Brussells – The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) confirmed on Tuesday that the French ship “Dignity,” which is part of Freedom Flotilla II, has in fact set sail to the besieged Gaza Strip while the rest of the flotilla ships remain trapped in Athens, banned from sailing.
In a press release issued today, Rami Abdo, spokesman for ECESG, said that the French Ship “Dignity,” or “Karama” in Arabic, has left the French port of Corscica and is now in international waters sailing to the Gaza Strip.
“Dignity” has six crew members and is carrying aid supplies to Gaza. The ship was forbidden from leaving in the past few weeks after a campaign by pro-Israeli groups in France was launched against it. ECESG considers the launch of the ship to be a victory over the pro-Israeli campaign.
The vessel’s passengers include Olivier Besancenot, head of the New Left Party in France, French politician and member of the European Parliament Nicole Kiil-Nilsen, and other well-known French personalities.
While “Dignity” is at sail, at least eight ships of Freedom Flotilla II are still stuck in Athens as the Greek government has succumbed to Israeli and US pressure to ban them from sailing.
Moreover, while docked in Athens, two ships of the Flotilla were sabotaged by unknown divers. Flotilla organizers blamed the Israeli navy for the attacks.
With what is appalling timing, given the arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah a week ago on the order of the Home Secretary Theresa May, a certain Major General (ret.) Danny Rothschild is speaking in London on Monday 4th July at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Whitehall; he will follow this on Tuesday 5th with a speech in parliament organised by the Henry Jackson Society, the fanatically pro-Israel think tank. While it is not unusual for high-ranking Israeli military and political officials to be visiting such institutions, the red carpet treatment of Israeli “Defence” Forces veteran Rothschild stands in stark contrast to the treatment of Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah, arrested on the strength of tabloid gossip and Israel Lobbyists’ pressure, and little else.
The difference in the treatment of these two men cannot but, yet again, serve to expose the hypocrisy and double standards of the British government which is, ultimately, responsible for who is and who is not allowed into our country, and who is and who is not afforded a public platform to espouse their cause.
Major General Rothschild’s credentials are impressive: three decades in the IDF; Assistant to the Israeli Chief of Staff; Deputy Director of Military and Intelligence during the Gulf War; President of the Council for Peace and Security in Israel; Member of the Advisory Board of the Central Bank of Israel, and so on. A perfect candidate for a series of high-profile talks one might think. However, scratch below the surface and a litany of offences far more grievous than anything of which Sheikh Raed is accused is exposed.
For example, in a December 2007 interview with Israeli Army Radio, Danny Rothschild called for the assassination of Palestinian leaders, including elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. “In order to stop firing rockets towards Sderot and nearby kibbutzim of the Gaza Strip, Israel must target the decision makers starting from Ismail Haniyeh and not only target cells that fire rockets.” “You must create a situation where Haniyeh and those around him cannot sleep two consecutive nights in the same bed” said the latest senior Israeli figure with blood on his hands to be granted permission to enter the UK. This is far more outrageous than anything allegedly said by the now imprisoned Sheikh Salah; Rothschild’s statement was blatant incitement to kill political opponents, a crime in and of itself.
However, Rothschild clearly sees assassinations abroad as well as at home as just one more weapon of intimidation in Israel’s already massive arsenal. Following the assassination of Imad Mugniyah, a Hezbollah military commander in Syria in 2008, the Major General is reported to have said: “Seeing that Hezbollah believes that Israel carried out this attack, it creates some sort of deterrence as far as we are concerned, and also with respect to Hamas. After all, if Israel can pull off an operation like that in Damascus, it can carry out these types of assassinations anywhere.”
It is not enough to allow entry to the UK simply because someone is a decorated military leader. One must also consider the kind of military operations carried out in their name or under their watch. In the case of Danny Rothschild, for instance, between 1991 and 1995 he was the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. What went on there while he was in charge? In just one of countless human rights abuses to have taken place under his watch, according to the respected Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem,”Since the start of the Intifada 232 Palestinian children age 16 and below have been killed by the Israeli security forces. Thirty-eight of them were killed in the past six months (Dec. 9, 1992 – June 8, 1993). This is more than double the number of children who were killed in the entire previous year, and of a magnitude unprecedented since the Intifada began in December 1987. Eighteen of the children killed in this half-year period were below the age of 14.”1 The killing of these Palestinian children took place during a period when Danny Rothschild was responsible for activity in that area. Unlike Sheikh Raed Salah, he has blood on his hands and yet Britain’s Home Secretary did not see fit to slap an exclusion order on him as a “threat to public order”. Hypocrisy is perhaps the most polite word for what Theresa May has and has not done in the name of the British people.
