Anas Qdeh, 21, had no idea that waving the Palestinian flag and flashing the V sign is a crime for which he will be shot by the Israeli Occupation forces (IOF) which fired explosive bullets directly at his legs while he was with scores of citizens about 10 meters away from the security fence separating Khan Younis from 1948 occupied lands.
We will never give up on our land
Qdeh told the PIC reporter: “On Friday March 20, I headed to our land east of al-Sanati in Greater Abasan where many youths gather every Friday to stress that this is our land and that we will never give up on it even if Israel isolated it.
The IOF imposed a buffer zone adjacent to the security fence along the borderline with the Gaza Strip stretching for distances ranging from 300-700 meters deep into the Strip and shoots whoever enters it.
Qdeh clarified the circumstances of his injury saying: “One of my friends wanted to take a picture of me waving the Palestinian flag with the V sign while we were in our land which the IOF is preventing us from reaching in Greater Abasan east of Khan Younis. However, the IOF soldiers started shooting at us and I was hit with an explosive bullet.”
The bullet hit one of the youth’s legs, and the shrapnel scattered to hit his other leg and his cousin Fawzi Qdeh who was nearby. Anas lied on the ground profusely bleeding before he was rushed to hospital to be urgently treated.
His cousin Fawzi Qdeh, 23, said with a smile drawn on his face that a piece of shrapnel is still lodged in his left shoulder and doctors told him that it is difficult to extract it at this stage.
He clarified that he was rearing his goats in al-Santai lush fields, and when he saw the youths gathering and chanting he joined them to see what was going on and to take photos.
Every Friday, scores of Palestinians spontaneously gather near the security fence waving flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans.
RAMALLAH – Israeli forces briefly detained the governor of the Ramallah and al-Bireh district, Laila Ghannam, at the entrance of Nabi Saleh village in the northern Ramallah district on Saturday.
Soldiers reportedly threatened the governor of “direct targeting” if she continues to participate in the weekly march organized by the popular committee against settlements and the separation wall in Nabi Saleh.
Ghannam said “we will not be frightened of detention even if we are directly targeted; we will take part in the weekly march and will not be prevented from exercising our rights on our land.”
Ghannam was detained in a similar incident in February last year while travelling from Jericho to Ramallah.
She said then that her detention was a political message from the Israeli government to PA leaders that Israel wants to impose its authority in every way possible.
Earlier this month, a local activist committee reported that 11 Palestinians were injured during the weekly march when Israeli forces shot one Palestinian with live fire and beat ten others.
Three activists were also reportedly detained by Israeli forces during the march.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice called on Israel to stop construction of the separation wall within the occupied West Bank.
When completed, 85 percent of the wall will run inside the West Bank.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Photo of Nabi Saleh girl injured by Israeli occupation forces during weekly demonstration on March 21, 2015, by International Solidarity Movement.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces conducted military training exercises in the Ramallah district earlier this week, according to Israeli media.
The Israeli force’s Territorial Brigade allegedly raided the town of Birzeit, just outside the central West Bank city of Ramallah, in what was reported by Israeli news source Haaretz as “preparation for a possible escalation on the ground.”
The forces engaged in a variety of potential scenarios including confronting violent mass demonstrations, shooting attacks, and use of live fire by members of Palestinian security forces.
While Haaretz reported the exercise was planned with the intention to cause “relatively little disruption to the routine of Palestinian life,” the account included a training exercise in the home of a Birzeit University college student, whose house was searched during the night while he stood in his pajamas with an Israeli soldier.
An Israeli army spokeswoman did not have any immediate information about the training, but told Ma’an she would look into recent military training activity in the area.
Birzeit is in Area A, falling under full control of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli forces repeatedly enter Area A despite their obligation by the Oslo Accords not to do so, most often in military raids launched on a near nightly basis to detain Palestinians.
Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din reported that Israeli forces have upheld the practice of using populated Palestinian areas for Israeli military drills since at least 2007.
The group filed a complaint against the Israeli Military Advocate General’s Corps in 2013, arguing that such military exercises “sow fear and panic and violate the security and dignity of the residents,” particularly because exercises are often not announced to Palestinian locals in advance, and thus it is not always clear to nearby residents that these are mere drills.
Legal Advisor for the West Bank declared in February 2014 that military training exercises were no longer authorized to be held in Palestinian villages without giving prior notification to the civilian population, however the rights group continues to criticize the practice.
The US obsession with manipulating security narratives for political purposes has recently been manifested in Obama’s Executive Order dated 9 March, 2015 in which he declared Venezuela to be “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. Alleged threats by socialist governments against the US have been regurgitated throughout the decades – a trend which, although within a different context, has also been absorbed within Israel’s colonial narrative against Palestinians.
While the political scenario is different, both Venezuela and Palestine have faced the application of human rights discourse in an attempt to divert attention away from resistance struggles. As Venezuela battles the US-funded opposition and violence against the Bolivarian Revolution established by Hugo Chavez, Palestine is relegated to oblivion through the US’s and Israel’s collective efforts to raise security concerns above the reality of colonial surveillance and the usurpation of territory.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discussed US foreign policy with regard to Israel and Netanyahu’s refusal to consider a hypothetical Palestinian state. The article quoted US President Barack Obama as stating that: “We [the US] can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen at least in the next several years.”
Once again, Obama hailed the two-state “solution” as “the best path forward for Israel’s security, for Palestinian aspirations and for regional stability.” Prioritising Israel’s security was also amalgamated into the prospect of a possible nuclear deal with Iran: “I have confidence that if there’s an agreement, it’s going to be a good agreement that’s good for American security, and Israel’s security and the region’s security.”
