As Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, our problem is not with Jews who believe in “live and let live” but is rather with this diabolical, fanatical and genocidal Zionism which has drenched this part of the world with blood, hatred and inequity.
The Nakba revisited
By Khalid Amayreh
Today marks the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the violent usurpation and occupation of Palestine by Zionist Jewish invaders coming from around the world. The seizure of Palestine can be considered as one of the greatest acts of theft in the history of mankind. Israel itself therefore is a gigantic war crime and a crime against humanity.
Thanks to the infamous Balfour declaration of 1917, Palestine, an Arab country since the seventh century, was given by another country (Britain) to a third people (the Jews) without even consulting the native people of the country.
According to the British Philosopher Bertrand Russell:” The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was ‘given’ by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state.”
In fact, it can be safely argued that the West, particularly Britain, committed the original sin by envisaging, planning and implanting Israel in the heart of the Arab world in order to protect its colonial and imperialistic interests.
In 1905, Britain’s Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman invited the Western Imperial powers for conference which continued until 1907.
The conference of the thieves recommended the establishment of ” a state on the lands of Palestine, to serve as an advanced base for the covetous colonialists, and protect their interests, implement their plans and schemes and ensure the outflow of natural resources from the region, as well as the import of their goods and products into the markets of the region.”
The American Jewish writer Noam Chomsky described this evilness committed by these European powers, especially Britain:
“When a man brings a snake and puts it in the bed of a child and it stings the child, the man is responsible for the child’s death, not the snake,”.
The person who brings the snake into the child’s bed is the real criminal, not the snake. This person cannot claim innocence and say ‘I did not know that the snake is so poisonous!’”
The famous British historian Arnold Toynbee, in his book “A Study of History” said that “while the direct responsibility for the calamity that overtook the Palestinian Arabs in A.D. 1948 was on the heads of the Zionist Jews who seized a lebensraum for themselves in Palestine by force of arms in that year, a heavy load of indirect, yet irrefutable, responsibility was on the heads of the people of the United Kingdom.
But the “snake” (Israel) has acquired a life of its own, and it no longer depends on its erstwhile western benefactors for its survival and continuity.”
None the less, there is no guarantee, historical, moral or religious that the “snake” will have an extended life, e.g. live longer than a century.
In the final analysis, Israel is an immoral and illegal being that will have to go. Yes, Israel is a regional superpower, has a prosperous economy, is technologically advanced and tightly controls the government, Congress and media of the United States .
But nations don’t live by modern fighter jets and nuclear bombs alone. The Soviet Union had a plenty of these.
In order to have a sustained existence nations must possess a moral justification. Justice, not military might, is what guarantees the longevity and continuity of states.
In 1948, Zionist leaders such as Ben Gurion thought that that the Palestinian people would go into oblivion, slowly but surely. Indeed, just as the genocidal invaders from Eastern Europe and elsewhere bulldozed and obliterated more than 500 Palestinian villages, Zionist elders thought that old Palestinians will die and young Palestinians will forget!
But to the Zionists’ chagrin, the Palestinian cause is still as vivid and relevant in the minds and hearts of the Palestinian people today as it was in 1948.
Thousands of Palestinians still retain the keys to their homes from which they were expelled at gunpoint when Israel was created 65 years ago. The trust is bequeathed by the older to younger generations.
Today, even the least patriotic Palestinians who would rather reach “a peace deal” with Israel by hook or by crook wouldn’t even dare suggest that they would sell out the right of return even in return for a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
To be sure, Palestinians and Muslims in general have no problem living with Jews. Jews lived side by side with Arabs and Muslims for close to 1400 years. Jews had never revolted against their Muslim rulers or demanded a state of their own.
Indeed, the call for the return of Jews to Palestine did not come from Middle Eastern or Palestine Jews; it rather came from Western Jews.
When the Hungarian Jewish leader Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897, which was attended by 196 delegates. Only four of the 196 delegates were Jews from Palestine .
As Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, our problem is not with Jews who believe in “live and let live” but is rather with this diabolical, fanatical and genocidal Zionism which has drenched this part of the world with blood, hatred and inequity.
Israel claims to be Jewish and following ancient Jewish ideals of justice. But this is a hollow claim, bordering on wishful thinking.
The truth of the matter is that Israel represents the antithesis of the prophetic ideals of the ancient Israeli prophets. What happened to “Thou shall not murder, thou shall not steal, and thou shall not lie”?
Even Abraham, the purported common forefather of the ancient Israelites and northern Arabs wouldn’t accept to obtain a burial place for his dead wife Sara free of charge in Hebron.
Today, one is really affronted by these fanatical Jewish settlers who terrorize and savage peaceable Palestinian villagers, poison and kill their livestock, burn down their fields and orchards.
And when the unprotected helpless Palestinians seek redress at Israeli courts, they are told by the Jewish judges that the settlers have a point because “your homes and land once belonged to the settlers’ ancestors some three thousand years ago.”!!!
Such a state where inequity and oppression are rampant can’t and will not live long, even if it possessed all the modern warplanes in the world.
They killed the two-state solution
Israel has already decapitated the two state solution. The intensive expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem , has really left no room for a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state.
The U.S., EU and the helpless Palestinian Authority (PA) pretend that there is still a chance for reviving the two-state solution strategy. But we who live here in the West Bank know better. We just can’t betray our eyes.
