WHO SAID ISRAEL IS AN APARTHEID STATE?

If this doesn’t prove they were
right, nothing will!

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Among the reasons given for keeping the Palestinians off Israeli buses is lack of room on the buses for Jewish residents of the West Bank, and Jewish women passengers saying they have been harassed by the Palestinian laborers.

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We sang that same song on the buses of the US South 50 years ago ...

We sang that same song on the buses of the US South 50 years ago …

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New Guidelines Prevent Palestinian Workers From Riding Israeli Buses

Harassment of Jewish Women Passengers Cited as Reason

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GETTY IMAGES

By JTA

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New guidelines issued by Israel Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon will prevent Palestinian workers from riding on Israeli public transportation in the West Bank.

Under the new guidelines announced Sunday, all Palestinian workers must return to the West Bank through one crossing, the Eyal crossing located near Kalkilya in central Israel, and continue to their homes from there. Very few Israeli buses reach that area of the West Bank. Palestinian workers are not allowed to stay overnight in Israel.

The guidelines will go into effect next month, according to Haaretz. Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank reportedly is exploring other options to provide the Palestinian workers with appropriate transportation.

Jewish residents of the West Bank and their local governments have waged a vociferous campaign over the last few years in order to prevent Palestinians who work in Israel to use Israeli public transportation in the West Bank.

Among the reasons given for keeping the Palestinians off Israeli buses is lack of room on the buses for Jewish residents of the West Bank, and Jewish women passengers saying they have been harassed by the Palestinian laborers.

Unnamed security sources told Israeli media that the new guidelines are not being put into place to keep Palestinians off Israeli buses, but to make tracking their entering and exiting Israel easier.

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As reported in the Palestinian Press

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Palestinians barred from Israeli West Bank buses

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An Israeli army officer looks over a bus transporting Palestinians
into Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing in Israel
(AFP/File David Buimovitch)
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Palestinians will be effectively banned from riding the same buses as Israeli settlers in the West Bank, local media said Sunday, with a rights group slamming the plan as “racial segregation.”Hundreds of Palestinians travel each day to work in Israel from the occupied West Bank, mainly in the construction business, using a single crossing point at Eyal where they present travel permits.Currently they are allowed to return to the West Bank on the same buses as Israeli settlers.But a new measure announced by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, due to go into effect next month, will require them to again check in at the Eyal crossing point, the Haaretz daily reported.

The workers would have to find separate transportation from that point on.

The directive in effect “bans Palestinian workers from traveling on Israeli-run public transportation in the West Bank,” said Haaretz.

The defense minister was not immediately available for comment.

Israeli settlers in the West Bank have called for years for Palestinians to be banned from public transport there, arguing their presence poses a security risk.

But Haaretz reported that the bus ban contradicted the view of the Israeli army, which does not see Palestinian commuters on Israeli transport as a threat, since the workers go through security vetting before receiving their travel permits.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem accused Yaalon of making a racially motivated decision.

“It is time to stop hiding behind technical arrangements … and admit this military procedure is thinly veiled pandering to the demand for racial segregation on buses,” a group statement said.

Last year, the group criticized the Israeli government for its decision to launch separate bus lines for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

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The settlers themselves are surprised we are calling the above apartheid …

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Left-wing screams apartheid over new security edict for Palestinian laborers

Program would require Palestinian workers from the West Bank to head home at night through same IDF manned passageway through which they entered; new edict makes use of Israeli buses cumbersome.

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Qalandiya check-point

Israeli border policemen control Palestinian worshippers at Qalandiya check-point at the outskirts of Jerusalem. (photo credit:REUTERS)

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Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s new security edict could soon prevent Palestinian laborers, who cross the security barrier to work in Israeli communities, from returning home aboard the country’s public bus lines.

The security program, which has yet to be put in place, would require the laborers to head home at night through the same IDF checkpoints from which they entered, security sources told The Jerusalem Post Sunday morning.

Technically speaking, Palestinians can continue to use Israeli buses on either side of the barrier, but the edict makes this very cumbersome.

There is no start date for the security edict, which is likely to begin with a pilot program at the Eyal crossing in Samaria, security sources said.

As work to construct the West Bank security barrier advances, the IDF’s Central Command is examining ways of supervising the transit of Palestinians and has drawn up proposals that entail them Palestinians leaving and returning through the same crossings, the source explained.

Israeli left-wing politicians and activists immediately attacked the decision, calling it tantamount to apartheid because it prevented Palestinians from using Israeli public transportation lines.

“This is an official governmental stamp on a policy of apartheid in the territories.

Separating Jews and Palestinians only deepens Israel’s status as a pariah state,” Meretz party head Zehava Gal-On said in a prepared statement.

“Not only has Defense Minister Ya’alon destroyed our relationship with the US, he is destroying our relationship with the entire world,” she charged.

Gal-On was referring to Ya’alon’s trip to Washington last week in which he was denied high-level meetings with US officials as payback for once having referred to US Secretary of State John Kerry as “messianic” and “obsessive” in his drive to restart peace talks.

Settlers, especially the Samaria Regional Council and the Samaria Citizens Committee, have long lobbied to keep West Bank Palestinians off Israeli buses, claiming they pose a danger to passengers. As such, they hailed the new edit as a victory.

But a security source clarified that it had nothing to do with public buses.

“This does not touch upon public transport,” the source said.

The source stressed that the matter was “security-based” and that the goal was to “supervise the entrance into and exit out of Israeli territory, thereby decreasing the chance of terrorist attacks inside Israel.”

Another security source said the decision had been taken “solely due to security considerations and would not prevent Palestinians from going out to work or making a living.”

“No one is preventing Palestinians from continuing to work in Israeli territory and heading to where they wish,” the source explained. “On the contrary.”

The source explained that “Palestinians authorized to enter Israel will do so through a single passage in order to prevent a situation in which Palestinians stay in Israel illegally instead of returning to their homes,” something that could increase the chances for terrorist attacks.

“This is a mechanism that is supposed to minimize the presence of Palestinians in Israel illegally yet allow Palestinian workers to continue to work inside of Israeli territory,” she source continued. “It is something that every sovereign country does to defend itself.”

But Sarit Michaeli of the rights group B’Tselem told The Jerusalem Post West Bank Palestinians who arrive in Israeli cities and towns to work must pass a rigorous security check before receiving a permit, so it is hard to imagine that they pose a threat.

“I think that it is very disingenuous to speak about it as a security issue,” Michaeli said.

NO JUSTIFICATION FOR TERROR ON THE STREETS OF JERUSLEM

no_hate_fb_small

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It didn’t start last week when a crazed motorist rammed his car into people waiting for the light rail in Northern Jerusalem. It didn’t start when a three month old Israeli child was killed in that incident. It started over 60 years ago.

Our hearts go out to the family of the dead child, Chaya Zissel Braun, killed that day. Our hearts went out to the families of over 500 Palestinian children in Gaza murdered by Israeli troops. It went out to the families of scores of Palestinian children murdered in the Occupied West Bank either by crazed settlers or Israeli soldiers.

There is NO JUSTIFICATION FOR ACTS OF TERROR AIMED AT INNOCENT CIVILIANS ON EITHER SIDE OF THE WALL!

The last photo of 3 month old Chaya Zissel, taken just hours before she was killed

The last photo of 3 month old Chaya Zissel, taken just hours before she was killed

 

Some of the Gazan children murdered in cold blood

Some of the Gazan children murdered in cold blood

 

A much more desired photo

A much more desired photo

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The hatred continues on the streets, fueling what can only become the rebirth of a new intifada. That was not the solution then, it is certainly not the solution now. We are seeing riots on both sides of the wall in Jerusalem. Crazed Jewish residents literally stopped the train in its tracks the other evening at the station where the attack took place. Residents on their way home from a hard day at work were delayed for hours because of these actions. Is there any sense to that? NO! Who are they aiming their anger at …. do you think they even have an answer to that? NO!

Even the New York Times is under attack for stressing their account of the situation on the extremist Jewish settlers, not on Palestinians. A usual voicepiece for zion seems to have gone astray.

YouTube banned a video of those same idiots, but you can still see it HERE. It was shot a few years ago but the same ‘mentality’ is caught for all to see …

Gideon Levy explains in HaAretz today why the Palestinians have a right to resist ….

BUT NOT TO TARGET INNOCENT CIVILIANS!

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They don’t want Israel to continue tyrannizing them, so they resist. They hurl stones and firebombs. That’s what resistance looks like. Sometimes they act with heinous murderousness, but even that is not as bad as their occupier’s built-in violence.

It’s their right; it’s their duty.

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The Palestinians’ right and duty to resist

Faced with a reality in which Israel is strong and the United States is in its pocket, it is the duty of Palestinians to resist the occupation. The only question relates to the means.

By Gideon Levy

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A Palestinian youth holds a slingshot during clashes with Israeli police in East Jerusalem.

A Palestinian youth holds a slingshot during clashes with Israeli police in a suburb of East Jerusalem, Oct.23, 2014. Photo by AFP

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Imagine you’re the Palestinians. Perhaps residents of East Jerusalem. Forty-seven difficult years are behind you; a big, depressing darkness lies ahead. The Israeli tyranny that dooms your fate declares arrogantly that everything will stay like this forever. Your city will remain under occupation “for ever and ever.” The defense minister, second in importance in the government that subjugates you, says a Palestinian state will never be established.

Imagine you’re Palestinian and your children are in danger. Two days ago, the occupation forces killed another child because “he lit a firebomb.” The words “Death to Arabs” were sprayed near your home. Everywhere you turn, a soldier or Border Police officer may shout at you. Every night, your home may be invaded brutally. You will never be treated like human beings. They’ll destroy, humiliate, intimidate, perhaps even arrest you, possibly without trial.

There are close to 500 administrative detainees, a record number in recent years. If one of your dear ones is arrested, you will have difficulty visiting him. If you succeed, you’ll get half an hour’s conversation through a glass window. If your dear one is an administrative detainee, you will never know when he’ll be released. But these are trivia you grew accustomed to long ago.

Maybe you’ve also grown accustomed to the land theft. At every moment a settler can invade your land, burn your plantation or torch your fields. He will not be brought to trial for this; the soldiers who are supposed to protect you will stand idly by. At any moment, a demolition order or random eviction order may appear. There’s nothing you can do.

Imagine you’re the Palestinians. You can’t leave Gaza and it’s not easy to leave the West Bank, either. The beach, less than an hour’s drive from your West Bank home, is beyond the mountains of darkness. An Israeli can go to Tierra del Fuego, between Argentina and Chile, much more easily than you can go to the beach at Ajami.

There are no dreams, no wishes. Your children have a slim chance of accomplishing anything in life, even if they go to university. All they can look forward to is a life of humiliation and unemployment.

There’s no chance that this situation is about to change anytime soon. Israel is strong, the United States is in its pocket, your leadership is weak (the Palestinian Authority) and isolated (Hamas), and the world is losing interest in your fate. What do you do?

There are two possibilities. The first is to accept, give in, give up. The second is to resist. Whom have we respected more in history? Those who passed their days under the occupation and collaborated with it, or those who struggled for their freedom?

Imagine you’re a Palestinian. You have every right to resist. In fact, it’s your civil duty. No argument there. The occupied people’s right to resist occupation is secured in natural justice, in the morals of history and in international law.

The only restrictions are on the means of resistance. The Palestinians have tried almost all of them, for better and worse – negotiations and terror; with a carrot and with a stick; with a stone and with bombs; in demonstrations and in suicide. All in vain. Are they to despair and give up? This has almost never happened in history, so they’ll continue. Sometimes they’ll use legitimate means, sometimes vile ones. It’s their right to resist.

Now they’re resisting in Jerusalem. They don’t want Israeli rule, or people who set live children on fire. They don’t want armed settlers who invade their apartments in the middle of the night, under the Israeli law’s protection, and evict them. They don’t want a municipality that grants its services according to national affiliation, or judges that sentence their children according to their origin. They also go nuts when the house of a Jewish terrorist is not demolished, while the house of a Palestinian will be torn down.

They don’t want Israel to continue tyrannizing them, so they resist. They hurl stones and firebombs. That’s what resistance looks like. Sometimes they act with heinous murderousness, but even that is not as bad as their occupier’s built-in violence.

It’s their right; it’s their duty.

WATCH HOW THE OCCUPATION TURNED AN AMERICAN TEEN INTO A PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST

Photo of Tariq provided by the Abukhdeir family

Photo of Tariq provided by the Abukhdeir family

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Until recently, Tariq Abu Khudair  was a ‘happy go lucky’ American teenager. Watch and listen to the following account as to how the brutality of the occupation changed his life…

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Transcript

Tariq Abukhdeir: Thank you for having me tonight. Good evening. I’m happy to be back in the US – safe – and when I went overseas I had a tough time.

And actually when I arrived in Palestine the Israelis kept me in the airport for ten hours. At that time I was confused so I thought about it a little bit. I thought about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. As we speak right now, the Palestinian people are suffering.