Despite the alleged political differences between Obama and Netanyahu that have been cited in mainstream media, the agreement to consolidate Israel’s colonial presence in the region remains evident. The issue of “security” as narrated by both Israel and the US remains a global issue, while Palestinians struggle to make their own articulations of independence and resistance heard as their narrative is suffocated by the prioritisation of Israel’s alleged concerns; not to mention the PA’s willingness to collaborate in this endeavour.
Whatever differences might emerge between Obama and Netanyahu, it is clear that US support for a diminished Palestinian state will not veer away from the farcical Oslo Accords. Hence Obama’s insistence upon supporting an illusion of statehood that is based upon flawed notions of Palestinian independence and the further colonial entrenchment of Israel.
According to Haaretz, UN Middle East Envoy Robert Serry urged the Security Council to work upon a framework that would address Israel’s settlement expansion, as it “may kill the very possibility of reaching peace on the paradigm of two states for two peoples.”
The paradigm, however, is already flawed. Without decolonisation, Palestinians will be unable to achieve their self-determination and independence – issues that the international community is unwilling to collaborate upon due to intrinsic complicity in aiding Israel’s oppressive policies against Palestinians. It should be remembered that the PA’s repetitive efforts in presenting draft resolutions based upon compromise have been rejected by the UN Security Council. Therefore, it is unlikely that – beyond fuelling further futile rhetoric – the two-state hypothesis will serve any purpose other than providing a constant clause for Israel’s perpetual lament regarding “security concerns”.
GAZA CITY – The Hamas movement on Friday rejected a report by human rights group Amnesty International accusing the group of war crimes during last summer’s war with Israel.
While the report claims that Hamas killed both Israeli and Palestinian civilians using indiscriminate projectiles, Hamas criticized the findings as being unbalanced, adopting “the Israeli version of the story.”
In a statement, the group said that it is the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against both the ongoing Israeli occupation and Israeli military offenses.
“War crimes have clear specifications, according to the Rome Statute, that do not in any way apply to the Palestinian resistance, which was, is, and will defend its people.”
The report released by Amnesty International on Thursday said that Palestinian rocket fire during the 2014 summer war had killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than inside Israel.
The report said rocket attacks had killed six civilians inside Israel, including a child, but that other rockets aimed at Israel had fallen short inside Gaza, killing at least 13 civilians, 11 of them children.
It referred to one particular incident on July 28 in which 13 people were killed in deadly blast inside the beach-side Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.
Hamas took issue with Amnesty’s approach to the report, arguing that the rights group relied solely on Israeli information to compile the report, therefore missing a balanced review as Israel did not allow international investigation committees into Gaza.
Last summer’s war between Palestinian militant groups and Israel left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian and UN officials. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed. Over 100,000 Gazans lost their homes, and large swathes of the coastal territory were left in ruins.
Hamas said that Amnesty International’s report “purposely turned facts around to justify Israel’s crimes against humanity,” and called upon rights institutions to carry out impartial investigations into Israeli forces’ war crimes.
By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | March 26, 2015
The genocidal methods employed by Israel against the Palestinians know no boundaries. The degree to which apartheid Israel works to erase Palestine, its people, history and culture is truly extraordinary. One method in use that may not be commonly known is referred to as ‘greenwashing’.
To fully understand this concept, it’s necessary first to understand and appreciate Palestinians’ devotion to, and reliance on, their lands in general, and olive trees in particular. For millennia, Palestinians have farmed the land and supported themselves and their families in this way. The olive tree has a central role in the lives and the very existence of Palestinians.
A newly-planted olive tree takes several years to bear fruit, but most will live for hundreds of years, producing fruit. It is not unusual for such trees to live for 2,000 years. The olives are used in a variety of ways, not only for oil, but in the making of soap, hair treatment and other products, and even to light their homes. Since many Palestinians live on lands that have been in their families for countless generations, there is a strong attachment to olive trees. Some families name their olive trees, indicating the importance the trees have to them.
Israel is not unaware of the significance of olive trees to the Palestinians. The Zionist Jewish National Fund (JNF) has long sponsored a program called ‘Plant a Tree in Israel’. For a small sum, they say, anyone in the world can have a European Pine tree planted in Israel, in memory of a loved one. Who can argue with such a thing? Can anything be more benign than planting a tree? However, there are multiple problems with this:
- The trees are planted in Palestine, not Israel;
- Olive trees are destroyed so that the new trees, European Pines, can be planted, and
- The new trees help to erase Palestinian history.
European Pines are, as the name indicates, common in European countries. They look far different than olive trees, and do not thrive in Palestine as olive trees do. These ‘memorial’ trees are planted not only on former olive tree orchards which have been destroyed to make way for them, but also on bulldozed villages. When orchards are destroyed, the owners are given no compensation; they have no opportunity to appeal the decision. They can only watch in despair as their livelihood, the same means that has sustained their family for generations untold, is destroyed.
Part of Israel’s genocidal practices involves obliterating Palestine history and culture; this is done, in part, by destroying entire villages, bulldozing every building in the village. Again, there is no compensation offered, and no opportunity to appeal. Palestinians must simply quickly remove whatever they can, before their homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, stores and farms are bulldozed. Once that is done, what better way to hide any remaining evidence that this area was once full of families, working, farming, going to school, etc., then to grow a forest on the site? European Pines grow quickly, hiding the tragedies on which they are planted.