We also know rather well two other facts that further enforce our conviction that the chances for establishing a true Palestinian state have vanished rather irreversibly. The first fact is that the Israeli society is moving steadily toward Talmudic Jewish fascism, which makes it extremely unlikely that Israel would agree anytime in the predictable future to give up the spoils of the 1967 war, which would imply the inevitable dismantlement of hundreds of Jewish colonies built on the occupied Palestinian territory.
The second fact is that the United States, Israel’s guardian-ally, is utterly unable, even if willing, to exert any meaningful pressure on Israel, which would force or convince the Jewish state to end its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The reason for this is the tight Jewish stranglehold on the American decision-making process. Thus, the Israeli control of the White House, Congress and other American political institutions is too overwhelming to allow for any U.S. maneuver outside the Jewish dragnet.
The Demographic situation in Israel/Palestine
Apart from the historical rights and moral high-ground, the Palestinians also have a strategic advantage over Zionism, namely the demographic asset. According to the prominent Israeli demographer Della Pergula, there are already more non-Jews than Jews between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean.
“We have already reached the demographic critical mass, the establishment of a Palestinian state now is therefore more of an urgent Israeli need than a Palestinian need” But the possibility for establishing a viable Palestinian state no longer exists in light of the phenomenal expansion of Jewish settlements mentioned earlier. More to the point, the concept of a bi-national state is a kind of anathema for most Israelis as it would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Hence, the problem.
There are millions of Israelis who would think or probably are already thinking of unthinkable scenarios such as expelling large number of Palestinians. But expulsion can’t really be carried out without some sort of a genocide. None the less, the Palestinians have thoroughly learned and imbibed the lessons of 1948 and would never ever leave their country. They would rather die in their own homes, towns and villages rather than give Zionists the joy of watching them repeat the Nakba scenario.
The Israeli Zionists have already committed huge and numerous crimes against the Palestinian people. Needless to say, committing still more crimes would be suicidal and fraught with grave consequences for Israel and Jews.
In the final analysis, the repetition of what happened in 1948 could speed up the process of Israel’s demise and extinction.
New US-Israel arms deal a threat to peace
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (photo: Reuters)
A new major US arms deal with Israel is intended to further enhance the Hebrew state’s ability to strike Iran, even without direct American operational involvement. The multi-billion dollar package include anti-radiation missiles designed to take out enemy air defences, new sophisticated radar for fighter jets, KC135 aerial refuelling tankers and Osprey V-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft.
The deal, however, will not include laser-guided bunker-buster bombs, according to The New York Times.
The deal was announced this week during the visit of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Israel. Hagel reassured Israeli officials of America’s traditional commitment to Israel’s security and to maintaining its qualitative military edge over all its neighbours.
The KC135 tankers are reportedly capable of being used in long-range operations by Israel against Iran. The sale of the V-22’s would also mark the first time the aircraft have been released to any country outside the United States. The deal will be implemented in several months.
Seeking to appease his Israeli hosts, Hagel said maintaining Israeli military superiority was a top priority for the Obama administration. “President Obama has made not only maintaining but improving Israel’s military qualitative edge a top priority,” he said.
Hagel reiterated earlier statements concerning Iran, saying that all options for dealing with that country were on the table. The American official also said his country would continue to help Israel develop the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.
According to intelligence reports published by the Israeli media, the Iron Dome performed “much worse than expected” during last year’s brief war between Hamas and Israel. Israeli officials claimed then that the costly defence system scored an 80 per cent success rate, a claim strongly contested by the Hebrew media.
It is widely believed the continued funding by the US of further research pertaining to the anti-missile system vindicates reports about its dismal performance.
The additional military aggrandisement is expected to further enforce the arguments of those in Israel who advocate striking Iran’s nuclear facilities unilaterally, ie without cooperation and coordination with the US.
Following talks with Hagel, Israel’s War Minister Moshe Yaalon, was quoted as saying: “One way or another, Iran’s nuclear programme will be stopped.”
Yaalon is no stranger to war given his role in murdering and maiming thousands of Palestinian civilians when he was chief of staff of the Israeli army in the mid-1950s.
Hagel’s visit to Israel is the first leg of a tour that will also take him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will also sign arms deal with Washington. Washington has always sought to promote Arab-Iranian contradictions at the expense of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
According to informed Israeli sources, the weapons these two countries will purchase from Washington will be of an inferior quality in comparison to those sold to Israel. Moreover, Washington will see to it that both countries will not try to transfer these weapons to a third country, especially one hostile to Israel.
FULL-FLEDGED ALLIANCE AGAINST IRAN: It is uncertain if the highlighted American-Israeli alliance against Iran will be brought to fruition by carrying out an Israeli or joint-Israeli-American strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Some commentators in Israel contend that US reluctance to supply the Hebrew state with more strategic weapons, such the bunker-buster bombs, may indicate that the US is trying to pacify Israel, and to convince Tel Aviv to give diplomatic efforts a chance to succeed.
However, one of the main goals — if not the main goal — of the current Israeli government is “to neutralise the Iranian danger”.
Israel, which possesses a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, along with their delivery systems, doesn’t face a real existential threat from Iran. This means that the hyperbolic and often phobic language used by Israeli officials and leaders to highlight the “Iranian danger” is intended largely to maintain the Israeli state’s military supremacy and hegemony in the region.
Moreover, it is widely believed that if Iran were to be allowed to possess nuclear weapons, this would trigger a nuclear arms race involving countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One Saudi official was quoted as saying in a press interview several months ago that “if Iran got the bomb, we would get it a few weeks afterwards.”
Thus, if this nightmarish scenario found its way to reality, Israel would then face not one Iran but many, as the possession of a nuclear deterrence by Arab countries would change the rules of the game of politics in the region to Israel’s disadvantage.
