In recent years, the parents of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and trusted confidant of US President-elect Donald Trump, have donated tens of thousands of dollars to organisations and institutions located in illegal West Bank settlements, according to their tax forms.
Kushner’s family donates a few million dollars a year on average to charitable causes through the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation, which Jared sits on the board of along with his brother and two sisters. The foundation was established in 1997.
Among organisations and institutions in the occupied West Bank that receive funding from the Kushner family, the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva (religious school) received $20,000 in 2013.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, whose offices are located in New York, is David Friedman, Trump’s senior adviser on Israel affairs. Friedman, who has served as Trump’s real estate lawyer for the past 15 years and is considered to be very close to the president-elect, has expressed interest in becoming the next US ambassador to Israel, Haaretz added.
Freidman is also seen as a top contender for the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who was also keynote speaker at last year’s fundraising dinner for the Beit El Yeshiva American friends group.
The list of organisations that received donations from Kushner’s family foundation has included the Etzion Foundation, whose US fundraising offices are located in New Jersey. The foundation supports Yeshivat Har Etzion, Kibbutz Migdal Oz and the Herzog College teachers’ training institution – all are located in the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc outside Jerusalem. In 2012, the Kushner family foundation donated $5,000 to the Etzion Foundation, in addition to another $10,000 in 2013.
Another recipient of Kushner funding in Gush Etzion, which headquartered in the settlement of Efrat, is Ohr Torah Stone which received $5,000 in 2011.
The Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, a religious school in the occupied West Bank, was granted $500 by the Kushner family. According to Haaretz, this particular school did not receive any funding from the Israeli government, as it had been involved in launching violent attacks against nearby Palestinian villages and Israeli security forces.
In 2014, the Kushner family pledged $18 million to the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem, in addition to the $2 million it had already committed earlier. The Kushners have a history of supporting hospitals – both in Israel and the United States – but this was by far the largest gift given by the family to a single medical institution, Haaretz noted.
Another key beneficiary of Kushner charity in Israel is the Israeli army. Between 2011 and 2013, the foundation donated a total of $315,000 to Friends of the IDF, on whose board Jared serves.
Among other institutions and organisations the Kushners have supported in Israel in the past four years, are the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra ($2,500); the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design ($1,000); United Hatzalah ($70,000); the Israel Cancer Research Fund ($10,000); Meir Panim Lachayal, another organisation that supports Israeli soldiers ($4,000); the Shalva Children’s Centre ($20,000); Ma’ayanei Yeshua Hospital ($25,000); and the Rabin Medical Centre ($23,000).
In the United States, the family foundation supports many Jewish day schools, charities and cultural centres. In recent years, it has contributed close to $30,000 to various institutions operated by Chabad – the ultra-Orthodox outreach organization.
One of the single largest beneficiaries of Kushner contributions in recent years has been the Ramaz School in Manhattan which received $250,000. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the former principal of Ramaz, supervised Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s conversion before she married Jared.
Last November, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely welcomed suggestions that US President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner could be appointed as a special envoy to broker peace in the Middle East.
Is “remembering the Nazi Holocaust and where anti-Semitism can lead” a good thing? Unfortunately, thanks to people who constantly cite this horrible genocide in order to justify the illegal, immoral and anti-human behaviour of the Israeli state, one must answer, “it depends.”
Drawing attention to the Nazi Holocaust and anti-Semitism in Canada today often reinforces, rather than undermines, oppression and discrimination. This perverse reality was on display at two recent events in Toronto.
At a semi-annual Ryerson Student Union meeting, a Hillel member pushed a resolution calling on the union to promote Holocaust Education Week in conjunction with United Jewish Appeal-Toronto, which marked Israel’s 2014 slaughter in Gaza by adding $2.25 million to its annual aid to that wealthy country. The motion stated, “this week is not in dedication to anti-Zionist propaganda” and called for the week to focus “solely on the education of the Holocaust and not on other genocides.”
Objecting to this brazen attempt to use the decimation of European Jewry to protect an aggressive, apartheid state many students left the meeting. When quorum was lost before the vote, pro-Israel activists cried — wait for it — anti-Semitism.
“Tonight, I experienced true and evil anti-Semitism,” complained Tamar Lyons, vice-president of communications for Students Supporting Israel at Ryerson University, in a social media post republished by B’nai Brith. In it, the Emerson Fellow of StandWithUs, an organization that trains university students to advance Israel’s interests, bemoaned how “a Muslim student ‘goy-splained’ me.”
