Date: Friday 21st August 2015 3pm-5:30pm
Location: Jordanian Embassy, Upper Phillimore Gardens, London W8 7HA (few minutes walk from High Street Kensington tube station), move to Israeli Embassy around 4:30pm
Please join us as we hold two vigils this friday for Palestinian prisoners. At 3pm we will be outside the Jordanian Embassy demanding freedom for Palestinian father and human rights activist Amer Jubran who is facing a 10 years prison sentence in Jordan at the behest of Israel for refusing to betray the Lebanese resistance against Israel. Then at around 4:30pm we will move to the Israeli Embassy a few streets away to demand the unconditional and immediate release of Palestinian lawyer and hunger striker Muhammed Allan.
Muhammed Allan is again in a comma, breathing through a respirator, after having suffered brain damage whilst in Israeli custody. Muhammed launched his hunger strike on 15 June 2015 to protest Israel’s illegal practice of Administrative detention – of caging Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial. He has been caged by Israel without charge since 6th Nov 2014 on never ending rolling detention orders. Allan ended his hunger strike after 65 days on 19th Aug after the Israeli Supreme Court on health grounds ordered the suspension of the administrative detention order against him. But Israel is still threatening to reimpose his administrative detention and imprisonment should he recover, its imperative at this time that we maintain the pressure and demand his immediate and unconditional release.
LATEST UPDATES ON MUHAMMED ALLAN
(courtesy Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network)
20th Aug: Reports state Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad Allan again in a coma, on respirator
19th Aug: Breaking News: Reports state Muhammad Allan has ended his strike after decision of the Israeli Supreme Court
18th Aug: Muhammad Allan regains consciousness, pledges to continue hunger strike
17th Aug: Muhammad Allan rejects attempt to forcibly deport him from Palestine as Supreme Court considers case
17th Aug: Israeli Supreme Court to hear petition for release of hunger striker Mohammed Allan
16th Aug: Palestinian doctor denied access to Muhammad Allan as he faces life-threatening infection
14th Aug: Muhammed Allan on ventilator in coma; Palestinian prisoners under Israeli lockdown
AMER JUBRAN – BACKGROUND
Palestinian activist Amer Jubran has a long history of being targeted for his activism on behalf of Palestine, first in the US and then in Jordan.
In the US he formed the “New England Committee to Defend Palestine” and in November 2002, two days after leading a demonstration in Boston calling for justice in Palestine, the FBI stormed Amer Jubran’s home and arrested him under the Patriot Act initially holding him without charge. When public outcry made it difficult to continue holding him they initiated deportation proceedings against him and he was deported to Jordan in January 2004 where he continued his activism for Palestine.
In Jordan he was under constant surveillance of the notorious Jordanian secret police. On 5th May 2014, 20 armed me in black uniforms stormed his home where he lived with his wife and four young children, smashing the doors and windows. The secret police abducted Amer, and for months he was interrogated at an undisclosed location without charge and without access to a lawyer.
Finally in August 2014 Amer Jubran was charged under a new law that didn’t exist when he was arrested, that makes “harming the relationship with a foreign government” a crime of “terrorism”. Last month on 29th July 2015 we was sentenced by a military court to 10 years hard labour, reduced from a 15 year sentence. Following his visit to Lebanon to speak an an Anti-Apartheid week function he was accused of working with the Lebanese resistance Hizbullah against Israel, hence ‘harming’ Jordan’s relationship with a friendly country. During his interrogation he was told by the secret police that any decision made about him involves “our American and Israeli friends”. Amer says it “all started when I refused to be a sell-out and work against the Lebanese resistance. I was told then that I will be sent behind the sun for such a refusal. And frankly it is very easy for me to disappear behind the sun rather than to be well, outside but a sell-out and traitor. “. Essentially he is being persecuted and imprisoned because he refused to work for Israeli /Jordanian intelligence as an infiltrator and informant against the resistance.
BACKGROUND – ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION
Muhammad Allan was on hunger strike to protest against Israel’s practice of Administrative detention. Administrative detention is a practice used by Israel to imprison Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial. Prisoners are given rolling detention orders which can be anything from 1-6 months, renewable indefinitely. Such practice is against international law.
For example administrative detainee Mazen Natsheh has been locked up cumulatively for nearly 10 years without charge or trial. Muhammad Allan has in total been caged for 3 years under different administrative detention orders without charge or trial.
Detention orders are based on so called “secret information” which never needs to be produced, either to the detainee nor their lawyer. Administrative detention is often used to arbitrarily jail Palestinians where there is no evidence for a trial. It is also used for punishment as in the case of 8 Palestinian MPs who are currently caged in Israeli dungeons to punish them for their political stance.