Beyond that, Rothschild has been pushing for the “transfer” of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. In 2008 he suggested new tactics to make life so difficult for Palestinians that they will have no choice but to leave their homes; ethnic cleansing by stealth. In an interview with Israeli radio station Rashat Beit on 24th September 2008 Rothschild was asked by Yaron Dekel how Israel should deal with the security problem in Jerusalem. He essentially said that there were several options available to them including getting rid of a number of Palestinian districts by relocating them in ghettos beyond the wall. His idea was to build a new type of “simple” wall in East Jerusalem – nearby the already existing wall – one that would completely cut off the Jewish neighbourhoods from the Arab ones there. In his estimation this would exclude 80% of the Arabs of Jerusalem who will suddenly find that the centre of their lives is now in Ramallah and not on Yafa Street in Jerusalem. They would receive all services from the Palestinian side of the wall, and will have no need to enter the western side even to receive postal, health or educational services. This would give Palestinian East Jerusalemites no choice but to seek access to essential services in other parts of the West Bank. In line with racist Israeli laws on residence, as Palestinians slowly find their “centre of life” moving away from Jerusalem they would no longer be permitted to reside in East Jerusalem and would find themselves transferred forcibly out. Rothschild clearly cares little for the fact that the current “Separation Wall” built by Israel has been condemned universally as illegal (see 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice). Walls get rid of Palestinians, which is good enough for him. This further ghettoisation of an area already militarily occupied and strangled is a form of extreme racism and injustice. The Home Secretary must surely know that ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity.
We all know that the playing field is not level in Israel, which is, after all, a nuclear-armed state with massive military capability; the Palestinian Authority isn’t. Sheikh Raed Salah represents the largest Palestinian political movement in Israel; Palestinians make up one-fifth of the population there and suffer institutional discrimination and racism on every level. He campaigns across Israel for his people’s rights. One would have hoped, therefore, that the British government would provide equality of opportunity for the opposing narratives of the Palestine-Israel conflict to be heard freely in this country. It is hard to believe that the oppression of the state of Israel, an occupying power, no less, would be trumped by democratic and supposedly freedom loving Great Britain; that Britain would be “more Israeli than the Israelis”. That, I suppose, reflects the influence of the pro-Israel Lobby over our government’s policies and, alarmingly, our great offices of state. It should not be forgotten by our politicians (if it ever dawned on them in the first place) that the Israel Lobby is there to protect and promote the interests of the state of Israel, not those of the United Kingdom.
Perhaps it is too late for that stark but obvious message to be taken on board, but the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister could do something to redress the imbalance caused by the Lobbyists’ pressure by arresting, banning and expelling Danny Rothschild, and freeing Sheikh Raed Salah forthwith. Failure to do so will only serve to exacerbate the growing feeling that justice and freedom are no longer rallying cries at the core of British politics.
1) The Killing of Palestinian Children and the Open-Fire Regulations, B’Tselem, Information Sheet, June 1993, p2.
“George Papandreou is not bought, he is rented. He sells public enterprises to the multinationals. He reduces wages, pensions and employment at the behest of the IMF. He turns over the public treasury to the European banks. He supports NATO’s war against Libya. He directs the Greek Coast Guard to enforce Netanyahu’s blockade of Gaza.” – demonstrator in Syndigma Square, Athens, July 3, 2011
A self-proclaimed “Socialist” Government in Greece is imposing by ballots and clubs the most far reaching reversals of wages, pensions, jobs, educational, health and tax programs in the history of Western Europe.
The Pan Hellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) has totally abdicated any pretense of being a sovereign government, handing over present and future macro and micro policymaking to the European Central Bankers, the IMF and the power within the European Union/Germany, France. The so-called “austerity” program includes the pillage and auctioning of all the strategic lucrative public enterprises and large scale public land covering all historic and recreation sites. Never has any regime, socialist or not, so blatantly and brutally reverted an independent country to the most unadulterated form of colonial rule.
