DEEPENING CRISIS

Image by Ismael Shammout
Deepening crisis

Economic conditions in the West Bank as well as Gaza are deteriorating, leaving many incensed at the masquerade of peace talks, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah


As 1.5 million Gazans are crying out to the world to pressure Israel to lift its scandalously callous blockade of the coastal territory, another 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank are struggling to cope with an unprecedented economic crisis that is further impoverishing and exhausting them.

The crisis, the harshest in recent memory, stems from a host of local and global factors, including soaring food and energy prices, sagging currency value, rampant joblessness and draconian Israeli restrictions on the movement of people, goods and services.

Further exacerbating these conditions is a devastating drought, unseen for decades, and which has nearly destroyed this year’s grain crops upon which many Palestinian families depend for their livelihood. And the drought is not just affecting farmers. Coupled with a phenomenal rise in temperatures, it is also expected to cause a serious water shortage crisis in most localities, especially in the summer months.

Some Palestinians are already at loss as to how they will be able to cope with the steep rise in basic commodities.

Take flour, for example — a staple for most Palestinian families. Last year, a sack of wheat flour weighing 50 kilogrammes cost 70 Israeli Shekels, or $20. Today, the same amount costs 210 Israeli Shekels or $65. Prices of other basic consumer products, such as rice, sugar, cooking oil, meat, including poultry, vegetables and fruits have likewise skyrocketed, making them nearly unaffordable for many Palestinian families. This week, a kilo of medium-quality tomatoes was sold in the Hebron region for 10 Israeli Shekels or $3.

Further, the price of electricity and cooking gas have become a real burden for the poorer segments of society, with many families unable to pay their accumulating utility bills, some resorting to burning wood for cooking. Added to that is the freefall in the value of the Jordanian Dinar, the main currency of Palestinian savings. The Dinar has lost a fourth of its value against the Israeli Shekel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which depends to a large extent on handouts from the West and oil-rich Arab countries, has failed to deal with the evolving crisis.

Last week, the Federation of Palestinian Labour Unions, launched a “warning strike” to protest against the high cost of living as well as the government’s refusal to pay the accumulating salaries of thousands of school teachers and other civil servants appointed in 2006 following Hamas’s electoral victory.

Initially, the government of Salam Fayyad rattled sabres in the face of the striking civil servants, vowing to prosecute and punish strikers. The government eventually backed down, however, promising to resolve “all issues” in a friendly manner and through dialogue.

With PA-Israeli peace talks going nowhere, and with Israel continuing to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, effectively annulling any remaining prospect for a viable Palestinian state, the next few months are predicted to be crucial in terms of how the Palestinians will elect to manage their national ordeal.

Al-Ahram Weekly asked Palestinian economist Hazem Kawasmi how he thought the Palestinian masses would cope with the present economic crunch. Kawasmi said he foresaw an “unprecedented” and “historic deterioration” in the Palestinian economy that would shake the political and economic system in Palestine and the region.

As to the situation in the Gaza Strip, where there is economic meltdown resulting from the hermetic Israeli blockade, Kawasmi predicts an “explosion” in the coming few weeks or months. This explosion, he argued, would again be directed towards the Egyptian border, for the sake of getting food, medicine and all kinds of goods that don’t exist today in the Gaza Strip.

“One cannot expect people to live in hunger and in high rates of poverty and unemployment for a long time. There is no convincing justification why the Palestinian- Egyptian border at Rafah has not opened yet, even on temporary basis, leaving Gazan children, women and elderly people to die slowly and suffer on a daily basis,” he said.

The Palestinian people in Gaza, Kawasmi said, shouldn’t continue to suffer until all political problems in the region are solved, adding that unless there is an immediate economic arrangement on Rafah that will facilitate the movement of goods and people across the border, the Gazan economy will soon collapse entirely.

As to the West Bank, Kawasmi points out that Israel is taking steps to disengage itself economically from the West Bank. As soon as the so-called apartheid wall is completed, Kawasmi argues, “the basis for the new economic relationship will be, from an Israeli view point: ‘We are here, and you are there, and we don’t care.'”

In this context, Palestinians are growing disillusioned with peace talks with Israel. According to a poll conducted in mid-April by the Jerusalem Centre for Information and Communication, the proportion of Palestinians supporting the two-state solution fell from 53 per cent in October 2007 to 47 per cent now. Similarly, those who voiced optimism about the possibility of reaching a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fell substantially from 44.9 per cent last year to 36 per cent now.

According to the poll, Palestinians are voicing a variety of views as to the alternatives available to the current political deadlock, with more than 27 per cent advocating a third Intifada or uprising, and 37 per cent calling for dismantling and dissolving the PA. Nearly 13 per cent favoured a unilateral declaration of independence.

To be sure, Palestinian frustration with the peace process is more than justified since that process has so far yielded no substantive outcome despite numerous talk sessions, highlighted meetings — involving American, Israeli and Palestinian leaders — as well as a number of peace conferences in the US and Europe.

This week, Henry Siegman, director of the US/Middle East Project in New York, underscored the bankruptcy and disingenuousness of the peace process. “What is required of statesmen is not more peace conferences or clever adjustments to previous peace formulations but the moral and political courage to end their collaboration with the massive hoax the peace process has been turned into,” he said.

“Of course,” he added, “Palestinian violence must be condemned and stopped, particularly when it targets civilians. But is it not utterly disingenuous to pretend that Israel’s occupation — maintained by Israel’s army- manned checkpoint and barricades, helicopter gun-ships, jet fighters, targeted assassinations, and military incursions, not to speak of the massive theft of Palestinian lands — is not an exercise in continuous and unrelenting violence against more than three million civilians? If Israel were to renounce violence, could the occupation last even one day?”

PERHAPS NOW YOU WILL BELIEVE IT WAS MURDER….

After the revelation this week of a new Israeli spy case, is it not conceivable that a country that would spy on its ‘best friend’ would take part in a murder of someone involved in helping Palestinian children?

After police fished the body of Riad Hamad out of Lady Bird Lake in East Austin, Texas, they told the media the non-violent Palestinian activist and directing coordinator of the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund had committed suicide.

“Right now, the indications are that this was not, there was not foul play involved,” police Sgt. Joseph Chacon told KXAN, never mind Mr. Hamad was found bound with duct tape. “Parkgoers who saw the body said the death did not look accidental. They said the man’s face was wrapped with duct tape, and his arms appeared to be tied in front of his body.” KXAN did not bother to explain how Hamad managed to wrap himself in duct tape.

The rest of that report by Kurt Nimmo can be read HERE

Does that sound like a suicide to you? The answer could be yes if the victim’s name was Houdini, but not so in this case. It was MURDER!

Also from the above linked article….

Back in February, the FBI and IRS raided Hamad’s Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund. “We had a very unpleasant visit from the FBI and IRS agents yesterday morning and they walked out with more than 40 boxes of tax returns, forms, documents, books, flags, cds etc.,” Hamad explained in an email to Hajja Romi. “The special agent said that they have a probable cause for money laundering, wire fraud, bank fraud, etc and I think that all of it stems from more than 35 years of watching me.”

Finally, it should be remembered that back in 2003, Israel declared its intention to embark “upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries,” according to United Press International. “The Israeli statements were confirmed by more than a half dozen U.S. foreign policy and intelligence officials in interviews with UPI. Israeli hit teams, which consist of units or squadrons of the Kidon, a sub-unit for Mossad’s highly secret Metsada department, would stage the operations, former Israeli intelligence sources said. Kidon is a Hebrew word meaning ‘bayonet,’ one former Israeli intelligence source said.”

The ‘suicide’ of Riad Hamad was very clearly the work of officials from both the United States and Israel… after all, the man was a criminal, his crime? He had a problem with Israel killing Palestinians and had shipped books to children.

The following is a tribute to Riad, and an appeal to help carry out his work…

Riad Elsohl Hamad – 1952-2008

Riad Hamad died on April 14, 2008 in Austin, Texas, a victim of drowning in Lady Bird Lake. He was a tireless advocate for Palestinians, and especially women and children living in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon. He created the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund and raised millions of dollars through this organization for schools, charitable organizations, and hospitals.

We cannot begin to express our sorrow at the death of this fine man who has helped so many and asked for so little. Many of you have written to tell us how much he has done and how much he will be missed. We are grateful for the outpouring of affection, and we want to assure everyone who has been a part of PCWF that its mission will continue.

One of you wrote of Riad: As beautiful a human being as I have ever met…His charisma, energy, and positive outlook were contagious. He loved the children of Palestine and worked tirelessly on their behalf…He would rather sleep in his car than pay for a hotel room so that he could save the money and send it to the children of Palestine…It was never about him, only the children of Palestine.

Please help us continue his work in his honor and in his memory at PCWF. Tax exempt donations may be made to:

Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund
405 Vista Heights Rd.
El Cerrito, CA 94530
510-236-5338

Thank you, Riad, you will never be forgotten.

