SEE HOW PRIVATE DONATIONS TO ISRAEL HELP DESTROY PALESTINE

 U.S. Donors Gave Settlements More Than $220 Million in Tax-exempt Funds Over Five Years

U.S. Donors Gave Settlements More Than $220 Million in Tax-exempt Funds Over Five Years

T’ruah’s new campaign asks the Jewish National Fund to be fully transparent about where American Jewish donations are being spent, and to stop using these donations on projects in the settlements.

“People who are putting their dollar bills in a JNF (box), or writing a check to buy a tree, might want to know that instead of buying a tree in Israel … that their money might be going to developments in the settlements which block peace,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s executive director.

Jewish National Fund Gives $530K From American Donors to West Bank Settlement

The Jewish National Fund’s American fundraising arm gave $530,000 to a visitor’s center in a West Bank settlement, according to a new disclosure by the JNF, which has been under pressure from the left-wing rabbis’ group T’ruah to list its donations to the West Bank.

The $530,000 grant to a museum and visitor’s center in Kfar Etzion is the only West Bank project listed in the new disclosures. While JNF’s American arm has long acknowledged funding the center, the size of the grant has not before been publicly available.

T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights group, has for years campaigned to demand details from the JNF on funds it sends to the West Bank, creating a a series of web videos and a write-in campaign demanding a full accounting of JNF spending.

“People who are putting their dollar bills in a JNF (box), or writing a check to buy a tree, might want to know that instead of buying a tree in Israel … that their money might be going to developments in the settlements which block peace,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s executive director.

JNF has said in the past that it makes grants to the occupied West Bank. But since 2008, American charities have not been required to reveal the recipients of their overseas grants, and in recent years the JNF’s public tax returns have not spelled out how its money is spent in Israel.

The charity behind the iconic blue donation boxes that litter Hebrew schools and synagogues across the United States, the JNF in Israel played a key role in the creation of the Jewish state, and still owns a large share of all Israeli land. The American fundraising arm’s reputation as a centrist Israel development charity, however, has taken a hit in recent years, amid attention to the Israeli organization’s role in the displacement of unrecognized Bedioun villages, and questions about its involvement with the West Bank settlement project.

T’ruah’s campaign has sought to quantify how much of the American fundraising arm’s money has gone to West Bank settlements.

Now, in recently-released tax returns for the fiscal year ending last September, the American group has listed the recipients of nearly all of the $29.7 million in grants that group sent to Israel that year.

Nothing in the new documents appears to directly contradict the JNF’s earlier accounting of its West Bank activities. Aside from the grant to the visitor’s center, called the Gush Etzion Foundation, no other projects listed explicitly and directly benefit West Bank settlements.

In a press statement, T’ruah raised questions about $290,000 attributed in JNF’s the tax documents to “general afforestation,” noting that the group doesn’t say whether those trees were planted in Israel or in the West Bank.

T’ruah also pointed to $250,000 that went to a group called Face of Israel, which doesn’t have a functioning website. And T’ruah noted that JNF reported giving $33,000 to a U.S.-based group called Friends of Ir David, which funds the Israeli organization Elad, which is engaged in settlement activity in East Jerusalem.

A spokesman for JNF did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a JNF spokesman said that the organization “will not be intimidated by those who claim to have a higher moral authority while dismissing and belittling the good work that U.S. Jewry performs for the land and people of Israel.”

IN PHOTOS ~~ NETANYAHU’S MINION OF ABOMINATIONS

ztop

PROTESTING NETANYAHU @ HIS AWARDS DINNER @ PLAZA HOTEL NYC

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

z1

*

z2

*

z3

*

z4

*

z5

*

z6

*

z7

*

z8

*

z9

#InIsrael ~~ MORE PINKWASHING TO COVER UP WAR CRIMES

7f3962068051dff5ecb1ffea2059fd3a

Avi Mayer, spokesman for the Jewish Agency for Israel and a prolific tweeter, called the ad “awesomewashing.” He was playing on the term “pinkwashing,” an accusation often levied against Israel that the government uses its record on gay rights to hide its crimes against Palestinians.

Full-page ad featuring a family with two dads in the weekend edition of Israel's most-read newspaper, Israel Hayom.

Full-page ad featuring a family with two dads in the weekend edition of Israel’s most-read newspaper, Israel Hayom.

Israel’s Right Wing-Paper Features Ad With Gay Dads

Israel Hayom, Israel’s right-wing newspaper affiliated with the ruling Likud party, surprised some by printing a full-page ad for a Nissan Sentra with two gay fathers this week.

The ad depicted a family of four with two young fathers and their school-age son and daughter with the phrase “Put your family in the Sentra.”

Avi Mayer, spokesman for the Jewish Agency for Israel and a prolific tweeter, called the ad “awesomewashing.” He was playing on the term “pinkwashing,” an accusation often levied against Israel that the government uses its record on gay rights to hide its crimes against Palestinians.

Another Twitter user, @ledoorpink, replied, “The issue is not two dads, that’s natural, but a $34,000 for a Nissan Sentara, that’s very unnatural.”

Israel Hayom is funded by Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas casino magnate who donates to many pro-Israel causes, and is widely seen as a mouthpiece for the Likud Party.

Individual politicians in Likud have supported LGBT rights, but the party was lambasted earlier this year when the government coalition torpedoed a series of pro-LGBT bills.

OBAMA’S FINAL ACT AGAINST PALESTINE

Whenever a US president prepares to leave office, diplomats and Middle East specialists in think tanks urge him to make a final push for an Israeli-Palestinian “peace” deal.

I predicted more than once that Obama would be a disastrous president for the Palestinians and that the hopes so many invested in him were delusional. Sadly, I was right and the think tankers were wrong.

Image by Carlos Latuff

cs4epcvxgaacguh

Will Obama’s final act be the liquidation of Palestinian rights?

Whenever a US president prepares to leave office, diplomats and Middle East specialists in think tanks urge him to make a final push for an Israeli-Palestinian “peace” deal.

It is a time-honored Washington ritual.

Given his passing reference to Palestinians and Israelis in his final speech to the UN General Assembly, however, it might seem like there is not much chance of that with Barack Obama.

“Surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” Obama told world leaders gathered in New York on Tuesday.

It was classic Obama: tricky and deceptive language that seeks balance where there is none – equating alleged Palestinian “incitement” with real Israeli colonialism and occupation – and floating lofty goals belied by his actions.

The most glaring of these, of course, is Obama signing off on the record 10-year, $38 billion dollar military giveaway to Israel.

This weapons windfall caps a term during which Obama aided and abetted two devastating Israeli assaults in Gaza, as well as the ongoing siege, and offered Israel every diplomatic protection as it built more settlements on occupied Palestinian land, exceeding even the frenetic pace of colonization during the Bush administration.

Obama is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday, where he will reportedly push Israel to make progress towards the so-called two-state solution.

All Netanyahu will need to do is smile and nod politely for the cameras, knowing that the president has already given away any potential leverage by signing the massive military deal.

But make no mistake: Obama still poses a continuing danger to Palestinian rights as long as he remains in the White House.

Canceling Palestinian rights

In recent weeks, think tankers belonging to the peace process industry have launched a new campaign urging Obama to support a UN Security Council resolution before he leaves office that would enshrine the two-state solution.

But what it would actually do is write into international law an abrogation of Palestinian rights, offering Palestinians no more than a pale bantustan. It would renege on the right to return of Palestinian refugees, a right that the UN has guaranteed. It would, moreover, recognize Israel’s claimed “right” to discriminate against the indigenous Palestinians solely because they are not Jews.

France floated a similar initiative last year, which, as I explained at the time, would have fatally undermined Palestinian rights, but thankfully it went nowhere because the US would not support it.

The most thorough elaboration of this approach now comes from Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group.

In a New York Review of Books article this month, Thrall calls a UN resolution laying out the parameters for the partition of historic Palestine into ethnically segregated Palestinian and Jewish states a “last chance” for Obama to “salvage his legacy.”

Thrall claims that “many in the administration” are hoping that this will indeed be Obama’s final act.

“Any resolution the US supports will contain clauses that are difficult for each side to accept,” Thrall writes. “The most troublesome issues for Israel are that the borders will be based on the pre-1967 lines and that the Palestinian capital will be in Jerusalem. The most onerous clauses for the Palestinians relate to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, the absence of a timeline for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and a resolution of the refugee problem that would rule out anything but symbolic return to Israel.”

He affirms that the resolution would need to “offer some sort of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state,” in effect granting Israel a legal license to be racist.

It would also force on Palestinians what Thrall calls “entirely new concessions to Israel.”

“Settlements that existing Security Council resolutions call to dismantle would gain legitimacy as parts of a potential land swap,” Thrall writes.

Thrall, who enthusiastically supports this approach, is clear about the political realities: “It is a safe bet that on the majority of … issues, a US-supported resolution would favor Israeli positions over Palestinian ones.”

Abrogating UN resolutions

Another figure pushing for a UN resolution is Carl Bildt, the former Swedish foreign minister and high representative – diplomatic speak for unelected ruler – of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Obama, Bildt writes, “should push for a UN Security Council resolution that establishes new parameters for a future peace accord and replaces UN Security Council Resolution 242, which dates back to the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria.”

In other words, Bildt and Thrall want UN resolution 242 – which for all its shortcomings and omissions is at least clear on the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” – replaced by a new resolution that actually blesses Israel’s decades of ethnic cleansing and land theft under the banner of “peace” and a “two-state solution.”

Israel’s certain resistance to such an approach should not be taken as evidence that a resolution would somehow be good for Palestinians. Its rejectionism is simply based on long-standing policy that Israel should never be bound by any international rules no matter how ineffectual or favorable they are.

As Thrall acknowledges – and this is also where the grave danger lies for Palestinians – the Palestinian Authorityleadership would probably welcome such a resolution, dedicated as Mahmoud Abbas has been to abrogating Palestinian rights when it comes both to refugees and settlements.

Dennis Ross, that stalwart of the Israel lobby who has – absurdly – served as peace envoy for several presidents including Obama, has also weighed in on the potential impact of November’s presidential election on the prospects for such a resolution.

“I suspect that if [Donald] Trump wins, the president would be more inclined to go for a Security Council resolution to try to do something that binds, creates standards for the future that the next president couldn’t undo,” Ross said at a Zionist conference in California last week. “If [Hillary] Clinton wins, I suspect he [Obama] would be more sensitive to her concerns as to whether this helps or hurts her.”

But either way, Ross said, Obama “would like to do something, leave some kind of legacy.”