After the meeting, Lyons linked the purported anti-Jewish incident to the Ryerson Student Union endorsing the BDS movement two years earlier. She told the Canadian Jewish News it was “a direct result of [the] boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the anti-Israel sentiment that’s so prevalent on campus.”
Taking place on the eve of an Ontario legislature vote to condemn BDS activism, the national director of B’nai Brith jumped on the Ryerson affair. “What starts with BDS does not end with BDS,” said Amanda Hohmann. “More often than not, BDS is simply a gateway drug to more blatant forms of anti-Semitism.”
(Yup, take a toke of that leftist–internationalist “pressure Israel to follow international law” bud and soon you’re longing for some Neo-Nazi ‘get-the-Jews’ smack.)
As B’nai Brith hyped the Ryerson affair, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs pushed the Ontario legislature to pass a motion in support of the spurious “Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism” and to reject “the differential treatment of Israel, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
Passed 49 to 5 (with 53 absent), motion sponsor Gila Martow told the legislature: “We would not be here supporting the Ku Klux Klan on our campuses, so why are we allowing [the] BDS movement and other anti-Jewish and anti-Israel organizations to have demonstrations and use our campuses, which are taxpayer-funded?”
In an interview with the Toronto Sun after the vote the Thornhill MPP described BDS as “psychological terrorism on the campuses….The motive behind BDS is to hurt the Jewish community by attacking Israel.”
The only MPP who spoke against the motion was the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. But, even this defender of the right to criticize Israel spent much of his speech talking about how anti-Semitism “must be denounced.”
Notwithstanding the anti-Semitism hullabaloo, the BDS vote and Ryerson affair have little to do with combating anti-Jewishness. As is obvious to anybody who thinks about it for a second, comparing internationalist and social justice minded individuals to the KKK will elicit, not lessen, anti-Jewish animus. Similarly, labeling a non-violent movement “psychological terrorism” and writing about “Muslim goy-splaining” isn’t likely to endear Jewish groups to those concerned with Palestinian dispossession and building a just world.
The major Jewish organizations and trained Israeli nationalist activists scream anti-Semitism to protect Israel from censure, of course. But they also do so because few are willing to challenge them on it. As such, the anti-Semitism smears should be seen as a simple assertion of CIJA and B’nai Brith’s political, economic and cultural clout.
Possibly the best placed of any in the world, the Toronto Jewish community faces almost no discernable economic, social or cultural discrimination. Describing it as “the envy of the UJA federation world,” Alan Dershowitz told its 2014 Toronto Major Gifts dinner: “You mustnever be ashamed to use your power and strength. Never be afraid that people will say, ‘You’re too strong and powerful.’ Jews need power and strength. Without this strength — economically, morally, militarily — we can’t have peace.”
But, UJA-Toronto, CIJA, B’nai Brith, etc. aren’t seeking “peace.” Rather, they’re working to strengthen a Sparta-like, Jewish-supremacist state in the Middle East.
The Ryerson affair and vote at the provincial legislature reflect a Toronto Jewish establishment drunk with its power. But the sober reality of constantly justifying oppression by citing the Holocaust/anti-Semitism is that it undermines the power of that memory and is an insult to all those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis.
Dutch secret services conducted an investigation into suspicions that Geert Wilders, head of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom, was strongly influenced by top Israeli military and political figures, according to reports in the Netherlands.
Wilders, the firebrand leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), was investigated by the country’s General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) between 2009 and 2010 over his “ties to Israel and their possible influence on his loyalty,” according to De Volkskrant newspaper, which conducted interviews with 37 public officials and former intelligence officers.
An investigation into an opposition leader is an exceptional case in the Netherlands, the newspaper noted, citing several former intelligence officers who said such inquiries are considered an “absolute no-go” due to political sensitivity.
Wilders was an MP at the time the AIVD probe was carried out, with his party supporting the center-right coalition government led by then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, enabling it to remain in power.
The intelligence agency sanctioned the operation, citing concerns about “the possibility that Wilders is influenced by Israeli factors,” according to the newspaper.
Back in 2010, Wilders reportedly had close ties to influential people in Tel Aviv. At the time, he visited Major General Amos Gilad, former chief of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s intelligence division, and frequently met the Israeli ambassador in the Netherlands.
According to the De Volkskrant report, which cites sources from the Netherlands’ Jewish community, these contacts stalled as Wilders did not turn his agenda into policy.
The results of the AIVD investigation have never been disclosed. Both Gerard Bouman, who led the AIVD from 2007 to 2011, and Wilders himself declined to comment.
