Israeli interrogators with experience in using ‘special means’ of interrogation, which involve inflicting physical pain on detainees, have described details of their methods to an Israeli newspaper.
Reports of Israeli intelligence services using violent methods of interrogation have been around for years, even after the country ratified the UN Convention against Torture in 1991. In a landmark case in 1999, the High Court of Justice outlawed torture, but left a loophole called “necessity of defense.” This gives a waiver for cases when torture is deemed necessary to save lives or similarly dire circumstances.
Critics however say that interrogation using what Israel calls “special means” remains widespread. The UN Committee Against Torture last year cited continued complaints of torture by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) as well as Israel’s refusal to implement the convention on occupied Palestinian territories and reluctance to criminalize torture among its concerns.
So far most of the information about “special means” reported by the Israeli media has come from detainee complaints. The new expose published by Haaretz on Tuesday is based on “a conversation among interrogators in the presence of several witnesses.”
The newspapers primary source, named only as N., is described as a former senior interrogator, who had the authority to give the green light for “special means”. N. insisted that what the Israelis do to detainees is “not like Guantanamo.”
“The methods used are carefully chosen to be effective enough to break the suspect’s spirit, but without causing permanent damage or leaving any marks,” the newspaper says of his account.
Among the techniques described by N. was putting a blindfold on a person and slapping him. The slapping is meant “to hurt sensitive organs like the nose, ears, brow and lips.” The blindfold is needed to prevent the detainee from seeing a slap coming, so that he wouldn’t “move his head in a way that results in vital organs being injured,” according to N.
Another technique is to force the subject into an extended “wall sit” – bending their knees halfway, only supported by their back pressed to a wall.
“If the suspect falls, the interrogators put him back in position, and they keep him there even if the suspect cries, begs or screams,” the newspaper said.
Another variant is having the suspect sit on a backless stool with his arms and legs cuffed. The interrogator then forces him to lean back and remain in the stress position. The subject would be forced to use his stomach muscles to avoid falling. Sometimes the interrogator would force the detainee to raise his hands shoulder height while they’re handcuffed behind his back.
The newspaper said the interrogators were aware of the discomfort and pain caused by “special means” and some even tried the stress positions themselves to assess how bad they are.
Other methods discussed included shouting at the detainee from a close distance while grabbing him by the clothes.
Another interrogator said that while normally a permission to use “special means” from a senior official was needed, in urgent cases it would not be required. For instance, an interrogator could make the call in case of an imminent suicide bombing.
The debate in Israel over use of torture was reinvigorated in 2015 during an investigation into arson attacks against Palestinian homes, allegedly committed by Jewish radicals. Some of the suspect complained of being subjected to torture by investigators.
It seemed to come almost out of nowhere. The United States usually protects Israel from critical resolutions at the UN Security Council. However, in a dramatic move, the US abstained and a resolution criticizing recent settlement activity was passed by the 15-member body.
But this was not the end. John Kerry, Obama’s former Secretary of State, gave a lengthy address a few days later. Kerry’s speech was not so different from the statements of previous leaders, both Democrats and Republicans. He defended Israel’s existence, and denounced almost all forces actively opposing Israel.
However, Kerry harshly criticized specific Israeli policies. While Kerry’s speech defending the UN abstention uttered the standard, mildly critical, pro-Israeli talking points, it did contain some words that, taken out of context and spread throughout the internet, could and did indeed make a lot of Israelis and Zionists very angry. The most quoted one was: “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both.”
Kerry was alluding to the fact that if Palestinians are absorbed into Israel in a “one state solution” but Israel remains a “Jewish State” this will not be democratic. According to Kerry, under such circumstances Palestinians would be second class citizens, i.e. non-Jews in a Jewish state.
Immediately, Kerry’s speech was decried by Israelis. Netanyahu fired back, as did the entire pro-Israeli blogosphere. The Republican and Likud Party aligned voices escalated the shrill accusations that Obama was a secret Muslim, a member of the Muslim brotherhood, a terrorist sympathizer, a Neo-Nazi, a Communist, and everything else he has been called for 8 years straight.
Meanwhile, Israel did not stop its settlement activity, and was not really affected at all by the resolution. The billions of dollars in US aid to Israel continued. Obama has left the office on January 20th, and is now replaced by Donald Trump, who claims to be more pro-Israel than Obama. The UN Security Council is not taking any specific action to halt the settlement activities condemned in its resolution.
Nothing really changed, but a lot of dramatic, heated words were exchanged between the USA and its closest Middle Eastern ally. Why did this happen?
Napoleon & Obama: “I Come to Restore Your Rights”
In 1798, the French militarist Napoleon Bonaparte, who seized power in the aftermath of the revolution and eventually became Emperor, set out to conquer Egypt. He issued a proclamation saying:
People of Egypt! You will be told by our enemies that I am come to destroy your religion. Believe them not. Tell them I am come to restore your rights, punish your usurpers, and revive the true worship of Mohammed. Tell them that I venerate, more than do the Mamelukes, God, his prophet, and the Koran.
Among the people of Egypt and Syria, as well as the entire Arab world, there was deep hatred for the British and Ottoman empires, who functioned as Napoleon’s rivals. Napoleon hoped that he could convince Muslims throughout the region to support him, and on this basis that he could defeat their hated colonial enemies, and conquer the region for France.
Napoleon was lying. He was not an adherent of the Islam faith. Some speculate that he may have been a freemason, and became familiar with the Koran and Islam due to their inclusion in Masonic rituals. Regardless, years later, Napoleon explained the proclamation to his fellow French Christians saying:
A change of religion, inexcusable for the sake of private interests, becomes comprehensible when immense political results are involved…. Do you think the Empire of the East and perhaps the subjugation of the whole of Asia was not worth a turban and some loose trouser? The state of feeling in the army was such that it would have undoubtedly lent itself to a joke.
Barack Obama, like Napoleon Bonaparte, is not a Muslim. As offensive and heretical as some evangelical Christians and Catholics may consider the teachings of the United Church of Christ and Reverend Jeremiah Wright, they are not Islamic in any conceivable way. Barack Obama was married in a church. He has been photographed drinking wine and eating hot dogs.