I visited Palestine for six weeks and what happened to me was just a small taste of what they go through every single day. And the Palestinians do not have rights and when I went over there I forgot that I had freedom. I wish, now that I’m back, that they have the same freedom I have. I appreciate freedom more now that I’m back in the US.

I’m just an average kid. I was born in Baltimore and I moved to Tampa when I was eleven. I’m fifteen and I’m in tenth grade right now – I started school already.

Now, about my cousin Muhammad Abu Khudair. He was my first friend that I made when I went to Palestine this year – because I hadn’t been to Palestine for eleven years. So right when I went there I saw him with all my cousins. We became friends on the spot. We went out every day – we had so much fun. We stayed up all night.

So one night during the month of Ramadan, I passed by him and I said “Hi” to him. I was on the way to the bakery to buy some food. I came by and I drove off and I came back and I saw the cops were exactly where he was sitting. And I asked – there was only one of my cousins that was there – and I asked him “What happened?”

He told me that they kidnapped Muhammad and that, right when he told me that, so many things went through my mind. I was thinking, is he going to come back alive, what are they going to do to him, is he saying anything, can anybody hear him?

So at that point I got a call, the same second that I was told that he was kidnapped – and it was my cousin and he said “What are you doing at 4:30 AM outside?”

And I’m like “Bro, Muhammad just got kidnapped.” So then all my cousins, all of Shuafat came down, and they were like, “Where is he? We need to know where he is right now.” And we were talking to the cops. And the cops asked me, “Were you the last person to see him?” And I said “Yes. All I saw – and he was just sitting there in front of his house and I drove off and I came back and I saw you guys.”

So later on, a couple of hours later, we found out that he was killed. I found out first and I didn’t want to tell anyone. I just sat by myself and my cousins were like, “Why are you sad? He’s going to be back. He’s going to come back. We have to be positive.”

And I’m telling them “I hope so. God’s will.” And I’m sitting there thinking to myself, “Is this true?” I don’t want to think about it in a bad way but did he really get stabbed and burned alive? Could that really happen? Could someone actually do that to another person? And I was scared for his life.

And then, he was stabbed and burned alive and finally everyone knew when they announced it in the mosque. And when they announced it in the mosque everyone just dropped. They were like, “Is it true? We don’t even know how someone could to that to someone else.”

And to even make it worse, they began to fire rubber-coated metal bullets at us, at everyone. They even were firing at my mother, at my aunts and uncles that were inside their houses. They were shooting at every house. And it was so sad and inhumane that they could do that when we lost someone in our family. We’re the ones – my mom is still grieving and my cousin’s mom, my aunt, is still grieving over her son’s death. When he was murdered we thought to ourselves that we tried our best to think he was going to come back, until we found out everything.

To make it worse, later that day, I was on the side of the street when there were some protestors in front of me and there were the IDF [Israeli army] firing rubber bullets at them. And that’s when I was on the side and I’m thinking to myself, “Is this really happening in front of me? Are they really firing rubber bullets to the whole city, to my family?

It made me think how could this happen right in front of me? And then I heard Israeli soldiers behind me, and then I’m thinking they’re going to run by me. They’re just going to shoot like the rest of the soldiers did. They began to run after me. That’s when I panicked. And everyone began to scream and panic too and then they ran. And I began to run too and I panicked because I didn’t know what to do. And that’s when they stuck to me. Three of them were running after me, one person.

And that’s when I jumped the fence on my left and I was at a dead end. It was not actually a dead end but there was like a little ten-foot drop in front of me which everyone jumped. I was going to jump it because I was scared and so many things were running through my mind. So when I was about to jump it, they tackled me and punched me and zip tied me. So I couldn’t make any movements.

I was zip-tied and leg-cuffed and beaten, punched and kicked in the face until I was unconscious. And even when I went unconscious they kept punching and kicking me like I was a punching bag. And I woke up blindfolded in jail. I woke up like I thought I was in the same place, I felt like I was in my cousin’s place, God rest his soul. I’m like, “Where am I? Are they going to kill me? Am I going to live through this?” And I’m bleeding down my neck, and I’m bleeding down every part of my body and I feel like my face is a bubble because of how much it hurt.

After being six hours in jail – they took me to jail – they finally took me to a doctor. And when I went to that doctor I went unconscious again and when I woke up I saw my dad and my uncle in front of me. They said “you might come back home with us tonight, or you might go to jail.”

I thought to myself “why would I go to jail? They beat me up!”

And later on I began to drink and eat and while I was drinking and eating the soldier came up to me to go get dressed. I’m going back to jail. And I’m like – I couldn’t say anything.

So I went to the bathroom and I changed back into my clothes, the same clothes – I was in a gown in the hospital. I had to change back into the same clothes that had all my blood on it, and my ripped shirt.

I went back to the jail and I saw all my cousins in jail and it was so sad. It’s inhumane like how you can just take a bunch of kids for no reason and beat them. I saw my one cousin sitting next to me and his whole shoulder is dislocated and his whole shoulder is bleeding. And I’m looking at myself like how, how is this happening to me? How’s it happening to all the Palestinians? How do they live through this?

I stayed in jail for four days. Actually on the second day I was in jail they said I went to a court date. I went to the court, sat in a jail cell inside the court. I didn’t even get to go to my court date. They just tortured us. They put us in a cell inside the court. Nine people in a closed cell and it was so small. We had to stand, we couldn’t sit down. For six hours we kept standing in that cell. We couldn’t do anything until one by one, [I] was called.

So that’s when I returned to jail. Two days later I had another court date. The same thing happened. I went to the jail cell, stayed there for a couple of hours and finally I got out and there was a bunch of media in front of me. I was getting a bunch of questions. Right when I walked into the courtroom I saw my parents. My face lit up. I was so happy. So many things running through my mind. I’m finally going home. I’m finally going home. I’ll think about everything when I’m going home.

Then the judge told me I’m going to be on house arrest. Usually when I think about house arrest I’m like, “house arrest, I don’t know what that is.” Until she told me that I’m not allowed to go back to my city where my parents are staying – you’re supposed to stay away from your family. Why should I stay away from my family? They’re like trying to torture me.

So they did all this with no charges. That’s what they do to all the Palestinian people – with no charges filed. So on the day I left Palestine they attacked all my cousins, the rest of them. They took half my cousins when I was there and then they took the rest when I left – the night I left.

They waited for me to leave and then they took my cousins, ransacked my house that I was staying in. They took my fifty-year-old uncle. He got back from work and they took him. He works every day from eleven in the morning to six in the morning the next day and they took him. He was so tired.

And I really want to thank everyone that supported me and it’s sad that my cousins are still being persecuted. And the three cousins that were arrested with me – their names are Karim, Muhammad and Mahmoud – they’re still in jail because they’re not American and they didn’t have a video that showed the brutality of the Israelis.

Now, I think all people should be treated equal, no matter who they are or where they come from. We were all created equal and we all deserve to have our rights and I feel my cousins should have the same rights that Israel gives the Israelis.

And giving Palestinians the same rights is a key to peace in the Middle East. I pray one day my cousins can feel safe to play outside and have fun. And I don’t want them to feel scared when they’re outside trying to play with their other cousins. It’s inhumane, I can’t explain it. It’s really sad. Thank you.

** Suha Abukhdeir**: Thank you. Good evening everyone. I want to thank the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation for having us here tonight. We’re honored to be here. My name is Suha Abukhdeir. I’m the mother of Tariq Abukhdeir.

I cannot begin to describe the pain of seeing my beloved son held in an Israeli prison without charges, denied medical care and suffering from a brutal beating given to him by the Israeli police.

When I first heard about the vicious beating he faced at the hands of the Israeli police and saw his bloody and swollen face and his unconscious body in the hospital, I feared for his life and I didn’t know if he was going to survive.

I could not bear to watch the video of his beating. What if he was screaming for help and I could not be there for him? When I arrived at the hospital, when I found out about him being in jail and then taken to the hospital, I found an Israeli policeman at the hospital door.

And I asked him if I can go in and see my son. He refused at first. After my husband had pleaded with him he finally allowed me but proceeding to say, “You cannot get near him, you cannot touch him and you cannot speak to him.”

So I proceeded to go to the hospital room and I looked over and all I could see is this helpless body laying there – he had a distorted face. I did not recognize him. I didn’t know if he was alive, what had happened exactly. So I told my husband, “Please, don’t leave him” – because he was handcuffed to the hospital bed.

I felt like since he was handcuffed to the hospital bed that the same people that brought him to the hospital could take him right back. So I was afraid.

The next morning, we got a call from the American consul Josh Wagner and he told us that he had made an appointment for all of us to go see Tariq in jail. I found out before [consular official] Josh Wagner called that they took Tariq back to jail and I couldn’t believe it.

I knew he was on antibiotics so the first thought I had was “Are they really going to give him his antibiotics? Are they really going to take care of him? Are they going to feed him?”

And especially after seeing the condition he was in, I couldn’t bear to think he was in a jail cell when he should have stayed in the hospital. So the next morning we went with Josh Wagner to the jailhouse. So when we proceeded and told the Israeli police that Josh Wagner had an appointment to see Tariq today. They said no one was going to see any prisoners and that was it and they closed the prison doors in our face.

Josh Wagner could not believe it. He told them, “I am not going to leave here until I see him because I made an appointment with you guys and I’m going to stay until I see him.

He proceeded to call the US embassy and the Israeli embassy back and forth for three hours until finally they agreed to let him in alone. So he got in – before he got in I told him, “Please Josh, can you just let me know of his condition. Ask him, is he eating, are they giving him his medications because the medications are in Hebrew and obviously he can’t read Hebrew.” These are the same people that beat him that now are caring for him.

I’m grateful to be back in America safe with my son but I know Palestinians go through what my son faced every day. Tariq was not able to grieve his cousin’s death or attend his cousin Muhammad’s funeral as a result of the beating Israeli police had given him that same day his cousin was brutally murdered by the Israeli extremists.

Instead of the police protecting us they taunted us, telling us that Muhammad was just the first to be killed and that 300 Palestinians would be killed for the three teenagers who were killed.

My son and family have been very traumatized by this whole experience. Our cousins are still in jail and the only reason Tariq is out is because he is an American citizen and his beating was caught on tape.

While some of the Israeli officials tried to justify the vicious beating my son received by smearing his name, my son has never been charged with any crime. Nothing, nothing can justify restraining the hands of a fifteen-year-old child and beating him unconscious. Although as Americans we enjoy great freedom in America, in Jerusalem we felt worse than second-class citizens because the Israeli government treated us differently because we had a different religion and ethnicity.

Like my Palestinian cousins I felt that my family had no rights. My son was viciously attacked while in custody. He was in jail for four days. We were forced to pay a $1,000 bond and my son faced nine days of house arrest away from his family – although he committed no crime and faced no charges.

When we left to America, Israeli police raided the family home where we were staying and arrested the males there. They’re still being held today without any charges. The Israeli police involved in the beating of my son must be held accountable so that no other mother must go through the pain that I went through.

My son still suffers from body aches and pains and headaches, not to mention the emotional trauma he must now struggle through. I just pray that America and the world can have the same sympathy for the countless children who are wrongfully arrested or even killed by Israel who do not carry a US passport like my son Tariq.

None of this would have happened if the Israeli government valued the life of my son Tariq and other Palestinian Muslim and Christian children in the same way they value the lives of Israeli children. Thank you.

 

More HERE

5th AVENUE SYNAGOGUE WILL BE CLOSED TO JEWS THIS COMING SABBATH

Just imagine the uproar if the above headline was true …

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BUT …..

The silence is once again deafening when Muslims are barred from THEIR place of worship on THEIR Holy Day …

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Israel bans Muslims from Ibrahimi Mosque Thursday, Friday

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(MaanImages/File)
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron will be closed to Muslim worshipers on Thursday and Friday, an official at the mosque told Ma’an Sunday.Hijazi Abu Sneina told Ma’an the mosque would be open to Israeli settlers during the two days of Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, but closed to Muslims.

The Ibrahimi Mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is located in central Hebron, a frequent site of tensions due to the presence of 500 Israeli settlers in the Old City.

A 1997 agreement split Hebron into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

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Is this what we can expect next?

Is this what we can expect next?

HERE’S HOW PALESTINIANS WILL LIVE IN A ONE STATE SOLUTION

Annexation of West Bank=One State Solution

Annexation of West Bank=One State Solution

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A must read for anyone who still supports that ‘solution …

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The norms proper to a true democracy obligate the state to take steps to promote equality of opportunity and implement a policy of narrowing the gaps in land allocations. Instead, it has responded with a series of laws, including the one allowing small communities to set up admissions committees, that send the following unequivocal message: This is a Jewish state; Arabs out.

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Israel’s discriminatory housing message: This is a Jewish state; Arabs out

Both the Israeli establishment and the greater public have completely disregarded the dire statistics about the the Arab community’s housing shortage.

