Saudi protesters have poured into the streets in the eastern city of Qatif, condemning Manama’s brutal crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators.
Expressing solidarity with Bahraini protesters, Saudi demonstrators on Friday urged the government to stop helping Manama in suppressing the uprising in the neighboring country and immediately withdraw its troops.
Since the deployment of Saudi troops in mid-March, Bahrain has launched a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, rounding up senior opposition figures and activists in dawn raids and arresting doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists who voiced support for the protest movement.
Last week, Bahraini authorities announced that Saudi troops would remain in the Persian Gulf kingdom even after the state of emergency is lifted in June.
Despite, international condemnation of Saudi occupation of Bahrain, a Saudi official said, “This is the initial phase and Bahrain will get whatever assistance it needs. It’s open-ended.”
Saudi demonstrators also called for human rights reform, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners some held without trial for more than 16 years.
Saudi Arabia’s east has been the scene of anti-government protests over the past months and authorities have arrested scores of people, including bloggers and writers, for taking part in protest rallies.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.
One protester was injured in the incident east of Khan Younis, medics told Ma’an.
The protester was taken from Abasan village to the European Hospital for treatment, they said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army confirmed shooting one “inciter” in the leg as he approached a fence separating Palestinians from forces on the border.
Demonstrations organized on Facebook called for Palestinians to demand the right of return.
In response to the demonstrations, Israel’s military is increasing a state of alert in Jerusalem and deploying more forces at its Syrian and Lebanese borders, Israel Radio reported.
More protests were expected in Nabi Saleh, where a busload of 50 soldiers had arrived, and Qalandiya, activists said. The two villages are near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
The protests come less than a week since Israeli forces killed over a dozen demonstrators crossing into Israeli-controlled territory in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and from Lebanon.
Over 100 Palestinians were injured in separate clashes throughout the West Bank marking Nakba Day, the 63rd anniversary of the mass exodus of Palestinians amid Israel’s creation in 1948.
For those who might not know, Israel will be holding a conference entitled “Pink Crime–Women, Crime and Punishment” on 30 May 2011. As the title implies it is all about female criminality: women as drug use offenders and drug traffickers, women murders, etc., as well as how the media covers female offenders. This is an international conference, drawing to it not only Israeli criminologists but also scholars and researchers from abroad. The United Kingdom and the United States will each have at least two participants.
One might ask what the big deal is? True, the internationals are ignoring a growing boycott of Israel by various elements of civil society. True, the Israeli criminologists should actually be giving priority to their government’s criminal acts. True, there is something sexist about the entire affair. What is so unique about crime committed by women? Why “Pink”? Still, there is something else that marks this gathering as out of the ordinary. The “Pink Crime” Conference is being held at an illegal Israeli settlement sitting on stolen Palestinian land. It is scheduled for the “University Center” in the settlement of Ariel on the occupied West Bank. To put it more directly, Israel is to hold in conference on crime in a criminal place.
The Israelis do these sort of things– the kind of things that blur the lines between the seemingly normal and the abnormal–a lot. For instance, back in early August 2010, I wrote a piece on the eviction of 200 Bedouin Israeli citizens in the village of al-Arakib. Kicking non-Jews out of their homes is quite “normal” in Israel. Then it was revealed that the Israeli authorities were using busloads of high school aged “police civilian guards” to “extract” the residences’ “furniture and belongings” prior to bulldozing the houses. During this process these kids “smashed windows and mirrors…and defaced family photographs” with apparent impunity. The use of high school kids in this capacity is that added touch of Israeli abnormality.
If Israel’s criminologists want to get serious about their society’s problems there are a myriad number of issues, touching on higher crimes, that they could take up–and do so at any number of sites within Israel’s 1967 border. Most of the outside world would deem those locales legitimate (despite they too having been stolen from the Palestinians). Here is a run down of just a few of the current felonies that should interest a serious Israeli investigator of criminal behavior:
1. The recent revelation by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper of the illegal and surreptitious cancelling of the residency rights of 140,000 Palestinians who traveled abroad between 1967 and 1994. Most of these travelers, legal residents of the Occupied Territories, were going to visit relatives or to study abroad. Upon departure they were required to surrender their id cards. When they tried to return they were permanently denied entrance. A conscientious Israeli criminologist should easily recognize this as criminal behavior under the Geneva Conventions.