In the past few decades, at least 280,000 olive trees have been intentionally destroyed in Palestine by Israel; an estimated 250,000,000 pine trees have been planted, some financed by well-meaning but uninformed people, but most by the Israeli government. It is likely that most of the people around the world who have sent money to have them planted are unaware of their real purpose; who is going to think of genocide, when planting a tree in memory of a loved one?
Israel has many methods of genocide against the Palestinians that are not generally known in the U.S.; reporting on these atrocities seems a bit better in much of the rest of the world. Greenwashing, like many others, is insidious, and must be stopped.
With the re-election of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, the only change that can be expected in Israeli policy toward Palestine is an increase in illegal arrests, illegal settlement building, illegal land confiscation, and violence. However, a large crack in the fragile, glass jar of global support has appeared, put there by the campaign promises of Mr. Netanyahu. Even the United States, which for so long has been Israel’s willing puppet, is ‘reevaluating’ its policies toward that country, in view of Mr. Netanyahu’s assurance to Israelis that there will be no independent Palestine while he is Prime Murderer. Europe, long impatient with Israel’s continuing violation of international law, cannot be expected to sit quietly now.
What might this ‘reevaluation’ result in? The one aspect that is being whispered, almost in reverential awe, is the possibility that the U.S. may stop its blatantly unfair, constant and unjust defense of Israel at the United Nations. Any time that a resolution seeking to further the basic human rights of the Palestinians, rights that Israel deprives them of with the full support and financing of the United States, is proposed in the U.N., the U.S. vetoes it. Incredibly, it even vetoes it when it agrees with it! Consider then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s astonishing comments when vetoing a resolution criticizing illegal settlements in 2011: She said that, while the U.S. sees “the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians”. Now, perhaps, the handcuffs which the U.S. so firmly locked in place on the U.N.’s ability to do its job will be released.
What can Palestinians expect in the near term? Unfortunately, nothing good. The wheels of diplomacy turn far more slowly than those on the bulldozers that destroy Palestinian homes and olive trees. Yet there was a turning point with Israel’s savage genocide in the summer of 2014; now that Mr. Netanyahu has stated clearly his intentions regarding Palestine, the age of pretense is over. The U.S., which has never helped Palestine, can no longer hide behind the farce of negotiations. The time to act is now.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
Photo credit – International Solidarity Movement
Southampton University is hosting a conference next month which has stirred a whole raft of Zionist anger. “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” is, say its detractors, “anti-Semitic” and will, according to one British MP, “de-legitimise the existence of a democratic state”. Ah, is that the same “democratic state” wherein one-fifth of its citizens face official discrimination on a daily basis and the de-legitimisation of their culture, identity and existence in their own land?
Without wishing to pre-empt what the speakers at the conference are likely to say, this issue of “de-legitimisation” of Israel is fascinating, not least because it presupposes that the state has legitimacy in the first place. Accusations that Southampton’s examination of this topic will actually “legitimise anti-Semitism” are part of the usual smokescreen put up by the pro-Israel lobby in order to kill any discussion of Israel’s contempt for international laws and conventions.
During World War One, the British authorities, through the High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, conveyed a number of messages to Sherif Husain of Makkah promising “the Arabs” a Caliphate and the protection of the Holy Places in Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem. Post-1917 Britain’s promises began to look even less likely to be fulfilled, with the issue of the infamous Balfour Declaration promising support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…” That clause has been ignored completely ever since, with everything possible being done to expel the “non-Jewish communities” from their land in Palestine; the process continues to this day.
When Zionist leader Chaim Wiezmann arrived in Palestine in 1918, “he warned the British against the application of the democratic system as it ‘does not take into account the superiority of the Jew to the Arab…'” Wiezmann’s racism underpins the institutional racism of the “democratic state” whose existence is so beloved of the British MP noted above (and, it must be said, the prime minister, most of the British cabinet and far too many other MPs).
In the “recommendations of the King-Crane Commission with regard to Syria-Palestine and Iraq” presented to US President Woodrow Wilson in August 1919, it is stated that “a national home for the Jewish people is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish State; nor can the erection of such a Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” As such, “the extreme Zionist programme for Palestine of unlimited immigration of Jews… must be greatly modified”. A subsequent resolution of the US Congress in 1922 again reaffirmed the commitment for a “Jewish national home” not to damage the rights of the existing population of Palestine. This recurring theme has been ignored ever since.
The following year, King George V sent a message “To the people of Palestine” and, again, they were promised that the “national home for the Jewish People… will not in any way affect the civil or religious rights or diminish the prosperity of the general population of Palestine.” The man charged with passing on that message was Britain’s first High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, “a British Jew sympathetic to the Zionist cause”. Samuel distributed public lands to Jews and fixed a quota of 16,500 Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the first year of his administration, “in addition to the flourishing illegal Jewish immigrants who poured into the country with forged documents and disappeared in the Jewish settlements”. The die was cast.
The League of Nations Mandate given to Britain more or less affirmed the intention to create this by now capitalised “National Home” for Jews in Palestine. It has been said that the British government sought this “legal and ‘constitutional’ cover” in order to be able to “plant and alien entity in the heart of the Arab World for its own strategic colonial plans and needs.” When the League’s successor, the United Nations, put forward a resolution to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, it was overlooked that the UN Charter gives it no powers or right to create new countries.
“Israel is the only country in the world which was created by a ‘recommendation’ of the UN,” wrote Zafarul-Islam Khan in his book “Palestine Documents”. When, however, UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was sent to sort out the resultant “mess” he was assassinated by the Stern Gang, “a Jewish terrorist group whose leader went on to become prime minister of Israel.”
