makers, Bush senior and Bush junior, in the UN Security Council in 2003. He held a small glass container and claimed in front of the whole world that biological weapons the size of that container would endanger the lives of millions, that there was no doubt that Iraq was deceiving international inspectors and that the United States’ patience with Iraq was over.
I recall Security Council meetings in February 2003, when the then French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin made his famous speech in defense of extending the mandate of international inspectors. When former international U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix asked for six more months to complete inspections and provide the final findings to the Security Council. He gave evidence that Iraq was cooperating fully in facilitating inspections and affirmed that the mission was capable of completing its work in six months.
I remember how a number of European foreign ministers said, without the slightest sense of responsibility, that the system was no longer acceptable, even for days, that Saddam has been deceiving them for over twelve years and that the international community should put an end to that deception. I was in the Security Council hall hosting those historic meetings, looking at their faces and knowing that they were absolutely certain that they were mouthing lies and that they were using legitimate fear of nuclear weapons as a pretext to launch war on Iraq, destroy it and return it to the Middle Ages, as James Baker told Iraqi Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz in January 1991.
Here we are, more than seven years after those Security Council meetings, and after a devastating war in which Bush and his clique of neo-conservatives were responsible for killing over a million unarmed civilians in Iraq. Now that Powell has left the public stage and became capable of telling the truth about what he knew and believed then, he acknowledges that what he told the Security Council was not true. Some people see in this ‘a virtue’ indicating the greatness of democracy instead of bringing to account those responsible for fabricating those lies.
Now, days after Shimon Peres unleashed his lie, one of his ministers hastened to repeat Baker’s threats about Israeli attacks to destroy Syria’s bridges, roads, power generation plants and “returning it to the stone age”. The media also caught the lie and promoted it during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington two weeks ago. The statement is a stark lie, and merits derision rather than a response. Scud missiles are tens of meters long; and every missile needs a huge truck to carry it. Moreover, a small country like Lebanon in whose airspace reconnaissance drones fly on a daily basis, cannot hide them. Moreover, technical experts know that launching a Scud needs time and effort and collective work which is not compatible with the type of battles in which Hezbollah engages in its defense of Lebanon against Israeli attacks.
The mere circulation of this lie raises doubts about its objectives. Without bothering to ask Israel to provide any evidence of its allegations, Assistant Secretary of State Geffrey Feltman said it would be an “incendiary, provocative action” if it turned out to be true; and that the United States has a “full range of tools” available to make Syria reverse any delivery of ballistic missiles to Hezbollah.
Two American representatives put forward a draft resolution to tighten sanctions against Syria. Representatives Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Mark Kirk, R-Il, known for their extreme hostility to Arabs, said in a statement that providing Hezbollah with these missiles “destabilizes the Middle East and is an existential threat to Israel and the independence of Lebanon”.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S expressed deep concern about reports of certain missiles being transferred to Syria and the possibility of then transferring them to Hezbollah. She saw in sending an ambassador to Syria “a tool that we believe can give us extra leverage, added insight, analysis, information with respect to Syria’s actions and intentions”. She pointed out Washington’s “long list of areas that we have discussed with the Syrians, and we intend to continue pushing our concerns” which include hosting Palestinian radicals and feeding the violence in Iraq. The statements of Clinton, Feltman and the two representatives are parrot repetitions of statements made by Netanyahu and other Israeli extremists about Syria without bothering about the possibility that these lies will be blown off in the future.
It is clear that the Scud lie and the parrot statements came to cover for the failure of the Obama administration to face the intransigent Netanyahu government which rejected all American calls to stop settlement or move towards just and comprehensive peace. At this particular time the Scud lie was fabricated in order to divert attention from the truth which has become abundantly clear: Israel is the only obstacle to peace in the Middle East. It also came to undermine the positive developments achieved in the Syrian American relations under the Obama administration. Sine Obama became president, and whenever he made a real and sincere effort to improve relations with the Muslim world through normalizing relations with Syria and defending justice in Palestine, the Israelis come out with a story either of ‘allowing terrorists to enter Iraq’ or ‘feeding Palestinian extremism’ or arming Hezbollah, in order to put an end to any real development of these relations.