By Jack Khoury FOR

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Adel Kaadan

Adel Kaadan outside his home in the town of Katzir, which challenged his right to live there because he is Arab.Photo by Moran Mayan / Jini

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Every time the issue of Arabs living in small rural Jewish communities arises, the same question arises: Would Arabs be willing to let Jews live in their small rural communities? The goal of this question is to throw the ball back into the Arabs’ court and portray them as the bad guys, who don’t want Jews in their villages, and therefore have no right to demand to live in equivalent Jewish communities.

But the people who raise this claim ignore several important facts in an attempt to justify a fundamentally racist and discriminatory policy.

First, all the Arab villages – without exception – existed even before the state was established, and the vast majority of their houses were built on privately owned land that the owners inherited from their forebears, not on land provided by the state. Most of the rural Jewish communities, in contrast, were built on state land based on terms set by the state, and according to the High Court of Justice’s precedent-setting ruling in the Kaadan case in 2000, the state cannot discriminate in allocating land on the basis of a person’s ethnic or national background.

Second, Arab citizens of Israel currently own only about five percent of the country’s land, because most of what was once Arab-owned land has been expropriated over the years since 1948 via a series of draconian laws and decisions. In contrast, the regional councils where most of the Jewish communities in question are located control about 70 percent of the country’s land.

The fact that Arabs are barred from living in these areas due to their ethnicity, while almost any Jewish citizen who meets the relevant socioeconomic criteria can live there, means that Jews have considerably more options than Arabs when it comes to choosing a place to live.

Both the Israeli establishment and the greater public have completely disregarded the dire statistics about the the Arab community’s housing shortage, which stems from blatant discrimination in the allocation of land, the expansion of existing communities’ jurisdictions and the approval of master plans. There is an urgent need for tens of thousands of houses for young Arab couples. “Where will we build our house and raise our children?” has become the problem that keeps such couples awake at night, and the options available to them are steadily shrinking.

Every young couple, even an Arab couple, is entitled to aspire to a decent standard of living in every area of life. But instead of enjoying their rights as citizens, striving to realize this aspiration and being able to talk about fair allocations of land and equality of opportunity, Arab citizens feel they are being pushed further and further into a corner. Arabs are searching for any possible solution, including the option of living in small Jewish communities, not out of a desire for separatism, but out of a desire to integrate.

The norms proper to a true democracy obligate the state to take steps to promote equality of opportunity and implement a policy of narrowing the gaps in land allocations. Instead, it has responded with a series of laws, including the one allowing small communities to set up admissions committees, that send the following unequivocal message: This is a Jewish state; Arabs out.

NEVER TOO OLD TO FIGHT THE OCCUPATION

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This video shows a Palestinian elder with a paper model of the kind of rocket the Palestinian resistance fires from Gaza fearlessly confronting Israeli occupation forces in the Bab al-Zawiya neighborhood of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Friday.

He does not back off even when a soldier fires towards him at close range.

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Towards the end of the video, filmed by Yusri al-Jamal, the man whose name was not reported says:

Gaza is steadfastness, Gaza is heroes, Gaza is revolution, Gaza is rage, Gaza is victory, Gaza is the lifeline of the Palestinian people. Our blood is not more precious than the blood of the children or the resistance of Gaza. We will redeem you Gaza. We are all with you Gaza. Do not rely on the Arabs; tell them to sleep comfortably. But we Palestinians do not fear rifles or cannons.

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HAMAS IS NOT IN A POSITION OF POWER TO WAGE WAR AGAIN

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It looks like the Ceasefire has come to an end ….

Hamas has legitimate demands for it to have continued, but they are dealing with a most stubborn entity which is backed by US unlimited funding.

Hamas’ original Demands

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First a video dealing with those demands…

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1. Return of IDF tank positions so that farmers can work their lands

2. Freeing of all prisoners arrested since June 23 (when 3 Israeli teens were killed by Hamas operatives), and improving the conditions of those currently in prison.

3. Lifting of Israel’s naval blockade around Gaza along with the complete opening of the land border crossings.

4. Establishment of an international airport and seaport in Gaza.

5. Expansion of Gaza fishing zone by six miles.

6. Open the Israel-Gaza Rafah border crossing permanently under UN supervision, instead of under Israel’s watch.

7. 10 year truce with Israel along with the deployment of an international observer force on the border.

8. Israel must never enter Gaza under any circumstances and protect Palestinian Muslim worshippers at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

9. Israel must refrain from interfering with the newly created unity Palestinian  government between Fatah and Hamas.

10. Rehabilitation of Gaza Industrial Zones and allowance for Gaza to create a border protection force.

All of the above are legitimate!

All, or most of the above, will not be met by Israel.

BUT

There are forces within Gaza that are working in the interests of Israel at the moment as they once again began firing rockets into Israel this morning.

THE RESULT

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THIS IS WHAT IS CONTINUING

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Here a rocket from Gaza hits near a school in Sderot ….

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Here is the Israeli response ….

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Here is DesertPeace’s response to WHAT CAN AND SHOULD BE

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It CAN …. It WILL be done! We have NO OTHER CHOICE!

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ENOUGH ALREADY!

FROM BOTH SIDES!!

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Dr. Mads Gilbert adds the following thoughts

Dr. Mads Gilbert: Solidarity with Gaza! If no siege, no tunnels! – If no occupation, no rockets!

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Dr. Mads Gilbert from Tromsø, Norway (Twin City with Gaza City), was working at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza during the last Israeli onslaugt on Gaza. When he returned from Gaza to his home-town Tromsø on July 31 2014, he went straight from the airport to give this spontaneous speech at a large solidarity demonstration for Gaza held at the same time. The regional newspaper “Nordlys” (“Northern Light”) streamed the demonstration and featured Dr. Mads’ speech on their web-site. They have donated the video. It was transcribed and subtitled in English through a solidarity effort by Norwegian film and video professionals. The video can be shared and used for non-commercial purposes.

Friends of Gaza posted this on YouTube.

 

A PALESTINE THAT ISRAELIS CAN’T SEE

Israel’s 10-meter high separation barrier and the country’s decades of indoctrination have blocked its view and allowed Israelis to simply stop seeing real live Palestinians — decidedly alive, even if not well, and determined to live normal lives.

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A Palestine That Israelis Can’t See

How Does an Unsustainable Situation Keep On Going?

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Dead End: It’s a truism to say that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is unsustainable. So why does it show no sign of ending anytime soon?

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Dead End: It’s a truism to say that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is unsustainable. So why does it show no sign of ending anytime soon?

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By Sam Bahour

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The status quo in Palestine and Israel is unsustainable. Anyone involved in the reality on the ground in this part of the world knows this for a fact. As such, one can view the current Palestinian bid to the United Nations General Assembly for non-member state status as a last-ditch effort by the secular Palestinian leadership to save whatever may be remaining of the two-state paradigm as the basis to ending Israel’s 45 years of military occupation.

A significant driver of the current political paralysis is the stereotype, designed and propagated by Israelis, that Palestinians living on the other side of the separation barrier are violent and not deserving of freedom or independence. As such, most Israeli Jews do not see Palestinians as equal human beings, and thus any violent action against them becomes justified, no matter how cruel, illegal or in contradiction of Jewish values.

Nearly all Palestinians on the receiving end of this stereotype miraculously wake up every morning and — beyond doing their utmost to sustain a livelihood under miserable conditions — somehow remain focused on working toward realizing a future free of military occupation.

This stereotype, spread by Israeli authorities to foreign audiences and, sadly, inculcated through Israel’s state education system, is that any substantial relief or complete removal of the 45 years of Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, would result in a security risk. A similar fear-mongering strategy is used to dismiss the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel. In the meantime, Israel makes matters worse on the ground by, for example, continuing to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements.

Foreign countries, donors and international organizations have come around, albeit belatedly, to noting in their reports that the status quo is unsustainable. The data is there, in dizzying detail, for all to read.

Additionally, newspapers of record in Israel, France and America have started to editorialize with some hard questions, such as “Can Israel really be a Jewish (only) state?” and “Is a two-state solution still possible?” More recently, even The New York Times questioned the future of Israel’s democratic character when it noted in an editorial: “One of Israel’s greatest strengths is its origins as a democratic state committed to liberal values and human rights. Those basic truths are in danger of being lost.” Human rights aside, there is no doubt that Israel is at a foundational crossroads.

The dominant narrative, especially in the United States — that any change in the status quo would put Israel in existential danger — is one that Israel has sustained for decades, spending hefty amounts on professional public relation firms and masters of spin to disseminate this message. Listening to world leaders and consuming today’s corporate media, the average person would have a hard time reaching a different conclusion.

Enter reality.

Israel’s 10-meter high separation barrier and the country’s decades of indoctrination have blocked its view and allowed Israelis to simply stop seeing real live Palestinians — decidedly alive, even if not well, and determined to live normal lives.

They can’t see an army of telecommunication engineers and call center operators struggling to create a commercially viable network with a full suite of services even though the needed, imported equipment is routinely delayed — at times for years — at Israeli ports.

They can’t see an army of youth pocketing the latest 3G-enabled smartphones that are useless because the electromagnetic spectrum required to operate a 3G network is controlled by the Israel military, and therefore use of 3G frequencies — like pasta and crayons in Gaza, not long ago — is prohibited by Israel.

They can’t see the dozen or so business incubators that host innovative entrepreneurs, many of them women, who routinely pitch their ideas to investors and enter their business plans in competition, only to be vulnerable to failure because of the innumerable structural impediments imposed by the Israeli occupation.

They can’t see the 18 banks and half-dozen or so equity capital funds that, day in and day out, seek viable businesses to invest in, only to end up with more funds than this militarily occupied market can absorb. They can’t see the enthusiastic young men and women at the Hereditary Research Lab at Bethlehem University exploring the genetics of hearing loss and breast cancer.

They can’t see hundreds of parents — yes, mothers and fathers — holding their children’s hands as they lead them to watch the performances of the Palestinian Circus School or Al Kamandjâti music school.

They can’t see bank investment committee members toiling with the moral dilemma of financing projects in the besieged Gaza, when nothing in their formal education ever prepared them for the market risk of societal collapse that they must calculate into their decisions every day.

They were blind to the excitement and grassroots campaigning across cities and villages in the occupied Palestinian territory as West Bank residents recently went to the polls, again, for municipal elections.

Most important, they also can’t see something much more serious than any of this — that the Israeli status quo, built on a cruel collective indifference, and the false glow of a rigged prosperity in which the Israeli public is basking can lead to only one outcome: collapse.

Socially, economically and definitely politically, Palestinians will not, and cannot, take any route other than reducing their efforts to build their state and redoubling their efforts toward ridding themselves of the Israeli boot of occupation pressing on their necks. Even if successful in attaining non-member state status in the U.N., the upgraded status will be used as a tool of resistance to terminate this doomed occupation once and for all.

Israelis may be living in utter denial of the peculiar and unsustainable reality they have created by the sheer might of force — but this is no excuse for the rest of the world, especially the United States, not to wake up and realize that ending the occupation has the potential to release a tremendous amount of positive energy in the Palestinian community — a necessary energy for a party to negotiate in good faith as it rebuilds its society from the ruins of decades of destitution.

Ending this military occupation, at long last, will not totally resolve the conflict. Yet in light of current trends putting Israel on a collision course with history, arranging for Palestinians to reach the point where they have real authority over their affairs would be a huge step forward, one that could save many lives on both sides of the Wall.

Published in The Forward

IMAGES OF THE GAZA WAR AND THE OCCUPATION(S)

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All Thanks to America

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COMPARATIVE NAKBAS

Palestine 1948

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Poland 1940

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Bibi’s Wall 2014

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Never Again OR Over Again?

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THE SELF DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL

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 They (the Palestinians) have gradually been stripped of basic civil liberties, robbed of assets including much of their land and often their homes, have suffered from mounting restrictions on their physical movements, been blocked from trading and business, especially the selling of produce, and found themselves increasingly impoverished and finally trapped behind walls and security fences erected around Gaza and the West Bank.

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Israel Is Captive to Its ‘Destructive Process’

By Chris Hedges Writing FOR

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  Palestinians salvage what they can of their belongings from the rubble of a house destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. AP/Khalil Hamra

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Raul Hilberg in his monumental work “The Destruction of the European Jews” chronicled a process of repression that at first was “relatively mild” but led, step by step, to the Holocaust. It started with legal discrimination and ended with mass murder. “The destructive process was a development that was begun with caution and ended without restraint,” Hilberg wrote.

The Palestinians over the past few decades have endured a similar “destructive process.” They have gradually been stripped of basic civil liberties, robbed of assets including much of their land and often their homes, have suffered from mounting restrictions on their physical movements, been blocked from trading and business, especially the selling of produce, and found themselves increasingly impoverished and finally trapped behind walls and security fences erected around Gaza and the West Bank.

“The process of destruction [of the European Jews] unfolded in a definite pattern,” Hilberg wrote. “It did not, however, proceed from a basic plan. No bureaucrat in 1933 could have predicted what kind of measures would be taken in 1938, nor was it possible in 1938 to foretell the configuration of the undertaking in 1942. The destructive process was a step-by-step operation, and the administrator could seldom see more than one step ahead.”