Palestinian prisoners rights group Addameer have documented “many cases where the detainees themselves will say that administrative detention is actually far worse than a fixed sentence, be that five years, ten years, 20 years, or whatever and why. With a fixed sentence, you know when you’re going home, a prisoner knows when he goes home. It could be ten years or 15 years down the line, but they know when they’re going home. Not with an administrative detention..” They have documented “many cases where prisoners or detainees have been literally leaving the prison, walking out of the prison with their bags in their hand after their administrative detention order has expired [with their family waiting on the other side] and the Israelis have handed that detainee another administrative detention order and they have to go back into the cell to recommence another administrative detention order. Now, this is a form of psychological torture for not only the detainee [but also] their families.”
Israel has on average issued over 2000 detention orders every year (between 2007 and 2011). Today there are around 450 administrative detainees. Most of them, like Muhammad Allan, having been transferred from the West Bank into Israel in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, with their families being prevented from visiting them.
On 18th August 2015, 250 Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention in the “Negev” prison in the Naqab desert in the south of Palestine announced they will launch an open-ended hunger strike to defeat administrative detention. Their statement reads “the growing use of administrative detention.. represents a clear and explicit violation of all international conventions and human rights principles, where we are arrested for extended periods, for years continuously, at the mercy of a so-called “secret file,” where we have no right to defend ourselves. Administrative detention is a sword hanging over our necks, that eats away our flesh and blood and years of our lives without trial and without mercy.”
LIVE UPDATES DURING PROTEST
We will, inshAllah, be tweeting live from the protest with live photos being uploaded to our twitter and facebook page. So if you can’t join us on the day, please help us by sharing the photos as they get uploaded.
If you support this activity please share this alert widely, thank you.
Palestinian Prisoners Campaign
The controversial Israeli-Palestinian performer, Jowan Safadi, produced a new song, It’s Hard to Be an Arab, which features a provocative YouTube video. When I first listened to it without knowing anything about Safadi, I thought he might be a Mizrahi Jew satirizing his own ethnic community’s prejudices. But after hearing the song’s lyrics, it became clearer that he was a Palestinian commenting on the ironies of being an Mizrahi “Arab” in an Ashkenazi dominated State.
The song is deeply subversive. It portrays a deep-seated form of self-loathing (or at least inferiority) that besets Mizrahim who seek, above all, to be accepted despite their alienness within a society and culture dominated by Ashkenazi-ness.
Here are the lyrics:
Are the most gay on the inside
Are themselves Arabs
Who are just afraid
And prefer to stay in the closet
Because they know, they know best
That to be an Arab is not so great
It’s hard to be an Arab
It’s really hard, just ask me
It’s hard to be an Arab
How much can one be black
Under the rule of the rich and white
In a nation of racists.
Once they too were Arabs
They changed their names
To change their fate
Because they know, they know best
They know better than anyone
They know, they know best
They paid the bloody price
They learned it on their skin
It’s hard to be an Arab
It’s really hard, ask me
It’s hard to be an Arab
How much can one be black
Under the rule of the rich and white
In the racist state
Listen to me, dude
You need to know where you came from
And where you’re going to
And what you’re gonna find
Standing in the streets and chanting death to Arabs and such shit
You’re an Arab man, more fucked than I am
Hey you imported Arab,
Take it from a local Arab
You were dragged here
To settle in my place
It’s hard to be an Arab
It’s really hard, ask me
It’s hard to be an Arab
How much can one be black
Under the rule of the rich and white
In the land of Palestine.
A portion of the video is fairly static and boring with Safadi singing in the backseat of a car with women swaying and accompanying him. But the really interesting part of the video includes a side story featuring a Mizrahi dressing himself for confrontation with Safadi. In preparation, he dresses and makes himself up much like an actor before taking to the stage. He puts on a t-shirt displaying a Lehava logo (the anti-miscegenation, terror-supporting NGO). Then he paints a Jewish star on his face and dons a necklace with a Jewish star. Safadi cleverly shows these to be the affectations Mizrahim must adopt to become part of the Israeli Ashkenazi mainstream. They are the symbols of separation and hate which divide them from their own Arab roots.
At the confrontation at the beach, where the Mizrahim take out their clubs and prepare to beat the Palestinians, Safadi begins to lecture them about their second-class status. Instead of assaulting them, the Mizrahi street-toughs absorb the lesson and even shrink from the truths the singer reveals to them. But the real kicker is the last word of the last line. The last lines of the previous stanzas each referred to Israel as a racist state. But in that very last line, Safadi pulls a switch. Instead of referring to Israel he ends with the words, “the land of Palestine.” This shocks the toughs even more than the lecture they’d been previously given by Safadi. The two camps, the Mizrahim and Palestinians, seem to be frozen at these shocking words. It’s a stand-off. It’s not clear whether a real riot will ensue. At this point, the video ends and you don’t find out how it was resolved. Which is a perfect ending that fits the current situation in Israel-Palestine.
A word on the phrase, “it’s hard to be an Arab.” Given Safadi’s brilliant subversive skills, I’m certain he knows the Yiddish phrase from which this originates: T’iz shver zu zein a Yid (“it’s hard to be a Jew”). It is a saying meant to encapsulate hundreds of years of Jewish suffering, but specifically the suffering of European Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries. It speaks of pogroms, massacres, blood libels, inquisitions, holocausts. It speaks of poverty, prejudice and second-class status. Of Sholem Aleichem and Tevye. It speaks of religious hatred. All the things that Palestinians (and Mizrahim) suffer in contemporary Israel.