Obama’s middle name is “Hussein.” As a child, while living in Indonesia, he attended an Islamic elementary school. Obama apparently did meet with the Palestinian-American professor Edward Said. With all of this to cite as evidence, the allegation that he was a “secret Muslim” has not vanished.
The endless, semi-hysterical attacks on Obama for having alleged links to Islam certainly had an impact outside of US borders. This impact may not have been accidental. Writing in the Atlantic Monthly in 2007, the self-described conservative Andrew Sullivan considered the colorful background of the future president to be an asset:
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it’s central to an effective war strategy… The next president has to create a sophisticated and supple blend of soft and hard power to isolate the enemy, to fight where necessary, but also to create an ideological template that works to the West’s advantage over the long haul. There is simply no other candidate with the potential of Obama to do this.
Sullivan’s widely read and cited article said:
If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
The USA certainly had a lot of credibility to regain as the Bush era came to an end. The unilateral invasion of Iraq had been widely opposed, not just in the Middle East, but even among NATO states. Bush had gone as far as to say “this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.” The word “crusade” doesn’t exactly bring up pleasant feelings among Muslims around the world.
Meanwhile, the federal agencies of the United States flew into a very Islamophobic mode after the 9/11 attacks. The leaders of a religious charity known as the “Holy Land Foundation” were imprisoned for nothing other than running soup kitchens for Palestinian children. Mosques across the United States were then and continue to be widely surveilled.
His Middle Name is “Hussein”
Voices like Andrew Sullivan’s hoped that Obama’s background could restore the credibility of the USA in the eyes of Muslims. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. What came about in the first term of the Obama administration? In 2011 the world watched the “Arab Spring.” Across the Middle East, impoverished people rose up against their governments.
Analysts often argue that the Arab Spring was spawned by the global financial crisis and the regional drought. Throughout the Arab world, crops failed, water was scarce, and impoverished people piled into the cities facing dire economic conditions. The uprisings that eventually erupted were predictable. Such conditions are known to spark unrest.
But the world did not see a repeat of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, where the Persians toppled a western puppet dictator under the slogans of “Not Capitalism but Islam” and “War of Poverty Against Wealth.” The western capitalist apparatus was ready. The Arab Spring was immediately redirected to serve their ends. Social media outlets based in western countries, and the global apparatus of pro-American NGOs swung into action.
With a commander-in-chief who most people in the Middle East had a favorable opinion of, the forces of global power were able to ensure that the revolt did not become an uprising against western capitalism. No new anti-imperialist regimes were born. Rather, the opposite happened.
In Egypt, the pro-US regime of Hosni Mubarak fell, but what replaced it? First, Egypt elected Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the CIA-linked Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi was then toppled by a military coup d’etat. Now General Sisi, a top military leader under Mubarak, is in power.
The US backed Saudi regime was allowed to crush the uprisings within its own borders. Ayatollah Nimr Al-Nimr, a Shia cleric who led protests demanding civil liberties and religious freedom in the country was eventually beheaded for his role in the Arab spring. Saudi troops poured into Bahrain to keep the monarchy in power and crush the Shia majority that demanded their rights. In the aftermath of the revolt, Yemen staged a sham election in which Mansour Hadi, a Saudi puppet, was the only candidate on the ballot. Yemen is now torn apart by war, as many Yemenis reject Hadi’s pro-Saudi and Pro-US regime.
The energy and momentum of the Arab Spring, amplified and directed by the western TV networks along with Twitter and Facebook, went toward targeting two anti-imperialist, socialist governments. Gaddafi’s Libya had the highest life expectancy in Africa. Syria’s Bashar Assad presides over a centrally planned economy, supports Palestinian resistance, and is aligned with Iran, Russia and China.
In both Libya and Syria the United States began actively working to transform the Arab Spring into a successful regime change operation. Though the faces promoted on western television were often middle class, secular young people who dreamed of American consumerism while mouthing words about “democracy,” the brute force behind the Syrian and Libyan “revolutions” were religious extremists.
Based from the Syrian and Libyan countryside, forces linked to Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood were joined by many foreign Jihadist fighters from throughout the region. The forces who toppled the Libyan government and continue to fight against the Syrian Arab Republic are dominated by those who adhere to Wahabbism, the ideology of Saudi Arabia and Osama Bin Laden. These deeply religious forces, working to topple anti-imperialist governments, happily took guns and funding from a country led by a man who went to a Muslim school, met with Edward Said, and whose middle name happened to be “Hussein.”
Imagine what could have happened in the region, if the wave of uprisings had taken place while George Bush “the crusader” was still in office. Obama’s presidency played a decisive role in manipulating and redirecting the events of 2011.
Netanyahu vs. Obama: A Made For TV Drama
It is not uncommon for celebrities to clash with each other in the public arena. Often, these fights are not spontaneous, but intentionally provoked, or even planned, in order to generate publicity for both parties involved. For example, long before running for President, Donald Trump captured the attention of news headlines by having a spat with TV personality Rosie O’Donnell.
The perceived tension between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama has the looks of a “made for TV drama.” It is a prolonged public spat that is mutually beneficial to both parties. Do they actually dislike each other when the cameras are not rolling? Who knows.
While Obama and Netanyahu have butted heads, the US aid to Israel has not decreased or been cut off. Under Obama, the United States has worked to topple the Baathist Syrian government, one of Israel’s primary regional opponents. Israel has supported the regime change efforts with airstrikes in Syria targeting the anti-ISIS fighters of the Hezbollah organization.
The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, championed loudly from the White House, toppled the Islamic Socialist government that had a long record of opposing Israel and arming Palestinian resistance.
Obama boasts that he has ended Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program, and is making Israel safer from a supposed Iranian threat in the process. While there is occasionally criticism of Israel’s settlement activities, they continue unabated.
However, Obama’s clash with Netanyahu plays well for him, and the United States, in the Arab world. Throughout the Middle East, Netanyahu and Tel-Aviv are the most hated villains. Obama’s trading of nasty words with Israeli leaders raises the credibility of the United States. It gives the United States a kind of distance from Israel on the international stage, while US support remains key and keeps flowing in without pause. Obama’s Department of Justice has even conducted raids against pro-Palestinian activists.
Netanyahu benefits from the spat as well. Fear and hatred of Palestinians, Muslims, and Arabs has been key in securing the recent electoral victories of the Likud Party. If Netanyahu looked like he was friendly toward someone who attended an Islamic elementary school, or had the middle name “Hussein” this would discredit him in the eyes of his base.