The UN Partition Plan was rejected by the Palestinians and Arab states, who argued that the League of Nations Mandate over Palestine came to an end when the organisation itself was dissolved in April 1946. On the basis of the UN Charter, the Palestinians, it was argued by Henry Cattan on their behalf, should have been granted independence; it was, he said, their “natural and alienable” right. This was rejected.
The partition plan gave most of historic Palestine to the Jewish state even though Jews owned just 6 per cent of the land; in the subsequent ethnic cleansing and so-called “war of independence”, the nascent state of Israel took even more land, having reneged on a deal that had been struck with Jordan’s King Abdullah, the present king’s grandfather.
Israel has never declared what its borders are, the only member state of the United Nations not to do so. Indeed, its membership of the UN was made conditional upon it allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their land. Not only has Israel ignored that condition (along with almost every other UN resolution ever since, despite being a creation of the international body) but it has also obliterated all trace of more than 530 towns and villages which once had a Palestinian population. A glance at the maps of “Palestine” from 1948 onwards show that it has virtually been subsumed by Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent disavowal of a two-state solution and the existence of a state of Palestine should not have been a surprise to anyone. Israel and its founding ideology of Zionism have a greed for more land in order to fulfil the aim of “Greater Israel”, from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan and even beyond. There never was any support for a state of Palestine and probably never will be, not in any meaningful sense, anyway. The people who said that the negotiations and “peace process” were a farce have been right all along.
The question remains therefore: what legitimacy does Israel have? It will be interesting to see what the conference in Southampton next month comes up with. That is, of course, if the Zionist lobby and its twisted views of free speech and democracy is unable to have it cancelled. Justice and freedom demand that they fail in their quest.
Israel’s human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory came under renewed attack by senior UN officials on Monday.
Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 Makarim Wibisono heavily criticised Israel’s assault on Gaza last year.
“The ferocity of destruction and high proportion of civilian lives lost in Gaza cast serious doubts over Israel’s adherence to international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack.”
Wibisono described the “lack of respect for human rights” as having “permeated almost every aspect of the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza”, touching upon Israel’s “excessive use of force”, as well as settlement construction, threats of “forcible transfer”, and more.
The UN official also noted that “treatment of Palestinians, including children in Israeli detention, was an issue of grave concern” and that Israel “had done too little to follow up on the report [two years ago] by the United Nations Children’s Fund” on the ill-treatment of children in military detention.
The Council was also presented with a report of the Secretary-General on Israeli settlements in the OPT and Syrian Golan, which he said continued to expand.
The Secretary-General described how “Israeli settlements and acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians continue to underpin a broad spectrum of human rights violations against Palestinians.”
The report urged Israel to “cease all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan, and implement relevant United Nations resolutions.”
A second Secretary-General report on the broader human rights situation in the OPT, covering the period from May 2013 to October 2014, further noted that settlements “undermine Palestinian territorial integrity, contrary to international law, and Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”
Obstacles to peace and to Palestinians’ enjoyment of their human rights, including their right to self-determination, must be removed. That means the ending and reversal of all settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the full lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the ending of the occupation of Palestinian land.
Mary McGowan Davis, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, gave the Council an oral update on the progression of the Commission. Davis said that Israel had not responded to a request for access, and, that the written report would be presented in June.
By Brenda Heard | Aletho News | March 25, 2015
Six months prior to the upcoming UK general election, the Board of Deputies of British Jews published its “2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto.” This forty-page document urges both existing and prospective members of the UK Parliament to support various “policy asks” and to “champion these causes.” The Manifesto was styled after a very similar one created for the 2014 EU elections. Indeed their goals appear the same: to ensure a pro-Israeli agenda in the House of Commons and beyond.
The 2015 Manifesto does include some discussion of faith-based issues, such as underscoring the need of the Jewish community in the UK to be able to provide Kosher meat and to observe the Sabbath. This discussion is a just and valid participation of citizens in their government. The problem arises, however, when the Manifesto equates Jewish and Israeli. With 58 mentions of Israel, the Manifesto, cloaked in blue and white imagery throughout, even boasts a full-page illustration of the British and Israeli flags flying together.
This self-proclaimed “voice of British Jewry” avows a “very strong attachment to the State of Israel.” Yet it is difficult to reconcile this support with such statements as “The UK Jewish community is committed to peace, security, prosperity and equality for Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Middle East” when this statement was penned less than two months after a vicious Israeli onslaught against Gaza, an indiscriminate rampage that in just fifty days killed at least 2,100 Palestinians, some 70% of whom were civilians, including 519 children. A recent report by the American National Lawyers Guild concluded that “both facts and law refute the Israeli self-defense claims” and that Israel had “collectively punished the entire civilian population.” Indeed, Israeli forces intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians, leaving them dead and wounded, homeless and devastated. There has been no peace, no security, no prosperity and no equality for the Palestinians. Not ever.
Yet the Board of Deputies of British Jews expresses unwavering support for Israel. Any resistance to Israeli policy, the Manifesto maintains, should be denounced by the world. The Manifesto offers scant attention to the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, however, noting that the EU had already classified Hamas as a terrorist organisation, one with whom the UK should “refuse to engage.” Two months after the publication of the Manifesto, the EU General Court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations, stating:
“the General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews promptly condemned this “unacceptable” ruling, and called it “an affront to the values of Europe.” The Board statement also used the opportunity to reiterate various accusations against Hamas—characterisations that have for years engendered the very hearsay that was finally rejected by the EU General Court. The Council of the EU soon appealed the court’s decision. The Board cheered the appeal and the efforts taken to ensure the appeal, stating “we commend the European Jewish Congress on all its work in ensuring that this issue remains on top of the agenda in Brussels.” The power of lobbying for Israel.