Earlier this month, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin, said that while an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s nuclear capability, “this delay could be important because we may have a regime change”.
Yadlin added: “Israel has defined what the trigger is, what the red line is. Iran is already there.”
Nonetheless, most observers and experts doubt whether regime change in Iran would lead to a degradation let alone disappearance of the country’s nuclear programme. Other pundits argue that Iran’s nuclear programme has already reached the point of no return.
A final point: It is very likely that the new arms deal will further embolden Israel with regards to the Palestinian issue.
Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be dead within two years if action were not taken now.
“I believe the window of the two-state solution is shutting,” Kerry told the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “I think we have some period of time, a year, a year-and-a-half. Or two years, or it is over.”
Past experience has proven that the aggrandisement of Israeli military might at the expense of Arab and Muslim countries in the region makes Israel more intransigent, and much less prone to make peace.
But even if the perpetrator eventually turned to have a Muslim background, would that mean that America should indict the estimated 1600 million Muslims of this world.”
The Bostonian tragedy
Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem
But a lawyer for Samer Issawi, who has intermittently refused food for more than eight months, said his client strongly rejected the Israeli initiative, and an EU spokesman said no “official” proposal had been received.
Issawi, 33, was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for military activities on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
He was released by Israel under a prisoner swap deal in October 2011, but rearrested last July for violating the terms of the agreement by travelling to the West Bank from east Jerusalem.
The Israeli official said Issawi had gone to the West Bank to establish “terror cells” there.
Israel has ordered that he serve the remainder of his original sentence.
Issawi’s health has deteriorated because of his prolonged fast, and he was being held in an Israeli hospital. The Israeli official said he could “immediately be released to Gaza.”
In addition, “over the last few weeks the prime minister’s office was approached by senior EU and UN representatives, who expressed concern over his humanitarian condition,” the official said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel was willing to deport Issawi “to any EU member country, or any UN member country,” said the official, noting that they had yet to receive an answer from either.
An EU spokesman told AFP that “Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject.”
However, the Israeli official insisted the issue “came up in official communications between officials on both sides.”
Lawyer Jawad Boulos said that while “Israel had tried to make him agree to being deported” to any of a number of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Finland and Switzerland, Issawi had “strongly refused in principle to be deported to any state.”
Issawi is the last of four Palestinian prisoners who were on extended hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, after two ended their fast in February and a third was exiled from the West Bank last month to the Gaza Strip for 10 years.
Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
No Justice, No Dignity, No Food
Imagine going 250 days without food. It’s painful, it’s exhausting and it’s frightening.
Palestinians fighting for self-determination often draw inspiration from the Northern Irish, feeling they share a common struggle. The Irish and Palestinians have engaged in many similar tactics to resist political oppression, including hunger strikes. The prisoner hunger strikes in Northern Ireland are some of the most famous in history.
In 1980, a strike yielded many of the prisoners’ demands. The secondbegan in 1981 when it became clear that these demands had not been implemented. This strike resulted in the death of ten prisoners—including Bobby Sands, who had recently been elected to British Parliament—followed by rioting in the streets of Belfast and other areas in Northern Ireland.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher expressed no remorse, calling the strike voluntary suicide. The whole affair scarred Thatcher’s reputation and prompted prison guards to treat prisoners with greater respect.
At last count, there were over 4,700 Palestinian prisoners—referred to as “security prisoners”—in Israeli jails. At least a couple hundred of them are political prisoners held in indefinite detention, without being charged or knowing the reason for their arrest. Before the 2011 prisoner exchange, there were over a thousand. These men, women and children are subject to extensions of this administrative detainment without judicial procedure, and conviction with secret evidence that they and their lawyers have no access to.
Although indefinite detention is universally and internationally condemned as inhumane and illegal, Palestinian prisoners have little access to the law and can protest their detainment in very few ways, one of which is refusing to eat.
Currently, detainees are protesting the lack of judicial transparency as well as the conditions of their detainment, including psychological and physical torture. Over the last year, several Palestinian prisoners have participated in a group hunger strike. They have invited death over indignity.
“In order for a hunger strike to succeed, the outside world must learn of it,” Nelson Mandela once said. “Otherwise prisoners will simply starve themselves to death and no one will know.”
The hunger strikes in Israeli prisons over the last year, in which thousands have participated, have drawn considerable international media attention and have put pressure on the Israeli government. As we have seen twice recently, the death of a Palestinian held in Israeli jails is seen as a crime at the hands of an oppressor, and civil unrest becomes an issue that both the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority must reckon with. Following the recent death of an older prisoner diagnosed with cancer, Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, 4,600 Palestinian prisoners protested with a three-day hunger strike.
In December 2011, Khader Adnan was arrested in the middle of the night and began a hunger strike the next day to protest the conditions of administrative detention. After 66 days, when still no charges had been filed, Egyptian diplomatic intervention helped the Israeli authorities and Adnan’s lawyer to reach a deal that ended the strike.
Mahmoud Sarsak began a strike following Adnan after being held under administrative detention for three years with no charge or trial. After about two months on hunger strike and losing half of his weight, a deal was struck for him and several other prisoners to end their strike.
Samer al-Issawi, 33, is currently in an Israeli jail and has been on strike for more than 250 days. He was released in 2011 in the prisoner exchange and re-arrested in 2012 for violating his release by leaving Jerusalem and entering the West Bank. He has been warned for months that he is at extreme risk of death, but has continued the hunger strike. He is now refusing water and nutritional supplements after the best offer has been release with deportation to Gaza.