The world realizes now that Israel is the enemy of peace in the Middle East. It promotes barbaric wars against the Arabs and prevents achieving any stability in the relations between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds. Extremist Israelis and their allies in the United States invent lies which lead to war and human suffering. They are responsible for tarnishing the image of the United States, shedding the blood of its soldiers and wasting its money on wars against the Muslim world. They are responsible for harming both the American people and the peoples of our region by promoting such naked lies.
Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban is the Presidential Advisor for Political and Media Affairs with the Rank of Minister in Syria. She has been a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. Before assuming her current ministerial position, Dr. Shaaban occupied the post of Director of the Press Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Syria. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University in the UK in 1982 and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an advisor in 1988. Since then, she has represented Syria as a spokeswoman on the international level. In 2005, Dr. Shaaban was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and in the same year, was presented with the ‘Most Distinguished Woman in a Governmental Position Award’ by the Arab League. Dr. Shaaban has published four books, and contributed to numerous others.
The announcement by New York authorities that there is no evidence to support an apparent claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attempted car bombing by a Pakistani based Taliban group underscores once again how Pentagon front groups are releasing fake and misleading “Al-Qaeda videotapes” in crass PR stunts to justify the expansion of the “war on terror” under Obama.
As soon as Fox News reported that “the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the bomb plot,” we smelled a rat, especially as the so-called video claiming complicity was released by the Pentagon front group SITE, founded by the daughter of an Israeli Mossad spy.
“A text in gold letters on a black background at the start of the video congratulates Muslims for the “jaw-breaking blow to Satan’s USA.” As the speaker recites the message, images of the slain militants referred to flash across the screen. English subtitles are provided at the bottom of the screen,” stated the report.
“If you were a real terrorist group who wanted to appear fearsome and mighty, would you really release a statement claiming responsibility for an “attack” that amounted to little more than a car full of fireworks that killed nobody, injured nobody, and was an abject failure?” we asked on Sunday. “This claim of responsibility holds about as much credibility as if Barney the Purple Dinosaur had made a video saying he did it.”
Indeed, the original Fox News story has now been significantly watered down after New York police, as well as Mayor Bloomberg, publicly dismissed foreign complicity in the botched bombing.
“Although a Taliban bomb maker has claimed on the Internet… we have no evidence to support this claim,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
“There is no evidence that this is tied in with Al-Qaeda or any other big terrorist organization,” Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference held in Times Square.
How were we able to predict that the credibility of the videotape would soon crumble? Because for the last four years we have documented how groups like SITE and the closely affiliated IntelCenter have been caught red-handed releasing old, re-hashed, and even outright fraudulent “terrorist confession tapes” and claiming them to be both genuine and new.
SITE is nothing more than a contractor for the U.S. government, receiving some $500,000 a year annually from Uncle Sam, the majority of which is paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The group was founded by Rita Katz, the daughter of an executed Israeli spy. Katz has worked closely with the Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Homeland Security.
SITE’s website content was found to be largely copied from the U.S. State Department. “SITE’s “Terrorism Library, on cursory investigation, looks to be a straight data scrape from the U.S. Department of State’s Patterns of Global Terrorism – 2003, Appendix B,” notes SourceWatch.
Everything about SITE indicates that it is nothing more than a dummy organization being used by the military-industrial complex to release staged Al-Qaeda videotapes as part of the ongoing propaganda offensive to justify the brutal, pointless and manufactured war on terror.
SITE miraculously were able to obtain the highly suspicious September 2007 Bin Laden video tape before it was released by the so-called Al-Qaeda group who had made it. A month before the release of this tape, SITE’s sister organization IntelCenter was caught adding its logo to a tape at the same time as Al-Qaeda’s so-called media arm As-Sahab added its logo, proving the two organizations were one and the same.
SITE has been positively endorsed by Blackwater USA, the infamous military contractor co-founded by former Navy Seal Erik Prince that was found to have been involved in several massacres of innocent Iraqi civilians.
SITE’s continued existence relies on fleecing the American taxpayer by way of contracts with the U.S. government and constantly invoking and hyping the hugely exaggerated threat of alleged Al-Qaeda groups in the Middle East.
Having been caught once again releasing a suspicious video in which Middle Eastern terrorists claim responsibility for something that investigators say they had no involvement in, Americans really need to start asking hard questions about why their tax dollars are being thrown at such a dubious outfit, not to mention how investigations into acts of terror are being confused and hampered by frivolous claims of responsibility that turn out to be baseless.