Despite the fact that Israel receives billions of dollars from the United States, as well as weapons and other assistance, Netanyahu looks as if he is not afraid to bite the hand that feeds him. Fighting with Obama allows Netanyahu to look like a brave, fearless, true believer in the Zionist cause.
“Don’t Forget About Obama!”
Though many Israelis and supporters of Israel in the United States dislike Donald Trump, he has presented himself during the campaign as a pro-Israeli hardliner. His speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee was a repetition of standard pro-Israeli talking points, saying:
“When you live in a society where the firefighters are the heroes, little kids want to be firefighters… In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews.”
Trumps statements about banning Muslim immigration haven’t exactly been popular in the Arab world. Statements like “Islam hates us” don’t go over so well either.
The fear among certain forces in the United States is that Trump could alienate the many Muslim allies of the United States in the Arab world. Wall Street oil companies make lots of money from the various autocratic regimes in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arab, UAE, and elsewhere. Pentagon weapons manufacturers also make lots of money from selling their hardware to these regimes.
Like Napoleon’s strategy in Egypt, efforts to portray Obama as sympathizer with Muslims and Arabs haven’t exactly worked out so well. While the elites within the US aligned Gulf States and some of extremists forces who have poured into Syria have bought into the idea Obama is a trustworthy ally, many people in the region have not. The Syrian government has not fallen. Iran has not really been weakened.
The economic problems and other factors that fueled the discontent of 2011 have not vanished. There is no guarantee that the oil bankers of the United States will keep their grip over this vastly important territory. Certain sectors harbor real fear that Trump’s brash tone could now ruin everything. [emphasis added]
The last minute moves at the UN Security Council, publicly invoking Israel’s wrath, was a message to the Arab world. It was a desperate, final attempt to say: “Whatever Trump does, don’t forget about Obama! Not all Americans are hardline supporters of Israel! Not everyone in Washington hates the Arabs! Muslims of the world, keep trusting us, don’t turn against America!”
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College.
… and so does the Palestinian leader (again)
The Middle East peace conference in Paris was the usual farce with Israel and Palestine, the subjects under discussion, both staying away. Netanyahu called the talks “useless” and Abbas was off opening an embassy in Vatican City and meeting the Pope while 70 nations gathered to take part in another peace pantomime. It ended with a pathetic declaration urging both sides to “officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution”.
Is this what the much-trumpeted 2-state solution looks like?
Everyone knows Netanyahu and the Israeli regime have never wanted peace. Land-grabbing and ethnic cleansing is what they do, so the jackboot of Israeli occupation must remain firmly on the Palestinians’ neck. He was bound to treat any peace conference with utmost contempt. And Abbas’s crass absence was not only another slap in the face to all who sympathise with the Palestinians’ plight and to the millions of campaigners who fight for their cause but also another disservice to the Palestinian people.
I call the conference declaration “pathetic” because no-one in the international community, as far as I’m aware, has actually told us what the 2-state solution they keep banging on about will look like – or even what they think it should look like. No-one, that is, since Ehud Barak and his so-called “generous offer” to the Palestinians in the summer of 2000.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22% of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22% and recognise Israel within ‘Green Line’ borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line established after the Arab-Israeli War). Conceding 78% of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishingly big-hearted concession on their part.
But it wasn’t enough for greedy Israel. Barak’s “generous offer” demanded the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22% Palestinian remnant. It was obvious on the map that those settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “Temporary Israeli Control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control probably indefinitely. The generous offer also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian State. What nation in the world would accept that? But the ludicrous reality of Barak’s 2-state solution was cleverly hidden by propaganda spin.
Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. The ugly facts of the matter are well documented and explained by organisations such as Gush Shalom, yet the Israel lobby’s stooges continue to peddle the lie that Israel offered the Palestinians a generous peace on a plate. Is Barak’s crazed vision of the 2-state solution the one the 70 nations have in mind?
Britain’s stance on Palestinian independence has always been nonsensical. I remember former foreign secretary Alistair Burt announcing that we would not recognise a Palestinian state unless it emerged from a peace deal with Israel. London “could not recognise a state that does not have a capital, and doesn’t have borders.”
Where did he suppose Israel’s borders are? And is Israel within them? Where did he think Israel’s capital is? And where did Israel claim it to be? In other words, is Israel where Israel is supposed to be? If not, how could he possibly recognise it let alone align himself with it? “We are looking forward to recognising a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations on settlements because our position is again very straightforward: We wish to see a two-state solution, a secure and recognized Israel side by side with a viable Palestine, Jerusalem as a joint capital and agreed borders,” Burt said.
Negotiations about illegal settlements? Since when did Her Majesty’s Government favour negotiating with the perpetrator of criminal acts and crimes against humanity? At around the same time Hillary Clinton had rejected in advance an anticipated Palestinian bill in the UN against unlawful Israeli settlement building. According to her, Israel’s illegal squats could be resolved through “negotiations” between Palestinians and Israelis and to hell with international law. Burt embraced this “solution” instead of enforcing international law and upholding justice, as he should have. He co-operated with the most dishonest peace brokers on the planet to revive discredited, lopsided direct talks. It’s been the same story with every other UK foreign secretary.
Resolution 242, a work of evil
So why, after decades, is the Palestinian homeland still under foreign military occupation and total blockade when international law and the United Nations have said it shouldn’t be?
And why are the Palestinians being pressured – yet again – to submit to “direct negotiations”, victim versus armed invader haggling and pleading for their freedom?
The answer appears to lie in the hash made of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967. Here is what it said:
The UN Security Council…
Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,
Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,
- Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories [i..e. Gaza, West Bank including Jerusalem, and Golan Heights belonging to Syria] occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;
- Affirms further the necessity
(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;
- Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;
- Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.
It was adopted unanimously.
Article 2 of the UN Charter states, among other things, that all Members “shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered” and “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.
Nothing too difficult there for men of integrity and goodwill, one would have thought. But after 49 years nothing has happened to give effect to the Charter’s fine words or to deliver the tiniest semblance of peace, or allow the Palestinians to live in security free from threats or acts of force. Israel still occupies the Holy Land and the Golan Heights with maximum brutality while law and justice, the cornerstones of civilisation, have evaporated.