The Parliamentary Road to Colonial Pillage
Greece’s Great Leap Backward has taken place under the leadership of a “socialist” Prime Minister (George Papandreou) backed by the vast majority (97%) of “socialist” Parliamentarians and the entire “Socialist” Cabinet, with less than 4% defections.
While the parliament debates and votes to debase the country’s sovereignty and degrade the people, hundreds of thousands demonstrate in the streets and plazas. The elected leaders and legislators of PASOK totally ignore the protests, heeding only the directives from the Prime Minister and his appointed party bosses. Parliamentary politics is clearly totally insulated from the people it is supposed to represent.
What kind of government is capable of such a vehement repudiation of the popular will? What kinds of legislators are capable of systematically driving down living standards for the past three years and for the next ten years?
PASOK always was a party of patronage – not a party of programmatic change. PASOK, from its first electoral victory in 1981, offered public sector jobs, credit, loans and favors to its electoral constituency. At the beginning in the early 1980’s, the addition of new public functionaries was ostensibly to implement the socio-economic reforms, which the right-wing public bureaucrats were sabotaging. But as the momentum for ‘reform’ petered out, job appointments continued to multiply, as part of a process of building a large scale electoral party machine.
Thousands of under-employed university graduates with organizational skills crowded the Party offices and over time secured a permanent place in the bloated public bureaucracy. They contributed to securing votes for the PASOK candidates, following the practices of the right wing New Democratic Party. The public sector became the major employment office for several reasons: Most ‘public employees’ held ‘multiple jobs’, some as many as four and five, including self-employment and jobs in the informal economy. Secondly, the so-called private sector in Greece never developed a capacity to grow, invest, innovate, apply technology, compete and create new markets. Most leading Greek businesspeople depended on political links to the Party of Government to secure loans for projects that never materialized, credits that they used to import capital goods from the European Union and loans to import consumer products.
Entry into the European Union (EU) provided PASOK and the Right with huge transfers of capital and loans ostensibly to “modernize” the economy and make it competitive. In exchange Greece lowered its tariff barriers and EU goods flooded the local market. EU funds financed PASOK’s patronage machine; private business borrowed EU funds and passed payment onto the state, with complicit politicians. Professionals and the middle class secured easy credit to buy pricey imports. The regime economists and politicians “cooked the books”, showing positive growth and hiding liabilities. Everything was mortgaged. The European banks collected interest; Western European manufacturers exported consumer goods. According to the experts, Greece was “integrated” into the European Union … unfortunately on the basis of becoming as dissimilar as any country could be from its dominant partners.
PASOK was built around an elite and mass constituency that never paid taxes but extracted and depended on state handouts. Billionaire ship owners avoided taxes as they operated under foreign flags (Panama) but agreed to hire Greek ship captains and contribute to Party coffers. Professionals, lawyers, doctors and architects, barely declared any income, receiving under-the-table cash payments as undeclared income far exceeding any salaries. Business leaders, real estate speculators, bankers and importers all paid off Party leaders in order to secure tax abatement while securing EU loans, which they recycled into tourist properties and overseas accounts. What passed as the Party and business elite were in fact an organized network of kleptocrats: They plundered the treasury and left it to wage and salaried workers to pay the bills, since the latter suffered obligatory payroll tax deductions. Greece is the worse country in the world to be a wage worker – as it’s the only sector that’s taxed and exploited.
Greece is a country of self-employed small business people and independent small farmers, some of whom lease land from urban professionals, small tourist hotel owners and restaurateurs: The overwhelming majority of them pay only a small fraction of their taxes while demanding full public services. They are part of the ‘patronage’ apparatus of PASOK, mostly the recipients of unregulated credit and loans which were used for increasing personal incomes rather than productivity.
EU loans financed the modernization of Greek living standards, increasing the importation of German appliances and automobiles, as well as Danish and French feta cheese (cheap imports substituted for local products). In other words, Europe captured Greek markets increasing its trade deficit while the bureaucracy became the employer of last resort. These EU practices and relations allowed PASOK to retain a solid patronage base of business kleptocrats, small business tax evaders and new layers of state functionaries.