There will never be transports or extermination camps for the Palestinians, but amid increasing violence against Palestinians larger and larger numbers of them will die, in airstrikes, targeted assassinations and other armed attacks. Hunger and misery will expand. Israeli demands for “transfer”—the forced expulsion of Palestinians from occupied territory to neighboring countries—will grow.

The Palestinians in Gaza live in conditions that now replicate those first imposed on Jews by the Nazis in the ghettos set up throughout Eastern Europe. Palestinians cannot enter or leave Gaza. They are chronically short of food—the World Health Organization estimates that more than 50 percent of children in Gaza and the West Bank under 2 years old have iron deficiency anemia and reports that malnutrition and stunting in children under 5 are “not improving” and could actually be worsening. Palestinians often lack clean water. They are crammed into unsanitary hovels. They do not have access to basic medical care. They are stateless and lack passports or travel documents. They live with massive unemployment. They are daily dehumanized in racist diatribes by their occupiers as criminals, terrorists and mortal enemies of the Jewish people.

“A deep and wide moral abyss separates us from our enemies,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently of the Palestinians. “They sanctify death while we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty while we sanctify compassion.”

Ayelet Shaked, a member of the right-wing Jewish Home Party, on her Facebook page June 30 posted an article written 12 years ago by the late Uri Elitzur, a leader in the settler movement and a onetime adviser to Netanyahu, saying the essay is as “relevant today as it was then.” The article said in part: “They [the Palestinians] are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

The belief that a race or class is contaminated is used by ruling elites to justify quarantining the people of that group. But quarantine is only the first step. The despised group can never be redeemed or cured—Hannah Arendt noted that all racists see such contamination as something that can never be eradicated. The fear of the other is stoked by racist leaders such as Netanyahu to create a permanent instability. This instability is exploited by a corrupt power elite that is also seeking the destruction of democratic civil society for all citizens—the goal of the Israeli government (as well as the goal of a U.S. government intent on stripping its own citizens of rights). Max Blumenthal in his book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” does a masterful job of capturing and dissecting this frightening devolution within Israel.

The last time Israel mounted a Gaza military assault as severe as the current series of attacks was in 2008, with Operation Cast Lead, which lasted from Dec. 27 of that year to Jan. 18, 2009. That attack saw 1,455 Palestinians killed, including 333 children. Roughly 5,000 more Palestinians were injured. A new major ground incursion, which would be designed to punish the Palestinians with even greater ferocity, would cause a far bigger death toll than Operation Cast Lead did. The cycle of escalating violence, this “destructive process,” as the history of the conflict has illustrated, would continue at an accelerating rate.

The late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, one of Israel’s most brilliant scholars, warned that, followed to its logical conclusion, the occupation of the Palestinians would mean “concentration camps would be erected by the Israeli rulers” and “Israel would not deserve to exist, and it will not be worthwhile to preserve it.” He feared the ascendancy of right-wing, religious Jewish nationalists and warned that “religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism was to socialism.” Leibowitz laid out what occupation would finally bring for Israel:

The Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police—mainly secret police. A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions. The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the State of Israel. The administration would suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other. There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people’s army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations.

Israel is currently attacking a population of 1.8 million that has no army, no navy, no air force, no mechanized military units, no command and control and no heavy artillery. Israel pretends that this indiscriminate slaughter is a war. But only the most self-deluded supporter of Israel is fooled. The rockets fired at Israel by Hamas—which is committing a war crime by launching those missiles against the Israeli population—are not remotely comparable to the 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs that have been dropped in large numbers on crowded Palestinian neighborhoods; the forced removal of some 300,000 Palestinians from their homes; the more than 160 reported dead—the U.N. estimates that 77 percent of those killed in Gaza have been civilians; the destruction of the basic infrastructure; the growing food and water shortages; and the massing of military forces for a possible major ground assault.

When all this does not work, when it becomes clear that the Palestinians once again have not become dormant and passive, Israel will take another step, more radical than the last. The “process of destruction” will be stopped only from outside Israel. Israel, captive to the process, is incapable of imposing self-restraint.

A mass movement demanding boycotts, divestment and sanctions is the only hope now for the Palestinian people. Such a movement must work for imposition of an arms embargo on Israel; this is especially important for Americans because weapons systems and attack aircraft provided by the U.S. are being used to carry out the assault. It must press within the United States for a cutoff of the $3.1 billion in military aid that the U.S. gives to Israel each year. It must organize to demand suspension of all free trade and other agreements between the U.S. and Israel. Only when these props are knocked out from under Israel will the Israeli leadership be forced, as was the apartheid regime in South Africa, to halt its “destructive process.” As long as these props remain, the Palestinians are doomed. If we fail to act we are complicit in the slaughter.

CHOMSKY ONCE AGAIN LOST IN THE WILDERNESS

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Noam Chomsky, the leading American philosopher and political activist, has said efforts to force a change in Israeli policies towards the Palestinians through boycotts risk backfiring because of insufficient support.

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In reality the BDS Movement has shown growing support daily both Internationally and in Israel itself.

The Spreading BDS Movement

The BDS movement is spreading throughout the world. European pension funds are divesting from banks and companies that operate in settlements, and European markets are labeling Israeli goods made in the West Bank. [FROM]

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The above is from a report called ‘Israel’s War Against ‘BDS’ Movement‘. Chomsky once again apparently takes Israel’s side.

My personal views on Chomsky’s confusion can be seen in the following posts from the archives ….

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And now his latest blunder FROM

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Israel boycott campaign risks backfiring, says Noam Chomsky

US philosopher argues that parallels between BDS campaign and action against apartheid-era South Africa are misleading
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Noam Chomsky. Photograph: Jean-Yves Ahern/Demotix/Corbis

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Ian Black, Middle East editor

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Noam Chomsky, the leading American philosopher and political activist, has said efforts to force a change in Israeli policies towards the Palestinians through boycotts risk backfiring because of insufficient support.

In an article for the Nation, Chomsky courts controversy by arguing that parallels drawn between campaigns against Israel and apartheid-era South Africa are misleading and that a misguided strategy could damage rather than help Israel’s victims.

Chomsky’s target is the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, which has made significant strides in recent years. It calls for an end to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands conquered in 1967 and the dismantling of its West Bank wall; recognising the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Chomsky says that while there is wide international support for the first two goals, there is only negligible backing beyond the BDS movement itself for the return of the 1948 refugees – a key Palestinian demand. Insistence on that, he says, “is a virtual guarantee of failure”.

Against a background of bitter arguments over BDS activity on US university campuses, Chomsky invokes the “glass house” principle, writing that if Tel Aviv University is boycotted because Israel violates human rights at home, “then why not boycott Harvard because of far greater violations by the US?”

He also questions the “very dubious” analogy made by BDS between sanctions against Israel and sanctions against apartheid South Africa. By 1960, global investors had already abandoned South Africa, says Chomsky, though some historians dispute the claim. Today, by contrast, US investment is flowing into Israel.

“While there is … a growing domestic opposition in the US to Israeli crimes, it does not remotely compare with the South African case,” he writes. “The necessary educational work has not been done. Spokespeople for the BDS movement may believe they have attained their ‘South African moment’, but that is far from accurate. And if tactics are to be effective, they must be based on a realistic assessment of actual circumstances.”

Similar arguments are deployed against the invocation of apartheid. “Within Israel, discrimination against non-Jews is severe; the land laws are just the most extreme example. But it is not South African-style apartheid. In the occupied territories, the situation is far worse than it was in South Africa, where the white nationalists needed the black population: it was the country’s workforce, and as grotesque as the bantustans were, the nationalist government devoted resources to sustaining and seeking international recognition for them.

“In sharp contrast, Israel wants to rid itself of the Palestinian burden. The road ahead is not toward South Africa, as commonly alleged, but toward something much worse.”

Chomsky expresses support for the boycott of products from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories – a strategy enhanced by an EU policy shift last year that was welcomed by pro-Palestinian activists.

South Africa’s freedom struggle, Chomsky recalls, was helped by Cuban military and soft power, as Nelson Mandela gratefully acknowledged. But as the Palestinians have no such saviour, he concludes, “those who are sincerely dedicated to the Palestinian cause should avoid illusion and myth, and think carefully about the tactics they choose and the course they follow.”

• This article was amended on 3 July 2014 to clarify that a remark about global investors abandoning South Africa was part of a paraphrasing of Noam Chomsky’s argument.

‘BREAKING THE SILENCE’ GOING VIRAL INTERNATIONALLY

The following appeared in The Irish Times (including more recent video)

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Israeli soldiers speak out on abuse of Palestinians

Yehuda Shaul says disturbing images represent norm in occupied territories

By Kitty Holland

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Yehuda Shaul, a former Israeli soldier who served in the West Bank and Gaza, tells how he and fellow soldiers secured a television screen one night while out on patrol, to watch a World Cup match.

It was 2002 and Brazil were playing.

“The way we passed those night patrols was to bang on random houses, no reason and we’d go in, wake everyone up, men in one room, women in another, mess everything up, onto the next house.

“That night we wanted to watch the match so we were looking for a house that had a satellite dish. We found one, went in and locked the family in the basement while we watched the match. Why wouldn’t we? That’s what we do in the occupied territories.

“The most important message you get from your superiors in the Israeli military is that every Palestinian needs to feel Israel is at the back of their neck. So, quickly, you adapt to the environment; you don’t see the Palestinian in front of you as human. They are reduced to being an object.”

A photograph accompanies the story, of a young Israeli soldier grinning to the camera, in a Palestinian family’s living room, the aforementioned football match on their television in the background.

It is one of hundreds of chilling photographs taken by former members of the Israeli Defence Forces, of themselves and their colleagues engaging in what Shaul says becomes “normal” behaviour after being sent to the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. A fraction – about 85 – will be exhibited by the Breaking the Silence project in Dublin from today.

Other photographs include one of a Palestinian man, blindfolded, his hands tied, his head bowed. A young Israeli soldier crouched down beside him beams to the camera in an image reminiscent of some that emanated from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in 2003.

Another shows a teenage boy, again hands tied, blindfolded and left sitting, while Israeli soldiers chat in the background. One of the most disturbing is one of children, who appear aged between about seven and 10, “playing soldiers”.

Some are clearly ‘playing’ Palestinians, their hands against a wall, their legs splayed while another ‘plays’ the occupying soldier, pointing a stick at them as a ‘gun’. An Israeli soldier looks on. “This [kind of] experience is normal to these young kids,” says Shaul “It’s their reality from a young age.”

‘People hadn’t a clue’

Breaking the Silence was initiated by Shaul 10 years ago, after he completed his tour of duty with the IDF in Hebron. All Israeli males must spend three years in the military and females two years, with some exceptions, after high school.

“When I came back, I began to question what I had done, what I had done to Palestinian people. Once I understood the reality of what I had done I found I couldn’t continue unless I did something. I started to talk to military colleagues and found they felt the same. The one thing we kept bumping into was that people hadn’t a clue.”

Israelis, he says, didn’t know – or didn’t want to know – the abuses he says are perpetrated every day in the occupied territories. “Soldiers come home, maybe for a weekend. It’s a different reality. They don’t talk about the reality of the military. What happens in the West Bank stays in the West Bank.”

He and colleagues began gathering photographs and testimonies and were soon exhibiting all over Israel, including in the parliament, the Knesset.

Their work created “noise”, he says and for a time they were one of the biggest stories in the country. It has opened a discussion and some awareness but he says most Israelis choose to say of the occupation: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“What we have documented are not isolated incidents. This is a story of what happens when a nice kid from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv gets sent to the Territories. They adapt.”

Asked to comment, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Dublin said: “Breaking the Silence represents only an insignificant minority of IDF veterans (less than 1,000). It is not an objective human rights organisation. It is a political organisation devoted to tarnishing the reputation of the Israeli Defence Forces and, by extension, the Israeli state.

“Breaking the Silence are ‘useful idiots’ allowing themselves to be manipulated by the international boycott, divestment, sanctions campaign against Israel. It seeks to delegitimise and ultimately destroy the state of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.” Breaking the Silence has exhibited in the US, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Brussels and continues to gather photographs and testimony from returning soldiers. It runs at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin’s Temple Bar from today until June 29th and is free. It is hosted by Trócaire.

 

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORKERS WALK AND TALK TO END ISRAELI AGGRESSION

The photos speak for themselves …. no commentary needed

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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To the surprise of all involved, not even one passerby mentioned the missing teenagers … the demonstration was met by friendly response.

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RENEWED ISRAELI AGGRESSION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE RECENT KIDNAPPINGS

What is happening in Palestine is not about three missing youth but rather power, control, propaganda, and colonization. By only choosing to look at the three missing youth, we become blinded to the larger picture and context of what is happening in Palestine. So let us examine the events leading up to last week.
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This is not about 3 settlers

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An elderly Palestinian man sits near Israeli soldiers taking part
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2014 in the West Bank village of Tapuah. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
By Rachelle Friesen*

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More than 300 Palestinians have been arrested and detained by the Israeli military since last Thursday — including over 50 that were released in the Gilad Shalit deal — in clear violation of the agreement.