2. The collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza. The use of a draconian land and sea blockade against Gaza since 2007 and the drastic reduction of the standard of living of over a million and a half people is so blatantly criminal it just cries out for attention by Israeli criminologists. Yet they can, with apparent easy conscience, prioritize “pink crime” while their own government is replicating the Warsaw Ghetto within easy driving distance.
3. The on-going nationwide campaign to suppress academic freedom, free expression and dissent by a growing number of right wing organizations with friendly government connections. These groups harass and seek the firing of any Israeli educator who is publically critical of official policies toward the Palestinians. If this sort of behavior is not illegal, it certainly ought to be. Asked if he “feared for the future of Israeli democracy?” the Israeli academic Neve Gordon answered, “We don’t have to imagine a dark future, we’re already there. Democracy is severely curtailed, we’re on a dark path, and unless something radical happens….I think that within not so many years, the last remnants of Israeli democracy might be lost.” Given that Israel claims that its government institutions are democratically based, is not the undermining of democracy a criminal act–maybe even an act of treason?
The probability is just about nil that any of the “Pink Crime” criminologists (Israeli or otherwise) will even notice that a) by participating in the conference at Ariel they are accessories to a crime or b) their expertise is desperately needed to check the illegal behavior of the Israeli nation at large. They all appear to be wearing tight fitting moral blinkers that confine their worldviews. What is obviously illegal and abnormal from the outside looking in, is legal and normal on the inside the conferees share. And indeed, as Gordon suggests, the consequences of this tunnel vision lay not in the future. It is with the Israelis right now. A recent poll of Israeli teenage youth found that 60% of them believe that the rule of law is less important than “strong” leadership. Fully 70% see “state security,” which presumably includes maintaining the state’s “Jewish” nature, as more important than “democratic values.” This is a strong indication that Israel’s democracy is fast transforming itself into something much more autocratic for all its citizens, and not just the Palestinians.
Actually this outcome is almost inevitable. If you create a country for just one narrowly defined group you are going to end up with a discriminatory psychology and corresponding policies toward out-group elements. The larger the percentage of out-group folks there are in the general population the more strident the discrimination is likely to be. Presently, the Total Fertility Rate for the majority Israeli Jews is 2.90 and for minority (presently around 21% of the population) Israeli Arabs 3.73. Education in support of institutionalized discrimination and, of course, its actual consistent enforcement will, in turn, brutalize the dominant in-group. Since 1917 and the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, Zionists have purposely molded a discriminatory society for themselves. The behavior we now witness, both from the Israeli government and the majority of its Jewish citizens, is the abnormal and often criminal product of that effort. You reap what you sow.
The Outside Consequences
But, as we well know, things are even worse. The Zionists, through the use of their lobbies in the United States and Europe, have drawn the Western governments into their world. They have used money and political scare tactics to cause Western politicians and officials to support what the Israelis decree as normal and legal. And since the average voting Western citizen’s default position is one of ignorance and disinterest to happenings beyond their local sphere, there is little or no constituency counter pressure to this process of Zionist corruption. It is not only the “Pink Crime” internationals booking into Ariel who are aiding and abetting the breaking of international law, it is also just about every Western government. Things are pretty bleak.
Alas, none of this is very original. The great 18th century historian Edward Gibbon once commented that “history…is indeed little more than the register of crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind” (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 2001 edition, page 335, section 6). Does that mean that Israel’s abnormal behavior is really normal? No, it does not. Mankind, even though historically prone to “crimes, follies and misfortunes” still knows them for what they are and can label them as behavior to be avoided and, when possible, punished. We do this all the time on the domestic front. What we need to do is start taking the breaking of international law as seriously as we do the breaking of domestic law. And, do so not just for the trespasses of the small time political crooks of the third world who end up before the International Criminal Court now and again. Enough with the double standards already! Go after the big time crooks, at home and abroad, who have the capacity to intimidate and manipulate our own governments. When it comes to that category of criminals one place to look is Israel.
Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University in West Chester PA.
‘The test of a first-rate intelligence,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, ‘is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.’ When it comes to what’s been dubbed the ‘Arab Spring,’ most Middle East analysts pass Fitzgerald’s test with flying colours.