No friend of Palestinians

Thrall kicks off his New York Review of Books piece by revisiting Obama’s early connections to the Palestinian community, particularly in Chicago: “He had met, dined with, and attended the lectures of such figures as Edward Said, the most famous and eloquent Palestinian critic of the Oslo accords, and he had offered words of encouragement to Ali Abunimah, the Palestinian activist, writer, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and leading advocate of a one-state solution.”

On the strength of this, Thrall asserts that when the president came to office, “Palestinians looked to Obama as a potentially historic figure capable of ending their occupation.”

That was certainly true for wishful thinkers and the ill-informed. But let me set the record straight. Thrall’s knowledge of Obama’s dining with Said, and his “encouragement” to me, comes from an article I wrote in 2007, when the then senator from Illinois was in the early stages of his presidential primary campaign, titled “How Barack Obama learned to love Israel.”

The point of the article was not to offer hope, but to warn that despite Obama’s connections to the Palestinian community, he had already eagerly adopted the hardline positions of the Israel lobby as he became more politically ambitious.

“Palestinian Americans are in the same position as civil libertarians who watched with dismay as Obama voted to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, or immigrant rights advocates who were horrified as he voted in favor of a Republican bill to authorize the construction of a 700-mile fence on the border with Mexico,” I wrote about Obama’s ditching of anything resembling a just and principled position on Palestine.

I predicted more than once that Obama would be a disastrous president for the Palestinians and that the hopes so many invested in him were delusional. Sadly, I was right and the think tankers were wrong.

Instead, as I wrote days after Obama’s election in November 2008, Palestinians should invest their efforts in building up their own power and broadening their movement – particularly through boycott, divestment and sanctions – because no US administration would ever support their rights unless compelled to do so.

The best we can hope for now is that in his final months in office Obama will do no more damage to add to his poisoned legacy on Palestine.

THE DEAL TO ERASE PALESTINE COMPLETELY

The clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash with Israel and its loyalists in Congress over Palestinian statehood.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Clearest message from new Israel aid package is that US sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation

Clearest message from new Israel aid package is that US sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation

US aid deal gives green light to Israel’s erasure of Palestine

The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion to $3.8bn a year – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

Netanyahu’s agreement to such terms has incensed Israeli loyalists in Congress such as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been fighting Netanyahu’s corner to win an even larger aid handout from US taxpayers. He accused the Israeli prime minister on Friday of having “pulled the rug from under us”.

As Ehud Barak, Netanyahu’s former defence minister, also pointed out in a series of TV interviews in Israel, the deal fails to take into account either inflation or the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Netanyahu preferred to sign the deal now rather than wait till the next president is installed, even though Clinton and her Republican challenger, Donald Trump, are expected to be even more craven towards Israel. That appears to reflect Netanyahu’s fear that the US political environment will be more uncertain after the election and could lead to long delays in an agreement, and apprehension about the implications for Israel of Trump’s general opposition to foreign aid.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even the New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one implicates the US in Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria, however, would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own large nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash with Israel and its loyalists in Congress over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Obama signed the aid agreement to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate the unity necessary to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Obama really wanted to pressure Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act again the Palestinians with continuing impunity and lots of US military hardware.

IN PHOTOS ~~ PROTEST AGAINST APARTHEID

What was still is ....

What was still is ….

Be sure not to miss this post from yesterday (Click on link)

TRANSFORMATION OF A SELF HATING JEW TO A TERRORIST

PROTESTING THE JEWISH NATIONAL FUND CONVENTION @ THE NYC HILTON HOTEL

Photos  © by Bud Korotzer

sj1

*

sj2

*

sj3

*

sj4

*

sj5

*

sj6

*

sj7

*

sj8

*

sj9

*

sj10

*

sj11

*

sj12

*

sj13

*

sj14

TRANSFORMATION OF A SELF HATING JEW TO A TERRORIST

According to the ‘logic’ of the present day elders of zion I have always been a ‘self hating Jew’. This was merely because I refuse to hate anyone else … does that make any sense to you?

It seems that times have changed and new definitions have been added to the zio-dictionary … Now I am a terrorist. The reason being that I am a part of and supporter of the BDS Movement. Have you ever heard of a terrorist that refuses to kill? Have you heard of one that refuses to support those who do?? Now you have!

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) participated on Sunday in a conference held by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in New York.

Speaking during the event, Shaked slammed the BDS movement, calling it “a new extension of terrorism.”

One of Bendib's finest

One of Bendib’s finest

 

Justice Minister: BDS movement is a terror organization

‘BDS is the new face of terrorism,’ Ayelet Shaked says during JNF conference in New York.

Full zioreport HERE

And here you can see why we boycott terrorism!

AMERICAN TAXPAYERS TO PAY MORE IN THE FUTURE TO KEEP APARTHEID ALIVE

As if 30 Billion a year was not enough …..

“This is the single largest pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history.”

tumblr_ma06m60tki1r55d2io1_500

$38B Israel Aid Deal Is Political Boon for Benjamin Netanyahu — and Barack Obama

When Yaakov Nagel, Israel’s acting national security adviser, was tasked with heading the team negotiating a new 10-year military aid package with the United States, Prime Minister Netanyahu set forth the guidelines: “If you reach $3.5 billion a year, you’ll get a gold medal,” Nagel recalled Wednesday, hours before signing the agreement in Washington. “If you get $3.3 billion you’ll get a silver medal; and if you get $3.1 billion you’ll get the bronze.”

Nagel brought home something in between silver and gold, finalizing a $38 billion 10-year agreement, made up of $3.3 billion a year in military aid and another $500 million a year for missile defense systems, which was previously handled separately.

But this Olympics-style competition was more than about money. It was also about two world leaders seeking vindication.

One, in Jerusalem, wanted to disprove the notion that he harmed bilateral relations with his country’s greatest ally by picking a fight with its leader.

And the other, soon to leave the White House, was looking for the ultimate seal of approval for his support to the Jewish State. Both ended the race legitimately claiming victory.

“This deal illustrates a simple truth,” Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message hours after the agreement was signed. “The relationship between Israel and the United States is solid and powerful. It does not mean that we don’t have disputes now and then, but these are disputes you have between family.”

National Security Adviser Susan Rice, the Obama administration’s highest ranking official at the signing ceremony, noted the historic nature of the deal.

“This is the single largest pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history,” Rice said. “And that’s not an accident. It’s a reminder of the United States’ unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”

Obama and Netanyahu, reaching the final stretch of their troubled 8-year marriage, now have a document proving that years of personal tensions and deep distrust have not infected the bilateral relationship.

And just like in any Olympic competition, it took a lot of sacrifice to get to the winner’s podium.

For Netanyahu, it meant to some extent turning his back on Republicans in Congress, the Israeli leader’s willing partner in battling the Democratic administration. For Obama, reaching the finish line required bending over backwards in an effort to convince Israel to agree to accept his $38 billion gift.

At the State Department’s Treaty Room on Wednesday afternoon, it was the working-level officials’ moment in the limelight.

Israeli and American national security experts who have been engaged in three years of negotiations trying to iron out the details of the massive aid package, were all on hand to see the deal come to life. Secretary of State John Kerry popped in after the signing for a quick photo op with negotiators. Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer, once a political lightening rod for Obama administration officials, sat in the front row, as did his American counterpart Dan Shapiro. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle came to show their support, alongside several Jewish organizational leaders.

The deal, which will go into effect in 2019, is aimed at helping Israel deal with regional threats by using the American aid to purchase advanced U.S. defense equipment. It will replace the current 10-year $30 billion deal, which did not include the missile defense component, funded each year separately by Congress.

The new deals folds missile defense aid into the larger military assistance package, thus assuring Israel a predictable funding source for the program, but at the same time stripping Jerusalem from its ability to use Congress for extra funding beyond the agree upon amount. It also does away with a unique arrangement Israel enjoyed which allowed it to spend a quarter of the American assistance money on purchases within Israel. This benefit will be phased out gradually ending completely in the last year of the agreement.

Israel’s starting point, according to officials involved in the talks, was set at $45 billion, a sum representing Israel’s needs and hopes, rather than a realistically achievable goal. Throughout the lengthy talks, in which, according to Nagel, thousands of slides were presented and every single piece of equipment was discussed, “from the most advanced jets to the last truck,” the final subtotal began to emerge – higher than the previous deal, but less than Israel had wanted.

As negotiations entered the final stretch, it became clear that lack of trust still exists between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham offered Israel to push in Congress an extra $300 million in aid, a move seen as unacceptable by the Obama administration which feared the reemergence of the Netanyahu-Congress nexus in attempt to bypass the president.

The administration demanded that Israel make clear it will not seek any further funding from Congress, except for special emergency needs a result of an armed conflict. Netanyahu had to promise Secretary Kerry, in writing, that Israel will adhere to this commitment, and to further commit that if Congress, on its own volition, decides to increase aid to Israel in the next two years, Israel will give back the money. According to Nagel, Netanyahu told Graham, one of his top supporters on Capitol Hill, that given the choice between getting another $300 million from Congress now and securing a deal with Obama for the next decade, he will chose the latter.

But even after having to concede to limiting Congress’s role in aid to Israel and to giving up the possibility of spending aid money in Israel, Netanyahu still had plenty reason for celebration.

Critics of the Israeli prime minister have argued that his insistence on fighting Obama on the Iranian nuclear deal rather than using the moment to leverage Israel’s bargaining power to reach a better aid deal, has cost Israel billions in military assistance. By the time Netanyahu was ready to finalize the deal, they argued, it was already clear that Congress cannot block the agreement and Israel’s position became politically irrelevant. Dermer insists this is not the case. At no point, he said, even at the height of the nuclear deal dispute, did the U.S. indicate it would be willing to be more generous in its aid offer in return for an Israeli retreat.

Netanyahu now gets to show his critics at home that his insistence to fight Obama on the Iranian nuclear deal did not cost Israel its future relationship with America. A $3.8 billion annual check from Uncle Sam will help embolden Netanyahu’s message, as will the symbolic fact that Dermer, the architect of Netanyahu’s 2015 Congress speech, was posing for pictures with Secretary Kerry after the signing ceremony.

Obama has also gained significantly from finalizing the deal before leaving office.

The administration made every effort to drive home the notion that the new Memorandum of Understanding represents a historic measure. Rice called it an “unprecedented commitment to the security of Israel.” Obama, in a statement, said the agreement was “just the most recent reflection of my steadfast commitment to the security of the State of Israel.” Just like Netanyahu, Obama has critics too, accusing him of being unfriendly to Israel in his years in the White House. Now, his legacy is cemented by a signed agreement and a hefty dollar amount he can use to dispel these claims.