JOURNALISTS ARE WELCOME TO VISIT ISRAEL …. IF THEY CONCEAL THE TRUTH

Dutch journalist deported from Israeli airport

by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC News
A Dutch journalist who arrived at the Israeli Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday was detained by Israeli forces there for 24 hours, then deported to Holland and not allowed to enter Israel.

ben_gurion.jpg

The journalist, Abir Sarras, is employed by Radio Netherlands International, and was travelling to the Palestinian territories to report on the Catastrophe (Naqba) commemorations taking place in May. She was told by Israeli security at the airport that, due to the fact that she is part Palestinian, and carries a Palestinian ID in addition to her Dutch passport, she is not allowed to enter Israel through Ben Gurion airport. The Israeli Ministry of the Interior confirmed that any person who carries a Palestinian ID must travel the ‘Palestinian route’ through Jordan.

The experience of Sarras differed significantly from her counterpart, a white reporter for the same outlet, Radio Netherlands International, Nicolien den Boer, who arrived at Ben-Gurion airport on the 9th of April. Den Boer was questioned for five hours, but was allowed to enter, and was immediately provided with the Israeli narrative of the conflict at the Israeli government press office. She wrote about her experience on a blog that has been circulating through the internet, stating that the security measures she experienced are necessary in order for Israel to maintain its security in the face of ‘terror’ threats.

It is unknown whether Den Boer has visited the Palestinian side of the Wall, as Israelis regularly prevent Western journalists from travelling to the Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories to report on the daily realities of life under occupation. What is certain, however, is that Sarras will not be allowed to cross to the Israeli side of the Wall, if she is able to purchase another airline ticket and enter through the Israeli-designated ‘Palestinian crossing’. Because she is part Palestinian, the Israeli authorities consider this foreign journalist to automatically constitute a threat, and will not allow her to see what’s on their side of the Israeli-built Wall.

While Nicolien Den Boer will be able to travel freely to cover the story to which she is assigned, her fellow journalist, assigned by the same news outlet to the same assignment, will be confined in her coverage to the ever-shrinking ghettoes of the Palestinian West Bank – if, that is, she can afford to buy another airline ticket after being deported and flown back home to Holland.

ISRAEL ~~ SIXTY YEARS OF DECEIT

The latest incident regarding, at least, the second Israeli nuclear spy has literally opened a Pandora’s Box. One can’t help but ask ‘what else Israel has been lying to the world about?’

The entire case regarding the espionage is truly the ultimate in Chutzpah. America has literally been the lifeline of the zionist paradise for the past 60 years, at the tune of three billion dollars a year (over three TRILLION dollars to date of U.S. taxpayers money). Yet, Israel seems to think it’s OK to spy on their best (possibly only) friend. Well, it isn’t! As an Israeli I am disgusted by this, as a former American I feel betrayed.

But back to the question raised above, ‘what else has Israel been lying to the world about?’

Let’s start with the treatment of the Palestinians….

For sixty years the State of Israel has virtually convinced the West that Palestinians are the enemy. The West has allowed Israel to literally destroy their nation and conduct a holocaust against their people, constantly turning a blind eye to every crime committed by Israel.

Let’s not forget the case of Mordechai Vanunu….

Here is man that ‘blew the whistle’ on Israel’s nuclear programme, a programme that until recently was denied by the Government of Israel. How can a man be punished for a crime regarding a programme that they claimed did not exist? Why is it that years after the man’s release from prison he is still hounded by the authorities and forbidden to speak to foreign journalists or leave the country? Just what is Israel trying to hide??

And of course there is Israel’s alleged involvement in 9/11….

The head of Homeland Security is a man named Michael Chertoff, an Israeli citizen who just happens to be the son of a Mossad agent. That fact alone makes one wonder what possible involvement the Mossad had in the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Last, but not least is Israel’s push for global war….

Israel can be held responsible for America’s continued involvement in Iraq, which to date has cost it’s people over 2,000 lives and countless dollars. Israel has been pushing for a ‘second front’ in Iran, claiming them to be a threat to the security of the Middle East. Israel with an arsenal of nuclear weapons claiming that a country without one bomb is a threat? Where is the logic in that, yet the Bush administration has been supportive of their deceitful efforts in these wars.
Along these same lines, Israel is responsible for the global war against Islam, again, convincing the West that Islam is the threat. In reality, it is Israel themselves that are the threat.

Bottom line is that ISRAEL CANNOT BE TRUSTED! Israel has been lying to the world for 60 years about EVERYTHING… and the world has been buying their loads of bull! It’s time for the world to wake up to this reality. It’s time for America to take steps to put an end to this. A good start would be a boycott of all Israeli products, a boycott of all 60th anniversary celebrations and sanctions put on Israel. The American people have paid dearly for Israel’s crimes, it’s payback time.

EVANGELICALS SPREAD THEIR HATRED IN THE HOLY LAND

‘Land and Love’ by Ismael Shammout
They come by the droves…. not to walk in the steps of Jesus, but rather to spit on them. Jesus preached love, these people preach hatred… yet they believe He will return. Even if He does, I doubt very much if they would be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven…. Heaven is a HATE FREE ZONE!
Click on the following and watch the video of them in action…
Evangelicals visit for Israel’s 60th, call the sound of the mosque ‘evil’

PALESTINE REMEMBERED ~~ 60 YEARS LATER ~~ THE NATION WITHOUT A DAY OF INDEPENDENCE

In two weeks time Israel will celebrate the 60th anniversry of its founding. In two weeks time Palestine will begin a mourning period for the 60th anniversary of the destruction of their nation.
Very soon the following will be sung in CELEBRATION not mourning.
THERE ALWAYS WAS A PALESTINE…..
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A PALESTINE!

‘THE HOLY LAND WILL SHUDDER AT THE BLASPHEMY…’

“The Holy Land will shudder at the blasphemy of Jewish criminals… selling hametz during Pessah,” reads the headline of Ha’edah, the weekly mouthpiece of the Edah Haredit.

The rest of that article can be read HERE

‘Blasphemy of Jewish criminals… selling hametz (leaven)…..’
What about the following??? Is murder not blasphemy? Is torture not blasphemy? Is denial of medical care not blasphemy???
WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS ABOUT THESE INCIDENTS?
Israeli military kills three Palestinians in Beit Lahia
Palestinian man killed by Israeli airstrike in Rafah

Two dead in Israeli air strikes on Gaza
Rights group: Israel allows fewer Gaza cancer patients to enter

OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE WHAT ISRAEL IS TRYING TO HIDE

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

How am I expected to celebrate a ‘Festival of Freedom’ when my brother is in chains?

How am I expected to rejoice when my brother just buried his son?

Am I expected to close my eyes, my ears, my soul?
Even if I do the screams from the ‘other side’ are loud enough to hear, the blood running through the streets cannot be missed….

Yet there are those that are celebrating, rejoicing…. not looking at what is happening.

Perhaps the following video will help them see the reality… it’s THE
VIDEO ISRAEL DOES NOT WANT YOU TO SEE…

THE CAMERA EYES IN ON ISRAEL… AND LIES

If AIPAC won’t do it…. CAMERA will….

A pro-Israel group’s plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia
Report

(EI illustration)

A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.

A series of emails by members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), provided to The Electronic Intifada (EI), indicate the group is engaged in what one activist termed a “war” on Wikipedia.

A 13 March action alert signed by Gilead Ini, a “Senior Research Analyst” at CAMERA, calls for “volunteers who can work as ‘editors’ to ensure” that Israel-related articles on Wikipedia are “free of bias and error, and include necessary facts and context.” However, subsequent communications indicate that the group not only wanted to keep the effort secret from the media, the public, and Wikipedia administrators, but that the material they intended to introduce included discredited claims that could smear Palestinians and Muslims and conceal Israel’s true history.

With over two million articles in English on every topic imaginable, Wikipedia has become a primary reference source for Internet users around the world and a model for collaboratively produced projects. Openness and good faith are among Wikipedia’s core principles. Any person in the world can write or edit articles, but Wikipedia has strict guidelines and procedures for accountability intended to ensure quality control and prevent vandalism, plagiarism or distortion. It is because of these safeguards that articles on key elements of the Palestine-Israel conflict have generally remained well-referenced, useful and objective. The CAMERA plan detailed in the e-mails obtained by EI appears intended to circumvent these controls.

In the past, CAMERA has gained notoriety for its tactic of accusing virtually anyone who does not toe a right-wing pro-Israel line of bias. The group has even accused editors and reporters of the Israeli daily Haaretz of being “extreme” and participating in “radical anti-Israel activity.” Jeffrey Dvorkin, the former ombudsman of National Public Radio (NPR), frequently criticized by CAMERA for an alleged pro-Palestinian bias, wrote on the web publication Salon in February 2008 that “as a consequence of its campaign against NPR, CAMERA acted as the enabler for some seriously disturbed people,” citing persistent telephone threats he received in the wake of CAMERA campaigns.

Need for stealth and secrecy

Download CAMERA’s emails [PDF – 2.7 MB]

Throughout the documents EI obtained, CAMERA operatives stress the need for stealth and secrecy. In his initial action alert, Ini requests that recipients “not forward it to members of the news media.” In a 17 March follow-up email sent to volunteers, Ini explains that he wants to make the orchestrated effort appear to be the work of unaffiliated individuals. Thus he advises that “There is no need to advertise the fact that we have these group discussions.”

Anticipating possible objections to CAMERA’s scheme, Ini conjectures that “Anti-Israel editors will seize on anything to try to discredit people who attempt to challenge their problematic assertions, and will be all too happy to pretend, and announce, that a ‘Zionist’ cabal (the same one that controls the banks and Hollywood?) is trying to hijack Wikipedia.”