Over 750 homes in the Hebron area alone have been “searched” and invaded. On Thursday night, Birzeit University was targeted and searched.

The streets of the West Bank are crawling with 18-20-year-old Israelis armed with machine guns, and all rights have been suspended as the soldiers enter, search, arrest, and beat as they like.

In addition, a few days ago a 21-year-old was killed by the military, while on Friday two youths were shot dead in home raids. On Sunday, two more Palestinians were shot dead. Meanwhile, Gaza, which has been under siege since 2007, is experiencing daily airstrikes.

Israel claims that this is all a response to three Israeli youth going missing last week, in an apparent kidnapping. Even if you choose to believe that this is the reason for the above, it is an extreme response which is collectively punishing all of the Palestinian people.

In addition, one might question why in the media the youth who were “illegal” Israeli settlers are called “kidnapped” in their disappearance, while Palestinians who are taken are referred to as “arrested” — but that is a discussion for another time.

What is happening in Palestine is not about three missing youth but rather power, control, propaganda, and colonization. By only choosing to look at the three missing youth, we become blinded to the larger picture and context of what is happening in Palestine. So let us examine the events leading up to last week.

This past year peace negotiations fell through as Israel walked away from the table when Hamas and Fatah signed a unity agreement. Although Israel claims that the issue was that they cannot “negotiate” with a terrorist organization, their continual construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank reveals their commitment to peace and international law. Settlement expansion actually reached new records in 2013 and by March 2014 the rate of expansion was already surpassing 2013.

After Hamas and Fatah signed the unity agreement and formed a new government, Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that the PA was still committed to nonviolence and would still recognize the state of Israel.

By backing the deal, Hamas was no longer a “militant” group outside the PA seeking the destruction of Israel. The siege on Gaza was previously “justified” by Israel because of Hamas’ rule in Gaza, yet with this new government committed to nonviolence and control over all Palestinian territory, the siege could no longer be justified to the broader international community.

Suddenly, the reason behind the siege is revealed. It is not about stopping terrorism or hurting Hamas, rather it is about power and control. With the unity agreement, Israel looks like a war criminal.

Before last week, over 125 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. They are protesting being held without charge or trial. The strike has continued for nearly 60 days and has been gaining momentum and attention in international media. To be held without trial or charge is in clear contradiction to international law.

The prisoners through their mass nonviolent action and sacrifice are drawing attention to the daily realities of Palestinian life. With the current incursions in the West Bank, however, few international media outlets are talking about the hunger strike. Negative attention has been diverted.

On May 15, two Palestinian youth were shot and killed with live ammunition. Local security cameras caught the images of the youth shot in the back, posing no life threatening risk to any Israeli media personnel. Meanwhile, CNN caught the soldier fire the shots at the youth. Human Rights Watch is saying the killings could amount to war crimes.

Israel’s public image has taken a beating the past few months as the international community is starting to become aware of the apartheid system and colonization of Palestine. These recent kidnappings have been an opportunity to shift its image again, from aggressor back to victim. Yet while the Israel cries out victim while sending hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers to invade homes, one can only speculate what the response is actually about.

Firstly, this action could be an attempt to force a divide within the ranks of the newly-formed government. Through the raids in the West Bank, Israel has repeatedly targeted homes and building of Hamas and accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, even though there is no proof as to who is actually behind the disappearances. With Hamas members being targeted, it could weaken the newly-formed government, thus causing a divide that could once again delegitimize the PA at the international level and “justify” the siege on Gaza.

Secondly, this could be an attempt or preparation to completely re-occupy the West Bank. Israel could be using this as an opportunity to re-navigate Area A and re-assert its control. Such a mass military response and invasion, begins to look like a fact-finding mission where soldiers begin to navigate the lay of the land and assess what the local response to an invasion currently looks like.

Thirdly, it sends a strong message that despite prevailing notions of international law and signed past agreement, Israel is in control and will continue to exert its control and dominance throughout all of Palestine. It is a reminder that from the Galilee to Eilat, Palestine is under Israeli control and Israel experiences full impunity from the international community.

The future of Palestine is uncertain. However, what is clear is that this is not about three settlers going missing. Rather this is the continuation of the prevailing reality on the ground, a reality of colonization that is enforced by a brutal military offered full impunity by the international community.

This past week has made public both the power and brutality of Israel, and also how the international community is completely silent to what is happening. This is not about three settlers going missing, but rather about the continued racism and colonization of Palestine with the support of the international community.

Despite the vocal or silent support of Israel, it is up to us the masses to express our condemnation and hold Israel accountable. It is up to the people to speak to truth about what is happening and reveal the larger picture of oppression.

The victory of the divestment campaign in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Friday shows us that this possible.

It is up to us, however, to push forward the boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel on all levels in every country, and show the Israeli public that we refuse to tolerate the crimes being perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

*Rachelle Friesen is a Palestine solidarity activist based in Canada

AMERICAN JEWS HAVE BECOME THE GREATEST THREAT TO ISRAEL

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zionism is today confronted with its greatest challenge since 1948. It’s not coming from the Arab states or the Palestinians, but rather their problem is the American Jewish community itself.

Once the greatest support group for Israel, that support is dwindling daily as more and more Jews openly support the Movement to Boycott and Divest from Israel.

As the government of Israel continues its reign of terror against the people of Palestine, as more lands are stolen to build and expand the illegal settlements, a growing sector of Jewry is finally waking up to the fact that this is all wrong …. and are doing something about it.

This trend is growing globally at the moment as can be seen in the following report from Mondoweiss

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The growing support from Jews internationally for the BDS call and the boycott of Israel shows that the landscape of the debate around BDS and broader peace process in Israel-Palestine is shifting. Increasingly the question is no longer whether or not to boycott, but rather to what extent do we boycott? The emerging local and international constituency of Israeli Jews and the Jewish Diaspora, and their adoption and promotion of a range of methods that fall within the scope of the BDS campaign is significant. On the surface, this wide-ranging support of course reminds us of how non-sensical and futile it is to deploy classic anti-Semitic imagery in an attempt to delegitimize what is a growing international movement for human rights and legal equality. At a deeper level, however, this growing Jewish support is an indication that the spirit of the boycott call reflects a truly democratic vision that is shared by Jews internationally, a call that wants to see the preservation, not the demise, of a democratic Israel, an Israel that fairly represents all of its citizens, regardless of race or religion. Ignoring these efforts by Jewish organizations and individuals to promote democracy, human rights and a just peace in the Middle East is a dangerous mistake. Clearly in conflicts such as Israel-Palestine, governments don’t always have all the answers: free speech and open criticism of government policy is critical. Given the lack of success of official diplomacy in the region we should be encouraging, not dismissing, these growing local and international efforts.

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Growing Jewish support for boycott and the changing landscape of the BDS debate

A couple of weeks ago Jerusalem-based think-tank, the Jewish People Policy Institute, released the findings from its study “Jewish & Democratic: Perspectives from World Jewry”. The key findings demonstrate a growing trend towards a concern for the current Zionist policies of the Jewish state from the core of its international supporters—Jews themselves. This reveals a more critical portrayal of Israel’s “implementation of Jewishness” than ever before, including a growing tension associated with the idea of a state that is both a “Jewish” and “democratic”. Participants of the study said that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and “the continued building of Jewish settlements”, as well as its treatment of minorities falls seriously short of behavior expected from a democracy. The Jewish-only settlements are of course not only frowned upon by a growing number in the Jewish community, but also considered illegal by a large majority of states (as most recently demonstrated in UN General Assembly Resolution 68/82). Although Israel and its chief ally the United States continue to contest this, even U.S. officials blame Israeli settlements for the collapse of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. There also appears to be an emerging consensus among government officials in Israel, Palestine, and the U.S., as well as among legal experts, that Israel and especially the Palestinian territories are in—or are rapidly heading towards—a situation of apartheid.

Unfortunately the extent of this new reality of Jewish criticism of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians that is taking hold appears largely unreported by mainstream media. One place where opposition to Israel’s policies finds concrete expression amongst Jews both within Israel and internationally is in a wide range of boycotts and divestments activities aimed at promoting legal equality and human rights in Israel-Palestine. Though not necessarily always explicitly linked to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, these activities do fall within the scope of the movement and help to advance its goals. The call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions came in 2005 from an unprecedented coalition of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations including NGOs, unions, professional associations, religious groups, human rights organizations, refugee networks, youth, and cultural organizations. The BDS campaign has three goals: an end to the occupation of Arab lands occupied by Israel since 1967, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of Palestinian refugees displaced or expelled during conflict in the region to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. The BDS movement was launched on the one year anniversary of the landmark 2004 International Court of Justice case that found that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is illegal under international law. In addition to the large majority of the world’s countries, a wide range of legal experts and Israeli and international NGOs concur on the illegality of the occupation.

In this article we explore the growing Jewish support for both the BDS movement and other civil society boycott activities which advance the human rights goals of the movement. While not all of the individuals and organizations we mention actively support every aspect of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, they represent a multi-faceted approach to applying international pressure on Israel to abide by international law and human rights treaties.

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In the United States where debate over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is heavy and heated, Jewish Voice for Peace, a coalition of Zionists, anti-Zionists, and non-Zionists, states clearly that it aligns itself with the methods as well as “the aims of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee– ending the occupation, achieving equality for Palestinians now living in Israel, and recognizing Palestinian refugees’ right of return.” Others in the U.S. who support the full goals and strategy of the BDS campaign include, both Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Rabbi Brian Walt, from the Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council. New York-based groupJews Say No!founded by Jewish boycott, divestment and sanctions advocate Donna Nevel,also takes a stance in full support of the BDS call. Other organizations include American Jews for a Just PeaceBreaking the Law of Return and the Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism, which “unequivocally” supports the movement.Jewish-American scholar and LGBT activist, Sarah Schulman has publicly declared her support for the BDS cause by advocating for the implementation of the boycott in its entirety. Udi Aloni, Israeli-American filmmaker also promotes BDS and the full goals of campaign. Similarly Jeremiah Haber (thenom de plume of Charles H. Manekin), an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor dividing his time between Israel and the United States, backs BDS.

Elsewhere in North America, Canadian group Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)  has resolved to support the BDS call and urges the Canadian government to disengage from “its one-sided and uncritical support for Israel”. Naomi Klein, Jewish-Canadian journalist and author has likewise added her full backing to the BDS movement.

The UK group, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods claims solidarity with any individuals or organizations who share our anti-racist agenda in pursuing the non-violent goals of BDS”. European Jews for a Just Peace also shares this support for the methods and goals of the campaign.

Australia-based Jews Against the Occupation also actively promote the BDS movement. Sydney-based Jewish academic Peter Slezak supports the BDS call, as does Jewish-Australian journalist and author Antony Loewenstein, who is highly critical of attempts to label the nonviolent movement anti-Semitic. The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network echoes these sentiments, declaring that BDS is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-democratic and that the international body “stands firm” in support of the full BDS call.

Even within Israel, prominent individuals and organizations have pledged their support to the BDS movement and its vision of equality for Arab citizens of Israel, recognition of the Palestinian right of return, and ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. The prominent group of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, BOYCOTT!, offers support for the Palestinian BDS call from within the Jewish state. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions  and the Alternative Information Center likewise fully support the movement. Israeli Journalist, writer, and founder of the Alternative Information Center, Michel Warschawski, actively promotes BDS and has reiterated the call to Israelis to “boycott from within”. Rachel Giora, Israeli feminist and professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University has also responded to the BDS call in a letter addressed to her colleagues at the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, expressing full support for the movement. Other Jewish-Israeli academics in support of the campaign include historian and activist Ilan Pappé, anthropologist Uri Davis, political scientist Marcelo Svirsky, and anthropologist Jeff Halper.

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The most widely adopted mode of targeted support for BDS from within Israel and by Jewish individuals and organizations worldwide is a boycott of the Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem). This can include a boycott of products manufactured or grown within the settlements, or businesses and academic institutions located in settlements or actively supporting their perpetuation.

Reasons for why a narrow settlement boycott is preferred over a broader BDS include that international law is less ambiguous regarding the illegality of settlements (as compared to the BDS goals of the right of return, or legal equality in Israel) and that it is easier to consistently boycott settlements (rather than boycott broader Israeli or international organizations involved in abuses of Palestinian human rights). However even among Zionists who still support legally mandated disadvantage for Israel’s non-Jewish ethno-religious groups (required for Israel to be fixed as a “Jewish state”), the settlement boycott is gaining ground. As noted above, a recent survey by the Jewish People Policy Institute appears to show a growing tension within the international Jewish community regarding the idea that Israel can be both fundamentally Jewish and a democracy.  Zionist boycott supporters typically differ from other boycott supporters in that they contend that even with the legally entrenched dominance of one etho-religious group (ie Jews) the state of Israel is still able to function as a “democracy”. These groups typically argue that the  realization of the third goal of the BDS movement, the Palestinian right of return, would spell an end to the demographic and political dominance of Jews in Israel. For similar reasons they are also less supportive of the BDS movement’s goal of equality for Israel’s Arab citizens. These Zionist groups call for a more narrow boycott, of Israel’s Illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), in line with the first goal of the BDS movement. The rationale generally advanced by Zionists is that it is only with the end of the occupation of Palestinian territory that Israel can preserve both its Jewish and ostensibly “democratic” character.