Hardly anyone would dispute the claim that Haim Saban cares deeply about Israel. After all, the Egyptian-born Israeli-American media mogul has admitted to the New York Times, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” A New Yorker profile last year elaborated:
“His greatest concern, he says, is to protect Israel, by strengthening the United States-Israel relationship. At a conference last fall in Israel, Saban described his formula. His ‘three ways to be influential in American politics,’ he said, were: make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.”
The think tank part of Saban’s tripartite Israel-protection formula was initiated in 2002 with a pledge of nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution to establish the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. In 2007, the Saban Center expanded operations with the launch of the Brookings Doha Center. Its Qatar-based project was inaugurated in February 2008 by the founding director of the Saban Center, Martin Indyk. A former research director at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Indyk had previously founded the AIPAC-created Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).
All three experts at the Brookings Doha Center — its director, deputy director and director of research — are fellows at the pro-Israel Saban Center, while two of the three have close ties to Washington’s “democracy promotion” establishment. The center’s deputy director, Ibrahim Sharqieh, previously managed a long term USAID development project in Yemen, as well as a U.S. State Department Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) civic education project. According to a March 12 report in the Washington Post detailing U.S. support for Arab democrats, USAID grants “proved vital to activists in a half-dozen Arab lands,” financing, for example, the training by groups such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Freedom House of up to 80 percent of the leaders of the Egyptian uprising. MEPI, according to an April 18 Washington Post report, has funneled up to $6 million to Syrian opposition groups since 2006. As further testament to Haim Saban’s contribution to Middle East democracy, MEPI is currently headed by Tamara Wittes, formerly director of the Saban Center’s Middle East Democracy and Development (MEDD) Project.
Shadi Hamid, the Doha center’s director of research, is aptly described as an expert on democratization in the Middle East. Prior to working for the Saban Center, he was a Hewlett Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). CDDRL’s director, Larry Diamond, is the founding co-editor of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy and a longtime advocate of Arab democracy. Hamid was also director of research at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), whose board of advisors, reading like a who’s who of the democracy promotion establishment, includes Diamond and the NDI and IRI presidents. Hamid has also served as a program specialist on public diplomacy at the U.S. State Department. James Glassman, the former Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy who brought Middle Eastern pro-democracy activists to New York for the inaugural Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) summit in 2008, viewed public diplomacy as “the direct or indirect engagement of foreign publics to support national security objectives,” while observing that “it’s a lot easier to be influential when others are making the pronouncements.”
On its international advisory council, the Brookings Doha Center boasts such luminaries of democracy promotion as Madeleine Albright. The former U.S. Secretary of State currently chairs the NDI, the Democratic affiliate of the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy (NED). As Kenneth Timmerman candidly admitted in 2009, “The National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars during the past decade promoting ‘color’ revolutions in places such as Ukraine and Serbia, training political workers in modern communications and organizational techniques.” During the protests in Egypt, Albright was interviewed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, one of the corporate sponsors of Movements.org, the AYM’s online hub which supports the activities of pro-democracy digital activists. Considering her lack of scruples about the sanctions-induced deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, Albright’s condemnation of the Mubarak regime’s brutality has to be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, however, the NDI chair acknowledged that her democracy-promoting organization had been “working within Egypt for a long time.”
From the beginning of the Arab uprisings, the Brookings Doha Center has been churning out commentaries with titles like “Saleh Falls,” “In Syria, Assad Must Exit the Stage” and “If United States Doesn’t Make Qaddafi Go, Who Will?” which leave little doubt about their stance. In a recent Washington Post report, which reads more like an editorial in support of the Arab Spring, the center’s director, Salman Shaikh, warns, “If these Arab revolutions do become a footnote, and if people do become frustrated and see no light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t know where it could lead in terms of people thinking of al-Qaeda.”
Yet few Middle East observers seem to be asking: If the Arab Spring is backed so unreservedly by Haim Saban’s think tank, which was created to protect Israel, then how could it possibly threaten Israeli interests?