The brilliance of this is its appropriation of the suffering of the Ashkenazi Jews, and then turning it back as a mirror upon itself. […]
Make no mistake: there is a price to be paid for such clarity and fearlessness. Palestinian artists do not enjoy the liberty of speaking their minds and being free to go about the rest of their business unmolested. No, the very Ashkenazim he takes on fight back; and they do so with a vengeance.
In 2010, Safadi performed the song, The Search, which contained the ironic lyrics:
“I’m a terrorist, but I have no explosive belt around by waist
I have no bomb under my arm, no machine gun on my shoulder
I’m a soldier in the army of conscience
I’ll shoot you with bullets of poetry
I’ll assassinate you with a monologue
I’ll commit suicide with the bomb of a dance troupe and I’ll torture you with the beat of drums”
Any high school literature student could parse this and understand that it is meant metaphorically and ironically. But not the far-right settlers. They deliberately mistranslated the lyrics:
“I’m a proud Arab, a suicide bomber
I will murder your mother and your sister too.”
Apparently, irony is not the strong suit of Israel’s fascist class. But just to be safe, they mangle the lyrics with literalness. It took four years before the Israeli judicial system finally cleared Safadi of any wrongdoing. And it did so only after he sued the State demanding to be declared not guilty of any crime. Reluctantly and begrudgingly, it conceded his point.
This is what it’s like to be an “Arab” in Israel. Always a suspect. Always an enemy. Always feared and hated.
The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that hunger striking Palestinian prisoner, 31 year-old Mohammed Allan, will be released from administrative detention… but only if medical tests show that he’s suffered “irreversible” damage as a result of his 65-day hunger strike. Apparently, a healthy Allan was a grave national security threat. While a near-dead Allan poses no such threat. While the Court has done the decent, humane thing, it erased any good will it might’ve generated by compelling Allan had to prove that his ordeal had caused damage to his body and mind so severe that it supported freeing him.
If he recovers and shows no sign of permanent damage, he could be rearrested and forced to serve the remainder of his term under administrative detention. Further, he could be rearrested at any time by authorities under a new order. Such is the caprice of the Israeli legal system regarding security offenses. Under administrative detention, a victim need not be charged with a crime. And such detentions may be extended for six month periods indefinitely. That is why prisoners have begun to resort to hunger strikes. Killing themselves seems to be the only message that moves the hardened Pharaonic hearts of Israel’s security services.
Israel was placed in this “awkward” position by a ruling from the national medical association refusing to participate in force-feeding him, which had been the prison service’s plan. After no doctor would agree, it had to let the hunger strike run its course. It is a pleasant surprise that the Israeli security police couldn’t mange to find a professional willing to perform such a ghoulish procedure. Keep in mind, that a number of countries including the U.S. do permit force-feeding of hunger strikers.
This is a cold, brutal judicial decision in line with a string of such judgments offered by this Court since a hardline majority took over in the past several years. Lest any apologists continue prattling about the liberal views and support for human rights offered by the highest judicial body as a counter to the racism of the legislative branch, the days of Aharon Barak are long past. Nor are we likely to see such a person on the court in the future.
That doesn’t mean the extreme right in Israel is any less angry at this Court. In fact, one minister said last week the Court should be “bulldozed.” Apparently, having a court that is obeisant to the right-wing policies of the government as this one is, isn’t enough. They want a Court that opens its sessions with the Likud anthem and swears allegiance to Rabbis Ginsburgh and Lior.
Paul Eisen, until a week ago anonymous as far as most Brits were concerned, is now a kingmaker. The UK Jewish Lobby is convinced, for some reason, that the nature of Eisen’s relationship with Labour’s leading candidate Jeremy Corbyn will determine the future of this country.
As we witness the most important political debate in Britain for generations being hijacked by the Zionist media and ‘Jewish sensitivities’, the time is ripe to ask: who is Paul Eisen?
Eisen has been described by the Jewish press and its acolytes as an ‘anti Semite’ and a ‘holocaust denier’, but peculiarly, no one mentions that Eisen is actually a Jew who sometimes even speaks ‘as a Jew’.
Eisen’s ‘crime’ seems obvious – he doesn’t adhere to the Zionist orthodox Shoah narrative. But Eisen doesn’t dispute the fact that German National Socialism despised the Jewish race, he doesn’t dispute the mass deportation of Jews, he doesn’t condone German National Socialist racism against Jews and others. Eisen doesn’t dispute the fact that many Jews died under the Nazi regime in some horrid and unfortunate circumstances. However, Eisen is sceptical on issues to do with the homicidal nature of the Nazi operation. He is not convinced that the Germans used gas chambers as a death factory.
Eisen could be right or wrong (as he himself admits in his writing), but does such a belief mount to ‘anti Semitism,’ racism or ‘hate crime’? Can the questioning of the past be considered a hateful act under any circumstances?