The EU bought Greece’s increasing politico-military subservience: Greece supported the Afghan, Iraq, Libyan and Pakistan wars. Especially under George Papandreou, PASOK’s subservience to Israel and its US Zionist backers exceeded all previous regimes
The Bills Come Due…
Greek public and private kleptocrats falsified the national accounts turning mounting deficits into positive surpluses, till the system imploded. The EU banks presented the bill and demanded payments. The Greek state and capitalist class, under PASOK, immediately proclaimed a program of ‘austerity’ and ‘tax reforms’. In fact, it only would enforce the former, since it did not want to undermine its tax-evader elite and social base.
Massive cutbacks in wages, pensions and jobs were imposed and enforced. PASOK legislators toed the line, since their inflated salaries, pensions, perks and payoffs depended on submission to the Prime Minster, who, in turn, was dependent on the imperial bankers and bourgeois kleptocrats. PASOK’s existence as a Party depends on the flow of EU loans, bailouts and sell-outs to sustain its clients. The PASOK regime is the great example of an authoritarian party: Groveling at the feet of the EU bankers and leaders while ripping at the throat of millions of impoverished Greek pensioners, wage and salary workers. PASOK’s tax-evader and patronage base is barely affected by the fiscal reforms: Tax revenues have actually decreased because of the deepening recession and non-enforcement.
As the PASOK regime deepens and extends the savaging of incomes and as mass resistance multiplies, young unemployed people (55%) have become more desperate and confrontational toward a government, which is ever more repressive and prone to violence.
Totally committed to extracting marrow from the bare bones of workers remuneration, PASOK literally agreed to allow the EU/IMF to oversee, price and sell the entire public patrimony. In other words the debt payment has become the lever for transferring sovereignty to the imperial countries and for maximizing the extraction of wealth from labor. What remains of the “Greek State” are the police and military assigned to forcibly impose the new imperial order on the exploited and impoverished majority.
In the midst of this catastrophic turn of events, of pillage and poverty, the PASOK legislators hold the line: They still count on the mass base of 25% of self-employed professionals, bankers, consultants and tax-evaders to continue to back the regime because they are barely affected by the sell out.
The bailout will allow for the PASOK legislators to collect their lucrative pensions if they are voted out and the self-employed and professionals will continue to cash in on non-taxed tourist rents and revenues from property even as their local clientele is impoverished. PASOK, Papandreou and his coterie have demonstrated that electoral politics is compatible with the most abject surrender of sovereignty, with sustained and savage repression of the majority of the working population and with a deep, long-term reduction of living standards. The Greek experience once again demonstrates that, faced with the demise of the capitalist system, the differences between conservatives, and social democrats vanish. Democratic freedoms exist only as long as the majority submits to the rule of imperialist powers and their local kleptocrat capitalist collaborators.
No doubt new elections will take place, even as living standards plunge, the debt payments increase and the country is stripped of all of its assets. Probably PASOK will be voted out of office. Their conservative adversaries will simply follow their example as police enforcers and debt collectors.
For the vast majority of Greeks there is no future and no solution in the existing system of street protest and parliamentary politics. The latter ignores the former. This impasse raises the question of what kinds of extra parliamentary action are necessary and possible to end the rule by de-facto imperial rulers and kleptocratic collaborators.
Lifta to Make Way for Jewish Vacation Homes
On a rocky slope dropping steeply away from the busy main road at the entrance to West Jerusalem is to be found a scattering of ancient stone houses, empty and clinging precariously to terraces hewn from the hillside centuries ago.
Although most Israeli drivers barely notice the buildings, this small ghost town — neglected for the past six decades — is at the centre of a legal battle fuelling nationalist sentiments on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.
Picking his way through the cluster of 55 surviving houses, their stone walls invaded by weeds and shrubs, Yacoub Odeh, 71, slipped easily into reminiscences about the halcyon days in Lifta.
He was only eight years old in January 1948 when the advancing Jewish forces put his family and the 3,000 other Palestinian villagers to flight.
Over the coming months, as the Jewish state was born, they would be joined by 750,000 others forced into exile in an event that is known by Palestinians as the “nakba”, or catastrophe.
Despite the passage of time, Lifta’s chief landmarks are still clear to Mr Odeh: the remains of his own family’s home, an olive press, the village oven, a spring, the mosque, the cemetery and the courtyard where the villagers once congregated.