In addition, at least 40 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay—the notorious institution in Cuba where most of the 166 prisoners are indefinitely detained by the U.S. without charge or trial—have also began a hunger strike to protest prolonged detainment, invasive cell searches and physical and psychological torture. Lawyers of the detainees claim participation in the strike, which began in February 2013, has spread to at least 130 inmates. In 2005, 130 of about 500 detainees participated in a group hunger strike.
Though their hunger strike is unlikely to get these prisoners sympathy from Americans, the media attention has reminded people that the prisoners are still there—despite at least half of them being cleared for release in 2009—and that Guantanamo is still open five years after Obama’s pledge to close it.
Keeping in mind the words of Mandela, the Guantanamo prisoners’ hunger strike was denied and its scale downplayed early on by U.S. authorities, posing a serious challenge for the secluded prisoners. They have relied on their lawyers to get the word out and, still, the American media has not paid much attention to the strike.
These situations create several ethical dilemmas. For instance, prisoner mistreatment is very easy to hide until hunger strikes or investigations reveal such crimes. Hunger strikes are, in effect, one of the only options and are often successful in raising awareness and achieving prisoner demands. Yet it is easy to see how pressure and criticism on the one hand, and government policy on the other, interjects prison authorities and doctors into the conflict, which may ultimately result in loss of life after prolonged suffering.
At the moment, as has been a response in the past to hunger strikes in Israel and other places, some of the strikers in Guantanamo are being force-fed through a tube.
Here, the role of doctors is even more controversial. Their oath as servants to humanity requires doctors to do no harm, while respecting the wishes of the patient. The World Medical Association adopted a Declaration on Hunger Strikers, which outlines principals protecting prisoner autonomy and preventing maltreatment or coercion. Doctors working in Guantanamo Bay are forbidden from abiding by the principals of the very organization that represents them.
The administration claims to be protecting the safety and welfare of the prisoners by disallowing them to go on hunger strike. Clearly the welfare of the prisoners would be to release those that have been cleared for release and to charge the rest with a crime.
In Guantanamo, Israel and Northern Ireland, the prisoners on hunger strike share one thing in common: their arrest and detainment—in some cases unlawful—is due to political activity.
The imprisonment of politically active Palestinian resistance allows the Israeli government to evade responsibility, accountability and internal or external pressure—until a hunger strike. Thus, where there may be political motivation for the arrest of say, Palestinians in Israel or Palestine, one must take critical stance. One must wonder what causes these prisoners to resort to life-threatening protest in order to seek justice or at least make their voices heard.
Palestinians mark Land Day
A protester holds a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest marking Land Day near the border between Israel and southern Gaza Strip (photo: Reuters)
Palestinians in Israel proper and the occupied territories this week marked Land Day, which commemorates the murder by Israeli troops of six Palestinians in the Arab Israeli town of Sakhnin in 1976.
The six young men were trying to stop Israeli authorities from confiscating their land for Jewish settlement expansion.
Large rallies and marches took place in several localities in the Galilee, Triangle and Negev regions, with speakers urging thousands of participants to cling to their land and keep up the struggle against Judaisation and ethnic cleansing.
Among the speakers was Arab Knesset member Ahmed Teibi who exhorted a large multitude of Arab Israeli citizens to “consolidate their existence on this land”.
“This is our homeland, this is our ancestral land, this is our patrimony; we have no other homeland. This is the message that we must communicate to the whole world, especially to the Israeli state.” Teibi said Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line (the former armistice line between Israel and the West Bank) ought to leave “no stone unturned” in order to “further consolidate our existence in our land”.
“Our roots have always been deep, but there are those who are trying to extirpate these roots by way of bulldozers and ethnic cleansing. We must foil and thwart these efforts by all means necessary.”
Other speakers reminded participants that Israel is trying to devise “every imagined and non-imagined tactic to steal our land and render us strangers in our own homeland”.
Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic movement in Israel, said Palestine had always been Arab and Islamic irrespective of Zionist lies and fabrications.
“Their lies may prevail for some time. But one day the snow will melt away and the truth shall appear and the falsehood will be consigned to the dustbin of history.”
Similarly, numerous rallies took place in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip amid skirmishes between stone-hurling activists and heavily armed Israeli soldiers.
Land Day commemorations this year coincided with another attempt by messianic Jewish settlers to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest shrines.
According to Israeli and Palestinian sources, settlers were seen reciting prayers at the exclusively Islamic shrine. Palestinian eyewitnesses also reported seeing a Jewish settler urinating in the Mosque’s esplanade.
Messianic Jewish groups make no secret of their goal of earning “prayer rights” at the Haram Al-Sharif complex, or Nobel Sanctuary.
However, for Muslims in general, “Prayer rights” spell “vicious attempts to partition the Islamic sanctuary”.
“They want to do here what they did in Hebron,” said Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, the highest-ranking Muslim cleric in Jerusalem, alluding to the partitioning by Israel of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron following the 1994 massacre, when a Jewish terrorist murdered 29 Arab worshipers and injured many more.
“How would Catholics react if some Jews tried to partition Saint Peters Church in Rome between Jews and Catholics?
“Yet, this is what these invaders from Eastern Europe and other parts of the world are trying to do here; namely, take over holy places that belong to another religion and another people.”
According to reliable Palestinian sources, the Israeli occupation authorities are planning to introduce “far reaching changes” at Haram Al-Sharif, which could alter the legal status of the Muslim sanctuary.