This dereliction of duty began with careless use of language – or more exactly the deliberate non-use of a certain word, the “the” word which should have been inserted in front of “territories” but was purposely omitted by the schemers who drafted the resolution.
Behind the scenes there was no intention of making Israel withdraw
Arthur J. Goldberg, US Ambassador to the UN in 1967 and a key drafter of Resolution 242, stated:
There is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from the (or all the) territories occupied by it on and after June 5, 1967. Instead, the resolution stipulates withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. And it can be inferred from the incorporation of the words ‘secure and recognized boundaries’ that the territorial adjustments to be made by the parties in their peace settlements could encompass less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories.
According to Lord Caradon, then the UK Ambassador to the UN and another key drafter:
The essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognised is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognised boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognised…. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary….
He later added:
It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967… That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to.
Professor Eugene Rostow, then US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, had also helped to draft the resolution. He was on record in 1991 that Resolution 242:
… allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ it occupied during the Six-Day War – not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable Armistice Demarcation Lines (the ‘Green Line’).
Israel could thus keep the territory it seized as long as the Zionist regime avoided making peace. Even if it did make peace, it could keep some unspecified territory, presumably what it had stolen in terror raids before the 1967 war.
In the meantime Arab leaders had picked up on the fact that the all-important “the” word in relation to territories had been included in other language versions of the draft resolution (e.g. the French document) and it was therefore widely understood to mean that Israel must withdraw from all territories captured in 1967. Unfortunately, under international law, English is the official language and the English version ruled.
For Israel, Abba Eban said:
As the representative of the United States has said, the boundaries between Israel and her neighbors must be mutually worked out and recognized by the parties themselves as part of the peace-making process. We continue to believe that the States of the region, in direct negotiation with each other, have the sovereign responsibility for shaping their common future. It is the duty of international agencies at the behest of the parties to act in the measure that agreement can be promoted and a mutually accepted settlement can be advanced. We do not believe that Member States have the right to refuse direct negotiation….
Eban seemed to forget that Israel was in breach of international law.
‘Acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible’, right?
So here was Israel, aided by the devious drafters, pressing for direct negotiations as far back as 1967 and sensing that the defenceless and impoverished Palestinians under their heel would be easy meat.
But the Russian, Vasily Kuznetsov, wasn’t fooled.
In the resolution adopted by the Security Council, the ‘withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ becomes the first necessary principle for the establishment of a just and lasting peace…. We understand the decision taken to mean the withdrawal of Israel forces from all, and we repeat, all territories belonging to Arab States and seized by Israel following its attack on those States on 5 June 1967.
Kuznetsov dismissed Goldberg’s border-adjustment argument, saying that the clause concerning the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition trumped any consideration for secure boundaries. He argued that the security needs of Israel “cannot serve as a pretext for the maintenance of Israel forces on any part of the Arab territories seized by them as a result of war.”
Your average native English speaker would not have been fooled by the missing word either. To the man on the Clapham omnibus “withdrawal from territories occupied in the recent conflict” plainly means “get the hell out of the territories you occupied in the recent conflict”.
US Secretary of State Dean Rusk writing in 1990 remarked:
We wanted [it] to be left a little vague and subject to future negotiation because we thought the Israeli border along the West Bank could be rationalized; certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties…. But we never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the June 1967 war. On that point we and the Israelis to this day remain sharply divided…. I’m not aware of any commitment the United States has made to assist Israel in retaining territories seized in the Six-Day War.
And how had UN members so conveniently forgotten about the Palestinian lands seized and ethnically cleansed before 1967? You know, those important Arab towns and cities and hundreds of villages that had been allocated to a future Palestinian state in the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan but were seized by Jewish terrorist groups and Israel militia while the ink was still drying on the document? Had they also forgotten that the Palestinians were never consulted on the UN’s decision to hand over their lands to aliens mainly from Europe and with no ancestral links to the ancient Holy Land? The borders set down in the 1947 Partition and incorporated into UN Resolution are certainly “recognised” because they were duly voted on and accepted even by the Zionists and their allies, were they not?
As everyone knows, Israel has never declared its borders nor respected the UN-specified borders. It is still hell-bent on thieving lands and resources, so no border is ever secure enough or final. Of course, a Palestinian state, if or when it emerges, is equally entitled to secure borders but the Israeli regime is unlikely to agree. It wants total control. So going down the talks path again and again is fruitless. Borders should be imposed by the proper international bodies and enforced. That has to be the start-point. Adjustments can then be made with mutual consent once Israeli troops are no longer in occupation.
Incidentally, Article 33 of the UN Charter says that parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger international peace and security, shall first of all seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
Should the parties fail to settle it by those means Article 37 says they must “refer it to the Security Council. If the Security Council deems that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, it shall decide whether to take action under Article 36 or to recommend such terms of settlement as it may consider appropriate.”
Article 36 declares that “in making recommendations under this Article the Security Council should also take into consideration that legal disputes should as a general rule be referred by the parties to the International Court of Justice in accordance with the provisions of the Statute of the Court.”
Isn’t the Israeli occupation a legal dispute? How much longer must we wait to see the Charter complied with? Which brings us back to the question: why wasn’t Abbas at the conference batting for Palestine’s freedom and a just solution based on law? His presence would have put Netanyahu on the wrong foot.
I wrote a post about the killing of Musa Abu Qilyan in which I presented both the claim of the Border Police that he killed a policeman in a deliberate terror attack; and also presented video which, as I wrote, failed to support the police claims (though it didn’t refute them). Now, Ronnie Barkan has provided a close video analysis of two separate versions of the video, one distributed by the police and another slightly longer one which surfaced on Facebook. Ronnie shows (be patient in watching the various iterations of the video clips he presents) incontrovertibly that the Police video was subtly and slightly edited, both removing the first shot a Border Policeman fired at the car, and also speeding up the video to make the vehicle appear to be going faster than it was. You may read an alternate version, which essentially agrees with Ronnie’s work, at 972.