It’s quite the opposite: the ability to revisit and revise the past is the kernel of ethical, humanist and universal thinking. It is the attempt to grasp ‘what really happened’ which helps us to form the prospect of a better future.
Eisen calls himself a ‘holocaust denier’ but did anyone within the (free) British press care to perform the minimal journalist duty and investigate what Eisen means by his ‘denial’? The answer is no.
Eisen is obviously an opponent of the Holocaust industry, Holocaust religion and Holocaust exploitation. Eisen was tormented (as a Jew) to find out that the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem was erected on the lands of Ayn Karim, a ethnically cleansed Palestinian village. Eisen was tortured when he realised that Yad Vashem was built in proximity to Deir Yassin, a Palestinian village that was erased along with its inhabitants in a colossal cold-blooded massacre by Jewish paramilitaries in 1948.
Just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the newly born Jewish state wiped out a civilization in Palestine in the name of a racist Jewish nationalist ideology. It is this vile cynicism that turned Eisen into a denier – a denier of the primacy of Jewish suffering. In his eyes, if the Jews could commit the massacre in Deir Yassin after Auschwitz, the holocaust must be denied because it failed to mature into a universal ethical message.
Again, you may agree with Eisen or you may not, but his humanist and critical approach qualifies him to be the Labour kingmaker. We can only thank British Jews and their forceful media to position Paul Eisen exactly where he belongs.
RAMALLAH – The Palestinian Authority security forces on Tuesday said that there was no evidence that Palestinians shot by Israeli forces in recent days, in two cases fatally, had stabbed Israeli soldiers.
In the last week, Israeli forces have shot three Palestinians, killing two, who they claimed attempted to stab Israeli soldiers or Border Police officers.
However, the spokesperson for the PA security forces, Major-General Adnan Dmeiri, said in a statement that Israel had provided no evidence to support its allegations.
He questioned the fact that in each case the Israeli army or police force investigated its own soldiers or officers, “without the interference of any other party.”
He said that the investigations had portrayed the Israeli soldiers and officers as “heroes.”
Dmeiri criticized the fact that the army and police force were both the investigators and the “executors” of Palestinians.
Most recently, Israeli forces shot dead a young Palestinian man on Monday afternoon after they claimed he attempted to stab an Israeli Border Police officer.
An Israeli army spokeswoman alleged that the Palestinian man approached Israeli Border Police officers at Tappuah junction, known to Palestinians as Zaatara military checkpoint, asking for “medical assistance.”
The spokeswoman said that he then pulled out a knife and attempted to stab an Israeli officer before he was shot dead.
She said that the Israeli police officer was lightly injured.
Two days earlier, Border Police shot dead another Palestinian after the army said he stabbed an Israeli Border Police officer near Beita in southern Nablus.
Rafeeq Kamil Rafeeq al-Taj, 21, was shot five times, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.
On the same day, Israeli forces shot and lightly injured a Palestinian man after he allegedly stabbed a soldier west of Ramallah. He was taken into custody following the incident.
Israeli media recently reported that the Israeli army had implemented new rules of engagement, requiring soldiers in the occupied Palestinian territory to hold their fire unless there is a genuine threat to their lives.
Previous rules allowed Israeli soldiers to use fire “warning shots” when their lives were not at imminent risk, and subsequently aim for lower extremities when engaging with Palestinians on the ground.
Since the beginning of 2015 Israeli forces have injured an average of 37 Palestinians a week, and killed a total of at least 25 Palestinians, according to UN figures.
Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine – On Saturday the 15th of August 2015, the villagers from Kafr Qaddum once again demonstrated against the blockage of the road leading to Nablus as well as the nearby Kedumin settlement. In solidarity with the local people there were a few international activists and journalists covering the demonstration.
The non-violent protest was immediately suppressed by the Israeli occupation forces shooting dozens of teargas canisters and live ammunition. Instead of the frequently used bad-smelling skunk water, the army drove a bulldozer into the village. This bulldozer destroyed the only water pipe in the village, leaving the people Kafr Qaddum without any connection to water until the pipe is repaired. Especially during the hot summer months, water is a scarce and essential good.
Murad Shtaiwi, one of the leaders of Kafr Qaddum Popular Committee, understands the damage to the water pipe as a way to collectively punish the village for its ongoing resistance. The costs of a new pipe have to be paid for by the municipality. As Murad explains, damaging the water pipe is a deliberate attempt by the Israeli army to suppress the support among the villagers to continue to protests and thus block future demonstrations.
The video contains pictures of different Palestinian cities during the 1920’s and 1930’s, before the creation of the state of israel by the zionists in 1948.
Thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, something remarkable is happening in American politics: the irreconcilable conflict of interest between most Americans on one side and Israel and its American supporters on the other is on full display and impossible to ignore. In the past the conflict could be papered over with grand empty rhetoric about the two sides being in “lock-step” and the absence of “daylight” between them. But no more. The conflict is out in the open where everyone can see it. Iran should be thanked for this valuable service.