But stealth and misrepresentation are presented as the keys to success. Ini suggests that after volunteers sign up as editors for Wikipedia they should “avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time.” This strategy is intended to “avoid the appearance of being one-topic editors,” thus attracting unwanted attention.

Ini counsels that volunteers “might also want to avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a user name that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name.” To further conceal the identity of CAMERA-organized editors, Ini warns, “don’t forget to always log in before making [edits]. If you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer’s IP address” — a number that allows identification of the location of a computer connected to the Internet.

A veteran Wikipedia editor, known as “Zeq,” who according to the emails is colluding with CAMERA, also provided advice to CAMERA volunteers on how they could disguise their agenda. In a 20 March email often in misspelled English, Zeq writes, “You don’t want to be precived [sic] as a ‘CAMERA’ defender’ on wikipedia [sic] that is for sure.” One strategy to avoid that is to “edit articles at random, make friends not enemies — we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint.”

Zeq also identifies, in a 25 March email, another Wikipedia editor, “Jayjg,” whom he views as an effective and independent pro-Israel advocate. Zeq instructs CAMERA operatives to work with and learn from Jayjg, but not to reveal the existence of their group even to him fearing “it would place him in a bind” since “[h]e is very loyal to the wikipedia [sic] system” and might object to CAMERA’s underhanded tactics.

“Uninvolved administrators”

The emphasis on secrecy is apparently not only to aid the undetected editing of articles, but also to facilitate CAMERA’s takeover of key administrator positions in Wikipedia.

For Zeq a key goal is to have CAMERA operatives elected as administrators — senior editors who can override the decisions of others when controversies arise. When disputes arise about hotly contested topics, such as Israel and Palestine, often only an “uninvolved administrator” — one who is considered neutral because he or she has not edited or written articles on the topic — can arbitrate.

Hence, Zeq advises in a 21 March email that “One or more of you who want to take this route should stay away from any Israel realted [sic] articles for one month until they [sic] interact in a positive way with 100 wikipedia [sic] editors who would be used later to vote you as an administrator.”

Once these CAMERA operatives have successfully infiltrated as “neutral” editors, they could then exercise their privileges to assert their own political agenda.

In addition, Zeq suggests making deliberately provocative edits to Palestine-related articles. He hopes that editors he assumes are Palestinian will delete these changes, and then CAMERA operatives could report them to administrators so they could be sanctioned and have their editing privileges suspended.

Passing propaganda as fact

Gilead Ini’s 17 March email provides specific advice on how to pass off pro-Israel propaganda or opinion as fact meeting Wikipedia’s strict guidelines:

“So, for example, imagine that you get rid of or modify a problematic sentence in an article alleging that ‘Palestinian [sic] become suicide bombers to respond to Israel’s oppressive policies.’ You should, in parallel leave a comment on that article’s discussion page (either after or before making the change). Avoid defending the edit by arguing that ‘Israel’s policies aren’t ‘oppression,’ they are defensive. And anyway Palestinians obviously become suicide bombers for other reasons for example hate education!’ Instead, describe how this sentence violates Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines. One of the core principles is that assertions should adhere to a Neutral Point of View, usually abbreviated NPOV. (The opposite of NPOV is POV, or Point of View, which is basically another way of saying subjective statement, or opinion.) So it would be best to note on the discussion page that ‘This sentence violates Wikipedia’s NPOV policy, since the description of Israel’s policies as ‘oppressive’ is an opinion. In addition, it is often noted by Middle East experts that one of the reasons Palestinians decide to become suicide bombers is hate education and glorification of martyrdom in Palestinian society …'”

In fact, there have been numerous studies debunking claims about Palestinian “hate education,” or “glorification of martyrdom” causing suicide bombings (such as Dying to Win by University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape) though this claim remains a favorite canard of pro-Israel activists seeking to distract attention from the effects of Israel’s occupation and other well-documented and systematic human rights abuses in fueling violence.

Zeq specifically names articles targeted for this kind of treatment including those on the 1948 Palestinian Exodus, Causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, Hamas, Hizballah, Arab citizens of Israel, anti-Zionism, al-Nakba, the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian right of return.

Interestingly the CAMERA editors also target the article on the early Islamic period concept of Dhimmi, a protected status for non-Muslims which historically allowed Jews to thrive in Muslim-ruled lands while other Jews were being persecuted in Christian Europe. Pro-Israel activists have often tried to portray the concept of Dhimmi as akin to the Nuremberg laws in order to denigrate Muslim culture and justify ahistorical Zionist claims that Jews could never live safely in majority Muslim countries.

Also among the emails is a discussion about how to alter the article on the massacre of Palestinian civilians in the village of Deir Yassin by Zionist militiamen on 9 April 1948. Unable to debunk the facts of the massacre outright, the CAMERA activists hunt for quotes from “reputable historians” who can cast doubt on it. Their strategy is not dissimilar from those who attempt to present evolution, or global climate change as “controversial” regardless of the weight of the scientific evidence, simply because the facts do not accord with their belief system.

Zeq has already made extensive edits to the Wikipedia article on Rachel Corrie, the American peace activist murdered by an Israeli soldier in the occupied Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003. As a result of these and other edits Zeq has himself been a controversial figure among Wikipedia editors, suggesting his own stealth tactics may not be working.

“We will go to war”

Zeq, however, counsels CAMERA operatives to be patient and lie low until they build up their strength. “We will go to war after we have build our army, equiped it trained [sic],” he wrote on 9 April. “So please if you want to win this war help us build ou[r] army. let’s not just rush in and achieve nothing, or abit more than nothing [sic].”

‘OPERATION WHITEWASH’ BEGINS IN ISRAEL

Fadel Shana, OBM

“Unlike terrorist organizations, the IDF does not intentionally attack civilians, and takes various precautionary measures to avoid and prevent such incidents from occurring.”

So says the murders of the gorgeous young man to the left… he just happened to be ‘in the way’ of the projectile that killed him. So starts the official whitewash of the incident, commonly referred to as an ‘investigation’. When the murderers themselves conduct the ‘investigation’, you can be pretty sure what the outcome will be.

This crime along with the thousands of others that the State of Israel is guilty of must be brought to an International Court… justice must be served and the guilty parties must be punished.

ENOUGH WITH THE WHITEWASHING!

ENOUGH WITH THE LIES!!

IDF launches probe into Reuters cameraman’s death

Military to hold official operational inquiry into the shooting of Reuters cameraman in Gaza; rebuts human right group’s claims of intentional fire

Ynet, AP

The IDF will be conducting an official investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a Reuters photographer in Gaza last Wednesday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced Sunday.

Fadel Shana was killed while filming an Israeli tank in Gaza on Wednesday, a day of heavy fighting. His final footage shows the tank firing a shell in his direction.

Palestinian medics say five others were killed in the incident, including four teenagers.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch says its investigation suggests soldiers fired either recklessly or targeted Shana.

The IDF rejected all claims of intentional fire at the cameraman: “Unlike terrorist organizations, the IDF does not intentionally attack civilians, and takes various precautionary measures to avoid and prevent such incidents from occurring,” said the military in a statement.

“Any claim to the contrary in both misleading and mendacious.”

The IDF further stated that an inquiry is held after any incident involving Palestinian civilians’ casualties, adding that The inquiry’s findings will be submitted to the Military Advocate General for further evaluation.

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY ~~ A WEEK OF REVOLTS

April 21, 1856

Stonemasons and other construction workers on building sites around Melbourne, Australia, stopped work and marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament House. They advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. Their direct action protest was a success, becoming the first organized workers in the world to achieve an eight-hour workday, inspiring the celebration of Labor Day and May Day.

April 21, 1989

Six days after the death of Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party, some 100,000 students from more than 40 universities gathered at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate Hu prior to his funeral. They voiced their discontent with China’s authoritarian communist government, and called for greater democracy. Ignoring government warnings of violent suppression of any mass demonstration, the students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants.


April 22, 1963

The Mothers for Peace, a group made up of Catholic Workers, members of PAX (which became Pax Christi in 1972), Women Strike for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and others, met with Pope John XXIII to plead for a condemnation of nuclear war and the development of nonviolent resistance.

About Women Strike for Peace

April 22, 1970

Poster at the first Earth Day

On the first Earth Day observance, an estimated 20 million participated in peaceful demonstrations of concern for the environment across the U.S. An
estimated 20 million people participated including ten thousand grade schools and high schools, two thousand colleges across one thousand communities.

1st Earth Day, 1970


Ron Cobb

Beginnings of Earth Day from then Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin)

read more about
Earth Day


April 22, 1992

50,000 attended “Don’t Count On Us,” an anti-war rock concert in Belgrade, Serbia. It was an expression to the nationalist regime of President Slobodan Milosevic of the resistance within society to the military aggression he had been pursuing in the name of Serbian nationalism. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the various constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia — Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina — declared their independence.
Following a military draft call-up, fewer than 10% had reported for duty, and there was considerable dissension within what was then still called the Yugoslav People’s Army.

read more


April 23, 1968

Students at Columbia University in New York City occupied campus buildings to protest military research and the razing of part of the neighboring Morningside Heights section of Harlem to make way for a new student gymnasium.

read more


April 23, 1971

In the final event of Operation Dewey Canyon III, nearly 1,000 Vietnam War veterans threw their combat ribbons, helmets, and uniforms on the Capitol steps along with toy weapons.


read more about Operation Dewey Canyon III


April 23, 1996


Nineteen Ukrainian demonstrators were arrested in the capital, Kiev, during an illegal anti-nuclear protest marking the 10th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the largest and deadliest nuclear accident in history [see April 26, 1986].