The unspecific Israeli plans seem to have prompted the latest Palestinian-Jordanian agreement, reached in Amman last week, which confirmed “Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem”.
The agreement signed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday also stressed “our common goal of defending Jerusalem and its sacred sites” against Judaising attempts.
“This is a historic agreement. Abbas reiterated that the King is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque,” a statement issued from the Jordanian royal court said.
The statement went on to say: “The agreement emphasises the historic principles agreed by Jordan and Palestine to exert joint efforts to protect the city from Judaisation attempts.”
Palestinian leaders lauded the agreement as a positive step toward putting up a solid front in the face of Israeli efforts to encroach on Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.
“I don’t care if Palestinians or Jordanians or other Muslims carry out this mission. The important thing is that Muslims and Arabs must do everything possible to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque,” said Sheikh Raed Salah in interview with the BBC.
“Whether those who defend and protect this paramount Muslim sanctuary are Palestinians or Jordanian is irrelevant in the final analysis,” he added.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 allowing the Jordanian government to administer Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
However, there have been hints by the right-wing Israeli government that Israel might embark on unilateral action that would effectively wrest legal administration of the holy sites from Jordan.
And not every Palestinian is satisfied with the agreement, described by some pundits as “innocuous”.
Hizb Al-Tahrir, an Islamist party that calls for the reinstitution of the Islamic Caliphate, called the agreement “media hyperbole with no practical benefit for Muslims”.
“This agreement was signed as Jewish settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is utterly unlikely that the agreement will have any practical positive results on the ground. Only a truly Islamic state will be able to protect Islamic holy sites. Jordan has strong ties with the Zionist entity and is unfit to be a custodian or guardian of the holy places,” the party said.
by Geoffrey Ingersoll
Francis I along with the whole Argentine Catholic Church have faced criticism for their silence or complicity during the post-1976 military dictatorship — a failure for which the Church apologized in 2012.
Known as the Dirty War, this period saw a brutal battle between the ruling military elite and leftist guerrilla fighters, in which up to 30,000 Argentinians were “disappeared” and others were raped or killed.
[Verbitsky] recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship’s political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio’s name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.
Bergoglio contended to writer Sergio Rubin that he hid these people to keep them from the violent military junta, not the Human Rights Commission — even as his Jesuit order and Church leaders publicly endorsed the dictatorship.
He later said the endorsement was one of political pragmatism, which is understandable in the face of certain death, if not exactly righteous, according to the AP.
Bergoglio also faced criticism from human rights lawyer Myriam Bregman, who tried to bring the Catholic leader to court for allegedly turning over two priests to Argentine death squads — charges which others have denied.
In any case Bregman sees evidence in Bergoglio’s statements that he knew of the dictatorship’s crimes. “The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support,” she said, according to the AP.
Certainly the waters here are a bit muddied. The history has many sides, as it often does when it’s so far removed from such shocking tragedy and conflict. But it shouldn’t be forgotten, even as the present is filled with white smoke and cheering crowds.
Trying to revive a false hope
By Khalid Amayreh
President Obama is due to arrive in occupied Palestine in less than two weeks in a much-heralded visit aimed, according to American sources, at reinforcing the Israeli- American alliance.
Obama is also expected to cajole the weak and pliant Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas to give “peace” an additional chance by returning to manifestly futile negotiations with Israel while the latter continues to steal more Palestinian land and build more Jewish colonies for fanatical Jewish settlers.
Several regional leaders, including the King of Jordan, have voiced hopes that Obama will help stir up the stagnant waters of the moribund peace process.
However, a thorough and honest examination of the facts pertaining to the Palestinian question shows that the chances of reaching a real breakthrough that would lead to real peace in the region are nearly zero.
According to some American pundits, Obama will make one last attempt to save Israel from itself by getting the recalcitrant Israeli leadership to agree to allow for the establishment of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian entity.
However, there is a very little chance that the extreme right-wing leadership in Israel, including the soon-to-be formed coalition government, would agree to pay the price for peace, given the ideological and political extremism permeating through the Israeli Jewish society.
In addition, the tight Jewish stranglehold on the American government, especially congress, would nip in the bud any audacious and genuine American effort to force Israel to walk in the path of peace. Israel and its numerous tentacles have the U.S. held by the throat, so much that the U.S. is simply not free to even speak its conscience or even protect America’s interests in the Arab world. This is what makes virtually all America’s politicians from the President in the White House down to lowest ranking politician grovel rather sheepishly at Israel’s feet and sing Israel’s hymns. If they don’t act as they are expected to act, they will lose Jewish money as well as their jobs. Moreover, the Jewish-controlled media will demonize them to the point of making them look as if they were carbon copies of Adolph Hitler!!
There are several cool facts that one must consider when raising hopes about the so-called peace process.
Fact 1: Thanks to the total impunity meted out to Israel by the American-led international community, Israel has been able to kill the two-state solution. Israel has built so many Jewish colonies in the West Bank that no room has been left for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. This writer is living in the West Bank and can honestly attest to the fact that under present circumstances it is next to impossible to be able to establish a real state worthy of the name on the remaining areas uncovered by Jewish colonies in the West Bank. This is not to mention Occupied East Jerusalem, whose Arab-Islamic identity has been nearly completely obliterated thanks to a rabid, unrelenting Judaizing process, resulting in ghettoizing the Palestinians of the city and forcing numerous thousands of them to leave in order to fulfill Israeli demographic designs.