NETANYAHU’S LATEST LIE GOING VIRAL ON THE NET AS IT ANGERS THE WEST

Image by Carlos Latuff

Here we go with just another lie from Netanyahu ... "Ethnic cleansing of Jews" in Palestine

Here we go with just another lie from Netanyahu …
“Ethnic cleansing of Jews” in Palestine

*

This appears to be a new spin-strategy by Netanyahu’s office: taking the term “ethnic cleansing”, which the world has increasingly become aware that Israel enacts, and turning it against its victims.

*

*

Israeli government projects ‘ethnic cleansing’ on Palestinians

On his official Facebook page yesterday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu posted a speech in English. The concept here is so novel, that the text merits full presentation:

“I’m sure many of you have heard the claim that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, are an obstacle to peace. I’ve always been perplexed by this notion. Because no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel, that they are an obstacle to peace. That’s because they aren’t. On the contrary. Israel’s diversity shows its openness and readiness for peace.

Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with ONE precondition: No Jews.

There’s a phrase for that: it’s called ethnic cleansing. And this demand is OUTRAGEOUS. It’s even more outrageous, that the world doesn’t find this outrageous. Some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage. Ask yourself this: would you accept ethnic cleansing in your state? A territory without Jews, without Hispanics, without blacks?

Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace? At This moment, Jewish school children in Judea and Samaria are playing in sandboxes with their friends. Does their presence make peace impossible? I don’t think so. I think what makes peace impossible is intolerance of others. Societies that respect all the people are the ones that pursue peace. Societies that demand ethnic cleansing don’t pursue peace.

I envision a middle east where young Arabs and young Jews learn together, work together, live together, side by side, in peace. Our region needs more tolerance, not less. So the next time you hear someone say that Jews can’t live somewhere, let alone in their ancestral homeland, take a moment to think of the implications. Ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd. It’s about time somebody said it. I just did.”

Netanyahu is apparently discussing a claim that is not new, but three years old, and that does not mention Jews as such. In 2013, Palestinians President Abbas said, following a meeting with interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour in Cairo, that “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — civilian or soldier — on our lands”.

Abbas is thus referring to Israelis and soldiers of the occupying power. This is completely uncontroversial by international law, where the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 49) clearly states that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

But Netanyahu turns this potential realization of international law, into an intent of “ethnic cleansing” by the Palestinians.

This is especially perplexing considering Israel’s history of ethnic cleansing, a history which continues today, where the rate of Israeli demolitions in occupied territory have doubled this year. Netanyahu further refers to Israel’s Palestinian citizens (the “nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel”), who are incidentally also subject to discrimination by some 50 laws  and recurring displacement (particularly the Bedouin community). Those Palestinians are the roughly 15% of the Palestinian population that managed to survive the first large-scale ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948. He regards their presence, and Israel’s ‘tolerance’ of them, as a proof for Israel’s moral magnanimity.

Netanyahu states that “Jewish school children in Judea and Samaria are playing in sandboxes with their friends”, rebuffing a supposed claim that their “presence makes peace impossible”. Disregarding the fact that these children play in segregated sandboxes, in segregated communities connected by segregated roads and sometimes throw stones at Palestinians with an impunity not experienced by Palestinian children, the usage of the emotional appeal of “children” is hardly relevant, nor tasteful, to say the least, in this context.

This appears to be a new spin-strategy by Netanyahu’s office: taking the term “ethnic cleansing”, which the world has increasingly become aware that Israel enacts, and turning it against its victims.

Yesterday, I happened to read Isabelle Kershner’s article in the New York Times (dated August 30th), concerning the settlements. Allow me first to note, that Kershner’s article has a main flaw, in that she cites only 350,000 settlers in West Bank. This appears to be an outdated 2013 number, and excluding East Jerusalem. The number today excluding East Jerusalem is about 400,000, and the East Jerusalem settlers by some counts nearly double that number, which justifies citing the settler figures as high as journalist Gideon Levy recently did: 800,000 settlers. The citing of settlers in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem is a common practice, which effectively endorses Israel’s illegal and unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem by 1980 Basic Law: Jerusalem.

Nonetheless, Kershner’s article brings us some interesting information.

“Asked about the legalization of outposts — and the international criticism — Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman, David Keyes, did not respond directly, but instead turned the question to the Palestinian leaders’ stance that no settlements could remain in the West Bank under a future deal. “The frequently echoed Palestinian demand to ethnically cleanse their future state of Jews,” Mr. Keyes said via email, “is outrageous, immoral and antithetical to peace,” she notes.

This is a spin that is thus being repeated by the Israeli government over the last ten days. The demand to evacuate settlers and settler infrastructure from a future Palestinian state is regarded as “ethnic cleansing”, based upon racist notions.

The whole world is being admonished by Netanyahu for being “intolerant” in entertaining such notions at all.

Related report from HaAretz (Click on link)

U.S. Slams Netanyahu’s ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Video, Calling It ‘Inappropriate and Unhelpful’

ISRAEL MIGHT SOON BE VOID OF LEFTISTS

Everywhere I turn these days, many of my peers have left, are leaving, are planning to leave or are talking about leaving.

For thousands of years the Jews dreamed of reclaiming their country. The left had another dream.

For thousands of years the Jews dreamed of reclaiming their country. The left had another dream.

Should I Give Up On Changing Israel from Within — and Take a Stand by Leaving?

A debate has been raging in the Israeli left over the past few weeks — primarily in the opinion pages of Haaretz and on my Facebook feed — about Israelis who are choosing to move away from Israel as a political statement.

Although these leftists make up only a tiny percentage of Israelis, their departure has hit a nerve. The veteran Israeli left-wing activist and founder of Gush Shalom, Uri Avnery, has called on them to return, arguing that leaving is a cop-out, that they are needed here. This has sparked a back and forth, with several younger Israelis writing that they are no longer willing to sacrifice their children’s lives for what they see as a dead-end country — and so, yes, they’re opting out.

Everywhere I turn these days, many of my peers have left, are leaving, are planning to leave or are talking about leaving. My family and I included. The reasons for leaving are always personal, and it’s hard to point to a specific political trend. But the discourse around leaving is indicative of a real crisis in the Israeli left regarding the inability to effect change, and the increasing sense that our ideals are unwanted and that we are outnumbered. Not just at the polls, but at the family dinner table, too. For me, this is not just about the normalization of racism and violence in the public sphere that goes along with the occupation, but about the fact that so many Israelis who identify as liberals are either ignorant of the state’s actions or complicit in them.

When I became active in the West Bank nearly a decade ago with the direct-action Arab-Jewish cooperative Ta’ayush, I witnessed and experienced many Israeli human rights violations and absurdities that profoundly changed my working assumptions and shaped my politics, instantly setting me apart from most Israelis. Whereas other Israelis spent their Saturdays resting at home or going to family gatherings, I spent them escorting Palestinians to their wells or their grazing fields while being confronted by settlers and soldiers. I would come back to the comforts of my life in Tel Aviv outraged that people could just sit in cafes with no clue what was being done in their name just a few miles away — or worse, that they just didn’t care. The sharp dissonance affected all aspects of my life and my interaction with friends, family members, everyone. It breeds a constant sense of despair and resentment.

A decade later, and five years since the “tent protests” that saw hundreds of thousands of Israelis out in the streets protesting the high cost of living without any mention of the disenfranchised Palestinian population in our midst, this sense of alienation has only intensified. Instead of gaining legitimacy in Israeli society, activist groups like Ta’ayush, Anarchists Against the Wall and Breaking the Silence, which came of age during the second intifada with the goal of exposing and opposing human rights violations, are now targets of state-sanctioned incitement; they are marginalized even more than they already were, and delegitimized.

Israel currently has the most right-wing government in its history, and “leftist” is a bona fide bad word whose definition just keeps broadening. An Israeli who never set foot across the Green Line but who protested in central Tel Aviv against Israel’s past two wars in Gaza is considered radical. A soldier who has fulfilled his military service and then speaks out against the actions he carried out is a traitor. A 2016 poll shows that 72% of Jewish Israelis believe Israel’s control over the Palestinian territories does not even constitute an “occupation.”

Under these circumstances, how can the left possibly hope to shift the discourse, much less end the occupation?

This is the question I am constantly grappling with, and it is the million-dollar question facing the Israeli left today. In 2005, Palestinians answered this question by calling for international pressure through boycott, and some Jews in Israel and abroad have joined them, believing that change is simply not coming from within. It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, not local activism, has taken center stage in this era when it comes to opposing Israeli policies. The Israelis emigrating from the country are inadvertently part of the spirit of the boycott movement in the sense that they, too, have given up on the idea that change will come from within.

Although I feel a constant and growing sense of alienation from the majority of Jewish Israeli society, and this makes leaving seem more appealing, I also live a comfortable life here and am invested in this place. It’s home. But every time I walk from my house in Jaffa to the beach and dip my limbs into the open sea, I am sorely aware of all the Palestinians in the West Bank who don’t have this luxury, who have never seen the Mediterranean, or for whom the chance to visit is an extraordinary, one-time opportunity entirely dependent on the whims of the Israeli establishment. Every time I experience fear or anxiety about the increasingly violent, herd-mentality society my 2-year old is growing up in, I consider the Palestinian children who are stateless and roofless in Gaza.

We can’t live in a constant state of guilt. But even as Israeli leftists are increasingly persecuted, we have to recognize that we also enjoy a lot of privileges. And it’s precisely because of the privileges I enjoy here that I feel compelled to fight for those who lack them.

There are many ways to fight that fight, though. The question, then, is not whether to stay or to go. That choice is personal and will always be personal. The real question for me is how to have an impact and how to live a life that is true to my ideals.

 

Read a commentary from Mondoweiss HERE

 

 

ISRAEL DECLARES FULL SCALE WAR AGAINST BDS MOVEMENT

Gearing up to face BDS as if it were a military challenge
0715-bds-poster

This report from Israel’s state broadcaster, subtitled in English by activist Ronnie Barkan, shows Vaknin-Gil vowing to defeat the BDS movement in her testimony to the Knesset committee. It also shows the committee’s chair, Stav Shaffir, complaining that the government is revealing almost nothing about how it is spending the huge sums allocated to the anti-BDS effort.