Chernobyl veterans


April 24, 1915

The Ottoman Turkish government arrested 200 of the most prominent political and intellectual leaders of the Armenian community in the capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul). These men and hundreds more were then imprisoned from throughout Anatolia (present-day Turkey) and, shortly thereafter, most were summarily executed.
This is the day on which the genocide of more than a million Armenians is commemorated: when the intention of the Turkish government to eliminate the Armenian people became clear. Already Armenian recruits in the Ottoman Turkish army had been disarmed and organized as laborers working under slave-like conditions
.
Fact sheet on the Armenian genocide from University of Michigan-Dearborn

April 24, 1916

The Easter Uprising began when between 1,000 and 1,500 members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood attempted to seize Dublin and issued the declaration of Irish independence from Britain.

The seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation

read the Proclamation

< read more >


April 24, 1934

This editorial cartoon appeared in New Masses magazine.
It refers to the attempt of anti-radical vigilantes and repressive college administrators to disrupt the first national student strike against war.


April 24, 1967

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. commander in South Vietnam, said that the enemy, considered to be North Vietnam and the Viet Cong southern insurgents, had “gained support in the United States that gives him hope that he can win politically that which he cannot win militarily.”
Though he said that ninety-five percent of the people were behind the United States effort in Vietnam, he asserted that the American soldiers in Vietnam were “dismayed, and so am I, by recent unpatriotic acts at home.” This criticism of the anti-war movement was not received well by many in and out of the movement, who believed it was both their right and responsibility to speak out against the war.

April 24, 1971


500,000 demonstrated against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C.
It was the largest-ever demonstration opposing U.S. war in Southeast Asia. 150,000 marched at a simultaneous rally in San Francisco.


April 25, 1945

Delegates from some 50 countries met in San Francisco for the United Nations Conference on International Organization.
Pres. Roosevelt had just died and had been working on his speech to the conference: “The work, my friends, is peace; more than an end of this war—an end to the beginning of all wars; … as we go forward toward the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world—the contribution of lasting peace—I ask you to keep up your faith….”

April 25, 1965
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) sponsored what was then the largest anti-war demonstration in U.S. history. 25,000 turned out in Washington, D.C. to oppose Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s recent escalation of the war in Vietnam. Johnson had ordered sustained bombing of North Vietnam, and had committed the first combat troops.

April 25, 1969

The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and 100 others were arrested while picketing a Charleston, South Carolina, hospital to support unionization by its workers.

read more about Rev Ralph Aberathy


April 25, 1974

A peaceful uprising by army and civilians, known as the Carnation Revolution (Revolução dos Cravos), ended 48 years of fascism in Portugal. People holding red carnations urged soldiers not to resist the overthrow and many placed the flowers in the muzzles of their rifles. The regime killed four before giving in to the popular resistance.

Lisbon demonstration ’74

read more

April 25, 1993

Over one million marched for homosexual rights and liberation in Washington, D.C.

Health Care Rally at April 25, 1993

The AIDS quilt on display as part of the event.

An editorial at the time from The Progressive
read the march’s platform

April 25, 2004
The March for Women’s Lives drew a record 1.15 million people to Washington, D.C. The marchers wanted to protect legal and safe access to reproductive services including abortion, birth control and emergency contraception. Organized by a coalition that included the National Organization for Women (NOW), Black Women’s Health Imperative, Feminist Majority, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Planned Parenthood, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the March for Women’s Lives was the largest protest in U.S. history.


April 26, 1954

The Geneva Conference began for the purpose of bringing to an end the conflicts in Korea and Indochina. This followed the defeat of the French in Vietnam at Dien Bien Phu. France had been trying to reassert colonial control over Indochina following World War II.
The conferees included Cambodia, France, Laos, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Soviet Union, the State of Vietnam, the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
As a result, Vietnam was temporarily partitioned pending elections on reunification to be held in 1956; those elections were never held.


April 26, 1966

Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales founded the Crusade for Justice, a Chicano activist group, in Denver, Colorado, and marked his departure from the Democratic Party. It was the beginning of a nationalist strategy for the attainment of Chicano civil rights.

read more

Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales


April 26, 1986

A major accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine near the border with Belarus, both then part of the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). An explosion and fire in the No. 4 reactor sent radioactivity into the atmosphere. Only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout over their country did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.
During a radioactive fire that burned for 10 days, 190 tons of toxic materials were expelled into the atmosphere (3% of the reactor core). The wind blew 70% of the radioactive material into neighboring Belarus.
The explosion at Chernobyl was the world’s largest-scale nuclear accident. Approximately 134 power-station workers were exposed to extremely high doses of radiation directly after the accident. About 31 of these people died within 3 months. Another 25,000 “liquidators” — the Soviet soldiers and firefighters who were involved in clean-up operations — have died since the incident of diseases such as lung cancer, leukemia, and cardiovascular disease. 400,000 were evacuated and over 2,000 towns and villages were bulldozed to the ground in areas considered permanently contaminated. Deaths and illnesses directly attributable to radiation exposure continue.
Deaths and illnesses directly attributable to radiation exposure continue.

“Chernobyl is a global environment event of a new kind. It is characterized by the presence of thousands of environmental refugees, long-term contamination of land, water and air and possibly irreparable damage to ecosystems.”
– Christine K. Durbak, Chairwoman of the World Information Transfer, New York


Chernobyl for Kids

read more

April 26, 1994


South Africa held its first multiracial elections and chose anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela (with more than 62% of the vote) to head a new coalition government that included his African National Congress Party.

read more

Nelson Mandela


April 27, 1936

The UAW (United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America), gained autonomy from the AFL (American Federation of Labor), becoming the first democratic, independent labor union concerned with the rights of unskilled and semi-skilled laborers.

April 27, 1937

The Social Security Administration began operation by making its first payment to an American protected under the law, principally the elderly, and children who’ve lost their parents.
the social security debate today

April 27, 1942


Sixteen pacifists, including A.J. Muste and Evan Thomas, refused to register for the World War II draft.

A.J. Muste still working for peace 25 years later with Dorothy Day, leader of the Catholic Worker movement


April 27, 1987

Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, was blockaded by people protesting U.S. policies in Central America and Southern Africa. 700 were arrested.

April 27, 1989

Thousands of Chinese students took to the streets in Beijing to protest government policies and issued a call for greater democracy in the communist People’s Republic of China. The protests grew until the Chinese government ruthlessly suppressed them in June during what came to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Ignoring government warnings of violent suppression of any mass demonstration, students from more than 40 universities began a march to Tiananmen this day.

The students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants and, by mid-May, more than a million people filled the square.

Source

BORN TO DEMOLISH

Image by David Baldinger

Born to Demolish
By: Jeff Halper

It was another of those routine tragedies that are never publicized. At eight in the morning we at ICAHD (the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) received a call that the Border Police, Israeli police and Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers were massing below the Palestinian village of Anata, poised to begin another day of home demolitions.

We never know of demolitions ahead of time. The Israeli authorities responsible for demolishing Palestinian homes – the municipality and the Ministry of Interior in Jerusalem, the “Civil” Administration in the West Bank and the army – do not provide advanced warning to us or, indeed, to the families themselves. Tens of thousands of Palestinian families live with demolition orders on their homes, some 22,000 in East Jerusalem alone, where fully a third of Palestinian homes face demolition at any time.

When we received word of preparations for a demolition that morning, however, we knew precisely which home would be targeted first: that of the Hamdan family, the elderly parents their married son and daughter-in-law with their five children, and an unmarried son. It was a home we had rebuilt for the second time in last summer’s ICAHD work camp, when Israeli and international peace activists joined with local Palestinians to rebuild as an act of political resistance to the Occupation.

In fact, we had been present at the original demolition two and a half years before, a report of which, entitled “The Miserable Occupation on a Miserable Morning,” appeared on our website. At that time, 6:30 on a very cold and rainy morning in late November, 2005, ICAHD staff, volunteers and activists had rushed to Anata to witness, document and resist the demolition of the Hamdan family home – and subsequently of their next door neighbor. By the time we arrived the area had already been blocked off by the Israeli Border Police, so we had been unable to approach the houses.

We watched from afar as a bulldozer systematically demolished the homes, leaving a pile of rubble and the shattered families standing amidst their belongings in the freezing rain, wondering where to go, where they would sleep that night, how to survive without a home and any financial resources. Later that day we learned that another five Palestinian homes had been demolished: three in Beit Hanina, one in Isawia and another one in A-Tur. The home of yet another family suffered an even more grotesque fate. In a “compromise” with the court, the family is to demolish half its house with its own hands, while the other half will be sealed while the family attempts to obtain a building permit.