Fact 2: Given the ideological panorama of the Israeli Jewish society, it is utterly unlikely that any prospective Israeli government would agree to dismantle Jewish settlements, a sine qua non for salvaging a possible political settlement.
The soon-to-be formed Israeli coalition government will include Ha-bayt ha-yehudi, the settlers’ party par excellence, which is vehemently opposed to any peace arrangement with the Palestinians involving partial or complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.
Even the most leftist Israeli Jewish parties are opposed as a matter of principle to the notion of repatriation of Palestinian refugees to their former homes and villages in what is now Israel.
In light, it hard to even imagine a successful narrowing of the gaps between the two sides, especially under current circumstances.
Fact 3: It is true that the U.S. might be able to pressure the weak and pliant Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas to accept, even begrudgingly, a deformed and utterly unjust deal that would perpetuate Palestinian grievances, e.g. a deal excluding the implementation of the right of return and without East Jerusalem in its entirety.
However, there is a likelihood of 99.99% that such a deal would be rejected by the Palestinian people. Yes, the U.S. and some of its demoralized puppets in the Arab region might successfully bully or cajole their agents to celebrate the “peace deal” as the greatest Arab victory since Saladin (Salahuddin). Well, as the adage goes, those who pay the piper, call the tune. None the less, such a deal would have a zero chance of survival even if a thousand TV stations and a thousand newspapers tried incessantly to make the deformed, ugly deal look attractive and acceptable.
Fact 4: There is no doubt that Israel is fighting a losing demographic battle with the Palestinians. Today, Jews between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan are already a numerical minority. This minority status will be reinforced further and further as there is virtually no hope that Israel will be able to undo or reverse the outstanding demographic facts.
According to Sergio DellaPergola, a Hebrew University professor and expert on Israeli population studies, the dreaded tipping point-which advocates of the two state solutions have been warning about for years-has finally arrived.
DellaPergola argues that even if we took Gaza out of the equation, and if the current fertility rates among Jews and Arabs continue, by 2030, Jews will constitute only 54 percent of the population.
“By May 2048, when the state of Israel turns 100 years old, the population of this area will be approximately 55 percent Arab and 45 percent Jewish”
It is unlikely that Zionist policy-makers are not aware of these demographic facts and forecasts.
It is also true that these Zionists might be devising nefarious designs, even at the level of an afterthought, for the purpose of neutralizing the “existential” Arab demographic peril, including adopting apartheid, or at least a benign form of it. (in fact, the current Israeli occupation is far worse than apartheid).
Israel could also resort to all forms of expulsion and deportation of Palestinians especially upon finding or inducing a “pretext.”
This is a possibility that Palestinian leaders and Arab strategists must take very seriously.
In the final analysis, the Zionists can be so rationally genocidal that they would embark on the unthinkable. They would be willing to go to any extent to prolong the life-span of Zionism.
AIPAC and their supporters want us to look at Israel in a different light as can be seen in this article from The Forward …
AIPAC Tries to Brand Israel as Liberal Cause
Israel Lobby Tries To Look More Like Obama’s America
Michelle Obama presents best picture Oscar to ‘Argo’
One year ago, after his breathtakingly beautiful Iranian drama, A Separation, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, writer/director Asghar Farhadi delivered the best acceptance speech of the night.
“[A]t the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians,” he said, Iran was finally being honored for “her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.” Farhadi dedicated the Oscar “to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”
Such grace and eloquence will surely not be on display this Sunday, when Ben Affleck, flanked by his co-producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov, takes home the evening’s top prize, the Best Picture Oscar, for his critically-acclaimed and heavily decorated paean to the CIA and American innocence, Argo.
Over the past 12 months, rarely a week – let alone month – went by without new predictions of an ever-imminent Iranian nuclear weapon and ever-looming threats of an American or Israeli military attack. Come October 2012, into the fray marched Argo, a decontextualized, ahistorical “true story” of Orientalist proportion, subjecting audiences to two hours of American victimization and bearded barbarians, culminating in popped champagne corks and rippling stars-and-stripes celepating our heroism and triumph and their frustration and defeat.
Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir aptly described the film as “a propaganda fable,” explaining asothershave that essentially none of its edge-of-your-seat thrills or most memorable moments ever happened. O’Hehir sums up:
The Americans never resisted the idea of playing a film crew, which is the source of much agitation in the movie. (In fact, the “house guests” chose that cover story themselves, from a group of three options the CIA had prepared.) They were not almost lynched by a mob of crazy Iranians in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, because they never went there. There was no last-minute cancellation, and then un-cancellation, of the group’s tickets by the Carter administration. (The wife of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor had personally gone to the airport and purchased tickets ahead of time, for three different outbound flights.) The group underwent no interrogation at the airport about their imaginary movie, nor were they detained at the gate while a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard telephoned their phony office back in Burbank. There was no last-second chase on the runway of Mehrabad Airport, with wild-eyed, bearded militants with Kalashnikovs trying to shoot out the tires of a Swissair jet.
One of the actual hostages, Mark Lijek, noted that the CIA’s fake movie “cover story was never tested and in some ways proved irrelevant to the escape.” The departure of the six Americans from Tehran was actually mundane and uneventful. “If asked, we were going to say we were leaving Iran to return when it was safer,” Lijek recalled, “But no one ever asked!…The truth is the immigration officers barely looked at us and we were processed out in the regular way. We got on the flight to Zurich and then we were taken to the US ambassador’s residence in Berne. It was that straightforward.”
Furthermore, Jimmy Carter has even acknowledged that “90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian [while] the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA…Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only in Tehran a day and a half and the real hero in my opinion was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.”