Wilders’ Israeli connections trace back to his youth, when he volunteered for a year at Moshav Tomer, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, according to the Times of Israel. He also repeatedly referred to Jews as role models for Europe and urged a complete seizure of the West Bank. At one stage, his anti-Muslim slogans made him a star among Dutch Jewish constituencies and beyond.
According to a recent poll by Maurice de Hond, Wilders’ PVV would have won 33 seats in the 150-seat lower chamber of the Dutch parliament if elections had been held on November 29. In that case, Wilders would have become the Netherlands’ next prime minister as chairman of the biggest parliamentary party.
The far-right party has 15 seats in the current parliament, having gained about 10 percent of the vote at the 2012 general election. The next election is scheduled to take place in March 2017, leaving many to believe Wilders will triumph amid growing frustration with the Netherlands’ center-right coalition.
Palestinian youth organizer Daoud Ghoul was among 14 Palestinians seized overnight by Israeli occupation forces, one week after his release from Israeli prison. Ghoul, 33, is the director of youth programs for the Health Work Committees and the Kanaan Network of Palestinian civil society organizations. He has been subject for over two years to repeated Israeli harassment and intimidation. His home was raided at 4:00 am and his personal belongings and electronics confiscated; he is currently being held at the Moskobiyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem.
On Sunday, 27 November, Ghoul was released after serving an 18-month sentence, accused by the Israeli occupation of affiliation with a “prohibited organization,” the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. After a visit to Brussels, Belgium in November 2014 in which he presented before the European Parliament about Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem, threats to Palestinian life in the city, and attacks on Palestinian health workers, he was banned from his home city of Jerusalem by an Israeli military order. He was then banned from the West Bank and from international travel, and was forced to move to Haifa from his hometown of Silwan in East Jerusalem. On 15 June 2015, he was seized by occupation military forces one month after his HWC Jerusalem office was forcibly closed by the occupation military.
After serving his 18 month sentence ordered against him by a military court, Ghoul was welcomed last Sunday by his friends and family and by supporters around the world who had long demanded his release. The sudden re-arrest of Daoud Ghoul one week after his release recalls similar cases like that of student Bahaa al-Najjar, released from administrative detention in early November only to once again be imprisoned without charge or trial one week later, or Bilal Kayed, ordered to six months in administrative detention without charge or trial immediately following the expiration of his 14.5-year sentence.
Ghoul’s case is also similar to those of other youth activists persecuted by the Israeli occupation, as well as part of the ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem, including mass arrests, harsh sentencing of children and the stripping of Jerusalem IDs of Palestinian Legislative Council members.
Ghoul was among six young Palestinians, many former prisoners, arrested in Jerusalem last night. All of their computers and mobile phones were confiscated and Amjad Abu Assab said that the pretext of “incitement via social media” was cited in at least some of the cases. Among those arrested were Uday Abu Saad and Mohammed Salah of Shuafat refugee camp, Jihad Amira and Amin Hamad from Sur Baher, and Saleh Muhaisen from the village of Issawiya, in addition to Ghoul.
Three more Palestinians from Qabatiya, south of Jenin, Mahmoud Abu Ein, Louay Ziad Zakarneh and Musa Abdel-Salam Kamil, were seized by occupation forces, as were Bilal Anas Abu Eid and Munir Hussein Briggah of al-Khalil. More Palestinian young people were arrested in Jericho and in Beit Fajar, south of Bethlehem.
Israel Appoints Eyal Karim as the Israeli Army Chief Rabbi in Spite of His Response to Allow Soldiers Raping Palestinian Women
Brig. Gen. Eyal Karim officially took his position as chief rabbi of the IDF Thursday evening after a change of command ceremony at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv attended by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
During the ceremony, the chief of staff said, “The appointment of chief rabbi of the IDF is an extremely significant event in the army. Unfortunately, the ceremony took place a week late,” added Eisenkot. “I was convinced months ago that we are choosing Rabbi Eyal Karim for the job. He is the most fitting and appropriate choice for command and rabbinic authority in the IDF. I had no doubts.”
Following his official promotion, Karim spoke at length, saying, “During this journey of thousands of years, Israel drew its strength and spirit from the Torah—all its laws, values and morality. These are the foundation stones of the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, who asked Rabbi Goren to be chief rabbi, understood that the army has to address a wide range of people without creating a split in the army. He understood that there had to be a way for all soldiers to have a fulfilling service in the IDF together.”