Notably, in 2006 the Israeli peace activism group headed by Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom, published “a list of several hundred products made in areas beyond the Green Line. The list, comprised of many food products, also included businesses operating in the Golan Heights.” In the face of the 2011 Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott passed by the Knesset, the group stated that it could no longer afford to continue publishing the list, for fear of the threat of lawsuits. The law would allow for lawsuits to be filed -without any proof of damages- against those who promote boycott tactics against people associated with the state of Israel or any “area under its control”. Gush Shalom appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court to rule the law as unconstitutional, and was joined by several other notable minority rights groups, including The Civil Rights Association, Yesh Din, Adalah, the Women’s Coalition for Peace, The Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Knesset member Ahmed Tibi and The Arab Monitoring Committee. Israeli peace group Peace Now has published a similar list of settlement products and likewise calls for a boycott of the settlements. Israeli politician, Zahava Gal-On, head of the Meretz opposition party, has also publically declared that she boycotts the settlements in her own purchases and hopes that a boycott campaign on settlement goods would encourage Israelis to think critically about the “economic cost of the Occupation.”  There are signs that the boycott of settlements among Israelis, has begun to cause manufacturers and producers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to “encounter obstacles” marketing goods “not just overseas, also in Tel Aviv”.

Support for a settlement boycott is also building among U.S. Jews. Distinguished Jewish-American jurist Richard Falk, as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, has recently formally recommended that UN member states  and businesses and civil society impose sanctions and boycotts against Israeli settlements and international corporations supporting the occupation of Palestinian territory. Back in 2011, the American Liberal Zionist  organization Partners for Progressive Israel (then Meretz U.S.A) issued a call to American Jews to boycott West Bank settlement goods through their campaign: “Buy Israel – Don’t buy Settlements”.   Americans for Peace Now, describing themselves as a pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish organization,echo this support.  Similarly, even other Zionists, who ostensibly oppose the broader BDS campaign, do support a boycott of the settlements. Well-known American Liberal Zionist Peter Beinart for instance has repeatedly written in support of a settlements boycott in order to “save Israel”. Beinart advocates a targeted approach to boycotting West Bank settlements. Addressing American Jews, Beinart declared: “We should lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from America’s free-trade deal with Israel. We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities. Every time an American newspaper calls Israel a democracy, we should urge it to include the caveat: only within the green line”. Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of the influential liberal pro-Israel lobby group, J-Street also recently announced that if the BDS campaign were restricted to a boycott of the settlements J-Street would support it. Similarly, National President of Ameinu Kenneth Bob has declared that while he does not support the BDS movement he is “extremely sympathetic to the settlement boycott approach”. The New Israel Fund, through a statement their Vice President of Public Affairs from Naomi Paiss, has also shown support for the same type of targeted approach, stressing that “boycotting settlements is not anti-Israel”. After a visit to the West Bank, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann issued a statement reversing her initial opposition to the settlement boycott and claiming solidarity with Israeli rabbis who also support a boycott of settlement goods. Jewish-American political scientist and activist Norman Finkelstein supports an economic boycott of Israel in order to compel Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory (also see the start of an interview with Finkelstein posted here). Prominent linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky has also publicly spoken out in support of BDS as a tactic, saying: “There is an interesting mythology that I have opposed the BDS movement. In reality, as explained over and over, I not only support it but was actively involved long before the ‘movement’ took shape…” Chomsky specifically supports boycott and divestment from companies that operate in the occupied Palestinian territories and also promotes forms of academic and military boycott.

Among the Jewish Diaspora in Australia, Ben Saul, Professor of International Law at Sydney University has written in favor of a targeted boycott approach focused on the Jewish-only settlements. What’s more, The Australian Jewish Democratic Society “has become the first Australian community-affiliated Jewish organization to adopt the view that some boycotts of Israel may indeed be justified.” The group supports “selected BDS actions designed to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation, blockade and settlement on Palestinian lands lying outside of the June 1967 Israeli borders.” The organization resolves to boycott settlement products as well as “specific academics openly supportive of the Occupation”.

Support for BDS methods also takes the form of refusal to perform in the Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. In 2010, over 50 Israeli actors, directors, and playwrights released a statement declaring that they would not perform at the new theatre in Ariel, Israel’s fourth largest settlement, or in any other settlement. In a show of support for that petition over 150 Israeli academics and university faculty from across Israel released their own open letter, vowing to likewise engage in a cultural and academic boycott of the settlements. The Israeli academics declared: “We will not take part in any kind of cultural activity beyond the Green Line, take part in discussions and seminars, or lecture in any kind of academic setting in these settlements.” Signatories include Zeev Sternhell, Anat Biletzki, Shlomo Sand, Neve Gordon, Oren Yiftachel, among others. The declaration was also supported by several prominent Israeli authors, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, David Grossman, and Sami Michael. A letter drafted by the authors, as well as by well-known Israeli memorial sculptor and Israel Prize laureate, Dani Karavan, expresses further solidarity with the actor’s boycott.  Theodore Bikel, a Jewish American actor, has also been vocal in the settlement boycott also joined a separate petition for the boycott of the settlements, signed by over 150 Israeli entertainment professionals.

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Another aspect of the BDS movement is the boycott of Israeli academic institutions: specifically, the withdrawal of support from Israeli academic institutions complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and the violation of Palestinian human rights. This movement draws on a growing body of evidence detailing academic institutions support for the occupation of Palestinian territory and violation of human rights (including education rights) through a variety of military and public relations oriented research and training activities. One such in-depth report was released by the Israeli Alternative Information Center in 2009. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched in 2004 to challenge the unethical policies of these institutions. However boycotts of Israeli academic institutions to promote Palestinian human rights also predate the PACBI call. In April 2002 a call “for a European Boycott of Research and Cultural Links with Israel” was signed by around 700 Europe-based academics, ten of which are Israeli academics from various universities. More recently, in 2013 in response to the PACBI call a group of Israeli, Palestinian and other oral historians and academics from Europe, South Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas issued an international call for the boycott of the “International Oral History Conference” organized by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In February this year, an international Jewish group, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, published a list of signatories endorsing and supporting the American Studies Association academic boycott. Israeli and international Jews have likewise joined the boycott of the 2014 Cinema and TV Studies Conference held at Tel Aviv University. Jewish-American academic, Colin Dayan has also written in support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as has Malcolm Levitt, professor at Southampton University and a fellow of the Royal Society in the UK. Levitt as well as Noam Chomsky joined a group of academics who successfully lobbied physicist Stephen Hawking to boycott the IsraeliPresidential Conference held in Jerusalem last year.

A number of Jewish and Israeli academics and organizations support BDS activities in forms other than the academic boycott (such as through a settlement boycott, support on the grounds of free speech, or in support of the full BDS Call), signifying that there  other forms of boycott activity at play within the academic world. Two instances of this  last year were Kings College and the University of Southampton  in the UK dropping their contracts with security firm G4S, in response to the British security firm’s role in supporting the Israeli occupation and abuse of human rights.

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Earlier this year human rights group Amnesty International published a report that recommended an international military boycott of Israel, citing the country’s “use of excessive force in the West Bank”. The conclusions of this report (and similar research efforts) lay out the rationale for the military boycott of Israel. One example of this is the  movement within Israel in opposition to the military draft. In March of 2014, The Israeli youth group, Conscientious Objectors of the Occupation, released an open letter addressed to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu “declaring their refusal of compulsory service in the Israeli military” because of their opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Another boycott movement within the military sphere is the call for the disinvestment of international companies and organizations that are part of the Israeli military-industrial-complex (such as the efforts by Kings College and the University of Southampton noted above). This military boycott is often included within broader BDS policies. The Australian Jewish Democratic Society statement of support for targeted boycotts for example also advocates for “divestment from military Research and Development (R&D) and boycott of industrial/military activities unrelated to Israel’s defense and security.” Noam Chomsky has also called for an end to U.S. and other international military aid to Israel.

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The status of the anti-boycott law opposed by Gush Shalom and other human rights groups in Israel is, as alluded to above, currently in legal in limbo through a challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court. Israeli human rights groups argue that the Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott aims to limit Israeli and Palestinian freedom of expression by threatening monetary sanctions on anyone who expressed support for the boycott of any Israeli organization or individual. Similar attempts to combat boycotts through legislation are also being made in the U.S.. In 2014 in a wave of right-wing reaction against the BDS movement several bills were proposed within state legislatures aimed at prohibiting academic institutions and individuals from engaging in boycotts of Israel. Following this a new flood of support has emerged both from within Israel as well as from Jewish supporters outside of Israel, advocating for the right of free speech in the face of these anti-BDS bills. The New Israel Fund, a U.S.-based group calling for social justice and equality for all Israelis, shows explicit support for the freedom of speech regarding BDS: “The New Israel Fund is committed to strengthening democracy in Israel, supports freedom of speech and promotes non-violent means of expression of belief and conscience. We oppose any attempt to criminalize the legitimate expression of support for any non-violent strategy or tactic, including those we do not ourselves support.” As noted above the New Israel Fund supports of boycott of the settlements, and they oppose the settlements outright, and as a matter of policy. Naomi Paiss, Vice President of Public Affairs for the New Israel Fund has also stated that her organization “will not disqualify organizations for funding if they support the boycott of settlement goods because we see it as entirely consistent with our opposition to the occupation, our defense of Israeli democracy and our support for a two-state solution.”

Elsewhere, in a letter opposing political censorship, over 150 U.S.-based academics, spearheaded by Jewish academic Judith Butler, and Rashid Khalidi, signed a statement condemning the “accelerating efforts to curtail speech, to exercise censorship, and to carry out retaliatory action against individuals on the basis of their political views or associations, notably support for BDS.” Calling on support from cultural and educational institutions to uphold and support “the principles of free expression”, the authors point out that “as non-violent instruments to effect political change, boycotts cannot be outlawed without trampling on a constitutionally protected right to political speech.” Even Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, “pro-Israel” lobby organizations such as Israel-based NGO Monitor, and most of the mainstream press in Israel have stated they oppose efforts to stamp out BDS through the courts. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and other senior Jewish leaders in Australia have made clear they oppose attempts to suppress BDS through litigation, which they view as counter-productive. Elsewhere in Australia other pro-Israel organizations the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council have also refused to support anti-BDS efforts through the courts..

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The growing support from Jews internationally for the BDS call and the boycott of Israel shows that the landscape of the debate around BDS and broader peace process in Israel-Palestine is shifting. Increasingly the question is no longer whether or not to boycott, but rather to what extent do we boycott? The emerging local and international constituency of Israeli Jews and the Jewish Diaspora, and their adoption and promotion of a range of methods that fall within the scope of the BDS campaign is significant. On the surface, this wide-ranging support of course reminds us of how non-sensical and futile it is to deploy classic anti-Semitic imagery in an attempt to delegitimize what is a growing international movement for human rights and legal equality. At a deeper level, however, this growing Jewish support is an indication that the spirit of the boycott call reflects a truly democratic vision that is shared by Jews internationally, a call that wants to see the preservation, not the demise, of a democratic Israel, an Israel that fairly represents all of its citizens, regardless of race or religion. Ignoring these efforts by Jewish organizations and individuals to promote democracy, human rights and a just peace in the Middle East is a dangerous mistake. Clearly in conflicts such as Israel-Palestine, governments don’t always have all the answers: free speech and open criticism of government policy is critical. Given the lack of success of official diplomacy in the region we should be encouraging, not dismissing, these growing local and international efforts.

About Paul Duffill and Gabriella Skoff

Paul Duffill is a part-time lecturer and researcher at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. He is also project manager for an inter-university human rights curriculum project lead by the University of Sydney. Gabriella Skoff is a graduate of NYU where she majored in religion, politics and war. She is currently an intern at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

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The following report from The Forward is worth reading as well….

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“I used to believe that BDS is an idealistic and not a realistic approach,” said Holly Bicerano, a Boston University student activist. Bicerano, who helped found a pro-Israel campus group called BU Students for Israel, recently switched over to Jewish Voices for Peace, a pro-BDS Jewish organization. “When the peace talks collapsed I reached the conclusion that BDS is the practical way forward,” she said.

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After Presbyterian Win, BDS Advocates Trumpet Divestment as Path to Two States

With Peace Talks Dead, Boycott Pressure Gains Allure

Presbyterian Protest: Demonstrators calling for action against Israel confront Rabbi Rick Jacobs at the Presbyterian Church’s recent convention.