 

Full report by Ali Abunimah HERE

*

WHY WE BOYCOTT …

MY HILL IS COVERED WITH BLOOD ~~ MAN’S BEST FRIEND IS ISRAEL’S ENEMY

For Julian …. One of the few who cared …. here are his words

This is the result of fear, intolerance and  hatred of life… is easier kill and forget .. than to take care and keep .. a home for 5 souls that possibly no one will remember .. if somebody kills an innocent life .. what can we hope for? This was an act of our protectors, the police and agents. but They prefer a world with out compromise and a comfort zone .. and live there rather than go out and see that it’s our responsibility. They prefer to erase than give our time our life our love .. this way I think that it is better to empty this earth of human beings … especially this class of people .. peace to our baby’s!
What remains of a loving family / Photo by Julian

What remains of a loving family / Photo by Julian

*

Victims of fear and hate

Victims of fear and hate

My community of French Hill is the greatest example in Israel of what can be. Israelis of every background, both religious and secular, Palestinians and new immigrants have lived here in harmony for years.

This week we observe the start of the new month of Elul on the Hebrew calendar. A time for reflection and forgiveness … but some things cannot be forgiven.

A few weeks ago a pregnant dog was abandoned on my street and wound up having her six puppies in the bushes on my hill. As all puppies, they were absolutely adorable. But no one wanted them. The Pound is full to capacity with dogs waiting for adoption, but this family was destined to live in the street. They were fed and cared for by neighbours  who cared … that is until this morning when ‘animal control’ came with guns and shot them all to death.

Can this be forgiven? How can people be so cruel to creatures of the same God that created them?

French Hill is in mourning today for this family. 

Special thanks to those who cared and tried to help.

 

 

#InPalestine ~~ THE POLITICS OF WATER AND SEWAGE

The lack of adequate sewage treatment poses a serious risk to public health. During the winter rains, wastewater overflows its containment pipes, creating a higher risk of contaminating groundwater.

A Palestinian woman walks next to sewage water flowing from Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Kafr Thulth, near Qalqilya, December 2012. (Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills)

A Palestinian woman walks next to sewage water flowing from Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Kafr Thulth, near Qalqilya, December 2012. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/ ActiveStills)

West Bank villagers suffer from sewer politics

Abu Mazen Square has become a bit of a joke for Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank town of Bruqin.

To understand why, it is imperative to delve into recent history.

Two years ago, the site of what is now a public square was an open cesspool. Wastewater pumped out of the nearby Israeli settlement Ariel, one of the largest in the West Bank. This wastewater mingled with overflow from nearby Salfit.

Salfit, a town of some 9,000 Palestinians, has spent the past 22 years trying to update its sewage management system, according to chief municipal engineer Saleh Afaneh, but has not been able to get the necessary permits from the Israeli military authorities. Consequently, wastewater has been flowing down freely, joining the natural stream that runs through Bruqin village.

The Salfit government has little power to reduce the amount of sewage entering Bruqin and the neighboring Palestinian village Kufr al-Dik, but it has supplied a few kilometers of pipeline to keep the mess underground in the most densely populated parts of the two towns.

While only four out of 15 planned kilometers of pipeline have been built so far, the Palestinian Authority took the opportunity to build a lavishly decorated new town square, dedicated to Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, directly over the line, giving Bruqin’s local residents Abu Mazen Square. A kilometer away, the sewage continues to flow openly.

The story of Abu Mazen Square is an execrable reminder for many in Bruqin that their problems are being glossed over by the Palestinian Authority. While sewage leaks have plagued the village for years, the PA and its Ministry of Health have offered a minimal amount of relief, and have abandoned attempts to advocate for rural communities suffering from wastewater mismanagement.

The PA might claim that all is well, but beneath the surface the situation stinks.

Sewer politics

Wastewater management is a problem in the West Bank.

Approximately half of Israel’s environmental regulations do not apply in the occupied territory. With such lax legislation, companies producing metals, chemicals and plastics flock to settlement industrial zones, such as West Ariel and Barkan. Both Israeli and international companies are drawn to areas where they can pollute more freely, often at the expense of surrounding Palestinian communities.

The Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s saw the West Bank carved up into areas A, B and C with the Palestinian Authority exercising a diminishing level of control over the internal affairs of Palestinian communities in those areas.

For project approval in Area C — the some 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civilian and military control — Palestinian towns and villages must apply to the Israeli body which oversees civilian affairs in occupied territory.

It is the Israeli military that ultimately decides whether Palestinians can build new sewage infrastructure and wastewater treatment plants in places like Salfit where, according to Afaneh, there is no available land in areas A and B, where the Palestinian Authority exercises civilian control, for such projects.

But the Israeli authorities refuse the vast majority of applications. Making matters worse, since the beginning of 2016, the Israeli military has demolished more than 50 water and sanitation structures in Area C.

The lack of adequate sewage treatment poses a serious risk to public health. During the winter rains, wastewater overflows its containment pipes, creating a higher risk of contaminating groundwater.

In the summer, when the West Bank faces massive water cuts imposed by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, Palestinians are forced to turn to polluted water sources to meet needs.

Farmers and herders in the area also report that free-flowing sewage damages crops and can poison animals, undermining livelihoods and negatively affecting the quality of food available in rural communities.

Crisis? What crisis?

One wouldn’t know any of this, however, from talking to Palestinian Authority officials.

Haytham Mansour is director of the Ministry of Health in the Salfit region. Mansour refused to be drawn out on whether there is a water crisis in the area. While he acknowledged both water cuts and sewage leaks, he was adamant that both were under control and did not cause undue suffering in the Salfit region.

He insisted that his department tests local water on a weekly or monthly basis. Yet he would not share the findings of those reports or even confirm that the ministry kept records on water quality.

Mansour did concede that the overflow of sewage, combined with the lack of access to potable water, could hypothetically put communities at risk from anything from scabies to Hepatitis A, but maintained that the Salfit region had not seen any significant increase in those maladies.

But his denials, and those of his deputies, seem to fly in the face of evidence collected independently.

Mohammad Bishr, a doctor with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society’s Salfit branch, is concerned. As a participant in a mobile clinic program, he regularly visits both Kufr al-Dik and Bruqin to offer free consultation and primary health care services to underserved communities.

In an interview with The Electronic Intifada, Bishr said that since the beginning of June, the nongovernmental organization has noted an increase in the number of patients with scabies, gastroenteritis and gastrointestinal amebiasis, a miniature epidemic that repeats itself every summer. He attributed this pattern to a lack of proper sanitation and the domestic use of polluted drinking water.

Bishr also noted that patients were concerned over the size and frequency of mosquito bites they sustained in recent years. Small pools of sewage provide optimal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“We’ve started to see this every time the water goes [out],” noted Bishr. “Every summer, it gets worse.”

Bassam Madi, another doctor with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society mobile clinic program, worries that if the sewage crisis is not adequately addressed, there will be further increases in communicable diseases.

Crucial evidence

But to address a problem, it first needs to be acknowledged.

With no access to water quality reports from the Ministry of Health, local clinicians and public health officials are at a disadvantage. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society and local government officials have access to just a single independent report, obtained after an Israeli activist sent samples of water from polluted streams outside the Ariel settlement and the Barkan Industrial Zone to Aminolab in Israel.

Some samples showed high levels of organic waste, consistent with untreated industrial waste. Others showed waste consistent with unrestricted dumping. Additional samples showed evidence of intermittent filtration.

Aminolab noted in its report, seen by The Electronic Intifada, that this level of contamination in certain areas deviates from the Inbar standards, the Israeli regulations on water quality. While the report is not comprehensive, it includes enough detail to confirm that industrial pollutants from settlements are entering water used for agricultural and household purposes by thousands of Palestinians in the Salfit district.

The mayors of Bruqin and Kufr al-Dik have been equally dependent on the lone water quality report from Aminolab and confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health had taken almost no measures to address the wastewater problem in their towns.

Jamal al-Dik, the mayor of Kufr al-Dik, said that in 30 months of construction, the PA had only completed a little more than a quarter of the planned 15 kilometers of the sewage diversion pipeline that gave rise to Abu Mazen Square. Currently, this pipeline is only keeping sewage at bay in the most heavily populated areas.

The mayor did say that the ministry this year had supplied Kufr al-Dik with a small shipment of mosquito spray, though not enough to supply every household. The health ministry, he said, had been ignoring the escalating public health threat for years.

“This is an old story, but also our future,” the mayor added.

After years of trying to hold a public health crisis at bay with minimal assistance from the ministry, local residents and health workers are losing confidence in finding a solution to the sewage crisis, and losing confidence in their government.

Politics of water

The politicization of water in the West Bank is nothing new.

Under the Oslo accords, a Joint Water Committee, with equal numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, was established to oversee water and sanitation issues in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. While representation within the committee was hypothetically equal, Israel’s military control over Area C gave Israel effective veto power over the committee’s decisions. As a result, almost no Palestinian proposals to the joint committee ever came to fruition.

In 2010, Palestinian Authority representatives stopped giving their approval to Israeli proposals at the joint committee in protest. The Palestinian delegation failed, however, to combine their protest with any strategy to mitigate the effects of stressed water infrastructure for the Palestinian population.

The Israeli military occupation puts a burden on the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry as well. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2015 the ministry was unable to procure an estimated 30 percent of essential medicines, and 25 to 30 percent of medical equipment and laboratory supplies, due to budget shortfalls as well as Israeli restrictions on movement, which limit the flow of medical goods and personnel.

In addition to restricting access to medical supplies, the violence of the military occupation mean hospital beds are filled with those who have been injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. The restricted access to potable water simply adds more pressure on already overstressed Palestinian public health institutions.

The Ministry of Health could face political consequences for protesting the causes of the sewage crisis. The ministry’s budget for 2015 was some $323 million, according to the World Health Organization. During the same year, the US government agency USAID donated $7.6 million to the Palestinian Authority for basic health projects and $45 million for water and sanitation.

The health ministry remains caught between acknowledging the overtly political causes of a public health crisis, and the political risk of taking concrete action against the occupation.The US government has previously set a precedent in using aid as a bargaining chip against the PA as possible punishment for state-building activities.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society’s Bassam Madi believes that the problem of a lack of access to potable water will be solved when the PA, and its donors, are ready to address the matter as a public health crisis, not as a political issue.

“Let’s address the human issue, let’s address the environmental issue,” he said during a break from his work with the mobile clinic.

But, if Abu Mazen Square is any indication, the PA seems more interested in keeping up political appearances, whatever the underlying reality. The needs of vulnerable villagers in the Salfit district do not compete with this priority.

At present, the Palestinian Authority is addressing neither the “human issue” described by Madi nor the underlying political reality of Israeli control and abuse of the environment.

COLOUR CODED PALESTINIANS

Defense Ministry will produce a map of the West Bank marking in green and red the areas where, respectively, “good” and “bad” Palestinians live.