Comments Karim made in 2003 when he was a civilian resurfaced after his appointment. In a column called “Ask the Rabbi” at Kipa.co.il, a popular Hebrew-language website catering to religious Jews, Karim responded to a number of anonymous letters inquiring about specificities of Jewish religious law, including a question about rape in times of war.
“Is it allowed nowadays for an IDF [Israeli army] soldier, for example, to rape girls during battle, or is such a thing forbidden?” Karim was asked. He answered: “Even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime … the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge.”
Karim’s comments first attracted notice in 2012, when dissident Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz first published them in English at +972 Magazine. Gurvitz says that when he asked the military to comment on Karim’s statements, he was rebuked by an army spokesperson and told that his query “disrespects the IDF, the State of Israel and the Jewish religion.”
The Journalist, David Shenn, noted recently that “the army is hardly the only sector of Israeli society from which sexual assaults emanate. But rape culture in the military is especially disconcerting, as its soldiers have access to deadly weapons and the license to use them. And now its chief rabbi is a man who once gave Jewish soldiers sanction to rape Palestinian women until he was shamed into retracting it.”
Karim’s defenders insist that his comments on rape were misunderstood and that he couldn’t possibly have permitted sexual assaults against Palestinian women. But threats of rape have been wielded by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians.
Long ago, anti-Semitism was an issue in America, very much so when I grew up. No longer. Today it’s in vogue to be Jewish.
As a Jew, I’m fiercely critical of Israeli ruthlessness, a state run by fascists, Zionist ideologues and religious fundamentalists. I intend no letup in my activism.
Unanimous Senate passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is a bone to Israel and AIPAC, its main US lobby. House passage followed by Obama signing it into law is virtually certain.
The measure has nothing to do with addressing a growing number of “religiously motivated hate crimes” – everything to do with targeting vitally needed Israeli criticism and BDS support, especially on college campuses.
The measure aims to “codify the definition as one adopted by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.”
It disgracefully conflates justifiable criticism of Israel with attempts to “delegitimize” its status as a Jewish state, along with wanting it held accountable for crimes of war, against humanity and other human rights abuses.
America and Israel partner in each other’s high crimes. Each fascist regime supports the other.
The measure requires the Department of Education to redefine Title VI rules of alleged discrimination violations – to suppress pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses.
Is it anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli ruthlessness? At its core, Zionism is fundamentally racist, extremist, undemocratic and militant.
It espouses Jewish supremacy, exceptionalism and uniqueness as God’s “chosen people.” It relies on occupation, oppression, violence and dispossession.
It justifies Jewish ethnocracy based on structural inequalities. It rules by force, not coexistence. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy and the rule of law.
It’s viciously undemocratic, denying Arabs the same rights as Jews, committing slow-motion genocide against millions of Palestinians – with full US support and encouragement.
The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is one of many examples of governance in America off-the-rails – a nation doing more harm to more people over a longer duration than any other in history.
Students nationwide should ignore the new measure aimed solely at supporting Israeli ruthlessness. The time for dissent and civil disobedience is now- needed more than any previous time in my memory.
Either we confront growing tyranny in America or face losing all fundamental rights – ruled by bipartisan tinpot officials infesting Washington.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
AUSTIN, Texas – PayPal is one of the world’s most popular ways to send or receive money online, but Palestinians are cut out of the action.
Time magazine reported in January that PayPal has 179 million active accounts in dozens of countries, and PayPal payments are widely accepted in online marketplaces from eBay to Etsy.
To sign up, every user needs to have an account at a bank recognized by the service. Since PayPal doesn’t recognize any Palestinian banks, Palestinians are effectively prevented from using the service. Critics say this has impacted not just individuals, but burgeoning industries and even the broader Palestinian economy.
“PayPal’s absence is a major obstacle to the growth of Palestine’s tech sector and the overall economy,” Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, an NGO that promotes businesses in Palestine, wrote in an Aug. 23 open letter.
The letter, which was co-signed by more than 40 NGOs and Palestinian businesses, continues:
“Without access to PayPal, Palestinian entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and others face routine difficulties in receiving payments for business and charitable purposes. Moreover, PayPal’s absence is problematic for the overall Palestinian economy as tech is one of the only sectors with the potential to grow under status quo conditions of the Israeli occupation which severely restricts the internal and cross-border movement of goods and people.”
For the past decade, Israel has maintained a blockade on Palestinian imports of everything from everyday goods like crayons to crucial building supplies like concrete. Palestinian exports are heavily restricted, too.