What does all this mean? First, that when Abu Alqilyan’s vehicle drove along the road it presented no threat whatsoever to the police personnel. It was driving slowly and deliberately. As it proceeds, a police officer runs toward it firing. Three or four shots are fired. The first shot is fired while the car is driving quite slowly and seemingly under the driver’s control. Only after those shots are fired does the vehicle speed up, lose control and hit another police officer standing near the road. Clearly, the driver had been fatally struck by these bullets before he killed the officer.
In other words, the police acted recklessly and with total disregard even for their own safety. They essentially murdered the Bedouin driver when he posed no threat. After he was incapacitated, his vehicle struck and killed the other officer. He was not intending to harm anyone. Ergo, he was not a terrorist. It’s certainly possible he was a supporter of the Islamic Movement, but certainly not of ISIS as Israeli Jewish politicians have claimed. Further, being an Islamist is not the same as being a terrorist.
The only possibility I can think of to support the police version is perhaps an officer had tried to stop him at some point before the drone footage began. He may have seemed to defy an order to stop and proceeded on his path, which led the officer to fire. But you can be sure that if such a thing happened, the drone footage authenticating it would’ve been released.
Further, how can a major police action at which physical altercations and protest is expected not secure the perimeter of vehicle and pedestrian traffic? How could the police have allowed any vehicles to approach them as this man did? Why weren’t there roadblocks preventing access? To me, this appears to be a botched Border Police operation for which they have only themselves to blame.
Finally, this is yet another example of fraud and mendacity on the part of the Israel’s most vicious, brutal and violent police authorities. Not only are Border Police the most racist, they are also the mostly likely to lie and cover up their errors, as they have here. It’s a shameful episode which should be met with skepticism and derision by the Israeli media and the Israeli public. However, Israeli Jews are all too quick to swallow the lies fed to them by authorities. Once they have drunk the Koolaid, counter-evidence like this threatens their equanimity and is usually ignored or dismissed.
In my earlier post I debated the meaning of “terrorism” in the Israeli context and argued that dispossessing the Bedouin as Israel is doing, along with deadly violence like this constitutes state terror. This new evidence confirms there was no terror on the part of the Bedouin at all. The only terror was that of the forces of the State. If I were Israeli, I would hang my head in shame.
BETHLEHEM – A Palestinian rights group slammed on Wednesday the killing of a Palestinian teen by Israeli forces earlier this week, calling the case an “extrajudicial killing” and demanding that Israeli authorities open an investigation into the case.
Qusay al-Umour, 17, was killed during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth in the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
Video of the moments immediately following al-Umour being shot by Israeli forces has elicited a strong emotional response, as it showed Israeli soldiers roughly carrying the teenager’s limp body by his dangling arms and legs.
Legal NGO BADIL said in a statement on Wednesday that the footage provided “evidence contradicting Israeli accounts and raises concerns about the adherence of the Israeli forces to the central tenets of international law.”
The group quoted Hisham Abu Shaqra, the Palestinian journalist who recorded the video, who said that al-Umour was not a threat to Israeli forces when he was fatally shot — contradicting claims by the Israeli army, which said that the Palestinian youth was the “main instigator” of the clashes that day.
“Qusay was sitting between olive trees, you know how guys are, he was just watching the soldiers… Only a few seconds after (I was) looking at him the Israeli forces shot him three or four times,” Abu Shaqra said.
“The soldier who shot him was not in danger at the time of the shooting, in fact, he was secured and safe,” he added. “First the (Israeli military) jeeps started coming closer and closer [to the youth] and then this specific soldier, the sniper with the Ruger rifle, also started coming closer. I remember he was by the third jeep, then I saw him by the second jeep and he was by the first jeep when he shot Qusay.”
The eyewitness accounts of the incident, coupled with the audiovisual evidence, have led BADIL to conclude that “whether he was throwing stones at the soldiers or not, al-Umour could not have presented a lethal threat to the well-protected Israeli border police from a distance of around 100 meters, and the use of live ammunition against him was therefore unjustified.”
The NGO denounced the “complete lack of consideration for (al-Umour)’s human dignity or his traumatic injuries.”
The group also slammed statements by Israeli police to Ma’an saying that they were “not aware” of any official investigation being carried out by Israeli authorities into al-Umour’s killing.
“Israel continuously fails to investigate such actions or to prosecute members of its forces, which is the natural result of a growing culture of impunity that exists within the Israeli military,” BADIL wrote. “This is why recent Israeli actions towards Palestinian civilians cannot be considered as isolated incidents, but rather as the violent manifestations of a policy of lawlessness in which Israeli forces operate in repeat, and direct contravention of international law absent effective accountability.”
The group therefore “demands that a comprehensive and independent investigation be launched into this killing as a matter of great urgency in order to identify those responsible and to hold them accountable to the full extent of international law.”
Al-Umour is the fourth Palestinian to have been confirmed killed by Israeli forces in 2017. Two more Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the two days since.
Five Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in 2017.
In 2016, Ma’an recorded the deaths of 112 Palestinians, 15 Israelis, and three foreign nationals.
Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their excessive use of force against Palestinians, including minors, during incidents which could have been handled without the use of deadly violence.
NEGEV – The Joint List, which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, accused Israeli police of spreading misinformation to Israeli media regarding an alleged vehicle attack Wednesday morning in the Negev, as new video footage emerged further contradicting the Israel police’s version of events.
The Joint List’s statement argued that Israeli police lied in their claim that a Palestinian Bedouin deliberately rammed his car into officers during a raid to demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, in order to distract from Israel’s campaign to establish Jewish-only towns “on the ruins of Bedouin villages.”
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said that during a raid of the slain Palestinian’s home, police found three copies of a Hebrew-language newspaper from 2015 with the headline: “Isis bomb that took down a plane,” suggesting that the old newspapers were evidence that the man carried out a terror attack.
Rosenfeld added in his statement that Israeli police also detained and were questioning the son “of the terrorist” as part of the investigation.
However, numerous eyewitnesses reported that Israeli police fired at the Palestinian Bedouin, identified as Yaqoub Abu al-Qian, while he was driving, which caused him to spin out of control and crash into Israeli officers, killing one policeman. Family members also firmly denied Abu al-Qian intended to carry out an attack.
Meanwhile, new Israeli police footage published by Israeli daily Haaretz, which they said was most likely from a police a helicopter hovering above the scene, appeared to show police officers shooting at al-Qian as he was driving at a very slow pace, and only several seconds after the gunfire does his car appear to speed up, eventfully plowing through police officers. It is unclear if the drive sped up intentionally.