Portrait of a boy with the flag of Palestine painted on his face

Portrait of a boy with the flag of Palestine painted on his face

Israel to colour-code “good” and “bad” Palestinians

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Launched this month, as much of the world was on holiday, Avigdor Lieberman’s plan for the Palestinians – retooling Israel’s occupation – received less attention than it should.

Defence minister since May, Lieberman has been itching to accelerate Israel’s annexation by stealth of the West Bank.

Quislings and propaganda

His “carrot and stick” plan has three components. First, he intends to sideline the Palestinian Authority (PA) in favour of a new local leadership of “notables” hand-picked by Israel.

Preferring to “cut out the middle man”, in his words, he will open a dialogue with supposedly more responsible Palestinians – business people, academics and mayors.

Next, he has established a new communications unit that will speak in Arabic over the heads of the PA in the West Bank and its Hamas rivals in Gaza directly to ordinary Palestinians.

An online campaign – budgeted at USD 2.6 million – will seek to convince them of Israel’s good intentions. The Palestinians’ problems, according to Lieberman, derive from corrupt and inciteful national leaderships, not the occupation.

And finally, his Defence Ministry will produce a map of the West Bank marking in green and red the areas where, respectively, “good” and “bad” Palestinians live.

Sticks and carrots

Collective punishment will be stepped up in towns and villages in red areas, from which Palestinian attacks have been launched. Presumably night raids and house demolitions will increase, while closures will further curtail freedom of movement.

Palestinians in green areas will reap economic rewards for their good behaviour. They will be given work permits in Israel and the settlements, and benefit from development projects, including the creation of Israeli-controlled industrial zones.

This week the Haaretz daily reported that Lieberman is convinced that all the Palestinians can be attributed to Abbas’s “reign of corruption”. In briefings he has stated that the Palestinian leader “doesn’t want to deal with problems of economics and employment. The entire system of management there has failed.”

It sounds like the musings of a 19th century colonial official on how best to prevent the natives turning restless. Ahmed Majdalani, an adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, told the Israeli media the new arrangements assumed Palestinians were “stupid and lacking self-respect” and could be “bought with economic perks”.

Lieberman’s longer-term goal is to persuade Palestinians – and the international community – that their aspirations for self-determination are unattainable and counter-productive

Failed old policy

Israel has tried that approach before, as Palestinian officials pointed out. Decades ago, Israel sought to manage the occupation by imposing on the local population Palestinian collaborators, termed “Village Leagues”. Armed by the Israeli military, they were supposed to stamp out political activism and support for the PLO.

By the early 1980s the experiment had to be abandoned, as Palestinians refused to accept the leagues’ corrupt and self-serving rule. An uprising, the firstintifada, followed a short time later.

Israel’s agreement to the PA’s creation under the Oslo accords in the mid-1990s was, in part, an acceptance that the occupied territories needed a more credible security contractor, this time in the form of the Palestinian national leadership.

Disorganised resistance

Whatever Lieberman and others claim, the Palestinian leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza are the last parties to blame for the recent wave of Palestinian unrest. The attacks have been mostly carried out spontaneously by “lone wolves”, not organised groups. Many occur in Jerusalem, from which all political activity is barred.

Abbas has described the “security coordination” with Israel as “sacred”, aware that his PA will not survive long if it does not demonstrate its usefulness to Israel. His security services have subdued Palestinian resistance more effectively than the Israeli army.

Bereft of regional allies and a credible strategy, even Hamas has chosen quiet since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, its lethal wrecking spree in Gaza in 2014. It has kept the tiny coastal enclave locked down. Rocket fire – one of the few remaining, if largely symbolic, ways to confront Israel – all but ceased long ago.

The silence from Gaza was briefly disturbed a week ago by a rocket fired by a small group linked to the self-styled Islamic State. Despite Hamas’s disavowal of the attack, Lieberman demonstrated his new big stick by bombarding government sites in Gaza in a show of force unseen over the past two years.

Grassroots rage

The futility of this approach – blaming the official leaderships for the roiling frustration and resentment of those they formally lead – should be self-evident.

Ordinary Palestinians, not officials, endure the endless expansion of settlements and the resulting takeover of their agricultural lands. Ordinary Palestinians, not their leaders, face daily abuses at checkpoints and in military raids. Reports at the weekend suggested soldiers were deliberately kneecapping youths at protests to permanently disable them.

Round-ups, torture, military courts that always find the accused guilty – these are the rites of passage for Palestinians in the West Bank. For Palestinians in Gaza, it is slow starvation, homelessness and a random missile rain of death.

An Israeli strategy that failed decades ago – before the PA even existed – is not going to succeed now. Social media campaigns and paltry handouts will not persuade Palestinians they are nothing more than a humanitarian problem.

They are not about to shelve their dreams of liberation just because Lieberman colour-codes them in red and green.

TOOSDAY’S TOON ~~ US COPS ON TRAINING MISSION IN ISRAEL

ADL took US cops to Israel prison, occupied Hebron, settler winery in counter-terror event

Image by Carlos Latuff

CrEmrhpXgAABu0q

ADL took US cops to Israeli prison, occupied Hebron and settler winery during counter-terror seminar

Alex Kane

The cops flew into Tel Aviv on a Sunday afternoon. Four hours later, they met with an Anti-Defamation League official and an Israeli professor, who gave them an “introduction to Israeli politics and society.” A week later, the officers got time for an “optional walk on the Mediterranean Sea,” and in between their Tel Aviv arrival and their idyllic walk, they traveled to occupied Hebron and drank settlement wine in the Golan Heights.

Those are some of the details of a recent U.S. law enforcement trip to Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The itinerary for the 2016 ADL National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in Israel, obtained by Mondoweiss from a public records request to the Orlando Police Department, provides a look into what American cops do when they’re flown into Israel to meet with Israeli security officers. (The document is embedded at the end of this article.)

Since 2004, the ADL has taken American law enforcement on annual trips to Israel, where, the ADL says, the cops get “strategies and best practices in fighting terror” from “Israeli experts.” The ADL trips, and similar jaunts sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, are promoted as ways for U.S. law enforcement to learn how Israel deals with terrorism and to forge ties with Israeli security forces. The pro-Israel groups typically pay for the officers’ trips to Israel.

But the trips have come under withering controversy from Palestine solidarity activists and Black Lives Matter protesters. In an age of police militarization and a growing movement to combat police brutality, critics see these trips as potentially fueling harmful police tactics. And they point out that the Israeli army and police are occupying forces that have repeatedly been accused of violating Palestinian rights.

These trainings, Amnesty International’s Edith Garwood recently wrote, put U.S. police “in the hands of military, security and police systems that have racked up documented human rights violations for years”–including extrajudicial executions, torture, surveillance and excessive use of force against protesters.

The ADL and Orlando Police Department did not return requests for comment.

This year’s one-week trip began on July 31, and included members of the New Jersey State Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Illinois State police, and the heads of the Orlando and San Bernardino police, two cities recently hit by mass shootings.

The ADL and the police departments do not release details about what specific tactics the U.S. police learned in Israel. John Mina, the head of the Orlando Police Department, told the Orlando Sentinel that the information he received was “law enforcement sensitive,” and that he “learned about how the Israeli Police respond to and investigate terrorism.” He told the paper he liked the random Israeli checkpoints security forces set up, and that while he wouldn’t do that in Orlando,  “it did give me a few ideas about security measures here in Orlando that I won’t share.”

The itinerary Mondoweiss obtained does provide specifics on where the officers traveled and who they spoke to. On August 1, they met with Roni Tidhar, who does security work at Ben Gurion Airport. Security forces at Ben Gurion Airport routinely racially profile Arabs and Muslims, including Americans, and subject them to invasive interrogations.

The next day, after meeting with Palestinian Authority police in Bethlehem, the American officers traveled to occupied Hebron, the most distilled microcosm of the Israeli occupation, where Israeli soldiers and police protect around 800 extremist settlers who routinely abuse Palestinian residents. In Hebron, they spoke with Israeli Police Commander Ron Gertner and received a “security overview” of the Cave of the Patriarchs, a holy site in the city.

On August 4, the delegation traveled to Gilboa Prison, a site criticized by lawyers and Palestinian rights advocates as a place run by authorities who have tortured prisoners and withheld air conditioning units in extremely hot cells. Later that night, they traveled to the Golan Heights, an area taken from Syria in the 1967 war, then occupied and annexed by Israel. An estimated 20,000 settlers live in the Golan Heights. The police officers visited the Assaf Winery, a well-known winery, and drank wine and had lunch there.

U.S. law enforcement trips to Israel have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. In July, Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Atlanta called for the end of “the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) program, that trains our officers in Apartheid Israel.” But Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pushed back on that demand, saying he believes Israel has “some of the best counterterrorism techniques in the world” and that it “benefits our police department.”

Despite the criticism from activists, programs to forge relationships between U.S. law enforcement and Israel continue to expand. As Mondoweiss reported, Birthright recently started a program for Jewish law enforcement officers to travel to Israel.

ADL Itinerary for 2016 Law Enforcement Trip to Israel by alexbkane4538 on Scribd

1-16a49e12ef

#InIsrael ~~ THE BAN IS ON

Image by Carlos Latuff

The Israeli government has called on citizens to ‘turn in’ boycott activists for deportation.

The Israeli government has called on citizens to ‘turn in’ boycott activists for deportation.

Israel bans entry for two more US activists

Wilson Dizard

Israel has banned an American activist who has worked for years helping Palestinians in Gaza, after denying her entry into the country, detaining her for hours and deporting her against her will.  The woman’s ban comes after Israel banned five U.S. citizens at the border in July, all of them the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, and another American woman last week crossing from Jordan.

Washington D.C.-based activist, Pam Bailey, 59, who has been to Gaza many times before, arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport on Sunday and told passport control the truth; that she said was there helping a Swedish women’s aid group, Women to Women (Kvinde til Kvinde), that works alongside the Switzerland-based human rights organization Euro-Mediterranean Rights Human Rights Network (EuroMed). Bailey is the head of her own EuroMed-affiliated project, We Are Not Numbers, which tries to help Palestinians under occupation tell their stories.

Although she had a permit arranged by Kvinde til Kvinde to enter Gaza, Bailey faces a decade-long ban from entering the area, after Israel decided she was working with an activist group that they told her was “illegal” in the state.

After waiting for an hour in a small room, a border official “just informed me I was going to be deported and I would not be allowed to go to Gaza for ten years,” she said. The official did not offer an avenue for appeal. She says she feels devastated by the ban because the young people she helps out in Gaza are like her extended family. Her interest in the region began years ago.

“Basically, my first trip to the West Bank in 2007 was driven by a fascination with the Middle East, a sympathy for Palestinians and a desire to return to my reporting roots by experiencing this area of conflict for myself. The people I met there, and the injustice I witnessed, turned that curiosity into a passion,” she said.