A year has passed since my imprisonment. My share has been more modest compared to other prisoners who are about to enter their fourth decade in Israeli prisons. It’s true, one should not differentiate between the sentences the same way we should not differentiate between the fighters for freedom – the sentence of the judges of oppression is always one of cruelty, terror and abuse. What is most important, however, is that it is always temporal.
Things in Palestine occur according to the following rule: the harsher the escalation of state sponsored terrorism, oppression, political persecution and deportation policies, the stronger is our steadfastness, challenge, remaining, preservation of our identity and commitment to our cause and dispossessed rights. They wish to fragment our cause according to geography and the color of identification cards, but our senses are never suppressed and our struggle for liberation is one in all of its components. While they continue to reproduce oppression, we reproduce freedom and break out of their vicious circle, transforming their actions into reactions to ours. Our right to Palestine, whether we are in our homeland or in exile, is one: the return, self-determination, ending the occupation, prisoners’ release, recovery of confiscated land, dismantling settlements and the apartheid wall, protection of Jerusalem, the Naqab, the Galilee and the coast from Judaization and eviction projects and breaking the Israeli blockade on Gaza- all these causes form part of our one cause.
But the struggle for our cause is not waged only by us Palestinians, for it is being complemented by the rebellions in the Arab world and the global BDS movement, succeeding in isolating Israel on both the Arab and international levels. These actions are nothing but an extension of the Palestinian anti-normalization movement inside Israel and of our struggle to strip the racist colonizing regime from its legitimacy.
Speaking on behalf of prisoners’ movement, I wish to allude to the dangers of the so-called security coordination between Israel and any Palestinian or Arab party. The victims of such coordination are, first and foremost, the fighters and prisoners of the freedom of Palestine and the Arab peoples. We call on the Arab peoples to stop the complicity of some Arab regimes with Israel on the so-called security-coordination level by launching an Arab and Palestinian campaign for this cause.
To spend one year in prison is a high price to pay for their unjust rule. However, free will has made of this year an act of steadfastness, challenge and struggle for our people. I here send a message of appreciation and love to all the people who call for my release, as well as to the popular committee for my defense and the Popular Committee for the Defense of Political Freedoms, which has launched a campaign for my release from the very first moment when I was arrested. From inside the prison cells I also wish to greet my loving and supportive family, and to all those who are in solidarity with our cause, here and abroad, as individuals and the organizations they represent. They are in constant contact with me, and are partners in our struggle for liberation and freedom. What we seek, we the political prisoners, is freedom and not to accumulate more years of imprisonment. We were born free, and protecting our freedom is our responsibility.
On May 15th we commemorated the 63rd anniversary of the ongoing Palestinian Nakba. Our strength continues to stem from the justice of our cause and rights, which can be fulfilled only through struggle. To struggle for liberation, as well as to rebuild ourselves as people and institutions, is our right and obligation. As for the price that is paid- it will always be painful, whether it is individual or collective. Regardless of how painful it is, we will never deviate from the road to liberation and freedom of our people and land.
Their rule, not matter how long, is temporal, but our freedom is our destiny.
Ameer Makhoul is the General Director of Ittijah- Union of Arab Community-Based Organizations in Palestine 48 and president of the Committee for the Defense of Political Freedoms of Palestinians 48. He is a Palestinian political prisoner who has been in prison since May 2010.
Translated to English by Shadi Rohana, Alternative Information Center (AIC
NABLUS — IOF troops raided a number of Palestinian homes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday to “get acquainted” with their residents.
The raids were concentrated in the Daheya neighbourhood to the east of the city and two of the homes raided belonged to the families of Jittan and Shaaban.
One of the owners of the homes raided told PIC correspondent that IOF soldiers raided his house at 2:00 am and that among the soldiers were intelligence officers and that one of those officers told him that they did not intend to arrest anyone, but they only wanted to “get acquainted.”
The Palestinian home owner further said that the officer introduced himself saying that his name was “Ali” and that he was in charge of that area. He further informed the head of the household that he wanted to “get acquainted” with him and his family.
The officer’s questions were concentrated about members of the family, what jobs they have and their financial situation. He also asked what Palestinians thought of the reconciliation agreement between Palestinian factions. The questioning lasted about an hour.
Such raids, “just to get acquainted”, have been frequently taking place in the West Bank and are causing great concerns among residents who do not know the real aim behind such raids.