As for Lebanon, the Manifesto proudly points out that the UK led the EU designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation in 2013. But that action was not enough to appease the Board, which urges the UK to lead the campaign to expand that designation to the “entirety” of Hezbollah. The key here is that Israel and its allies have always wanted to destroy all semblance of Hezbollah, as every aspect of the group builds the pride and strength of a Lebanese populace. It is the will to resist Israeli encroachment—the entire culture of resistance in both Palestine and Lebanon—that Israel wants to break. And this is a sentiment of political Israel, not of “British Jewry.” This has nothing to do with the Jewish faith.
Rather similar to the hearsay problem cited by the EU General Court, the accusations hurled at Hezbollah are based on decades of presumptions that Hezbollah is a ruthless entity to be feared and crushed. The fervour to destroy Hezbollah has long been evident in the policies of Israel, the US and the UK. Together, these three bodies have tremendous abilities to create and to seemingly substantiate and certainly to sell the narrative that suits their own agenda. Perhaps it is time to question these fervent accusations.
The Manifesto asserts that Hezbollah has “launched attacks against European and Jewish civilians worldwide” and offers three examples to illustrate this sweeping and unsubstantiated accusation: Buenos Aires (1994), Bulgaria (2012), Cyprus (2013). The responsibility in each of these incidents is far from conclusive.
The Buenos Aires investigation was at once tainted by the immediate involvement of US and Israeli intelligence services. The case was indelibly ruined by layers of corruption within Argentinian services. Even the Guardian acknowledged the investigation to be a “complex saga of mind-boggling intrigue.” Surely the extensive research published in 2008 by historian Gareth Porter should at the very least create reasonable doubt about Hezbollah’s involvement.
Like Buenos Aires, the Bulgarian case investigation was aided by US and Israeli intelligence services. Several reports raise doubts as to the legitimacy of the judgement process, examples of which: Gareth Porter, here and here; Times of Israel ; Haaretz ; Bulgarian FM Vigenin. Despite Israel’s initial finger-pointing at Hezbollah, the investigation revealed compelling forensic evidence of an Al Qaeda-linked suspect, which was mysteriously dropped only to reveal three Lebanese dual-nationals as suspects. The investigation that struggled for answers somehow, with the help of the US and Israel, was able to link those suspects to Hezbollah. How politically convenient.
In an attempt to offer conclusive evidence of an attack-plotting Hezbollah, the Manifesto offers a fear-inspiring quotation from an allegedly self-confessed Hezbollah member who had seemingly bungled surveillance work in Cyprus and was caught out by Mossad. The man’s “handler,” who was “always wearing a mask,” wanted him to pinpoint Kosher restaurants and to track the arrival times of flights from Israel. But why risk doing such surveillance in person? This information is readily available online, even if it required some creative computing skills. The culprit’s narrative reads more like the stuff of a cheap spy novel than it does the operational expertise of a group with more than thirty-years successful experience. Even if the confessor thought he was, in his nervously ever-changing narrative, revealing some truth, who is to say that he was not led by an imposter to believe he was acting under the direction of Hezbollah, when in fact he was not? Mission not so very impossible.
Still, we are meant to believe that in planning such globally significant missions, Hezbollah was careless enough to leave a paper-trail and to choose men who were inept in their tasks and men who would break under police questioning and tell all. And we are meant to believe that the consistent aid of US and Israeli intelligence has always been strictly objective.
This article is not intended to be a full rebuttal to these specific accusations. The point remains that there is at least reasonable doubt. These accusations are on many levels fuelled by a hatred that has burned for decades, a hatred that would stop at nothing to eradicate the Islamic Resistance of Lebanon. But even if you remain unconvinced of their problematic nature, even if you cannot bring yourself to offer Hezbollah the benefit of the doubt, there remains a double standard in this “Policy Ask” from the Board of Deputies of British Jews. How in the name of civilised democracy can the British Government continue to vehemently denounce Hezbollah, yet eagerly champion an Israeli government that routinely practices that which it condemns?
The Manifesto complains, for instance, that Hezbollah arranged surveillance of Jewish people. Yet we find the following boast in the Board’s EU Manifesto:
“As part of the widespread intelligence cooperation between Israel and the EU, Israel is providing essential information to EU officials enabling them to enforce the proscription [against Hezbollah].”
So it is acceptable for Israel to spy on Lebanese, but not vice versa? The Manifesto also complains Hezbollah allegedly exploited dual-nationals and used false identity papers. Yet this technique is an integral component of Mossad, from false identities and false flags in the 1950s, to political military espionage in the 1960s, to international vigilante justice in the 1970s, to fake passports and double agent killing squads in the 1980s, to assassination attempts in the 1990s, to falsified passports and passport fraud, and assassination after assassination in the 2000s.
These activities tend to be forgotten in the wake of repeated wars on the Lebanese and Palestinians. These activities are often subjectively shrugged off as necessary handling of “legitimate” targets, perhaps with a few unfortunate mistakes. Nonetheless, they exhibit a perpetual defiance of the rule of law, a defiance that is made glaringly clear in Israel’s custom of not only indiscriminate, but also deliberate attacks on the civilian population of the Palestinian territories.
After Israel’s 2006 onslaught on Lebanon, the UN Commission of Inquiry emphasised that one third of the Lebanese casualties were children and stated:
“The Commission highlights a significant pattern of excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by IDF against Lebanese civilians and civilian objects. . . The Commission has formed a clear view that, cumulatively, the deliberate and lethal attacks by the IDF on civilians and civilian objects amounted to collective punishment.”