War with Iran would be a catastrophe not only for the Iranians, including thousands of Jewish Iranians who openly practice their religion in their ancient community, and other people in the Middle East; it would also be a catastrophe for Americans — hence the conflict of interest between most Americans and the war party. Those, like Tom Cotton, Norman Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, and John Bolton, who think an attack on Iran would be a cakewalk, are either liars or fools. These are the same people, of course, who said the Iraq war would be easy and would usher in a new liberal Middle East. The result has been unspeakable sectarian violence throughout the region, culminating in the Islamic State and a reinvigorated al-Qaeda.
Despite the predictable catastrophe a war with Iran would bring, Israel and its staunchest, most prominent American supporters are conducting a well-financed campaign against the Iran nuclear deal that would surely lead to that war if a Republican wins the presidency next year. In fact, they want war because only war (followed by regime change) would give Israel and its American supporters what they want: unrivaled dominance in the Middle East, which among other things would relieve the pressure to make a just peace with the Palestinians at least by leaving the occupied territories.
Let’s acknowledge that most Jewish Americans favor the nuclear deal and do not want war with Iran; in fact, many Jews feel little or no connection to Israel at all. But that must not obscure the fact that the Israeli government, which was recently returned to power by the Israeli people, and the richest, best-organized Jewish American groups — AIPAC and the rest of the Israel/Jewish Lobby — lead the opposition to the deal and the neoconservative coalition in favor of war. (This is not to overlook the prominent non-Jewish members of the coalition.) They feign offense at being called warmongers, but they know that the kind of deal they favor would require Iran to fully capitulate to the United States and Israel, demands which go beyond nuclear questions, and surrender its sovereignty. Such a deal could never be reached, and the war hawks know it. They ought to be honest enough to admit that war is what they want. (Some neoconservatives, Jews and non-Jews, are honest enough, including Bolton, Podhoretz, Cotton, Kristol and Joshua Muravchik.)
What’s noteworthy is that both sides of the divide have taken the gloves off. We had Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom former Meet the Press host David Gregory once called “the leader of the Jewish people,” invited to speak before Congress for the sole purpose of undercutting President Obama’s efforts to engage in diplomacy with Iran. We had senators doing the bidding of Israel and the Lobby by writing to the leader of Iran to tell him no agreement would be long-lasting. And most recently we had Netanyahu, in an unprecedented display, openly urging Jewish Americans to oppose the deal with Iran: “The days when the Jewish people could not or would not speak up for themselves, those days are over,” he said in a webcast to 10,000 Jewish American activists arranged by the Jewish Federations throughout North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Are Jewish Americans supposed to see Netanyahu as their leader? (Not that I think they should see Obama as their leader.) Netanyahu apparently thinks so, and prominent Jewish Americans seem to agree. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is Jewish, has courageously condemned this “arrogant” pretense. (Recall that Netanyahu has told Western Jews that they are welcome to “return” to Israel — even those who have never been there — to escape the dangers in their countries. Thus he embraces the pernicious Zionist doctrine, shared by anti-Semites, that Jews ultimately are aliens everywhere except in Israel.)
Obama, on the other hand, has finally been willing to openly identify the source of hawkish anti-Iranian pressure: Israel and its American supporters, especially prominent and well-organized Jewish Americans and non-Jews who kowtow to win their political and financial support.
“Because this is such a strong deal,” Obama said, “every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.” He also said, “Between now and the congressional vote in September, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should — for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”
Everyone knows, first, that the major push for the war against Iraq came from Israel and the Lobby, supported by the neocon devotees of Israel’s agenda, and, second, that the multimillion-dollar ad campaign against the Iran deal is run by an AIPAC-related group, Citizens for Nuclear Free Iran, and United Against Nuclear Iran, led by former Sen. Joe Lieberman and financed by wealthy casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who makes no secret of his Israel-first sentiment.
But we shouldn’t overstate Obama’s willingness to identify the malign influence on American foreign policy that emanates from Israel, its Lobby, and the neocons in general. He also said:
When the Israeli government is opposed to something, people in the United States take notice. And they should. No one can blame Israelis for having a deep skepticism about any dealings with a government like Iran’s — which includes leaders who have denied the Holocaust, embrace an ideology of anti-Semitism, facilitate the flow of rockets that are arrayed on Israel’s borders, are pointed at Tel Aviv. In such a dangerous neighborhood, Israel has to be vigilant, and it rightly insists that it cannot depend on any other country — even its great friend the United States — for its own security. So we have to take seriously concerns in Israel.
Note that he did not mention Israel’s large, invulnerable nuclear arsenal. Israel is the nuclear monopolist in the Middle East and has been since the 1960s, thanks to the connivance of its American supporters inside and outside of government. In the context of Iran’s potential for obtaining a nuclear weapon, wouldn’t you think that fact is relevant? Why do establishment politicians and the mainstream news media hardly ever mention it? Moreover, the rockets that threaten Israelis come from people whom Zionist militias drove off their land in 1948 in a far-reaching ethnic-cleansing campaign and who are now routinely threatened and oppressed: the Palestinians in the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip, target of savage air wars and a years-long blockade, and the people of southern Lebanon, whom Israel has attacked repeatedly and occupied over the years.