“Life was wonderful for a small child here,” he said, closing his eyes. “We were like one large family. We played in the spring’s waters, we picked the delicious strawberries growing next to the pool.
“I can still remember the taste of the bread freshly baked by my mother and coated with olive oil and thyme.”
The village not only occupies a unique place in Mr Odeh’s affections. It has also come to symbolise a hope of eventual return for many of the nearly five million Palestinian refugees around the world.
In the words of Ghada Karmi, a British academic whose own family was forced from their home close by, in the Jerusalem suburb of Katamon, Lifta “remains a physical memorial of injustice and survival”.
The reason is that Lifta is the last deserted village from 1948 still standing in modern-day Israel.
More than 400 other villages seized by Israel war were razed during and after the war of 1948 in what historians have described as a systematic plan to make sure the refugees had no homes to return to.
Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian who examined the 1948 war in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, has termed the villages’ destruction an act of “memoricide” — erasing for Israelis all troubling reminders of an earlier Palestinian presence.
The destroyed villages’ lands were used by the new state either to build communities for Jewish immigrants or to plant national forests, said Eitan Bronstein, spokesman for Zochrot, an Israeli group dedicated to teaching Israelis about the nakba.
A handful of other Palestinian communities, such as the old city of Jaffa and Ein Hod near Haifa, survived the wave of demolitions but were quickly passed on to new Jewish owners to be reinvented as artists’ colonies.
Only Lifta was neither destroyed nor reinhabited, its homes standing as a solitary, silent testament to a vanished way of life, said Mr Bronstein.
But even that small legacy is under imminent threat from the bulldozers.
In January the Israel Lands Authority, a government body responsible for Lifta’s lands, announced a plan to build a luxury housing project over the village, including more than 200 apartments, a hotel and shops.
The project, said Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem city councillor, would be targeted at wealthy foreign Jews, mainly from the United States and France, looking for summer vacation homes in Israel.
The developers have promised to incorporate some of the old buildings into the complex, although most observers — including leading architects — say that little of the original Palestinian village will be recognisable after the project is completed.
Instead, according to Mr Bronstein, Lifta will belatedly suffer the same fate as the hundreds of villages destroyed by Israel decades ago. “The message is that we are finishing what we started in 1948,” he said.
Esther Zandberg, a commentator on architecture for the Israeli Haaretz daily, agreed: “Although it is termed a preservation effort, it is in effect, paradoxically, an erasure of all memory of the original village.”
Critics have been joined by Shmuel Groag, one of the project’s original architects, who has accused the developers of failing to respect the basic rules of conservation in their treatment of Lifta.
Lifta’s families, backed by several Israeli groups, including Rabbis for Human Rights, petitioned the courts to stop the project, saying the site should be preserved in its existing state.
The Jerusalem district court temporarily froze the development in March, and is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days.
The families have also appealed to Unesco, the United Nations organisation in charge of educational, scientific and cultural matters, to declare Lifta a world heritage site.
The development, however, is backed by the leading conservation bodies in Israel, including the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Council for the Preservation of Historic Sites. The council’s director, Isaac Shewky, said the costs of a proper restoration would be “astronomical”.
Unlike most of the other 20,000 refugees and their descendants from Lifta, many of whom live in the West Bank and Jordan, Mr Odeh is able to visit his former village because he lives a few kilometres away in East Jerusalem.
He said he would ultimately like to see the families offered a chance to reclaim their former homes. “We will never forget Lifta. Our dream is to come back.”
Few observers expect such a scenario in the current political climate. The Palestinian right of return is widely seen by Israeli Jews as spelling doom for Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state.
That fear was only accentuated by the images of refugees in Syria storming border fences in the Golan Heights in May and June, in what was widely seen in Israel as an attempted return to their former homes.
Mr Bronstein said: “Lifta poses such a threat to Israelis because it offers a starting point for imagining how the right of return might be implemented. It offers a model for the refugees.”
Mr Odeh, who offers guided tours of Lifta, has to share the site with many Israeli visitors. Young religious boys have turned the still-functioning village pool into a mikveh, or ritual immersion bath. Other Israelis use the site as a favourite hiking spot. And in the evenings, drug-users take shelter in the homes.