Likewise, after Israel’s 2009 onslaught on Gaza, the UN Fact Finding Mission concluded that:
“what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”
Following Israel’s 2014 onslaught on Gaza, an Independent Medical Fact-Finding Mission described in detail the reckless, often deliberate targeting of civilians, including the use of the “double tap”: multiple consecutive strikes on a single location that would lead to additional casualties amongst civilian onlookers and rescuers.
Perhaps as much as casualty statistics, this calculated strategy reveals not merely what the Manifesto describes euphemistically as “challenges about integration between different sectors of the population that need to be addressed,” but what one IDF Staff Sergeant described as “contempt for human life.” He was relating a similar tactic ordered by his battalion commander in the West Bank:
“You leave bodies in the field—they told me they did it a lot in Lebanon— you leave a body in the field, and you wait until they come to recover it so you can shoot at them. It’s like you’re setting up an ambush around the body. But those are things I heard about Lebanon. So it happened here [in Nablus], too.”
Contempt for human life happened. Contempt for rule of law happened. Again and again, at the hands of the “democratic state” promoted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who in the same instance would like to coax British and Europeans to condemn the very victims of that state’s crimes. While their Manifesto offers a few pages pushing Israeli politics, I offer my recently published book, Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View. Based on eight years of getting to know the people who are Hezbollah, this inside view of the Islamic Resistance of Lebanon offers the opportunity to explore for yourself the militants at the horizon. May common sense, not lobbying efforts, shape the concerns of the British people.
Brenda is the founder and director of Friends of Lebanon, UK. She is the author of numerous articles and the recently published Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View. She can be reached at email@example.com.
“It is always a meritorious deed to get hold of a Palestinian’s possessions” – The code of Jewish Law revised and updated by Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election makes him the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history. His 20% margin of victory (30 Knesset seats to 24 for his nearest opponent) underlines the mass base of his consolidation of power.
Most critical commentators cite Netanyahu’s racist pronouncements; his rejection of any two state solution and his overt appeal for a mass Jewish voter turnout to counteract the ‘droves of Arab voters’ for his electoral victories.
There is no question that the majority of Israeli Jewish leaders and parties support Netanyahu’s racist pronouncements and ‘no-state’ solution and joined him in a coalition government. But the larger issue is the positive mass response to Netanyahu’s call to action. Nearly three quarters of the electorate turned out (73%) to elect him. Moreover, Netanyahu has been elected prime minister for four terms: between 1996-99 and more recently 2009-20.
What is more, the opposition has not differed from the Netanyahu coalition regime’s Judeo-centric policies and pronouncements. In other words, ‘racist’ ideology per se is not what drives the Israeli majority to repeatedly support Netanyahu.
Jewish-centered racism is an integral and accepted part of Israel’s political culture.
Social Colonialism and Netanyahu’s Popularity
There is a more fundamental, ongoing material basis which accounts for Netanyahu’s electoral victories and mass appeal: His regime’s aggressive, perpetual and escalating seizure and dispossession of Palestinians land and his massive financing of Israel’s Jewish colonial towns.
In other words, Netanyahu’s appeal is rooted in the large-scale, long-term housing which hundreds of thousands of low and middle income Israeli Jews have obtained via his brutal land-grabbing policy. The so-called ‘settlers’ are in part armed Israeli Jewish colonists who engage in open theft and defend Netanyahu, because they materially benefit from his policies… It is not only those who have already colonized Palestinian land grabbed after 1967 – over 650,000 Jews – who vote for Netanyahu, but there are the hundreds of thousands of others in Israel, priced out of the Israeli real estate bubble, who cannot afford comfortable housing and look to the West Bank and Jerusalem for a ‘Jewish solution’ at the expense of the Palestinian inhabitants.
Racism, the foul language directed at Palestinians, which pervades Israeli-Jewish culture (‘Arab scum’ is one of many such common expressions) found expression even among the songs celebrating Netanyahu’s latest electoral victory. Racism serves to justify the land grabbing. Can the settler mind even imagine that an ‘inferior people’ should complain about land grabs by the ‘chosen people’ ? Modern educated Jewish professionals wax indignant that shepherds and olive farmers should hold back the development of glitzy shopping malls, million dollar community centers (for Jews only, of course), hospitals, sports complexes and high tech industrial parks.
And if they – ‘the Arabs’ – object to their own displacement, all the better: Their resistance provides an excellent pretext for armed Jewish settler thugs to invade a village, drive out the inhabitant and call in Netanyahu’s bulldozers, as a prelude to establishing an ‘outpost’, first steps to a new Jews only colony!
The key to Netanyahu’s big vote is that he responds favorably and forcefully in favor of new colonies. The self-styled Israeli Defense (sic) Force (IDF) is dispatched to protect the local vandals and to shoot live ammo at any rock-throwing Palestinian adolescent defending the family patrimony.
Netanyahu acts and speaks for the rapacious Jewish colonial masses. The opposition criticized Netanyahu on the basis of his neglect of socio-economic issues in Israel, especially, the soaring prices of housing in the major cities. But they failed to attract many Jewish voters because Netanyahu offers a more attractive alternative solution – the seizure of more Palestinian land and the construction of Jewish homes, instead of fighting powerful Jewish real estate moguls, land speculators and corporate landlords inside Israel.
Extremism at the Service of Jewish Housing is No Vice
For the mass of Israeli Jews, looking for a cheap, easy and government-financed road to comfortable middle class housing, seizing and occupying Palestinian property is a very attractive and viable ‘solution’.