Hours later, as Israeli bulldozers began razing the homes to the ground, renewed clashes erupted in the village.
Umm al-Hiran is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state, and more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.
The unrecognized Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the state of Israel.
Now more than 60 years later, the villages have yet to be recognized by Israel and live under constant threats of demolition and forcible removal.
The Joint List’s statement described the actions by Israeli authorities as “a terrorist and bloody invasion that brings to mind the scenes of displacement and destruction of Arab villages during the Nakba in 1948.” Some 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced during the creation of the state of Israel in what Palestinians call the Nakba — “catastrophe” in Arabic.
The statement described how Israeli forces besieged Umm al-Hiran en mass and fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets, “terrifying residents who took to the streets to defend their homes.”
Israeli police have denied to Israeli media that rubber-coated steel bullets were used to suppress the clashes, which are used by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. Some news sites said police were in fact firing sponge-tipped bullets, with journalists pointing out they are just as lethal as rubber bullets.
“Police behaved as in a battlefield, and as a result of the clashes, Yaqoub Abu al-Qian fell a martyr, and dozens of others, including MK Ayman Odeh were injured.”
The Joint List said that the “crime in Umm al-Hiran” was in line with the “dangerous escalation” of anti-Palestinian policies within the “extremist” Israeli government.
“The (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu government has effectually declared a military war against our people in the 1948 area,” the statement said, referring to lands that were declared part of the Israeli state in 1948.
“The war started with demolitions in Qalansawe, and it is continuing today in Umm al-Hiran.”
The Joint List denied the “false narrative,” in which Israeli police claimed that Abu al-Qian carried out a deliberate car ramming attack, which left an Israeli police officer dead. Israeli police also said they were investigating to see whether or not the slain Bedouin was “influenced” by the so-called Islamic State.
Numerous eyewitness accounts said that al-Qian lost control of his vehicle after he was shot, causing him to crash into Israeli police.
“Israeli police are trying to cover up the crime of displacing and uprooting a whole town and killing an unarmed Arab citizen through an incitement campaign against all Arab citizens, by spreading misinformation that a police officer was killed in a terrorist, ISIS-like attack.”
The statement urged Hebrew-language news outlets to ensure that they work “professionally” and fact-check their information before they publish their news reports.
“When media outlets take the information they receive from Israeli police as facts, they in fact partake in incitement against Arab citizens,” the statement argued.
Human rights organization Adalah also said Wednesday that they strongly objected to Israeli police’s version of events in Umm al-Hiran according to witness accounts.
They group said the police statements, “reflects the Israeli police’s culture of lying,” and referred to recent accusations by Israeli authorities claiming that a string of wildfires were deliberate arson attacks committed by Palestinians, saying that the claims had “not been proven at all. Not one person has been convicted based on these accusations.”
Rights groups have claimed that demolitions in unrecognized Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.
According to Adalah, families of the Abu al-Qian tribe were initially expelled from their lands in Khirbet Zubaleh in 1948 after they had cultivated the area for generations, and were eventually forced to move to Umm al-Hiran by an Israeli military order.
“Despite this, the state has not legally recognized the village to this day. As a result of the decision to establish the Israeli Jewish town of Hiran over the Bedouin village, the Israel Land Authority (ILA) demanded to expel them again, to the government-planned town of Hura.”
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the Israeli government approved the construction of the new Jewish community of Hiran in November 2013 to be built on the land of Umm al-Hiran. Village residents lost the legal defenses they mounted, including an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, and were unable to prevent the demolition of the village.
“Palestinians from Umm al-Hiran have Israeli passports and citizenship, yet the Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing, colonization, forcible displacement, and apartheid affect them all the same,” Maya al-Orzza, a legal researcher at NGO BADIL said Wednesday.
“These policies do not only happen in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also inside Israel against Palestinians,” al-Orzza said, noting that Palestinians make up some 20 percent of Israeli citizens.
Commenting on a peace conference held in Paris on Sunday which reaffirmed international commitment to the two-state solution and the cessation of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory, al-Orzza said that “by focusing on the one- or two-state discussion, or only on Israeli actions in the occupied territory, the international community is disregarding the ongoing policies of ethnic cleansing that Israel is implementing against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
When is “terror,” terror? When is it something else? Who defines what is “terror?”
Tonight’s post will be difficult to write because it will try to parse the linguistic thicket defining “terrorism” in the Israeli context. Most of us understand terror as an act of violence by individuals or groups aggrieved for their treatment at the hands of others. In some cases, the target is a nation which rules over them. In others, terror is used to eliminate perceived political, religious or ethnic enemies.
In Israel, terror is used by both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Among Israeli Jews there is ad hoc terror perpetrated by settlers. But there is also state-sponsored terror, which is based on historical policies of theft, oppression, ethnic cleansing, assassination and murder. Israelis seem to think that states, or at least their state, are outside the definition of “terror” since they’re not individual actors or oppressed groups. This simply isn’t the case. In Israel’s case, its state policies are terror because they employ mass violence to uphold a regime systematically oppressing the Palestinians in violation of international law. Keep in mind that approximately 40,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since 1948.
In that sense, today’s ethnic cleansing of the Bedouin village of Um al Hiran was an act of state terror. Hundreds of police brandishing weapons, tear gas and other forms of repression assaulted the village and began destroying its residences. The village had been founded in 1956 when the IDF sent its residents there to live after their previous village had been destroyed during the 1948 War. Unlike other Bedouin communities which were established by the residents themselves under their own initiative, Um al Hiran was founded by State authority.
But now, the Judaizing policies of the current Israeli regime plan to remove thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral homes in favor of new domestic settlements for Jews. This village is slated for demolition as are many others. The Bedouin “refusers” will be forcibly moved to urban towns artificially decreed for the habitation of Bedouins. No attempt has been made to consult with Bedouin about any of this (the Prawer Plan was a State attempt to negotiate Bedouin acquiescence to the expulsion, which the Bedouin rejected). They’re merely plopped down in the middle of an environment that is totally alien to their way of life; then told to make do.