Bailey’s ban comes as Israel cracks down on international attempts at intervention into its military occupation of Palestinian areas, encouraging Israelis to inform on outside agitation by visitors who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Bailey believes that in her case Israel wants to undermine Palestinian civil society groups and make them dependent on outsiders, easier for the state can control.

“They don’t want an independent Palestine working, but they’re totally fine with internationals cleaning up dirty work,” Bailey said.

The U.S. Campaign, whose five members found themselves turned back from Ben Gurion in July, found no help from U.S. consular officials. The U.S. State Department acknowledges the reality of this discrimination, the U.S. Campaign writes.

“Four of the five delegates who were questioned, held, and denied entry were people of color and Muslim, and the fifth had a long beard. Israel has ethnically and religiously profiled visitors so often that the State Department’s travel advisory for Israel reads: “Some US citizens of Arab or Muslim heritage not on the Palestinian Population Registry or otherwise prohibited from entering Israel have experienced significant difficulties and unequal and hostile treatment at Israel’s borders and checkpoints,’” the U.S. Campaign said.

Bailey’s story reflects that of another American activist, Charlotte Kates, whom Israel turned away from a land border crossing on August 15. Kates said she received a five-year ban.

She was there as the international coordinator for the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, on a trip to support Bilal Kayed, a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner of Israel. Kates was the subject of lengthy interrogation about her association with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, as well as her advocacy for Kayed.

Both Kates and Bailey were told verbally by officials of the length of their ban.

Bailey said that after she was summarily informed of her ban, authorities shuffled her through the Kafakesque process of being forcibly deported from the state of Israel. After one small room, officials lead her to a larger one, where other travellers waited to see if they were going to be kicked out of the country.

Soon, Israeli border control officials came for her, and put her on a small van with metal bars on the windows, and drove her out of Ben Gurion into Israel to a warehouse-like detention facility. The van held one other passenger, a crying Russian woman who spoke no English.

Once at the detention center, authorities took Bailey’s possessions from her and left her under guard with another international traveler, a British woman who was on her way to work in Ramallah. That woman had also been told by Israeli border officials that she couldn’t enter the country for ten years.

“They had asked her for all the names and numbers of her coworkers and she refused to do that,” she said. Demanding to look through cell phones and social media posts has become a common practice when facing scrutiny entering Israel.

Bailey languished in the detention facility, still deprived of her passport by border control, where the only pieces of furniture were bunk beds and a table, upon which “mystery meat subway sandwiches and water” sat.

While she was there, she tried to engage one of the guards in conversation.

“‘What threat do you think I am,’ I asked. He said ‘Don’t you think we have a right to say who can come into our country?’ so I said ‘I don’t want to come into your country. I don’t want to stay here,’” she recalled. Then the guard stopped talking.

After more waiting, Bailey encountered another bizarre twist: a medical exam. She refused.

“Then they wanted me to see one of their doctors,” she told Mondoweiss. They took her to a room “where there was a blood pressure monitor and a hypodermic needle. So I said ‘no, I am not doing this,’” she recalls.

The security officials detaining her refused to speak English, she said.

“I ended up calling them fascists, so as a result I ended up being put in a room by myself,” after refusing medical treatment she never asked for.

After several more hours of waiting, officials drove her to the tarmac at Ben Gurion and up to a United Airlines flight back to the United States. Still without all her bags or her passport, which was in the hands of a flight attendant, Bailey protested by sitting down in the aisle until a sympathetic  attendant managed to get her bag of personal items. Another piece of luggage full of GRE study books for Gazans was still in the hands of Israeli officials. Bailey never got that back.

Bailey plans to appeal her ban with the help of the group Right to Enter, which advocates on behalf of people denied entry into Israel. Sudden and unexpected denials of entry into Israel have happened to Americans of Palestinian descent as well.

Kates, the other American activist denied entry in recent days, this time at the King Hussein Bridge, said that people who appear to be Arab or Muslim, and especially Palestinian, are treated far worse than European-looking international visitors by border officials.

“Furthermore, my experience of prolonged interrogation and being held for hours at the bridge pales next to the experience of Palestinians being denied their basic right to return to enter their own homeland – part and parcel of the denial of the fundamental right of return – and subject to harsh interrogation, being deported for carrying international passports, and being subjected to cruel and degrading treatment at the border,” Kates said.

“During just my own time at the bridge, I encountered numerous Palestinians facing enormous delays and aggressive interrogation, Palestinians denied entry to their own homeland, and Palestinians presented with ‘limited-access’ entry permits prohibiting them from visiting Jerusalem. I encountered a family from Gaza who had one of the rare permits to exit via Erez/Beit Hanoun and then the bridge to Jordan to see family members. As they had studied in the US and UK, they were questioned by border guards as to why they wished to return to Gaza at all, rather than staying in another country. Border control and interrogation is part and parcel of the system of Israeli colonization and dispossession separating Palestinians from their land and seeking to force even more Palestinians outside their homeland. It is part of the same system that denies millions of Palestinians their right to return and attempts to continue the Nakba on an ongoing basis,” Kates wrote in a statement following her ordeal.

“At the same time, I also witnessed numerous holders of international passports singled out for their names, visibly Muslim or Arab appearance, or travels to Arab countries, and subject to degrading and offensive interrogations regarding their religion and personal relationships,” Kates continued.

Right to Enter, the entry advocacy group, has advice for people held up at Ben Gurion or a land-crossing. Even if Israel denies you entry, it’s not the end of the story.

“Remain calm but firm.  Remember you are not alone in being denied entry and many before you have been successful in entering even after being denied entry, some by making an appeal case on the spot and others by returning a few days/weeks afterwards,”  their website reads on what to do if denied entry  “DO NOT throw a tantrum or insult the officials.  This will only antagonize the situation.”

US IS FUELING ISRAEL’S CIVIL WAR

Israel is a very special country. Its history is like no other. Maybe that’s why its civil war, which is well underway, is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye from a stable country. Upon closer inspection, Israel is a powder keg already in the process of the most significant societal and political implosion of its history. While a total meltdown is not inevitable, the US continues to provide the fuel for Israel to continue driving drunk on power.

An Israeli UAV Hermes 500 flies over the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert, near the southern  city of Beer Sheva, on June 30, 2016 during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ  File photo of an Israeli drone (AFP)

An Israeli UAV Hermes 500 flies over the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert, near the southern city of Beer Sheva, on June 30, 2016 during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
File photo of an Israeli drone (AFP)

US should withhold military aid until Israel recognises Palestinian sovereignty

US fueling Israel’s civil war

Sam Bahour

Israel is a very special country. Its history is like no other. Maybe that’s why its civil war, which is well underway, is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye from a stable country. Upon closer inspection, Israel is a powder keg already in the process of the most significant societal and political implosion of its history. While a total meltdown is not inevitable, the US continues to provide the fuel for Israel to continue driving drunk on power.

On one side of this civil war is the elected government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and a bunch of the most extremist politicians one can find, several illegal settlers themselves. Aligned with the government are a cohort of settlers in the West Bank, which have surpassed their widely acknowledged role as the largest impediment to peace and have become an electoral consistency that is hard to reckon with.  Supporting this camp in Israel are party faithful that in any other country would be called outright racists. You can find some of them at Israeli soccer games chanting “Death to the Arabs.” A few have actually made that chant a reality.

On the other side is everyone else, albeit unable to see themselves on the same political side. In this camp are many Jewish Israelis who voted for Netanyahu, some more than once, and have watched their candidate move Israel to the most isolated position it has ever witnessed. These Israelis do not feel any safer today than they did when Netanyahu first ran for office. Added to this group are the second, third and fourth class Israeli Jewish citizens who traditionally vote Likud, against their best interests, and they make up the bulk of Israel’s poverty-stricken class; they sometimes are referred to as Mizrachi Jews, Ethiopian Jews, and the like. Then there is the 20 percent block of Palestinian citizens of Israel. This Palestinian constituency comprises the third largest elected block in the Knesset, but no other Israeli Jewish party deals with them; thus is the extreme state of racism inherent in the Israeli political system.

These two warring sides are fiercely at each other’s throats to claim the nature of Israeli society. The government has embarked on a tragic course to complete the process started in 1948 when Israel was established, to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its Palestinian Muslim and Christian inhabitants. The other camp, however fragmented, understands that Palestinians are never going to disappear into thin air and seek their government to end the nearly 50-year military occupation so Israel can reenter the community of nations with some sense of normalcy.

We are told to believe, ad infinitum by Israel’s most senior officials and an endless stream of flashy media clips, that Israel is a “light upon nations,” and brought the world high-tech, modern agriculture, and even cherry tomatoes. Israel brags that it is a “start-up nation” and Intel, Microsoft and HP, just to name a few multinationals, have all enthusiastically setup shop in the country. What these exaggerated quips and polished marketing tools do not tell us is that Israel is at a point where it is at war with itself.

The social inequality in Israel has reached epic proportions. As reported in Haaretz in 2015, as of 2013 “Israel remained at the bottom of the OECD rankings for measures of inequality and poverty.” Added to this acute class strata, indigenous Palestinians who make up one-fifth of Israel’s population are dealt out of the Israeli melting pot. Jewish Israelis are divided to the point where physical altercations frequently occur across race divides in the streets of Tel Aviv. Additionally, imported foreign labor, brought to replace the traditional Palestinian labor force from the West Bank and Gaza, are tearing Israel at its already fragile seams.

The “start-up nation” started up because Israel acquired, by the use of brute military force, land and water, the two key ingredients to statehood in the Middle East. Israel thrives because the US has chosen to relieve it from its full financial burden as a nation by granting it over $120 billion since its founding. Furthermore, all of this start-up buzz is a result of research and development spending by the military, without which there would be no start-up sector to speak of. This external budget support frees Israeli funds to do other business.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently negotiating President Obama for a 10-year military aid package to the tune of $40 billion. This new package follows President George W. Bush’s administration’s generous 10-year aid package of $30 billion. Historically, the bulk of these funds have been earmarked for Israel to purchase US weaponry, but the current package under negotiations allows Israel to spend the money in Israel. These monies are Israel’s slush fund. With these funds at its disposal, no wonder Israel can afford to offer multinationals 10 and 20-year tax incentives. In 2014 alone, it was reported that “Intel, the US chip giant, will invest $6bn in the upgrade of its main manufacturing plant in what will be the biggest single investment by a foreign company in the country [Israel]. The company will receive a grant of $300m over five years and will pay a corporate tax rate of only 5% for a 10-year period.” With that kind of financial underwriting, I can make the roof of my house a start-up nation.