Only one small but devastating incident distinguished the Hamdan demolition this past week from the normal routine. As Shaadi Hamdan and I were standing in front of the home, we were accosted by a slim, blond Border Policeman, probably of Russian origin.

“I was born to demolish Palestinian homes,” he informed us mockingly, a big smile on his face, a swagger in his movements.

“I love demolishing homes. I wake up in the morning hungry to demolish homes.”

With that he walked away. I can’t convey the mixture of anguish, anger, bewilderment and resignation that crossed Shaadi’s face at that moment. He simply stood aside as his home was demolished for the second time.

I could not stand aside. Sensing that the forcible removal of the family’s possessions (or most of them) was about to cease and the demolition begin, I seized the moment and rushed into the home, planting myself in a corner of what had been the kitchen before the surprised Border Police could react. The head of the police unit rushed up to me sitting on the floor and ordered me to leave.

My conscience as an Israeli, a Jew and a human being forbids me to permit this illegal and immoral act of demolition from taking place, I told him. In fact, I informed him, I am placing you under citizen’s arrest for violating the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 53), which prohibits the demolishing of homes in occupied territories. I thereby asked the accompanying policemen to arrest him. Sputtering, furious, he placed plastic handcuffs on me and had me forcibly thrown out of the house.
Jeff Halper – Picture by Virginia Paradinas
Lying on the ground as the bulldozer commenced its evil work, I noted what I often see at demolitions: police and soldiers standing around laughing among themselves, eating sandwiches, swapping the latest sports news. Taking advantage of their being distracted from the demolition itself, I suddenly sprang up and made a run for the bulldozer. The police chased me and wrestled me to the ground. Furious at this additional challenge to his authority, the policeman in charge had me put in tight metal handcuffs and, since I refused to walk, dragged down the mountainside to an awaiting paddy wagon.

Nothing, of course, happened to me, besides a few bruises. The Border Policeman “born to demolish” paraded around me repeating his delight at the day’s events, all of which ICAHD activists recorded on film. But we Israeli Jews enjoy a privileged position. We know the police or soldiers will not shoot us, will not beat us, will not detain us for long, and so we exploit that privilege in ways that Palestinians can’t. Shaadi would have been shot for doing what I did. We also know another sad fact: that unless an Israeli like me performs such a dramatic act, no one will notice the demolitions that take place almost daily in Jerusalem, the West Bank and, yes, Gaza.

The news spread quickly throughout the world. I was interviewed that day, my hands still in handcuffs, by radio stations from South Africa to Norway. I tried, of course, to put my action in context, to stress that my experience paled next to the crime that had been perpetrated upon the Hamdan family by the Israeli authorities. But I knew the truth: only the arrest of an Israeli makes the news; Palestinian suffering, as their very claim for justice, is ignored. Still, resistance is necessary.

The Hamdan family is now in serious debt and without a home of their own. The three family units have been scattered amongst their relatives. We have offered to rebuild the home, but Shaadi says he has no more stomach for the unending cycle of building and demolishing. He doesn’t see the point of it, neither as an act of political resistance about which no one seems to care nor as a solution to his personal problems. Unable or unwilling to leave the country, which is what Israel’s policy of house demolitions is all about, he will sink into the woodwork, managing to survive out of sight as do millions of other Palestinians.

Overwhelmed by the scope of demolitions, it is unlikely we will stay in close touch with him as well. With 18,000 homes demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967 and thousands more targeted, we will do our best to resist those demolitions we can reach. We have rebuilt about 150 homes in the past eleven years, a drop in the bucket in terms of those needing to be rebuilt but significant in terms of acts of political resistance. Shaadi might not see it, and the Palestinian Authority does not pursue it, but ICAHD has succeeded in raising the issue of house demolitions among both governments and civil society in countries around the world. Ending house demolitions is in the first phase of the all-but-defunct Road Map.

Still, the demolition of the Hamdan home reminds us that Israel continues to strengthen and expand its Occupation daily, through the demolition of Palestinian homes, the expropriation of their land, massive settlement construction, the building of a massive highway system that separates Israeli from Palestinian traffic, the continued construction of the Wall and in a hundred other ways that escape public attention – all in violation of the so-called Road Map to which the US and Europe claim to be so committed.

Our struggles against the Occupation must continue, of course, even if no solution is apparent. Many of us in the critical Israeli peace movement believe that the two-state solution has been eliminated by Israel’s settlement policies (unless we accept the notion of a Palestinian Bantustan, which we do not), but we doubt that a one-state solution will garner the support needed to become a practical program. Many Palestinians like Shaadi feel isolated and even defeated; they persevere, but are in desperate need of international support and protection until a solution – or the will to impose a solution – emerges.

We must redouble our opposition to the Occupation in order to show Shaadi that, in fact, the rebuilding his home is part of an effective political movement that will achieve Palestinian national rights and a just peace. We can begin with a minimalist demand that Rice, Blair, Ban and the other international decision-makers should have insisted upon years ago: that Israel end the demolishing of Palestinian homes NOW.

IS DUBAI HELPING ETHNIC CLEANSING IN PALESTINE?

Is Dubai helping ethnic cleansing in Palestine?
From Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

The government of Dubai recently allowed a major bankroller of Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank to open at least two Jewelry stores in the Gulf emirate.

According to reliable sources in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a key member-state, Israeli billionaire and diamond magnate Lev Leviev is preparing to open two large jewelry stores in Dubai, a world’s hub of Jewelry trading.

The first store will be opened soon at the Burj Dubai Mall (Dubai Mall Tower) while a second store is slated to be opened later this year in the new Atlantis Hotel on the Jumeirah Palm Island.
Leviev has already opened one store in Dubai in March, 2008,  in the lobby of al-Qasr Hotel on Madinat Jumeirah.

The Dubai authorities were initially reluctant to grant the Israeli billionaire a license to do business in the oil-rich emirate. However, Leviev reportedly successfully  lobbied  “North American and European connections” to convince Dubai officials to reconsider their objections.

Leviev’s companies, including Africa-Israel and Leader Management & Development as well as several other subsidiaries, have been quite active in displacing Palestinian villagers from their homes and land in several parts of the West Bank.

The two firms have built hundreds of settler units in at least five Jewish settlements constructed on land illegally seized from its Arab proprietors.

In recent years, a  company called  Leader belonging to Leviev built the settlement of Zufim on private Arab land seized from the village of Jayyous. Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of the Leviev-owned company Africa-Israel  has built hundreds of settler units on land stolen from the village of Bilin. Numerous additional settler units were built in the two large settlements of Ma’ali Adomim, a few kilometers east of Jerusalem, and Har Homa, near the predominantly Christian Arab town of Beit Sahur.

Israel hopes that these settlements will cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, thus making the Palestinian dream of making the city the future capital of a prospective Palestinian state utterly unrealistic and outright impossible.

In addition to his intensive involvement in Jewish settlement expansion, including colonies defined by the inherently unjust Israeli justice system as “manifestly illegal,” Leviev has donated undisclosed but reportedly large sums of money to the Land Redemption Fund, a land-grabbing organization affiliated with Gush Emunim, the ideological group behind Jewish settlement activities in the West Bank.

According to the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, the Land Redemption Fund uses fraud and strong-arm tactics to seize land from Palestinians for settlement expansion.

Last year the Israeli group, Peace Now, and other settlement-watch groups, discovered that hundreds of settler units built in the settlement of Matityahu in the Salfit region, in the central West Bank, were actually built on private Palestinian land seized at gun point from its legal and rightful Palestinian owners.

However, despite the discovery, the Israeli government refused to dismantle the illegal settler units, with one Israeli official saying that “this problem will be discussed with the Palestinian Authority in the context of final-status talks.”

Leviev’s companies are actually destroying the lives of  thousands of Palestinians by narrowing their horizons and dispossessing them of their livelihoods.

Abdullah Abu Rahma from the village of Bilin and Sharif Omar from Jayyous told representative of the human rights group Adalah-NY (www.adalahny.org), which monitors Israeli theft Palestinian land, that “Leviev’s companies are destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained our villages for centuries.”

“We call on people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied against apartheid South Africa.”

The mayor of Jayyous, which suffered incalculable losses due to Leviev’s destructive rampage in the northern West Bank, told this reporter that “Leveiv is indulging in ethnic cleansing against our community and our farmers.”

“He is building settlements at our expense; he is destroying our land, our farms, and our orchards, and at the same time he is opening business in Dubai in order to finance his crimes against our people. Shame on Dubai and its government.”

Some Jewish organizations opposed to the Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid have also called on the countries of the world to boycott Israeli businesses and firms involved in dispossessing Palestinians of their land.

“We call on the government and people of the United Arab Emirates to join the growing international campaign to boycott Lev Leviev’s companies due to their construction of Israeli colonial settlements,” declared Daniel Lang-Levitsky of Jews Against the Occupation-NYC.

“A major Israeli violator of Palestinian rights and international law should not be opening jewelry stores in Dubai,” said Issa Ayoub, a spokesperson for the Adalah-NY group. Adalah-NY organized eight boycott protests outside Leviev’s new Madison Avenue Jewelry store  in New York City over the last five months.

The Palestinian Authority has refused to comment on the Dubai government decision to allow the settler bankroller Leviev to open  business ventures in the oil-rich emirate.