Lifta is also facing rapid encroachment from West Jerusalem. It is ringed by major roads linking Jerusalem to the West Bank settlements; on the ridge above, a high-speed rail link to Tel Aviv is being built; and in the valley below a military complex is believed to house the government’s underground nuclear bunker.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.
In Christopher Brauchli’s recent CounterPunch piece ‘Once Upon A Foreskin’, he holds up the recent WHO studies positing that circumcision prevents the spread of HIV as sacrosanct despite voluminous evidence positing the contrary. Specifically, studies conducted by the American Medical Association found that for American males, circumcision did not affect the rate of HIV infection, and in fact circumcised American males were found to have a higher rate of bacterial infections such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea. The short-term studies conducted in three African countries ravaged by an AIDS epidemic should not, whatever the veracity of their conclusions, be extrapolated to the rest of the world. We must ask if practicing safe sex does not in fact provide a higher and more consistent rate of protection for adults, and whether the use of limited resources spent on circumcising infant males really pays off.
Contrary to Brachuli’s claims, performing cosmetic surgery on the male reproductive organ in the first, fragile days of life has documented consequences. In his book Circumcision; The Hidden Trauma, Ronald Goldman describes the horrific screams, confusion, and subsequent psychological withdrawal by infant boys taken away from their mothers and forced to undergo a highly painful surgery with minimal anesthetic. Afterwards, they show signs of fear, rejection of their mothers, and a reflex to nervously protect their genitals from a repeat of a very traumatic event in their short life. The foreskin is not a vestigial organ; it is the most sensitive part of the penis, containing vital nerve endings and providing protection of the head of the penis from drying, physical damage, and bacterial infection. This brings us to an important point; infant children do not have sex, and do not need any special protection from STDS so far before reaching sexual maturity. In places such as Sub-Saharan Africa with high infant mortality, this makes even less sense. But it must be known that in America, circumcision is big business; in lieu of a single-payer healthcare system aimed at controlling costs, many doctors whole-heartedly recommend the procedure, which generously pads their bank accounts while offering few real benefits to the random infant.
But Christopher Brauchli makes a curious comparison when he links the proposed San Francisco ballot measure against attempts to ban abortion. The popular phrase “Her Body, Her Choice” is used by many women calling for the absolute right of a woman to decide whether or not she carries a fetus to birth. While banning abortion takes away a women’s choice, banning infant circumcision gives a man his; if he should so choose to have a circumcision done when he reaches the age of consent and sexual maturity, he can get one, unlike the millions of men who think with regret on the loss of sensitization in their penis due to lack of foreskin as an adult but find there is little they can do about it because others made the choice for them. Pro-choice legislation regarding abortion is not framed around the rights of parents to decide for their daughters whether or not they will have an abortion based on their personal beliefs, and neither should legislation regarding male circumcision. But if we are talking about women’s rights, we must make note that whether the male has a foreskin or not does nothing to protect women they may have unsafe sex with from being infected with HIV or other STDs.
Secular circumcision in the US did not begin with health concerns or religious traditions, and it doesn’t continue to this day on account of them. In a case of real bigotry, it was championed in the 19th century by people of influence in order to prevent young boys from committing the sin of masturbation by reducing sexual pleasure via foreskin removal. Even as this original reason has fallen into collective amnesia, the practice has continued to be passed down by parents and doctors uninterested in progress, self-examination, or reducing medical bills. Brauchli notes that many Jews are upset by the proposed San Francisco ban; he makes no note of the movement within the Jewish community to question, discontinue, and examine the real origins of their practice of circumcision. Just like all Jews don’t support Zionist violence, they are not here a homogenous group which can be confidently lumped together. But of course, Matthew Hess, only one of the many people behind the ballot measure, has had accusations of anti-Semitism thrown at him. The original author of the bill, Lloyd Shoefeild, has been given similar treatment.
But beyond the haze of derision and accusations of bigotry, we must be able to see that those advancing the expansion of human rights for the most vulnerable people—children—would more certainly be motivated by compassion, humanity and scientific research appropriate to the context in which the policy will be enacted.