Palestine is home to a thriving tech economy, Mike Butcher wrote in a Sept. 9 report. The TechCrunch editor-at-large continued:
“Palestine produces roughly 2,000 IT graduates per year. Both the West Bank and Gaza now have a number of technology companies which, ironically, see tech as a way of developing their economy, just as the Israelis do.”
While PayPal doesn’t recognize Palestinian banks, the authors of the open letter noted that many Palestinians live side by side with illegal Israeli settlers, who, purely by virtue of possessing Israeli bank accounts, are free to make use of the service. Israel demolished over 200 Palestinian homes this year, bringing its expansion of illegal settlements to record levels in 2016.
“We believe a company like PayPal, whose actions in North Carolina reaffirmed its commitment to equal rights, would agree that people living in the same neighborhood ought to have equal rights and access to its services regardless of religion or ethnicity,” the letter noted.
In April, Paypal pulled hundreds of jobs out of North Carolina after the state passed the so-called “bathroom bill,” which rescinded local protections for LGBT people, put restrictions on bathroom access for transgender individuals, and banned cities from passing increases to the minimum wage.
PayPal maintains multiple offices in Israel and has invested millions into its businesses there. The company does not seem poised to take a similar stand in Israel in response to the ongoing repression of the indigenous Palestinian population, who face severe restrictions on their movement and frequent attacks by the Israeli military, among other human rights abuses.
After the open letter was published, other organizations that support Palestine soon joined in by urging PayPal to expand into Gaza, launching a petition and social media campaign, #PayPal4Palestine. […]
In a message of support sent on Oct. 29 by Ramah Kudaimi, director of grassroots organizing at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, wrote:
“Palestinians being denied access to PayPal means they cannot use their services to run a business, or raise money for a charity, or send cash to a relative, or make everyday purchases online. Getting access to PayPal can make a real difference in the lives of so many Palestinians as the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality continues.”
The tech giant seems unmoved by activists and Palestinian entrepreneurs’ requests to do business. The firm sent Butcher a dismissive response to his request for comment.
“We appreciate the interest that the Palestinian community has shown in PayPal,” the company’s representative wrote, but, the statement continued, “we do not have anything to announce for the immediate future.”
Donald Trump has picked Gen. (ret) James Mattis his defense secretary. Even though, Mattis is a known anti-Muslim, and pro-Israel Christian Zionist, some of his past statements are going to haunt him during his nomination approval at the US Senate like former secretary of defense Chuck Hagel.
For example in March 2012, Mattis told Senate Armed Services Committee that in order to withdraw the US-NATO forces from Afghanistan with some honor, the US needed Pakistan’s help.
Could it be the reason that Donald Trump during a telephone conversation with Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif praised him and Pakistani nation?
“You’re doing a fantastic job. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people,” Trump told Nawaz Sharif.
This is surprising considering Donald Trump during campaign had said: I love India, I love Hindus.
In July 2013, Gen. James Mattis told the Israeli goat, Wolf Blitzer (CNN) during an interview he gave at the Aspen Institute: World hate the US for backing Israel.
“So we’ve got to work on peace talks with a sense of urgency. I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and because of this moderate Arabs couldn’t be with us because they couldn’t publicly support those who don’t show respect for Palestinians,” Mattis said.
“I’ll tell you, the current situation is unsustainable. We’ve got to find a way to make work the two-state solution that both Democrat and Republican administrations have supported, and the chances are starting to ebb because of the settlements. For example, if I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers to the east and there’s ten-thousand Palestinians already there, and if we draw the border to include them, either Israel ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Palestinian don’t get to vote – apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a (South Africa) country,” added Mattis.
Jimmy Carter was treated shamefully by Alan Dershowitz and Brandeis University and the Jewish Lobby for voicing precisely the same warning, and was excluded by their pressure from speaking at the Obama Democratic National Conventions. Watch-lists have been made of academics who dare criticize the Zionist entity squatting on Palestinian-owned land.
On November 20, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) called Donald Trump not to appoint James Mattis as defense chief based on his past hatred toward Israel.
“In the past Mattis revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel. Thus I urge that Mattis not be appointed defense secretary,” ZOA President Morton Klein said.
Matt Brooks, executive director of Republican Jewish Coalition, praised the appointment of James Mattis, calling him a friend of Israel who wants a strong America to defend Israel.