Netanyahu’s ‘final solution’ for the Palestinians – no state – is a guarantee that land, which is seized and housing which is built, will remain under Jewish jurisdiction. The ‘final solution’ for Palestinians is the housing solution for the Jewish masses.
Under Netanyahu, from 2013 to 2015, two-thirds of new housing construction (for Jews only) has taken place on stolen Palestinian lands. His regime spends $252 million dollars a year on Jews-only colonies (‘settlements’). The Netanyahu regime spends $950 for each Jewish colonist in the West Bank, double what is invested for each Jewish Israeli resident in Tel Aviv. For the most aggressive Jewish colonists, those who destroy the productive olive groves, torch Palestinian homes and who establish ‘settler outposts’, Netanyahu spends $1,483 a year . . . with promises of roads, electricity, schools, swimming pools and air conditioning to come!
Owning the Holy City Secures the Unsavory Vote
Netanyahu’s big vote in Jerusalem can be accounted for by the fact that over 300,000 Jews have been the beneficiaries of land grabs and sparkling high-rise condos in what had been centuries-old Palestinian neighborhoods.
Netanyahu assures the Jerusalem Jews that ‘their city’ is and always will be the capital of Israel, an undivided Jewish city.
Sticking his finger in the eyes of the EU and US officials, who claim otherwise, energizes and emboldens the Jewish voters
Netanyahu’s ethnic cleansing is unrelenting: That is why he is re-elected over and over again. Israeli colonial settlements grew by over 5% each year from 2009 – 2015. There is no backtracking with Bibi Netanyahu: at this rate of ‘erasure’ all of historical Palestine will be Judified by 2050 at the latest!
Netanyahu claims that Israeli Jews must have their ‘lebensraum’ . . .
Israel and other colonial powers, like England in the 19th century and Germany in the 20th century, ‘solve’ their domestic social problems and social unrest by exporting populations across borders. The attractiveness of this solution is that it preserves the power and privileges of the domestic economic elite and provides an ‘escape valve’ for the local disaffected masses.
Emigration to settler colonies requires violent dispossession of the local inhabitants. If stiff resistance emerges – the imperial powers resort to genocide; extermination of native peoples by the English, Slavic peoples by the Germans, Palestinian Arabs and other non-Jews by the Israeli Jews.
Long past is the notion that Israeli Jews would solve their social -economic problems via a collectivist economy and popular struggle against Jewish plutocrats.
Today Jewish-Israeli millionaires flourish alongside orthodox, secular, Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Sabra and Russian emigrant colonists. The former exploits labor and markets, while the latter dispossesses Palestinians. Netanyahu has discovered a formula for uniting quarrelsome Jewish parties, leaders and voters and for winning elections.
Moreover, Netanyahu has secured the financial and political backing of numerous overseas Jewish-Zionist billionaires. He has secured the unconditional support of tens of thousands of middle class Israel-First activists, academics and professionals who operate AIPAC and dozens of similar propaganda mills in Washington and Christian Zionists throughout the US. Netanyahu’s overseas backers ensure that the US government may grumble and criticize, but will never disrupt Netanyahu’s ‘plan’ of an ethnically pure ‘Greater Israel’ with Jerusalem as its ‘eternal’ capital. Obama may whine and talk to the press about ‘reconsidering US-Israeli relations’ but he has assured Israel and Netanyahu that military and economic ties will remain intact.
Netanyahu has succeeded in setting a colonial agenda for all Israeli-Jewish parties (bar one).
He has established the fact that competitive elections and opposition political parties are compatible and even facilitate violent colonial expansion.
He has established the fact that Israel and its people embrace a racist ideology and receive the endorsement of most Western leaders, and mass media and the unconditional support of its overseas fifth column.
Israel’s project for Palestine, the creation of a single Jewish state, is far more than the demented vision of one man. It has been taken to heart by the great mass of the Israeli-Jewish people and their overseas supporters. The victory of Netanyahu and his supporters marks a historic victory for all those regimes and people across the world who believe and fight for an imperial dominated world.
Bibi’s re-election makes the prospect of a third intifada more likely than ever. And when it does come it would take a surfeit of optimism to believe that it won’t be as widely supported among the Palestinians as the First Intifada (1987-1991) or as violent as the Second Intifada (2000-2005).
The so-called international community, consisting of Washington and its European allies, has failed the Palestinian people miserably over many years by now. Its unfailing and ignoble pandering to Israel that informs the West’s entire policy with regard to the Middle East has only succeeded in creating a monster in the shape of the intransigent, rejectionist, and brutal political culture that now holds sway there. It is a culture underpinned by a flagrant disregard for international law and the human rights of some 3 million people in the occupied West Bank and 1.8 million in Gaza, which at time of writing remains a pile of rubble after Israel’s summer 2014 air, land, and sea assault in which 2100 Palestinians were slaughtered – around 500 of them children – and up to 9000 injured or maimed, many of those permanently.
Gaza remains under siege, hermetically sealed from the outside world, its people and their suffering a symbol of the hypocrisy and indifference of an international order in which Palestinian blood is not only cheap it is worthless. Israel’s exceptionalism, meanwhile, remains sacrosanct.
Nobody should be fooled by talk of a rupture between the Obama administration and Netanyahu. The President, the world knows by now, holds Bibi somewhere between disdain and disgust in his feelings towards him. The studied insult delivered to the president by the Israeli Prime Minister when he addressed the US Congress a few weeks ago, where Netanyahu attempted to undermine talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Switzerland, couldn’t have been more wounding. It undermined both the President’s authority in Washington and his influence overseas.