The fact that the corporate media still treats such videotapes with presumed authenticity, despite the fact that they have been proven fraudulent on almost every occasion, tells you everything you need to know about the role of the establishment press in propping up the mirage of the war on terror.
Of course, now that foreign involvement has been dismissed, it’s almost guaranteed that the amateurish botched bombing attempt in Times Square will now be blamed on “homegrown extremists” and used to increase the purge of any and all dissent against big government, bolstering efforts to censor and silence passionate but peaceful criticism on talk radio and the Internet, a move being heartily cheered by liberals who cried foul when they were called traitors for criticizing the invasion of Iraq under Bush.
Some settlers are employing a new strategy to get Palestinians evicted from their land in the northern region of the Jordan Valley, Haaretz has learned. A number of settlers, some of whom are residents of the Maskiot settlement, set up a “protest” tent next to a tent belonging to Bedouin herdsmen near Wad el Maleh, on private Palestinian land. Last Thursday, after the Palestinians complained to the civil administration, both the Israelis and Palestinians there were handed decrees declaring the area a closed military zone, signed by brigade commander Yochai Ben-Yishai.
The Israelis left, but so did the Palestinians, who had lived on the site for over 40 years. Security forces told Haaretz that although the military decree was short-term and was meant to prevent friction between the Bedouin family and the settler group, the Palestinians have not yet returned to their land for fear the settlers will return as well. Members of a committee for popular struggle in the Jordan Valley fear settlers will use the same method elsewhere, acting on the assumption that the authorities would only chase them off the land if it meant local Palestinians would be forced to move as well.
The family told activists from the Machsom Watch human rights group, who visited the site Tuesday and Thursday, that the settlers stayed up late at night and played loud music, and that the settlers’ dog was harassing their herd. They went to the local IDF District Coordination Office to complain, they said, but both the DCO representatives and soldiers who eventually came to the site told them that the settlers could stay there as long as the Palestinians did.
Activists from Machsom Watch told Haaretz that the settlers themselves told them as much, claiming their move was a “protest” because the Bedouin “can pitch tents wherever they like.”
Last Thursday, a large military, police and civil administration force arrived to deliver the closed military zone decrees to both campsites. Some Palestinian residents and popular struggle committee members who were present protested the decrees; one was arrested, as police claimed he attacked a settler. The activist, who denies the charges, was released on bail and ordered to appear in court within a month. By noon, the Palestinians had disassembled their tent and left for their winter campsite.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office issued the following response: “The two tent encampments under discussion were erected last week. None of the parties involved had well-founded claims to the land. In order to separate the parties and out of concern that lives were in danger, the brigade commander issued a closed military area order – but only for a 50-meter radius surrounding the site and for a few hours. After the order was issued, they left the tents on their own, without the use of force.”
Jerusalem – East Jerusalem residents of the Beit Safafa neighborhood said Israeli police accompanied a group of settlers into the area Sunday night, where they took over a family home and set up dozens of flags overnight.
Witnesses described a moderate police presence entering the neighborhood south of the Old City. Officers reportedly entered the home and forced the two elderly residents to evacuate the building, after which at least a dozen settlers moved in.
Upon the eviction of the family, one man described, “the settlers started dancing in the yard,” and immediately began installing strings of Israeli flags around the building.
Muhammad Ibrahim Salah, resident of a nearby building and son of the man evicted on Sunday, said the eviction threatens the lives and livelihoods of at least 40 men, women and children who live on family land around the targeted building. He said the home is in the center of the family lands, where other buildings belonging to the family also stand. Sahal explained that he was worried about the fate of other buildings.
An Israeli police spokesman said he would look into the report.
On 28 April, residents said settlers evicted two elderly Palestinians from the Salah family, with an order issued by the Israeli High Court. It was not immediately clear whether the couple had moved back into the home, or if a second family was targeted.
Hajj Ali Ibrahim Salah, 99, and his wife Sheha Hassan Ali, 90, said they had lived in the home for their entire married lives, noting settler court action “started in 1993, when settlers first alleged that they bought the land where our house is built.”
The elderly man insisted that his late father bought the home with valid legal papers.
In October 2009, the Salah family reported being attacked by 12 settlers, though Israeli media reports at the time said the number was six while police said three.
Witnesses said the settler group pulled up to the home in a car, carrying an eviction order for the family home of Ali Ibrahim Salah and his children – the same home of the on Sunday night eviction.