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Presbyterian Protest: Demonstrators calling for action against Israel confront Rabbi Rick Jacobs at the Presbyterian Church’s recent convention

Read the report HERE

WHILE THE POPE PRAYS AND TALKS ~~ PRESBYTERIANS VOTE TO DIVEST FROM THE OCCUPATION!

In an image likely to become one of the most emblematic of his trip to the holy land, Francis rested his forehead against the concrete structure that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and prayed silently as a child holding a Palestinian flag looked on.
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Hello Palestine: Pope Francis prays at Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem.

GETTY IMAGES Hello Palestine: Pope Francis prays at Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem.

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ACTIONS ARE  NEEDED TO FREE PALESTINE ~~ NOT WORDS!
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Needless to say, the ADL condemned the following actions …
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The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), one of a handful of historic mainline Protestant denominations and the church of many American presidents, is the largest yet to endorse divestment at a churchwide convention, and the vote follows a decade of debate — and a close call at the assembly two years ago, when divestment failed by only two votes.

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The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to end the occupation, with a campaign known as B.D.S., for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), one of a handful of historic mainline Protestant denominations and the church of many American presidents, is the largest yet to endorse divestment at a churchwide convention, and the vote follows a decade of debate — and a close call at the assembly two years ago, when divestment failed by only two votes.

The measure that was passed not only called for divestment but also reaffirmed Israel’s right to exist, endorsed a two-state solution, encouraged interfaith dialogue and travel to the Holy Land, and instructed the church to undertake “positive investment” in endeavors that advance peace and improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians. It also said the motion was “not to be construed” as “alignment with or endorsement of the global B.D.S.” movement by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The language was written by the church’s 65-member Middle East committee.

Heath Rada, the church’s moderator, who was leading the proceedings, said immediately after the electronic vote count was posted, “In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers.”

The B.D.S. campaign has gained support in Europe, but has not fared as well in the United States, where two relatively small academic groups voted this year to support an academic boycott of Israel, but larger groups as well as many universities have opposed it.

The companies the church has targeted for divestment are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The church has about $21 million invested in them, a spokeswoman said. The church says it has tried for many years to convey its concerns that the companies are profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories by selling it bulldozers, surveillance technology and other equipment.

Large American Jewish organizations lobbied the Presbyterians furiously to defeat a divestment vote, their most determined campaign yet in the 10 years the Presbyterians have considered such a step. More than 1,700 rabbis from all 50 states signed an open letter to the Presbyterian voters, saying that “placing all the blame on one party, when both bear responsibility, increases conflict and division instead of promoting peace.”

In a last-ditch tactic on Thursday, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, leader of the Reform movement (the largest branch in American Judaism), addressed the assembly and offered to broker a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the church’s two top leaders so they could convey their church’s concerns about the occupation — on the condition that the divestment measure was defeated.

That offer appears to have backfired, with some saying afterward that it felt both manipulative and ineffectual, given what they perceive as Mr. Netanyahu’s approval of more settlements in disputed areas and lack of enthusiasm for peace negotiations.

“I’m not sure it was the strategy I would have chosen,” the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the church’s stated clerk and one of the two leaders invited to meet Mr. Netanyahu, said in an interview. “I’m sure it was a sincere and generous invitation. I’m not sure it was helpful in our debate.”

He said that Presbyterians valued their relationships with Jews in their communities and in Washington, where their lobbyists are often on the same side of many issues. He acknowledged that the church has been accused of anti-Semitism, which he said was not true and “delegitimizes our concerns” about human rights.

“We’re still committed to Israel and its right to exist, but we’re concerned about the occupation and think Israel can do better,” Mr. Parsons said.

Relations between Jews and Presbyterians soured after the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian advocacy group, issued a study guide this year called “Zionism Unsettled,” which challenged the history and theological underpinnings of the Zionist movement. Jewish leaders denounced it as hateful, racist and willfully ignorant of the role of the Holocaust and violence toward Israel by the Palestinians and Arab countries in explaining the region’s history.

The assembly passed a measure here in Detroit saying that the study guide does not represent official church policy, but it is available for sale on the church’s website. Jewish organizations have called for the church to stop selling it. Many Presbyterians at the general assembly said that they had not read it, and that it had no bearing on their votes.

Of more influence was the presence at the church’s convention all week of Jewish activists, many of them young, in black T-shirts with the slogan “Another Jew Supporting Divestment.” Many of them were with Jewish Voice for Peace, a small but growing organization that promotes divestment and works with Palestinian and Christian groups on the left.

Right before the vote, some Presbyterian commissioners sought out Rabbi Alissa Wise, director of Jewish Voice for Peace, who spent a week inside the convention center and spoke at a prayer service in a Presbyterian church. She told them that divestment can serve a constructive purpose. “To me, this helps Palestinians build their power,” she said, “so that Israel is convinced, not by force, but by global consensus that something has to change.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with nearly 1.8 million members, has been losing members and influence in recent decades, in part from wrenching debates over whether to ordain gay clergy members and permit same-sex marriages, a step the assembly approved here on Thursday.

It is not the first American church to use divestment to protest Israeli policies: The Mennonite Central Committee and the Quakers have sold stock in some companies that do business with Israel. Last week the pension board of the United Methodist Church announced that it had sold its stock in a company over concerns about its contracts with Israeli prisons.

Rifaat Odeh Kassis, a Palestinian Christian who traveled from Bethlehem to urge the Presbyterians to vote for divestment, said in an interview that the vote would send a loud message to Palestinians that says, “You are not alone.”

Major Jewish organizations were quick to issue statements expressing distress and outrage. Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, called the divestment action “outrageous” and said it would have a “devastating impact” on relations between the national church and mainstream Jewish groups.

Mr. Rada, the church’s moderator, said at a news conference after the vote, “I don’t believe you could talk to a single commissioner and have any of them say they were doing this as an anti-Jewish issue.

“I think there is a lot of emotion about the unjust treatment on the part of the Israeli government toward the Palestinians, but there is equal upset,” he said, about “terrorist activity that has been undertaken by the Palestinians.”

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Take a moment to say THANK YOU by clicking HERE

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Also read these related reports …

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From The Guardian

From Mondoweiss

From Ali Abunimah

From Middle East Monitor

 

#STOP ISRAELI TERRORISM

stop-israeli-terrorism

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Perhaps if I start my own Hashtag, some attention might be brought to the newest round of collective punishment and atrocities carried out by the Israeli government, all in response to the disappearance of three Israeli teens presumably kidnapped.

Israel has been appealing to every nation in the world to justify their actions …. actions that will surely guarantee that these boys will never see their families ever again.

Hate begats hate! That is exactly what we are witnessing. Innocents on both sides of the wall will suffer. No family should go through the anguish of not knowing where their child is. No family should go through the anguish of burying their child. There is anguish on both sides of that infamous wall.

Individual Israelis have launched their own counter campaigns to bring the teens home. Their FaceBook and Twitter pages and videos are going viral on the Net …

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Here are just a few links of the most recent actions by Israel …

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 West Bank operation delivers a strategic blow to Hamas

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IDF Re-Arrests 50 Terrorists Freed in Shalit Deal

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Israel detains 40 Palestinians as search for teens continues

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Those are the reports that the International Community views … BUT WHAT ABOUT THIS ??

Does anyone get to see this??

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Help us get that video viral as well …. let the world see what is really going on. Join forces with my Hashtag to #STOP ISRAELI TERRORISM!

DEMOLISHED DREAMS ~~ THREE HOUSES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL (VIDEO)

Short documentary about life in Jerusalem on the other side of the wall

 

 

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The short documentary ‘3 Houses’ was filmed in Ras Khamis and Ras Shahada, Jerusalem neighborhoods that were cut off from the rest of the city when the Separation Barrier was built in 2002. Since then, these neighborhoods and the tens of thousands of people who live there have been utterly neglected by the Jerusalem municipality. In 2013, the desperate situation in this no-man’s-land was even further exacerbated when the municipality announced its intent to demolish the homes of thousands of residents.

CREDITS:
Directed and Edited by Omri Shenhar
Producers Ronit Sela and Marc Grey
Cinematographers Hanna Abu Saada and Issa Qumsiya
Sound recording by Shiraz Rashmawi
Sound design by Yuval Shenhar
Music by Yehezkel Raz
Additional instrumentation Gilad Weiss
Online editor Ron Lindenbaum
Finished at Edit Post Production Studios, Tel Aviv
Produced by The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
Produced with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv

For further information about ACRI and its work in East Jerusalem, visit us online at
acri.org.il/en/category/east-jerusalem/

Donate to help ACRI support Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories: tinyurl.com/lnjuf6g

ACCOUNTS FROM FORMER ISRAELI SOLDIERS THAT ‘CAN AND WILL BE HELD AGAINST THEM IN A COURT OF LAW’

Kudos to all of the following who had the courage to speak the truth!

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Stories from an occupation: the Israelis who broke silence

A group called Breaking the Silence has spent 10 years collecting accounts from Israeli soldiers who served in the Palestinian territories. To mark the milestone, 10 hours’ worth of testimony was read to an audience in Tel Aviv. Here we print some extracts.
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Children of the occupation: growing up in Palestine

Peter Beaumont Tel Aviv FOR

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Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian protest against Jewish settlement

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian after clashes at a protest against a Jewish settlement in the West Bank near Ramallah, January 2014. Photograph: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

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The young soldier stopped to listen to the man reading on the stage in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, outside the tall façade of Charles Bronfman Auditorium. The reader was Yossi Sarid, a former education and environment minister. His text is the testimony of a soldier in the Israel Defence Forces, one of 350 soldiers, politicians, journalists and activists who on Friday – the anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land in 1967 – recited first-hand soldiers’ accounts for 10 hours straight in Habima Square, all of them collected by the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence.

When one of the group’s researchers approached the soldier, they chatted politely out of earshot and then phone numbers were exchanged. Perhaps in the future this young man will give his own account to join the 950 testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence since it was founded 10 years ago.

In that decade, Breaking the Silence has collected a formidable oral history of Israeli soldiers’ highly critical assessments of the world of conflict and occupation. The stories may be specific to Israel and its occupation of the Palestinian territories but they have a wider meaning, providing an invaluable resource that describes not just the nature of Israel’s occupation but of how occupying soldiers behave more generally. They describe how abuses come from boredom; from the orders of ambitious officers keen to advance in their careers; or from the institutional demands of occupation itself, which desensitises and dehumanises as it creates a distance from the “other”.

In granular detail, the tens of thousands of words narrated on Friday told of the humdrum and the terrible: the humiliating treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, shootings and random assaults. Over the years the Israeli military’s response has been that these stories are the exceptions, not the rule, accounts of a few bad apples’ actions.

“What we wanted to show by reading for 10 hours is that the things described in the testimonies we have collected are not exceptional, rather they are unexceptional,” says Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of the group and a former soldier himself.

Shaul breaks off to greet the European Union ambassador and a woman soldier who served in his own unit whom he has not seen for years. We talk about the solitary soldier in the square, now talking to the researcher. “We’ll get in contact. See if he wants to talk. Perhaps meet for coffee. Then, when we interview people, we ask them to recommend us to their friends. We might get 10 phone numbers, of whom three will talk to us.”

It is not only word of mouth that produces Breaking the Silence’s interviews. At the annual conferences that soldiers leaving the army attend to prepare them for the return to civilian life, researchers will try to talk to soldiers outside. Shaul explains why he and his colleagues have dedicated themselves to this project, why he believes it is as necessary today as when he first spoke out a decade ago about his own experience as a soldier in Hebron. “In Israeli politics today the occupation is absent. It’s not an issue for the public. It has become normal – not second nature; the occupation has become part of our nature. The object of events like today is for us to occupy the public space with the occupation.”

His sentiments are reflected by the Israeli novelist and playwright AB Yehoshua, who gets on the stage to read a comment piece he had written the day before to mark the event. “The great danger to Israeli society,” Yehoshua explains, “is the danger of weariness and repression. We no longer have the energy and patience to hear about another act of injustice.”

A man appears holding a handwritten sign that condemns Breaking the Silence as “traitors”. Some of those attending try to usher him away while others try to engage him in conversation. A journalist asks Shaul if the man is “pro-army”. “I’m pro-army,” Shaul answers immediately. “I’m not a pacifist, although some of our members have become pacifists. I’m not anti-army, I am anti-occupation.”

ISRAELI SOLDIERS’ OWN WORDS

Nadav Weiman

Nadav Weiman. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum

SERGEANT NADAV WEIMAN
2005-08, Nachal Reconnaissance Unit, Jenin
We’d spread out above Jenin on “the stage”, which is a tiny mountain top. That evening an arrest mission was in progress, there were riots inside the refugee camp, and we sat above and provided sniper coverfor the operation. Things got rolling and there were arrests, some rioting began in the city.

There was random peripheral fire so there were generally no people on rooftops. Some time in the middle of the night, we detected someone on a roof. We focused our sights on him, not knowing for sure whether or not he was a scout. But we targeted him and got an OK to fire because he was on a rooftop very close to one of our forces.