In 2010, one of Mattis’s predecessors in CENTCOM’s command, David Petraeus, shocked his Israeli friends, and American Jewish Lobby when prepared testimony he was to give to the Senate leaked before he appeared. The prepared remarks, which were based on a study that his staff conducted of American security interests in the Middle East, stated: “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the region. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel.
Since retirement, Gen. James Mattis has worked as a consultant to the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, US-based Zionist think tank whose fellows include Israel-Firsters Condoleezza Rice, George P. Shultz (Jewish), Thomas Sowell, Gen. John P. Abizaid, Shelby Steel (married to Jewish Rita), and Edwin Meese III.
Jewish state plans to unplug the muezzins
Here’s another dastardly twist in the religious hate war against Muslims in the Holy Land.
According to a report by The Times, mosques in the city of Lod are threatened with having their loudspeakers, which call the faithful to prayer five times a day, shut down. The first call is at 4.45 am and this is a nuisance to non-Muslim residents, so much so that the mayor recently suggested broadcasting a Jewish prayer to drown out the Muslim adhan. Imagine the pre-dawn cacaphony! No, he’s not exactly the brightest fairy-light on the Christmas tree.
The argument is that hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens routinely suffer from the noise caused by the muezzin’s calls, it’s getting them down and freedom of religion shouldn’t be allowed to undermine their quality of life.
However, a bill going through the Knesset banning the use of outside broadcast equipment by houses of worship, which had the support of prime minister Netanyahu, was stopped in its tracks when it dawned on some members that the wording could backfire on religious Jewish communities who use a siren to mark the start of the Sabbath on Friday evenings. So it’s back to the drawing board on this one. Personally I’d prefer the naturally mellifluous voice of the muezzin from a distant minaret to the electronically amplified and distorted version. It should still disturb the sleep of a useful number of Israelis, especially if muezzins punctuate their performance with an occasional blast from a musical instrument like the bugle.
This is not the first time that the dark forces of Zionism have tried to silence the Muslims of this city. Lod was originally a Canaanite town and in ancient times became the old Arab city of Lydda. Its importance grew under Ottoman rule and the British mandate and by 1948 it had become a key trading centre with an airport and rail hub and nearly 20,000 inhabitants – 18,500 Muslim and 1,500 Christian. The UN’s Partition Plan of 1947 allocated Lydda to a future Arab state.
But in July 1948 Israeli terrorist troops seized Lydda, shot up the town and drove out the population as part of their ethnic cleansing programme. In the process they silenced 426 men, women, and children…. permanently. 176 of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque. See here for the lurid details.
Those who survived were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat leaving a trail of bodies — men, women and children — along the way. And who was the perpetrator of this foul massacre? None other than the great hero of the Six Day War, Moshe Dayan.
The assault on Lydda was witnessed by two American news correspondents. One recorded that “practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.” The other wrote that he saw “the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge”.
Christians, especially English Christians (and indeed Swedish, Portuguese, Romanian, Georgian and Maltese) will be aware that these outrages were committed in St George’s home town. He was born and buried in Lydda.
Israeli troops carried away 1,800 truck loads of loot. Jewish immigrants then flooded in and Lydda was given its Hebrew name, Lod.
So Israelis have no right to be there in the first place. Nor Ben Gurion airport, formerly Lydda airport. All was stolen in the murderous terror raid.
There’s an amusing story where an irate airline passenger wrote: “This morning (6 May 2003) on a flight from Rome to Tel Aviv, after landing the pilot announced in the microphone: ‘Welcome to Palestine’. I think this is the most disgusting thing for a pilot to say.”
It led to a long and acrimonious argument on the forum with many demanding dire punishment for the Alitalia pilot. It seems an Air France pilot had said something similarly shocking. Had he been sacked I’d have enjoyed chairing his employment tribunal. I salute that unnamed Alitalia pilot. And the Air France one.
So next time you fly into Ben Gurion, if the pilot doesn’t announce over the tannoy the greeting: ‘Welcome to Lydda and Palestine. And may St George protect you!’ remember to whisper it to yourself. Whisper being the operative word seeing as how Israelis tend to get twitchy when confronted with the truth.
The movement against South African apartheid was perhaps the most universal and popular movement in the western world in the 1980s. Hundreds of thousands protested in a multitude of ways—from letter-writing campaigns to shantytown occupations of city squares and college campus greens. Institutions of all types, from churches to universities, from corporations and banks to city halls, were forced to remove their investments from companies doing business with the racist South African regime, ultimately forcing that regime to end its racist legal system. Even the right wing Reagan and Thatcher regimes were ultimately forced to end their support for Pretoria’s racist system and grudgingly go along with the popular will.