At the time, Salah said the buildings sheltered 55 residents, 30 of whom were under the age of 12 and include his children, Ismail, Mohammad, Mahmoud, Ahmad. He said the settlers claimed they bought the homes from their Armenian owners.
An argument erupted as the settlers demanded the family get out of their home. One of the settlers, reportedly all in their 50s, was armed with a gun, and fired on the family members. Sources said between one and four Palestinians were injured.
The Israeli online news site Ynet said the middle-aged extremists fled the scene after the shooting, but were later found and arrested.
An Israeli police spokesman had a different version of the incident, saying, “Three Jewish people came to the home in Beit Safafa to deliver the eviction order to the family then fighting erupted. It seems one of the Jewish people opened fire with his personal weapon and injured one of the Arab residents in the hand… then the Jewish people fled the scene driving their car.”
Bethlehem – No written or oral guarantees on a settlement halt have been received by the PLO from the US or the Arab Follow-Up Committee, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Monday, prompting the group to call for an end to peace talks.
The movement’s Executive Committee further said no assurances were put forward as far as reference points for talks, making them a dangerous endeavor in which Palestinians had a lot to lose.
In its statement, the group called on President Mahmoud Abbas to “respect the decision of national consensus and refuse to bow to pressure,” and ultimately postpone talks until such assurances could be made.
The PFLP said US promises “made for the media cannot be taken seriously” and do not fall within the PLO’s decisions or national consensus on refusing to enter peace talks until a full settlement halt in land occupied by Israel in 1967 was achieved.
The decision by the Arab Follow-Up Committee to endorse entering talks “would only serve Israeli interests,” the PLFP wrote, adding that the movement rejects any decision to recommence negotiations with Israel.
Hamas calls move ‘cover for Judization’
Responding to a second report, this time in Israel’s English language daily The Jerusalem’s Post, Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil called the PA agreement to return to peace talks a cover for Israeli to “Judaize” Jerusalem, and mistreat of Palestinian prisoners.
The report was based on a news conference hosted by Israel Land Fund founder Aryeh King on Sunday, where the builder told reporters that nearly 200,000 new Israeli-only housing units are tipped for construction in East Jerusalem.
“If Jerusalem doesn’t expand, and expand eastward, it will become the Gaza Strip,” King was quoted as saying by the daily.
A statement issued by Al-Bardawil said Israel’s practices in the occupied part of the city ensure that negotiations will “encourage Israel to commit more crimes against the Palestinians and their rights.”
Al-Bardawil further said Israel had “succeed in convincing [President Mahmoud] Abbas to press on with talks, which only lead to further land confiscation.”
Abbas announced on Sunday that the PLO endorsed re-entering US-brokered indirect talks with Israel, sanctioned a day prior by the Arab League during a Cairo summit convened to discuss the future of peace talks.
The Palestine Solidarity Project reported that undercover forces of the Israeli army kidnapped six children in Beit Ummar town, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and handed them to the army on Sunday evening.
The undercover forces, dressed as Palestinians, drove into the town in a White Ford Transit carrying a Palestinian license plate, and kidnapped six children, aged between 13 and 16. The forces then hurled several stun grenades and fired tear gas bombs into the narrow streets of the town and drove away.
One undercover soldier was hit in the head by a stone hurled by one of the protesters during clashes with the invading forces. Mohammad Awad, spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Project, stated that clashes took place near the Karmie Tzur illegal settlement, installed on Palestinian lands. Awad stated that it is believed that the kidnapped six youth were taken to the Karmie Tzur settlement.
Four of the six kidnapped children were identified as Hussein Shihda Sleiby, 16, Rashid Mohammad Awad, 15, Ali Said Sabarna, 16, and Odai Saady Ikhlayyil, 13.
On Sunday evening, a number of fundamentalist settlers of the Karmie Tzur settlement held a demonstration at Highway 60 and attacked several Palestinian villagers of Beit Ummar. The police arrived at the scene and used loud speakers to order the villagers back to their homes and fired tear gas and stun grenades at them instead of removing the settlers.
The army used excessive force against the villagers who were protesting the illegal settler-takeover of their land and the destruction of dozens of trees.
The Palestine Solidarity Project reported that Israeli soldiers were filmed in recent weeks while attacking and beating journalists. Also, a 10-year-old child was shot with a rubber coated bullet by soldiers from Karmie Tzur.