Taylor himself recently remarked that “Argo” provides a myopic representation of both Iranians and their revolution, ignoring their “more hospitable side and an intent that they were looking for some degree of justice and hope and that it all wasn’t just a violent demonstration for nothing.”
“The amusing side, Taylor said, “is the script writer in Hollywood had no idea what he’s talking about.”
O’Hehir perfectly articulates the film’s true crime, its deliberate exploitation of “its basis in history and its mode of detailed realism to create something that is entirely mythological.” Not only is it “a trite cavalcade of action-movie clichés and expository dialogue,” but “[i]t’s also a propaganda movie in the truest sense, one that claims to be innocent of all ideology.”
We – and I mean we as Americans – don’t believe it. We can read the accusations, even examine the evidence and find it irrefutable. But, in our hearts, we cannot believe that Americans have gone apoad to spread the use of torture. We can believe that public officials with reputations for pilliance can be arrogant, blind or stupid. Anything but evil. And when the cumulative proof becomes overwhelming that our representatives in the C.I.A. or the Agency for International Development police program did in fact teach torture, we excuse ourselves by vilifying the individual men.
Similarly, at a time when the CIA is waging an illegal, immoral, unregulated and alwaysexpanding drone execution program, the previous administration’s CIAkidnappersandtorturers are protected from prosecution by the currentadministration, and leaked State Department cables reveal orders for U.S. diplomats to spy on United Nations officials, it is surreal that such homage is being paid to that very same organization by the so-called liberals of the Tinsel Town elite.
Upon winning his Best Director Golden Globe last month, Ben Affleck obsequiously praised the “clandestine service as well as the foreign service that is making sacrifices on behalf of the American people everyday [and] our troops serving over seas, I want to thank them very much,” a statement echoed almost identically by co-producer Grant Heslov when Argo later won Best Drama.
This comes as no surprise, considering Affleck had previously described Argo as “a tribute” to the “extraordinary, honorable people at the CIA” during an interview on Fox News.
The relationship between Hollywood and the military and intelligence arms of the U.S. government have long been cozy. “When the CIA or the Pentagon says, ‘We’ll help you, if you play ball with us,’ that’s favoring one form of speech over another. It becomes propaganda,” David Robb, author of Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies told The Los Angeles Times. “The danger for filmmakers is that their product — entertainment and information — ends up being government spin.”
Awarding Argo the Best Picture Oscar is like Barack Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize: an undeserved accolade fawningly bestowed upon a dubious recipient based on a transparent fiction; an award for what never was and never would be and a decision so willfully naïve and grotesque it discredits whatever relevance and prestige the proceedings might still have had.*
So this Sunday night, when Argo has won that coveted golden statuette, it will be clear that we have yet again been blinded by the heavy dust of politics and our American mantra of hostility and resentment will continue to inform our decisions, dragging us closer and closer to the abyss.
***** ***** *****
* Yes, in this analogy, the equivalent of Henry Kissinger is obviously 2004′s dismal “Crash.”
1 The introduction of Argo is a dazzingly sloppy few minutes of caricatured history of Iran, full of Orientalist images of violent ancient Persians (harems and all), which gets many basic facts wrong. In fact, it is shocking this intro made it to release as written and recorded.
Here are some of the problems:
1. The voice over narration says, “In 1950, the people of Iran elected Mohammad Mossadegh, the secular democrat, Prime Minister. He nationalized pitish and U.S. petroleum holdings, returning Iran’s oil to its people.”
Mossadegh was elected to the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) in 1944. He did not become Prime Minister until April 1951 and was not “elected by the people of Iran.” Rather, he was appointed to the position by the representatives of the Majlis.
Also, the United States did not have petroleum interests in Iran at the time.
2. After piefly describing the 1953 coup, the narrator says Britain and the United States “installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah.”
Wow. First, the Shah’s name was not Reza Pahlavi. That is his father’s (and son’s) name. Furthermore, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was not installed as Shah since had already been Shah of Iran since September 1941, after pitain and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Iran and forced the abdication of his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi.
During the coup in 1953, the Shah fled to Baghdad, then Rome. After Mossadegh had been forced out, the Shah returned to the Peacock Throne.
This is not difficult information to come by, and yet the screenwriter and director of Argo didn’t bother looking it up. And guess what? Ben Affleck actually majored in Middle East Studies in college. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t graduate.
The rest of the brief intro, while mentioning the torture of SAVAK, glosses over the causes of the revolution, but lingers on the violence that followed. As it ends, the words “Based on a True Story” appear on the screen. The first live action moment we see in Argo is of an American flag being burned.
Such is Affleck’s insistence that Argo is “not a political movie.”
Still, as Kevin B. Lee wrote in Slate last month, “This opening may very well be the reason why critics have given the film credit for being insightful and progressive—because nothing that follows comes close, and the rest of the movie actually undoes what this opening achieves.”
Instead of keeping its eye on the big picture of revolutionary Iran, the film settles into a retrograde “white Americans in peril” storyline. It recasts those oppressed Iranians as a raging, zombie-like horde, the same dark-faced demons from countless other movies— still a surefire dramatic device for instilling fear in an American audience. After the opening makes a big fuss about how Iranians were victimized for decades, the film marginalizes them from their own story, shunting them into the role of villains. Yet this irony is overshadowed by a larger one: The heroes of the film, the CIA, helped create this mess in the first place. And their triumph is executed through one more ruse at the expense of the ever-dupable Iranians to cap off three decades of deception and manipulation.