However, as Ron Nixon’s new book, titled Selling Apartheid, makes clear, the South African regime was not going to go down without a fight. In addition to police and military actions of varying brutality, the regime hired advertising men to sell their brand of repression to people and governments around the world. The campaign he describes involved a cynical manipulation of emotions about race, implied white supremacist chauvinism, and outright lies. Advertising campaigns presented South Africa as a tourist destination full of beauty and the perfect climate (which it had) with absolutely no mention of the racial discrimination built into its social and political systems. Glossy photo spreads were bought in newspaper and magazines and television programs were made and sold to television networks in the United States and Britain. These shows were then shown to the unsuspecting viewer as if they were made by agencies independent of the apartheid government and their only agenda was tourism.
In a particularly cynical move, the South African government was able to buy off a few African-Americans over the years in what was ultimately a vain attempt to convince Black Americans that apartheid was okay. The first of these individuals was a former supporter of the Black resistance movement in South Africa, Max Yergan. In what can only be described as a complete sell out, Yergan went from working with early members of what would become the primary resistance organization against apartheid—the African National Congress(ANC)—to giving speeches in the United States and Africa aimed at convincing his audiences that apartheid helped Blacks. Once a committed left-winger, Yergan came under pressure during the McCarthy era in the United States, became an informer for the FBI, and turned against his friends in South Africa; friends that included freedom fighters Nelson Mandela and Joseph Tambo. Yergan was but the first of a few such individuals who would follow in his treacherous footsteps.
The bottom line for the white South African regime and the United States was money. Several US companies had millions invested in South African industry. These companies took advantage of the cheap labor (and maximized profits resulting from that labor) and minimal regulations offered by the Pretoria regime. In turn, they either supported or at the least, tacitly accepted the racism and brutality that defined the apartheid system. Consequently, it was these corporations and financial institutions that were targeted by the anti-apartheid movement’s divestment campaign. Churches, universities, and other institutions that had investments in such companies were ultimately convinced to drop those investments. Sometimes that convincing was purely of a moral plea, other times it required a concerted effort that combined direct action, monetary boycotts, and legislative pressure.
As an advocate of the current campaign against Israeli apartheid, it was more than interesting to compare the similarities in the campaign waged against the movement against South Africa’s apartheid and that currently waged against the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement of today. Residents of western nations are constantly barraged with imagery that attempts to portray the Tel Aviv government as a beacon of fairness and democracy in the Middle East. Furthermore, one is constantly told that the Palestinians who resist the occupation of their lands and the ever-present system of discrimination are nothing but terrorists. This latter phenomenon was also the case in South Africa. Indeed, the ANC was not removed from the US list of “terrorist” organizations until 2008, more than fifteen years after apartheid met its well-deserved end. Of course, there are specific differences between the two systems of separation referred to here, but the essential fact apartheid is true for the historic South African regime and the current Israeli one.
Ron Nixon’s text is an essential addition to the volume of work on South Africa’s apartheid regime. Rich in detail, it provides the reader with an extended look at the nature of propaganda in modern society. A one-time journalist for the New York Times, Nixon makes his argument with facts and writing that is both accessible and engaging. In doing so, he exposes the moral vacuousness of those who propagandized for the racists of South Africa not because they necessarily believed in apartheid, but because they made money from doing so. Furthermore, in his telling Nixon doesn’t just rake the white South African regime over the coals, he also points his pen at the equally deserving US and British governments, especially those of Reagan and Thatcher. In terms of how the world seems to work, Selling Apartheid is a tawdry yet familiar tale.
Another symbolic international day for Palestinian rights has degenerated into the usual stale observations and recommendations that do little other than try to impart a semblance of balance between the coloniser and the colonised. Perhaps the UN has preferred to remain loyal to the monstrous history it spawned by approving the Partition Plan on 29 November 1947, rather than address its complicity in the dispossession, ethnic cleansing and displacement of the Palestinians.
Departing from a jeopardising premise, Fiji’s Peter Thomson presided over the 71st session of the UN General Assembly and declared that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is “fundamental to our efforts to realise the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and to ensure that they are able to enjoy lives of dignity, opportunity, prosperity and equality.” The Palestinian people have endured a history of premeditated killing for decades because the UN upholds obscurity as a priority over the anti-colonial struggle. Peace, therefore, can be eliminated from the convenient rhetoric as it is nothing but a euphemism for oblivion in the context of Israeli colonial violence and international acceptance and complicity.