Note also that Obama accepts the premise that Iran aspires to be a nuclear power, a proposition for which there is zero evidence and against which there is abundant evidence.
Nevertheless, to his credit, Obama did say,
As President of the United States, it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally.
It’s not every day that an American president acknowledges that, whatever his job is, it is not to serve the interests of Israel’s racist ruling elite and population. That is indeed good to hear, but it would be news to the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, among others.
Israel’s American partisans have predictably accused their opponents of anti-Semitism for focusing on Jewish attempts to kill the Iran agreement, hoping Americans will believe that criticism of Israel and the Lobby in itself constitutes bigotry, if not Nazi sympathies. (Mike Huckabee’s claim that Obama is leading the Israelis to the ovens is only the most obnoxious example.) But taking offense at the focus on Jewish efforts is a cynical ploy void of legitimacy. Israel bills itself The Jewish State, representing Jewish interests worldwide. The Lobby embraces that designation. (Not all Jews regard Israel as The Jewish State, however. Jewish anti-Zionism, which dates back to before Theodor Herzl’s time, thrives today.) AIPAC boasts of its political clout and its command of vast resources that can make or break political careers. An AIPAC official, asked if the Lobby had lost influence after a scandal, once famously boasted to a journalist over dinner, “You see this napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”
In light of all this, it’s a little absurd to object to the identification of Israel with Jews or to rail against those who point out the obvious: that Israel and its Jewish American partisans have been at the forefront of the campaign for war against Muslim nations. As Chemi Shalev, writing in the Israeli daily Haaretz, put it:
Netanyahu is allowed to address 10,000 American Jewish leaders and activists from Jerusalem, but mentioning their faith is forbidden; he is allowed to be the sole foreign leader to openly campaign against the deal, but singling him out is verboten; AIPAC can raise emergency funds, cancel all vacations and send its lobbyists to canvass on Capitol Hill, but say the words “lobby” or “money” and you are quickly branded a bigot; [Sen. Chuck] Schumer can famously boast that he sees himself as a Shomer [guardian of] Israel but you won’t dare say that when he seems to live up to his promise.
Moreover, how absurd is it for Israel’s partisans to accuse critics of raising the dual-loyalty issue, which these days sounds rather antiquated? Did anti-Semites put Netanyahu up to his machinations? Did they sponsor the trip to Israel for over 50 members of Congress just as debate over the Iran deal was starting?
Do not misunderstand: Israelis and Israel’s Jewish American partisans are not promoting war with Iran because they embrace Judaism, the Torah, and the Prophets. Many of Israel’s Jewish American supporters are secular and even atheist, and many observant Jews oppose war with Iran, support the nuclear deal, and hate Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians. What motivates many Israelis and Israel’s Jewish American partisans has little if anything to do with Judaism. Rather, they are motivated by an essentially secular ideology and parochial identity politics — Gilad Atzmon calls it “Jewishness” to distinguish it from Judaism — that prioritizes the interests of the tribe. These Jews judge issues by the standard “Is it good for the Jews?” (as they see the good). This chosen-people framework is anti-liberal and anti-universal, featuring ubiquitous enemies and impending doom. One might think this attitude is understandable in light of the history of persecution of Jews, culminating in the Nazi Judeocide. But since this ideology fuels the persecution, oppression, and slaughter of innocent others, rather than extra sensitivity to injustice no matter who the victim, we cannot be so forgiving. Nothing in Jewish history can justify how self-identified Jews have treated the Palestinians, or American Jewish support for, or acquiescence in, that treatment. Israel faces no “existential threat” from Iran or anyone else. If that treatment is an application of Jewish values, then Americans should take note. If it is not, then in what sense is Israel The Jewish State?
Whether this ideology has roots in Judaic doctrine and tradition or whether it is a modern secular phenomenon is a complicated question. But people ought to see it for what it is — before we are dragged into another catastrophic war.
Finally, Israel’s Jewish American partisans warn that criticizing the campaign against the Iran deal risks reinforcing stereotypes and inflaming anti-Semitism (even if in itself it does not constitute anti-Semitism). Almost anything anyone says about anyone else could be exploited by bigots, so that is no reason to withhold valid criticism. But if Israel’s partisans genuinely fear an anti-Semitic backlash — which all decent people would condemn as bigoted collectivism — perhaps they should reconsider their campaign to provoke an American/Israeli war of aggression against Iran.