And brilliantly concludes,
Looking at the runaway success of this film, it seems as if critics and audiences alike lack the historical knowledge to recognize a self-serving perversion of an unflattering past, or the cultural acumen to see the utterly ersatz nature of the enterprise: A cast of stock characters and situations, and a series of increasingly contrived narrow escapes from third world mobs who, predictably, are never quite smart enough to catch up with the Americans. We can delight all we like in this cinematic recycling act, but the fact remains that we are no longer living in a world where we can get away with films like this—not if we want to be in a position to deal with a world that is rising to meet us. The movies we endorse need to rise to the occasion of reflecting a new global reality, using a newer set of storytelling tools than this reheated excuse for a historical geopolitical thriller.*This post originally appeared on Nima Shirazi’s website Wide Asleep in America on Saturday, Febuary 23, 2013 (i.e. the day before the Academy Awards)
President Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel-Palestine is being termed a “last chance visit” to revive the moribund peace process and save the two-state solution from looming demise.
Israel has already pre-empted the visit by announcing plans to build thousands of additional Jewish settler units near Ramallah in the heart of the West Bank. The expansion of the settlement of Beit Eil and other colonies throughout the West Bank is seen a calculated message of defiance to the US administration, say Palestinian officials.
The Israelis don’t seek to deny this intransigence as they continue invoke the old mantra that the West Bank is a “disputed” rather than “occupied” territory and that Jews have an inherent right to live anywhere in the “historic Jewish homeland”.
The frenzied and phenomenal expansion of settlements, which is coupled with an unprecedented demolition campaign in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, is also a message to the Palestinians that it is futile to expect the US government to exert any meaningful pressure on Israel.
For its part, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership is hoping that in his second term in the White House, President Obama will be freer to pressure Israel. Palestinian officials seem careful to sound responsive to US efforts lest the PA is blamed for the possible collapse of the political process.
However, with most Israelis firmly opposed to pulling back to 1967 borders, some Palestinian intellectuals and political commentators expect US pressure to target the Palestinians, not the Israelis, given the latter’s political clout in Washington, especially in Congress.
This is the view of Abdel-Sattar Kassem, professor of political science at An-Najah National University in Nablus in the northern West Bank.
“I think the Americans will pressure the weaker party, the Palestinian leadership, to give more concessions to the Israelis. And in light of past experience, I am not sure the PA will successfully withstand and resist the American pressure.”
Kassem said the PA is vulnerable to US pressure. “Their coffers are empty and I am afraid they would do American bidding if the Americans coupled their pressure with financial inducements.”
The US Congress is reportedly in the process of unfreezing aid to the PA in a gesture observers say is designed to encourage PA President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations with Israel.
Abbas is likely to face tough opposition from within his Fatah Party and other PLO factions as well as from Hamas in case he crosses the so-called “national constants” or red lines. Palestinian national constants include total Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, the return of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, and repatriation of Palestinian refugees.
However, the PA chairman could always use financial incentives and disincentives to neutralise his opponents within the PLO. He could also argue that he is trying to save what can be saved of “Palestine” before it is too late.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is adopting highly maximalist positions in the hope of convincing the Americans to ask the other party to make “reciprocal concessions”. This tactic, Netanyahu calculates, would enable Israel to “maintain its vital interests” in the context of any final peace deal with the Palestinians.
This week, the Israeli prime minister repeated his extremist conditions for peace, which he voiced in his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech.
Addressing an audience of American Jewish leaders, Netanyahu said any Palestinian entity West of the River Jordan would have to be completely demilitarised and less than completely independent.
Netanyahu, a master of prevarication, blamed the Palestinians for the stalled peace process, ignoring the phenomenal settlement expansion Israel has been carrying out relentlessly ever since he came to power nearly four years ago.
“To reach a solution means to negotiate in good faith. That means you don’t place preconditions. For the past four years the Palestinians regrettably placed conditions, time after time. My hope is that they leave them aside and get to the negotiating table.”
In his 2009 speech, Netanyahu said that any Palestinian state that might come into existence would have its borders and border crossings firmly under Israeli control. He also said that Israel would never leave Occupied Jerusalem, nor allow for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, uprooted by Jewish terrorists in 1948, back to their homes and villages in what is now Israel.
Moreover, Netanyahu vowed to keep the bulk of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and never return to the armistice lines of 4 June 1967.
Netanyahu’s extremist position can never be accepted by 99 per cent of Palestinians, which is why the Palestinians don’t take them seriously and wouldn’t discuss them before a respectable audience.
PESSIMISM: Most Palestinian officials and pundits are pessimistic about the chances of a breakthrough in the stalled peace process. PA officials keep voicing the same platitudes about international law and legitimacy; they also regurgitate old hopes, which have become distant wishes, that the US would pressure Israel to end the occupation.
Other Palestinians, mainly critics of PA indecision and negotiating performance, hope that the PA leadership won’t give in to US financial blackmail.
Sources in Washington said this week that Congress was working on unfreezing $700 million for the PA. The funds were frozen after the PA took its statehood bid to the UN.
State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland said it was important for the PA to remain effective, adding that new Secretary of State John Kerry believed the funds would be released without delay. “It is in the interest of not only the Palestinians but Israel and the United States as well.”
Palestinians urge their leadership in Ramallah, especially President Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee, not to make any connection, implicit or explicit, between the political process and US funding of the PA regime.
The PA denies the existence of any such connection. However, critics charge that there is no such a thing as a free lunch and that the United States is not a charitable society.