We were several snipers, and we took him down … Later when we got back to Jalame, it started: “Was he armed or not?” But we’d got our OK from the battalion commander. He was also the one to come and speak with us when we got back to the base in Jalame. We were with the guys with whom we sat to debrief after the action, and it was wall-to-wall, “You don’t realise how lucky you are to have actually fired in an operation. That hardly ever happens, you are so lucky.”

And according to the way we implemented the rules of engagement, we declared him a target by documenting him. We thought the Palestinian had been speaking on the phone, he seemed to be raising his hand to his head, looking sideways, going back and forth, just like a person scouting and sending information back. You could see the angles of his body, his whole conduct facing the soldiers who were north of him, in the alley below, a few metres away.

SERGEANT, ANONYMOUS
Undisclosed Reservist unit, Gaza Strip 2009, Operation Cast Lead
The actual objective remained rather vague. We were told our objective was to fragment the Strip, in fact we were told that while we were there, not knowing how long, we would have to raze the area as much as possible. Razing is a euphemism for systematic destruction. Two reasons were given for house demolitions. One reason was operational. That’s when a house is suspected to contain explosive, tunnels, when all kinds of wires are seen, or digging. Or we have intelligence information making it suspect. Or it’s a source of fire, whether light arms or mortars, missiles, Grads [rockets], all that stuff. Those are houses we demolish.

Then we’re told some will be destroyed for “the day after”. The rationale is to leave a sterile area behind us and the best way to do that is by razing it. In practical terms, it means you take a house that’s not suspect, its only transgression is that it stands on a hill in Gaza. I can even say that in a talk with my battalion commander, he mentioned this and said half smiling, half sad, that this is something to add to his list of war crimes. So he himself understood there was a problem.

Tal Wasser

Tal Wasser. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum

SERGEANT TAL WASSER
2006-09, Oketz (canine special forces), Nablus
Standing at the roadblock for eight hours a day puts everyone under this endless pressure. Everyone’s constantly yelling, constantly nervous, impatient … venting on the first Palestinian to cross your path. If a Palestinian annoys one of the soldiers, one of the things they’d do is throw him in the Jora, which is a small cell, like a clothing store dressing room. They close the metal door on him and that would be his punishment for annoying, for being bad.

Within all the pressure and the stress of the roadblock, the Palestinian would often be forgotten there. No one would remember that he put a Palestinian there, further emphasising the irrelevance and insignificance of the reason he was put there in the first place. Sometimes it was only after hours that they’d suddenly remember to let him out and continue the inspection at the roadblock.

SERGEANT, ANONYMOUS
Nablus Regional Brigade, Nablus, 2014
“Provocation and reaction” is the act of entering a village, making a lot of noise, waiting for the stones to be thrown at you and then you arrest them, saying: “There, they’re throwing stones.”

Lots of vehicles move inside the whole village, barriers. A barrier seems to be the army’s legitimate means to stop terrorists. We’re talking about Area B [under civilian Palestinian control and Israeli security control], but the army goes in there every day, practically, provoking stone throwings. Just as any Palestinian is suspect, this is the same idea. It could be a kid’s first time ever throwing a stone, but as far as the army is concerned, we’ve caught the stone thrower.

Avner Gvaryahu former Israeli soldier

Avner Gvaryahu. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum

SERGEANT AVNER GVARYAHU
2004-07 Orev (special anti-tank unit), Nablus
It was when I was a sergeant, after we had finished training. 200 [the number of the commander] said to us unequivocally: “That’s how you’re ranked. With Xs. Every night I want you to be looking for ‘contact’ [an exchange of fire] and that’s how you’ll be ranked.”

At some point I realised that someone who wants to succeed has to bring him dead people. There’s no point in bringing him arrests. [The message was:] “Arrests are routine, the battalions are making arrests. You’re the spearhead, the army has invested years in you, now I want you to bring me dead terrorists.”

And that’s what pushed us, I believe. What we’d do was go out night after night, drawing fire, go into alleys that we knew were dangerous. There were arrests, there were all kinds of arrests. But the high point of the night was drawing fire, creating a situation where they fired at us.

It’s a situation, totally insane, you’re in it, it’s hard to explain. You’re looking through the binoculars and searching for someone to kill. That’s what you want to do. And you want to kill him. But do you want to kill him? But that’s your job.

And you’re still looking through the binoculars and you’re starting to get confused. Do I want to? Don’t I want to? Maybe I actually want them to miss.

SERGEANT, ANONYMOUS
Kfir Brigade, Tul Karem, 2008
There was one checkpoint that was divided into three lanes: there’s a settlement, a checkpoint, and then Israeli territory. In the middle, there’s a Palestinian village, so they just split the checkpoint into three lanes. Three lanes, and the brigade commander ordered that Jews should only wait at the checkpoint for 10 minutes. Because of that we had to have a special lane for them, and everyone else, the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, had to wait in the other two lanes. I remember that settlers would come, go around the Arabs, and just did it naturally. I went over to a settler and said: “Why are you going around? There’s a line here, sir.” He said: “You really think I’m going to wait behind an Arab?” He began to raise his voice at me. “You’re going to hear from your brigade commander.”

Gil Hillel

Gil Hillel. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum

GIL HILLEL
2001-03, Sachlav (military police), Hebron
On my first or second day in Hebron, my commanders asked me to go on a “doll”, a foot patrol that we conduct in the casbah and Jewish settlement. I agreed, it seemed cool. It was my first time in the field, come on, let’s do it. We went on patrol, into the casbah, and I think that was the first time I sensed the existential fear of living under constant threat.

We started the doll and I started feeling bad. The first time in the field is not simple. One of my commanders, the veteran among them, took an old Palestinian man, just took him aside to some alley and started beating him up. And I … it wasfine by all the others … I sort of looked at them and said: “What is he doing? Why is he doing that? What happened? Did he do anything? Is he a threat? A terrorist? Did we find something?” So they said: “No, it’s OK.” I then approached my commander, the [one] who trained me, and asked: “What are you doing?” He said: “Gil, stop it.”

And that really scared me. I was scared of their reactions, of the situation we were in. I felt bad with what went on there, but I kept quiet. I mean, what can I do? My commander told me to shut up. We left there and went back to the company and I went to my commander and said: “What are you doing? Why did you do that?” So he said: “That’s the way it is. It’s either him or me and it’s me and …”

They took him aside and just beat him up. They beat him up, they punched him. And slapped him, all for no reason. I mean, he just happened to walk by there, by mistake.

SERGEANT, ANONYMOUS
Nachal Brigade, 50th Battalion, Hebron, 2010
The Jewish settlers of Hebron constantly curse the Arabs. An Arab who passes by too closely gets cursed: “May you burn, die.”

On Shuhada Street there’s a very short section where Arabs may walk as well, which leads to Tel Rumeida neighbourhood. Once I was sent there and we found three Jewish kids hitting an old Arab woman. Another man from the Jewish settlement happened along and also joined them in yelling at the woman: “May you die!” When we got there they were mainly yelling, but there had clearly been blows dealt as well. I think they even threw stones at her.

I believe the [policeman] was called but ended up not doing anything. The general atmosphere was that there was no point in summoning the police – the policeman is a local settler from Kiryat Arba who comes to pray with the Hebron settlers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs on Fridays.

Nadav Bigelman former Israeli soldier

Nadav Bigelman. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum

SERGEANT NADAV BIGELMAN
2007-10, Nachal Brigade, 50th Battalion, Hebron
During patrols inside the casbah we’d do many “mappings”. Mappings mean going into a house we have no intelligence on. We go in to see what’s inside, who lives there. We didn’t search for weapons or things like that. The mappings were designed to make the Palestinians feel that we are there all the time.

We go in, walk around, look around. The commander takes a piece of paper and … makes a drawing of the house, what it looks like inside, and I had a camera. I was told to bring it. They said: “You take all the people, stand them against the wall and take their picture.” Then [the pictures are] transferred to, I don’t know, the General Security Service, the battalion or brigade intelligence unit, so they have information on what the people look like. What the residents look like. I’m a young soldier, I do as they say. I take their pictures, a horrible experience in itself, because taking people’s pictures at 3am, I … it humiliated them, I just can’t describe it.

And the interesting thing? I had the pictures for around a month. No one came to get them. No commander asked about them, no intelligence officer took them. I realised it was all for nothing. It was just to be there. It was like a game.

SERGEANT, ANONYMOUS
Paratrooper, 2002, Nablus
We took over a central house, set up positions, and one of the sharpshooters identified a man on a roof, two roofs away, I think he was between 50 and 70 metres away, not armed. I looked at the man through the night vision – he wasn’t armed. It was two in the morning. A man without arms, walking on the roof, just walking around. We reported it to the company commander. The company commander said: “Take him down.” [The sharpshooter] fired, took him down. The company commander basically ordered, decided via radio, the death sentence for that man. A man who wasn’t armed.

I saw with my own eyes that the guy wasn’t armed. The report also said: “A man without arms on the roof.” The company commander declared him a lookout, meaning he understood that the guy was no threat to us, and he gave the order to kill him and we shot him. I myself didn’t shoot, my friend shot and killed him. And basically you think, you see in the United States there’s the death penalty, for every death sentence there are like a thousand appeals and convictions, and they take it very seriously, and there are judges and learned people, and there are protests and whatever. And here a 26-year-old guy, my company commander, sentenced an unarmed man to death.

ISLAM MUST RESPOND TO AUSTRALIA’S NEWEST POLICIES REGARDING THE STATUS OF JERUSALEM

 

This week, the Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said in a speech that his country ought to stop viewing East Jerusalem as an occupied city.

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Muslims must respond to Australia’s latest affront

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
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The Arab world, if indeed there is still an entity as such, and Muslims around the world must respond in a meaningful manner to the latest affront coming from Australia.
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This week, the Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said in a speech that his country ought to stop viewing East Jerusalem as an occupied city.

Brandis is notorious for his racist views and xenophobia. Some of his critics have already described him as “Nazi-minded.” The Australian press recently quoted him as saying that “people have the right to be bigots,” which made racist and anti-immigration groups in Australia ecstatic.

Unfortunately, much of the man’s vindictive chauvinism is reserved for Arabs and Muslims. His remarks about E. Jerusalem encapsulate a morbid mind-set not unlike that of the people who wanted to create the Third Reich.

We Palestinians don’t wish to harm our or Arab-Muslim relations with the people and state of Australia.

However, Brandis by embracing the illegitimate Israeli view that East Jerusalem is not an occupied territory and that the city is part of the criminal Israeli state has actually gone beyond the pale. For us, this is no less than a political adultery and it can’t be forgiven or allowed to pass.

Not only he has seriously offended 1600 million Muslims, including over half a million in Australia itself, he has actually flown in the face of international law and numerous resolutions by the United Nations and UN Security Council which all ruled that East Jerusalem is illegally and unlawfully occupied by Israel.

Hence, the repulsive statement by Brandis must be condemned in the strongest terms and rejected by the Australian government.

However, given that government’s record in dealing with Arab and Islamic issues, especially the Palestinian problem, there is little hope that Australia would rethink this offensive decision.

Unfortunately, Australia has always been among the most extreme western states in displaying hostility to the Palestinian cause. Its propensity to appease Zionist whims is probably unmatched by any other western country. Even Germany, which has sought relentlessly to atone for the holocaust by effectively embracing Jewish Nazism, and Britain, which inserted the venomous Jewish snake into the Palestinian child’s cradle, doesn’t recognize East Jerusalem as part of Israel. Hence, the audacity and offensiveness of Brandis’s remarks.

Arab-Muslim reactions:
It is not enough to voice our displeasure to the Australian government over this manifestly hostile move. We must make it unmistakably clear to that distant state that Jerusalem is our soul and heart and that the Holy City is the ultimate inviolable Red Line. We must not have normal relations with Australia unless its government reconsiders this provocation.

We are not bereft of the means to respond effectively to this premeditated insult. The size of the Muslim world’s trade with Australia is estimated to be in the billions of dollars. Australia exports livestock to Muslim countries worth of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

If we proved to the Australian government that our national and religious dignity is worth so much, then that government might reconsider its unprovoked hostility to our people.

But the proverbial ball is not in the Australian government’s court. It is squarely in our court, both as people and as nation-states.

That is why we must make it abundantly clear to the government of Australia that it has a few weeks to rescind its odious decision or else we would stop all our imports from that country.

We surely can do without Australian lamb meat. There are numerous other destinations from which we can import lambs.

Needless to say, when the choice is between an Australian lamb meat meal, soaked in hatred and hostility for our paramount causes and our religion, and the First Qibla of Islam, Muslims ought to know rather innately which choice to take.

Otherwise, Australia and other like-minded countries would be correct in treating us this way because those who don’t respect themselves are not entitled to be respected by others.

For me and my family, from this moment we will not buy anything produced in, made by or exported from Australia.Australia must be treated by all Arab and Muslim states as an enemy state until it rescinds its hateful step toward our people and our faith.


Khalid Amayreh is a veteran Palestinian journalist
living in occupied Palestine
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