AIPAC formed a group called “Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran”. The assumption is that Iran is “BAD” and should be treated as a pariah nation. AIPAC presumes that Iran should be held inferior to such heroes of human rights as Israel. It presumes that Iran shouldn’t be allowed to sign and support the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as it has. For AIPAC, it is kosher to assassinate Iran’s physicists and wreck its computers. As far as AIPAC is concerned, it is within Israel’s rights to launch a unilateral attack on anything nuclear within Iran if it so chooses. For AIPAC, Iran must be bad. After all, it resists Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It calls for political change in Palestine, change that Israel resists, so it must be “BAD”. Iran has no nuclear weapons, but it still must be “BAD” according to AIPAC. It hasn’t slaughtered Palestinians, but it still must be “BAD” according to AIPAC.
On the other hand, it is AIPAC’s view that any killing that Israel does has been “GOOD” and must be “GOOD”. To say otherwise and accuse Israel is not simply to be supportive of human rights, or possibly anti-Zionist, but also possibly to be branded as that old enemy that went out of fashion in the 20th century with the Third Reich or at least has been thoroughly discredited and meets with not a fiber of serious intellectual support: anti-Semitic. If one is not to risk being accused of hating Jews or even hating oneself if one is Jewish, one must by this perforation and shredding of logic, by this muddling of distinct ideas, support Israel and all of its genocidal and expansionist policies in all important respects. One must regard nuclear weapons in Israel’s hands as inherently “GOOD” too.
APIAC has launched ads using this new group. One of these popped up on a web site I went to this morning. It asked whether a country (Iran) that has violated 20 international agreements can be trusted. The “documentation” is here. The so-called violations are accusations, not proven facts and not self-evident. The charges are way overdone, much exaggerated, and trumped up. It’s a phony indictment.
What meaning does it have to charge Iran with not having top-notch governance or not having eliminated human trafficking? Is Iran really out for genocide because its former president made some sort of quote that has been widely and wildly misinterpreted, mistranslated and repeated endlessly? What meaning does it have to accuse Iran of chemical weapons hanky-panky when Israel is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention and Iran is?
Even if they were not baloney, or not all baloney, or half-truths, or fractional-truths, or not mainly unproven accusations and exaggerations, one has to ask how long a list of similar charges one could bring against many other countries in similar social, political and economic situations.
What would an indictment against the U.S. look like? It would easily be as long, indeed much longer, and the charges would be far more tangible, serious and actually have happened. Shall we lead off with the unprovoked attack on Iraq? Shall we include the 14-year war that began by bringing down Afghanistan’s existing government? Dare we mention the U.S. support for attacking Libya under false pretexts and reducing the country to warring factions, sources of weapons and bases for terrorists; and that has destabilized neighboring countries to boot? Shall we mention genocidal sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq?
Who trusts the U.S. when an ally one day becomes an enemy the next day as Gaddafi found out?
In a one-on-one comparison, which state would look more trustworthy, the U.S. or Iran?
Indigenous leader Sabino Romero of the Yukpa was murdered in 2013
One of the accused murderers of the prominent Venezuelan indigenous leader Sabino Romero was sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide on Friday in a landmark move to prosecute the killer of an indigenous person for the first time.
Angel Romero Bracho, known as “El Manguera,” was given the maximum sentence for his role in Sabino’s murder, according to a statement from the attorney General’s office. Another five suspects had already been sentenced to seven years in prison for their involvement in the crime.
Sabino, a leader of the Yukpa indigenous group in western Venezuela and famed national symbol of indigenous resistance, was killed in March 2013 after a heated land conflict between indigenous groups with legal title to the land and large ranchers who wanted to stake their claim to the farmland.
Although the trial in the case of Sabino’s death was lengthy, justice has finally been served in a historic ruling to punish the murderer of an indigenous leader. Violence against indigenous people has long been treated with impunity in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America. While the national government has taken many steps to support indigenous rights, ranchers are usually able to bribe judicial officials. In the trial of Romero Bracho, the public prosector received death threats.
Family members and supporters hope that the conviction against Romero Bracho will pave the way to further investigations to punish the other masterminds behind the murder.
“Sabino Romero has denouced threats and violence in the Sierra de Perija of the latifundistas against the Yukpa people.”
Sabino was the target of an assassination plot in the western Venezuelan state of Zulia for his role in the indigenous struggle against large ranchers who sought to monopolize landholdings, even though indigenous campesinos held legal title to the land under an agrarian reform law implemented by former President Hugo Chavez in 2001.
Sabino’s wife and fellow movement activist Lucia Martinez was also injured in the attack.
Sabino was a well-known and important leader among the Yukpa people, but also stood as a national icon of the broader indigenous movement and struggle for indigenous rights.
Palestinian Hamdi Abu Rahma is a gifted photographer whose work in Gaza has been highly acclaimed around the world. He is also now at the centre of a political storm after he was told that he could not travel to Britain in order to take part in the renowned Edinburgh International Festival. Scottish politicians and supporters have accused the British government of trying to damage the reputation of the festival by its “overly bureaucratic and insensitive decision” to refuse Abu Rahma a visa.
The row has erupted as Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to roll out the red carpet for Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The timing is particularly sensitive, as an online petition calling for Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes when he arrives in London next month has already attracted more than half of the 100,000 needed to trigger a parliamentary debate.