Ceidren Voe can be reached at email@example.com
Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Tuesday at dawn a Hamas political leader in Jaba’ town, near the northern Western Bank city of Jenin, along with two other residents, and took them to unknown destinations. Three more Palestinians were kidnapped in different West Bank areas.
Local sources reported that, approximately at 1 after midnight, the army surrounded the house of Nazeeh Abu ‘Oun, 50, and used loud speakers ordering him to step out.
The army then broke into the home and cuffed Abu ‘Oun before forcing him into one of their jeeps and driving away.
His family said that the soldiers did not even grant him enough time to step out, and that he previously spent more than 14 years in Israeli prisons. He was also imprisoned for two months by the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The family added that soldiers also forced their son to take them to the house of Ahmad Nimir Malaisha, 37, who was also kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination.
Malaisha is a former political prisoner who spent more than 13 years in Israeli prisons; he was last released nearly one year ago.
Also, soldiers kidnapped Engineer Bashar Anis Khaliliyya, 29, as he was visiting his parent’s home in the town.
Khaliliyya works in Saudi Arabia and was on vacation visiting his family. He was planning to travel back to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Also on Tuesday at dawn, soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians in the West Bank districts of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron. They were all moved to interrogation centers.
Occupied East Jerusalem – The arrest by the British authorities last week of Sheikh Rae’d Salah, one of the prominent leaders of Israel’s 1.7 million-strong Palestinian community, is a real affront to the most elementary considerations of justice. It is also an indelible shame that should continue to haunt the British justice system for a long time to come.
Far from being motivated by any real violations of the law, the arrest seemed to have been prompted by a vindictive complaint by pro-Israeli Zionist circles in the British capital. Ultimately, the real motive behind the arrest is to silence one of the most outspoken defendants of Palestinian rights, the very man the Israeli intelligence has been persecuting, vilifying and even trying to assassinate.
I am not talking about someone I don’t know. Since the late 1980s, I have met Ra’ed Salah many times. I visited him at his home in Um al-Fahm and I attended his lectures. And from my acquaintance with the man, I can solemnly attest to his honesty, religiosity, rectitude and clean credentials. He is a man who would rather be morally straight than politically correct, he wouldn’t flinch from telling the truth (as he sees it) for fear of undesirable public reaction.
Sheikh Ra’ed Salah is therefore a man of sublime principles. He feels he is morally obliged to speak up against oppression, especially Israel’s pornographic oppression that is meted out to his own people on both sides of the Green Line, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as Israel.
He does belong to that special category of people, which encompasses great men and women, who stand up in the face of power, throwing their moral weight on the side of the weak, the persecuted and the helpless.
Hence, ascribing racism to this man is an insult to truth, which can only be made by irredeemable ignoramuses or malicious liars.
Needless to say, the Israeli intelligence made every conceivable effort to vilify and incriminate, even criminalize, Sheikh Salah.
In October 2000, Shin Beth agents tried to insert a few grams of hashish into his pocket in the hope of besmirching his image among the Arab citizens in Israel. A few years later, he was accused of encouraging terror and endangering the security of Israel.
Interestingly, the “terror” charges came from a state that continues to embody and practice terror, even 63 years after its misbegotten birth which wouldn’t have occurred had it been for the mass terror, ethnic cleansing and expulsion of the bulk of the true natives of the land of Palestine.
In the past decade, the Shin Beth became exasperated with Salah’s focal and effective activism which centered around one main theme, saving Jerusalem ‘s Aqsa Mosque from Israeli conspiracies and hostile designs.
All sorts of charges were concocted against the man, ranging from contacts with a terrorist organization to giving flours, food and clothing to the children of “terrorists.” Israel classifies all Palestinians into two categories: “terrorists” who oppose the nefarious Israeli occupation, even through peaceful means, who ought to be annihilated; and collaborators (or quislings) who either say nothing and do nothing, or agree to become informers on their own people.
Sheikh Salah and a few of his colleagues in the Islamic movement in Israel had to spend long prison terms on mainly frivolous charges that had very little substance. In any other country with a credible justice system, the charges would have been dismissed as fabricated and lacking in credibility.
However, we are talking about Israel, a country that calls itself the only democracy in the Middle East while in reality it commits adultery with the most elementary aspects of justice, such as the timeless judicial principle that the accused is innocent until he or she is proven guilty.