Not to be outdone, the Head of the EU Delegation to the UN, João Vale de Almeida, presented a summarised version of the perpetual concerns and condemnations, but added a slight variation to the usual rhetoric. The EU, he claimed, is “alarmed by the advancement in the Knesset of the ‘Settlement Regularisation Bill’ which would allow for the ex post ‘legalisation’ of Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank and de facto confiscation of private Palestinian land.” It is mystifying, to say the least, how an international institution that is normally so well-informed can express “alarm” over violations that have occurred blatantly and in a clear, calculated sequence following the original Zionist plan for Greater Israel. There was more likely to be advance knowledge and acquiescence, not alarm, over the proposed legislation.
Almeida made another obfuscating comment regarding Gaza: “Militant activity and the dire situation in Gaza feed general instability and constitute a recipe for renewed conflict.” He provided no context for the Palestinian resistance in Gaza; no mention of how Israel’s Operation Protective Edge destroyed the enclave and displaced Palestinians in a space that is completely besieged. Hamas “and other militant groups” are also urged to stop “the illicit arms build-up.” Presumably the EU, like Israel, wishes there to be a defenceless population that is completely stripped of the right to defend itself against Israel’s state of the art military technology. Almeida’s statement encourages the abuse of Palestinian civilians by Israel whenever it chooses to field test its latest weapons on live targets before marketing them internationally and thus exposing international hypocrisy with regards to alleged support for Palestinian rights.
Perhaps the symbolic commemoration of “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” should be scrapped, since the UN, the EU and other international institutions are incapable of articulating the trajectory between the initial and the current colonial violence against Palestinians. All of the futile statements which simply rehash decades of other repetitive rhetoric do not help the Palestinians in any way. Sporting a keffiyeh for the macabre day, which is a backdoor commemoration of the UN Partition Plan as well as purported international solidarity, is humiliating, not a show of support. In the absence of a commitment to support Palestine’s anti-colonial struggle, one can conclude that the international agenda for this “day of support” is to devaluate Palestine and downgrade it even further from a symbolic presence to a passive memory.
Human rights organisation Al-Marsad has written to the EU, European governments and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council regarding the approval last month by the Israeli government to expand the largest illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan by 1,600 settlements units; and the planned appropriation of Syrian land under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan. The letter is available here.
In October, the Israeli Finance Ministry approved plans for the construction of 1,600 settlement units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Katzrin. With a population of 8,000, Katzrin is the largest Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan. It was built over the destroyed Syrian villages of Qasrin, Shqef and Sanawber whose inhabitants were either forced to leave their homes by the Israeli army or were displaced by fighting during the Israeli occupation in 1967.
Katzrin is also home to various settlement businesses that illegally exploit the natural resources of the Occupied Syrian Golan, such as the Golan Heights Winery and Eden Springs / May Eden mineral water. In addition, Afek, an Israeli oil company that is illegally conducting oil exploration in the Occupied Syrian Golan, has an office in Katzrin. Afek is owned by a US company, Genie Energy, that includes Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and James Woolsey (former head of the CIA) on its advisory board.
Furthermore, this announcement follows approval by the Israeli government in 2014 for a $108 million investment to establish 750 Israeli settlement ‘farming estates’ on 7,100 acres of land in the Occupied Syrian Golan.
Meanwhile, under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan the Israeli authorities are seeking to appropriate 25,000 acres of land that have been used by the residents of Syrian villages, Majdal Shams and Ein Qynia, since Ottoman rule for agriculture and housing. If approved the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan would, in particular, surround Majdal Shams in the north and west. Therefore, the only area available for urban expansion of the village would be agricultural land in the south – a main source of livelihood for the local Syrian population. It is not possible to expand the village to the east given its close proximity to the fortified ceasefire line.
The designation of land by the Israeli authorities as a ‘national park’, ‘abandoned property’ or for ‘military or public needs’ is a regularly used tactic to either prevent the expansion of Syrian and Palestinian communities under occupation, or to appropriate land for settlement construction.
• Calls on the international community to strongly condemn plans for the construction of 1600 settlement units in the illegal settlement of Katzrin and the planned expropriation of Syrian land under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan; and obtain binding commitments from Israel that it will stop these activities.
• Invites foreign governments and international organisations to send fact-finding missions to the Occupied Syrian Golan to witness firsthand the deteriorating human rights situation.
Al-Marsad is an independent, not-for-profit, legal human rights organisation – it is the only human rights organisation operating in the Occupied Syrian Golan. For additional information, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.