This is an act of cultural dispossession. It is a throwback to the colonial era when ruling powers could treat native peoples arbitrarily and such policies often resulted in acts up to, and including genocide. I am not using that term in connection to the Bedouin. But the echo of earlier powers who did engage in it is not accidental on my part as a warning of what the future might hold.
The native Bedouin residents of this village appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court asking for their right to their homes. The Court, which has now been eviscerated of any previous sympathy for the civil rights championed by former justices like Aharon Barak, turned down the appeal. That exhausted the legal remedies of the Bedouin. And set the stage for this morning’s tragedy.
As the police began their destruction, a Bedouin schoolteacher named Musa Abu Alqiyan plowed his car into a group of them. One policeman was killed and another seriously wounded. Abu Alqiyan was shot and killed. Israeli Palestinian MK, Ayman Oudeh, was also shot in the face by a Border Police rubber bullet. The bullet which struck his temple (from what I can tell in pictures) could easily with a millimeter’s difference, have struck his eye and blinded him. I can’t recall any other instance in Israeli history when an official representative of the state shot and injured a member of Knesset. Of course, being a Palestinian MK excludes him from the circle of protection the authorities would afford Jewish MKs. Which is a further confirmation of the level of racism in Israeli society.
The Border Police in willing collaboration with Israeli media are spreading the lie that Oudeh was struck by a rock thrown by Bedouin protesters. You might just as well claim Oudeh threw the rock at himself and struck his own head. The idea that a protester would strike a Palestinian MK is not only preposterous, it’s offensive. The idea that the Border Police would shoot at a Palestinian MK is not only credible, but likely. The whole sordid show is typical of the lies of the Israeli police (remember when they said Mohammed Abu Khdeir was murdered by his family in an honor killing because he was gay? ‘Nuff said) and hasbara apparatus.
The family of the attacker claimed he was murdered in cold blood and that he was neither a terrorist or an Islamist. Apparently, according to my sources this is not true. A security source tells me he was an Islamist. Israeli reports have variously associated him with the Islamist Movement and Islamic State. Those are two entirely different entities, but ones about which most Israelis don’t make any distinction.
But for the purposes of this discussion, I think it hardly matters whether the man was an Islamist or not. His village was being destroyed by the Israeli state. To him this was an act of state terror. He responded in the most dramatic fashion he could.
While I don’t endorse violence myself, I simply cannot call his act unjustified. When a state blocks every avenue of redress for a people who are being robbed of their homes and lives, what should they expect? Silent and sullen acceptance? No, Israel is at fault in this. It brought the residents to this place then tried to steal it from them. It denied them any legal or peaceful recourse. I don’t see any other outcome that was possible under the circumstances.
Oh, and I’ll offer a deal to all the Israel-defenders out there who are screaming bloody murder about this new “terror attack.” If you’ll call the systematic dispossession of tens of thousands of Negev Bedouin an act of State terror, then I’ll agree to call this killing an act of terror. Any takers?
The world should rally round the Negev Bedouin. It should declare their ethnic cleansing to be a violation of international law. It should add this crime to the long list which will sometime be sent to the Hague for deliberation. It should add this to the list of crimes which should be addressed in UN resolutions and sanctions.
Forget the empty posturing of world leaders in Paris yesterday. This photo tells us what the Israel-Palestine “conflict” is really about.
Imagine for a second that the little boy – how old is he, eight, nine? – is your son, trying to adjust his keffiyeh because it keeps falling over his eyes and he can’t see anything. Imagine your small son surrounded by masked Israeli “soldiers”, or what looks more like a Jewish militia than an army. Imagine that the boy is likely soon to be bundled into the back of a military van and taken for interrogation without his parents or a lawyer present, or even knowing where he is. That he could end up beaten and tortured, as human rights groups have regularly documented.
Maybe you can’t imagine any of that because you, a responsible parent living in Europe or the United States, would never let your child out to throw stones.
Then you need to know more about the story behind this picture.
This photo was taken in Kfar Qaddum last month. The boy and his friends aren’t there to bait Israeli soldiers or indulge a bout of anti-semitism. Jews from the violent – and illegal – settlement of Kedumim have taken over their farm lands. Kedumim’s expansion has been further used to justify the army closing the access road in and out of Qaddum. The village is being choked off at the throat. In short, these villagers are being ethnically cleansed.
Parents living in such circumstances do not have the privilege of concealing from their children what is happening. Everyone in the village knows their community and its way of life are being extinguished. Israel is determined that they will leave so that the Jewish settlers next door can grab their land. Israel expects these villagers to join the rest of the aid-dependent Palestinian population in one of the ghettoised towns and cities in the bantustans of the West Bank.
Even little boys understand the stakes. And unlike your child, this one knows that, if he doesn’t resist, he will lose everything he holds dear.
What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
For some, the ‘manslaughter’ conviction – following the murder by Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, of already incapacitated Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif – is finally settling a protracted debate regarding where Israelis stand on Palestinian human rights.
Nearly 70 percent of the Israeli public supports calls to pardon the convicted soldier who is largely perceived among Israelis as the “child of us all.”
Israeli leaders are also lining up to lend their support to Azaria and his family. These sympathetic politicians include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ministers Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev, among others. Leading opposition leaders are also on board.
Pro-Israeli pundits, who never miss an opportunity to highlight Israel’s supposed moral ascendency, took to social media, describing how the indictment further demonstrates that Israel is still a country of law and order.
They seem to conveniently overlook palpable facts. Reporting on the verdict, The Times of Israel wrote that “last time an IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter was in 2005, for the killing of British civilian Tom Hurndall two years earlier.”
Between these dates, and years prior, thousands of Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip alone, mostly in the Israeli wars of 2008-9, 2012 and 2014. Although thousands of children and civilians were killed and wounded in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories and, despite international outcries against Israel’s violations of international law, there is yet to be a single conviction in Israeli courts.
But why is it that some commentators suggest that the Azaria trial and the show of unity around his cause by Israeli society is an indication of some massive change underway in Israel?
Yoav Litvin, for example, argues in TeleSur that the “precedent set by this case will further solidify the complete dehumanization of Palestinians and pave the way for further ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
In an article, entitled: “Like Brexit and Trump, Azaria verdict exposes a moment of transition in Israel”, Jonathan Cook also eluded to a similar idea. “The soldier’s trial, far from proof of the rule of law, was the last gasp of a dying order,” he wrote.