In Israel, especially when non-Jews, e.g. Palestinians, are involved, the principle is brashly reversed and the accused becomes guilty until proven innocent.
In recent years, the administration of justice in Israel, a country that is based on rampant injustice and oppression, has undergone a Kafkaesque metamorphosis. A Palestinian, even a man or woman who has never hurled a stone on or even toward an Israeli armored personnel carrier rampaging through his town or village, is treated as guilty even if proven innocent.
This is the reason why thousands of innocent Palestinians, including political leaders, elected lawmakers, college professors and professionals of all sorts, are languishing in Israeli dungeons and concentration camps on no other accounts than their thoughts, views and feelings.
To conclude this article, I want to address the collective conscience of the British people: By what standard of morality are people who never hurt anyone in their lives, like Ra’ed Salah, arrested and persecuted for their views, while real war criminals like Ehud Barak, Moshe Ya’alon and Ariel Sharon, who bear on their hands so much innocent blood, are accorded stately treatment at the hands of the British authorities?
Britain which seized Palestine from the Islamic Ottoman state and gave it to Zionist Jews on a silver platter is historically responsible for the enduring Palestinian plight. However, far from seeking atonement for its unforgivable sins, which wreaked disaster, death and pain on millions, Britain seems to be still faithful to the same evil mentality that motivated Lord Balfour 94 years ago to issue his infamous promise to give Palestine to Zionist Jews.
The “Construction and Planning Committee” of the Jerusalem Municipality decided Tuesday to build 700 units for Israeli settlers in the Gilo illegal settlement, in occupied East Jerusalem.
Member of the Jerusalem City Council, Elisha Peleg, stated that the municipality recently approved a plan to construct hundreds of new residential units in Jewish settlements in the area.
Peleg added that “the Construction and Planning Committee approved a plan to build 900 units in Gilo settlement”. There are more than 40.000 Israeli settlers living in Gilo.
Gilo was built on privately-owned Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in 1967, and was annexed to the Jerusalem district.
Peleg added that “there is no difference between Gilo and any other part of Jerusalem”, and that Israel “has the right to build anywhere it wants”.
The new construction plan still requires the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Interior and will likely be implemented within a year or two, the Times Live reported.
All settlements in the occupied territories, including in occupied East Jerusalem, are built in direct violation of the International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention as “an occupying power cannot move all or part of its population into areas it occupies”.
Israel’s ongoing construction and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was one of the main issues that pushed the Palestinian Authority to withdraw from peace talks with Israel.
Israel’s refusal to hold talks core issues, such as borders, the refugees and the future of Jerusalem, in addition to the ongoing invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, the demolishing of homes and settler takeover of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, pushed the Palestinian Authority to halt peace talks with Israel.
There are more than 500.000 Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem.
An Israeli settler driving near Nablus ran over a 40-year old Palestinian woman Sunday, then tried to flee the scene. Separately, an Israeli-plated vehicle ran over a 14-year old boy in Qalqilia and then drove away.
In the first incident, which took place on the main road to Huwwara, southeast of Nablus, an Israeli settler driving at high speed struck a forty-year old woman and then tried to drive away, but was stopped by locals who prevented him from leaving before Israeli police arrived.
The unidentified woman was taken to Rafidia hospital with moderate injuries throughout her body, and several fractures.
The incident took place as a group of Israeli settlers were invading nearby Asira and Madama villages, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, and attacking local Palestinians and burning farmland. One young man, Mohammed Ziad, was taken to the hospital with head wounds inflicted by the invading settlers.
Separately, also on Sunday, an unmarked Israeli-plated vehicle ran over a Palestinian boy, Khaled Daoud Abed Al-Karim, 14, after abducting a 40-year old man, Ali Abu Khadejah, from the city of Qalqilia. The vehicle did not stop, and drove quickly away from the area. It is unknown whether the kidnappers were undercover Israeli military forces or Israeli settlers, and the Israeli government has made no comment on the incident.
The 14-year old wound sustained serious head wounds, and was taken to the main hospital in Nablus, where his condition is described as ‘critical’.
Ramming incidents such as these, in which unknown Israeli assailants attack Palestinian civilians using their vehicles as weapons, are common in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but are rarely investigated by the Israeli Occupation Forces who have imposed martial law on the region since 1967.