The Israeli election that followed was marked by the new low Netanyahu went to in order to scoop up enough votes to win. Scaremongering, apocalyptic rhetoric, and out and out racism issued from his lips in the lead up to the polls, leaving no doubt that along with the so-called Islamic State, Benjamin Netanyahu poses the gravest threat to the stability of the region.
Yet despite this – despite the phone conversation reported to have taken place between Obama and Netanyahu after the Israeli Prime Minister’s re-election, during which Obama told him that he would have to “reassess” his administration’s policy towards Israel in the wake of Netanyahu’s pre-election statements negating the prospects of a two state solution, US policy towards Israel isn’t about to undergo any meaningful reorientation anytime soon.
During an interview with the Huffington Post, Obama confirmed that despite his differences with Mr Netanyahu, US aid to Israel to the tune of £3 billion a year will not be affected. And therein lies the rub, for until there is willingness in Washington to punish Netanyahu’s and the Israeli right’s rejectionist policy with the threat to suspend aid, the chances of a shift in said policy are less than zero.
The impotence of the Obama administration has been laid bare over these past couple of weeks. The anti-Obama coalition comprising Congressional Republicans and the Likud Party knows that the worst-case scenario involves waiting out the remaining year of the first black president’s tenure. The best-case scenario, which is far more likely, will see Obama cave just as he’s caved when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians. Whether on settlements expansion, the continuing annexation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, or meaningful steps towards the realization of a two state solution, the president has been played like a violin by Netanyahu these past few years.
That said, the much vaunted two state solution is but a canard. There is no possibility of a two state solution, as Netanyahu knows full well. The idea of anything approaching a viable Palestinian state comprising what is left of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza is an insult to the collective intelligence of the Palestinian people. What we have now is a de facto single state in which 4.8 million people living in it are regarded and treated as Helots. As such, it is only when Israel is forced to comply with international law and human rights that any meaningful progress can hope to be made. That force must take the form of economic sanctions.
The only issue over which Obama will likely defeat the Israeli leader at present is Iran. The recent talks in Switzerland look to have made significant progress, which in conjunction with the unanimous aversion to the deployment of hard power against Tehran by the other nations involved in those talks, this has left Netanyahu and his Washington allies increasingly isolated as yesterday’s men.
This still leaves the Palestinians, who cannot be expected to continue to endure the injustice that defines their existence for much longer without there being an explosion. Yes, the international boycott campaign grows and has scored some notable successes over the past year, but nonetheless at this stage the Palestinians could be forgiven for considering themselves more or less abandoned to their fate.
A third intifada is heading down the track as a consequence – and when it comes neither Washington nor its allies should be in any doubt that it arrived as a direct result of their weakness, double standards, and perfidy.
The cause of the Palestinian people remains the cause of humanity in our time. All else is embroidery.
John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1
Israeli and American representatives were conspicuously absent from the UN Human Rights Council session on the Palestinian territories on Monday. The session aimed to look into the Gaza conflict which killed 2,200 people in 50 days in 2014.
“I note the representative of Israel is not present,” Council President Joachim Ruecher said as the session kicked off Monday in Geneva.
Tel Aviv refused to comment as to why its representatives did not take part.
The US, however, said that one of the points on the UN session agenda – concerning human rights violations against the Palestinians – lacked legitimacy.
“Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year when we also refrained from speaking. The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it,” Keith Harper, US ambassador to the Council, said in a statement.
He added that the United States remains “deeply troubled” by the item directed against Israel “and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item. No other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it.”
The Monday session was initially scheduled to discuss the report on the 50-day war in Gaza last year, but the incoming United Nations Human Rights Council’s chairperson, Mary McGowan Davis, said investigators needed more time to finish their report on the conflict, as Israel impeded access to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
“The commission has done its utmost to obtain access to Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. We would very much have liked to meet face to face with victims and the authorities in these places,” she said.
Davis asked for a delay until June for the commission to complete its report, due to late-breaking testimonies from witnesses and changes in leadership.
Mary McGowan Davis – a former New York State Supreme Court Justice – replaced William Schabas, a Canadian international law expert, as the Council’s chairperson after Schabas quit last month under Israeli pressure. Israel had doubts about his objectiveness, as he had prepared a legal opinion for the Palestine Liberation Organization while serving as a law professor in 2012.
Meanwhile, despite Schabas’ resignation, Israel continues to accuse the commission of bias against the Jewish state. Three years ago, Tel Aviv cut all ties with the Council after it began checks on how Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories could be violating human rights. Relations were partially restored last year.
Israel has been severely criticized for its political decisions amid the 2014 war in Gaza, which claimed the lives of more than 2,140 Palestinians – most of them civilians – and over 70 Israelis, most of whom were soldiers. The conflict ended with a truce between Israel and Hamas on August 26.
“The ferocity of destruction and high proportion of civilian lives lost in Gaza cast serious doubts over Israel’s adherence to international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack,” Makarim Wibisono, special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, told the Council. Meanwhile, armed Palestinian groups were also accused of impunity against civilians and targeting Israeli civilians to inspire aggression from Tel Aviv.
“The actions of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including indiscriminate rocket fire into civilian neighborhoods in Israel, firing from densely-populated areas, locating military objects in civilian buildings, and the execution of suspected collaborators, also constitute clear violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law,” Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said in remarks published on the UN’s website on Monday.
Relations between the Obama administration and Israel appeared to have cooled down after Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the US Congress with a speech criticizing Washington’s nuke talks with Iran. Netanyahu’s pre-election promise not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state did not help to improve the situation. After being re-elected, the PM tried to step back and said he still supported the concept of “two states.” However, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called his position “cynical” and accused him of “divisive election day tactics.”