One Palestinian official contacted by telephone said “I don’t know anything about this affair and I have not heard of Leviev.”

A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip said “the Palestinian people were feeling embittered and betrayed by this scandalous behavior on the part of the Dubai government.”

“We were hoping that Dubai would stand with us against the genocidal Israeli regime and its unrelenting efforts to ethnically cleanse our people from their ancestral homeland. We had never imagined that a day would come when we had to appeal to an Arab country to refrain from harming us and undermining our cause.”

REMEMBERING PALESTINE ~~ 60 YEARS LATER ~~ NOT SO COOL FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL

ISRAEL’S WINTER SOLDIERS

Our reign of terror, by the Israeli army

NAYEF HASHLAMOUN/REUTERS/CORBIS Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian student during a protest in Hebron in 2005. Hebron is the only Palestinian city whose centre is directly controlled by the Israeli Military

In shocking testimonies that reveal abductions, beatings and torture, Israeli soldiers confess the horror they have visited on Hebron

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

The dark-haired 22-year-old in black T-shirt, blue jeans and red Crocs is understandably hesitant as he sits at a picnic table in the incongruous setting of a beauty spot somewhere in Israel. We know his name and if we used it he would face a criminal investigation and a probable prison sentence.

The birds are singing as he describes in detail some of what he did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron. And they are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten “to a pulp” when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed. And worse.

The young man left the army only at the end of last year, and his decision to speak is part of a concerted effort to expose the moral price paid by young Israeli conscripts in what is probably the most problematic posting there is in the occupied territories. Not least because Hebron is the only Palestinian city whose centre is directly controlled by the military, 24/7, to protect the notably hardline Jewish settlers there. He says firmly that he now regrets what repeatedly took place during his tour of duty.

But his frequent, if nervous, grins and giggles occasionally show just a hint of the bravado he might have displayed if boasting of his exploits to his mates in a bar. Repeatedly he turns to the older former soldier who has persuaded him to speak to us, and says as if seeking reassurance: “You know how it is in Hebron.”

The older ex-soldier is Yehuda Shaul, who does indeed “know how it is in Hebron”, having served in the city in a combat unit at the peak of the intifada, and is a founder of Shovrim Shtika, or Breaking the Silence, which will publish tomorrow the disturbing testimonies of 39 Israelis – including this young man – who served in the army in Hebron between 2005 and 2007. They cover a range of experiences, from anger and powerlessness in the face of often violent abuse of Arabs by hardline Jewish settlers, through petty harassment by soldiers, to soldiers beating up Palestinian residents without provocation, looting homes and shops, and opening fire on unarmed demonstrators.

The maltreatment of civilians under occupation is common to many armies in the world – including Britain’s, from Northern Ireland to Iraq.

But, paradoxically, few if any countries apart from Israel have an NGO like Breaking the Silence, which seeks – through the experiences of the soldiers themselves – as its website puts it “to force Israeli society to address the reality which it created” in the occupied territories.

The Israeli public was given an unflattering glimpse of military life in Hebron this year when a young lieutenant in the Kfir Brigade called Yaakov Gigi was given a 15-month jail sentence for taking five soldiers with him to hijack a Palestinian taxi, conduct what the Israeli media called a “rampage” in which one of the soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian civilian who just happened to be in the wrong place, and then tried to lie his way out of it.

In a confessional interview with the Israeli Channel Two investigative programme Uvda, Gigi, who had previously been in many ways a model soldier, talked of “losing the human condition” in Hebron. Asked what he meant, he replied: “To lose the human condition is to become an animal.”

The Israeli military did not prosecute the soldier who had fired on the Palestinian, as opposed to Gigi. But the military insists “that the events that occurred within the Kfir Brigade are highly unusual”.

But as the 22-year-old soldier, also in the Kfir Brigade, confirms in his testimony to Breaking the Silence, it seems that the event may not have been exceptional. Certainly, our interview tells us, he was “many times” in groups that commandeered taxis, seated the driver in the back, and told him to direct them to places “where they hate the Jews” in order to “make a balagan” – Hebrew for “big mess”.

Then there is the inter- clan Palestinian fight: “We were told to go over there and find out what was happening. Our [platoon] commander was a bit screwed in the head. So anyway, we would locate houses, and he’d tell us: ‘OK, anyone you see armed with stones or whatever, I don’t care what – shoot.’ Everyone would think it’s the clan fight…” Did the company commander know? “No one knew. Platoon’s private initiative, these actions.”

Did you hit them? “Sure, not just them. Anyone who came close … Particularly legs and arms. Some people also sustained abdominal hits … I think at some point they realised it was soldiers, but they were not sure. Because they could not believe soldiers would do this, you know.”

Or using a 10-year-old child to locate and punish a 15-year-old stone-thrower: “So we got hold of just some Palestinian kid nearby, we knew that he knew who it had been. Let’s say we beat him a little, to put it mildly, until he told us. You know, the way it goes when your mind’s already screwed up, and you have no more patience for Hebron and Arabs and Jews there.

“The kid was really scared, realising we were on to him. We had a commander with us who was a bit of a fanatic. We gave the boy over to this commander, and he really beat the shit out of him … He showed him all kinds of holes in the ground along the way, asking him: ‘Is it here you want to die? Or here?’ The kid goes, ‘No, no!’

“Anyway, the kid was stood up, and couldn’t stay standing on his own two feet. He was already crying … And the commander continues, ‘Don’t pretend’ and kicks him some more. And then [name withheld], who always had a hard time with such things, went in, caught the squad commander and said, ‘Don’t touch him any more, that’s it.’ The commander goes, ‘You’ve become a leftie, what?’ And he answers, ‘No, I just don’t want to see such things.’

“We were right next to this, but did nothing. We were indifferent, you know. OK. Only after the fact you start thinking. Not right away. We were doing such things every day … It had become a habit…

“And the parents saw it. The commander ordered [the mother], ‘Don’t get any closer.’ He cocked his weapon, already had a bullet inside. She was frightened. He put his weapon literally inside the kid’s mouth. ‘Anyone gets close, I kill him. Don’t bug me. I kill. I have no mercy.’ So the father … got hold of the mother and said, ‘Calm down, let them be, so they’ll leave him alone.'”

Not every soldier serving in Hebron becomes an “animal”. Iftach Arbel, 23, from an upper-middle class, left-of-centre home in Herzylia, served in Hebron as a commander just before the withdrawal from Gaza, when he thinks the army wanted to show it could be tough with settlers, too. And many of the testimonies, including Mr Arbel’s, describe how the settlers educate children as young as four to throw stones at Palestinians, attack their homes and even steal their possessions. To Mr Arbel, the Hebron settlers are “pure evil” and the only solution is “to remove the settlers”.

He believes it would be possible even within these constraints to treat Palestinians better. He adds: “We did night activity. Choose a house at random, on the aerial photo, so as to practise combat routine and all, which is instructive for the soldiers, I mean, I’m all for it. But then at midnight you wake someone up and turn his whole house upside down with everyone sleeping on the mattresses and all.”

But Mr Arbel says that most soldiers are some way between his own extreme and that of the most violent. From just two of his fellow testifiers, you can see what he means.

As one said: “We did all kinds of experiments to see who could do the best split in Abu Snena. We would put [Palestinians] against the wall, make like we were checking them, and ask them to spread their legs. Spread, spread, spread, it was a game to see who could do it best. Or we would check who can hold his breath for longest.

“Choke them. One guy would come, make like he was checking them, and suddenly start yelling like they said something and choke them … Block their airways; you have to press the adams apple. It’s not pleasant. Look at the watch as you’re doing it, until he passes out. The one who takes longest to faint wins.”

And theft as well as violence. “There’s this car accessory shop there. Every time, soldiers would take a tape-disc player, other stuff. This guy, if you go ask him, will tell you plenty of things that soldiers did to him.

“A whole scroll-full … They would raid his shop regularly. ‘Listen, if you tell on us, we’ll confiscate your whole store, we’ll break everything.’ You know, he was afraid to tell. He was already making deals, ‘Listen guys, you’re damaging me financially.’ I personally never took a thing, but I’m telling you, people used to take speakers from him, whole sound systems.

“He’d go, ‘Please, give me 500 shekels, I’m losing money here.’ ‘Listen, if you go on – we’ll pick up your whole shop.’ ‘OK, OK, take it, but listen, don’t take more than 10 systems a month.’ Something like this.

“‘I’m already going bankrupt.’ He was so miserable. Guys in our unit used to sell these things back home, make deals with people. People are so stupid.”

The military said that Israeli Defence Forces soldiers operate according to “a strict set of moral guidelines” and that their expected adherence to them only “increases wherever and whenever IDF soldiers come in contact with civilians”. It added that “if evidence supporting the allegations is uncovered, steps are taken to hold those involved to the level of highest judicial severity”. It also said: “The Military Advocate General has issued a number of indictments against soldiers due to allegations of criminal behaviour … Soldiers found guilty were punished severely by the Military Court, in proportion to the committed offence.” It had not by last night quantified such indictments.

In its introduction to the testimonies, Breaking the Silence says: “The soldiers’ determination to fulfil their mission yields tragic results: the proper-normative becomes despicable, the inconceivable becomes routine … [The] testimonies are to illustrate the manner in which they are swept into the brutal reality reigning on the ground, a reality whereby the lives of many thousands of Palestinian families are at the questionable mercy of youths. Hebron turns a focused, flagrant lens at the reality to which Israel’s young representatives are constantly sent.”