Now that the decision to reject the young Palestinian’s visa application has been challenged by members of the Scottish Government, as well as festival organisers and pro-Palestinian activists, there are hopes that the UK Visa and Immigration agency will think again.
Already widely travelled to show his work at exhibitions around the globe, this is the first time that Abu Rahma has had a visa application rejected without warning. Some observers are particularly surprised since the focus of his photography is about the power of non-violent resistance in Palestine, which he has captured through his camera lens.
“The UK government refused to give me a visa today and the reason for refusal was that I didn’t show any bank statements or documentation to demonstrate my ability to support myself during my visit,” he said in a prepared statement. “Despite sending complete evidence of the sponsorship provided to fund my trip and all contact details of my sponsors, proving that all my travel and accommodation costs have been met, they still refused my application.”
Abu Rahma pointed out that he has travelled extensively in order to tell the Palestinian story through his photographs but Britain is the first country that has refused him entry. “We all know the real reason for this refusal,” he said. “Britain knows very well what my trip is about. I am not going there to claim asylum or beg in the streets. I am going there to educate the British people and pose some questions.” Such questions as: “Have you ever asked Israel why they kill and murder innocent men, women and children in Palestine? Do you know why Israel occupies Palestinian land illegally and destroys our homes, and why it allows colonial settlers to move into our homes illegally against international law?”
Expressing his “deep disappointment” at being unable to travel to Britain on this occasion, the young photographer thanked his friends across the country for their support and for being willing to host him in their homes.
Phil Chetwynd, one of the festival organisers who invited Abu Rahma said: “The Network of Photographers for Palestine raised the money through crowdfunding to finance Hamdi’s visit earlier this year.” All of his travel and subsistence expenses are covered by this, he explained. “I pledged to provide accommodation throughout the visit. Last month I tried to contact the visa office in Amman to back-up Hamdi’s application, but the process is so obscure that they didn’t seem to have a mechanism to add information to that already submitted by the applicant. It seems that the FCO has tendered out the whole process to another organisation.”
Despite the visa ban organisers have said that they will still exhibit Hamdi’s photographs and will ask a performer from another show to read out the speech that he has prepared. As news spread of the visa ban, an additional exhibition of his work may now also be shown at “Welcome to the Fringe: Palestine day at Out Of The Blue (OOTB)”. Other events organised for Hamdi to speak in Inverness, Dundee and Glasgow may still go ahead via a live link-up to his home in Gaza.
According to Sofiah MacLeod, the chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the visa rejection came as “no surprise”. She pointed out that the Cameron government is preparing to welcome the “war criminal” Benjamin Netanyahu to London in September. “As the petition calling on Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes nears 55,000 signatories, the government’s visa denial to Abu Rahma will only strengthen our resolve to oppose its complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing project against the Palestinians.” MacLeod is adamant that Palestinian voices, including Abu Rahma’s, will be heard at this year’s Edinburgh Festival in “unprecedented” numbers. “We already know that the Israeli government has received our message loud and clear that it is not welcome during the festival, or at any other time.”
Scottish Parliamentarian Joan McAlpine of the SNP raised the issue with Sarah Rapson, the Director General of UK Visas and Immigration within hours of hearing about Abu Rahma’s visa being rejected. In a letter seen by MEMO, she told Rapson: “While I understand that immigration is a reserved matter, culture is not. I am the co-convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Culture. I certainly feel that this decision is damaging to culture and the world’s greatest art festival in Edinburgh.”
McAlpine called for a rethink on what appeared to be “an overly bureaucratic and insensitive decision” adding: “I am particularly concerned that the decision means festival goers will miss the opportunity to hear this artist discuss his award-winning work, which of course has implications for freedom of expression.”
This is not the first time that Palestinian artistes have encountered difficulties at the hands of the UK Border Agency. Ali Abukhattab and Samah Al-Sheikh, a married couple also based in Gaza, were due to appear at the Institute for Contemporary Art in June 2013 as part of the Shubbak festival. They were to read from their own works and discuss how Palestinian writers in Gaza have responded to the ongoing Israeli siege and internal political situation.
Al-Sheikh, a short story writer and novelist, and Abukhattab, a poet and critic, are both established writers whose works have appeared in collections and anthologies. Both are also active in promoting the arts in Gaza, but that was not enough for the British government. In an increasingly familiar scenario for artists and writers seeking to visit this country, their visa applications were also rejected.
In April 2012, a tour by Palestinian Oud player Ahmad Al-Khatib and other musicians was delayed because of visa issues raised by the UK Border Agency. Discrimination by immigration officials has also hampered other Arab artists visiting the UK, including Iraqi poet Sabreen Kadhim, and even those only in transit through Britain’s airports, such as Syrian painter Tammam Azzam.
In an age when racial and religious discrimination is increasingly — and thankfully — more unacceptable, the fact that Arab artistes can still face what looks like systematic institutionalised discrimination is a huge concern. Instead of welcoming an alleged war criminal to London, perhaps David Cameron could look into this situation and start to treat all would-be visitors to Britain with fairness and justice.