Part of that other business that the US indirectly funds allow Israel to pursue its continuation of repressing by military occupation 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The US Department of State registers in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the Human Rights Reports – year in and year out how Israel violates human rights. US human rights attorney Alice Lynd, with the assistance of her husband, Atty. Staughton Lynd, documented these report’s human rights violations in a pamphlet for the Palestine-Israel Working Group of Historians Against the War (HAW). Yet, US policy remains uninformed by these reports. Israel laughs all the way to the bank as they continue to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied territory and entice multinationals to come to Israel to do business.

Don’t do it President Obama. This is an unwise use of US tax dollars. If for some unorthodox political reason, you must agree to this (which I do not buy into), then make sure today’s fundamentalist, right-wing Israeli government finally walks up to the plate and takes the move that is inevitable, recognising the State of Palestine, not to mention ending their occupation. Actually, the world is awaiting the US to make the same recognition. Better yet, take Israel’s hand and head to the UN Security Council and pass the pending resolution which upgrades Palestine’s status at the UN to a full member state. Later, both countries, Israel and the US, can decide when to extend direct recognition.

If Israel refuses to accept recognising the State of Palestine, the ultimate act to save the rapidly vanishing two-state paradigm, then hold the military aid package and take bold political action before you leave office, grant US direct recognition of Palestine. When the incoming president is faced with the wrath of Israel and the pro-Israeli lobby for this US recognition, the new administration will have a $40 billion card to subdue them. Maybe by then, these funds can be leveraged to get Israel to end their military occupation once and for all.

It’s sad that tax dollars are used in such a fashion, but if that is how the US works, then let it work for peace, not to continue fuelling Israel’s civil war, which will ultimately spill over to yet another armed clash with Palestinians under occupation. As a Palestinian-American, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, I have an obligation to my two daughters and all Palestinian children, as well as all of Israel’s children too, to speak up before we all end up paying the price, again, for US inaction, or worse.

 

Written FOR

OLYMPIC IMAGES ~~ ISRAEL’S PRIVATE GAMES

While is  celebrating closing ceremony Israel continues the murdering games of airstrikes

CqaP5h1XgAAKiqS

A new milestone: BDS at the Olympics

*
Islam El Shehaby refuses to shake Or Sasson's hand. (Photo: Getty images)

Islam El Shehaby refuses to shake Or Sasson’s hand. (Photo: Getty images)

“I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can’t ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this state, especially in front of the whole world.” These words, spoken by an individual who has just engaged in a gesture of support for the Palestinian people, are a standard response to the accusation of anti-Semitism which is routinely hurled at pro-justice activists.

The necessary distinction made between the “Jewish people” and the Israeli state is one Israel itself seeks to erase, as it strives to deflect all criticism of its policies, blaming it on anti-Jewish hatred instead. As such, these words do not in themselves establish new grounds, but a new approach to solidarity. Yet as Egyptian judoka Islam El-Shehaby uttered them last week in Brazil, they signified a new milestone: the sports boycott had arrived at the 2016 Olympic Games.

“Shaking the hand of your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he’s not my friend,” El Shehaby explained, in the fallout from his action, which resulted in his dismissal from the games, for “poor sportsmanship.”

One day before El-Shehaby’s refusal to shake the hand of the Israeli Olympian he had just competed with, another judoka, Saudi Joud Fahmy, had withdrawn from the competition, in order not to have to compete against an Israeli athlete, should she win and advance to the next round.

And yet two days earlier, the Lebanese team had refused to let Israeli athletes ride on the same bus that had picked them up first, on its way to the opening ceremony. The Lebanese athletes persistently blocked the door, preventing the Israelis from getting onto the bus. As a result, the International Olympic Committee had to send in a separate bus for the Israelis.

While the Olympics are without a doubt an athletic competition, they are also, and to an equal degree, about the countries that send these athletes to the games. At the end of the day, and at the end of the games, we have a countdown of medals by country. And even as the Games are said to be about nations coming together, they are really yet another venue for pitting nations against each other. When any athlete competes, their country and their country’s flag is displayed as prominently as their own name. The winner’s national anthem is played during the medal ceremony, and all are expected to show their respect to that country. It is no surprise that the formidable gold medalist Gabby Douglas has been pilloried by her compatriots for her refusal to place her hand on her heart during the US national anthem, (even though she was otherwise very respectful), and one of the most iconic political images in Olympics history remains the raised Black Power fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Of course then, the snubbing by Lebanese, Egyptian, and Saudi athletes of members of the Israeli delegation is a political act. And of course, Israel has complained that these athletes “are bringing their respective countries’ ongoing conflict with Israel to the Rio games.”

The actions of these athletes are in keeping with the Palestinian call for global solidarity in the form of BDS, including the sports boycott of Israel. A sports boycott is an individual gesture with the greater immediate negative consequences suffered by the person engaging in it, as they will likely be disqualified from further competition. Yet the Arab athletes who refused to normalize with the Israelis have been criticized as violating “etiquette” and “the Olympic spirit.” Which drives one to wonder, is this yet another venue where Israeli exceptionalism wins, as the violent, racist state is left off the hook, not held accountable for its assault on Palestinian athletes?

Over the recent years, Israel has prevented Olympics-bound Palestinian team chiefs from leaving the country. It had restricted their freedom of movement, making it basically impossible for them to practice in adequate facilities, and it has shot at the ankles of Palestinian soccer players. Where was the criticism when these crimes were committed? Two years ago, an international campaign to ban Israel from FIFA, because of its human rights violations, had failed to pressure the international organization into censoring that country.

When no official organization is willing to hold Israel accountable, individuals can do so. The snubbing by some athletes of the Israeli delegation is a noble gesture in a political arena, and it is incumbent on us to appreciate it for what it is: a refusal to normalize with a country that bombs young boys playing on the beach, prevents young swimmers from reaching a pool, and prohibits Olympic hopefuls in Gaza from training with their compatriots in the West Bank. We then can surely appreciate the exquisite irony of the separate buses at the Olympic village for the delegation from a country that builds separate roads for its Jewish citizens, transporting them to their Jewish settlements in illegally occupied territories.

While the Olympics athletes were competing in Rio, another game was being played halfway around the world with an overt political message as well: we will not be cowered into “civility” towards an apartheid state. In Glasgow, Scotland, fans of Scotland’s Celtic FC had organized an event to “Fly the Flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice,” during a game against the Israeli team Hapoel Beer Sheva.  The Facebook page of the event is clear about its understanding of the political reality of Israel, as the organizers explain that the display of flags would be to “invoke our democratic rights to display our opposition to Israeli apartheid, settler-colonialism and countless massacres of the Palestinian people.”

The fans had been warned by UEFA that they could face fines or the closing down of part of their stadium if they flew the Palestinian flag. But, as John Wight writes, “Celtic supporters are typically among the most politically aware and conscious of any demographic in society. For them Celtic is more than just another football club it is a political and social institution, one that has always stood and must continue to stand for justice in the face of injustice, racism, oppression, and against apartheid wherever and whenever it arises.”

Around the world, the Palestinian flag—almost like the kuffiyeh—has taken on a dimension beyond nationalism to signify progressive politics, a collective stand against systemic violence, and anti-colonialism everywhere. And as the game began, Palestinian flags appeared everywhere in the stands. A sea of Palestinian flags greeted the Israeli team in defiance of UEFA rules, and at the risk of the Celtic FC being penalized. Yes, flying the flag was without a doubt an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people. But it was also a rejection of the system behind the oppression of the Palestinian people; a rejection of apartheid, colonialism and racism. The display of hundreds of Palestinian flags at the Celtic FC game showed an understanding of shared experiences of discrimination, disenfranchisement, dispossession, and a rejection of the Zionist narrative. Every flag that flew in that stadium ripped at Israel’s projection of normalcy and its paper-thin veneer of “democracy.” And the media carried the news around the globe, amplifying the gesture.

Beyond the boycott of consumer products in grocery stores, BDS has so far dealt a major blow to Israel’s image. Artists continue to cancel scheduled concerts in Tel Aviv, academic associations are voting to boycott complicit Israeli institutions, churches are screening their portfolios to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s illegal practices, and the recent events in Scotland and at the 2016 Olympics are the principled athletes’ way of saying: we do not normalize with the representatives of a pariah state. Before these gestures get spun into anti-Semitic incidents by Zionist hasbara, it is incumbent upon BDS activists and organizers to explain the context of the snubbing, the defiance, and the refusal to engage in “good sportsmanship” with a country that violates the most basic human rights of an entire people.

TODAY’S TOON ~~ BIBI’S LOVE FOR PALESTINE

Image by Carlos Latuff

 Netanyahu says, ‘I care more about Palestinians than their own leaders’


Netanyahu says, ‘I care more about Palestinians than their own leaders’

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heightened his row with international charities operating in Gaza in a video Thursday where he announced, “Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders do.”

“Who cares more about Palestinians.” pressed Netanyahu, “Israel, that facilitates the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, every single day? Or Hamas, that robs Palestinian children of that very same aid?”

In wake of Gaza indictments, Netanyahu says, ‘I care more about Palestinians than their own leaders’

The prime minister continued by repeating accusations that have put international organizations under scrutiny. In the last two weeks two Palestinian aid officials in Gaza have been accused by Israel of misusing resources. 

“A few days ago, the world learned that Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza, stole millions of dollars from humanitarian organizations like World Vision and the United Nations,” Netanyahu said.

On August 3, Mohammed el-Halabi, director of the Gaza branch of World Vision, was criminally charged by Israel for allegedly funneling 60 percent of his organization’s projects budget—$7.2 million annually—to support for Hamas.

World Vision has denied the Israeli accounting. ”There is a huge gap in these numbers the Israeli government is telling and what we know,” the group’s German spokesperson Silvia Holten told the AP.

A few days later a second humanitarian worker, Waheed Borsh, a contractor with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was also indicted for supporting Hamas. Borsh confessed to a list of ways that he had “aided Hamas,” according to a statement from Israel’s Security Agency.

“Last year he helped build a military jetty in the northern Gaza Strip – utilizing UNDP resources – to be used by Hamas’ naval forces,” the statement said. “Also in 2015, he acted to persuade UNDP managers to prioritize the rehabilitation of housing in areas populated by Hamas members… Borsh was acting in response to a request by Hamas.”

The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) alleged that Borsh admitted knowing the location of Hamas military facilities, and said when he found weapons stowed in UNDP facilities he allowed Hamas to “confiscate the arms and other materials.”