A force for justice

Breaking the Silence was formed four years ago by a group of ex-soldiers, most of whom had served in Israel Defence Forces combat units in Hebron. Many of the soldiers do reserve duty in the military each year. It has collected some 500 testimonies from former soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza. Its first public exposure was with an exhibition of photographs by soldiers serving in Hebron and the organisation also runs regular tours of Hebron for Israeli students and diplomats. It receives funding from groups as diverse as the Jewish philanthropic Moriah Fund, the New Israel Fund, the British embassy in Tel Aviv and the EU.

AS ISRAEL CELEBRATES PASSOVER, GAZA BURIES ITS DEAD

As Israel celebrates it’s ‘Festival of Freedom’,  Gaza buries its dead…..

Thousands attend funeral of slain Gaza journalist
Mohammed Omer

Palestinian mourners attend the funeral of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana’a in Gaza City, 17 April 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

GAZA CITY,Fadel Shana’a just had to go to the scene of the Israeli bombing. As a Reuters cameraman, that was his job. He wasn’t the only one killed, but through his pursuit of attacks as they happen, he was always more at risk than most others.

Fadel Shana’a was killed Wednesday because he was in the firing line, but also because, eyewitnesses said, he had begun to film the tanks that were firing. A barrage of metal shrapnel pierced his body as a tank missile landed close to him.

Fadel Shana’a, 23, had been injured in August 2006 in the north of the Gaza Strip in an Israeli missile attack. This time he wasn’t lucky enough to survive.

After the first missile that killed Fadel, a second tank missile directly hit the Reuters vehicle in which Fadel had been traveling, killing two children and another civilian close by, and injuring 12 others, including five children. Wafa Abu Mezyed, 25, a Reuters sound man, was injured.

The Reuters silver colored Mitsubishi SUV carried “TV” and “Press” stickers in English and Arabic prominently across its doors, hood, and roof. And yet it was attacked more than once. Agency-France Press photographer Mohammed Abed who was driving behind Abed said the vehicle burst into flames after the second missile struck it. “I saw the body and head of my friend and colleague torn to pieces,” he said, visibly shattered by the loss.

Fadel Shana’a was among many journalists and photographers who had come to film the children and civilians injured by earlier Israeli air strikes and tank shelling. At least 20 Palestinians have been killed since dawn on Wednesday, among them Fadel and eight children.

Abu Mezyed said that after filming some children, Fadel turned to film Israeli tanks. That was when a tank immediately fired a missile in his direction, killing him.

Journalists have long been targeted in the region. Since September 2000, Israeli forces have killed nine journalists, and have wounded at least 170 others.

Reuters has 70 journalists and other members of the media in Palestinian and Israeli areas, 15 of them in Gaza. Last October, a Reuters photographer was injured by Israeli occupation forces close to the Erez crossing.

Fadel Shana’a was injured in an August 2006 Israeli air strike that hit the Reuters vehicle in which he was traveling. (Wesam Saleh/MaanImages)

The killing of Fadel Shana’a has raised new concern among Gaza’s journalists. The Fatah party which runs the administration in the West Bank has called the killing of journalists “assassinating the truth.” Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli occupation targets journalists in order to kill the truth.”

The Palestinian Journalists Union announced a strike on Thursday in protest against the killing of journalists. Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger called for an investigation. “This tragic incident shows the risks journalists take every day to report the news. All governments and organizations have a responsibility to take the utmost care to protect professionals trying to do their jobs,” he said in a comment posted on the agency website.

“Our thoughts are with his family. We request an immediate investigation into the incident by the Israeli defense forces.” The group Reporters Without Borders also called on Israeli authorities “to quickly investigate the circumstances that led to the Reuters cameraman’s death.”

Israel apologized for the killing of Fadel Shana’a, and pledged to investigate the circumstances of his killing.

Thousands attended the funeral of Fadel Shana’a Thursday. With his body was carried another stretcher bearing his camera.

But the attacks continue, for others to suffer, and still others to film. The attacks on Juhor al-Dik village, east of al-Bureij refugee camp have injured 35 people, at least eight of them critically. The injured include 17 children and a woman, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

And there is not enough fuel for ambulances to get to the injured. Some of the injured have been brought to hospital on donkey carts.

The latest Israeli assault follows what the Ezz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, an armed wing of Hamas, called a “sophisticated ambush” in which three Israeli soldiers were killed.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday: “We are aware of the suffering of the people of Gaza, but in our eyes, the suffering of the residents of communities that border on that area, and those of the Israeli army count more.”

CHEERLEADING GENOCIDE

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Cheerleading genocide

Israel is gearing up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its birth; six decades of destruction for the Palestinians, writes Khaled Amayreh


With spectacular fanfare and a plethora of highlighted events, Israel is planning to celebrate its 60th birthday on 18 May 2008.

According to an Israeli government website called Israelfestival.com, the festival will include “non-stop entertainment, [a] fashion show, a variety of ethnic food for sale, Israeli folk dancing, arts and crafts, Israeli and Jewish cultural and heritage pavilions and art exhibits”.

The centrepiece ceremony is expected to take place in West Jerusalem and be attended by Israel’s political and military leaders as well as foreign dignitaries. Among those expected are US President George W Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Israeli media and non-governmental organisations have already begun celebrations in earnest. For example, Israeli television has begun airing a new series called Shishim (meaning “60”), which looks back at the six decades since Israel was created in May 1948. The series, which began 31 March, is divided into six episodes, each devoted to one of the decades following the founding of the state.

Israel hopes that the high-pitched celebrations will serve as an opportunity to promote Israel and enhance its questionable standing abroad. “It is an opportunity to celebrate our achievements, our successes, our national being,” boasted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was not yet born in 1948.

From the Zionist viewpoint, Israel is a story of success. Today, Israel is a political and military force to be reckoned with, even if its power is based on the patronage of foreign entities. A country of no more than seven million people, including nearly 1.5 million non-Jews (mainly Palestinians), Israel more or less directs the politics and policies of world’s only superpower, the United States, thanks mainly to powerful Jewish lobbies in Washington.

The power of the Jewish lobby largely explains how massive American financial and military support is to Israel, which is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars. Were it not for this nearly unlimited financial, economic, technological, political and military backing, Israel would never have been able to survive, especially given its predator tactics.

Israel, which has been mounting a vitriolic incitement campaign against Iran for its acquisition of nuclear technology, is a nuclear power on par with other established nuclear powers, and its military supremacy — at least until summer of 2006 — has covered the vast bulk of the Middle East from Turkey to Iran and from North Africa to east and central Africa.

Economically, Israel is also a regional economic superpower, with a GNP bordering on $0.5 trillion. In fact, Israel is among a few pioneering states in the field of electronics and the development of new generations of medicine, with Israeli pharmaceutical firms’ share of the world market reaching billions of dollars.

Notwithstanding all its success and achievements, Israel remains a state based on racism, apartheid and criminality against the Palestinian people whose homeland it seized and whom it is trying to obliterate to this day. To be sure, Israel has failed. Palestinians remain, both as a human entity and as a national entity.

Israel, in order to achieve its goals, always sought to acquire, by hook or by crook, as much Palestinian land as possible while taking in as few Palestinian people as possible. The policies and tactics employed by Israel to achieve this goal are both blunt and insidious and amount to ethnic cleansing and the international crime of genocide. Israel has institutionalised racism, bulldozed hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages, shamelessly confiscated Palestinian land and property, including private homes, and recently built the so-called “Separation Wall” in the West Bank, aimed first and foremost at annexing to Israel as much Palestinian land as possible.

On top of all of this, Israel has perfected the practice of state-sponsored mass terror; a deliberate policy aimed at making Palestinian life as unbearable as possible with the ultimate goal of forcing Palestinians to leave their homes and land altogether. This is done in broad daylight; in full view of key world powers, such as the US, EU, Russia and China, which either keep silent or issue a few terse and innocuous words about the need to stick to a peace process that has form but very little substance.

Today, as Israel is getting ready to celebrate its 60th birthday, the massive theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem and its surroundings, continues unabated. Against all odds, the Palestinian people have survived. Indeed, Palestinian resilience to Israeli oppression is legendary — a trait that continues to baffle and frustrate Israeli strategists. Perhaps it is this resilience that is encouraging influential Israeli political, military and religious leaders to openly call for genocide of the Palestinians.

Recently, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai threatened to “inflict a greater holocaust” on Palestinians. Similarly, a growing number of rabbis associated with the two largest religious camps in Israel, the Haredi ultra-Orthodox religious sector and the national Zionist religious sector, issuing one edict after the other, permitting soldiers to murder at will Palestinian civilians, including children, on the grounds that in war all among the enemy population ought to be treated as combatants, including children.

One might imagine that this is exaggerated, but it is not. Recently Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a religious seminary attended by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, declared: “All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts.” And the chief rabbi of the City of Safad, Shmuel Eliyahu, urged the state and the army recently to hang the children of a Palestinian fighter who last month attacked the Merkaz Haarav Centre, run for Jewish settlers in West Jerusalem, killing eight pre-military Talmudic students in retaliation for the killing by the Israeli army of more than 130 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians, in the Gaza Strip.