Neither Litvin nor Cook are suggesting that the supposed change in Israel is substantive but an important change, nonetheless.
But if the past and the present are one and the same, where is the ‘transition’, then?
The creation of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing that made Israel’s ‘independence’ possible, the subsequent wars, occupation and sieges are all devoid of any morality.
Indeed, Israel was established with the idea in mind that a “Jewish state” is [im]possible without the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian Arabs.
In a letter to his son in 1937, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister after the country’s establishment in 1948, wrote: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places then we have force at our disposal.”
In the year that Israel was established, the United Nations defined genocide in Article 2 of the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’, as follows:
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…
In other words, there is nothing new here since the ‘mainstreaming of genocide’ in Israel took place before and during the founding of the country, and ever since.
Fortunately, some Israeli leaders were quite candid about the crimes of that era.
“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist,” former Israeli leader, Moshe Dayan said while addressing the Technion as reported in Haaretz on April 4, 1969. “There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
But throughout these years, Israel has managed to sustain a balancing act, generating two alternate realities: a material one, in which violence is meted out against Palestinians on a regular basis, and a perceptual one, that of a media image through which Israel is presented to the world as a ‘villa in the jungle’, governed by democratic laws, which makes it superior to its neighbors in every possible way.
Former Israeli President, Moshe Katsav, demonstrates the latter point best. “There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies,” he was quoted in the Jerusalem Post on May 10. 2001. “They are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.”
In fact, Israeli commentators on the Left often reminisce about the ‘good old days’, before extremists ruled Israel and right wing parties reigned supreme.
A particular memory that is often invoked was the mass protest in Tel Aviv to the Israeli-engineered Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian refugees in South Lebanon in 1982.
Protesters demanded the resignations of then-Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, and his Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon. Both men were accused of allowing the massacres of Palestinians by Christian Phalange to take place. An Israeli commission of investigation found Israel guilty of ‘indirect responsibility’, further contributing to the myth that Israel’s guilt lies in the fact that it allowed Christians to kill Muslims, as Sharon complained in his biography, years later.
At the time, it did not occur to Israeli protesters as odd the fact that Begin, himself, was the wanted leader of a terrorist gang before Israel’s founding and that Sharon was accused of having orchestrated many other massacres.
Many in Israeli and western media spoke highly of the moral uprightness of Israeli society. Palestinians were baffled by Israel’s ability to carry out war crimes and to emerge in a positive light, regardless.
“Goyim kill Goyim and the Jews are blamed,” Begin had then complained with a subtle reference to what he perceived as a form of anti-Semitism. Aside from Sabra and Shatila, tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
Historical fact shows that Israel is not experiencing a real transition, but what is truly faltering is Israel’s balancing act: its ability to perpetrate individual and collective acts of violence and still paint an image of itself as law-abiding and democratic.
Zionist leaders of the past had played the game too well and for far too long, but things are finally being exposed for what they really are, thanks to the fact that Jewish settlers now rule the country, control the army, have growing influence over the media and, therefore, define the Israeli course and PR image.
“This new army (of settlers) is no longer even minimally restrained by concerns about the army’s ‘moral’ image or threats of international war crimes investigations,” wrote Cook.
And with that new-found ‘freedom’, the world is able to see Israel as it is. The balancing act is finally over.
Dr. Ramzy Baroud can be reached at email@example.com.
Witnesses said, according to Al Ray, that Israeli soldiers broke into AL-Madareb, in Khirbet Abziq, and seized two agricultural tractors belonging to Fayez Nghneghya and Nemr Horoub, and took them to a nearby military camp.
They pointed out that seizures have happened repeatedly, in an attempt to harass citizens and force them to leave Khirbet Abziq.
More than two dozen tractors have been confiscated in different areas of the Jordan Valley, over recent months.
It is noteworthy that dozens of citizens living in Khirbet Abziq, mostly refugees from the pre-1948 occupied territories, are being deprived of many basic essential services under Israeli policies. The tractors are used for agriculture and water transference.
BETHLEHEM – In spite of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority’s endorsement of a peace conference being held in Paris on Sunday, other Palestinian factions were opposed to the premise of the international summit, and said they were not expecting any diplomatic breakthroughs.
Kayid al-Ghoul, a senior leader in the Gaza Strip for the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) told Ma’an on Sunday that he expected the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to turn to the United States to foil any possible outcome, five days ahead of the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump — a vocal supporter of illegal Israeli settlements.
Al-Ghoul told Ma’an that the premise of the conference, which is expected to recommend the resumption of peace negotiations toward a two-state solution, meant “bypassing the right of return and self determination” for Palestinians.
Similarly, Daoud Shihab, a senior Islamic Jihad official in Gaza, described the conference as merely another attempt to resume a peace process “that Israel has already killed and buried, while the international community still refuses to admit that Israel is the main source” of the crisis.
He also warned that Netanyahu’s “terrorist government” could react to the outcome of the conference with more demolitions of Palestinian homes and land confiscations in the occupied territory. Last month, Israel responded to a UN resolution condemning illegal settlements by approving new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem.
A Gaza-based leader within the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Talal Abu Tharifa, also warned of a possibility that the conference may create “low standards” regarding Palestinian rights.
He highlighted Israel’s belligerent opposition to any international intervention in the peace process by pointing to how Israel has been outraged over the mere fact the conference was held in the first place.
In his weekly cabinet remarks on Sunday, Netanyahu slammed the Paris conference, calling it “useless.”
“I must say that this conference is among the last twitches of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow’s world will be different — and it is very near,” the Israeli prime minister ominously declared.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed the conference, and told French daily Le Figaro on Saturday that he believed the summit could be the last chance to implement the two-state solution, saying that “2017 has to be the year the occupation ends, the year of freedom and justice for the Palestinian people.”
However, an increasing number of Palestinians say the prospect of a two-state reality has become dimmer, amid an a growing extremism among Israel’s right-wing government and public, and a surge in illegal Israeli settlement construction that has now obtained the stamp of approval by US President-elect Donald Trump.
A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
January 14, 2017
In part four of The Lobby, the senior political officer at the Israeli Embassy in London discusses a potential plot to ‘take down’ British politicians – including a Minster of State at the Foreign office who supports Palestinian civil rights.