The actual indictment against the UN worker filed lesser charges than the offenses alleged by Israel’s security agency, a source who has seen the indictment told Mondoweiss. 

The court document indicated Borsh will be prosecuted for “communicating with a foreign agent, providing services to a foreign group, dealing with properties in an attempt to be used against Israel,” the source said, adding that the one-page indictment does not assert Borsh aided any “illegal organization,” Israeli legal-speak for terror organizations and Hamas.

Laith Abu Zeyad, an advocacy officer with the Palestinian legal rights group Addameer said the language of the criminal case is typical for those charged after traveling abroad and meeting with representatives of governments at odds with Israel.

Abu Zeyad said that “spying of having connection with a foreign agent” is a “a very common accusation used by the Israeli government” merely in cases where an individual has traveled to an enemy country such as Lebanon.  

“The accusation are really vague,” he went on, saying that there are difficulties in distinguishing between a resident of Gaza interacting with Hamas as the ruling civil administration, and interacting with its military wing. 

“Even if they provide evidence, even if they provide a pictures of him shaking hands with a Hamas militant, it cannot be used as evidence because it could be his relative or something,” Abu Zeyad continued.

This is the second recorded message from the prime minister in recent weeks in which the subject was the well-being of Arabs and Palestinians. In the first he said he hoped for greater inclusion of Palestinian citizens into Israeli society. The message was timed after his government passed a series of economic-improvement programs.

The medium of goodwill clips is a staple of Israeli public relations for ceremonial greetings and religious holidays. It is far less common when the subject is the Israeli conflict with Palestinian armed groups and their backers.

EIGHT YEARS OF WAITING IN (FOR) PALESTINE

It has been 8 years since I moved back from the USA to occupied Palestine and it may be worth a brief reflection. I accomplished much since then (of course I am surrounded by good people starting with my wife and immediate family members to students and volunteers who believed in what we were doing and to hundreds of supporters around the world).

My 'official welcome back' by the occupation police

My ‘official welcome back’ by the occupation police

EIGHT YEARS

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

It has been 8 years since I moved back from the USA to occupied Palestine and it may be worth a brief reflection. I accomplished much since then (of course I am surrounded by good people starting with my wife and immediate family members to students and volunteers who believed in what we were doing and to hundreds of supporters around the world). Briefly, under difficult circumstances in 2008-2016, I (with support)

1- Published many scientific research articles including critical ones on environment and genetics

2- Wrote books (one published in 2012 on Popular Resistance in Palestine and two on the way)

3- Founded and directed a clinical cytogenetics laboratory

4- Mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students

5- Taught over 8 different courses ranging from molecular biology to anthropology to biodiversity at four colleges and universities

6- Founded and directed the Palestine Museum (PMNH) of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) including its nascent botanical garden. http://www.palestinenature.org

7- Traveled throughout occupied Palestine and collected over 8000 specimens and over 10,000 photos that are a basis of current and future research

8- Traveled and represented Palestine in over 20 countries

9- Wrote over 200 articles on issues ranging from popular resistance to the one state solution to BDS.

10- Spoke to over 5000 visiting internationals about the situation

11- Spoke to thousands of locals on issues ranging from environment to human rights

12- Created jobs and helped some students manage their financial burden with some scholarships and work-study programs

13- Organized dozens of workshops that built human capacity

14- Built working relationships with dozens of local and international groups

15- Performed a number of consultancies to local and international agencies that made a direct impact on course of human development and the environment

16- Read over 500 books and hundreds of articles that helped me change and grow as an individual

17- Built friendships with hundreds (and met thousands)

18- Challenged oppression wherever it was found (via demonstrations, media work, etc) and got arrested a few times and questioned by intelligence services of three countries😉

All of this was done while struggling against not just Israeli occupation with its repression (e.g. inability to import things normally, lack of freedom of movement) but some Palestinian societal backward culture including nepotism, patriarchy, bureaucracy, and corruption. We were learning as we go how to deal with people (including the “mental occupation”). We gave chances to some who abused them and some who benefited from the chances to improve themselves and serve Palestine. But what sustained me/us was good honest people who I met and worked with everywhere. Hundreds of individuals like you on this list who helped us in so many ways by donations, volunteerism, actions, and other kinds of support. Of course what we have done is miniscule compared to what needs to be done. And there are many millions of candles in this darkness. We are humble enough to realize that we can only continue to achieve with collective work towards a peaceful., just, and SUSTAINABLE world.

Staying in the US would have been much less demanding on my physical and psychological health (and with a six figure income would have been financially “logical”). And there was lots of activities we were doing in the US for Palestine, for global peace, and for the environment. Much remains to be done within the US as it continues to be the country that is in the words of Martin Luther King Jr “the biggest purveyor of violence”. It certainly is the most enabling and the major sponsor of apartheid Israel and the endless wars in neighboring countries (conflicts thought to serve Israeli interests). Without the US support “Israel” would fold in two weeks and would have to become a democratic country for all its people and allow the Palestinian refugees to return. However and having said all of that, the decision to return to Palestine was the best decision I made in my life and this feeling grows stronger every day. The most important accomplishment I feel will last generations is my mentoring of young people. I would like to spend more time with young people (this is part of the reason we built PMNH/PIBS) and work harder at helping people help themselves. As I look forward with optimism to the next eight years here (If I live that long), I want to sincerely thank all of you who contributed and continue to contribute your time and energy.

END OF REFLECTION. Now for other good news

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted overwhelmingly in the annual convention to set up a screen and not invest in any company that profits from Israel’s occupation. They also called to end US unconditioonal aid to Israel. The Green party of the US developed a great latform on the question of Palestine (see below) that is based on human rights and justice. Social media are abuzz after the disastrous choice of Clinton and Trump to be nominees of the “democratic” and “republican” parties. Many argue that this continuing deterioration was a predictable outcome of the permission of lobbies (like the Zionist lobby to shape elections) and/or an expected outcome of several elections where people vote for the lesser of two evils rather than vote their conscience.

Following the diminishing water supply to Palestinians in the West Bank and the severe water shortage and pollution in the Gaza Strip, a light installation was held simultaneously in eight locations: Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Boston, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Melbourne and Perth, Australia. In an illuminating display of lights reflected in water, activists from four continents stood near lakes and beaches creating the message “WATER IS A RIGHT” in various languages.

Green Party Statement on The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Our Green values oblige us to support popular movements for peace and demilitarization in Israel-Palestine, especially those that reach across the lines of conflict to engage both Palestinians and Israelis of good will.

We reaffirm the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis, which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other. We recognize the historical and contemporary cultural diversity of Israeli-Palestinian society, including the religious heritage of Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. This is a significant part of the rich cultural legacy of all these peoples and it must be respected. To ensure this, we support equality before international law rather than appeals to religious faith as the fair basis on which claims to the land of Palestine-Israel are resolved.

We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe. However, we oppose as both discriminatory and ultimately self-defeating the position that Jews would be fundamentally threatened by the implementation of full rights to Palestinian-Israelis and Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes. As U.S. Greens, we refuse to impose our views on the people of the region. Still, we would turn the U.S. government towards a new policy, which itself recognizes the equality, humanity, and civil rights of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all others who live in the region, and which seeks to build confidence in prospects for secular democracy.

We reaffirm the right and feasibility of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel. We acknowledge the significant challenges of equity and restitution this policy would encounter and call on the U.S. government to make resolution of these challenges a central goal of our diplomacy in the region.

We reject U.S. unbalanced financial and military support of Israel while Israel occupies Palestinian lands and maintains an apartheid-like system in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens. Therefore, we call on the U.S. President and Congress to suspend all military and foreign aid, including loans and grants, to Israel until Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories, dismantles the separation wall in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, ends its siege of Gaza and its apartheid-like system both within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.

We also reject U.S. political support for Israel and demand that the U.S. government end its veto of Security Council resolutions pertaining to Israel. We urge our government to join with the U.N. to secure Israel’s complete withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries and its compliance with international law.

We support a much stronger and supportive U.S. position with respect to all United Nations, European Union, and Arab League initiatives that seek a negotiated peace. We call for an immediate U.N.-sponsored, multinational peacekeeping and protection force in the Palestinian territories with the mandate to initiate a conflict-resolution commission.

We call on the foreign and military affairs committees of the U.S. House and Senate to conduct full hearings on the status of human rights and war crimes in Palestine-Israel, especially violations committed during Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza (“Operation Cast Lead”) as documented in the 2009 “UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”(“The Goldstone Report”) authorized by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

We recognize that despite decades of continuous diplomatic attempts by the international community, it has failed to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law or respect for basic Palestinian human rights; and that, despite abundant condemnation of Israel’s policies by the UN, International Court of Justice, and all relevant international conventions, the international community of nations has failed to stop Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights in Israel and the OPT, while Israeli crimes continue with impunity. We recall that ending institutionalized racism (apartheid) in South Africa demanded an unusual, cooperative action by the entire international community in the form of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid South Africa, and that BDS can become the most effective nonviolent means for achieving justice and genuine peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and for the region, through concerted international pressure as applied to apartheid South Africa; and that Palestinian resistance to ongoing dispossession has mainly been nonviolent, including its most basic form—remaining in their homes, on their land; and that while Palestinian armed resistance is legitimate under international law when directed at non-civilian targets, we believe that only nonviolent resistance will maintain the humanity of Palestinian society, elicit the greatest solidarity from others, and maximize the chance for future reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. However, we also recognize that our appeal to Palestinians to continue to resist nonviolently in the face of ongoing existential threats from Israel is hypocritical unless accompanied by substantial acts of international support. We recall that in 2005, Palestinian Civil Society appealed to the international community to support a BDS campaign against Israel, and that in response the Green Party of the US endorsed this BDS campaign in 2005. Therefore, we support the implementation of boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era, which includes pressuring our government to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel; and we support maintaining these nonviolent punitive measures until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by

-Ending its occupation and colonization of all Palestinian lands and dismantling the Wall in the West Bank
-Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
-Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We recognize that international opinion has been committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, we view the two-state solution as neither democratic nor viable in the face of international law, material conditions and “facts on the ground” that now exist in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Given this reality, we support a U.S. foreign policy that promotes the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan as the national home of both peoples, with Jerusalem as its capital. We encourage a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state constitution.

We recognize that such a state might take many forms and that the eventual model chosen must be decided by the peoples themselves. We also acknowledge the enormous hostilities that now exist between the two peoples, but history tells us that these are not insurmountable among people genuinely seeking peace.

As an integral part of peace negotiations and the transition to peaceful democracy, we call for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose inaugurating action would be mutual acknowledgement by Israelis and Palestinians that they have the same basic rights, including the right to exist in the same, secure place.

« Older entries