The mushrooming of fascist impulses is not confined to the religious sector. In March, the Israeli media quoted Knesset members and former cabinet ministers as threatening to extend discriminatory laws against non-Jews in ways reminiscent of Nuremberg Laws passed in Nazi Germany. One Israeli Knesset member reportedly told his Arab colleague: “the day will come when we will kick you out of this house.”

Such instances raise no eyebrows in a country where some rabbis, like David Batsri, openly teach that non-Jews are animals and donkeys. A recent opinion survey published this week showed that as many as 75 per cent of Israeli Jews support ethnic cleansing of Arabs from mandate Palestine — Israel proper and the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Understandably, the poll drew angry reactions from the Israeli Arab community. Jamal Zahalqa, an Israeli Arab Knesset member, suggested that Arabs are being treated in ways similar to the way Jews were treated in the Third Reich ahead of World War II.

“The hateful smell of racism and fascism is wafting everywhere in this country. You must know that we didn’t come to Israel from abroad… On the contrary; it was Israel that invaded us. We are the indigenous people of the land, and we receive our legitimacy from our belonging to this land, not from having Israeli citizenship,” he said.

Zahalqa described the poll as “additional evidence underscoring the growing rampancy of racism and fascism in Israel as a result of the ongoing waves of hate against everything and anything Arab.”

The fears of Zahalqa and other Israeli Arabs are real. Recently, hundreds of Arab residents from Jaffa, Lod and Ramleh took to the streets to protest against the planned eviction by the state of thousands of Arab residents from Jaffa. Authorities had issued warrants for the evacuation and destruction of hundreds of homes, claiming infringements on building regulations. The state also claimed that, “the families [had] lost the right to continue living in their homes, since these homes belonged to their parents … ”

“We are here and we won’t leave. We will either live on this land or die on this land. We will not let you touch our lands or our holy places,” said Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Arab movement in Israel. “All your rulings belong in the trashcan. We are not afraid of you. We will continue to live in our homeland,” he added.

Last year, Richard Falk, a renowned American Jewish professor of international law and practice, wrote an article entitled “Slouching toward a Palestinian holocaust,” in which he warned that Israel was moving towards the perpetration of a holocaust against the Palestinians. “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not,” said Falk.

Justifying the Israel-equals-Nazi analogy, Falk argued that developments in Gaza (the blockade against its estimated 1.5 million inhabitants), were especially disturbing because they expressed vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its backers to subject an entire human community to life- endangering conditions of maximal cruelty. “The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating into a collective tragedy,” Falk wrote.

In sum, from the standpoint of fascism, Israel has much to celebrate in terms of political and military achievements. But in terms of justice, morality and humanity, one struggles to name a country on earth that so openly practices oppression and racism. As such Israel, on its 60th birthday, remains what it was when born six decades ago: a state built on blood, murder, theft and lies.

Is Israel about to change its ways? Don’t hold your breath, Israeli leaders might say. Unless, that is, you’re Palestinian.

in Ramallah

NO PEACE WITHOUT HAMAS

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

No Peace Without Hamas
By Mahmoud al-Zahar

GAZA — President Jimmy Carter‘s sensible plan to visit the Hamas leadership this week brings honesty and pragmatism to the Middle East while underscoring the fact that American policy has reached its dead end. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acts as if a few alterations here and there would make the hideous straitjacket of apartheid fit better. While Rice persuades Israeli occupation forces to cut a few dozen meaningless roadblocks from among the more than 500 West Bank control points, these forces simultaneously choke off fuel supplies to Gaza; blockade its 1.5 million people; approve illegal housing projects on West Bank land; and attack Gaza City with F-16s, killing men, women and children. Sadly, this is “business as usual” for the Palestinians.

Last week’s attack on the Nahal Oz fuel depot should not surprise critics in the West. Palestinians are fighting a total war waged on us by a nation that mobilizes against our people with every means at its disposal — from its high-tech military to its economic stranglehold, from its falsified history to its judiciary that “legalizes” the infrastructure of apartheid. Resistance remains our only option. Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world’s largest open-air prison, can do no less.

The U.S.-Israeli alliance has sought to negate the results of the January 2006 elections, when the Palestinian people handed our party a mandate to rule. Hundreds of independent monitors, Carter among them, declared this the fairest election ever held in the Arab Middle East. Yet efforts to subvert our democratic experience include the American coup d’etat that created the new sectarian paradigm with Fatah and the continuing warfare against and enforced isolation of Gazans.

Now, finally, we have the welcome tonic of Carter saying what any independent, uncorrupted thinker should conclude: that no “peace plan,” “road map” or “legacy” can succeed unless we are sitting at the negotiating table and without any preconditions.

Israel’s escalation of violence since the staged Annapolis “peace conference” in November has been consistent with its policy of illegal, often deadly collective punishment — in violation of international conventions. Israeli military strikes on Gaza have killed hundreds of Palestinians since then with unwavering White House approval; in 2007 alone the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed was 40 to 1, up from 4 to 1 during the period from 2000 to 2005.

Only three months ago I buried my son Hussam, who studied finance at college and wanted to be an accountant; he was killed by an Israeli airstrike. In 2003, I buried Khaled — my first-born — after an Israeli F-16 targeting me wounded my daughter and my wife and flattened the apartment building where we lived, injuring and killing many of our neighbors. Last year, my son-in-law was killed.

Hussam was only 21, but like most young men in Gaza he had grown up fast out of necessity. When I was his age, I wanted to be a surgeon; in the 1960s, we were already refugees, but there was no humiliating blockade then. But now, after decades of imprisonment, killing, statelessness and impoverishment, we ask: What peace can there be if there is no dignity first? And where does dignity come from if not from justice?

Our movement fights on because we cannot allow the foundational crime at the core of the Jewish state — the violent expulsion from our lands and villages that made us refugees — to slip out of world consciousness, forgotten or negotiated away. Judaism — which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam — has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid.

A “peace process” with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees. Given what we have lost, it is the only basis by which we can start to be whole again.

I am eternally proud of my sons and miss them every day. I think of them as fathers everywhere, even in Israel, think of their sons — as innocent boys, as curious students, as young men with limitless potential — not as “gunmen” or “militants.” But better that they were defenders of their people than parties to their ultimate dispossession; better that they were active in the Palestinian struggle for survival than passive witnesses to our subjugation.

History teaches us that everything is in flux. Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a surgeon, is a founder of Hamas. He is foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, which was elected in January 2006.

A TALE OF TWO GHETTOS ~~ NOT BY CHARLES DICKENS

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
The nazis herded the Jews of Poland into ghettos, the largest one being the Warsaw Ghetto. It had 400,000 inhabitants.

The zionists herded the Palestinians into ghettos, the largest one being the Gaza Strip. It HAS one and a half million inhabitants.

Warsaw Ghetto fighters were mostly armed with pistols and revolvers (if at all) with just a few rifles and automatic firearms available. The insurgents had little ammunition, and relied heavily on improvised explosive devices and incendiary bottles.

Gaza Strip fighters are mostly unarmed, relying mostly on rocks that they find. The insurgents have little or no ammunition relying heavily on improvised explosive devices and incendiary bottles.

Support from outside the Warsaw Ghetto was limited.

Support from outside Gaza is NON EXISTENT. Israel has divided what was left of the Palestinian people into two camps, one in Gaza and the other in the Occupied West Bank, with no contact or support from the latter.

On the eve of Passover, 1943, the police and SS auxiliary forces entered the Warsaw Ghetto planning to exterminate the residents within thre days. They suffered losses and were repeadedly ambushed by Jewish insurgents who shot and launched Molotov coctails and hand grenades at them from alleyways, sewers and windows. The German advance was eventually halted.

On the eve of Passover, 2008, the police and Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip planning to exterminate the residents within a similar time period. They were also ambushed by Palestinian insurgents. To date the zionist advance has not been halted.

Fate of the German war criminals

Franz Bürkl was assassinated by the Polish resistance in October 1943. Same month, Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg was killed by Croatian partisans in Yugoslavia.

Odilo Globocnik, Heinrich Himmler, and Friedrich Krüger all followed Adolf Hitler and committed suicide in May 1945.

Jürgen Stroop was convicted of war crimes in two different trials and executed by hanging in Poland in 1951 (Stroop’s aide Erich Steidtmann was exonerated for “minimal involvement”). Ludwig Hahn went into hiding until 1975, when he was apprehended and sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity. He died in prison in 1986.


Fate of the Israeli war criminals


Their fate has yet to be determined.


As stated above, this ‘TALE OF TWO GHETTOS’ was not written by Charles Dickens. Both ‘tales’ are real… one is history, the other is history being repeated by those that did not learn from it.


In the end, Palestine will be victorious and free… that will also be a part of the history being repeated.


Source of Warsaw Ghetto history

PHOTO JOURNAL OF ISRAEL’S LATEST ATTACK IN GAZA

Image by Abonoon
The following were taken yesterday….. zionism in action. Even the camera cried as can be seen above. Share these photos with all…. ISRAEL MUST NOT GET AWAY WITH THESE CRIMES.

Hat tip to The Philistine for publishing these.

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